Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's That Time of Year....

It's that time of year, when the world falls in love....I love that song and I LOVE the holiday season. Being in the Philippines is such a stitch!!!  The Filipino people LOVE to party and they LOVE to decorate and they LOVE to blare their Christmas music from their homes at all hours of the day and night-it would be hard not to feel festive living here. 

Last year President Carlos was feeling like the members and investigators needed a 'boost' to help them remember the reason for the season and so he planted that idea in the head of his brilliant wife and VOILA!!! The Philippines Cauayan Mission Christmas Devotional was born. Now I have told you in the past about this creative and energetic woman...give her an idea and it becomes a mission for her-to create the most amazing, entertaining and spiritually stirring presentation these people have probably ever seen. Our Christmas Devotional last year was centered around the birth and life of our Savior and reflected the happenings in the Holy Land at that time. Everyone loved it and so this year, she outdid herself with a new and exciting program featuring the happenings on the American continent before and shortly after the birth of the Savior. The title is 'Christmas in Zarahemla'. We have the prelude four part harmony quartet music again, the missionaries participating in song and narration again, Elder Shaner's violin solo and accompaniment to the congregational singing and of course, we cannot forget the rave reviews from the costumes. Last weekend was the start of our programs and they both went very well. We performed for the Santiago Stakes on Saturday evening and on Sunday afternoon, we traveled to Burgos District for their program. We have two every weekend except one from now until Christmas but it really is fun, helps the members feel the spirit of the holiday season and also, is a wonderful way for us senior missionaries to fill the void created by holiday and no family. This mission has become our family and when we travel to the different stakes and districts, we are always greeted and hugged as we see friends that we have not seen in a while. We love the work and the influence these great people have on our lives.

Elder Wooden as Nephi, Sister Joame as the angel and Elder Amoreda as Samuel the Lamanite
Saturday's cast was a little different-

Elder Kaloni and Elder Amoi being Nephi and Samuel the Lamanite
Sister Klein with her sweet companion, Sister Morales
Could her smile be any bigger????
Each performance we try to find a 'bass' within the population of missionaries assigned to that area for our prelude quartet. In the Santiago Zone, we were so lucky to actually have two basses and they alternated the songs-Elder Rostedt you might remember as he served with us in Mallig before being transferred to Ramon and Elder Williamson was also in Mallig early on in our mission. 

Silly Elder Rostedt and Elder Williamson

Elder Shaner has gotten his hair cut the entire time we have been here in the same little barber shop. The building is owned by a man who is proud to say he is 92 years old! He is amazing-most men in this country don't live much past 70 and everyone is so surprised to find out our ages and to watch us as we scurry around. I guess there is something to be said for not working in the fields, hauling 100# bags of rice on our heads all of our lives, huh??

I have gotten such a charge out of watching him get his haircuts. The barber uses scissors that would kill my mom!! She cut hair for 50 years and her scissors were very tiny compared to Brother Rolando's!! My kids will get a kick out of seeing this!

Getting his monthly haircut..cost?? 50 pesos [about $1]
Check out these scissors....they are lethal!!

Our friend...the 92 year old man..
Rice is the major crop in this part of the Philippines but their second is sugar cane. I have never seen sugar cane growing before and was so amazed at how HUGE it is in the field. I would estimate it is over 20' tall! We recently were coming back from a remote area and as we drove around the bend, there stretched out before us miles and miles of sugar cane. I tried to get a picture of a truck filled with the cut canes but it was not very clear-another day..

The Filipino people are so good at job-sharing. Now that may sound a little prejudice but it is interesting how the men and the women both share the responsibility of their children. You might be just as likely to see a dad walking along the side of the road or stand out visiting with other adults and have a baby on his hip as you would a mom. I think that is awesome! One morning I saw a daddy standing by the road with a toddler on his hip, just talking, pointing and explaining things to that curious little mind. Because most men do not have 9-5 jobs where they travel to an office like in the US, they have more time to help mold and teach their children.

Recently, Elder and I were driving down a side street and came upon this scene...the daddy is leading and caring for the little fella. Both are following their master who is in the motorized Kuliglig and they are tethered to the back bumper.

It brought to my mind the One who is leading us every day as we serve here on the other side of the world. We trust Him to keep us tethered to His bumper and as He leads, we follow and hopefully, stay close enough so we don't get lost. So it is with all of us in our lives...if we keep ourselves tethered to the One who knows the way, our destination will never be a disappointment to us...we will follow Him, He will lead us and together, we will arrive at the right place at the right time with the right family...

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