Sunday, March 24, 2013

Baguio here we come!!

The Lakers and the Carlos were in Presidents vehicle and we rode with the
Mills in their Toyota.
Early on the morning of March 13th, three vehicles carrying six couples headed west from Cauayan City, off for a few days of R&R in the world famous city, Baguio! We had heard lots about that area but because of mission rules that state we cannot leave our mission boundaries without specific permission from the Area Presidency, we had no hope of ever seeing that glorious city, However, President and Sister Carlos petitioned the authorities in our behalf and received permission to escort us on a wonderful four day training and was it ever grand!!!

The highway took us through the Cordillara Mountain Range and it was a harrowing trip! Endless hairpin turns that had even the strongest of stomachs in knots. I have a propensity for motion sickness so I was a little concerned as we were riding in the back seat of the Mills Toyota but with the help of medication, I seemed to have made it never the worse for wear. I have told you all about the palenke and the fresh produce-most of the produce I buy comes from this area of the Philippines. On the way there, we could see the terraced vegetable gardens along the highway and wondered if we were looking at next weeks salad in the making.

Upon arriving, we ate lunch at PIZZA HUT!!! It was so fun to have a taste from home. The week held many different activities, shopping trips, lots of great food and our workshops which turned out to be absolutely great. Everyone was so well prepared and we all learned so much. 

Our first day we went to see the Easter Weaving School after we checked into the fantastic hotel and rested a bit. This school was established about 100 years ago and its purpose was to teach the art of weaving the way the indigenous mountain people did it years ago in the Igorot style. It was so interesting to watch them as they 'danced' on the looms. Their feet flew so fast as they created the patterns they had memorized to create the beautiful fabrics. There are shuttles and levers that they operate with their hands to bring up the correct color of thread to create the patterns. The following day we went to visit Narda's, another premier weaving company in the area where Randy bought himself a tie and I purchased some keepsakes for myself and 'my girls' that I will treasure.

The weaver working at the Easter School.

Forrest Lodge at Camp John Hay. Our great hotel
All five couples were either assigned or chose a topic for the workshop part our trip. We were all given approximately one hour and the areas of focus were to help each of us improve our service as senior missionaries. The first evening the Laker's and the Mill's presented their workshops. The Lakers talked about the blessings that our families receive back home as we serve the Lord here in the Philippines. The Mills then shared with us their method of teaching others to feel the love of God and using that power, how we, as senior missionaries, can assist the members to make the necessary changes in their lives to bring them closer to the Savior. Their specific focus in their branch has been helping with addiction recovery. That is a serious issue here in the Philippines and can help our members and investigators gain control of their lives. 

Thursday morning began with the Kiholm's presentation of their area of focus for their mission. They are the Service Missionaries of our team-we all give service but their responsibility is more exacting than ours. They are in charge of the Employment Resource Center in the nearby city of Santiago. Six days a week they run the center, providing employment opportunities for many members and non-members alike. Their main focus is matching skills with jobs. Many hours are spent in training and helping other units and possible employers become aware of this great service.

When their workshop ended, we all headed out for a day of fun. The first stop was the woodcarvers shops then on to Asin Hot Springs for some relaxation. The resort we visited had 15 swimming pools and 'hot' springs-they were not as hot as we had anticipated but it was a refreshing stop. Some of the group opted to play a card game but we all had a great time and it was very picturesque.
A little game of Crud..

Elder Shaner enjoying the water slide

Sister Carlos and Sister Mills
That afternoon we all split up and 'did our own thing', ate dinner and met back at the hotel in time for OUR workshop. I had this hair-brained idea [so what else is new!!] that we would focus on how to work with the Young Single Adults. Many seniors are timid when asked to work with the young people so I thought of a fun activity that would pair each couple with one or two youth for a road rally. Sister Carlos made the arrangements for us to invite Sister Jose [a sister missionary from our mission who had returned home and lived in the Baguio area] to bring some friends and join us. 

Sister Jose and her friends
I met with the staff from the Forrest Lodge and Manor hotels and got permission to hide the clues on their grounds. It was a great activity and afterwards, we had a 'round table' discussion, asking them some of their concerns, how we as seniors could be of help then ended the evening with some great desserts. 

Friday morning the Gottfredson's had a great workshop centered on unity in marriage. They shared with us some of the topics that they teach in the Strengthening Marriage classes they present in their district here in the Philippines. It gave me great food for thought and I have actually reflected back many times in the past week about the things I learned at that workshop. After their workshop was over, it was 'shopping' day and we all split up and went our own ways. A light lunch was suggested by our fearless leader, President Carlos, who had arranged for a surprise for our evening meal. We were told to dress up and meet in the lobby of the hotel at 5:30. Before that, however, Randy and I discovered the availability and ease of just getting a taxi for our trips. We went to Mine View Park [where you can see across the valley to the silver mines-this area of the Philippines is famous for their silver and have great jewelry]. We were able to go across town for about $2 per carload. A bargain in any language!! We returned to SM Mall and shopped a while there [I bought some great jewelry for me and my girls] after the park. We were so amazed at the views of this city from just about anywhere. The mall had a great view from their upper decking and we took a video. I guess it really reminded us of what we thought China would look like.

Friday evening was something I will never forget and never experience again I am sure-a phenomenal eight course dinner at the private home of one of the most famous chefs in the Philippines-Chef Vicky. You can google Chef Vicky-Baguio for more pictures and information about her but she is the warmest and most entertaining hostess. Her glorious home is located at the top of a mountain with the most amazing views! Her flower gardens are to die for and her home was spectacular. She was trained in her culinary skills in New York City at the French Culinary School. She invites small groups of people to come to her home and she really 'puts on the dog'!!! 

Flowers in the garden
I will caption the pictures and you can all drool...

This one was so interesting-like a pom pom

We felt like we were on top of the world.

Our group seated a her dining room table.

The backside of her home-marvelous!
The library upstairs off the main great room.

That is ONE gigantic table!
Now here comes the food!! YYYUUUUMMMMMMYYYYY

Chef Vicky is famous for her 'long board' that she uses
 for the appetizers
Course #1

This was Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Custard
baked in an egg shell and served with buttered-cheese fingers.
Course #2
This was heavenly Cream of Mushroom Cappuccino made
with three different types of mushrooms. Never had
the foamy topper was delicious

Course #3

This might have been my favorite course. I was so interesting-it was
a Parmesan Lollipop topped with marshmallow
and fresh rosemary. She called it her Intermezzo Course.
Course #4

This was many peoples favorite-it was Seared Salmon and was served
on top of blanched asparagus with fresh lemon, scallions and pan fried capers. The salmon was topped with fresh alfalfa sprouts.
Course #5
This course was a Pork Ginger Dumpling served
in a soy ginger sauce and topped with fresh cilantro.
Course #6
She called this one her version of Shepherds Pie. A Beef Tenderloin was topped with fresh
corn and mashed potatoes and was served with succulent snow peas, very tender green
beans and seared tomatoes. A wonderful brown sauce topped it off.
Course #7

As is the European style, the salad was the seventh course. I think the Europeans think that the salad helps with digestion. It was a Moroccan salad with oranges, dates, and almonds and also included a variety of mixed greens, found in abundance in the Baguio area. I especially liked the watercress. A light vinaigrette dressing that had a hint of citrus I think topped it off.
Course #8 

Who does not love Creme Brulle??? What a finale to a fantastic meal. She served it with
fresh strawberries and whipped cream. 
We had a fantastic evening made possible by these two wonderful servants of the Lord. Thank you so much President and Sister.
Our host and hostess with the mostess!!!
You know how you look and look for something and finally YOU FIND IT???????????  I finally did and here is the story...

One thing that is popular here in the Philippines is Ebony wood. It is the most glorious wood with such amazing grain patterns. We have been here almost two years and I have been keeping my eye out for just the perfect piece to take home.

I also have been in love with the cranes here in the Philippines. The locals call them 'flamingos' but they are not pink and their legs work correctly so I refer to them as cranes, the secondary name I have heard used. They appear in the greatest abundance mostly at harvest time in the rice fields, swooping so gracefully down to gather bugs or other insects that the workers stir up in their efforts to get the rice harvested. I love to watch them as they scoop and land, occasionally landing on a fence, a mound of rice hulls or like this picture, on the back of a carabao.

The crane and the carabao have such a great symbiotic relationship, are tolerant of and accepting of each other in every respect. I liken that to the relationship we have needed to develop living in this country with such a different culture than ours. We have learned to accept, embrace and even admire the relationship these people have with each other. They are a remarkable people in an absolutely glorious country.

So can you imagine MY thrill when I found just the PERFECT thing to take home made from Ebony wood??? I will have a lifelong memory of the kind of relationship I would like to have with my family, my neighbors and friends. I want to "live together in perfect harmony, side-by-side on the keyboard.." So grateful for our trip to Baguio...what a wonderful week! Thank you President and Sister Carlos!!!


  1. I am a filipino but I never been there I was jealous yet Im so proud that you love our country.

    God Bless!

    family international children of god

  2. What a fun get away, I mean, training! The dinner looks AMAZING! The cranes are absolutely beautiful...the perfect keepsake.