Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A week and a half update..

                It’s been an interesting few days. We haven’t remembered to update things, old age probably setting in.  Nah, that couldn’t be!  We were in Cavite Zone and DasMarinias Zone last week to check Area Books.  We will be checking the Naic Zone’s next week.  So far all of the Zone’s we’ve visited are practicing their Mission song and doing well with it.  Last Wednesday evening we had FHE with three families here in Naic.  There were about 25 of us at the Gromell’s home.  During the lesson there was a game.  The three couples, Elder and Sister Smith, Bro. and Sis. Gromell,  Bro. and Sis. Grameca , had to take a test.  We were each asked to answer 4 questions about our spouses, favorite food, favorite place to be, favorite song and favorite flower.  Yes, you’re all correct, we lost!  We’ve decided that we must have too many favorite things.  By the way, Elder Smith’s favorite food is spaghetti, favorite flower is tulip, favorite song is “As I Have Loved You” and favorite place is Cedar Mountain.  The only one I got was spaghetti.  We may need to be married another 42 years so we can get to know one another.


                Saturday we were able to attend two of our Zone’s three baptisms.  There were 8 new members baptized. 

Sunday we were in Tanza Branch and got to teach the YSA class.  What a great group of young adults.  One of the men likes the Lakers so now I like him.  Another liked the Celtics but we didn’t hold that against him.  Basketball is so popular over here.  We’re convinced that most of the boys dream of growing 15 inches taller and playing in the NBA.  There are improvised courts and hoops everywhere and pick up games are the norm.  Sunday afternoon the Hussey’s stopped by and had lunch and a lovely visit.  They needed to pick up a few things for the apartments that we had stored for them.

                Monday was Zone FHE.  We told the Elders we would be eating Manila Mountains.  By Monday evening they were very curious. 
A couple of the U.S. Elders guessed from the ingredients when they saw them that we were having Hawaiian Haystacks.  What a fun meal.  Elder Smith explained the importance of the order in preparing the dish and then let them have at it.  We did have some mountains on the plates!  The consensus was “masarap”!  Several of the native Elders told us afterwards that they had never had some of the combinations before and loved it.  Golly, we thought everyone had celery, nuts, coconut and cheese with their rice and chicken.  Tuesday we left early for Manila. 
Took our car to the PBO for service and then went to the Temple for a session.  It was “going home” day for 2 Elders and 3 Sisters. 
We had dinner at the Mission Home and then a testimony meeting.  It was a lovely day and the traffic wasn’t too bad.  Got home late last night so slept in a bit this morning.  We’re heading back to Makati tomorrow for a Senior Couples adventure.  Details later on that.

This is what we had next to us while stopped at a light in DasMarinias

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Still singing our way thru Manila.

It was a fun, musical, traffic filled week.  Monday we went to the Makati Zone for Mission song practice. We hoofed it home in a hurry as we had Zone FHE that evening. We’d put on the crock pot full of meatballs and spaghetti sauce at 7 a.m. and it smelled dang good when we got here in the afternoon.  We served a traditional spaghetti feast with meatball sauce, Alfredo sauce, garlic bread, tossed salad and rice!  Ice cream and donuts finished us off!  We really look forward to these gatherings and the Elders seem to enjoy themselves also.

Tuesday morning it was off to San Gabriel and Las Pinas Zones. Wednesday found us in the Paranaque Zoneand Thursday we went to Pasay 

and then Manila Zones.Elder Smith and I have reached a “Manila Traffic” driving agreement.  He drives and I close my eyes!  When my eyes are open I tend to shriek, slam on my driver’s side brakes and motion frantically with my arms and hands.  For some reason that seems to distract him so when my eyes are closed, we’re both happier.  After our last Zone stop I told President Howard that anyone who lives in Manila by choice is nuts!  He agreed.  Living in the Provinces is much quieter but still hectic compared to home.

Friday was low key for a change.  We had tutoring during the morning and then went with Sister Jean to visit some less active Naic Branch families during the afternoon.  It was lots of fun and so nice to find new friends.  Next Wednesday we will be going back to one of the homes for a FHE.  It will be great and we’re excited.  Most of the ones we visited were at Church today which is the biggest blessing.  Saturday evening there was a Naic Branch FHE.  The lesson was about Gossip and its negative effects.  It is great to know that the members have the same problems everywhere?  There were lots of fun games afterward and some sopas for dinner.  We are hopeful that someday we will be able to convince our wards at home that simple is good.  The games that are played and enjoyed here are just that, simple.  The difference between here and home is that everyone participates, laughs, has fun and enjoys themselves.   It is a noisy confusing mass of laughter.  It just “feels” fun. 

We’ve included a rehearsal copy of “The 12 Days of Christmas” (a bit late) in this post.  Just in case you can’t understand the words, here goes:

1 Dear John letter from my sweetie        2 sweat cloths                   3 boring ties       4 socks with holes

5 letters from home       6 cups of rice      7 dingy white shirts         8 roosters crowing

9 geckos climbing             10 miles of walking          11 ants ‘a marching         12 hungry skeeters

It was such a fun song and the Elders loved singing it.  During our visits to other Zones this past two weeks several have greeted us with lines from the song.

12 days of Christmas- Mission.wma

Sunday, January 10, 2010

We are the Manila Mission

It has been a week of singing those words. Elder Smith wrote a second verse to the Valiant Song in the Children’s Songbook. It is about the Manila Mission and has been adopted by the Mission President and Sister Howard. We are traveling to every Zone and teaching it to the missionaries.

This week we were in Cavite Zone Das Marinias Zone Naic Zone

(We got Pizza for having the most baptisms in a month, again!) and Pasig Zone Next week we are going to Manila, Makati, Pasay, San Gabriel, Las Palmas and Paranaque Zones. What a treat it is to meet all of the missionaries! We’ve had great fun visiting with Naic alumni and meeting many we’ve only heard about before. We will be singing the song next month during Mission Tour and it is going to be terrific. We aren’t thrilled with all the travel time but we’ve cleared the calendar for the most part so that we can spend as much time as needed.

Last Monday evening we were invited to dinner and FHE at the home of some members of the Tanza Branch. What a lovely time we had. They treated us like royalty and the dinner was masarap! We’ve had Graham cake several times but not one as tasty as the dessert the other night. Yum! The nanay (mom) is the District choir director so we were visiting about music. I commented that I had enjoyed hearing the choir sing “Celebrating the Light” at one of the Branches last month. Since I’m a big fan of Michael McLean’s music I told her how glad I was that his stuff was being performed here also. She started talking about her favorite McLean songs and went crazy. The entire family is huge fans of his music. When she learned that we know him I thought she might have a heart attack. We are now the heroes of the Pesa family in Tanza. We’re going to arrange a time to watch “The Forgotten Carols” with them as they have the CD, love the songs, have read the book but have never seen it performed. Now, to get in touch with Michael and arrange for an autograph will probably secure us a spot in the Celestial kingdom.

We went to dinner in Makati on Friday evening with the Taggs, Husseys, Howards and the Hussey’s friends from UK, Mark and Mary. We had a lovely evening at The Spaghetti Factory. Not exactly what we’re used to in Utah and Nevada but actually very good. It’s a bit strange to go to an Italian restaurant in the Philippines and be greeted by the owner who has a German accent.

We were able to visit some investigators this afternoon with the Punta Branch Elders. We always enjoy going out with them and bearing testimony. We were able to visit about the Plan of Salvation, Restoration and Families today. We had the pagkakatoon (opportunity) of speaking in the Tanza Branch this morning. Elder Smith did great. He’s getting better all the time. I’m still just the back-up cheerleader. Really do hate to speak in Church.
I did mention the new mutual theme for 2010. I really like it! Everyone needs to read Joshua 1:9!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Whoa! What a New Year!

We were so amazed with the New Year’s celebration here in the Philippines.  Believe us, they know how to throw a country-wide party!  It was absolutely amazing. 

We were thrilled to have our Zone over for dinner and another sleep-over.  We even went with a traditional dish, Pancit Canton.  It was yummy even if the shrimps we bought spoiled before we could cook and add them.  It was supposed to have chicken and shrimp but ended up being chicken and hot dogs.  Don’t gag!  It was dang good.  The Mission curfew was 6:00 pm for New Year’s Eve so everyone was here by then. 

We watched “The Forgotten Carols” (only made it through part of it on Christmas Eve.)  It was a hit and we’ll probably watch it again soon.  The Elders wanted to have a fire for the evening and some brought a bit of wood.  We have an area in the front yard that was just right for fire making.  We sat around the fire and visited and shared stories. 

Then, we brought out the makings for s’mores!  It was a new experience in the making for many of the Elders.  They loved them!  They were like most folks and pilfered extra chocolate whenever possible.  At about 11:30 the noise began!  Not just the 14 horns blaring in the front yard but the entire barangay. 

We couldn’t believe our eyes and ears.  There was at least an hour of fireworks exploding all around us and noisy yelling, banging, blaring and music.  Fireworks are quite inexpensive here and I’m sure everyone except us bought some.  Most were the bottle rocket varieties that made tons of noise but there were many colorful, up in the air regular ones also.  They were exploding all around us and you nearly got dizzy trying to see them all.  We had 20 mattresses stored in our apartment for the Mission so each Elder was able to grab one and had a comfortable spot on the floor.  It was a New Year’s Eve we won’t soon forget!  The Elders were up bright and early and on their way the next morning.

The fruit of the month is one of our favorite things in the Philippines.  Calamansi!  This delightful little green fruit really packs a wallop.  It is a miniature lemon/lime with attitude.  It is delicious but you have to squeeze a bunch to get enough juice.  Actually, that little bit of juice goes a long way because they are so full of flavor.  We use them in cooking all the time.  They are great as a hot or cold drink.  They do have tons of seeds (something that happens a lot over here).  The seeds are edible but sour so it’s best to strain them.  Just thinking about them gets the saliva gushing. 

Calamansi is one thing we’ll really miss.  We’ve heard they aren’t available in the US, even in Asian markets.  We’ll be watching for some!

It's for real!  Sign over the toilet in the ladies CR.  Footprints are common on the toilet rim and seats (if there is one).