Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our Tuko

We decided that we needed to feature our pet this week since we don’t know how we can take him home with us.  The Peterson’s (new Senior Couple) had better take good care of him!   
He lives in the back washroom of our apartment.   He has grown so much in the past 17 months.  He eats bugs so we like him lots!  He talks to us frequently and has a cute little growling sound like he is clearing his throat and then says “tuko, tuko, tuko” over and over.  The most we’ve heard is 9 tuko repeats at one visiting session.  He is a type of gecko and many of the natives are frightened of him.  There are tales of them ripping off your skin and biting and never letting go.  We’ve Googled him and that isn’t exactly true.  He is about 15 inches long now and has got quite chubby.  We call him “VW” because when we first heard him it sounded a bit like a VW car turning over the engine when he clears his throat.

We were in Makati at the Mission Home from Sunday evening until Thursday evening.  It was Zone Conference week and we checked Area Books (for the last time).  It was a super fun week and we got lots done.  We even went to the PBO Medical Office and got chest x-rays so we’ll be ready to leave the country.  Chest/TB x-rays are required 1 to 2 months before departure.   

Our Zone sang on Thursday and did great as usual.  We did “Angels We Have Heard on High” in English and Tagalog.  No!  It is not too soon to sing Christmas carols!  We are in the Philippines and have been listening to Christmas music in the malls since the first of September.

The Super Typhoon that hit the northeastern part of Luzon was a monster.  Our area was on alert but we just had lots of rain and a bit of wind.  There are 36 confirmed dead up north and about 20,000 or so housed in shelters for the time being.  In Manila when a typhoon is coming one of the things they do is roll up all the billboard signs.  There are tons of huge advertizing billboards everywhere.  They are made of a tarp type fabric and when needed, they get rolled up so they won’t rip etc.  We much prefer to see the ads.  The frames look quite forlorn with the rolls of tarp.  We snapped a few pictures in Manila/Makati.
We also had 7 baptisms in the Zone this weekend!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Elder Cook Week

What a terrific experience this week has been! We started with a fun FHE on Monday evening then District Meeting and Zone Choir practice on Tuesday. Wednesday we went to Makati for a Manila Mission Fireside with Elder Quentin L. Cook. It was truly amazing. He was supposed to arrive at 2:45 in the afternoon to meet and greet the missionaries. We were fortunately all seated and enjoying personal study time when he came at 2:20!

Elder and Sister Edwards were with the Cooks and Pres. and Sister Howard also participated. Everyone presented such special messages and it really was a spiritual feast. Elder Cook “prophesized” that the Philippines would be a beacon to Asia and would lead the way in converting the non-Christian nations here. He also said that we could not imagine the things and growth that will be happening here in the next 50 years. It will be 50 years next April since the Philippines was dedicated and opened by Pres. Hinckley. We’ve grown from 1 member to well over 600,000 in that time. Elder Cook said the future growth will be unimaginable. Exciting!

Thursday we were home in Naic and then went back to Makati for Mission Presidency Meeting on Friday night. Saturday morning the brethren all went to the Buendia Chapel again, this time it was a Priesthood Leadership meeting for all units in the Manila Mission and one other Philippine Mission. Elder Smith came back very excited about the things that were discussed there. Once again, Elder Cook was presiding. We got back in time Saturday evening to attend a baptism in Ternate and visit with friends there.

We attended Punta Branch and then went to Tanza Branch for a while this morning. Now, it’s back to Makati this afternoon to spend the next four days. We will be checking Area Books at Zone Conferences this week. This will be our last check before we leave so want to make sure things are in good order.

Additional fruit of the month for everyone’s enjoyment! This cute little thing is Rattan.

Yes, it does look like a miniature pinecone. It peals very easily and has a large pit inside with a brown juicy meaty part. It is very tart and citrusy tasting. We still have several fruits to feature so there will probably be two next month also.

Family Home Evening More FHE - we made a monster pot of Pancit and it was delicious
Some of the gorgeous trees in DasMarinas Village in Makati (area where the Mission Home is located) Nearly sunset looking across rice fields near Naic

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Loved General Conference!

We spent the weekend at the Mission Home in Makati with the other Senior Couples and enjoyed watching General Conference.  There was great company, great food, great messages, what more could a missionary ask for?  We were able to see the four sessions, Priesthood session and the RS session.  We also enjoyed the World Report and Music and the Spoken Word.  Lots of sitting but we all managed. 

This week is going to be extra special as we have a Mission Training Meeting on Wednesday with Elder Quentin Cook.  Everyone is really looking forward to this special experience.  Last week was transfer week and we have five new members of the Naic, Zone.  They are all truly amazing.  Three of them are greenies, one from Provo MTC and two from the Manila MTC.  Elder Bills is a kiwi (New Zealander) and this is his third transfer.  Elder Langer has joined Elder Richwine as ZL.  We’re excited to get acquainted.

Last week was “going home” time for 19 of our missionaries. 
We had a wonderful, full, temple session and then a testimony meeting at the Mission Home.  These meetings get harder every transfer as we know more and more of the missionaries and miss them when they leave.
"Going Home" group at Krispy Kreme  (Oh yes, we have them here)
Pres. Howard was organizing group pics and after our group one was taken, he said, "OK, everyone who has eaten at the Smith's get in for a picture!"  The only ones left in the room where four parents who were there picking up their sons!  So, Brother and Sister Cowan and Brother and Sister Graham took the picture with 30 or so different cameras.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


We realize that we are on a mission to share the good news and spread the message of truth but.. we’ve decided that Heavenly Father also sent us here to make missionaries happy! We truly do love the missionaries and holding regular FHE’s is one of the ways we are able to show that love. Last Monday was a monster FHE! We had three Zones in attendance plus all the office Elders, Senior Couples and Pres. and Sister Howard (about 75 people total). Our day began at about 4:30 a.m. when Fred arrived by tryke. Fred was a 67 kilo pig who was slated to be the guest of honor?

Brother Gayeta from the Naic Branch was our butcher and cook. Cleaning the hair off with boiling water
Fred was cleaned top to bottom and inside and out by about 9:00 a.m. and mounted on the spit. Ready to roast! Yes, the sun is finally up He was rotated and simmered until 4:00 that afternoon. Nanay and Tatay Gayeta worked hard all day basting and turning.
Our Outdoor Kitchen
Sister Guyeta cleaning corn The Missionaries began arriving at about 1:00 p.m. and by 2:00 they were down at the beach playing games, volleyball, football, frisbie and visiting. Everyone was excited and impressed with Fred. Yes, we realize that naming your food is a bit unusual but after referring to “the pig” for several weeks we just felt he needed something more personal. Sister Smith suggested “Fred” and it stuck!
Ready to serve!
Our former ZL and friend David Tadeo came for the day and was a huge help.
Dinner - Pork, rolls (fresh from the Tompias bakery), rice, gravy, corn on the cob and Filipino style fruit salad Brother Guyeta carving Just a little crowded
The Seniors
Still more meat
After feeding the masses there was still meat left over. The Gayeta’s took it home and fed 5 families in their bayan which was a real treat and blessing for those families. We also let the Gayeta’s have the dugo (blood) and innards as they are bawal (forbidden) for missionaries to eat for health reasons. The Natives use them in several dishes so they were thrilled to have them.

The missionaries were just ready to head back to the compound for dinner when the sky turned black and the rain began pouring! There were kubo’s at the beach so the missionaries huddled under the roofs and visited. They texted and we told them to wait for a weather break to head back. In the meantime we were pretty frantic here at the compound. The rain was so heavy that the tarps we had up for shade were falling down from the water weight. We ended up moving Fred into our apartment for carving and serving. Once the rain slowed the hoards descended and were served in our apartment. The Sisters went to the Sister’s apartment to eat and the Elders went to the ZL’s. That still left quite a few bodies in our place. The rain eased soon and so we were able to migrate to the front yard. By the time everyone was gone, the dishes were done, the floor mopped, the food put away and the sun was setting, we were exhausted but happy.

Yes, we are still doing missionary work also. Our Zone had a baptism last night in Trece and we have about 15 firm dates this month and several more that could come through in October also. We are working on some Christmas music with the Zone choir and are talking about a possible musical fireside for our Zone sometime in November.

It is a new month and we do have another fruit to share. The dalandan is a native orange. It is green skinned and comes in seeded or seedless and tastes very much like an orange in the US. It is a milder flavor and is great juiced. They peel easily and we enjoy them as snacks.

Zone lunch at Lolo Claro's Part of the menu and yes, those are the Christmas decorations already up