Monday, October 26, 2015

I'm Here!

Well, I'm officially in my mission! I am in an area called Pakil. It is beautiful here. It's close to this mountain, very rural and very green. The people are so nice! My trainer is Sister Cornaby. She has been here for like 8 months, is from Utah, and is really nice. We are reopening the area so that has been really hard. We don't really have any investigators, we don't know the ward that well, and we get lost a lot haha. But it's ok, we will figure it out. We have been talking to a lot of people and our ward mission leader is very helpful. I know I will grow to love this Branch.

We spent a day and a half in the mission home. It is really nice. San Pablo is beautiful!! So green and pretty. And it's hot and humid but really not that bad. President and Sister Mangum are soo nice. They are quiet but I feel very safe and comfortable with them. The AP's are also so nice and helpful. Luckily the AP's drove us to our new area, because it's far. The drive was so beautiful!

My first day in Pakil was really hard but I am lucky to be here. Our apartment is really gross and old. Elders were the last people to live in it and they didn't clean it at all. Ants everywhere, it smells disgusting, and a rat just ran across the table when we were making dinner. But we are trying hard to clean it and make it feel like home.

I hand washed my clothes today! It was pretty fun. And I have taken a lot of freezing cold bucket showers. I really didn't ease in to this Philippines life haha I was just thrown in and I feel like I either have to swim or drown. Luckily, the mission is trying to help us find a new apartment because they know it is really bad. We are trying to find a 4 person one so we can live with the Sisters from the next area over. We are in the same branch and they are really nice Filipinos. They came over yesterday and cooked us lunch. I really, really hope we can live with them in a nicer place.

So since we are reopening we basically just walk around and ask people if they know any Mormons and try to find members. We have met a tonnnn of inactive members. We are going over to one of their homes tonight for FHE. I'm amazed at the way people live here. They have so little and their homes are small however they are so humble and happy. 

This has been really, really hard. I get so frustrated when everybody is speaking in Tagalog around me and I can only catch a couple words. I feel really useless. I know the language will come and I just need to be patient but that's easier said than done. In Pakil, they use really deep Tagalog and only a couple people really understand English and they are all afraid to use it. So I really need to learn Tagalog if I am going to make much of a difference.

Pakil is one of the hardest areas. I know that God sent me here for a reason. I have just been praying so hard all the time for strength and comfort. I am incredibly homesick and that's really hard. I feel really alone but I need to remember that Jesus Christ is always there for me. I know He is walking these streets with me. I can feel angels around me, lifting me up. Whenever I break down and really want to quit, I think of all of you and I think of our family in heaven and I know that all of you are praying for me and I know I have angels literally helping me walk these streets and get out of bed in the morning. 

I know I will adjust to the Philippines mission life soon so don't worry about me. I know that this is hard, but it's worth it. I know these experiences are helping to shape me into the person God wants me to be. I love the Filipinos and I know that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven! 

I am safe and meeting lots of nice people. I love you all so much. I'm lucky to have all of you praying for me and supporting me. President told me that whenever I feel discouraged I need to picture mom and dad's bedroom and picture them kneeling by their bed praying for me. Then he said now picture all of your family and friends kneeling by their beds praying for you. It makes me cry all the time. I'm actually crying right now in this little internet cafe and these Filipinos are staring at me haha. Thank you for your prayers. I will try my best to make you all proud!! I know I am lucky to be here so I am going to keep forcing a smile on my face and turning out and serving others. I am going to forget myself and go to work. I hope you all have a great week.

Sister Giles

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Made It!!

Hello mom and dad! I'm here and safe. They are giving us 15 mins to email home that we are safe. I am so so happy! Our flight to Manila got delayed so we got in really late and didn't get to bed till about 4 am but I got to sleep in until 8:30. I don't feel tired, I feel great. We have the same companions and district. Today we are going out with real missionaries in the Manila mission for like 5 hours! It is humid but not that bad right now. It's kind of sprinkling. The MTC president and all the older couples are American and so friendly. 

Guess who came to the airport to greet me?! The Pajaro's!  (The Pajaro's live in the Philippines and their daughter is in Mesa, AZ serving a mission. She and Abby became good friends before Abby left.) They were so nice to wait for our flight, it didn't get in until like 2 am.  I started crying when I saw them it was such a nice surprise. They were carrying my luggage and being so so helpful. They gave me this cutest gift with this sign that has a Proverbs scripture on it that says something like "Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will make your paths great." I am so committed and ready for this!! The MTC is sooo nice. Hot shower, nice rooms, and breakfast was good!! It was a lot of rice and this good meat/vegetable stuff with a hard boiled egg. It was so good! I am so happy. The minute the plane touched down I got such an overwhelming feeling of love for this place and these people!! I have to go but I am safe and SO happy and excited!! I feel healthy and I'm well taken care of. I don't know when I'll email again but I love love love you! 

Sister Giles

While she was in Manila waiting to go to her assigned area in San Pablo, there was a big typhoon. So she stayed a few extra days in Manila. Our Mesa neighbors, the Ostler's, were able to visit her in the MTC. He is the mission President in Manila.  He sent us this letter:

Dear Dawn and John,
This morning we went to the MTC and were able to spend a few minutes with Abby. When we saw her, she burst into tears—no surprise there:) She is radiant, beautiful and excited to be a missionary! She went out teaching the gospel to 2 families yesterday. She is feeling healthy and is liking the food fine so far. You should be very proud of her. It is amazing to see how she has grown.

We know what it is like to send a daughter on a mission. It pulls at your heart strings…especially for Dad. But don’t worry, she will come back so much stronger and so much more capable of meeting the challenges and opportunities of her life. In the meantime, she will do a “marvelous work” here in the Philippines.
With love,

President Creg D. Ostler & Sondra
Philippines Manila Mission

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Week 6! Last Week in the MTC!

Hello everybody! I can't believe I only have a couple days left at the MTC. It went by so fast! I have learned so much and I'm really going to miss it. But I am so excited to get to the PHILIPPINES!!! Masigla! 

So first, General Conference was amazing! I loved the theme of womanhood. I am thankful for my grandma, mom, sisters and so many others that have been an examples of strong, converted, covenant-keeping women! Girl power. Holland's talk on mothers was also amazing. I was crying the whole time thinking of my mom. She really is the best. I could go on and on about what I learned but sweet President Monson said it best! Faith and doubt cannot exist together, purity will bring us peace of mind, Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and let your light shine! Be a good example!! 

Vocal Point came to the MTC on Sunday night and I loved it! They shared thoughts from their missions and sang. Everybody look up Nearer My God to Thee by BYU Vocal Point. So so good. And then Sister Burton, the Relief Society General President, and her husband spoke to us Tuesday night. We seriously lucked out this week. 

I will keep this email short because my one next week will be much more exciting. But I want to challenge all of you to do something this week to strengthen your prayers. If you've never prayed before or haven't in a long time-start today!! I know God is there and He wants you to talk to him. Or if you pray all the time, start praying with your spouse or roommates or friends or family. Sister Owen and I say companion prayers every night and morning and I love it so much. I KNOW God listens to our prayers and it's so important that we go to Him when we are going through something hard or have questions. James 1:5 "Kung nakukulang ng karanungan ang sinoman sa inyo, ay humingi sa Diyos, na nabibigay ng sagana sa lahat at hindi nanunumbat; at itoy ibibigay sa kaniya." One scripture memorized! 

I love being a missionary. I love doing hard things because I know they are making me stronger and helping me become the person God needs me to be. I love you all so, so much!! Have a GREAT week!

Lots of love,
Sister Giles

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Week 5!

Another great week! I can't believe I leave so soon. I am so excited and a little bit nervous. We got our flight plans on Friday! We leave October 15th and fly to LA to Hong Kong to Manila. And we have to leave the MTC at 3:35 in the morning! Haha at least I will be traveling with all the missionaries. I think it will be really fun! 

My Companion Sister Owen and our teacher Brother Broadhead

My MTC District and our teacher Sister Marcucci
General Conference came at a perfect time for me! A couple of things that stood out to me: Sister Neill F. Marriot and her question, what is your heart condition today? I know that we CHOOSE how we react to challenges and trials. I know that I need to pray araw araw for a soft heart and more charity for those around me. I learned so much from her talk but that was one thing that the Spirit taught me. I also loved when Larry R. Lawrence said that the journey of discipleship is a course of steady improvement. I know it's easy to become overwhelmed with how far we still have to go. I know that I am always worried about living up to my full potential and improving myself. Pero, alam ko po na that as long as we are steadily improving, God is happy and so proud of us. There was sooo much more that I loved, but I encourage all of you to watch EVERY session of General Conference. And literally watch it, try not to sleep like I have the past 19 years haha. 

After conference with Elder Adcox from my home ward
This week Sister Owen and I got to Skype a REAL FILIPINO IN THE PHILIPPINES!! It was honestly so cool.  I can't wait to be in the Philippines and teach and learn from these sweet, humble people. She is honestly a rockstar. She and her family do prayer and scripture study together araw araw and she and her husband try to go to the temple twice a year even though it's far and expensive. The wall behind her in her house had a picture of the Savior, A Proclamation to the Family, and a picture of the First Presidency, AND she and her sister were going to wake up at 4 am to watch General Conference live, the list goes on. When we were first talking to her I was like ummm what the heck am I supposed to teach her?! She's perfect, can she just teach us? But as Sister Owen and I listened to the Spirit, we shared a simple message on the importance of families and that God was proud of her and that she is a child of God. She got teary eyed and bore her testimony to us, it was amazing! Then her little boy came and jumped on her lap and I thought my heart was going to burst. I already love the Filipinos so much!! 

Sisters in our Branch
We had to say bye to a ton of missionaries in our branch this week and it was really, really sad. Our roommates all left so now it's just me and Sister Owen in the room. It's kind of lonely but I am so excited for all of them and I'm thankful for the time we were able to spend together! Sister Owen and I were called as Sister Training Leaders. I love the sisters in our branch and bonus, we also got a little cell phone for emergencies so that was cool. Oh and speaking of phones, on Tuesday Brother Christopherson, a counselor in the branch, was doing a demonstration and he had me stand up and gave me his phone and told me to start playing Angry Birds haha. Everybody was so jealous I got to touch a phone!! But I've definitely lost my Angry Bird skills. 

With our roommates

Our Roommates Sister Allen, Sister Wittwer, Sister Stokes and Sister K before they left
Oh I also got to host some new missionaries this week!! It was a lot of fun. I basically was at the curb when the missionaries say bye to their families (so sad) and then I took their luggage and showed them around. It was fun to realize I now know where everything is haha. But I know that will change really fast when I get off the plane in the Philippines! 

Elder Igleskie from Gilbert, Arizona and Elder Frie from Utah

Thank you so much to everybody for your emails and support!! 

Much Love, 
Sister Giles