Sunday, October 30, 2016

just another day...or week!

I'm going to start off with this picture we took with our office elders before transfer day.  President Dahle hinted to one of the Elders that he and another might receive a new assignment.  The Elders wanted to document their time together.  This has been another dedicated group of young men.  Just one was transferred, Elder Hardy.  He is the Elder wearing glasses.  Elder Detera has now taken his place.

Elders: Ancog, Hardy, Nelson, and Tui'one

On Monday all our departing missionaries came to the mission home for their ending devotional and dinner.  Before that, the Filipinos take an English test.  The church pays for this and the missionary receives a certificate indicating their level of proficiency.  This aids them in getting better employment.

Donna and I had our one-on-one time with each missionary to go over their travel and financial needs.  I love that part!  We had pictures to take and pictures taken of us.  I can see it gets harder and harder each time a new 'batch' leaves because we know them even better than the last.  I don't know what we will do in a year!  This was an unusual departing group in that they are all from the Philippines.

Four of our visa-waiting missionaries came to the mission home to participate in the ending devotional because they had to come to town anyway.  They went to Manila  Tuesday morning for appointments with the US Embassy.  
Our October 26, 2016 Departing 4 visa-waiters ready to go to the USA!
The sister in pink is now in Arizona!  She arrived to her Tempe Arizona Mission on Friday.  It was the same day that our sister wrote to tell us that Arizona was having record heat of 100 degrees!  What a nice (not) welcome for a Filipina!  This is Sister AvanceƱa.  If you ever see her in your travels, be sure to tell her 'hi' from us in the Philippines.  We have promised her that we will visit her as soon as we get home next October.  She will still have a couple of months left in her mission.

Wednesday was a CRAZY day!  It was transfer day, new missionary arrivals, and trainer/trainee match-ups all in one day this time.  This was an experiment.  I'm not sure how President and Sister Dahle feel it went, but it was nothing like the plan.  Plans change all the time, but this really was crazy.  The day started with our 20 new missionaries arriving from Manila 2 hours later than expected.  In the past, all we did on Wednesday was welcome and spend time with our new missionaries.

I took this next picture as a lesson on how to deal with the heat for all of us from Arizona.  This is a normal sight every day.  Umbrellas are used for rain and sun.  It doesn't matter what the weather is, you carry your umbrella.  The other lesson is that if you wear something on your head (usually a towel or t-shirt), you will be cooler.  Small towels or bandanas are carried by everyone to wipe the sweat off your face and body.  In Arizona I just 'glisten' and don't do anything about the sweat running down my face.  I am learning many lessons.  

Lessons to be learned every day in the Philippines!
We welcomed a new senior missionary couple this week!!  We are all so excited!  It is Elder and Sister Rollins from Oklahoma.  They are so needed and are going to be loved by all the missionaries.  Sister Rollins is a nurse and will be our new mission nurse...taking over the duties from Sister Dahle.  No one is more excited than Sister Dahle, however.

I never get tired of this scene...usually with just an investigator joined in prayer.
This is our 'District'...8 young Elders in prayer before heading out for the day.  We love them!

Street Vendor...if you look closely you can see goldfish in water in plastic bags!!
We see this vendor and others like him each time we drive our main highway.  The goldfish surprised me.  I was always looking at the bright colors under the umbrella.
... wonderful sister missionaries
I had to share this cute picture of our cute sister missionaries.  We made a visit to their home to give birthday wishes and deliver a passport.  This is the kind of errands we absolutely love!
Drying rice before it goes to the Mill
I will never get this picture out of my head.  I know I take so many of them during our travels.  Rice is grown constantly and the fields are all in different stages of growth.  This rice is drying on the sides of this 'highway' before it is gathered back into bags and taken to the Mill.  I knew there were a lot of varieties of rice, but when I go to the market here and see the rice, I am amazed!  

I (we) love the Philippines.  We are having experiences we will be talking about for the rest of our lives.  I am so grateful that I get to share the experiences with my sister.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

well, i think i'm growing ...

i'm going to give this blog thingy another shot.  the big news last week was not one, but two typhoons that hit the philippines.  typhoons are just hurricanes in the eastern hemisphere.  we thought the first one was headed right for us so emergency preparations were made and evacuation plans were reviewed by our 180 missionaries.  church was cancelled in much of the philippines as travel was expected to be difficult.  thankfully, we were spared and only got a few periods of heavy rain saturday night.  bright and early sunday morning we noticed some members of the calapacuan branch streaming into the church (we live next door) and found out they hadn't gotten the message about the cancellation.  the four elders who live next door and the mission president, hurriedly decided to arrange a church service so they would not have come in vain.  we had two speakers and then a few people were called on to bear their testimonies.  for the next two hours, we watched a session of general conference.  it turned out to be a lovely day for about 20-30 of us!  i continue to be pulled out of my comfort zone here.  the latest 'opportunity' came as i was asked to lead the music for sacrament meeting.  there's nothing i love more than standing in front of a group of people to do something i'm unfamiliar with!  thankfully my companion was there, again, with her camera to document it all.  how would i remember any of this stuff without her?

then on wednesday, another typhoon set it's sights on us.  this one was a super typhoon but we were not expected to take a direct hit.  still, precautions were taken.  we had a little more rain from this one but were spared any major problems again.  many of our missionaries families WERE in the path and experienced devastation.  thank you so much for your concern and prayers on our behalf.

in between the storms we hired a driver and got to make a day trip to manila!  don't get too excited ... i had to see a dentist for a root canal!  my faithful companion accompanied me and was able to visit with our friends, the other 'sister sisters' in the area office, while i was occupied.  it was interesting because we ended up having 4 missionaries that needed to go to doctors/dentist as well, so we had the party bus!  we were leaving at 4:30am and at 4:00 we got a notice that our next door neighbor was going with us.  HIPPA rules prevent me from saying his name (not really, just protecting his privacy!) but he had been in the hospital the week before suffering with kidney stones.  we went to visit him every day and i'm posting a picture of him just so you can appreciate the quality of care in the worst of hospitals in the USA.  well, he had a relapse and was really sick... felt really bad for him.  we only brought one missionary back with us (the other dental patient) but all are now recovered and safely home.  diane and i are going back on halloween to finish up the root canal and get a crown.  the church has brought in american dentists as missionaries so i didn't have to fret over the credentials of a philippine dentist and the best part? ... the crown only cost me $25!  gotta love the philippines!

one last thing to mention.  referring back to stretching and growing ... sister dahle (the mission president's wife loves to say, "there's no growing in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growing zone" and i've come to realize she's spot on.  seems like i heard something similar from my brother, mike, when i told him about my decision to serve a mission!  anyway, i had to give a presentation to all the missionaries during three different zone conferences two weeks ago about their finances and how to budget.  once again i could hear daryl laughing his head off!  (the olongapo mission is divided into 9 zones of about 20 missionaries each.  they were divided into three groups and we held a 'zone conference' three days in a row in three different locations).  i created my first power point presentation ever and didn't even faint or throw up so i consider it a success!!  i think maybe i AM growing a little.

love you all more than you know.

the pic of our gecko parent i couldn't load last post
it's rainy season!
i'm going to remember this if i ever complain about healthcare in america again! 
uh ... how do you count notes again??
rush hour traffic in manila ... please ... walk right in front of all moving vehicles!
just a little localized flooding.  we were lucky with these typhoons!
my favorite part of zone conferences were the 'impromptu choirs' that happened.  i LOVE these missionaries!
the lack of any sort of traffic control never ceases to amaze us but after 6 months of it, we're not laughing anymore.  at least some of these drivers wear helmets.  lots of tragic accident stories here.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Through our eyes this week...

Here is a wrap-up of some of our week...

It is Christmas...or so you would think.  There isn't snow, not even chilly weather, but there are decorations and music everywhere you go.  This is the theme here...the BER months are here.  If it is the BER months, then you can decorate and prepare for Christmas.

One day we were asked to help sisters and luggage and supplies get to their new homes.  We went places in the mission that we have never been before.  We rely on a GPS that doesn’t know the streets!  Then we try to get directions from the young missionaries who don’t drive and only know their own proselyting area.  We did find our way, but we were frustrated a couple of times.  We love helping.  We love being with the young missionaries.  We love seeing the Philippines.  So, it was a good day…that took all day!

One day we had Follow-Up Training.  This is for the new batch of missionaries that have only been with us for 4 weeks and their trainers.  They come from all over the mission.  I love to see the growth that happens to a missionary in their first month with us.  It is pretty amazing.  I don’t think parents have any clue what happens to their “child” when they devote their life to the Lord and His work.

One day we had the Mission Leadership Council (MLC).  This is my favorite, but I say that about each event.  MLC is when the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders come together to learn and share with each other and President and Sister Dahle.  I love this because we witness 18-23 year olds share inspiration, counsel together, and lead!  These returned missionaries are going to be fantastic leaders and adults in this world of ours!

One day we had another baptism.  This young couple are amazing.  Their last name is Abias.  They were scheduled to be baptized last week, but their 4 month old baby got sick.  The baby died the next day!!  The couple were determined to be baptized.  They didn’t want to put it off any longer.  They truly understand the Plan of Salvation.  

This weekend is when our Branch watches General Conference.  It was too hard for us to go all week without watching the sessions…so we watched them on our computers!  We were watching as soon as they were on the internet.  I feel like I cheated.  The young missionaries had to wait a whole week to hear General Conference.  

Elder Hardy's Birthday
One day we had another birthday celebration!  Yes, another one of our neighbors, Elder Hardy, had his birthday.  He is 20 years old!  His favorite meal of the day is breakfast, so his thoughtful housemates planned a birthday breakfast for him…with bacon courtesy of us.  Elder Nelson cooked eggs, French toast, pancakes, special hot chocolate, sliced strawberries, and all sorts of yummy things!  I can’t believe all the birthdays we have been having.  We went our first four months with no birthdays.

One day we had a whole day in the office!  We love working the mornings that we have our office Elders in there working.  They only spend a few mornings with us each week.  Some weeks other things come up for one or both of us, and we miss working with the Elders.  There are so many things that need to be done in the office each week!  Sometimes, I’m amazed that we are able to finish everything in a timely manner.

These are some of the things we saw…however, I missed so many great pictures as our days passed.  
We love our new surroundings and our new friends!
Beautiful area of the Subic Bay...lunch one day

I know I have shown pictures of the rice on the streets before, but I can't stop taking pictures!

Rice left to dry out...then it's taken to the mill

Beautiful rice fields.  It is hard to see but each little area is in a different state of harvest or growth.

Christmas decorations for sale along the streets.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

all creatures of our God and King ...

i had a great birthday, as you saw from diane's post last week.  it is definitely one i will remember!  thanks for the love and wishes!

what sounds like a cow mooing but there is no cow?  frogs ... and LOTS of them.  mostly we hear the constant drone of motorcycles, cars, jeepneys and trikes out our windows but we also get the sounds of nature daily.  we have a large pond 15 feet from our property and it is loaded with frogs.  it's fun to watch the kids 'fishing' for dinner.  since it is rainy season, the constant croaking of frogs is part of natures symphony.  there is also a rooster section across the street!  

thought i would include some of the little critters that act like they own our place too.  actually they were probably here long before we were!  there are spiders in the window when we shower and occasionally they drop in and say 'hi'.  there are the beetles that grace our stairwell (that the janitor says are delicious, by the way - taste like jerky), but apparently you don't want to eat them this time of year unless you find them in the forest.  good to know!  the cutest, most delicate, little flies i've ever seen are abundant and the head of the gecko household who doesn't bother to eat any of them!  there are several gecko offspring in the house and porch as well but they are too speedy to photograph.  and my list wouldn't be complete without mentioning the ants that are ever present.  they are little magicians as they just appear on our hands or our faces/necks/legs or computers.  

i can't think too much about all our houseguests when it's lights out or i would never be able to fall asleep.  hope they have fun crawling on us in the night!

okay ...  it started out fun (?) for me to do this blog but it has been nothing but a lesson in frustration and causes me such undo aggravation i have to stop.  adding pictures is ridiculous because i can't put them anywhere close to where i want them and who knows why it decided to underline a whole section and won't let me un-underline it - it is beyond my comprehension.  was going to add more pictures but i'm done.  sorry for how this will probably look.  we can't even preview it because it always looks different than it appears.  whatever.  table for Grumpy, party of one!  sorry!  this should be a happy place!

this is general conference weekend and since we are 14 hours ahead of salt lake, it is live for us at midnight and 4am.  we tried to watch the saturday sessions when we got home from church but could only get the audio of the saturday morning session.  i always look forward to hearing the words of our Prophet and Apostles and am anxious to hear all 10 hours soon!  there is always inspiration to be had.  hopefully we will be able to watch them this week, but if not, they will be broadcasting them next weekend at church.

hope you are all happy and healthy.  and maybe i'll give it another try in a couple weeks.  stay tuned! love you more than you know.              donna