Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Whistle while you work...

Monday's are 'P' day throughout the world to LDS missionaries, old and young.  'P' day or preparation day is the time for the missionaries to do their laundry, shopping, communicating with home at the internet cafe, recreation, relaxing and in short, regrouping for the upcoming week.  Most hold those days as sacred...a day for restoring both spirit and soul and on Monday's they can often be seen playing a game of basketball or football, enjoying the companionship of their fellow missionaries. When they involve the sisters, they usually play volleyball...

Our lives, as senior missionaries, are a little different from the young missionaries.  Our responsibilities, however great, are different..we do not work with investigators [unless assigned by President Carlos for a special assignment] but instead, we visit the active families and help to strengthen the units where we are assigned.   We work with the leaders in our units to help with leadership training.  One couple works as office secretary and financial guy to the mission.  That said, we each [there are currently four senior couples serving in our mission] have additional responsibilities other than our branches.  The Lakers [office couple] also serve in a small branch close to Cauayan City where they live above the mission office.  The Gottfredson's serve in the Alicia District [specifically with three branches] as well as do the Career Planning Workshops for missionaries being released and returning home. They also live above the mission office.  The Mills serve in Gamu as well as head up the CLS program in the mission.  That is the Companionship Language Study program-it is targeted to help the Filipino Elders and Sisters become more familiar with English and become proficient enough to bless their lives and careers as they return to normal life.  We were told that the national language in the Philippines is Tagalog but this mission is considered 'English Speaking'...may I be the first to tell you...WRONG!!  In our experience, some will understand and speak a little English, some will understand only and not speak, but most understand a smattering of English and speak NONE.  The Philippines as a whole could probably fall under English-speaking because in the metropolitan areas, they use it as an official second language.  We are serving FAR from Manila, more in the farm country and these great people do not, unless they have lived in Manila or have served a mission themselves, speak much or understand much English.  That does present a major problem sometimes but for the most part, we have gotten along fine.  

Our major responsibility is the housing assignment for the mission.  We are in charge of and responsible for all of the apartments and houses that these 160 missionaries occupy.  Sometimes we spend an entire week working with that assignment, checking the apartments for cleanliness, supplies that might be missing, broken or needed, leaky faucets, etc.  If a new area is to be opened, like the one opening this month in Tuguegaro, we need to find a suitable apartment.  Most of the time it is Elder Shaner and me that travel to the area, check things out, talk to the landlords and negotiate but occasionally, like yesterday, it is President Carlos [who just happened to be in that area for meetings] will do that part of the legwork for us.  We also will send supplies with other senior missionaries as needs arise.  It does help to have many hands and cars willing to transport needed items.  

Last Monday I set a goal to spend our 'P' day cleaning the storage areas and inventorying the supplies we have on hand.  We did our first official apartment check and I found it to be very time consuming to hunt through the stuff to find what I needed and sometimes, just went and purchased again instead of trying to locate something that I thought I had seen.  We emptied the storage closet at the mission office, inventoried the contents, tossed or gave away some things that we knew would never be used, then did the same thing at our house where we have supplies stored in the dirty kitchen behind our kitchen.  [I told you about that kitchen a few weeks ago so if you missed that post, check back a month or so]  It was a great feeling to know what we have and make it easier for us to find things.  President Carlos is considering my plan to add some shelves to the office storage room.  Hope that will materialize.  In two weeks, we will be saying farewell to five of our greatest missionaries and welcoming fourteen new, fresh, sleepy ones the following morning..like the fresh water pond...again!  Time does fly..

My cute Elder checking out our find in the storage area.
I have been teaching piano at two different branches and last week, we had our 'closing party' for the Cabautan students.  They were invited to come to our home and have a 'make your own pizza' party!  They loved it and had such fun.  We also invited the Branch President and his family [his oldest son was one of the students] and everyone had such a blast.  I also texted the sister missionaries who live in our compound because we had food left and they promptly popped over.  They are assigned to the Cabautan Branch so they enjoyed socializing with some of their 'peeps'..

When Imelda died in June, her dying wish was for me to teach her niece and the other people in Aurora the piano.  I, of course, obliged and have enjoyed that association.  I actually teach two different groups in Aurora...the adults take their lessons at the church and there are four little girls [one that is Imelda's niece] who live in a far barangay [neighborhood].  After I am finished with the church group, we travel north to teach the children.  While I am teaching in the home of a member, Elder is usually singing, visiting, playing with the neighborhood children.  I can hear him outside, in his distinctive tenor voice, teaching them children's hymns from our church and dancing with them.  I am not sure who has more fun...them or him!!

Elder and his 'gang'

Pizza making...with the sisters enjoying their spoils..

These kids had never made their own pizza before-so fun to
watch them.

People say Filipino's don't enjoy salad but as you can see, the
bowl was empty...that is our sweet Branch President getting
his second pizza off the pan.
How is my garden doing you ask???  Well, I expect my second crop of corn in a few weeks, the tomatoes are up about 12" and all is well..those are native radishes in the foreground-they are white and very mild.  Eggplant and cucumbers behind the hose, tomatoes to the right and the corn in the distance.

Laundry has been a challenge for me after moving into this house. I have broken three washing machines and two are in the process of being fixed.  Danny [the FM guy who can fix anything!] had the  first one fixed and running and just today, the wet clothes are stuck in the machine and I can't get the door unlocked!!  HOWEVER, THAT BEING SAID....

Sister Cajugal doing her laundry

Sister Klein hanging hers ourside..
I do prefer the hassle I encounter to doing it the way the young missionaries do...all by hand!  In this humid climate, it is SO hard to get things dry, especially when they are wrung out by hand and not by machine.  They are troopers...

Elder Rostedt is the newest missionary in Mallig..our branch.  He is an 'Aussie' and has that classy accent.  We were visiting last week and I asked him what he missed most in the way of food.  He thought a minute and said 'KETCHUP'!!  Ketchup?  I said..and he told me that he hates Filipino ketchup.  It is called banana ketchup and is very sweet, just like their spaghetti and pizza sauces.  Well, when Elder Shaner and I went to Ilagan to shop, we ate lunch first at McDonald's.  Now you must remember that I am NOT a McDonald's girl..would go with my grandchildren under protest but NEVER walked through their doors in America myself however...we have become quite fond of the golden arches.  We ordered French Fries and I saved three little packets of ketchup, planning a fun trick on Elder Rostedt.  I also bought him a bottle at the store [we can get it in some rare grocery stores, one of which is SaveMore in Ilagan...our destination for that day!] but when I saw him at church, I pulled the three little packets out and said..'I brought you a surprise...'  He looked at me and gave me a cautious but weary smile...and said 'thanks'...as he walked away I started to laugh then handed him the bottle.  He was thrilled!!  It takes so little to please us when we have been without... 
Elder and his prize..
The experiences we are having...the people we are meeting...the smells, the tastes, the sights, the sounds...we are definitely not in Kansas anymore and we can't click our ruby slippers to go back there anytime soon.  One thing that we both notice here is the variety of sights and sounds.  It is not unusual to see a mansion type home, landscaped, trimmed out and located right next to a pig slaughterhouse!!  Hence...OUR HOME!!  We smell the pigs all the time and have become immune to it to a certain degree.  There are people everywhere...some dressed and some not so much!  Because we live in a densely populated country located on an island, humanity is just all around us.  People..cats..MANY dogs..birds..chickens..roosters..pigs..Mixed in are the beautiful landscapes, the foliage, the rain forest atmosphere.  It is hot here.  It is humid here.  It is wet here...SO WHERE DID THIS CACTUS COME FROM???  

The Lord placed us here, these two white, old, strange Americans for a purpose.  Most of the time we feel like this cactus...out of place!  We don't look like the rest of this country, we don't talk like them, we don't eat like them, we don't sleep like them...why are we here???  To rescue some of the most precious people we have ever met, that is why!!  Our purpose is to help others to come unto Christ with a fullness of heart, a clearer understanding of who they are, where they came from and why there are here.  We spend every available moment teaching, mentoring, planning, praying, and reaching out with a steady hand to take theirs, help them get back up if they have fallen, offer them support if they are unsure of their footing, and be an example of righteousness and hopefully, a light for them to follow if they have veered off the path. If we can return home knowing we have done our very best, how great will be our satisfaction for this 23 month sacrifice...what price would YOU put on the salvation of just one soul, one family, one precious son or daughter of our Heavenly Father...priceless!!

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