Me and my companion Sister Urdaneta
I am doing well! I am happy to be back in Penablanca. I am in my same area as before, Penablanca B. We are in the same apartment as before (it didn't get damaged in the typhoon...yay!) and I'm with my same housemates, Sister Fukofuka and Sister Montejo. But I have a NEW companion, Sister Urdaneta. She's awesome! Here some stuff about her: She's from Mindanao, under the Butuan Philippines Mission. She is almost 9 months into her mission. She is the 11th of 14 siblings, three of whom are triplets. That's a LOT of kids haha. She is really funny and our personalities mix well. She is into music and tennis and has a good sense of humor. She is kind and obedient and I am really excited to spend this cycle with her. I like her a lot!
Since being back in Penablanca, I have had an up-close view of the destruction from typhoon Lawin. It's been almost one month since the storm, but the damage still looks fresh. When we started working and really getting back to the area, I almost didn't recognize it (which is frustrating because I'm already bad at directions). It looks so different and all the houses and streets don't look like they used to. The destruction has really broken my heart, but for different reasons that I expected. No one that I know of was killed or seriously injured. Although, most of the trees, vegetation, and crops got ripped apart in the storm. Vegetable and fruit prices have really gone up. I don't know how the harvest will be this year, but I'm guessing not good. That will be hard on the people here, because the people here are mostly farmers. Most houses have also had some type of damage, from only a window or two shattering to the whole structure collapsing. I'm sure it's devastating to have your home and livelihood ruined a the same time. Miraculously, Nanay Valeria (the cute little crazy deaf lady whom I love) survived and her bamboo house didn't get damaged much at all. I was worried about her! She's a little hard-headed and refused to evacuate to the chapel during the storm, so it's a miracle that she and her house weren't hurt. She was so happy to see us when we came back! She just kept laughing and hugging us with her thin little arms. I'm also grateful, because the members came and checked on her and brought her food and took care of her after the storm.
I still have hope for the people here and I have seen their efforts to overcome the affects of the storm. The trees are growing new leaves, the people are building new roofs, and everything is moving forward. I have observed that trials and hardships in life – like this typhoon – do one of two things to you: they bring out the best in you, or the worst. Some people have had violent fights over scrap metal, stolen food and things from people just as hungry and needy as they are, and have complained themselves into misery. And some people have shared what little they had, given all they could, said prayers of gratitude, and humbly hoped for a better tomorrow. Trials and hardships also make people remember God. The Sunday after the typhoon, church attendance at the Penablanca ward more than doubled in numbers. While I’m glad all of those people came to church, a signal number 5 typhoon is not what should have inspired them to go. We should remember God when the skies are clear and life is calm, not only when we have a problem and need help.
One of the saddest things that I have seen is how unprepared all of the people were. These people knew the typhoon season was coming, that they live in a place where typhoons are common, and even had warning that the super typhoon Lawin was on it's way, yet I have not met ONE person (besides missionaries) who had a 72-hour kit or had done any emergency preparedness. Not one. How much of the damage and heartache and chaos could have been avoided if everyone had took a little time to prepare? If you - all of you at home - haven't started doing 72-hour kits or started food storage or haven't done any emergency preparedness, I ask you to please, DO IT. You never know when you will need it. The leaders and authorities of the church here in the PH have been pushing that on the members since the storm. The sad thing is also, that the leaders had already told the members to prepare and to do emergency preparedness, but not many of them listened. So....listen to your leaders advice, because it applies to you. Have an emergency plan. Make a 72-hour kit. Be prepared.
As for my companion and I, we have been mostly teaching. We are being smart so that we can stay safe. We have visited almost every member in our area, shared with them, and asked them what we can do to help. We have asked everyone if we can come and help them clean up or rebuild their roof or anything but they always say no.... we're still on the look out. Our ward is doing good and is supporting each other at this difficult time. Our Bishop is AMAZING and I am so thankful for his loving service to each member of the ward. The Philippines Area authorities has donated sheet metal, food supplies, and clothing for those that have been effected by the storm, which has been a blessing. Bishop has been carefully distributing that to the members in our ward who are most in need. Everyone is being helped and loved. Many other government agencies, other religious groups, and humanitarian groups have been helping and offering supplies and relief aid. I see trucks and cars drive by often with signs saying, "relief goods" or "Lawin relief." People have generously been giving and helping the people here, and everyone is being taken care of. I am so touched to see people give generously to a people I have grown to love so much.
Please pray for the people in Penablanca. They need our love and prayers.
I love you all so much. I pray for you every day. I miss you all so much.
mahal ko kayo mula sa buwan pabalik
(i love you to the moon and back)
xo Sister Allen
The town sports center in a part of our area, Larion. It got completely destroyed.
It's crazy how wind can bend metal like that.
Me and Sis. Urdaneta bought balut as a surprise for Sis. Fukofuka.
You can tell by her face that she was really surprised haha!
Our reactions after opening the balut. :)
My face says it all!...balut is not pretty. Haha.
Balut balut balut.
Yum! Balut is actually pretty tasty.
...but it looks disgusting!
(Balut is a developing bird embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell.)