Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Big 66 and a great gobble day...

If anyone would have told me last Thanksgiving that I would be eating turkey, dressing, mashed potato's, and all the trimmings except cranberry sauce IN THE PHILIPPINES for Thanksgiving this year with 8 of my favorite people, I probably would have said 'not possible'.  How could I ever expect to get Butterball Turkeys here but lo and behold, Sister Carlos did it!  We had a grand time eating, talking about our greatest blessings in our lives and sharing time together.  After we ate and cleaned up the kitchen, out came the boxes and the Mission Home turned into a Christmas wonderland.  Here, the Filipino people love Christmas and begin their celebration in September.  By Halloween, they are in full swing and because there is no holiday for them between October 31st and December 31st, they get busy and enjoy the decorations and music.  Sister Carlos was bound and determined NOT to get her Christmas out until after we digested the turkey so this past week, the mission compound has been transformed.  There is a member of the church who is hired to be the night watchman at the mission home and he is willing and very able in the night to put up lights, clean up things, whatever needs to be done.  The lighting there is good so he just buzzes around the area and does the transformation at holiday times.  
Such a beautiful table-notice the napkins, Annalee??

The chief cook and turkey carver

There was also a pumpkin pie [hardest thing to find was the pumpkin]

Relish tray, creamed corn, fruit salad, mashers, broccoli salad, and so much more!

We lacked for NO food and had a great feast.  You can get a good idea of the size of this kitchen area from these pictures-it is a lovely home and very roomy and comfortable.  It has a good feel...

We all pitched in and helped with the decorations...

Rudy with the AP's 'building the tree'

Sister Russell found a lonely guitar and sang us a toon...

The AP's putting the lights on the tree

Elder and Sister Breese putting the nativity together

Elder Katoa and Elder Hale, the current assistants

For those of you who read this blog and are not members of our church, let me explain a little about the assistants.  The mission president has a HUGE responsibility and is extremely busy.  His schedule is never-ending and gruesome at times.  Problems pop up now and then in the mission and the church has designated him the right to ask two of his most responsible and worthy missionaries to be his 'assistants'.  Currently, they are living in an apartment above the mission office and serve as his extended hands.  They travel with him to meetings, [usually driving for him] they call missionaries and set up appointments for them to come in for interviews, they assist in the training meetings, they transport injured or ill missionaries to health facilities, in short, they are his 'gofers' but really much more.  Because of the incredible amount of time they spend together, they become so endeared to the mission president and his wife, sometimes emotionally taking the role of their children to help the president and companion with the absence of their own family.  I have seen these two give up their own lives to help their dear mission president, not begrudging it one speck.  They will serve for usually 4-5 months together then one will move on to another assignment while the remaining assistant trains the new replacement.  Then a little while later, the original will be transferred and another will take his place.  They actually willingly give up a period of their own mission to change responsibilities and assist the president.  In two weeks, Elder Hale will be going home so tomorrow, at transfers, we will be getting a new assistant and the rotation will start anew.  It is a wonderful plan and works like a charm.
Friday morning we had the greatest time of our lives!!  It was Randy's 66th birthday and during the course of three hours, we were able to see and talk to all of our children, all of our 'in-law' children and 21 of our 24 grandchildren!!  That was a first for us here in the Philippines and we haven't stopped smiling yet!  The kids all sang to Grandpa then we visited with each one and really enjoyed the time we spent.  Our cup was filled that day for sure and one interesting phenomenon happened...KC's birthday is the 24th and Randy's is the 25th and they got to tell each other Happy Birthday on their own actual birthday because we are living across the International Date Line for the next two years-I told them it would be a twice in a lifetime experience!  They thought that was cool...

MY cookie monster with his cake...

A great little bakery here did the cake for me-it was PERFECT!!!
I mentioned earlier that tomorrow is transfers and we will be having lots of big changes in the mission. President Carlos is opening a new area up north and yesterday Randy and I traveled to Tabuk with the Russell's [the senior couple whose responsibility is the apartments for all 160 missionaries] and found the new apartment and offloaded some furniture and kitchen supplies to set up housekeeping for them.  After the transfer meeting tomorrow, Randy and I will drive back up there and deliver the new guys to their new area.  Transfer meeting is always fun-missionaries see each other and hug and cry [if they are ones wearing skirts] and lots of bedlam occurs.  Tomorrow morning we will be getting a new 'batch' of missionaries at 5:30 a.m.  The American ones will have been traveling for 24+ hours and the Filipino's will have just left the MTC in Manila.  They will ride a bus all night and arrive here tired but is such a high to finally arrive at the place you have dreamed about and planned for...I remember the feeling just like it was yesterday.

Our weather today was in the 90's and tomorrow is December 1st!  I still can't get used to that.  I hung our laundry out this morning and gathered it in this afternoon, all in my undies because of the heat.....yes, our back yard is VERY private-walled all around and NOBODY can peek in..haha!  Randy is gone until later tonight and I am just 3 hours away from being completely finished with my pillowcase project!  When done, I will have put in over 250 hours and will have 200 great pillowcases to use as gifts for the missionaries this year and have enough to allow the new ones coming in the next year to choose one also.  My hope is that they will use them and be able to identify their own pillow by the unique case-there are no two alike so they should be able to keep them straight.  That is the hope anyway..

Christmas is around the corner...we are building new memories and traditions here in this part of the world..what are you doing with your traditions this year??


  1. You don't often hear from me on these blog posts, but figured I should pipe in this time and echo what Sister Shaner has said. It is wonderful being here. The blessings for us are beyond measure as we lose ourselves in the service of our Filipino brothers and sisters. God is really great that way. Whenever we do what he asks he blesses us. For the last few weeks on Wednesday evenings we have gone with the Branch President and visited families he has selected to visit. Each and every visit ended up being spirit filled and we came away blessed. One visit even resulted in a follow up visit where we did FHE with them. It is so much fun to serve God here in the Philippines.

  2. I did notice the napkins. It made me smile. Keep up the good work. I miss you both terribly!

  3. I love the birthdays one day apart, happening at the same time! How fun! Sound like you guys are having a great time.