Sunday, January 20, 2013

Only in the Phillipines, a fond farewell and a little basketball...

I know I have told you before but there are things that only happen in the Philippines...or maybe I should say, there are only things I HAVE EVER WITNESSED only in the Philippines. That is probably a more accurate statement. Some things make us laugh, some make us cry but we are always entertained and SO thrilled to be serving in this little corner of our Heavenly Father's world. Enjoy!

Filipino's are not vain...they are a humble people but I have yet to see ANY Filipino pass a mirror or window without 'checkin' has gotten to be funny and it is always the same. A little head flick, hair 'fix' and then they walk on. Our congregation meets in a little old house and it has a front porch. There are stone pillars that support the roof of the porch and attached to two of the pillars are pieces of broken mirrors, probably 7-8" in diameter...just a place for all to check before they go to church. Now in their defense, they do come to church on motorcycles, trycies, or walking so I can see where they might get a little disheveled but it is funny to watch...they are all also camera hogs! If there is a camera taken out of a pocket, purse, or backpack, I have seen them almost break a leg running to get into the picture, always posing. It is very hard for me to get candid shots of anything! Recently I passed a rice field being planted and when we stopped the truck, I got out, someone noticed me and WORK STOPPED SO THEY COULD ALL WAVE!! That would never happen on the other side of the pond..

One of our favorite restaurants is Hotel Andrea...last time we went they added a new item to the menu and I needed to share with you.

Roasted Duck is now an option at our favorite restaurant...YUCK!! BEAK AND ALL...
I know you have seen the many strange vehicles we navigate around here but this one gave us a giggle-

Bananas, bananas, bananas...
Nobody celebrates Christmas like the Filipino people-they have branch/ward parties that always include lots of entertainment. They are usually working with little or NO budget money so their creativity always is amazing!!

Sheep made of a footstool that has been embellished with newspaper and such.

Manger scene-notice the 'sleeping' sheep beside? The manger itself is
an upturned basket with grasses for hay.

Their trees are gorgeous-maybe a little gawdy but gorgeous never-the-less.
This one is in a central round-about.

This tree was in the lobby of a hotel.
OSHA does not exist in the Philippines and we can definitely see that with the scaffolding we see. This one is made of steel poles and bamboo. We watched the worker climb down like a and accurate in his placement of hands and feet. They all have such core strength...

We both laugh as we see the way the Filipino's warn us of impending road danger-we oft times see a leaf, a branch, a bamboo pole with an empty rice bag flying on it stuck in a pile of dirt or an entire limb like the one below-it means there is some kind of trouble on the road ahead...clever...

A few more random shots of vehicles and their cargo...

This is a load of bamboo.

We think this was the biggest pig either of us had ever seen in our lives!
Probably as a result of the martial law of the past, we find policemen, policewomen, security guards, etc. EVERYWHERE! No other place on the earth are the local fast food restaurants 'guarded' by an armed guard...who also opens the door, walks you to your car with an umbrella....and does it with a smile. As we shop, we are always accompanied by a clerk everywhere we go in the we are going to steal something or whatever. It is frustrating but because they do not have shopping carts except in the large grocery stores, the little shadows come in handy to carry stuff if we find something we want to buy. Elder and I wondered one time where all these people are trained??? It would be a huge task and recently, I passed an Academy that was gathering for their morning exercises in the yard. What a sight!

Bugs, spiders, roaches, rats....many new experiences serving in this country but nothing could have prepared me for my shower companion last week! I screamed for EEELLLLLDDDDEEEERRR. He came running and found this! 
Look behind me on the wall

My shower buddy-probably 5" in diameter

Friday night the Cabatuan branch held a farewell for one of our favorite young people. When I first started teaching piano in Cabatuan, this very 'guwapo' [handsome] young man came into the room and sat down. I thought 'what a cutie' and at that point a year ago, I never would have guessed what an impact he would make in our lives. His family was poor and was pinning their hopes on him and his intelligence to help support the family. His English is impeccable and he just finished four years of college, planning to become an attorney. He will be an excellent one.

When the Russell's were here, they became especially close to Klay and did everything they could to help him come to the decision to serve a mission. He is 21 years old, a little older than the normal missionaries, and has an amazing testimony. When the Russell's left in July, we moved into their home across the street from our first home here and with this home came friendships...Klay was one of those friendships. He decided to submit his mission application last spring and received a call....TO SAN DIEGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He was so shocked as was most of the people in this area but we were SO thrilled for him to have that opportunity in his life. He was slated to leave in October which should have given them plenty of time to get is passport, visa, and all the required paperwork. His passport came quickly but not the visa. Occasionally in the US, missionaries need to have their assignment changed for want of a visa approval. We all held our breath. President Carlos put him to work and he served almost five months here [in 3-6 week stints] as a 'part-timer'. When we have an uneven number of Elders or Sisters, President asks one of the recently called missionaries to serve in our mission while they wait for their visa, their MTC date to come, etc. Brother Galiza became a favorite companion to many of our full-time missionaries. He is an amazing young man. His interview date was set with the consulate, his visa arrived and as I am typing this on Monday morning, he is on the way to the airport to begin his journey. We are so excited for him and we know he will bless the lives of many people in California while he serves them for two years. Also, we hope and pray this service will bring blessings to his family. He, his mom and one sister are active while the others were not happy about his choice to serve. His father did come to the farewell party however and we hope this will help his family come back to the fold.

Part of the party animals at the farewell.
In our branch in Mallig we have a family that we love, the Orzame family. They lost their dad a few years ago and the mom is doing her very best to raise her family to love and serve the Lord. Her oldest daughter is very active and involved in the branch, the little guy is active and the mom was just made the YW President yesterday. They have one other son, Danilo. He is about 13 and always seems to be so sullen and sad.  He is just a very unhappy young man and Elder Shaner has tried and tried to find a way to break through that wall of sadness. I am certain he misses his dad and doesn't understand why he is alone.

At Christmastime, Elder felt a need to purchase a basketball for this young man. We tried to deliver it at Christmas and they were always gone. The mom is a school teacher [a blessing for sure] and he was just never around. A few days after Christmas we found him home and when we walked in, and Elder handed him the basketball, HE SMILED......the first time we had ever seen his smile.

Elder was still trying to find a way to 'connect' with this young man and on Saturday, we were driving down a dirt road on the way to their barangay [neighborhood] when who would we spot walking along the road but Danilo. We pulled over and Elder leaned out...

Elder: 'Hi...just wonderin' wanna shoot hoops?'
Danilo: eyebrow raised and head nod
Elder: 'Now?'
Danilo: eyebrow raised and head nod
Elder: 'at the school?'
Danilo: eyebrow raised and head nod'..and a smile

I leaned over and told him to bring his friend with him. The friend high-fived the air.

Five minutes later he showed up at the school with his friend and three others..a fourth friend came by shortly and they had an hour of fun. We resolved to put Elder's tennis shoes and some socks in the car and just leave them there in case a game pops up. They all decided to make it a weekly Saturday thing...this old white grandpa and any young people who would care to play. Oh, and if you are curious, he DID get out of bed on Sunday...slowly but he got out!

Not a great picture of Danilo but the only close up I had.
Sometimes in life, the world hands us lemons. I have gotten many in my life and some have really gotten me down but with the help of our Heavenly Father, we can turn those lemons into lemonade. This young man has gotten a HUGE lemon and it is our prayer that someway, somehow, we can help him feel the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Elder Shaner has always been so 'in tune' in his life...he has a direct line to inspiration and again, his inspiration paid off. Saturday was a huge success and next week, the building will continue...we will bring with us our love, our time, our limited skills in the sport and....plenty of water!!!


  1. That spider is creeping me out all the way across the world!!


  2. Marcie Carter commented on your link.
    Marcie wrote: "Loved re-reading your blog. I especially loved the dance video...Elder Shaner may need a little training in the dance moves, but not to shabby:-)"

  3. Just read your new blog post. I must congratulate you on staying in the shower with such a "shower buddy" as that!! I would have been out of there -towel or no towel! Elder would have liked that! :)hahaaa I am very impressed. I could hardly stand to look at it on my computer screen. Yuck!

    Keep up the great work and have a ton of fun doing it. Loved the story about the basketball!

    Grace Anne Nay