We arrived in Manila yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon at around noon, having left the larger part of our lives behind and with faith in the Lord, that He will care for those we love and adore for the next two years. The farewells were very hard but we have confidence our friends and family will be cared for and protected as we serve. The MTC was an amazing experience that is so difficult to describe. Every day we were filled spiritually from so many wonderfully prepared young people. It is so awesome to sit back and watch that campus buzz as thousands of young people have responded to the prophet's call to serve. Wherever we walked, we heard tongues flying in hundreds of languages as this group of youth were preparing themselves to cover the earth and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The physical part was no less 'filling'...I think I put on 15 pounds just eating the amazing food and then sitting all day for two weeks to learn and practice. I am really looking forward to getting to Cauayan later today, finish my body-clock thing and get to work! My plan is to walk every morning for at least 45 minutes and I think my now-tight skirts will loosen up again! haha! Sister Carlos and Sister Breese have put in countless hours in our behalf the past few weeks readying our house [and I am bringing them a huge thank you hug as well as a few goodies] and the next few weeks I will put MY mark on it to turn it into our home. We will have left many of the conveniences that we have always taken for granted behind [like the ability to drink tap water or shower with eyes and mouth opened] but will be SO grateful for the lovely and comfortable place they found for us.
How was the flight over, you ask? Interesting is probably the most precise word to explain it.....we left SLC Sunday evening around 8 p.m., arriving at LAX around 9:30 p.m. A four hour layover was followed by a 14 hour flight to Hong Kong. The plane was huge but PACKED!!! We were economy and needed to sit up all night-each seat had a tv built into the back of the seat ahead and we had earphones so watched some movies, ate some dinner and snacks [MORE WEIGHT CONTRIBUTION I AM SURE!!] Each of us got some sleep but not the restful type that we really needed. I was telling Randy when we arrived in Hong Kong that it is a little like labor...while you are in the middle of it, the best word to describe it is brutal. It is painful, exhausting, never-ending, etc. BUT as soon as they open that door and we walked out into the most beautiful airport we had ever seen, we both looked back and said 'that wasn't so bad'...haha! Hong Kong was amazing-we didn't get to leave the airport but were so impressed with the beauty and cleanliness of the entire area.
After a short 2 hour layover, we hopped on another flight to Manila. This plane was larger and not crowded but when we finally walked off that plane, got our luggage, went through immigration and customs and walked outside, we were hit with the sights and smells of our new country. It was SO hot and SO humid [and there I stood in a jacket and Randy in a sport coat] but I recognized it as our new home and just loved it immediately. It took a few minutes to find our driver [and we had NO cell phones to call anyone to help-we will get mission phones sometime soon but we then realized how dependent we had become on technology] Ferdie found us and we got into his car where my senses were tested as we attacked the driving Filipino's for the first time. Luckily, I had been warned but could never have anticipated what I would see and experience. After WWII, the United States left hundreds, maybe thousands of jeeps in the Philippines that the resourceful Filipino people took, refitted and turned them into 'Jeepneys', their main mode of affordable public transportation. They pile as many people as they can into the vehicle and the lucky owner has a business!! They also have large buses [the air-conditioned ones are most expensive to ride] and between these two modes of transportation, the city is a mass of exhaust and honking horns but it all seemed rather like a dance. Nobody was mad or frustrated, nobody was raging, just moving like bugs on a sidewalk. People were also walking in the street weaving in and out of the traffic as were motorcycles and scooters. It was a hoot!
Randy and I had thought we would like to see the war memorial but with the time element, we only had time to do one thing so we chose the temple. It was so worth it and definitely the right decision. We followed that with a very disappointing dinner [he chose the restaurant] and when we realized the Italian Restaurant was not Olive Garden, our physical exhaustion took over. We both picked at our dinners and decided we needed sleep so by 7:30, we were both sound asleep. Our time zone puts us 12-15 hours ahead of you in the US depending on YOUR zone so it is now 4:30 a.m. here on Wednesday and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday on the east coast in the United States. The Holiday Inn that we are staying in [on the 19th floor!] is connected to this huge indoor mall [where we ate dinner] that is 4 stories high-we could look down and see the people milling around through the center opening and were amazed at all the stores and IT WAS PACKED with shoppers, even in the evening.
By 11 or so this morning, we will have boarded yet another plane, flown another couple of hours and will be in Cauayan City, our new home. Not sure what I am most excited about, unpacking our suitcases, unloading the boxes we shipped from Kathie and Bill's or just being ready to get on with this next phase of our lives. For over a year, we have been planning, sorting, packing, storing, and preparing ourselves for this moment. For the first time in our lives, we are homeless, living out of suitcases, stuff-less, and are more than ready to be done with it!!
|Coconut tree right in the middle of the traffic|
|Manila Temple-looks alot like Chicago and Dallas in design.|
|Temple grounds...so fertile and green...gorgeous!|