Maligayang Pasko Francis Family,
Well I made it to Cagayan safely after a five hour bus ride. The roads are crazy but the drive was the most beautiful thing ever - being on the coast of the Philippines and seeing the ocean and the Bangui Windmills and the beautiful landscape of the Philippines - especially in Cagayan for it being so green. Arriving to the bus station in Laoag we were a little late so I had to take the second bus with a sister, just me and her with no other missionaries, her name was sister Tere from New Zeeland. She is super tall, but very friendly and very kind too, so we two traveled to magapit together for five hours and met the other missionaries waiting for us in Magapit. So that was fun and the drive was just beautiful surrounding and I loved seeing outside the bus and seeing the ocean and the beautiful view of the Philippines.
I love being here in Cagayan. It is super different than Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, like there is really nothing here. Appari is the city where we come to do shopping and e-mailing. Then the triceys are different which I like because I can sit on top of the jeepeny or tricey which is scary but the Filipino culture. Also I am in a apartment with three Filipinos and I am the only American which is okay with me, they are all funny and kind elders and the area is amazing.
My first day here on Tuesday night the members welcomed me to the branch and took me around to meet all the members. Then we went out to eat and I really felt their love for me and just happy to meet me. Like yesterday, my first Sunday here in Magapit, they loved me and especially the children - they climbed up on me and they liked to hug me and hold my hands and they liked my blond hair. Then they wouldn't stop bugging me and it was funny, because these little kids kept looking at my eyes and saying maganda ang mata ni elder (Elder has beautiful eyes), so the kids like me and the branch is great. Also here in Magapit we have the Magapit bridge which is beautiful and under a huge river. It is a beautiful view. Also on December 19th we will be having three baptisms in the river and they are all kids, 1. Angelica M. aged 10. 2. Vendesel M. aged 10. 3. Esmeralda M aged 8. So that is really exciting and especially baptizing them in a river. But I am really enjoying everything and enjoying the Cagayan culture. Here is the Cagayan motto for missionaries.
A-gent of the
L-oves their mission
O-ur very best to find
O- pportunities to
D- o good and serve others
That is the Cagayan Motto: "All Good",
It really is a different culture up here in Cagayan the people are really nice and opened hearted and willing to listen to us. They are really poor people also. This week from Thursday to Sunday I only had 80 pesos - that was all the money I had for four days. I survived on bread and snacks for four days. So I really felt what the people feel like here and how little they have, but how grateful they are for what they do have and that is family and shelter and a little food. That's good enough especially for this Christmas season. The Filipino people love the Christmas season and they love being with the family during the season.
So Christmas is coming up soon and I am excited for the activities we have in the branch and mission and just waiting for the New years. But I am doing great and enjoying Magapit and Elder Lobaton is great and really masipag (hard working). He is really friendly and very kind and we get along very well. He is from Ilo-Ilo and speaks Ilongo which is way different from Tagalog. But that is really all that happened to me - riding on top of jeepneys or triceys and just the branch being great. I'm super excited to see this area progress with three baptisms next week and then it two or three weeks one more. So it will be a great month. I wish you guys a Merry Merry Christmas and I love you all and miss you a ton too. Take care always and be safe.