Sunday, October 21, 2012

Grab a Coke, pop some popcorn and settle back-this will be a longie!!!

It has been a LONG month and you all probably thought we dropped off the end of the world but alas, I am back! I don't have any excuses...just know that I missed visiting with you and sharing our lives. October has been incredibly busy and I will do my best to catch you all up on the life and times of these transplants!

October started with a major catastrophe for us! Arriving home one night the first week of October, we discovered we had NO water! Now our water for this property was supplied by a well so we knew we must have a serious issue. Elder Shaner took the flashlight and went out to check it out. It didn't take long for him to discover the pump had burnt out. [or that was his suspicion] He called the landlady and she promised to have her son here early the next morning. When he hadn't arrived by 9, we were getting a little impatient and decided we needed to take the bull by the horns and solve our own problem. Cely, who was our former neighbor across the street, told us we could form a bucket brigade to get some water.  Most Filipino's do not have showers like we do and most use buckets with a scoop to 'shower' themselves-when the Russell's were here, she used to call it her 'birdbath'. This house, as I said, was serviced with a pump and the pump was powered by electricity. When we had our frequent 'brown outs', there would be no water so she would do the Filipino thing. That day the beginning of the month, we did the same thing. It actually wasn't too bad... 

Sister Klien, Sister Saez, Elder Shaner and me during
the bucket brigade. Two of Cely's workmen in the background.
After the bucket brigade was completed, I fixed a pancake, oatmeal, bacon, juice and fresh fruit breakfast for those who had worked up an appetite...

The Sisters waiting for their breakfast to cook.
Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to teach a family with the the young missionaries. They progressed to a certain point then 'cooled off', which is not unusual. The missionaries stopped working with them for a while, allowing them the time they needed to decide if what we were offering would be beneficial to them and a couple of weeks ago, they wanted to resume the discussions. President Carlos allowed us to be involved again [our primary responsibility is strengthening the active members, not teaching investigators] but with our previous relationship, we were allowed to participate. Recently we celebrated a birthday at their home with a full-blown dinner! Elder Rostedt played the guitar for the singing. 

Elder Rostedt leading the opening song.
During October we have had two different opportunities to see the missionaries in the Tuguegarao area, first when we spoke at their Zone Conference and second, when we did our bi-yearly apartment checks. It is always fun to interact with the 'young pups' and feel of their enthusiasm. It is also great to see them reconnect with past companions and batch mates. 

Elder Nay and Elder Llorin were companions in Mallig-now Elder Nay
is Elder Llorin's Zone Leader.
We always have an amazing luncheon after the Zone Meetings and the aftermath is usually quite a mess. It is interesting to note that most of the time, the young missionaries are so busy visiting, taking pictures, etc. that they don't even notice how the area gets cleaned up but these two noticed me sweeping, grabbed a broom and helped! I told them their moms would be SO proud!!

Elder Rostedt and Elder Coleman
Apartment checks were great! We are responsible for the physical area in which they live, making sure they are safe, secure, have no landlord issues or anything that would prevent them from having the spirit reside with them. Most of the apartments this time received a Celestial Award...

Elder Robertson and Elder Llorin showing their award and their reward. This time it
was fresh homemade banana bread.

A weight bench and weights-Filipino style!!!
When we recently moved Elder Mousley and Elder Lasay into their new apartment, we met their neighbors totally by accident. I noticed them signing and when I signed back to them, they were thrilled and shocked-an American who signs!! We have become friends-the husband is actually the son of the landlady-a real sweet lady.

General Conference is always a treat here in the Philippines. We don't receive the conference until the week after the US but we do get together and enjoy it none-the-less. Because our native tongue is English, we sit in a separate room where English is broadcast and are joined by the American Elders and Sisters. With the announcement of the change in ages for the missionaries, we heard quite a buzz!! That will be such a great thing for our young people. Doors will open and lives will change for sure.

Elder Rostedt with the shocked look at the announcement and
Elder Coleman smiling at the thought...
During apartment checks we traveled a back road to Tugugarao and I fell in love with talahib. [pronounced ta LA heeb] It is a native grass that blooms this time of year and it is gorgeous! The first time I saw it I made Elder Shaner STOP!!  I hopped out and took about 6 waves in the breeze kind of like wheat, and is just fascinating!

Entire fields are covered but I especially liked this little road that was surrounded by talahib.
I have frequently mentioned the produce we get here-last week President and Sister Carlos traveled to Solono for interviews and brought me back a fresh pineapple. Now I am here to tell you that you will NEVER taste anything so exquisite as the pineapples in the Philippines!  I thought Hawaii had great pineapples but these are absolutely marvelous! President Carlos can cut one up to look like a picture and when I told President Quitola about that, he told me he could do it too. [it must be an inborn talent] I texted him when I brought this one home and he came over to demonstrate/teach me. I also got a Pimelo and he showed me how to cut it also. It is like a HUGE grapefruit but much sweeter.

We encounter many different vehicles in the Philippines and recently followed a tractor down the highway. I noticed a native 'hat' on the head of the driver and had to take a shot. The little rice hat is not worn much in the fields but looked very appropriate for him.

I have told you all so many times about the technology in this part of the world-we feel so many times like we are 100-150 years back in time. Many things that are automated in other parts of the world are still done by hand here. As we left after an apartment check this past week, we saw a field where corn was being planted. Two men with two cows were furrowing and behind them walked six or eight women, planting the next crop with their feet. They would walk in the exact same spot the men did and using their toes, drop a corn kernel then cover it precisely with their toes. It was amazing to watch.

Watching them from the road made me think of the paths we are walking here. We try our best to walk in the exact same footprints as the Savior has shown us, loving, nurturing, teaching, and lifting His children as we work with Him to bring them the truth of the restored gospel. What could be more important for us to do? 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Only in the Philippines...

I have had fun over the past year finding pictures of things that we would never see in the US.  I don't know if saying these are 'only in the Philippines' is entirely accurate but you get my drift...

Living here amongst these people is a kick! There are many things as I have told you before that I have tasted, smelled, seen or heard that are entirely new to my senses...that being said...

Schools in the Philippines are amazing!  I always thought living in a Third World County meant poverty [and it often does], filth [sometimes], lazy people who don't want to work [VERY rarely] and uneducated people who have not attended school [ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!] These people are educated and very smart...they are the most clever people as a whole that I have EVER met-they can fix ANYTHING!! Example: two weeks or so ago we had 6 fans in our 'dirty kitchen' that the missionaries had broken and President Q took those 6 and in a couple of hours, created 4 working fans that we could then put back into circulation in our inventory, thus saving the mission about 6,000 pesos [$140] and that is significant. I have yet to find any occupation in the Philippines that hires people without a college degree-even to run a cash register in a gas station you MUST have an accounting degree!  Now that is not a culture of people who do not value education!

I love to travel through this area and see all of the different uniforms that the school children wear-from pre-school through college, each has its own distinctive uniform and ALL of the children wear them-the boys normally wear shorts that are made of the same fabric as the girls skirts, jumpers or dresses.  It is so refreshing.  We often drive past the Military Academy outside of Cauayan and those young people look like American Naval Officers!  I must get a picture of that for another day..
Lunch break and all are going somewhere for their food,,
These girls were all in the internet cafe, all sporting different school uniforms.
The young woman on the left is a college student,
Grabbing a quick bite at a roadside vendor.
These girls LOVED having their picture taken-school is over and
they are on the way home.
Modes of transportation are varied as I have talked about before. It is usual to share the road with a multitude of different vehicles.  This one gave me a chuckle-notice the guys sitting in plastic chairs in the back??

I have always gotten a laugh out of the garb these folks wear as they work in this incredible heat!!  Most of the time, they look like a group of terrorists but instead of a gun in their hands, they normally sport some type of farming tool.  They are all very dark skinned and unlike us, do not like the US, we pay big bucks to achieve the shade of skin that God gave them and their dream is to be like the light skinned people. I guess we are never satisfied...that must be human nature.
President Q trimming the grass for us.
Working along the road drying their rice.

This picture is very misleading. It appears to be a huge lawn of
luscious green grass but instead, if you were to romp across it, you
would be up to your knees in MUD! It is a rice field that
has been planted recently.

Another form of transportation is the Calisa.  It is a little cart that is
pulled by a 'horse' and I use that word would appear to be
a Shetland Pony at home. Many families use this as their main
source of transportation.

A few weeks back we headed to church one Sunday morning.  We serve in a branch that is about a 45 minute drive and along the highway, we always see a variety of sights. In the Philippines, there is a highway and it is the ONLY way from point A to point B. You might be able to wind through a city to avoid an accident or funeral but on this particular Sunday morning, the entire highway was shut down for TWO HOURS for a city-wide celebration.  In the US, we will sometimes close a residential street for a block party or something like that but NEVER a highway.  We sat for a few minutes and Elder Shaner hopped out and walked up to 'check things out'.  He returned to let me know that it would not be open anytime in the near future and when he explained that they were having speakers, a parade, some dancers, etc....I just had to grab the camera and jump out!  I know YOU would never believe it!!

Ours is the brown truck and you can see a bus in the distance-those
riders were forced to sit and wait.

Some things are just hard to understand! We were able to maneuver the car around and come back home.  After attending Sacrament Meeting in Cabatuan, we drove out again and all was clear-we proceeded onto Mallig, arriving just in time for their closing meetings.

Signs in the Philippines can be a reason for a good laugh-they are often posted in English but obviously constructed by people who are not native English are a couple that made me giggle..

I don't know about you but I am not very anxious to FALL into any line!!

Grilled Chicken Ass.....REALLY???

Here we have an entire family going to town on top of their rice truck, loaded with bagged rice for the market! They just hopped off at their 'stop' and the truck drove on..

As you can imagine, with the types of heavy equipment trucks travelling along the highways, the roads become broken up and are always in need of repair.  It is not unusual for us to have only half of many of the highways opened at any one time as they try their best to fix the broken pavement and asphalt.  One of our good friends, Bill Thorpe, worked in the asphalt industry for many years and we took this picture for him-this is their 'patching' system...a barrel with asphalt that is heated on an open flame and the asphalt is applied to the holes for patching by a paint bucket attached to a long that is ingenious!!  And it works!!

If there is a section of road that has a broken down truck, a mud slide or other 'do not enter here..danger' going on they will pull off a limb from a nearby tree and put it in the road.  We call it the Philippine warning triangle!!

Elder Shaner got a kick out of this woman dressed up with high heels
and travelling to church on the back of a motorcycle!

Most people who dry corn do it off the cob and alongside the road, the same way they dry rice but one area dries it ON THE STALK!

It still tickles me to see the children [and adults too] sporting Superman Capes!! They take 'rags' [sweat rags that they always have with them] and on small children, they tuck them into the back of their shirts and appear ready for take-off!

All of that being said and seen, I still WOULDN'T CHANGE ONE MINUTE OF THIS TIME IN THIS MARVELOUS COUNTRY WITH THESE AMAZING PEOPLE!!  They are changing me forever...and I am loving every second!