Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winding Down

We hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. We did! We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Mission Home. Everything was delicious.

Delia is an amazing cook. She has been cooking for the Mission Home for 20 years and makes some amazing dishes. President and Sister Howard are always such gracious hosts so every occasion is special.

We were without internet for several days so didn’t get to talk with anyone from home over the holiday but we’re sure everything was fine and yummy. We’ve had quite a few baptisms lately and it is exciting.

During the past 6 weeks we’ve watched 9 members of one family in Trece Branch join the Church. The Zone is doing so well and working so hard. It makes us very proud of them.

Monday night was our LAST Family Home Evening. It’s hard to believe. Our Zone was here and 8 of the office Elders and 2 Sisters came from Makati.

The roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy were a hit. We have one more FHE on December 6th but it will be on-the-road as we are traveling to the Temple as a Zone to see the Christmas lights there.

As our time here is winding down we are so grateful for our many blessings. We have loved every missionary (over 100) who has come through our Zone. The Senior Couples are fantastic and the Howard’s are fabulous too. The members of the Church here and the Philippine people in general are beyond description. They have treated us like royalty and we love them so much. Our testimonies have been strengthened by their example and humility. We have also been so blessed to have such a stupendous support group at home! We love our family and friends very much and are looking forward to being home. But, golly, we’re really going to miss our family and friends in the Philippines too!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monkey-ing Around

It’s been a fun and busy week. Monday night was FHE. We had a spaghetti dinner and then played some Thanksgiving themed games.  (Thanksgiving Matching game)
We’re pretty sure spaghetti is a fairly traditional Thanksgiving dinner since turkey is dang hard to find and afford. The fun treat of the evening was getting our new Zone t-shirts. Friends in the Naic Branch (Herbert and Aira) designed the Captain Moroni themed picture. We’ll be bringing ours home (with quite a few others) so we’ll have some additional fun memories.

Tuesday was Temple Day and Going Home fireside and dinner at the Mission Home.

 It’s hard to believe that we were part of the going home group this time. It really doesn’t quite seem real yet. Transfer day was on Wednesday and we got 4 new Elders and 1 new Sister. Things are always changing in the mission field. We met the new comers Friday morning at District Meeting and they are terrific. Sister Frost transferred to Makati and is now a TA with Sister Betts. What a pair! Right now our Zone is on-fire (still) and hoping for 50 baptisms in December.

We went for a drive up Ternate canyon while waiting for a meeting and a herd of monkeys ran across the road in front of us. It took a minute to get the camera but still caught one in action. This is one of our favorite scenic drives in the area.

We were honored to host lunch on Sunday for Pres. and Sis. Howard . His brother and sister-in-law, Brent and Bonnie, are visiting from Malad, Idaho.
Lunch guests. Brent and Bonnie Howard, Pres. and Sis. Howard and the Smiths

 It was a real pleasure to have them here. Our apartment complex missionaries were here and also the Sister TA’s came out from Makati.
The Elder TA’s are also visiting the Zone and came later for left-over lunch and visiting.
E. Richwine and E. Langer (ZL's) in a self-portrait

After lunch we took the Sister TA's to the swinging bridge in Maragondon. They insisted on a smooching picture (we didn't mind).
We have actually set out a suitcase to start putting a few things together for the trip home. We got our travel plans at the first of the week. These are the new, updated, final plans according to the email. We leave Manila at 6:30 a.m. on the 9th of December. We arrive in Hong Kong at 8:30 a.m. and have a lay-over until 1:05 p.m. then on to LAX. We arrive in LA at 9:35 a.m. (again on December 9th) and depart for LV at 2:37 p.m. with a 3:46 p.m. arrival time. This gaining and losing days business is strange! We have just two more Sundays in the Philippines.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

We're Tourists

We decided we’d better play our “tourist card” as we are counting down.  Wednesday morning we took Sister Jeane Arandia to the US Embassy to apply for her student visa.  The Embassy is next to Rizal Park which is a major Mania landmark.   
 While we were waiting for her we went to the Children’s Museum and really enjoyed the displays and information.  When she finished with her appointment we decided to see the sights.  We got into a horse drawn carriage and headed out.   
Jeane is a native but had never been to the park so she was thrilled with the trip also.  Our driver took us all over the place and we were able to see the National Museum, tons of statues, Old Town Manila (Spanish style) and much more.  While we were in the Museum it started to rain.  It was a real Philippine downpour!   
The carriage ride back to the car was terrific with the sounds of rain on the roof.  It was a wonderful experience and it was a pleasantly comfortable day temperature wise for a change.

We have a second fruit for the month.  We didn’t get a picture of the insides as everyone knows what they look like.  The fields in these pictures are just a few km from our apartment.  We are grateful for wonderfully fresh pineapple and it is reasonably priced.  It is so juicy and sweet and we love it.   

Friday we went to Sonja’s Garden (again) with the Morgan’s.  It was another touristy day with a couple of Branch business stops along the way.  We ate several servings of fresh pineapple while we were there.

Saturday we split up and Sister Smith attended a District RS Visiting Teaching Convention in Naic while Elder Smith went to a baptism in Punta.  There were 8 for that baptism and we forgot to send the camera with him.  Later that evening we attended another baptism in Naic. 
SM SuperMarket Checkers.  We were picking up some groceries and it was slow in the store.  Several of the checkers started questioning Elder Smith about where he was from, what he was doing etc.  Yes, he did OYM!!  He wanted a picture of them and a crowd showed up.  Everyone loves to have their picture taken.
Here's proof you can transport anything on a tryke

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Preparing Papayas

We have a papaya tree in our front yard and this year it is loaded with fruit. However, according to the natives when it is still green, it is considered a vegetable.

So, we are going to be learning to cook a special green papaya dish as an ulam. That’s a topping for rice and a main course. The ripe ones are sweeter and used in fruit salads, shakes and just eaten by themselves. We’ll be sure to post pics of the green experiment. Papaya is the fruit of the month in its diverse forms.

Monday night was FHE and we weakened and had a Halloween themed activity. Elder Smith did a regular lesson and then the games went off the deep end.
We had a mummy wrapping contest,

bobbing for apples, ghost bingo and a wonderful dinner. Each missionary as they arrived made their own tinfoil (hobo) dinner. We had the charcoal ready and they all simmered and cooked while we had the lesson and such. Very few of the missionaries had ever tried to make one and they were quite delighted with the results. We love sharing new ideas and foods and love when we get new ideas back. Our mission has very much been a cultural exchange.
These are Philippine Weed Whackers. There are work crews along the highways chopping weeds and grass nearly every time we go anywhere. They use big machete type knives and whack away. The same method is used to trim lawns and yards. You will rarely see a lawn mower or mechanical weed whacker being used.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Attack!!

It has actually been pleasant weather this week.  It is still in the high 90’s each day but has been cooling down a bit more in the evenings.  It’s a very nice break.  We haven’t needed to run the aircon very much.   

Monday we had a terrific FHE with the Naic and DasMarinias Zones.  We roasted hot dogs over the coals in our front yard and had the trimmings with them.   

Elder Smith made some great hot dog roasting sticks and they worked like a charm.  After the masses were gone we used up the last of the coal’s heat making s’mores.  They were wonderful.  A bunch of kids from the neighborhood came by and all had some.  It was fun to see their expressions as it was a new taste treat for them.

We have been blessed to see numerous missionaries leave from the Naic District to become full-time missionaries.  Friday we were there as Elder Nephi was set apart.   

He had helped in the Zone whenever we had need of a companion or for splits.  He is an outstanding young man and will be a great addition to the Bagio Mission.  About 75% of the missionaries in the 17 Philippines Missions are natives.  Many of them are recent converts.  We have enjoyed watching future Bishops, Stake Presidents and General Authorities go through the Zone.  They will truly be the leadership of the Church here. 

We had 4 baptisms in the Zone yesterday.  We were touched as we watched a recent convert (about 1 month) baptize his wife last night.  Two of their grandchildren were also baptized.  It’s is exciting to watch families join in the Gospel.

Sunday lunch with the AP's, ZL's and Sisters

Yes! There was an attack this past week. Sweet, gentle, kindly Sister Smith was upstairs on the computer when she noticed a bunch of little black beetle-type bugs climbing around near her. A quick check of the area revealed the horror! A huge swarm of the critters had somehow got in the apartment and they were everywhere! Literally there were thousands! Grabbing a can of bug spray she began to go crazy! Once the air had cleared, there were little corpses all over the place. We’re still finding and sweeping them up. They had wings and kept dive bombing during the extermination. It was not the most spiritual experience of our mission but some things just have to be taken care of. Our Tuko can only eat so much and the rats don’t seem to like bugs so it’s up to us.