Monday, January 16, 2012

FINALLY, Sister...

Another week has gone by and we realized yesterday that we have been here 5 months!!!  It doesn't seem possible but yup!  5 months in this marvelous country.  The things we have seen, touched, smelled, tasted and heard are so different from anything we have ever experienced in our lives...never have I been awakened every morning by a rooster!  or pigs grunting outside of my bedroom window!  or the sounds of small bike horns beckoning all to come get their breakfast from the street vendor's portable carts as they push them down the back streets of our little town, Cabatuan.  It is definitely an experience of a lifetime and not one for the weak for sure.  I have slept 'harder' here than ever in my life.  I arise before the sun and by 9, I am usually ready to call it day, having the greatest memories and feeling of service in my heart.

This past week has been another amazing one beginning with a Family Home Evening in Quilling a week ago yesterday.  It was held on a huge cement parking lot attached to a rice packaging business owned by a member.  They invited inactive families as well as the active ones in this little community and when we took a rough headcount, think there were over 66 in attendance.  Probably a balance of 20 adults and 45 or so children!!  The tatay [father] of the family presented the lesson and then the games began.  If you will look closely in this picture, you can see me in the purple on the left-I brought one of  the keyboards and was playing for the meeting but when the sun went down and that light over my head was turned on, OH MY!!!!!!!!  Bugs like you have never seen before-I didn't want to interrupt the lesson but quickly got on my feet and out of that area.  They reminded me of termites in the US...little flying ants but when I got home and washed my hair, many went down the drain.  One interesting side note-as soon as the nanay [mother] of the family who was hosting noticed my fight with the bugs, she got up, pulled a huge leaved branch off of a nearby tree, propped it up there by the light and the bugs all went to it and left me alone.  These people here definitely know how to survive in this environment for sure!

Family Home Evening in Quilling

Last night we had another FHE with a family of investigators in Mallig.  This family is amazing and have committed to baptism.  A dad, mom, two boys and a girl.  We are very thrilled.  He is a Sargent in the Philippine Army and works in a nearby city in an office.  They have a nice home and we really enjoy their company.  Randy did a lesson with a great visual aid using spoons and cups.  We first saw this in a FHE in Mallig that Elder Dahlin and Elder Oliver did and Randy added to the lesson they did to customize it for this family.  It was a great message.  Afterwards, I taught them how to play Matterhorn, a fun dice game that the Smith/Betker bunch taught their old Meemaw and Grandpa.  They all had such fun.
Brother Cortez trying to follow Randy's instruction...

Once a quarter, the District Relief Society has an activity.  These women LOVE to get together and have fun!  Last quarter, I was in charge of the activity and I taught them how to make a pasta dish in their woks.  Most of these sisters cook in the open outside of their homes on a fire.  It is amazing to me that they can come up with such great food on an open campers in the US need to take lessons from them!  Anyway, this past Saturday was our second activity day since we arrived and they asked me if I could teach something.  I remember my YW days in the US and embellishing flip flops using strips of fabric.  When I was trimming the pillowcases, I saved all my cuttings and have gathered some fabric here and from Sister Russell, my senior sister missionary who is also a quilter who lives across the street from me.  Each sister brought her own 'slippers' and the fun began.  We had such fun and the creativity of these women shown forth-I taught the basic and they 'ran with it!'  Some fashioned rosebud type flowers from the fabric, other had brought a needle and thread to stitch it on and give it a different look, some wrapped the straps, etc.  Everyone had such fun and the 'slippers' turned out so darling!  I also suggested they could use colored plastic bags [available here at every corner] and then create for themselves, slippers that could be worn in the rainy season.
The creating of the slippers

Our cute sister missionaries making themselves a pair..

Ta Dah!!

The crowning moment of this past week for us was the baptism of this wonderful family.  Our first week here, Elder Naylor and Elder Lucernes were brave enough to invite us to join them one afternoon.  They had not worked with senior couples before and we had no idea what we were doing for sure!  We have a vehicle so the missionaries have quickly realized that we could take them places faster and safer than trycies, feet or a motorcycle and besides that..WE ARE FREE!!!  They are always worried about spending their support money.  Anyway, we went to the bukid [the rice paddies] and found Sister Ulep.  She was already into her lessons and was baptized about a month after we arrived.  Her sister-in-law and family live down the road and she referred them to us so we went to visit.  They live in very humble electricity, dirt/rock floor, no refrigeration, no furniture except the bamboo beds they sleep on, thatched roof, bamboo walls that don't reach the ground, etc.  I think you get the picture.  It was my first experience in a home like that and I probably looked like a deer in headlights when we walked in.  We found the most precious little family there that had very little formal religious training of any kind.  He was very 'closed' and his eyes were always down.  Tatay didn't say much but they listened.  Their journey was not as fast as some but it was steady.  They had to be taught about Christ, the atonement, and all of the basics of Christianity.  But they listened and they learned.  Probably a month ago, both committed to baptism but needed to be taught the rest of the lessons to ensure they had all the foundation they needed to become active and committed members of the church.  That was a long wait for tatay...he was ready and wanted that ordinance!

Well, last Saturday they entered the waters of baptism and what a glorious and precious experience that was to attend.  As they were all dressed in white and waiting for the meeting to begin, tatay, who speaks very little English, came up to me and putting his arms out to display the white clothing, said:

"FINALLY, Sister"  His wait was over and his new life could begin.

The Maducduk Family with the Elders and the Sisters.  Also pictured are Sister Diaz with Sister Mimi who was also baptized .

The harvest is over and the rice is planted for the next crop.  Notice the beautiful green fields for as far and the eye can see.  I liken this picture to our work here in the Philippines.  Our first crop is harvested with the baptism of the Maducduk family and our next crop is planted.  Missionary work is like rice...we plant, harvest and replant.  What a wonderful way to spend the next 18 months!!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful update as always. From what I remember you weren't in the MTC for a very long time. How have you done with the language there?