Saturday, April 29, 2017

We LOVE the Philippines

Yes, we do love the Philippines...and the end of our time here keeps getting shorter!  Our half-way mark has come and gone!

I shouldn't always show the fun outings with the senior missionaries, but we sure enjoy being with them.  Last week we went to a secluded cove for the day. We had to travel by boat and the scenery was beautiful...wearing the required life jacket.  Vendors came on shore and Donna found the Tahitian black pearl necklace she has wanted for years.  He made it right on the spot!

Transfer week comes every six weeks.  Many missionaries are transferred to new areas and new companions, beloved, faithful missionaries leave and return home, and new missionaries arrive!  New trainers are called and matched up with their new missionary for a 12 week training.  President Dahle chooses his best missionaries to be the trainers.  He prayerfully matches those trainers with a new missionary after interviewing the new batch.  This transfer was small...we had 9 new Elders!  It was perfect for a picture collage page. 
New Missionaries and their Trainers
Baptisms are wonderful events.  At a recent baptism, I just had to take pictures of all the cute children.  Most of these live close to us and play at the church.  The basketball hoops in the parking lot are constantly being used.  Surprising to me, basketball is a big sport for the Filipinos.  I am amazed when I watch these small children throw a perfect basket!
The cutest FACES...found at a baptism

Missionaries in Action
The pictures above are some of our everyday occurrences...missionaries singing at a baptism, baptisms with pictures taken for remembrance, and teaching and learning and inspiration going on at MLC (mission leadership council).

I wanted to start taking more pictures of the things we see as we travel the mission.  Below are just a few of the pictures I will always have in my heart and mind when I think about the Philippines.

Our Olongapo District (like a Stake) Relief Society had a celebration and everyone got involved.  Each Branch chose a country.  They performed a dance and brought food representing their country.  One representative from the Branch came to the front and told some history, culture, and stories about their country.  It was like a "Miss Universe" pageant with questions and talent.  It was such a fun afternoon with the sisters!
District (Stake) Relief Society Activity...done right!!!

Easter season is over, but I had to include one more picture for our family.  The Epperson's have a tradition that we wanted to participate in even though we are far on the other side of the world.  We call it an "egg fight", but it is really harmless.  Our mother would make soft boiled eggs for part of our Easter breakfast.  We would then take our egg in hand with either the 'large' end or 'small' end out and challenge someone.  We hit the eggs together and the one that doesn't crack is the 'winner'.  We continue until we have a champion 'large' end and a champion 'small' end.  We then vie for the champion egg!!  It is a fun, silly tradition that brings our thoughts back to our childhood and our wonderful, loving family.

These are some of our favorite things!!  Life is good.  
I love serving.  I love that I have my sister with me in the Philippines.  We work in the Mission Office and get to be out with the missionaries and the people.  There is nothing better than that!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

time flies ...

time flies when you ignore posting on your blog!  a week or two turns into two months surprisingly quickly!  the best possible thing happened to me while serving my mission here in the philippines ... five of my most favorite people in the whole world traveled halfway around the world to visit!  i started to post about the few precious days we had and was so overwhelmed with the amount of photos to go through that i gave up.  sister epperson wasn't keen on the idea of posting when it wasn't 'her turn' so the blog sat dormant for too long.  we experience so many interesting things here and there is much to catch up on but today ... it's all about my little family!  get ready for photo overload!

who's the happiest person in the photo? hint ... she's in the middle!
 christian, stella, madeleine, lauren and cameron land in my world ... photo cred: sister epperson

from the airport straight to the beach to release the sea turtle hatchlings.  it is at the tail end of the hatching season so i was thrilled i got to share this experience with my granddaughters.  madeleine was studying life cycles in school so she was very interested in it.  everyone released several hatchlings and just enjoyed seeing the south sea for the first time.

it was diane's birthday and we had a great day at ocean adventure.  we HAD to experience the fish spa.  i LOVE the faces of fish pedicure virgins ... some were cooler than others and some were so animated i had to show them twice!  stella abstained but loved looking at the fish.  
crocs, tigers, dolphins and my favorite monkeys!   madeleine and cameron had a dolphin training encounter.  they were masterful!  then lunch on the beach complete with buko juice (coconut water) ... stella really wants mommy to share (don't worry ... she did!)
everyone had their first-ever jeepney ride to the palengke (open-air market) and then a quick trike ride home. trikes are big enough to hold a family of five (or more!) and all their purchases ... also cozy enough for a companionship of two!  we ended the day with dinner on the beach.  when in the philippines, you should have as many meals as possible on the beach!
this last set is a hodgepodge ... 
~ it's always fun to bury your sister in the sand.
~ stella gets her fashion sense from her uncle cameron.
~ a banca boat ride to the beautiful island of bohol.
~ bedtime stories with poppi.
~ handmade lei and the reason i'm here.

it was a glorious few days and i will never forget the joy of sharing this land i've come to love with the people i love most.  i am so grateful every day that i have the privilege of serving a mission for the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints in such an amazing part of the world with such amazing people.  it is an experience i will hold in my heart forever.  i highly recommend it if you ever get the opportunity!  'come what may, and love it'!