Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Sometimes I hate computers!!! Maybe that was a little strong but I spent three hours on Monday composing a blog post and all of a sudden...IT WAS GONE! I was SO frustrated and confused. I have no idea what happened to my original settings and such but you will all just have to deal with what I can do.  My guru is my youngest daughter and this week, she is  indisposed to bail me out...the mom of very active kids so I will do my best to recreate..

Our responsibilities in the mission are varied...we often spend days at a time helping with managing the 70 or so apartments in the mission.  Keeping them all supplied, the landlords happy and the elders and sisters working hard for the Lord can be very time consuming.  This past three weeks have been NO different-in fact, we have been much busier than normal.  Last Thursday we got a new 'batch' of missionaries [14 to be exact] and they all needed a place to live!!  Five went home the night before so that freed up a few beds but Elder Shaner and I have been hunting, talking to landlords, negotiating, etc. and that is why I haven't been visiting with all of you-sorry...we find that the housing responsibility takes us about two days a week-we still have plenty of time to spend in our precious branch of Mallig.

Elder Shaner is checking out the kitchen area of a potential
apartment in a beautiful mountain village.

Elders Mousely and Acu visiting in the living area of a potential apartment. This cute little
girl is enjoying their company-she just wandered in off the street.
When we finally find a house or apartment and all of the negotiations are finished, it becomes moving day. Once our truck is packed, we look like the Clampetts as we move the furnishings.

The employees of the stores where we purchase the supplies often
will tie us in and load for us-a real help for sure!

Elder Nielson and Elder Pinol navigating a refrigerator up some steps and into the house.
Frequently we rely on the area Zone Leaders to help us find and then interpret for us with the landlords.  Our tagalog is not our strong suit so the local members and missionaries serve as our translators. When we knew we were going to Tuguegaro last week we checked the pouch and there was a box for Elder Nay.  We served with him for many months in Mallig and were so happy to see him again. When I picked up his box, I noticed a little box in my inbox and low and behold!!  His mother had sent ME a box!  What a sweetie-she read on this blog about my love for Crystal Light and sent me a box containing some, also some CTR rings in tagalog as well as a great muffin mix.  What a surprise...thanks Sister Nay..

Elder Nay and Elder Reyes with his box-I bet he shared with his great companion.
When we were in the MTC, we were trained to run the office this second year. President changed his mind when the Lakers arrived and they now are in charge of keeping track of the Carlos and keeping the office running smoothly. Being trained in the office however gave me an interesting peek at the mission while we were in the MTC-I was able to pull up all the pictures of the Elders and Sisters.  I hunted and found that we had five with us in the MTC who were coming to our mission and I was so excited to find and meet them.  I looked and I looked but never saw the faces that I recognized.  They arrived a few weeks after we did but were in our 'batch'. When this group arrived, it didn't take long to find out that they had amazing talent!  For our recent transfer meeting, they all got together and sang a beautiful arrangement of 'Nearer My God to Thee'.  They were accompanied by Elder Ilagan, an amazing pianist!

Elder Nay, Elder Landeen, Elder Needs, Elder Zeigler and Elder Rostedt
We love serving in our little branch.  When we started working with them, we decided to begin with the youth programs and they have really responded well.  The Young Men's and Young Women's Presidents are amazing leaders and are learning so much.  Last Friday night we [the YW] were in charge of a combined activity.  We reserved the Barangy Hall [a covered outside area similar to the pavilions at parks in the US] and we make a Frisbee Golf course.  Only one problem...we couldn't find frisbees here so we improvised.  The ladies will often purchase these little nylon fans that will fold into themselves and slip into a pocket or bag and we bought enough for each to have one-the little children can be seen in parking lots at church using them as frisbees and sure enough, they worked great!  Everyone had a good time!!

The day after my last post we had a great opportunity to attend the birth of our 25th grandchild...via SkyPe.  We knew early in the day [the middle of the night for them] that things were popping and after spending an evening in Mallig, we arrived home around 9 to find that he hadn't been born yet-we hooked up the computer, grabbed our dinner and attended the event.  Gavin Paul Shaner was born on the morning of September 5th [the late evening for us here]. He weighed 7#9oz. and after a battle with pneumonia [he inhaled merconium] he is doing good.  It was such a thrill to be there-we have missed many important days in the lives of our family while serving here and it was nice not to miss this special evening!!

Rob testing out the connection.

I visited with them both between contractions.  I called it my dinner and a movie-I sat there eating
my salad [and teasing them with the marvelous mangos] while they worked hard.  Good job kids!!
My garden is doing ok-the corn is a disappointment but I think the overall climate is just not appropriate for our great American sweet corn. The tomatoes seem to be flourishing so maybe it won't be a total wash.  I also planted some squash along the drive and it is doing well.
One thing I have learned for sure on this is like a garden.  You plant, you water, you fertilize, you harvest and you enjoy...kinda like the work we are doing.  I am just so thrilled to be working with these amazing people-there are NONE better!!

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 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' 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!!