Sunday, September 25, 2016

Happy Birthday, Donna!!

How do you wish your sister a happy birthday when you live with her, shop with her and are in a foreign country??  Thank goodness she isn't big into birthdays or celebrations...especially when it's for her.  However, everyone wanted to be involved because Donna is loved by all who meet her.  This was her day...

Breakfast...not in bed...

A morning in the office...of course she had to get work done before a day of celebration.

Lunch with our favorite friend, Sister Dahle.  Lunch was at the Camayan Resort on the beach!!  It is a gorgeous location and a gorgeous day!  Then we headed next door to the Ocean Adventure Park..."the first and only open water marine theme park in Southeast Asia"...and it's in our back yard!

We got in a Dolphin show and a Sea Lion show before it started raining sooooo hard!   Even with the canvas roof covering, the rain spoiled the fun and came pouring in on everyone.

We will be coming back to this park!  It was a wonderful diversion when the need arises.  Because of time and rain, we missed out on one park activity that we were looking forward to...a fish pedicure!!  Watch for pictures from our next visit to the Ocean Adventure Park!
We weren't sure we were going to be able to drive all the way home because the rain was so strong and heavy...the streets get flooded...but we made it, and the rain slowed down before we reached our home.

We were tired and soaked!  Donna collapsed on the sofa with her birthday texts and emails while I took a shower.  THEN her next surprise came...

The Elders next door made a cake for this Sister that they love!  I had unlocked the door so that they could come in.  I told them to make LOTS of noise because it would scare her to death if they just walked in!  They had balloons, cake, and loud happy birthday wishes!!  It was a great ending to a great day.

I love this sister of mine.  I can't imagine this mission assignment without her by my side. 
Happy Birthday, Donna!!


Sunday, September 18, 2016

and so it goes ...

another new batch!
well, time is a funny thing here.  i will be saying something to Diane like, 'last week when we ...' and she'll say, 'that was two days ago!'.  i'm not sure whether that means days are passing quickly or not but it happens to me frequently!  with that in mind, it was transfer week again!  i know you think you've seen this picture before but this is the new batch of 21 missionaries ... our biggest yet!  the ritual of the trainer/trainee match-up never gets old to me!  everyone in the room is so excited!  it's a really fun day.  but i can't believe it has been six weeks since the last batch came in.  time really is flying for me.  we've had four missionaries in the hospital with everything from a collapsed lung to amoebic dysentery.  the latter happened to one of the new fresh happy faces in the picture ... quite the welcome to your life for the next 2 years! happy to report they are all on the mend.

while doing deliveries yesterday, we happened on about 50 cyclists that must have been in some type of road trip.  (thought this would be a good place to remind you of what traffic on the two-lane main road looks like here -- remember, this is one lane!)  

we had a scary incident.  we were stopped in traffic and in typical fashion, motorcycles squeeze into the space of the one yellow stripe that divides the lanes to pass.  it is terrifying as buses and other vehicles are coming the opposite direction.  anyway, a cyclist decided to travel down the center stripe and had to slow down so much he lost his balance one foot from my door while an 18-wheeler was coming the opposite direction.  i screamed as he was grazed and thrown into our car and then to the ground.  we had just heard about the after-math of a trike accident that resulted in a death and horrific injuries.  i was so scared but THANKFULLY, he got right up and i helped him gather his things.  he was scraped up quite a bit and i'm sure he is hurting badly today but a fellow cyclist was on the scene quickly and helped him to the side of the road.  imagine 20 cars, trikes, jeepneys, buses, motorcycles honking for us to get out of the way.  it was awful.  everyone just wanted to be on their way.  there are many nail-biting moments on the road but this was my scariest by far.  sister epperson holds her breath and puts on her imaginary brake often as i try to squeeze by jeepneys that pulled (sort of) off the road to pickup/dropoff passengers.  i forget the side mirrors stick out another foot on either side!  haven't lost one yet though!

the last picture is just some comic relief!  these men spent two days power washing the parking lot of our complex this week ... in the rain.  one sprayed the ground while the other one scrubbed.  none of us could figure out why they were doing it but ... it's clean now!  we also have a man who comes every monday morning and washes our cars ... in the rain!  it goes along with the national past-time of sweeping (usually just the dirt on the side of the road).  these little quirks in the culture make us smile!  hope you have many many things that make you smile this week as well!  love you more than you know.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

let's start with today...

Let's start with today.  The electricity went out about 30 minutes before church started and was out for an hour and a half.  What is church like with no electricity in Calapacuan?  Thank goodness the chapel has two long walls of windows, so the windows are always opened for church.  Normally we also have ceiling fans on high speed, but not today.  There were no lights except what we received through the windows on a day with no sun.  Today, there was no microphone either, which makes it hard to hear in the large room.  During our testimony meeting, it started pouring rain, which made it even harder to hear the speakers.  With the pouring rain came a very dark sky which means the room got even darker!  Donna and I sat next to a window today which gave us a little breeze until a young child decided to close the shade over the window! :(     And of course to top it all off, only one person spoke in English (so maybe 3 minutes worth).  I say all of this, but in reality, I had a fabulous Sunday.  The spirit was strong...we partook of the sacrament...and the people are so loving and welcoming!!  You can't beat that!

Yesterday there were two baptisms in our Branch.  One was Gary, a young adult, and the other was Ira, a 10 year old girl.  It was a very happy day for them.  They just beamed.  It is the tradition in this Branch to have the one being baptized bear their testimony afterwards.  This is always so powerful.

I am also amazed that the speakers at Ira's baptism (the young woman and man on each end of the group picture) spoke without one paper, no electronics, nothing.  I want to be like them when I grow up!
Ira and her bright smile!
For those of you that follow Donna on Instagram, you saw another adventure we had this week...our water!  This is a picture of our Mission President holding up the water sample he got from our apartment.  He put it in the bottle to send it off to be tested!  The picture doesn't do it justice!!!!!  You can see residue at the bottom of the jar.  That black 'stuff' was thick and throughout the water.  I had showered and was in the kitchen to prepare breakfast.  When I turned on the sink water, I got the black water!  I quickly went to the shower room to let Donna know because she was getting ready to shower!  Yep, it was black there too!!  Our water comes from a pump on our property, so it was a little troubling.
Lovely water to wash and shower with!

We don't yet know what happened to the water.  We are prepared in our apartment with pure drinking water and non-potable water for emergencies.  This was an emergency in my book.  We are able to use our water now.  We are still a little leery about our water, but  we are okay!

We really do love the Philippines!  I'm not being sarcastic.  The area that we live in this part of the Philippines (Luzon--the upper island) is beautiful.  Because there was once a heavy USA military presence here with Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Force Base, we can find many of our favorite American products.  So far, we cook our American recipes.  We eat Filipino food, but we haven't prepared any ourselves yet.

Oh, I almost forgot about another happening in our part of this world.  Karaoke!  Do you like karaoke?  We have had LOUD karaoke for 24 hours straight in our neighborhood!  The Filipino people love karaoke.  I understand you can buy karaoke machines OR rent karaoke machines when you want one. We can't hear the music very well in our apartment, but we can hear the loud singing that sounds like yelling into a microphone.  I'm not sure how we slept last night, but we were blessed.  We heard karaoke starting from yesterday afternoon.  We went to bed with karaoke and woke up to karaoke.  We were kind of thrilled when the power went out this morning because the singing stopped!  However, it didn't really stop until this afternoon.

 This is what happens when you hand your camera to an Elder to take a picture for you!!  We love these young men!!  This is Elder Tui'one and Elder Vaoiva.  It's a great picture of them up close.

These are just some of the things that have happened to us this week, but I wanted to give you a little flavor of our adventures in the Philippines.  We have been very busy in the Mission Office.  For some reason we keep finding things to do! Actually, they find us.  We are learning and growing...which we know is good for us!

I found my super hero!  He is a little hard to talk to, but I found him!  I knew some of you would like to know that.
I had an awakening when I got my hair cut.  I finally saw a gray-haired Diane in the mirror at the beauty shop!  Any other time I look in the mirror, I only see Diane with blonde hair.  I know that is sad, but it is a fact.

Enjoy a fabulous week!  We know that we will!!