Monday, October 10, 2016

Joy and happiness are not dependent upon the circumstances on which you find yourself in.

Oh my gosh so where do I begin with this? It's been forever since I sent my last main email, and honestly so much has happened. So I guess I'll just skip to landing in Legazpi.

This is what all of Legazpi looks like!
So when we landed in  Legazpi the humidity hit me like a wall of bricks (It's way more humid here than in Manila) All of the Elders who flew with me all loaded up in vans, and they drove us to a main tourist spot in Legazpi that's on this big hill that kind of overlooks the whole city. Everyone was saying how beautiful it was and stuff up on this mountain, but honestly all I could focus on was how dang hot it was! I kind of regret that, but it's whatever, because I got some really neat pictures! Anyways, the point of going up to the mountain was to finally meet our mission president and his wife (Dale K. Kotter & Lori J. Kotter) He gave us all a mini interview. He pulled me aside and I was so glad to finally meet him for the first time! He's this awkward little old white guy, but he's so great and nice I love him! He basically asked if he could trust me with anything, and I was like yeah...of course. So that was the point of that whole deal.

A little excursion my triner Elder Perkins 
   & I went on today for P-Day activity
Anyways, my second day here I FINALLY met my trainer!!! His name is Elder Perkins and when they announced he was my trainer I nearly died of happiness BECAUSE HE'S AMERICAN!! There's like no white missionaries here, and I was so glad because now I can speak English to someone! He's been a really great trainer so far, and I'm really loving what he has to teach me! We get along way better than my last companion too, so that's good. 

My random fan club that followed us everywhere for like 45 minutes
My first assignment is in the Bulan Zone to labor in the Irosin area.  So this place is really cool. It literally makes me feel like I'm on vacation sometimes because literally the whole place is jungle. But the people we teach are amazing! There are so many investigators here, it's insane. There's literally not enough time in the day to get all of our work done because there are so many people to teach! The kids though are by far my favorite. They see us walking down the street and just run up to us and ask for high fives. And they speak such simple Tagalog, so I can actually talk to them! This one time we had literally a random 25 kids just following us around for like 45 minutes just because we are Americans. I seriously feel like a celebrity!

But as for the people and families we are teaching. I can understand up to 80% of what they say when we are teaching them, it's just hard for me to respond correctly. But when we are teaching them, they are so receptive to the gospel, it's amazing. Never in my life have I ever seen a more humble people willing to hear what we have to say. The spirit is so strong in the lessons, and even sometimes what I say (however simple it may be) can touch them and make them feel the spirit.

Me and my Companion Elder Perkins tracting in Legazpi Philipines
Overall, I'm way happier than I thought I would be here. I know the prayers of people back home are helping me so much here! And I know that there's no way on this earth that I could ever learn a language this fast if it wasn’t for the help of Heavenly Father. And if there's one thing that I've learned this week, it's that joy and happiness are not dependent upon the circumstances on which you find yourself in. These feelings really are independent on any outside factor. Watching these people and observing myself, I've learned that no matter the situation, you can always find happiness. Praying and studying the scriptures and serving with all my heart, might, mind, and strength really help me to be so much happier here than I could have ever imagined.

I pray for all of you at home, I really do! I hope you're all doing well! Love you all and I'll email again in a short week! 

Elder Austin Russell Cook

P.S.  My apartment has running water, a shower, a toilet, a fridge and freezer, places to cook food. Literally it has everything you need! My comp is from Washington but his family moved to Cali while he was out. I gotta go! I love you tons dad! I pray for you and the family all individually. Don't worry about me everything is well here!   

My Companion getting some rest and me on the left settling in

Notice the fans.. It's HOT!

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