Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tony in Manila

Monday was our p-day so once Elder Smith finished the laundry and cleaned the house we were set for another week of fun and games in the Philippines.

Tuesday we drove into Manila. This was our first time to go alone in the big city. Plenty nerve wracking! We did survive and arrived at the Mission Office in Makati without a scratch. Once there, Elder and Sister Tagg took us to S&R. It is the Manila Costco! They carry the Kirtland brand and even have the muffins etc. Was great to stock up on things we can’t get in the province. We bought monster boxes of Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini Shredded Wheat and Krustez pancake mix.

Tuesday evening we went out to dinner with the Taggs, Fershtuts (their last night in the Philippines before heading back to Layton), the Husseys and the Howards. We went to Tony Roma’s in downtown Manila and guess what!? It really was like Tony in the states. I had steak and shrimp and Elder Smith had steak and salmon and both dinners were delicious. It was pretty pricy for the Philippines but really good. We had a great visit and then went back to the Mission Home to spend the night. The Fershtuts left to catch their plane the next morning.

We arrived back home safely Wednesday evening and unloaded and put away all the groceries.

Thursday we had zone interviews with President Howard during the morning and then went with the Ternate Elders to teach and make contacts. One investigator made a baptismal commitment for the 22 of August.

Friday was a lazy day as we had a couple of plans fall through and so just worked on a program for a baptism and a few things.

Saturday we headed to Ternate for a RS activity but ended up just visiting with a couple of the sisters as the dance instructor didn’t show up to teach.

Saturday evening we went to a baptism in Trece and another in Naic. Between the two there are 11 new members of Church last night. We spoke at the Naic baptism.

One of 7 oxcarts we saw in Trece

Today when we got to Church at the Ternate Branch a member of the branch presidency came over and asked if Elder Smith would speak in Sacrament meeting. One of the speakers didn’t show so.. he did a great job! He is even a better speaker without preparation. Was really nice.

We’ve decided to start a “fruit of the month” feature. There are zillions of new and exciting things over here. The Rambutan has just come into season. It is totally weird looking. It is sort of a giant strawberry with spiky hair. Inside are the white innards that look and feel like a pealed grape. They have a monster pit. Not a ton of flavor in our opinion but certainly interesting.

Cut Open

Showing the Seed

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We've Moved

Last Monday the Fershtuts headed out so we moved into the apartment next door that they had vacated. Had our first warm shower in 6 weeks that evening and it was great. We now have a microwave, newer fridge, stove with an oven, washer, dryer and better dishes and pots and pans. We are definitely “moving up”! The apartment layout is the same as the other one but has a few inches larger CR. Will post some pics so you’ll be able to see the new digs.

Kitchen/Dining Area

Living Area

Birthday Gift

Bedroom with special Pillow Cases

Monday and Tuesday were spent moving and practicing with our Elders Choir.

Wednesday we mainly recovered and finished putting things away. We bought a pantry of sorts and love it! Is so much nicer than stacking food on a side table. We helped the Zone Leaders get their stuff moved back into the old apt. They were thrilled to be home again. They make great neighbors so we’re glad they are there too.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday we had our first official tropical storm. Whoa! Talk about rain, wind, lightning and thunder! They classify the storms as 1, 2 or 3. This was a 2 and it was a doozer so can’t help but worry about what a 3 will bring! We were quite safe and cozy in our place. I was actually loving it because with all the rain, things cooled down a lot.

One strange feature of rain is the frogs. Yes, it’s true. When it rains, the frogs come out at night and croak like mad. Imagine for a minute that we’re at Duck Creek and Loney and Darrel are sleeping in adjoining tents. It’s about 2 am and the sounds are carrying like crazy. They both begin snoring at full volume. That’s the frogs here in Naic. Unbelievably loud! We had a frog in the kitchen last night. Wasn’t very big but was quite colorful and could hop mighty fast. It is also Gecko birthing season. We always have tons of them but right now there are also tons of tiny baby ones. Gotta love a lizard that eats bugs.

Thursday we went to Manila for a multi-zone conference at the mission home. We left home at 5:00 am to make the 50 mile drive to town. We were late for our 8:00 am meeting! Took over 3 hours to drive that far with all of the traffic. The conference was great and our choir sang and did a super job. I asked them if they were ready to quit now that we’ve performed. The answer was a resounding NO! They want to continue so every Tuesday after district meeting we’ll be working on something.

Friday we went visiting families with the Ternate Elders. It was raining and stormy but we headed out anyway. We visited 7 families including 3 inactive ones. We’re trying to help re-activate some of the branch members. One of the families lives off the beaten path so we had to hike in to their home. We went through muddy, flooding jungle, detouring around bamboo tree clumps and other dripping vegetation. We “forded” streams and the whole ball of wax. Once we arrived, the home was amazing. It was made of bamboo, vine ropes, and palm fronds for a roof. Had to climb a ladder to get inside as it was up on stilts. The family has set August 8th as their baptism date.

I was so excited because Darrel finally saw Godzilla! He was in the laundry area off of our kitchen. There is a drain in the floor there that he came through. Needless to say, the drain is now securely closed. There is nothing quite like an actual sighting to make you believe about the size of a rat. He agreed that this fellow could make mince meat out of Mo. We are the animal headquarters of the Philippines. We’re out in the country and in the fields around the apartment we have cows, goats, sheep, geese, chickens, roosters (noisy buggars), turkey, frogs, rats, mice, dogs, cats and enough insect life to feed most of the country. Friday evening we were eating dinner and glanced up to see a cow peering through our front door screen. She and three of her friends had got through our gate and were eating and fertilizing our grass. Ah, the joys of country living.

Last night, Saturday, was amazing. We had 20 baptisms in the district. We went to the Punta/Carissa branch meeting house and watched as 19 new members were baptized. Was so wonderful. There were 5 families including the 2 that were part of the triple marriage last week. Several bore their testimonies afterward and it was so touching. The other baptism was in Tanza branch. 20 in one night just might be some sort of record. Our Manila Mission is averaging well over 200 baptisms per month. Last December they had over 300 for the month.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A quick note....

Elder and Sister Smith have had a rough couple of weeks. Darrel has been sick, but after some medications and lots of rest he's doing 100% better. We are just now getting word from them after their computer was hit by a virus, so we will have a report from them as soon as they are back up and running.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rats! What a week!

Monday afternoon I was sitting at the kitchen table visiting with Sister Fershtut while the Elders were outside working on a plumbing problem. All of the sudden I sensed movement and low and behold a RAT ran around the side of our kitchen cabinet and into a hole in the front of it. Now, we are not talking about your garden variety Indiana Jones rat, we are talking about a RAT! When the Elders came in I was describing the incident and Elder Smith (no longer my husband and friend Darrel) suggested that we n eeded to go to the store for a dinosaur trap because it sure sounded like Godzilla was loose in our kitchen. It had come up through the drain in our CR (bathroom) so was a real sewer rat. I’m not kidding; I really think this rat could have given Mo a run for his money! We weren’t able to catch it so hopefully it found another hole and left the premises.
The (Godzilla) rat holeMonday afternoon we went to WalterMart (no, that’s not a typo, it really is WalterMart!) It’s a small mall about 20 miles from here. There is always a guard at the entry to check purses and give you a quick pat down. Standard procedure here at any mall or larger store. Anyway, this time he was holding what looked like a speed gun that cops use. As we approached the entry he pointed it at our forehead. It was a thermometer! If you had a temperature you couldn’t enter. The flu (influenza) is a problem so they’re checking to see how healthy you really are. If your temp is too high they send you to the hospital and you’re not shopping at WalterMart that day!

Darrel hadn’t been feeling well for a few days and it really hit with a vengeance on Monday evening. He had diarrhea, vomiting and general yuck! It had been going off and on for over a week so finally we called our District President (who just happens to be a Doctor/Surgeon) and he had us come right over. After visiting with Darrel and checking things out he said to head to the hospital. His kidney’s were shutting down. He finally decided that if we could get the runs under control and get him hydrated enough to urinate that he’d delay the order for a few hours. Let me tell you, Elder Smith can guzzle water and meds when he has to! By about 4 pm he was doing better so the trip to the hospital in Manila was canceled. He spent the next several days drinking, resting and recuperating. He is doing great now and hopefully has built up a Philippine immunity. We missed a couple of meetings in Manila while he was recovering so I spent the time sweating, finishing the Book of Mormon (2nd time this year) and playing Boggle. I know, I’m evil!

Saturday evening we went to a triple wedding and baptism in Carissa Branch. Three couples have been taking the lessons and wanted to be baptized. However, none were married (a common situation here), so, we had a triple wedding. Afterward, one of the couples changed clothes and got baptized. None of their children are 8 years or older so was just the two of them. The other two families and several of their kids will be getting baptized next Saturday.

Couple baptism 7/11/09

Sunday night was the best! The Elders in our zone wanted to have a farewell for the Fershtuts who were leaving the 13th so, we had a party! Fixed sloppy joes, fruit, cake, chips, soda etc. for 25, and it was great fun. President Pipit and his family joined us along with another senior couple and a member who brought 2 of the Elders. Our Zone Elder’s Choir performed for everyone and sounded wonderful!

Elders Choir 7/12/09

Can’t believe how much we love the Elders here. They are absolutely amazing!

Does anyone want a rat?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Not the best week so far..

We went to dinner last Monday evening with the Fershtuts. We went to a restaurant in Terce Martires called Tempura Sam’s. The Fershtuts and I ordered Japanese food but Elder Smith was in the mood for a steak and ordered one. By Tuesday morning he was a very ill missionary. He spent the next four days resting, hurling and running to the CR. He was really miserable so we stayed home until he could go out into public again.

Appetizer from the Japanese restaurant:

Finally on Friday we were able to go to a zone meeting and practice with our choir of Elders. We’ll be performing on July 16th at a combined zone meeting in Manila! After the choir rehearsal we took two of the Elders to their apartment in a neighboring town and then came back to Naic and picked up two different Elders. They are serving in Carissa Branch. We took them to their apartment and then went tracting with them. We visited with a family of 5 who are scheduled for baptism on July 18th. What a treat. They are super excited and so are we.

Yesterday was the first day of our District conference. We had leadership meetings all afternoon and then the adult session from 5 until 7. Was a great day and it is so fun to know that the Church is the same everywhere. I went to the Primary section of the meeting. It was all done in Tagalog so I really didn’t understand a word. But, it wasn’t hard to figure out that their teachers don’t always show up, it’s hard to keep the children reverent and they have a tough time getting the Branch Pres. to make callings. They asked for my comments at the end of the session and I reassured them that their problems are the same world wide. The sister in charge was surprised and said, “Sister Smith, you may not understand our language but you know more than you might think!” I reassured her that some things are universal and if they remember to pray and study and be patient it will all work out.

Last night after the final session we went to dinner with the Fershtuts, Hussys and Pres. and Sister Howard. Tried Chinese this time and it was great. After we had finished dinner and we were visiting the loudspeaker started playing “Happy Birthday”. Like an idiot I was looking around to see who was having a birthday. Duh, it was me. Was a very nice surprise and treat. They brought out a platter with fresh pineapple, watermelon, mango, apples and oranges all cut up fancy and arranged beautifully. So, we had a lovely dessert with the meal.

Today, (my for real 29th birthday) we went to District Conference. Was a great meeting and the Naic chapel has aircon so I really enjoyed it! About wore hands out with all the shaking. Such wonderfully friendly people.

Picture of a super small gecko next to Elder Smith's CTR Ring:

Love, Elder and Sister Smith