Hello po! Magandang hapon po!
Even though there's not much stuff here, there are a lot of members here. We have one branch in our area, Burgos 1st branch. There's also tons of less active members in our area. If they all were still active in the church, we would have a ward here for sure. My first day here, we just went around and met all the members in our branch, and taught a few lessons to some kids who were recently baptized. All the members are so kind and helpful. I was so happy to meet all of them, and they were happy to meet me. There's a lot of beautiful, kind people here. Our branch mission leader, Brother Roland, is awesome. He drives us around everywhere, always feeds us, teaches with us, and is always giving us good ideas to help our area. At first, I felt kind of embarrassed that he drives us around so much and does so much for us, but I know he is doing it because he loves and supports missionary work. Which is wonderful! All the members here are like that. They are always offering us rides, inviting us to eat at their house, and making sure we are taken care of. We eat breakfast at home, and then we eat at member's houses for lunch and dinner everyday. Yay! It makes me feel right at home. It makes me feel loved. One member, whose son is also on a mission said, "I always feed the missionaries because I know if I feed you here, my son will also be fed there." Haha. I told her that she was right.
In the Philippines Cauayan Mission, the Burgos Zone has been at the top of the charts, statistic wise, for the last few months. Things are going really well here. Missionary work is booming! Last Saturday here in Burgos zone (before I got here) every set of missionaries had two or more baptisms....wow! I am excited to be serving in such a progressing area.
In Burgos, most people don't speak Tagalog....they speak Ilocano. So I'll have to learn that as well. Haha! I felt like I was finally getting good at Tagalog in all the lessons and stuff, but now I've got to start all over and learn Ilocano. I feel kind of shy to talk to people here sometimes, because I'm not sure if they'll understand me. But, I am learning! All of the little kids are always teaching me Ilocano words. It's so cute, and I actually learn a lot. I'll teach you some of the things I've learned in Ilocano: "good afternoon" is "naimbag na malim," "beautiful" is "napintas" and "what's your name?" is "anya ti nagan mu?" Ilocano is very different from Tagalog, but I am excited to learn.
The members in our area said it's been a long time since an American has been here. People, multiple times already, keep calling me "maliit na Amerikana" which is "little American." They always ask me, "you're from America, why aren't you tall?" Haha. I told them it's because both my parents are short (I'm 5'4). Some of the recent converts in our area - who are teenage boys - are scared of me. They won't talk to me and sometimes they are shy to even look at me. Bro. Roland said it's because I am American and I look like a Barbie, and so they're scared of me. There are no foreigners here in Burgos, besides missionaries, so seeing a foreigner makes them shy I guess. Hopefully that doesn't last for long!
My new companion is Sister Aguanta. She is from Negros Occidental (near Cebu, PH), is 21 years old, and has been in the mission field for one cycle less than me. She is really nice. She has a fun personality and is a really great missionary. She's the youngest of six siblings and is the first missionary in her family. She has been a member of the church all her life, just like me. She's a great companion! Her birthday is in November, just like me too! She already graduated college in marketing management. She has been in Burgos 1st for five months, and it is her first area. I also have two cute housemates, Sister Velasco and Sister Ruyeres, both from the Philippines. They are so cute and tiny and I love them. Our apartment is just as nice as my last one. I even have a normal bed instead of a bunk bed, which I love. We have a nice bathroom that's bigger than my last one (still bucket showers of course). We have a cute little kitchen with just a stove and a toaster oven. And we also have....A WASHING MACHINE. My life is changed. I used it this morning. Yay! And my favorite part is....there's no rats or mice in our apartment! That's really all I care about haha. Our apartment is actually in the area of Sis. Velasco and Sis. Ruyeras, so Sis. Aguanta and I have to travel, about 3 km or so through the rice fields, to our area everyday. Luckily, we always have a ride!
Leaving Cauayan City was easier than I thought it would be. Although, of course, I love and will miss the people there, I felt ready to go to a new place. I know also that I will see all of the people I love from Cauayan again someday. I only cried once during all the good-byes I had. I cried when I said good-bye to Nanay Editha. She is so special to me and I will never forget her. We went to visit her one last time, and I told her that I would be leaving. She grabbed my hand tight, looked at me, and with tears in her eyes, told me how special I was to her. It was such a powerful, special, sweet moment. One that I will never forget. I will miss her dearly.
I am so excited to watch General Conference this week! We are so blessed to be able to hear from our living prophet and apostles, and we here in the PH are so blessed to have the technology to be able to watch a broadcast of it. We are asleep while General Conference is going on in America, so we watch the sessions one week after. We are scheduled to watch it just like you would, two sessions and two sessions . Priesthood session is early morning. There's no broadcast of the women's conference, I'm not sure why. I downloaded the audio from the General Women's Session to my flash drive and I listened to all of it while I was packing this week. It was so great! I loved the message of serving and loving those in need. I was really touched by the talks that were given. It is so important for us to reach out in love to all those that are around us in any way we can. All service is worthwhile, no matter how small. No effort of love and kindness is ever a waste.
Because I know you'll wonder....I am emailing you from Roxas, a neighboring city. For P-Day we have to travel to another city outside of our zone so that we can email and go to the grocery store. Roxas isn't as big as Cauayan, but it has everything we need. It's about a 30 minute ride from Burgos to Roxas.
I hope you all have a fantastic, wonderful week filled with joy and love. I love you all so much and you are always in my prayers. Thank you for making my week bright with your wonderful emails.
I LOVE YOU!
xo Sister Allen
Me and Sister Aguanta. I ate a whole coconut! It was delicious.
Our area....the middle of nowhere!
Me, Sister Aguanta, and the family of our branch president at our chapel.
Pretty sunset in Burgos.