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


Ginger said...

Wow... what a beautiful area! I'm glad to hear Dad was well taken care of for his Birthday!!

Merrivonne said...

I think it is so wonderful that you are able to get to know the beautiful country of the Philipines. I'm certain this experience is one of the highlights of your life. It's great to hear of all the people you touch and of those who love and value your mission there. Congratulations for being able to speak tagalog for the Relief Society! It is also wonderful that the people there helped to celebrate your birthday, Brother Smith!
I love to hear from you! The pictures are marvelous!