Thursday, August 9, 2012

Unexpected guests and a fresh water pond..

My oh my do these people like to party!  

Picture this...early Sunday morning, I received a text from Pres Q from Cabatuan.  'Sister...can my family join with you tomorrow for FHE?'

It is not unusual for these people to invite themselves to events.  They are a curious and direct bunch as I mentioned last week and their social boundaries are different than mine.  Knowing this, I texted back that I would let him know later in the day as we had a daytime birthday party in Mallig on Monday and that might conflict.  We love this family and really were fine with them coming to our home.  

Arriving at church, we found out the birthday party was occurring that very afternoon [the schedule changed and although the family was encouraged to let US know, they neglected that small detail which left me with 2 kilos of uncooked chicken that was planned for that event.]  Thinking I needed to use the chicken and wanting to have some of Elder Llorin's [you remember him from Mallig a few month back?] Curry Chicken, I texted Pres Q and asked him what he had in mind for Monday..who was coming, how many, etc.  His response was that he only had planned his family [of 4] and the sister missionaries who live on our property in the guest cottage.  Knowing how much chicken I had, I visited with him and asked him if he had a small less-active family or possibly an investigator who might benefit from an evening with the sisters, his family and us.  I had enough food for possibly 12 people and thought I would just share the spoils.

Within an hour, he texted back a thank you and would be in touch.  Monday is our 'P' day so my plans are always laundry, a little cleaning, shopping, the stuff that makes up my life and daily happenings in America.  I knew it would be no problem to put a pan of brownies in the oven, pick up some ice cream and make some homemade dinner rolls.  Last week we ate at a local chain restaurant called Chic Boy.  They serve many things but my favorite is their roasted chicken.  Of course they have rice and the usual fare for Filipino restaurants but as we sat there, I saw a waitress walk by with a plate of something that smelled heavenly and looked delicious...and quickly had a plate ordered for us when I found out it was a veggie.  I love vegetables [and my hubby eats them because he knows they are good for him] is called Kangkong [pronounced CON-cone] and looks a little like spinach when cooked.  God is so creative with this earth-this vegetable is so unusual because it grows in the swamps [is called water grass] and the stems are like allows the water to be drawn up into the stems while it is growing.  Anyway, I found it at the palenke and purchased 4 bundles to round out our meal.

Fast forward a few hours...
Pres Q: 'Sister, I think the idea of inviting other family is good.  I will reply later'
Me:  'Great!  Just let me know so I can set the table and such, Pres.'

Monday morning..
Pres Q:  'Sister, I think we will be 15 people tonight.  Thanks Sister'
Me:  "15 people!! Wow!!  Ok, just let them know dinner is at 6 and FHE at 7 American time, not Filipino time!!!  Elder and I need to be up early Tuesday morning to drive to Nueva Viscaya for apartment issues and we need to be finished by 8'  

Thinking I might not have enough chicken after all, I harnessed my companion and into Cauayan we went to Monterray Meats.  Now purchasing meat here can be a scary thing-lots of people [not the Americans for sure] purchase their meat in the palenke from the meat vendors.  Quite a while back I posted a picture of one of those stands where the meat hangs in the heat, with flys buzzing and landing but THIS woman sticks with Savemore or Monterray Meat. [I truly respect Elder Llorin and he insists that Montertay is the ONLY place to buy meat] I went to Monterray and purchased another couple of kilos so we were good.  

Monday noon..

Sisters:  'Hello Sister.  Pres Q told us we could invite someone we were working with so we have invited three boys whose parents are inactive members.  Just so you know..'
Me:  ' many have you invited?  just the three?'
Sisters: 'Yes Sister, just three'

Ok, that puts our head count to 18...better make two boxes of brownie mix and use a bigger pan, send Elder for another container of ice cream and get hoppin' on those rolls.  Glad I got four bundles of kangkong...

You can count 20 and there were 5 more that showed up!  The sisters had to dash
to their house for more plates but the evening was so great!  Many hearts
were touched by the sisters and Pres Q.  We love this little branch although
we do not serve there-we have become friends with the people and love interacting with them.
Kangkong after it is washed..

Sister Cajigal and Sister Klein

Another kangkong shot-see the tube stems??
Every six weeks we have what is called 'transfer week'.  President Carlos says this exchange of missionaries is like 'a fresh water pond'.  Every six weeks we say goodbye to the valiant ones who have served well and are now heading home to the rest of their lives with a renewal of spirit and conviction.  That exit normally occurs on Wednesday evening after they have shared their testimonies at the farewell fireside.  Families and other missionaries are welcome to the fireside to bid fond farewells to those who have touched their lives.  They get on a bus at 8:00 pm in Cauayan and at about the same time, a new batch of enthusiastic and anxious missionaries are boarding a bus in Manila.  Somewhere along the way, their buses will pass, just as the water in the fresh water pond.  On Thursday morning we get up at the crack of dawn and meet that bus full of tired, sore, scared and enthusiastic young men and women who will become part of our mission family for the next 18-24 months.  It is so refreshing to see the 'newbies' as they bring fresh excitement to the mission.

They will arrive, take a nap, have a shower and then breakfast with President and Sister Carlos in the mission home.  President will then interview each incoming elder and sister while Sister Carlos meets with them to discuss issues pertaining to their safety, their health, etc.  By mid-morning, the 'others' start to arrive.  President and his assistants have prayed, fasted and feel confident they are making changes in the mission companionships that the Lord wants.  

Transfer meeting can be such fun as we watch the Elders and Sisters embrace, laugh, cry and visit with past companions, batch mates, or others who they have become friends with while they serve the Lord.  All arrive on various vehicles, depending on the distance they need to travel.  Our mission is huge-as Elder Shaner and I have traveled it with our apartment responsibility, we estimate to drive from one end to the other would take over six hours.  For that reason, some Elders and Sisters will travel part way and have a 'sleepover' with another set of missionaries then come to Cauayan on Thursday morning to be here in time for the 10:00 meeting.  

Yesterday morning as we were driving to Cauayan from our home, we pulled up behind a jeepney and came upon this scene:

Elder Coleman, Elder Robinson, Elder Ilagan and Elder Reher on
top of the Jeepney-the coolest place to ride..
Those of you who read this blog often will know these fine missionaries.

Elder Griffin and Elder Nay
We have had the privilege of serving alongside them for quite a while and have loved these two young men.  They have impacted our lives and with the new transfer, they both are being relocated to other areas to bless yet more people's lives.  

After the Farewell Fireside on Wednesday night, we invited them and their companions to dinner before they moved on...they were allowed to choose where we went and they both [being Americans] chose PIZZA!!!  We were not surprised and enjoyed a great dinner at Greenwich.  They have very good pizza and sometimes, we just get the craving...

Elder Griffin, Elder Nay, Elder Oyardo, Elder Delector and the old people.
We are exited to become acquainted now with Elder Ronstedt [who was actually batch mates with Elder Nay and in the MTC with us!] and Elder Galang.  Both are great missionaries and will have a grand time serving in Roxas.

An interesting thing happened this week-I got a message posted on last week's blog from a family that had apparently been following our comings and goings since January.  They told me that their son was arriving in our mission with this new batch and I was so happy to see him at the bus and surprised when he said 'hi Sister and Elder Shaner'...what was even funnier was the look on Elder Griffin's face when Elder Robertson walked up to him in the chapel and said 'Hi Elder Griffin'...

In transfer meeting, the faces and names are loaded into a power point and are put up on a big screen from President's computer.  When I found out who would be a trainer for Elder Robertson, I squealed!  I was so excited-MY ELDER LLORIN!!!  well, ok, not MY Elder Llorin but he is getting a great trainer.  Elder Nay has also been transferred and has a new assignment but I promised him I would not 'steal his thunder' because he won't be able to tell his parents until next Monday so Nay Family...check your email next week!!! 
Elder Robertson and Elder Llorin
Life is like the fresh water pond President talked about.  We change, we grow, we mature,...but we can also be like a stagnant pond that backslides with the distractions of the world.  Being on a mission has been a marvelous experience for me because there are NO distractions...we are missionaries 24/7.  His work is all that matters.  His work is our focus.  Sometimes the minutia of life can put our lives out of focus and try to trap us into it's snares...the computer, tv, social media, books, shopping, etc. but if we focus on our most important task in this life-becoming closer to and knowing Christ as our Savior, our Redeemer and our older brother, our focus can become clear.  We only have one chance...this life is IT!  If we blow it by the distractions put in place by the adversary,  we will have eternal remorse.  Our choice...


  1. Planning a dinner for 6 and pulling off a dinner for 25! Are you sure you're not an angel?

  2. Cheri, I love the picture of the group of you eating pizza. You especially look great! What a wonderful mission you are having.