Sunday, June 19, 2016

Learning about our New Environment...

What is a Lahar?
I learned a new word...lahar!  It is a moving fluid mass composed of volcanic debris and water.  We went to a lahar...or at least the remains of an active lahar. It looks like a dry river bed with bridges that cross over it.  One bridge is even buried! In reality it is volcanic ash and 'pumice' stones that crush to make more ash.  There are heavy trucks that work here each day to bring the sand in to make bricks for the houses (I think that's what they are doing). 

The picture just looks like Donna and I had another beach day!

We have been assigned to do sister missionary apartment checks in the two zones closest to us.  This week we went out with the couple that used to do this area so they could show us the ropes.  Half way through the inspection, I turned to Donna and said, "I don't want to do apartment checks!"  Elder Wright was fixing a toilet that wouldn't flush!  

I have been trying for weeks to get good pictures of what I call Bandits!  Even though it is 90 degrees out and 90 percent humidity, the Filipinos cover their bodies with clothes.  We think it is because 1) they don't want the sun to darken their skin and 2) they cover their faces and noses because of the slow traffic with heavy exhaust fumes. I would probably do the same thing, but it sure looks funny!!!  It doesn't matter whether they are working construction, driving, or just sitting around.  We even had a Bandit painting the trim on our house this week.
My Bandits!!!
Another oddity that I shared on Instagram, is the drying of rice on the sides of the streets.  Rice fields are irrigated.  I guess the rice is very wet after it is harvested.  We live on the National Highway.  As we drive, we often see the rice being dried on the sides of the road!  This week Donna stopped long enough for us to get a great picture of young men raking, shoveling, and then bagging the dry rice from the highway...and another bandit!  Just another oddity.
bagging rice from off the highway!

I do realize that everywhere we travel, we will discover oddities or customs and things we are not used to doing or seeing or eating.  We are half way around the world from Arizona, and we are discovering all kinds of oddities.  These are just a few!

We are loving our experiences and the people of the Philippines.  We love serving the Lord.  And I love that I brought family with me this time!

Don Epperson...we love you!
Today is Father's Day.  This is the father of all fathers!!  He was a great example to his 6 children and all that knew him.  This week just happened to also be his birthday and our parent's wedding he has been on our minds!  We know that he is watching over us.  We love you, dad!

Transfer week is next week!  We are receiving 19 new missionaries and have 14 departing this time.  We have been busy getting ready for this. I went a little crazy when my printer didn't recognize my computer for a day and a half!  I had many papers to make and print for both the departing and the new missionaries!

We would love to hear from you, our friends and family, so that we aren't totally out of the loop for the 18 months we are gone.
Hint: our emails are below...

A mission is a great thing!  

You are loved and thought of often!  May your life be blessed!
Sister Sisters Donna and Diane


Sunday, June 12, 2016

is this still the honeymoon phase?

since we've been here about 6 weeks now, some people in the mission have asked if we've had a meltdown yet and have been surprised when we say no ... everything is still new and (mostly) pretty fantastic!  some had a hard adjustment at the beginning and we just haven't.  can you say tender mercy?  we are still able to laugh at the insane traffic and the brown-outs and we absolutely LOVE the rain!  the heat/humidity is a bit oppressive ... we DO wish air-conditioning was a little more common here, but that's about it! 

sunset out our kitchen window

when i moved from texas to arizona i would tell people i missed clouds, rain and green.  well ... they are back in my life and it makes me smile!  plus the added bonus of mountains and beaches!  

mountains and pastures outside the city
i think i may be posting too many pictures of us at the beach and giving you the wrong idea about what we're doing here!  we work very long hours, usually 6 days a week and this little diversion was an invitation from our new friend, Sherylynn Dahle, the mission president's wife.  she called and said she was in need of a girls outing/walk on the beach for a couple of hours.  we are here to help wherever we are needed so who were we to deny her?!

monday morning diversion at a nearby beach
it was the last week of (what they call) summer, the kids were going back to school and the beach was deserted at 10am.  she explained to us that it would've been bustling earlier with locals coming to fish but that they weren't really a source of recreation for them, at least not during the week.  i was reminded of what the islanders said when they were working so hard to prepare the pig a couple of weeks ago ("it's not work ... it's lunch!").  while i know family and friends are very hard-working, this seems a different kind of work.  as someone whose life is beautifully simple, i'm in awe of the labor involved in everyday life for a large part of humanity.  it is truly humbling and i am filled with even more gratitude for my abundance.  my cup runneth over.  

... and i think we are both broken records
 about the beautiful children, but come on!
i love the people of the philippines. their joy is unmatched.  one of my favorites the past couple of weeks is a 16-year old named jedha.  she was just baptized last saturday and she is beautiful inside and out.  she throws open her arms and runs to greet us whenever she sees us -- makes a gal feel special! i am blessed to have many people in my life that have that quality and it is my hope that i can develop that in myself.  i want to truly see each person as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ see them. 
   i love the Lord.  
i'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve here and, in the process, discover so many things about myself.  i know He lives.  i know He loves each of us.  i am grateful that i am learning to pay attention and be more mindful of all He has given me.  i can't wait to see what's next!
love you more than i can say.