Sometimes I don't think of the culture difference that we are experiencing here-it has all become 'normal' to me. I suffered from 'shock and awe' for about four months then settled in to realize this was my life for two years so I better get with it! I still am so amazed and awed with the beauty of this country. It is so tropical and that has not become 'old' so to speak but the cultural differences are SO mind boggling sometimes. Things that we accept and understand they have NO clue about.
I tried to explain Groundhog Day to this morning's students that were at the church and found myself really needing to pull from my vocabulary to help them understand. I started by trying to explain about some crazy American holiday/traditions like February 2nd. They have never seen a ground hog, have never seen a squirrel, have never seen a mole or anything close to a groundhog. I started with a rat...A BIG RAT! This rat has a name-Phil. I couldn't remember how to pronounce Punxsutawney for a minute or two and am still not sure I got it correct but as I was explaining about Phil, his shadow, the hole in the ground, etc. I realized how stupid I sounded. Where did we ever get the idea that a groundhog can predict the future of the weather??? They just watched me with glazed over eyes as I tried not to make American's sound too idiotic but I am not sure I succeeded. Anyway, they don't know spring, snow, ice, blizzards, etc. so I just dropped it! I am watching Facebook to see if he saw his shadow or not...oh wait! It is not until TOMORROW...this International Date Line thing can be SO confusing.
This past few weeks we have been working SO hard trying to secure apartments or upgrade existing ones in preparation for the INFLUX of new Elders and Sisters in March. I capitalize influx because up until now, we have normally only gotten maybe a 4 or 5 'net' increase of Elders or Sisters each batch. They arrive and it is fairly easy to plug them into the spots that were vacated the night before by the Elders and Sisters who went home. Up until now, it has been a wash for the most part however, with the age requirement change in October, more Elders and Sisters are applying for missions earlier and this next batch that will arrive the end of March will be our first experience with the increased numbers. We will send about 6 or 7 home and get in return 25 at last count. Now folks, that creates a lot of work in President Carlos' life, the lives of the Assistants and the housing couple...which, as you all know, just happen to be us. It is our responsibility, after President and the Assistants have made their assignments, to find and furnish acceptable housing for the new missionaries. Last batch we only had a net gain of two sisters and it was fairly easy to change a two missionary apartment into a four missionary apartment. Next month, he will be doing that for many of the assignments however, we had a few crisis' in our apartments and still needed to find new or upgrade existing housing. We always have the Elders or Sisters currently assigned to that particular area assist us in the search and this past two weeks, we have hit 'pay dirt'!
|Elder Shaner with Sister Amistad checking|
the window covering.
|Elder Rostedt and Elder Phippen outside of the new apartment.|
This conference's theme was Come Follow Me and all of the talks were centered around how we can follow the Savior more fully in our lives through scripture study, prayer, obedience to the rules of the mission, etc. Each presentation was so full of great information and hearts were touched and changed as a result of their attendance.
Sister Carlos always has a fun activity associated with her training and this month she had the Elders and Sisters divide themselves into their Districts. Each companionship was to participate in the relay involving a towel, a water balloon and sheer muscles and luck! The day was bright and sunny and everyone had such fun!
|Elder Woodruff with his new companion Elder Llorin|
|Elder Rostedt and Elder Amoreda barely missed!|
|President was adding his support wherever needed.|
|Sister Diola and Sister Klein. Frequently the Sisters will come to these meetings|
matching with their companions. Fabric and labor is cheap here so they have
custom made outfits made. It has become a tradition.
|What a yummy lunch!|
It is February second and in four short months we will be flying that brutal flight 'home'...my hearts tugs at the thought. I miss my family like crazy and want to meet my grandson Gavin who was born last September. I last saw Elliott when he was three months old and now, he is talking and probably thinking about being potty trained. While we will be SO thrilled to be on American soil again there will always be footprints on our hearts from so many wonderful people whom we call 'family' in the Philippines. We have all laughed, cried and learned together and will always be tied together with our love of the Savior. I feel SO blessed that he trusted ME...this weak American lady, to come to this glorious country and rub shoulders with this amazing culture of saints. My life will be forever changed and I will be forever grateful....