Posted by: Colby Johnson | January 26, 2009

Learning Tagolog… It is Like Doing Gymnastics with Your Tongue!

Kamusta kayo pamilya? (That was tagolog for how are you family)


It is so good to get this email up and running so I can talk to you! … Things are going great so far! I honestly feel like I have learned so much its crazy. Man they weren’t lying when they said the first 3 days at the MTC are the hardest and longest. It feels like I have been here forever! It’s a good thing though. Now the time is going to fly by. You probably already got my short letter. sorry I didn’t have a lot of time to write because of this new bed time…haha…I actually go to bed early! that’s awesome! From what I remember, I told you guys that my companion is Sister Hettig and she is from Tonga. She is great. She has only been a convert of the church for a year and a half! I don’t think I could ever have the courage to do that…I barely have enough courage to do it now and I have been a member my whole life! I have a lot I can learn from her. The other girls in my residence hall are Sister Inoke and sister Paquette. They are a lot of fun and we have fun laughing and stuff. They all came in on the same day as me so we are newbs together. There is another sister in our room. Her name is Sister Myasaki. She has been here awhile so she tells us what to do when we are lost. Basically for wed-sat it was go go go from one meeting to the next. It took a lot of adjusting too but now I like it. My favorite part is the classes.

I’ve got two teachers Sister Leatham and Brother Welch. They both served in the Philippines not too long ago and they are soooo good. They always seem to say the right things at the right time. They switch off between teaching missionary stuff and tagalog. I really love learning the language…I mean yes it’s definitely a challenge but I can’t wait until I can speak it! I’ve only been here for 4 days and I already know how to pray and bear my testimony in tagalog among other things. They even asked me to give the closing prayer in sacrament meeting

and I said it in tagalog without even looking at notes or anything! I felt like I had actually accomplished something. The language is a lot of fun to speak! It’s like doing gymnastics 🙂 with your tongue. oh and the words are really long! For example faith is pananampalataya! And the name of the church is Ang simbahan ni Jesucristo ng (can u believe ng is a word!) mga balan sa mga huling araw. Let’s see what else….I only have 8 min left. sorry this is so jumpy. The food…haha is ok I can tell it will get old fast! and don’t worry I’m not gaining any weight. Sunday was sooooo nice yesterday. It was our day of rest. This morning we went to the temple and it was so nice to be in the presence of the Lord. Mom thank you so much for the package! It was so nice and it made me so happy; the sisters love it too 🙂 Keep them coming! Before I go I just want to tell you all how much I love and appreciate you so much. being out here has made me realize that. I am soooo excited to be sharing the message of the restored gospel and that Jesus Christ is our savior. I’m so grateful for the gospel in my life and what it has done for me! Thanks for everything! until next Monday so long!


-Sister Johnson

(Sister Johnson’s first email home.)



  1. Learning Tagalog but going to Bacolod? Not Cebuano?

  2. You go Girl!!!!!!!!

  3. Jesse, I am glad to see you found my other blog! You had commented on last October.

    You are right, tagolog is not the native tongue of the people of Bocalod. From my understanding, in the greater Bacolod area in which she will be serving, there are several dialects that she will have to pick up in the different areas she may be assigned to labor in. Therefore, they teach the missionaries heading out there Tagolog to give them a general idea of any and all languages they will actually have to communicate in.

    But you would probably know better than me since you said you served near Bacolod a few years back. Where exactly did you say that you served? Do you have any advice for Sister Johnson who has another month and a half in the MTC?

    Thanks for the visit,
    Colby Johnson

  4. Oh man i seriously stalk this little blog thing and I’m so happy to hear good news from my favorite little Sasquatch!!!

  5. Haha I know that no one will speak tagalog like Squatch will! Kelsey is awesome! Thanks for the site Colby.

  6. Hey Colby,

    In terms of learning the language, having a good dictionary made a world of a difference. I don’t know if she will continue studying Tagalog when she gets to the field, but if she is, I’d recommend this dictionary:

    That dictionary is especially useful after you’ve been in the field for a few months and you’re working on your pronunciation.

    As for learning definitions, these two dictionaries are hands down the best there is:

    Besides that, just study like crazy! Tell her to try and especially learn how to pronounce ‘ng’ since there are a ton of crucial words with that sound in them.

    I served in the Cauayan Mission, which is on the North-Eastern part of Luzon… the only land-locked mission in the PI. 🙂

  7. LOL, I literally laughed at the title. Tagalog is the national dialect of the Philippines but since she’s assigned in the Phils Bacolod Mission, she ought to learn other dialects like Hiligaynon(Ilonggo), Karay-a, Cebuano, Akeanon(Aklan).

    If she gets to master Ilonggo, then she’ll be able to communicated very well in almost all of her areas. People from Kalibo, Aklan could understand Ilonggo but they can’t speak it well. They have Akeanon as a dialect, that’ even more of a higher tongue gymnastics, I promise! haha.

    Karay-a is like a southern accent of Ilonggo and they have other terms too but the dialect is really cool. I don’t know much about it since I speak Akeanon and Ilonggo.

    I don’t really recommend buying a book since most of the words in there are a little formal and most people don’t actually use them anymore. We also tend to change some forms of a word which may confuse her from that which is in the book. So I suggest that she invite a ward missionary and ask and take notes too. That’s probably the best thing to do since people know better than books, right?

    I wish Sister Johnson the best during her time in the field. I am currently preparing to serve in the field too probably by second quarter next year. It’s so good to read blogs like this.

  8. hi, i was googling sister leatham when i came across your blog, am trying to get in touch with my school teacher from mwanza – tanzania[isamilo primary school]… any connection?

    any help with getting back in touch appreciated!
    regards, santosh

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