Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's been a good week!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

We had rain a couple of days and it actually cooled off for a few hours so I was thrilled. It was cool enough to walk to the beach one evening. Our apartment is situated about a mile (or less) from the nearest beach. Part of the path is through grass, weeds and who knows what else but it was fun to walk in the sand. Will get some pictures the next time we go. On Tuesday we met with the Elders in our zone and started an Elders choir. They love singing but everyone wants to sing the melody. We’re working on that. Friday (Thursday to you) we met with them again for another rehearsal. They had a zone planning meeting beforehand. After the meeting we took all 12 Elders plus Elder Smith and I to lunch. That’s 14 meals at Lolo Claros restaurant and the tab came to p1,700. About $35.00! Unbelievable! We spent the rest of the day with the Elders from Ternate branch. Did some tracting and got better acquainted with their area. We attended their branch this morning for church. Was nice but not terrific attendance. While visiting with the branch pres. we found that 2/3 or more of the branch is inactive. We will be working there on activation for the next couple of weeks (or more). Elder Beckstead and Graham are the Elders there. Elder Beckstead is from Puyallup, WA. As we were visiting I asked him if President Wheeler had given him his patriarchal blessing. He couldn’t believe that I knew that. I explained the cousin connection and he was quite impressed.

Next week will be busy. Going to Manila on Tuesday to the temple and Mission Home, Wednesday is transfer day (golly, we might get new companions), Thursday and Friday we’ll be working in Ternate, then Saturday and Sunday is District conference. Can’t believe there are no fireworks scheduled for the 4th!

Elder Graham was telling us about the spiders here in the Philippines. Just the other night he was in the shower and turned around. There was a banana spider hanging there. It was about 6” diameter. His description of the event is, “I screamed like a girl!”. Now I’m totally paranoid in the shower. I really get in and out pretty fast with the cold water but who knows what might happen? Last week I went into our CR (bathroom) and there was a slug on the floor in front of the toilet. I yelled for Darrel (something I do quite often) to remove the critter. He claims it was only 4 inches long but I’m pretty sure it was the size of a football.

Have loved visiting with the family this week on Skype! Technology is absolutely amazing. It was so fun to “see” and “talk” to everyone. Looking forward to more opportunities in the future. Hope everyone is well and continues to prosper. We love you all

1. Home sweet home. Yes it is pink, white and orange. Living-kitchen-bath-laundry downstairs and two bedrooms – common area and balcony upstairs.

2. Gecko- on the walls cleaning up bugs. Can count on them on duty any time day or night. Four in one room is record so far. (messy little debuggers)

3. Caribou These used to be the main power source for rice production. Not used so much any more. The missionary standard is a belt made from the horns of this animal.

4. Rice patties are everywhere here in the provinces (country farming areas)

5. Baptism of three children on the 13 of June 2009 in Carissa Branch

Friday, June 26, 2009

Home SWEAT Home

Mom and Dad gave us a tour of their apartment while talking with them on Skype.
It's been great to get a peek into their home away from home.
Little Kitchen-ette complete with one burner hotplate and water purifier. Notice the cupboards are bare... they can't keep food in them or bugs take over!
Their little fridge, kitchen table and food pantry table
No home is complete without monogrammed towels to keep your arm from sticking to the vinyl chairs.Letting in the "cool breeze" A stairway to the upstairs bedrooms. They are just happy to have a roof over their heads and web connections to home.

A peek into our new world

This is Taipai, Taiwan China. We spent the night there at a hotel in the airport. So, we have visited more than one country already .
Manila TempleOutdoor Meat Market Halo Halo It is shaved ice with sweet cream in it at the base. Then there are pieces of banana, jack fruit, bread fruit, gelatin balls and squares, flan, rice krispies, sweet corn, sweet beans and a scoop of fruity flavored sherbet/ice cream on top.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We have Internet

In anticipation for getting set up with the internet, we pre-composed our happenings on Father's Day. Here it is:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father’s Day

Made a card for Darrel and let him have a long afternoon nap. Think we’ll have spaghetti for dinner just like we probably would if we were at home. We went to the Punta Branch for church this morning. The Fershtut’s had an investigator family they wanted to take and we needed two cars. The five little girls went with us and loved being at church. Their mom wasn’t feeling well and dad was at work. They don’t have money to take a jeepney or tryke to church and live too far away to walk.

Yesterday was a fun day. We went to the SM (Supermall) in DasMarinas and did a bit of shopping. While we were there we went to Pizza Hut and shared a meat lovers! It was yummy but wasn't too fond of their drink choices. Anyway, we got a text while we were there.

The Elder’s wanted to go on splits with the senior couples. One Elder needed to go to Carissa for a baptism and the other had numerous apts. Here in Naic. We ended up with Elder Barlow here in Naic. We visited and taught 7 families between 4:00 and 9:00 p.m. That’s including driving time and searching for houses time. What a great experience. Such wonderful, humble people.

Today at the Naic Branch there were 29 investigators at church. The Punta Branch had a measly 24 investigators. There are 7 Branches in our District. The Elders have a goal of at least 10 investigators at church each week. President Howard requires that a person attends church at least 4 out of 5 weeks before they can be considered for baptism. It is hard for many families as they must walk several miles to church. Very few can afford transportation. As a matter of fact, several of the chapels don’t even have parking spaces, just a small area for senior couple cars and a basketball court. Some of the chapels have aircon but others just have fans. The chapels are small but nice and well maintained. They are a positive addition to each of the towns.

Friday night we went to the Naic Branch Family Home Evening. (Have another one in the Punta Branch next Friday.) What fun! It is so nice to see so many people having fun! Whether it’s the kids or the adults everyone participated and laughed and had fun. One of the games we played involved a sheet of newspaper. Each couple put their paper on the floor and then the music began. We had to dance around the paper, when the music stopped..we had to step onto the paper and stay there to the count of three. Then, the paper got folded in half and the dancing was repeated. Again, it went into halves and so on and on. Dad and I made it until the fourth or fifth folding. I was standing on his feet to fit in the small area. There were three investigator families there and I think they were a bit shell-shocked!

Afterward, we had a noodle soup (traditional Philippino stuff) and chunks of sweet bread and water. Very nice activity and we were glad that we went. The soup is sort of like Rahman noodles with little chunks of chicken and veggies in the broth. The noodles are very thin, sort of like glass noodles. It feeds lots of folks on a very small budget and everyone likes it. We’ve enjoyed having our car this week. We have gone all over the district and scoped out the chapels etc. I’m loving to drive around with aircon!!! You really need to have a death wish to drive here. Talk about crazy! I’m not looking forward to going back to Manila and their traffic. At least here in the province it’s not as bad. About our current apartment: it’s pink and white! It is actually large for an apartment here. We have a living room/kitchen area on the main floor with a small bathroom off the kitchen. Can’t believe we’re surviving cold water showers! Ugh! Upstairs there is a lounge area on the landing and two bedrooms.

So far the gecko record (in one room) is four. They are on the walls all the time. The poop piles are an every day sweeping event. I was headed up the stairs the other night and there was a gecko on the steps. He was running up as fast as he could to stay ahead of me. Was pretty funny. Wish Aspen was here to clear them out for me! Becky says she wants to come visit and catch them.

On Thursday, June 18th we had a p-day. The Taggs (from the Mission Office via Lethbridge, Canada), the Hussys (the apartment caretakers for the mission via London, England), the Fershtuts (our neighbors for 3 more weeks from Layton, UT) and us had a senior couples day off. There are a total of 5 senior couples in this mission. The Goldings are on Paawalan (an island to the east). We went to a beach resort near here and walked along the beach and visited. Was raining a bit but not too bad. After the exercise, we went to a restaurant here in Naic for lunch. Dad and I had chopsuey, and panquon manok. Pretty dang good!

The shopping is good here. Virtually everything is in English so usually no surprises. There are large malls with the same stuff as in the states. We have KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Shakeys, and Dunkin’ Donuts, etc. The palanke’s are outdoor markets. Sort of like flea markets. Lots of stalls close together and all sorts of merchandise and food stuffs. Granny would love the green beans. I’ll get a picture soon. They are in bunches and are 2-3 feet long! We’re talking about serious green beans. The meats are out in the open (in the heat) and scare me a bit. I don’t purchase any. The flies are thick and some of the meats (pig head, octopus etc.) are not to my liking.

There are some things that are hard to find so will send wish lists once in a while. Dad just woke up from his nap so need to get dinner going. Hope this catches everyone up a bit on what’s happening here. Oh yes, got mom’s letter on the 18th! Thanks. First mail we’ve received. When we get money at the ATM we usually get 10000.00 pesos. Comes to about $215.00 US. Gas is about 40 pesos per liter. There is no such thing as fresh milk. All milk is high temperature processed and comes from other areas. It just sits on the shelf until you’re ready to open it, then it needs to be used within 7 days. Is best chilled! Fresh pineapple is to die for! Lots of other fruits we haven’t begun to try yet. Have bought pineapple, mango, apples, oranges, watermelon so far.

Monday, June 22, 2009

We received word this morning that our assignment in the MRC in Manila won’t begin until October so will be staying in Naic for a while.

Love to everyone!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Explosive Experiences

Another day, another borrowed computer... Not sure if we'll get internet as we are only here temporarily until we leave for the MRC assignment in Manila. Will try to find out this week. We are supposed to be getting a car later today so we'll have a bit more mobility.

Went to a baptism on Saturday evening. Was very nice. It was supposed to begin at 5:00 and finally started at 6:00. We are learning that time is just a suggestion and things will start when they will.

Sunday was busy. We went to the Punta Branch. Started at 8:30 a.m. (pretty much on time!) We spoke in Sacrament meeting. Had a good 5 minutes notice. Afterward we went with the Fershtuts to two discussions. One was in a park with a man who they contacted recently. He has been through every religion in the book and had tons of questions.

The second visit was with a family who have been investigating for quite a while. They have 6 daughters ages three to eighteen. Very pretty and sweet girls. The mom is pregnant again. Their apartment was so small and humble. Next Sunday we are picking them up for church. The girls were especially excited about that. What sweet, friendly people.

The Elders here are amazing. We're really enjoying them.

The faucet in our kitchen sink exploded last night. Was crazy! Dad and Elder Fershtut did a quick repair job and we had to wait for the cement glue to set before we could turn the water back on. Our purifier filters are hooked to that faucet so had to have it working. I'm actually adjusting to cold water showers. Actually, the water is never really cold, just luke warm. It takes your breath away like jumping into a swimming pool but then after a bit you get used to it.

Well, need to go. Dad is switching laundry batches (the Fershtut's have a washer and dryer) and I need to fold things. They have been awesome about letting us use their computer so that's why there have been more frequent notes.

Hopefully we'll have our own car later today. Need to go to the Palanke (market) and hate asking for a ride all the time. The pineapples here are amazingly good. Haven't had mango yet but hear lots of praises. There are rice paddies all over this area. Fascinating.
Love you all and miss you.
Elder and Sister Smith
(yep, it's still Mom and Dad)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another Day..Another Heatwave

Haven't had much rain this week. We are in Naic (gnaw-eek). It is a small town in one of the provinences south of Manila. Still no internet, maybe next week. No aircon either which is my biggest gripe. Ah well.

Went to a District dance festival last night at the Naic chapel. All 7 branches had youth there performing for it. Was really lovely and so nice to see so many YM and YW participating. What friendly, sweet people.

We went with the Elders to teach a discussion the night before. There were 12 of us plus 2 babies in an 8X8 room with a fan. We just sort of slid together. Great spirit at the meeting. The Tagalog that we've learned is not enough to scratch the surface and so we simply nod lots and smile.

We are supposed to be getting a car on Monday so we can get lost. You really can't get there from here, no matter where you are going. The Fresthuts from Layton are our neighbors. They leave in 5 weeks to go home. They are letting us use their computer. So far, four geckos in one room is the max but we're looking for a record. Attending a baptismal later today and planning to walk to the beach later also. Love you all.

Love, Elder and Sister Smith

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting Settled in

Yes, we've moved out of the Mission Home and into our new apartment. No hot water, no aircon, no stove, a leaky fridge, enough mold and dirt to start a new country.

The mosquitos are so happy here. I'm covered with bites and Dad has yet to get one! It's not fair. We have a tuko (lizard) living in our laundry room (that doesn't have a washer/dryer). From the sounds he makes we're pretty sure he is the size of a Volkswagan. Will try to get a picture soon. Lots of frogs singing us to sleep (not).

We are in one of the Provinces south of Manila, Gulod. We are in the Naic community. I guess we are just a few km from the ocean but haven't seen it yet. There are numerous branches here that they're hoping to get big enough to make a stake. We'll be working to help make that happen.

The geckos are entertaining. They sneak up on a bug and poof! the bug is gone. The gecko grins and heads to another. That's our television. Lots like CSI.
Lots of love,
Mom and Dad
(That's Elder and Sister Sweat)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Still Raining

Yes, it's still raining. Crazy stuff. We are still in the mission home and unemployed. Our mission president has been out-of-town since Wednesday and so he hasn't had a chance to give us our assignment. The mission office couple and the AP's have been taking care of us. So far we have seen way more of Manila than I want, gone to the temple for a session, got our Phil. drivers license, gone to a branch party and generally spent hours in traffic. It took us 2.5 hours last night to go 40km (about 24 miles). I was nutz by the time we got there.

It sounds like our apt. will be in one of the provinces about a 10 minute walk from the beach. No air conditioning in the place and the neighbor said the roaches aren't too bad!!!! It will be necessary to sweep frequently to get the gecko poop off the floor and surfaces. Can't begin to tell you how much I am looking forward to this. Have taken a bunch of pictures so will post if and when we get settled.

Dad and I are both doing fine. We sweat lots and have to apply hand sanitizer frequently. We're at the mission office right now so am using Sister Tagg's computer. She and Elder Tagg are from Lethbridge, Canada. We ate at Wendy's yesterday and it was totally American.

Love to Everyone!

Elder and Sister Smith

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 about rain!

We're still at the Mission home. Think we'll get an apartment tomorrow but not sure. It is mission conference week and Pres. Ko of the Seventy is here and Pres. Howard is on a dead run from early morning until late in the day. We still have no idea what our assignment will be until August when we move to the MRC. We were interviewed by Elder Ko today and spent the day in meetings with the Manila area missionaries. There were 80 or so there. The rest of the mission is further out and so tomorrow there will be more meetings away from the city.

It has rained all day. Very heavy at times and the electricity keeps going out. For lunch today we had KFC (at the conference). I opened my little box, just like at home, and there were two pieces of original recipe. There was a small container of gravy and two wrapped balls. I hefted one of them and it weighed a ton. Mighty heavy roll! When I opened it, low and behold it contained a scoop of sticky rice. So did the other ball. We just dipped it into the gravy and chowed down. No coleslaw for us! Strange, but tasted fine. The chicken was scrawny and tasted like home.

It's really dumping outside right now so no telling how long the power will stay on. Hopefully, we'll be getting settled into a place of our own soon and can get Dad's computer set up so we can post some pictures. Has been too overcast and wet to take very many.
Still concerned about Garrett. Hope he is doing well. We love you all and miss you.
Love, Mom and Dad

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Safely in Manila

We made it! Not a bad trip. EVA was nice and with drugs all went well. They did lose my suitcase with all my clothing but I wanted more new stuff anyway. Actually, they called a bit ago and said it has been found and will be delivered tonight or tomorrow. At least my nifty sandals were in my other bag.

So far, not much going on. We're at the mission pres. home for the night and then will find out what we're going to be doing tomorrow. Pres. Howard was at a conference today and we haven't met him yet. Sister Howard just got here and we're using her computer.

Anxious to hear how Garrett is doing now. Hope the yellow is gone. We'll be in touch soon with news, pictures and updates. Love you all and miss you already. We're doing great (and sweating). Yes, it has rained and is humid as the dickens. We are excited to be here and just hope we'll survive. What a drive home from the airport! Yikes! Love you all bunches.

From your favorite Manila Missionary's