Sunday, May 28, 2017

a brief hiatus ...

as sister epperson mentioned last week, i have temporarily left the philippines and my duties there to be with my daughter, lauren, and her beautiful family in norway while she begins her recovery from a huge medical scare.  on her 34th birthday she suffered a cerebellar stroke.  as far as strokes go, cerebellar ones are somewhat rare and the fact that she is under 60, makes it even more so.  when i received the phone call, all i wanted was to run to her side.  after taking care of as many end-of-the-month financial duties as i possibly could, i hopped on a plane and made my way to norway.  lauren was in the hospital for just over a week while they ran multiple tests and evaluated her.  what she shared with me about her condition on the phone before she knew i was coming was a little rosier picture than she shared once she knew i was on my way (more tears throughout the brain, temporary blindness, etc).  however, i am so happy to report that the prognosis for a complete recovery was given!  she has amazed the doctors with her rapid recovery and lack of significant language and vision issues.  she will have to make some changes, of course ... removing some things from her overcrowded calendar and slowing the pace of her everyday life.  she will add physical therapy to her schedule to help with the balance issue but the doctors assure her there should be very few, if any, long-term physical effects.  the lifestyle changes need to be permanent though.  she is a type-A superwoman who is busier than just about anyone i know, who excels at anything she commits to, including job, friends, masters program, community, but most importantly, family.  some may call her lucky; i choose to believe she and her young family have been blessed beyond belief.

daughter extraordinaire
madeleine is one of the world's greatest huggers! just what i needed after 24 hours of travel!
madeleine and stella
grocery sack races and lego building with besta the babysitter! 
this trip is all about helping her, her amazing husband, christian, and the two most adorable granddaughters any besta could hope for get through this time of healing and adjustment.  it has done my heart good to be here, to see that all will be well with them.  
sometimes a mom just needs to be with her children.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Am I correct??

One of our favorite people says "am I correct? or am I right??!!!!!"  It took me a minute to figure out his jest!  He made me laugh!  That is always good!

I continue to marvel at the miracles and tender mercies around me.  I grew up knowing that I was very blessed, but I don't think I realized the magnitude of those blessings.  I am trying to better recognize those blessings and thank my Father in Heaven each day for the daily miracles.  I realized in these few sentences I used miracle, tender mercy, and blessings all to mean the same thing and often they do.

Today, I saw a certain beautiful young woman for the first time in over 6 months!  She just radiated.  Her name is Jehda, and she was one of the first Filipinas we came to love.  She was baptized about a year ago and was a part of our lives.  She has come back to this area for awhile, and I am thrilled!  I am afraid that there are so many of these wonderful people of the Philippines that I am never going to see again.  I will always have them in my heart.  

Below are some of my favorite sights as I travel around the mission.  I call them the traveling vendors, and they come in all sorts and sizes.  I keep getting surprised at what I see and how they are traveling.  It is never a boring drive for me.  I wish I was better at capturing scenes on camera.  I miss so many of them.

Traveling Vendors
Donna, Sister Hays, isn't with me today.  She traveled to Manila yesterday to catch a plane for Norway to be with her daughter and family.  Lauren has had a health crisis that needed her mother by her side.  Donna will catch us all up next week.
Good-bye sister companion!!

Good-bye my sister companion!  She is Financial Secretary of the Mission. We are going to do our best to not leave a horrible mess for her to repair when she returns.  My first big hurdle is tomorrow with the departing missionaries.  We love them and want them to be free of any hassles in their travels.  

A side note about our departing missionaries...our two elder trainers, Elder Kresge and Elder Hollis, are going home tomorrow!!  They were our rocks!  There were four Elders in the office when we arrived last year.  They were running the whole office by themselves.  The senior couple that we replaced had been gone for over a month!!  It is going to be a very hard departing devotional for me tomorrow.

Our first Office Elders
This is a throwback to our first week.  One of the mother's sent matching ties for them to wear to our first training...Elders Daquero, Hollis, Heta, and Kresge.  Elder Hollis was my trainer and Elder Kresge was the trainer for Sister Hays.  How we love these Elders! 

This week is FULL of activities/work.  I will pray for a clear mind so that I don't forget any of the many details of my responsibilities while Donna is gone! 

Love to you!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

summertime ... it happens once a year!

well, summer is back in the philippines.  that means traffic is even slower and crazier than usual and it also means more frequent brown-outs (which also means no water since it is supplied by an electric pump).  it also means rainy season is just around the corner and i couldn't be more excited about that!  we had our first long brown-out of the season last sunday so i wasn't able to post.  10 hours with no air-conditioning is hard but i think being without water is harder.  we were notified of a scheduled 12-hour power outage last thursday so we were able to make plans to be away.  talk about desperate ... we went to a movie that was anime ... in japanese ... with subtitles!  when it was over, diane said 'at least it was air-conditioned!' and i had to agree!  plus it was only $5 for the movie, popcorn, bottled water and a DQ blizzard!  the movie choices may be extremely limited here but you can't beat the price!  
don't mind me trying to drive here on this one lane road!  talk about road hazards!
our apartment was being painted last week so we were kicked out for a couple of nights.  we made the most of it though and stayed overnight at the nearby camayan resort (we still attended our meetings during the day so it wasn't a vacation ... but it WAS a very nice respite!).  it was so calming to relax in the shade of a beautiful tree and enjoy the beauty of the country that is the philippines.
we just finished a week of zone conferences.  we love it because we get to see every single missionary serving here in the olongapo mission.  they are remarkable young people ... devoting 18-24 months of their young lives to serving the Lord all day, every single day.  two of my favorite missionaries are in these pictures.  one of them is going home next week and it will not be the same here without them!  i'm excited for them to reunite with their family though so it's all good!  the little girl is chloe.  she is such a light!  when we go to baptisms for the castillejos branch, she sings primary songs while we wait for the people to get dressed.  she sings with such joy and fearlessness!  she just makes me smile so much!  
this mission has helped me grow in ways i hoped for and in ways i never imagined.  i will be forever grateful for the opportunity i've had to be here among the filipino people and the dedicated missionaries serving here.