Sunday, August 30, 2009

It Rained Last Night

It was the first really good rain in a couple of weeks or more and it was wonderful. The air cooled down enough that we pulled the top sheet over us. That’s something that doesn’t happen very often.

We had a terrific Zone Family Home Evening on Monday night. We fixed Filipino food for this one and it was pretty dang good. The Elders ate a ton and then played games etc. We were in charge of the closing song so typed up the words to “Horsey, Horsey” and divided the Elders into two groups and taught it to them. What a hoot! We’ve heard various renditions of it at meetings all week. It really sticks in your mind. We fixed Adobo and Beef Steak Tagalog Style. The Adobo was made with pork and the other with.. go ahead, take a wild guess..yep, beef. Will be posting the recipes on the Family Mixing Bowl blog soon.

The next morning the Elders met for a regular Zone meeting and planned the next FHE for September 7th. They want Mexican food. This is going to be interesting when you can’t find real sour cream here and there are no canned refried beans and on and on. I’ll probably cook a big pot of beans next week and start smashing. Real cheese is quite pricey so will have to ration it out a bit.

Speaking of cheese, on the way home from Church today I had my first really, really serious craving for something American. Fresh Curds! I whined all the way home! Elder Smith promised we’d head to Beaver just as soon as possible once we get home. Somehow that didn’t stop the craving. Oh well!

I wasn’t in top form this past week so we didn’t get out with the Elders as much as we usually do. This week should be better.

Thursday we went to the Mission Home in Makati for a multi-zone meeting. Our Zone Elders Choir sang and it was great. They seem to really enjoy singing. Will be interesting to see how long they want to continue. Our current ZL’s go home on September 22nd and have no idea who will be replacing them. Elder Bowman is a ZL and our pianist so will be a double loss. Elder Tadeo is the other ZL and a good singer who loves to sing. Elder Barton, one of our DL’s will be leaving also so is going to be a sad transfer week for us.

The Zone had 14 baptisms yesterday. We went to Naic for 7 of them. Gave us nearly 30 total for the month of August. Today in Ternate we were able to see 5 confirmed.It’s so rewarding to see the Church growing. A sweet sister in the Ternate Branch brought me a bag full of fresh leafy lettuce that she had picked yesterday. Lettuce is pretty expensive here and poor quality so this was a treat. Washed it good and disinfected with bleach water then had it with lunch. She had been out of town visiting her husband at his work and was in an area where they grow lettuce so was able to take advantage of it. Was so special for her to share with us. Her mom is Sister Sonia who was baptized a couple of weeks ago.

This afternoon the kid next door came bawling for his mother. Elder Smith went to see what was going on. There was a kid bawling in our front yard. I mean really bawling! Now this wasn't your everyday kid, it was a baby goat. Darrel went outside and eventually found its mother tangled in some bushes next to the apartment. He freed her and then reunited the pair. It sure quieted down in a hurry. So, now we can add goat herder/rescuer to his resume.

Another cemetary shot. They are fascinating!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

No Rain

I’m sad! No rain this week so it was hot the entire time. Sure wish someone could figure out how to get the aircon installed. Oh well. Our Zone choir is getting ready to perform at a multi-zone conference next week so we had a couple of rehearsals this week. Our five newly transferred Elders are fitting right in and it’s so fun. Two of them are Americans and the other three are natives. We only went visiting with the Elders two days this week. Too much other stuff going on so didn’t have many free days.

Wednesday was spent in travel to Manila. We met at the Mission Home for dinner and a Mission Presidency meeting. While the Brethren were discussing mission business, we sisters headed upstairs and sorted out a couple hundred packets of vitamins for this transfer. Had a terrific visit with the sisters and got to finally meet Sister Golding from Palawan. Such a remarkable group of ladies. Elder Smith was equally impressed with the Pres. and others in his meeting. We’ll be going in again for another at the end of September.

Our tutoring was painful this week. It’s embarrassing to admit but I think we’re getting dumber. It must be the moisture in the air or the ocean breeze (that’s recently been non-existent) or the dang roosters crowing all the time. Whatever it is, it is killing our brain cells at an alarmingly fast rate.

Went to the Ternate Branch activity on Friday. Lots of fun. We’ll definitely be playing the Filipino animal game when we get home. We’ve played it now at three different branches and they love it! Saturday was a bit crazy. We went to a baptism at 9 a.m. (started a bit after 10). Was so special to see Sister Sonia baptized. We were able to go with the missionaries to meet with her a couple of times. I even put my big foot in my mouth and asked when her baptism date was before the Elders had set one. They forgave me and she got baptized anyway.

Sister Sonia in front of her daughter's home afterward. Had some nice spaghetti and fried chicken to celebrate

WHOA!! All my griping a few minutes ago and guess what? It’s raining! I’m so happy. Wow! Now back to Saturday.

During the afternoon there was a District Relief Society Conference. We had a great time learning how to properly set a table and do flower arranging. I really enjoyed watching and listening. A couple of the sisters did ask me why we needed so many forks etc. Here, you eat with a big spoon and a fork about 90% of the time. It works very well and we’re adapting quickly.

Saturday evening was another baptism, this time in Carissa. There were also others in the Zone but we kind of go with first asked/first attended as would be impossible to go to all of them. We sang at the Ternate baptism at the request of their Elders. Everyone seemed to enjoy our rendition of “As I Have Loved You” in Tagalog and English. The Elders choir will be doing the same arrangement next Thursday.

We attended the Ternate Branch today and President Ramos was excited that there were 101 attending sacrament meeting which is a first for a long time. We mentioned they usually have 30 or 40 attend so it was triple the usual attendance. President said it was the work we were doing but I told him it was the Lord and his members who were welcoming them back.

Dang! It’s already stopped raining. Mighty short one. Back to being gloomy.

Front of apartment with the plants that a new member in Punta gave us

Audry - yes, she loves blood. You should have seen Elder Smiths hands when he transplanted her

the home and trail leading to it of one of our contacts this past week

One of our local cemetaries. Went in and walked around after church today. All above ground and not sure how but crowded into the cement boxes

On the trail to our beach. It's about .25 mile from the apartment

Sunset tonight

Darrel admiring the fishing boats. Lots of them in this area

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We're Orientated!

When we arrived in Manila on June 2nd we were at an in-between stage of the mission transfers and arrivals. So, this week we went into the Mission Home for New Missionary Orientation. We arrived in Makati on Wednesday evening and the fun began Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. The missionaries from the Manila MTC were there and the Provo MTC missionaries arrived at about 11:00a.m. We had a group of 7 new Elders and Sisters. Was fun to hear some of the information we hadn’t received before.

During the course of the morning we went to the US War Memorial in Manila. It honors the veterans of WWII and was very impressive. We are hoping to go to Corrigador in the spring and see the monuments and WWII stuff that is there. So many lives were lost here in the Philippines. More than half of the bodies of causalities were never found and their names are listed on the walls of the pillars surrounding the central plaza.

The Cemetary

The wall with all the names

Inside the Memorial

That evening after all the missionaries had been sent to their assignments and we could take a deep breath, we went to T.G.I Friday for dinner with the Howards and the Taggs. What a fun way to end the day and celebrate Elder Smith’s 35th birthday. (He is 6 years older than me.) We had a birthday serenade and the whole ball of wax. Friday our car was bawal so we couldn’t leave the city. License plates ending with 8 and 9 are restricted from the roads on Friday from 7 to 7. We’ve got a 9. So, the Taggs (office couple from Lethbridge, Canada) picked us up and we spent the day shopping and goofing off. What a way to spend a mission! We went to lunch with the AP’s, office Elders, Taggs and Howards at a nifty mall in Makati. We went to California Pizza. It was really yummy. The American restaurants are pretty dang authentic so is quite a treat.

We left the Mission Home Saturday morning before 7 a.m. so we could get home for our Saturday activities. Saturday I spoke at a Visiting Teacher Conference. Yes, I did get part of the talk translated into Tagalog and I did it! It was pretty awful but the sisters seemed to be thrilled that I tried. The conference was scheduled to begin at 2:00. Darrel bet it would start at 2:30 and my bet was 2:45. There is a real problem here with starting on time. Anyway, we both lost! We started at 3:30. It’s really an interesting fact but PST (Philippine Standard Time) is actually even worse than MST (Mormon Standard Time). It has been a serious problem for the leaders to get the block meetings to begin on time each Sunday but it is getting much better. The Maragondon Branch had a baptism Saturday also. Was fun to watch as the font at that building is a large tank outside. Everyone just gathers around on the grass to watch while the candidate climbs the stairs and into the tank. This is a bit out of order but Monday was a real treat for us.

We had the first Naic Zone FHE! The Elders all came to our apartment and we had an American dinner. Hamburgers, potato salad, pasta salad, chips, sodas etc. made up the menu. We had a lesson, spiritual thought, hymn, prayers and all the regular stuff. About midway through, just before dinner was served, Elder Tadeo (one of the ZL’s) left and went next door. He came back in with a huge woven platter that had some banana leaves wrapping something on it. The Elders all stood up and started singing “Happy Birthday!” to Elder Smith. They had all signed a card for him and the platter had a rice cake on it. I can’t believe we didn’t get a picture but we were both overwhelmed and not thinking clearly. The card messages will be a forever treasure for Elder Smith. We had ice cream planned for dessert so the cake was the perfect compliment. We had absolutely no idea what they were up to. Amazing! The next FHE will be in two weeks (Aug. 24th) and I’m fixing Filipino food this time. Wish me luck! We played the squirt bottle game. Oh yes, they liked it!

Sunday drive took us to a jungle beach resort near Ternate. Saw a wild monkey. Looked for snakes and monitor lizards that are supposed to be in the area also

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Avocado dessert, anyone?

After Church today we were invited to the Ternate Branch President’s home for lunch. The Ramos fixed a lovely Filipino spread for us and the full-time Elders assigned to their branch. We had two different beef dishes with lots of rice. They were both delicious and I’ll probably try to make both of them soon for us. Our dessert was very unusual (to us). The avocados here are amazing. They are big, beautiful, full of flavor and very sweet. Sister Ramos had peeled and sliced some into bite sized pieces. We took a spoonful (or two) and poured sweetened condensed milk over them. You let them soak a bit and viola, you have dessert. They were really good.

Was a bit of a slow week. Our Ternate Elders were ill and so we didn’t get our usual visiting done. We did have choir practice and went with the Punta Elders on several visits. This coming week is transfer time so everyone is anticipating possible changes. Tuesday we made 10 silk flower arrangements. 8 for the Mission Home and 2 for the apartment here in Naic. Was kinda fun to do something familiar. They turned out well and am pleased with them.

Thursday we were invited to a 22nd birthday party for a sister in the Ternate Branch. We were the guests of honor and they had fixed a wonderful meal for us and she, Sister BekBek (Rebecca), seemed thrilled we were there.

Sister Bekbek and family

Last night (Saturday) was a branch fireside in Ternate. The full time Elders had planned it and it was fun. They geared everything towards being a good Sacrament Meeting speaker. They outlined the correct way to do things including prayer, study, review, and so on. Then, shy, quiet, Sister Smith got up and showed everyone how NOT to give a talk. Nearly broke my jaw on the huge wad of chewing gum in my mouth. Was very well received with lots of laughter and head shaking. They especially liked it when I pretended to receive a text message part way through. Then, Elder Smith got up and gave the same talk but this time correctly. It was spiritual and uplifting. Then the President spoke for a minute and the Elders wrapped things up with a list of 10 Commandments for Speakers. The Relief Society president had asked me to speak at their Branch Visiting Teaching Convention shortly before the fireside started. Afterward I asked her if she was sure she still wanted me to speak. She said she’d take a chance but please leave the gum at home. So, next Saturday I’ll be the featured speaker at the VT deal.

Well, that’s pretty much it. We have a totally crazy week coming up so a short post this week will be a good idea. The typhoons that have hit the Philippines and Taiwan this past week were north of us so we’ve just had some winds and rain but not the terrible flooding and wind damage. Former President Aquino’s funeral was quite a spectacle this past week. She was very much loved and revered here.

Another fruit of the month. Just came into season. Atis (native apple) Looks like a dwarf artichoke. Inside are little white sections with a black seed in every one. They taste a bit like a cross between an apple and a banana.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Howdy Jolina!

Tropical storm Jolina has been visiting us this week. We’ve had a ton of rain since Thursday morning. I love it because it’s cooler but I’m sure others are suffering so I’m not over-doing the joy. Haven’t heard of any flooding so far or any serious problems because of the weather. The rice paddies are all full of water and the roads are very wet and filled with puddles. We keep thinking we might need to throw an emergency raft in the trunk.

It was a fun week. Monday we started Tagalog tutoring sessions. Sister Jean is a peach and is going to try to pound some new words into these old brains.

Tuesday we had choir practice with the Elders then went with some of them to check out their area.

Wednesday we went to Manila with the Husseys. We went to the PBO, garment center, MTC, CTR Corner and then to the temple. They are all located in the same area so just walked from place to place. CTR Corner is a fun gift store that has a section dedicated to LDS goods. We got several CD’s to listen to in the car and at home. Yes, we got a couple of Michael’s CD’s (McLean). Has been really nice to have them when we’re traveling. We went to a 3:00 pm temple session with the other senior couples and the Elders and Sisters who are going home later this month. After the session we went to the Mission Home for a BBQ dinner. We’re not so sure about the hot dogs over here! (Enough said!) We ate on the patio and the mosquitoes had a feast (on me) also. The Missionaries are so awesome and was fun to socialize with the “going-home” group.

Thursday was our Ternate Elder’s day. We visited 6 families and had a great time. It was rainy but we stomped through the mud and made bets on how often I would fall down. Several of the people we visited came to Church today so it was well worth the effort.

Friday we were tutored again then went to the SM in DasMarines. Had to buy a bunch of floral supplies while we were there. When we were at the Mission Home on Wednesday, Sister Howard asked me to make a bunch of silk arrangements. I did one for her a couple of weeks ago and she seemed to like it. We came home with the makings of 8 additional ones. Will be fun this next week to work on them.

Saturday we went on Elder rescue. The rain had a couple of them stranded so we took them home. On the way we stopped to let some other Elders know that we would be late meeting with them because of the change. In the end we all six went to lunch and then called off the tracting due to rain. Saturday evening we went to a baptism in Carissa. We ended up speaking and leading the music. Not sure how many were baptized in the District last night. There were 2 in Carissa and several in Naic. The Zone Leaders will be here in a while for dinner so will get all the latest news. It’s awesome living next door to the ZL’s.

We went to Church this morning in Ternate. After that meeting we went to Trece Matires and visited with several there. We’re trying to find out about the members in a nearby town. There are about 200 members there who aren’t active because they can’t afford the trip to the nearest chapel. Right now we’re concentrating on activation and solving the problem there. After that meeting, we went to PEC in Ternate. It was a 90 minute meeting in Tagalog. We really need to learn the language!

Elder Smith is into snails this week. He has spotted several whoppers! We’re thinking about sending them home so Lori can put them in her garden. You can ask her about that one! He is outside right now trying to get a picture of some. Yes, it is dark and rainy, but he’s out there anyway.