Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving, Week 13!

Wow, another week down! Time is really going by fast. I'm half way through my training! It's amazing how much I've adjusted and how much I've learned these 6 weeks. I still have a longggg way to go. But I am so happy to be here!! I lay in bed at night and think "wow, is this really my life?" I am honestly so happy! 

Thanksgiving was fun here! We worked really hard all day and I tried not to think about home so I really wasn't homesick. We made a little Thanksgiving dinner and it was actually really good! No turkey or pie, but still masarap (delicious). It was fun to share an American holiday with the Filipino sisters! They loved it and made a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving sign for us.

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!

We got to go to San Pablo for my training check up, it was great! We went to SM, this big mall and it was amazing! It felt like I was in America! There was Christmas music playing and it was so clean and big. And we ate at McDonalds! I will never again speak a bad word about that place. It was so good and such a comfort. 

At our training checkup in San Pablo
SM Mall in San Pablo
We are teaching a lot! Unfortunately, nobody is coming to church. But I have faith they will!! So please pray that the people of Pakil will have a desire to come to church. They are all very active Catholics so none of them want to change religions. They are so willing to listen and are so nice though! 

Beautiful Catholic Church in Pakil
We found this amazing sister this week. She shared with us how she has been praying her whole life but has never received answers from God. She has been really struggling and felt like God had forgotten her. I felt the gift of tongues so strongly in that lesson. I was able to understand her and I even taught her about the Holy Ghost and how to pray! I know God was helping me so that I could help her. It was a really sweet experience. Her eyes lit up and she was so willing to listen. I love being a missionary. I love meeting these amazing people and sharing the gospel with them! 

I love you all so much! Merry Christmas!! I hope you all have a great week! Remember that God is there and he hears and answers your prayers. Pray all the time about anything! I am so thankful for the power of prayer and the strength I feel each time I get on my knees to talk to my Heavenly Father.

Lots of love, 
Sister Giles 

With our friends Ahmy and Greg

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 12!! Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello friends and family! Happy Thanksgiving week!! It's going to be hard being away from home but I am SO thankful to be here! It will be a normal day for me but Sister Cornaby and I will try to celebrate a little bit! But really, I am so thankful for all of you, this opportunity I have to serve these Filipinos, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the Philippines and I am so thankful to share the amazing message that Jesus Christ lives and His church is restored to the earth! 

Little kids love when we give them stickers
So we have a new apartment!! We moved in with Sister Guancia and Sister Gupit in the area next door, Paete. This apartment is newer and a lot cleaner, so I am happy! And it's so fun to live with 2 Filpinos. Moving and cleaning the old apartment was a lot of work. We were cleaning and opened this little closet and I'm not even kidding, like 1000 cockroaches ran out. And it smelt soooo bad. But I stayed strong and just started stepping on as many as I could haha it's a funny experience now looking back. Sister Guanica and Gupit said they will teach us how to make Filipino food! Right now they cook and I do the dishes haha. They have already taught me how to hand wash my clothes! Apparently I was doing it all wrong and they thought it was the funniest thing ever. And it's really helping my Tagalog! They try to speak English to me and I try to speak Tagalog. I can basically understand most of the conversations I hear now, it's exciting! Now I just need to get a lot better at speaking. But it's definitely coming with a lot of work and a lot of prayer. 

The Pakil Branch is doing great! Our less actives and investigators are all doing good. Unfortunately, none of our investigators came to church even though we committed a lot. But 2 less actives did!! We still have so much work to do here! But WOW Pakil still takes my breath away with how pretty it is! 

We are having some amazing, hard, hilarious experiences! Like earlier this week we were walking down the highway and this man came chasing after us yelling, "Mormons! Mormons!" I was a little scared haha but we stopped to talk to him and he was talking super fast and brought us back to his bahay and showed us his Book of Mormon and all these pamphlets that he had from missionaries years and years ago! He has been reading the Book of Mormon and wants us to teach him! I am so excited to go back and teach him. I love these people so much. 

I love you all so much. Thank you for your support and prayers! Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving!!! And hug your families and tell them you love them.

Sister Giles 
Super sketchy but fun bridge our district went on after district service
Our first baptism! Not really, just a sweet 15 year old who had to get rebaptized because her records were lost. It was fun to help plan though and the spirit was so strong it made me cry.
Sister Guanica showing me how to wash clothes the right way. We laugh a lot and get along really well!
My new desk in the new apartment
I love our new bright apartment

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 11!

Hello!! It has been a great week! I had exchanges at the beginning of the week with the Sister Training Leader and that was so fun! I went to Sta. Cruz for like a day and a half. It's a pretty big city and a lot different than Pakil. I learned so much!! I lived with 3 Filipino sisters and that was so fun. They were buying rice and were looking at all the different kinds and picking up a handfuls and smelling it and like examining it. I was like uh just pick one they all look the same haha. They are all so fun. They cooked some really good Filipino food and asked me a million questions about America. I tried chicken liver and it was so good! 

We also had zone training meeting and a service project this week that was HARD. We cleaned up around this family's house and cut down trees, picked weeds and put trash and leaves into piles and burned them. I don't think I've ever been so dirty or sweaty in my life but I loved it! It has been pretty rainy and windy so their house was pretty messed up and it felt so good to help them. The poverty here is really hard to see sometimes. I had to hold back tears when we were teaching a family because the little kids are so malnourished and skinny and they literally have nothing. I have been so humbled. I wish there was more I could do for them, but I also know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring a light into their lives and help them more than anything!

Some fun facts about the Philippines: they do videoke (like karaoke) allllll day, every day haha. Like every morning at 6:30 am I wake up to people singing popular American songs. Party in the USA is one of our neighbor's favorites. They are normally really off key and their accents are hilarious haha it makes me smile. I love their confidence!! They also don't shave their legs. I think that's something I might embrace while I'm here. They LOVE American noses and blue eyes. They always say contact lens? and stare at my eyes and nose haha. I love the Filipinos.

We are teaching some really great people. The young couple who gave us sprite and fudge cakes are the nicest people I've ever met. Every time we go over they listen to us and help me with my Tagalog and give us food and soda. Unfortunately, they said they will never become Mormon, but I have faith that they will have a change of heart! The read from the Book of Mormon and they think it's great but they refuse to come to church. But we are praying hard for them. We are mainly just visiting a lot of less actives and inactives. The Pakil Branch is really big, like 800/900 people. But only like 100 come to church. It makes me so sad. But yesterday was a miracle because 2 of the families we have been focusing on came to church!! We were so happy!!

It's been raining a lot the past couple days, I've loved it! Pakil is still the most beautiful place in the world and I feel lucky everyday to be having these experiences and serving these people. I love you all so much, thank you for the prayers and support! Read your scriptures!! I find so much comfort and strength in reading the Book of Mormon everyday. It really can change lives. I hope you all have a great week! Sorry no pics, we had to go to a different internet cafe and it doesn't work here.

Lots of love, 
Sister Giles 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 10!

Hello friends and family!! Life is good here in the Philippines. Still hard, but it gets better every day. The people are so willing to listen to us, so its a lot of fun. We teach a lot of lessons and talk to a lot of people! Nobody really keeps our commitments, ha ha, but I have faith we will find some people who are really prepared to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Traveling in the Philippines is a lot of fun. They have these buses called jeepnies and these tiny little tricycles. We mostly walk everywhere but it's so fun when we take one of those! Whenever I'm in a jeepnie I feel like I'm on that double decker bus in that Harry Potter movie that like dodges cars and goes super fast and jerks around haha. I hope some of you know what I'm talking about. 

Tagalog is coming slowly but surely! I'm trying to laugh at my mistakes and keep using everything that I know and that's helping. The Filipinos love when I try and use it though. They mostly just laugh and me and correct me haha. I also love the food!! We get fed a lot, it's so great. I also love my companion, Sister Cornaby. She is so sweet and a great missionary!! 

I love it here and I am learning SO much! Thank you for all of the support and love. I am having incredible experiences, good and bad. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to true happiness and peace. I know that it is so important to do the little things like study the scriptures, pray and go to church. So many people are inactive here and it's so hard because they don't realize how much easier and happier their lives could be if they would just start with the little things. So I encourage all of you to find joy in keeping the commandments!! Recognize the blessings that come from the commandments. I know God loves each of us perfectly and individually. I know that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be strengthened and do things that seem impossible!

I love love love all of you!! Turn out and serve somebody else if life seems hard. I promise it will help. Have a great week!

Sister Giles 

How is the food?
This morning we had zone pday and we hiked this beautiful mountain in the area next to us, Paete. It was hard!! So I loved it! It felt so good to like breathe hard and feel like I was working out. I am basically on an all carb diet here haha. We are trying to eat healthy but people feed us so much rice and bread and stuff all the time. 

What is going on with your apartment?
So we weren't able to find a new apartment but we are going to move in with the Paete sisters. It's close to our area so the traveling won't be bad and their apartment is a lot cleaner and newer. I also really like those sisters so I'm happy about it. I know it was all in the Lord's hands so this is what is supposed to happen. We will move in like a week and a half. 

What is Church like?
Church is very different. I basically don't really understand anything for 3 hours haha but I grow to love it more each time. A little 12 year old plays the hymns and he is sooo off timing and everybody is so off key, it really is so cute. And everything is so laid back like nobody really listens in Relief Society and they all have snacks, but I love it. It's soooo crazy how different it is. But I just have to remember that the church is so new here. I'm trying to figure out how I can help build up this branch because I know I was born into the Northridge ward to help these people here. They sing all the songs in English so I haven't learned any Tagalog hymns. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 9 (I'm Good!)

I'm doing so much better! Sorry for my kind of crazy email last week, the culture shock hit me hard and I've been really homesick. But every day is a little bit better! I love Pakil! SO green and beautiful. The people are so nice and friendly and humble. They have so little but they always offer us food and invite us in. All the little kids run up to us and bless us (grab our hands and put it on their forehead, it's a sign of respect). We get a lot of stares because we are American haha but it's fun. They always try and use the English they know, like "Hello, how are you, where are you going?" And then start giggling with each other. Then we respond in Tagalog and they are shocked haha it's so fun.

Family Home Evening after playing a game with powder
Every day is a crazy, emotional roller coaster. But whenever I am homesick or discouraged I just look around me and realize I am SO lucky to be able to spend these next 16 months in this beautiful place, helping these amazing people. And that always helps. And I try not to think, "I have 16 months left before I can take a warm shower, sleep in a clean room, hold my nieces and nephews, get pedicures with my sisters, etc". But instead, "I only have 16 months left before I have to go back to being normal Abby Giles doing normal things!" Some days I really want to quit and go home, but I want to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and watch lives change so much more! So I promise I am going to give 100% these next 16 months. 

I have seen so many miracles and tender mercies this week!! I know they are all around us, we just have to open our eyes and recognize them. For example, one night I was so tired and hungry and really craving chocolate. It was almost time to go home but we had to finish our OYM goal (open your mouth, basically just being friendly and sharing a little bit). So we talked to this young couple on the side of the road and they ended up being so nice and invited us to teach them! They seemed really interested and said they loved how our message was centered on Jesus Christ. I can't wait to go teach them again. And THEN they gave us Sprite and fudge cakes. Seriously, a miracle.

Halloween was a lot of fun here!! We went to the church Halloween party and it was so fun! They had a pretty laid back costume competition. It was so different from the huge block party back home haha but it was still great. 

I haven't had anything too crazy to eat. But all the food I've tried has been really good!! The other night we had dinner  in someone's home and they encouraged me to try fried chicken intestines. I hate to say this, but it was actually good. But I think anything is probably good if you fry it haha. 
Every morning when I am so tired and have like 10 new mosquito bites and have to dump a cold bucket of water on my head I sing, "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today" and "It's a Great Day To Be Alive" (that old country song) and that really lifts my spirits. I know that although this is the hardest thing I've ever done, I can choose to be happy! 

I love you all so, so much. Thank you thank you thank you for the words of encouragement and prayers. I promise to hang in there and keep working hard. I hope everybody has a great week!!

Sister Giles