Friday, November 23, 2012

Gobble, Gobble and a little more

It is currently Friday afternoon in the Philippines and my family and friends 'back home' have just completed my favorite holiday of the year-THANKSGIVING!! I love the gatherings, the food, the spirit of gratitude, the food, the traditions. the food, and did I mention, THE FOOD???? Yes, I am a foodie! I love to shop for it, I love to cook it, I love to create with it, I love to experiment with it, I love to serve it, I love to party with it, I love to smell it cooking and most of all, I LOVE TO EAT IT!!! It seems that in our family, many of the traditions we have during the holidays begin and end with food-probably our obsession with it is one reason we all have a healthy girth and appetite. 

Before I continue in this vein, I will give tell you of our new record...FOUR APARTMENTS FOUND AND CONTRACTED ON BEFORE TUESDAY OF THIS PAST WEEK...FOUR IN FOUR DAYS!!! Everything is not finalized on all of them yet but we feel confident that there will be some moving going on in the future with a few companionships. Most of you are aware of the increase in the number of missionaries applying for service to the Lord and He knows there has to be some place to put these young Elders and Sisters. We have seen His hand in our apartment efforts the past month and this past week set a new record. The Zone Leaders in Tuguegarao South Zone have been searching for MONTHS for an apartment in their proselyting area. They were successful in finding one for their newest set of missionaries but were not finding anything for themselves UNTIL last Sunday. Now for those of you who have been followers of this blog, you might remember Elder Nay. He served with us in Mallig and we became well acquainted with him at that time. Currently he is one of the Zone Leaders I was speaking of and I have to tell you-this young man has faith! Last Sunday he and his companion Elder Lasay decided they were going to get serious about an apartment so they decided to ask the Lords help and walk through their area, knocking on doors and asking people. As they walked, they visited with the different people, adults and children, who were outside and lo and behold! They came upon an apartment. They called the number on the posted sign, waited for the landlady to come over and looked at the house-it is a darling house and will be just PERFECT for these two patient young Elders. We are not finalized but we all have faith that in the next 24-48 hours it will be a done deal. The apartment they are currently in is a 20-30 minute commute from the area where they work and by moving, they will be able to work into the evenings and save at least an hour each day in commute time. I am proud of their faith and know they will be rewarded.

Elder Nay and Elder Lasay on the porch of their new apartment.
Happy Elders for sure!!
I have told you in the past about the Cortez family. Well, we are still working with them as they 'test' the Lords promise. Sometimes, it doesn't happen immediately and I believe everything happens in the Lord's time and way. Wednesday night they wanted us to come for dinner. They love to feed us and help us appreciate Filipino food. We are very picky about where we eat because we cannot afford to become sick and lose precious missionary time. This family has served us before and we trust they use filtered water and cook everything properly. A couple of weeks ago they served us 'bangus' is a white fish that is actually the national food. I tasted it [to be polite-I HATE FISH!!] and it was really good. They served us a 'soup' that I cannot remember the name of, bangus, catfish, tomatoes, and of course, rice. We brought ice cream and Perla made 'dessert' also-another national food called Buko Pandan. It is a fresh coconut/green jello [told you they should be members!!]/cream dessert that is actually very tasty. We enjoyed the evening with them.

Dinner table at the Cortez family

Silly Elder Dagal cheesing it. The Cortez in the background. See
Ryan [13 yrs old] doing the bunny ears??
This is our second holiday season away from family and I am here to tell you-IT DOESN'T GET ANY EASIER!! It is the third for the Carlos' and I cannot imagine a three year mission. Two has been great but!!

Last year we celebrated our Thanksgiving together with the other Senior Couples and the Carlos'. This year was no different...except for the people in attendance. Last year we had the Breeses and the Russells but both of those couples have returned to their other lives.
The Lakers [who came in February], the Mills and the Gottfredsons [who came together in May] joined us and we had turkey and all the trimmings again. Everyone pitched in and brought food and as always, there was NO lack! The Assistants to the President also came and brought four other Elders with them so the home was full!

Everything was so inviting.

The kid table...

Enjoying the company and the food...the adult table..hahaha!

As was last year, after our early afternoon dinner we transform the Mission Home from blah to beautiful! President always 'spearheads' the transformation and Sister places the decorations where she wants them. The Elders and the Senior Couples join with them and help where needed. It is such fun and really brings the spirit of the holidays front and center. One thing that I really miss is decorating my home-I always love to change the seasons with my decor and here, there is only one season so it is hard to 'get into it' like at home. Many of the Filipino people ask me repeatedly about snow...they cannot imagine it as they have never seen it or felt it. I do my best to explain but I am sure something gets lost in the translation.

President making an executive decision.

Trying to find the right box with the bear.
Like I said before, I LOVE THANKSGIVING!! I love everything about it but THIS is what I love the most!!!

This is not all of them but this was taken the day before we entered
the MTC 1 August they have all changed...
During the dinner, the 'bell' to the gate buzzed and someone hopped up to see who was there. I walked out, because I was standing, and there was the LBC delivery van! I knew exactly what had arrived...OUR BOXES! Sister Russell, who lives in Oregon where they have LBC service, volunteered to send us a box when she got home. There are so many things that we cannot get here reasonably priced that really make our lives comfortable [like nuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter, sweetened coconut] so we collectively decided to take her up on her offer. I put together a list of things that we all thought we could use, she shopped and packed our box and shipped it about 4 weeks ago. When she was here, she was serving in the Cabatuan Branch, where we live, and fell in love with the members. Being the creative person that she is, many hours were spent teaching the sisters how to crochet purses [you remember that post] and learning how to use an electric sewing machine. Upon her return to the US, she decided that she would try to find a nice machine that she would send here, ship a second box and include yards and yards of fabric for the sisters to use and give the machine and it's converter to Rosie Quitola, the Branch President's wife. I personally LOVE Rosie and was so thrilled at her gift. Last night I texted President Q and told him to bring Rosie and come over. They were here in 15 minutes and when I told them what I had for them, they were flabbergasted! Sister Russell had written a nice letter to Rosie and I explained the machine to her along with the admonition to 'be careful who you let touch that cord'. If someone would plug it directly into the wall, it would burn out the motor. She understood that so they packed up their trycie and off they went into the night.
Juanico, Pres, Rosie and John Carlo with their goodies.
What a generous gift from a wonderful woman-I really miss my friend and neighbor. We currently live in 'their home' so I think of them every day and hope, when we return to our other lives, we will see them again. 

I showed you the banana flower a couple of weeks ago and caught this picture of it now-there will be an entire rack of bananas that will grow from that one little flower. To harvest them, someone will need to cut down the entire tree. Each tree produces only once then it is destroyed. Within a few weeks, a new tree will have sprouted and will grow to become another fruit bearing banana tree.

I think about the similarity between that flower and our lives-we, Randy and I, are converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We joined in 1973 in a little town in Mississippi. The greatest blessings in our lives have happened because of Bill and Kathie Thorpe, our eternal friends who shared their lives with us and introduced us to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of our membership, our children and most of our grandchildren have been baptized. From one flower comes a rack of bananas...from one conversion comes a posterity of people who will form an eternal family. Amazing!!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you had a nice Thanksgiving. It seems that the LBC packages came at the perfect time to kick off Christmas! What wonderful tender mercies...friends sending packages and the Lord taking care of the missionaries by helping them find apartments.