Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wow! What a Ride!

Yes, we are home and loving the cool weather!  It was so good to see our family and get tons of hugs and kisses.  We miss our "kids" and friends in the Philippines more than we imagined.  We've been so blessed by our Mission experience and we're very thankful to everyone who made it possible.  Thank you all!  Elder..'oops, I mean Darrel wants us to continue the blog for a while so check for updates.  We've already heard from many of our missionaries and members and love the contacts.  Here are our last few days in the Philippines in pictures!  Our best wishes for a wonderful New Year and we hope 2011 will bring great joy and blessings into your life!

Last FHE with our Zone at the Manila Temple enjoying the lights and spirit.

E. Langer, E. Richwine and David Tadeo (our first ZL)

  Good bye to Elder Richwine.  He has been in Naic Zone on two occasions and has served with us longer than any other individual.
Saying Goodbye to Sister Jeane Arandia.  Our tutor, tour guide, friend and one of the nicest and sweetest people we've ever met. 

The last dinner with our "Senior" friends.  Howards, Petersons, Morgans, Smiths and Swensons 
 The Morgan's had a Fred cake made for our last evening at the Mission Home.  The Office Elders, TA's and AP's joined the Senior Couples for dessert and paalam.  They were upset as the cake tipped and slid during the ride to Makati.  We thought it was beautiful (and delicious) anyway!
   Arriving home. Met by our loved ones in Las Vegas!

President Curtis Steadman releasing us.  We are in our living room with lots of family watching.  Wow!  What a ride we had! 

Our daughter had our tickets for The Forgotten Carols on Dec. 21st.  Was great to see the show and Michael McLean again. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Preparing to leave soon

We checked our blog earlier today and there are just 4 days to go. Amazing! In some ways it seems we just got here last week and in other ways it seems like we’ve always been here. We have visited all 7 Branches in the District during the past 3 weeks. Each time we have said goodbye to many good friends. Our hearts will always treasure the love and kindness we have experienced here.

We went to Makati this week for Zone Conference. We enjoyed spending time with the Morgan’s and seeing some sights. We took them to the Mall of Asia and noticed the Spam kiosk. It seemed to be doing a pretty good business. Our Zone sang “12 Days of Christmas” at the conference. We reused last year’s lyrics and they were great. The Zone really got into the spirit of things and sang their hearts out. We have had some fun, enthusiastic, vocally superior choirs during the past 18 months. For the Christmas Zone Conference we watched “The Other Side of Heaven” and “The Best Two Years”. The snacks were flowing and popping and disappearing. We had hot dogs for lunch and generally just enjoyed hanging out.

We will be headed to the Mission Home on Tuesday and then meeting the Peterson’s on Wednesday. We feel bad because there won’t be time to bring them out to Naic and show them around. The Morgan’s came out last week and we gave them the guided tour so they will be doing the honors. We’re going to the Manila Temple grounds tomorrow night to see the Christmas lights with our Zone. It is going to be a treat!

Spam Kiosk

 Swenson's with E. Lillywhite and E. Ward (They both say "Hi Mom!")

 Sister Arlene (baptized in July/2010). Shirlynn and Arwin on her lap and neighborhood kids gathered for our visit. Truly amazing Sister. We began visiting her when she was investigating the Church and try to go out to her place every week or so.

 We passed 4 of these basket carts on the way from Punta to Tanza this morning

 Balloons are "big" here. Used at parties, weddings, funerals and anything else. We passed 2 tryke's-full this morning.

 Some kids playing by the side of the road to our apartment

Last turn before our apartment. The Tindahan is open every day and usually quite busy.

 On the road to our apartment

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winding Down

We hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. We did! We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Mission Home. Everything was delicious.

Delia is an amazing cook. She has been cooking for the Mission Home for 20 years and makes some amazing dishes. President and Sister Howard are always such gracious hosts so every occasion is special.

We were without internet for several days so didn’t get to talk with anyone from home over the holiday but we’re sure everything was fine and yummy. We’ve had quite a few baptisms lately and it is exciting.

During the past 6 weeks we’ve watched 9 members of one family in Trece Branch join the Church. The Zone is doing so well and working so hard. It makes us very proud of them.

Monday night was our LAST Family Home Evening. It’s hard to believe. Our Zone was here and 8 of the office Elders and 2 Sisters came from Makati.

The roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy were a hit. We have one more FHE on December 6th but it will be on-the-road as we are traveling to the Temple as a Zone to see the Christmas lights there.

As our time here is winding down we are so grateful for our many blessings. We have loved every missionary (over 100) who has come through our Zone. The Senior Couples are fantastic and the Howard’s are fabulous too. The members of the Church here and the Philippine people in general are beyond description. They have treated us like royalty and we love them so much. Our testimonies have been strengthened by their example and humility. We have also been so blessed to have such a stupendous support group at home! We love our family and friends very much and are looking forward to being home. But, golly, we’re really going to miss our family and friends in the Philippines too!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monkey-ing Around

It’s been a fun and busy week. Monday night was FHE. We had a spaghetti dinner and then played some Thanksgiving themed games.  (Thanksgiving Matching game)
We’re pretty sure spaghetti is a fairly traditional Thanksgiving dinner since turkey is dang hard to find and afford. The fun treat of the evening was getting our new Zone t-shirts. Friends in the Naic Branch (Herbert and Aira) designed the Captain Moroni themed picture. We’ll be bringing ours home (with quite a few others) so we’ll have some additional fun memories.

Tuesday was Temple Day and Going Home fireside and dinner at the Mission Home.

 It’s hard to believe that we were part of the going home group this time. It really doesn’t quite seem real yet. Transfer day was on Wednesday and we got 4 new Elders and 1 new Sister. Things are always changing in the mission field. We met the new comers Friday morning at District Meeting and they are terrific. Sister Frost transferred to Makati and is now a TA with Sister Betts. What a pair! Right now our Zone is on-fire (still) and hoping for 50 baptisms in December.

We went for a drive up Ternate canyon while waiting for a meeting and a herd of monkeys ran across the road in front of us. It took a minute to get the camera but still caught one in action. This is one of our favorite scenic drives in the area.

We were honored to host lunch on Sunday for Pres. and Sis. Howard . His brother and sister-in-law, Brent and Bonnie, are visiting from Malad, Idaho.
Lunch guests. Brent and Bonnie Howard, Pres. and Sis. Howard and the Smiths

 It was a real pleasure to have them here. Our apartment complex missionaries were here and also the Sister TA’s came out from Makati.
The Elder TA’s are also visiting the Zone and came later for left-over lunch and visiting.
E. Richwine and E. Langer (ZL's) in a self-portrait

After lunch we took the Sister TA's to the swinging bridge in Maragondon. They insisted on a smooching picture (we didn't mind).
We have actually set out a suitcase to start putting a few things together for the trip home. We got our travel plans at the first of the week. These are the new, updated, final plans according to the email. We leave Manila at 6:30 a.m. on the 9th of December. We arrive in Hong Kong at 8:30 a.m. and have a lay-over until 1:05 p.m. then on to LAX. We arrive in LA at 9:35 a.m. (again on December 9th) and depart for LV at 2:37 p.m. with a 3:46 p.m. arrival time. This gaining and losing days business is strange! We have just two more Sundays in the Philippines.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

We're Tourists

We decided we’d better play our “tourist card” as we are counting down.  Wednesday morning we took Sister Jeane Arandia to the US Embassy to apply for her student visa.  The Embassy is next to Rizal Park which is a major Mania landmark.   
 While we were waiting for her we went to the Children’s Museum and really enjoyed the displays and information.  When she finished with her appointment we decided to see the sights.  We got into a horse drawn carriage and headed out.   
Jeane is a native but had never been to the park so she was thrilled with the trip also.  Our driver took us all over the place and we were able to see the National Museum, tons of statues, Old Town Manila (Spanish style) and much more.  While we were in the Museum it started to rain.  It was a real Philippine downpour!   
The carriage ride back to the car was terrific with the sounds of rain on the roof.  It was a wonderful experience and it was a pleasantly comfortable day temperature wise for a change.

We have a second fruit for the month.  We didn’t get a picture of the insides as everyone knows what they look like.  The fields in these pictures are just a few km from our apartment.  We are grateful for wonderfully fresh pineapple and it is reasonably priced.  It is so juicy and sweet and we love it.   

Friday we went to Sonja’s Garden (again) with the Morgan’s.  It was another touristy day with a couple of Branch business stops along the way.  We ate several servings of fresh pineapple while we were there.

Saturday we split up and Sister Smith attended a District RS Visiting Teaching Convention in Naic while Elder Smith went to a baptism in Punta.  There were 8 for that baptism and we forgot to send the camera with him.  Later that evening we attended another baptism in Naic. 
SM SuperMarket Checkers.  We were picking up some groceries and it was slow in the store.  Several of the checkers started questioning Elder Smith about where he was from, what he was doing etc.  Yes, he did OYM!!  He wanted a picture of them and a crowd showed up.  Everyone loves to have their picture taken.
Here's proof you can transport anything on a tryke

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Preparing Papayas

We have a papaya tree in our front yard and this year it is loaded with fruit. However, according to the natives when it is still green, it is considered a vegetable.

So, we are going to be learning to cook a special green papaya dish as an ulam. That’s a topping for rice and a main course. The ripe ones are sweeter and used in fruit salads, shakes and just eaten by themselves. We’ll be sure to post pics of the green experiment. Papaya is the fruit of the month in its diverse forms.

Monday night was FHE and we weakened and had a Halloween themed activity. Elder Smith did a regular lesson and then the games went off the deep end.
We had a mummy wrapping contest,

bobbing for apples, ghost bingo and a wonderful dinner. Each missionary as they arrived made their own tinfoil (hobo) dinner. We had the charcoal ready and they all simmered and cooked while we had the lesson and such. Very few of the missionaries had ever tried to make one and they were quite delighted with the results. We love sharing new ideas and foods and love when we get new ideas back. Our mission has very much been a cultural exchange.
These are Philippine Weed Whackers. There are work crews along the highways chopping weeds and grass nearly every time we go anywhere. They use big machete type knives and whack away. The same method is used to trim lawns and yards. You will rarely see a lawn mower or mechanical weed whacker being used.