First transfer: done. Training: half over. Things are falling into place, it seems. If you are unaware, a mission is broken up into 6 week-long time periods called transfers. At the end of every 6 weeks, we get in a room with our zone (around 20 missionaries), and we get the announcements of who will be going where. My training lasts 3 months, or two transfers. Then, chances are, I will be follow-up-trained – by someone who is not my current companion – for one transfer. I will see some people go, including one of my roommates; but my current companion will stay with me for the next 6 weeks to continue to train me. We only get a 2-day advance notice if we are going to move, so it is a big deal when the announcements come in.
Transfers are pretty important to missionary work. Sometimes you are in an area for 1 transfer (or 6 weeks) and other times it could be 6 (which is 9 months). It changes a lot and depends on you, God, and your mission president. You never really know if you will move to a new place and teach new people or if you will continue to teach the same people. Sometimes it will be really hard to leave investigators. Of this I am sure.
You get pretty attached to the people you teach because you have helped them change their lives. The way transfers work makes that a pretty heart wrenching experience sometimes. I hope to stay in this area for a while, but I have no idea how soon I will leave.
Whenever we have transfers our P-Day changes. So, just know that every 6 weeks I will email on Tuesday and not on Monday. For most of you: Monday night instead of Sunday night.
I find myself wanting to use the phrase "I am learning a lot" every other sentence. Just know that I learn new stuff every day, and when it is hardest – I learn more. I keep working on constant improvement and changing my perspective. I am getting much better at talking to people conversationally. Honestly, right now that is the biggest hurdle.
Conversation in Tagalog is much MUCH different than it is in English. This is also a huge culture thing. I will use this to explain a little more about culture. Last week, I talked about how important language is to the people of the Philippines. The thing about their conversation is it has to do mostly with HOW you say something, and much less about the words you use. For example: in English there are about a million ways that you can ask someone if they will come back. In Tagalog there is only one word. And they use that word for every single translation you might think of: return, come back, give back, return an item, etc… It really matters how they say the word and the context it is in. Tagalog conversation also tends to be much simpler. They hardly ever talk in complete sentences when asking for something or telling you to do something. You only tend to find full sentences when you have an extended conversation, and it is kind of hard to explain.
Tagalesson: Going along with the above segment about how people speak I will talk about teaching. There won’t be much of anything to learn here word wise; but I have learned a lot about communication from being here. In order to connect with someone, one of the first things you need is to teach using inflection that allows them to understand what parts are more important and why they are important. For example, I was teaching a family about the importance of family strength in the gospel. Honestly, I was speaking so simply that it didn't matter what I was saying. But when I made eye contact with the mother, and told her why it was important that Christ is the center of her family – she agreed. You have to talk to people openly here, not just in the words you use but more so in how you say them. People know when your words and your tone are different from each other. I will try to follow this up with examples in later weeks but I have rambled far too long.
Wow I totally did not mean to do that, I just kept going and going. I apologize.
Just know that the work is good and there is always room for improvement. I strive every day to become a better missionary, but it is a long road, with the best reward. It will be a long time before I am an effective teacher, but for now I am teaching people as openly as I can.