Friday, August 24, 2012

Banaue, Zone Leader Council and a disappointment...:(

One year ago last week our plane landed in Cauayan City, Isabela and our experience in the Philippine, Cauayan Mission began.  It has been a year of many joys, many sorrows, many laughs, and many tears but all-in-all, I would not go back and do anything any differently.  I have done the very best job that I know how and although I feel many times that my offering does not measure up or is not exactly what is needed, I am just plugging along doing what I feel is right and hope the Lord accepts my service.  This past year has gone very fast and in less than 10 months, we will be hugging our short people again, having this whole 23 months only a marvelous memory.

Up to this point in our mission, we have only taken one 'P' day.  Last January, President and Sister Carlos went with us to Magat Dam for an afternoon.  Oh, I take that all December, we went to Banaue the first time with President and Sister and spent part of a Monday also...I lied...sorry...our THIRD 'P' day of our mission!!  At any rate, this past weekend we traveled to Solano to do our Music Workshop while the men did leadership training.  The Gottfredsons and the Mills chose not to go this time so the three of us did the workshop by ourselves-that was a little bit of a challenge but we did fine.  After the workshop, we went to a local Greenwich for pizza then found our hotel for the night.  Bali Gloria turned out to be a fantastic place and we totally enjoyed the time we spent there.  They have a restaurant that is marvelous-we played cards while we waited for our dinners then retired for the evening.  Before going to bed, we took a little stroll around the property and were in awe of the glorious, resort feel.  We will definitely stay there again, especially with a nightly price tag of less than $20 and it has a/c, hot water, internet and a marvelous restaurant. [it is amazing what, because it is rare, has become more important this past year-hot water is something we have not had up until we moved into this new home...haven't used it much yet but plan to when the cooler weather hits!]
Notice this little fella we found on our walk-he was moving sssooooo ssslllllooowwwwlllyyy
just like I supposed a HUGE snail would-that is MY foot [size 10 shoe] so you
can see how large they grow these in the Philippines..

This was our home for the night-ours was on the bottom left..

Sunday morning we woke up and went to church in Lagawe.  That little branch is about half way up the mountain to Banaue and we love the people there.  In Banaue, the local residents are all descendants of the Ifugao people.  They are the marvelously industrious people who, 2000 years before Christ, found their way [the legend says they were lead by a 'great white God'] up this beautiful mountainous region to build the 8th Wonder of the World-the Banaue Rice Terraces.  This is the first time I have seen this area in the early planting season.  Most of the Philippines bukid areas have three rice plantings/harvests a year.  They use commercial fertilizer and weed killers, something the Ifugao people do not use.  Their rice is strictly organic and thus, takes a little longer to grow.  Early in the cycle, I love the color of the rice-it is a brilliant lime green and seeing this in Banaue last weekend was the most glorious sight!!

This picture doesn't even begin to show the beauty of the colors..

The land owners actually live right down there and grow their own
food, raise their own meat and totally live on the side of the hill

A goofy bunch..we had such a grand time together.  We chartered a Jeepney to take us up the mountain
to the shopping and lookout areas-much safer than us driving ourselves!

This is a hut [called a bahay kubo] where a farming family lives.  You
can see their vegetable crops on the next plateau down from the house.

This is mainly for my cousin Judy-the foliage here is so different from
the US-this is a flower [probably the size of a serving platter] that
grown on a bush-they were all in bloom and were amazing!
This past week the senior couples were invited to participate in the ZLC training.  It is a quarterly training with all of the Zone Leaders.  They meet with President, Sister and the Assistants to do intensive training to help them be more effective leaders in their Zones.  The day started with an activity and we were all invited to participate [a live 'Clue' game where we were the characters-the senior men dressed like the prophets in the Book of Mormon- and we gals were distractions]  As they were divided into teams and ran around the mission home/office/district center building trying to gather their clues to solve the puzzle, us gals were all dressed and were 'selling' tempting things like juice boxes, bread sticks, fruit kabobs or homemade cookies.  They had been given 'Zarahemla Bucks' so had 'money' to purchase if they wanted.  It was fun to watch the inner struggle as these 'kids' wanted the food and the 'missionaries' wanted to win!

King Benjamin on his 'tower'
Sister Laker was selling fruit kabobs and had
quite a few 'takers'..
Sister Mills was selling juice boxes..
Elder Laker was complete with Abinadi
I made cookies and offered a game of chance-a roll of the dice could
provide your entire team with homemade chocolate chip
cookies-some actually succumbed..
Alma was near the Waters of Mormon....ala Elder Mills
Elder Mioli was a great Captain Moroni

Elder Gottfredson is a good sport as Samuel the Lamanite

Sister Gottfredson's fresh out of the oven cinnamon
bread sticks were very tempting for all...

Elder Huffstutler made a great Nephi
Later in the evening, we were invited back for the presentations where the different groups put on their adaptation of the scripture and prophet they were assigned.  It was such fun to see these normally serious young men enjoying each other as they acted out their scenario

Elder Elgan with his shield of faith

Elder Oliver was the good shepherd gathering his sheep [Elder Nay and Elder Averion]

I loved the headdress!  This was Elder Nay's first time to attend
Zone Leader Council.
I have told you all about my know the preparation that we had to do, the work involved getting things ready to plant, the wait as our son Chip sent us a box from Utah that included some seeds from American vegetables we love as well as precious Crystal Light..who would ever guess I would be a crystal light lemonade fan???  Anyway, being from Nebraska, [the Cornhusker State!], we were so excited to watch our corn grow.  I babied it and talked to it and about 2 weeks ago, it began to look sick.  I consulted my authority on Philippine gardens [Pres Q] and finally, last week, I decided to pick the corn.  WWWEEELLLLLL..the jury came back in and the decision was made-I left it on the stalk too long.  I was waiting for the corn to get high like it does at home instead of watching the progress of the individual ears.  It was awful!!!!!!!!!!!!  Cobby, tough, and downright disappointing!

Last Friday was spent pulling up the stalks, burning them, turning the dirt and preparing the area for something else.  Three weeks ago I planted six more rows so this time, I will be more educated and hopefully will have a bountiful harvest!

Out with the old, in with the new..
After our Music Workshop in Solano, the six of us went to Greenwich for lunch.  The Lakers had not eaten there yet and were hungry for pizza.  While we were sitting there waiting for our lunch, a beautiful butterfly landed on the window outside of the restaurant and just stayed.  He would slowly open,,then close,,,then open again his beautiful wings but was in NO hurry to leave and miss the happenings inside.

There are so many times in my life, mostly my 'life before', when the everyday minutia takes over and I know I missed the butterflies.  Here, in this marvelous country with the most beautiful people on earth, things are normally at a much slower pace.  They are not in any hurry...most are late to arrive to appointments, church, meetings...they gather along the side of the roads, on benches outside of their homes, in little Tindahon stores along the way and visit, laugh, talk, and enjoy one another.  I remember as a child growing up in the 50's without air conditioning, the evenings when the entire neighborhood would be in the street, in the yards, on the driveways, visiting, watching their children catch fireflies, and just socializing.  In the US, we have gotten away from that..we don't know our neighbors for the most part and most families spend no more than 20 minutes a day, bolting down a quick dinner so they can rush off to whatever.  Where is the world of the past when everyone on your block knew you, wanted to visit, wanted to share their day, brought you a plate of whatever they baked for their family...where is that slower paced but more humanly connected society???  I can tell you where-IT IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The Philippines is comparable to the US in the early 1900's in technology [except for cell phones] and they are a social culture who love each other, enjoy each other and for the most part, support and defend each other to the end...wish we could go back to that 'at home' because I think families would really benefit..that is what this life is about-families.  Families are the pattern of Heaven and I, for one, want mine for eternity!!


  1. Sharla wrote: "Thank you for your accounts if your mission, Cheri. You Have a gift as a story teller. It's like one of those long ago visits on a summer evening outside on the porch! You are beautiful!"

  2. I love the descriptiveness of your posts. Bummer on the corn!

  3. Tami Maldonado

    Tami wrote: "Makes me homesick for my mission - I served in the same areas & they look just like they did when I was there in 1988 & 89 :0)"