Recently the Russell's returned to their home in Oregon and upon arriving in the states, Sister emailed me to let me know they were safe. The thing she mentioned that was the strangest being home was there were NO people. I know that sounds weird but in the Philippines, there are people everywhere! Because of the heat and humidity, most gather outside year round. No homes have grass, only dirt so they normally will build a little 'buhay kubo', like a raised, covered gazebo type area in the front, by the road, where they all gather to visit and watch the world go by. Children play right next to the highway, a sight that scared us to death at first but it is amazing to see these little children, 18 months old on up, just toddling right next to the highway. Last week we drove to a nearby town to negotiate with a potential landlord. I think I mentioned that we are now in charge of all of the housing in the mission, young missionaries and us old folks too. We find [with the help of the local missionaries and members] then we work with the potential landlords on a contract. It is very time consuming but an interesting diversion. Anyway, we were in their front porch area which was behind a 6' wall. From the street, we were not particularly visible but our truck was parked out front. As we were explaining the contract to the husband and wife who owned the apartment complex, I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye-I turned my head and there, next to the porch, was an audience of onlookers. Nobody has boundaries here for privacy. It is amazing-their curiosity gets the best of them and in they come, standing in the 'wings' observing and listening to the conversation. My American upbringing was appalled at that in the beginning-'who are they to snoop like that?' was my thought but it doesn't bother the Filipinos. It is just part of their culture-'if you are curious, just hang around, eavesdrop and your questions will be answered.
Anyway, back to birthdays. This past week, President Munoz grandson turned one and he invited us to the party. We bought a small gift and away we went. The mother and baby live with her parents as her husband [President Munoz' son] is working abroad. Her parents are quite well-to-do so the party was grand! They live in a barangy [little city/neighborhood/housing area] and everyone was invited! They people came and ate and ate and ate. We enjoyed just watching the people...I have always been a people watcher and that is one of my favorite pastimes here. Angry Birds was the theme and the food they served was typical. Lionythuz had a good birthday and so did all who attended. [his mom says his name is English...personally, I have never heard it before but I didn't want to be the one to tell her that!]
|Lionythuz with his mom, Michelle|
|This is a typical 'treat'...hot dogs and marshmellows on sticks|
displayed in piece of the trunk of a banana tree. YUCK!
|Angry Bird balloons for all..|
|Rice is always the center of attention. Notice the spaghetti|
up in the corner-they LOVE spaghetti..it is different
from ours but a common food at parties.
The plastic purses march on! Last Saturday we had an activity in Roxas for 'branch 2' to learn how to crochet the plastic purses. These ladies are SO funny-they absolutely LOVE this project and every group that has learned is going nuts making bags. This is the first branch we attended and although we are no longer participating with them on Sundays, I still visit and will teach occasionally. There are six units in our District and I will work with each one as needed.
|Cutting the bags..Sister Russell left her 'equipment' so it gives us|
two cutting stations and the work goes faster.
|Elder Griffin giving his stamp of approval to the daily fare..|
|You must admit that Elder Delector looks wonderful modeling his pink purse. Elder Griffin refused|
to join in the modeling...a little shy guy..
|Part of the youth group. These are great kids!!|
|Making the Guac!|
|My quality control...|
The main agricultural product of this area of the Philippines is rice. That is a staple in the Filipino diet and is a source of income for probably 90% of the people in our mission. They either own a farm and raise rice [we know 4 or 5 that do this] or they work the planting and harvesting of the rice [most of the people we know are involved in this part of the rice growing] and some will harvest and help to dry, bag and sell the rice. A few are lucky enough to have had capital at one time and they actually own or operate buying stations where they purchase the rice and distribute it for sale. Rice is the core product both in production and consumption.
However, there are other things that are grown...tobacco is second in production and distribution. When tobacco is being grown, it is beautiful. The leaves are very large and provide a vibrant green field. There are sheds that are constructed in the fields where they actually dry the leaves. It is sad to think that something so gorgeous can be so deadly and addictive. But isn't that the way it is with most of Satan's tools??? He makes them so tempting and enticing that it is difficult for us to turn our back on them or to deny ourselves. Life is like that-rice to feed our bodies or tobacco to destroy them. Our choice. Life is full of choices and the ones we make today will impact us and our posterity for eternity.
What choices are you making? What choices are you teaching your children to make and can you live with the consequences of those choices?? I am so grateful I chose to spend two years of my waning years in this marvelous country. There is NO place on this earth I would rather be for the next ten months. I know the work we are doing is inspired and I feel so humbled that my Father in Heaven would trust ME, a silly midwestern girl with these precious saints...my choice today is to be the best I can be!! I promise!!
|Tobacco field and drying shed...looks so innocent..|