Sunday, December 29, 2013


The Weather:   
Warm and sunny, just right for family activities like swimming?   Not exactly a WHITE Christmas, but a good one.  This is the pool in our neighborhood.  We have not used it yet, but it has been very busy this week, as the children are out of school.  They even swam on Friday, and it was raining!

The Food:
We put a turkey roast in the crock pot, with potatoes, carrots, sayote, onions, and the gravy that comes with it.  Then we added Stove Top dressing, cranberry sauce, and fresh corn on the cob.  Not bad, huh?  It tasted great to us. Especially accompanied with truffles, chocolates, flan, buko pie, custard pie, macaroons, macapuno balls, well, you get the idea.  Lots of sweets.  
We were actually invited to join some seniors in the city for a pot luck, but we wanted to spend the day doing things like calling our family and delivering gifts to people.  

The gifts:
We actually received three packages right on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.  The one on the left is a box of beautiful ties from my sister and her ward, to share with the people here. Thank you so much!  The one in the middle is the craft supplies I asked my daughter to send, so that I can teach crochet and knitting to some of the women here.  The one on the right is the box of shirts and ties from my dear friend Kris and her husband, Bill, in Utah.  Again, to be given away.  
What a great Christmas!

The fun:
Well, thank you to Skype and to Face Time.  We were able to visit with all of our children and their families.  We heard a violin recital from our granddaughter, saw the gifts the children in Nevada received, sang carols with the ones in Texas and Seattle, and felt not so far from home as we actually are.  We also received loving messages and cards from so many of our family and friends all over the country.  

We delivered Christmas boxes to people we have learned to love and were concerned about:
We bought these all made up, as they are available everywhere ( in different sizes) and we felt that the businesses had a better idea of what would be welcome than we did.  You may find it interesting to know they had pasta and spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, cream and fruit cocktail to make fruit salad, and a few other items.  However, we did add a canned ham to each package.  As you see, they come in their own little totes, as  people at this income level rarely have any place to store food safe from bugs and other pests.  
One other thing we did, on Christmas Eve.  WE made up gift bags for the missionaries in our District, and delivered them to each apartment from Santa Claus.  They had rechargeable flashlights, caramel corn, candy canes, cookies, little cakes, lotion, nuts, and other treats.  I wish I had thought to take a picture.  So, we got kind thank you calls and messages from them.  

Later, while all of you were asleep, it got a little bit melancholy for me, so we drove into the city to collect our packages.  (Well, all of you except our son, who tells us he was up until nearly 4:00 am, and then the kids woke him again at 5:30.  WE remember those days.  And we had no sympathy!)

During dinner, we played Christmas Carols, and after dinner, when all of you were just beginning to wake up, we sat down and watched THE TESTAMENTS, Of One Fold and One Shepherd.  If you haven't seen it recently, I can recommend it highly for the Christmas Season.  

It was a nice day, and we are very thankful to all of you for making it that way.  We are so Blessed!

Thursday, we were back to work with some of the new elders.  It was great.  Elder Gudgeon is new in the mission, and his Tagalog is about as good as mine!  (Not very.) The missionaries tell me now that my "Taglish" is coming along really well.  Not the Tagalog, but ...........

And Friday, we had a real, honest  P Day.  Elder spent the day repairing things, like this:
My guy can fix (almost) anything, even in the Philippines!  Yes, we now have a warm shower again.  As it turned out, the heater was okay, just had to rewire the electrical socket and put on a new plug.  Sounds easy, right?  Not here.  Four trips to different hardware places, one in Teresa, three sockets before he found one that would work.  Of course, that is about the number of trips he would have made to Home Depot, too.

I spent the day doing laundry, putting away Christmas things, and trying to stay out of Marivic's way while she cleaned the house and did the ironing.  WE try to be neat and clean here, but she comes and in an hour she has a pile of dirt that is just embarrassing.  And she irons like a dream.  

THAT's Interesting~
 Have I mentioned that very few people have mail boxes here?  In fact, most homes don't even have house numbers, and we had to put some on our post.  So, bills are delivered like his, hung on the gate.  WE have three bills, and sometimes, they are soaking wet, or on the ground.  WE pay water, (cheap), Electricity, (high) and the internet bill, (about $25).  

I see these in the yard all the time.  They are snails, of course.  But I think of all the times I purchased or saw shells like these and thought they were seashells.  I don't think snails are a delicacy here.  I haven't seen them on any menu.  Of course, most of the things on the menu are not identifiable to me, and that presupposes that they would tell you IF they put snails in the dish.  We are pretty careful, eating out.  

This is along the road in "chicken alley".  There are cages all along, and people stop and choose a chicken, and the chicken vendors butcher it and clean it and sell it to them.  But, in the Filipino tradition of not wasting things,  the feathers are then washed by hand, in a big bowl of soapy water, and dried, and dyed to sell in the bazaars.  Aren't they pretty?  There were green ones hanging around the other side of the fence! All of this is within walking distance of our neighborhood.  

Another Saturday, another Baptism.  This is Elder Blessant, again, and the baptism of the father and last brother in the Bumagan family.  Sister Mary Jane finally has all of her family in the church, three brothers.  Her mother said, "Now the temple".  I told her to keep her eye on that and don't give up.  The father is to the right of Elder Blessant, who baptized him, with his son in front of him.  Next to them is his son Emil, who baptized the little girl, a child of record and a cousin.  Beside them is Elder Usigan, just arrived in our district.  He baptized the younger boy, Innocencio.  Two grateful recipients for shirts and ties!  

Baptisms here are very interesting.  They rarely start on time.  (never).  People arrive whenever they can, and wear casual clothes.   In this branch, the counselor always presides, and he wears shorts and t-shirt.  (of course, so does everyone else, except the missionaries).  There is no music, except singing.  The children run all over the place, and no one expects them to do any different.  This time, Elder Tipene and Elder De Paz were outside the door, trying to keep order in the hallway during the ceremony.  Better than in the past!  The prayer may or may not be in Tagalog.  

But this time, Elder Usigan sang for us.
"I Know that My Redeemer Lives".  It was really wonderful.  He has a gentle sweet tenor voice, and of course, a very thick accent.  
Speaking of the accent, we have a new job, I guess.  President Revillo called on Saturday, and asked if he could add some new responsibilities to our mission.  Of course, we always tell him we will do whatever he needs, as well as we can. 

 There is a course for the Filipino missionaries, to teach them English.  They have an hour of English study every day, and they are supposed to go online and take tests and get certified at different levels so that they return home more educated and more employable.  Sister Revillo has been trying to oversee that, but there are so many health issues in the mission now, that she has no time.  (We heard this week, that due to health problems, they are currently sending one missionary a day home. Sad.)  
So, we will, I guess, be familiarizing ourselves with the program, and then we will find a way to expedite it in our mission.  Pres. feels that some missions are successful in this.  Ours has not been.  We will see how it goes!  I am not sure if that will require traveling around the mission to help them.  

On another note, we will not be trading our car for a truck, for now.  OK with us!

 YM/YW Philippino Style

 I stopped by the Youth Class third hour today in Malaya.  They were so cute, I had to take their picture.  Of course, they showed off a little bit.  The one on the floor on the left is preparing to leave soon on His mission.

One more thing:  We appreciate the packages very much.  But when we saw the postage costs on them, we found an entirely new meaning for "sticker shock".  So, in the future we will make do with what we can find over here.  After all, 94,000,000 Filipinos do!  

Thank you very much for your cards, your gifts, your messages, and your love and support.  It was a happy Christmas because we are happy.  We are happy because our life is full of the things that matter most:  Our friends, our family, and our faith.  


Monday, December 23, 2013


CHRISTMAS is no less busy in the Philippines, and everything is just harder to accomplish.  Did you have to go to several stores to find wrapping ribbon?  Do you have to carry your purchases home on a motorcycle or a jeepney? How about Santa Claus with the entire family sleeping in the same room?  Not many secrets here, I guess. But they still have a wonderful time, and the malls and traffic are just like at home---terrible!   By Christmas Eve, we are tired, and staying HOME!  
  Another creative Christmas Tree, this one in the shopping center downtown.  It is made of empty soda bottles!
Monday night, we took the Jensen's to the city for dinner, to thank them for all they have done to make our lives easier since we came.  They have been the very best trainers, and also become dear and valued friends.  We will miss them so much, and hope to be able to carry on with the work here in their excellent tradition.  Some of the other seniors met us there, at TGI Friday's, in Eastwood.  That was his choice.  We had not been there before, and WOW.  It is a very nice shopping center, and where many of the seniors live as well, in the city.  
Here is one funny story for you:
Elder Jensen is a tease.  He has teased me unmercifully about how I kept whining, "I want to be in the ooooofffffffice"!  Not true!!  After about a week of shell shock, I just went to work, and I love what we are doing.  
As we were leaving after an excellent dinner, in one of about 50 fine restaurants there, walking through the open market all decorated for Christmas,  I said to him,  "Well, Elder Jensen, if I was living in the city, WHERE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE, This would be my environment, not cow pies."  
He said, "Yes, but you wouldn't have any fun."  
Me, "I think this is pretty fun!"
Sister Jensen,  "I think this is pretty fun, TOO!"  

Of course, we  wouldn't have THIS kind of fun!
TUESDAY night,  we attended the branch Christmas Party in Malaya.  This is Faith Alvarez, working hard to help set things up.  She is the oldest of 6 children, and they live down the street.  The party was held in the parking lot, and the weather was wonderful.  
Sister Grace, in yellow here, dragged out the "sound system",  and hooked up and used her cell phone to play music and as people arrived  all the children began to dance.  They were adorable.  She was the "master of ceremonies", the director, the whole show.  She is in her last year of high school.  Her sister was married last month to a returned missionary in the Salt Lake Temple, but none of them were able to go.  Her mother is the RS President, and was busy preparing to feed the crowd from this kitchen:
No refrigeration, two burner hot plate. Unfiltered water.
 Of course, there was lots of rice, plus a Menudo, which is more like stew here.  We did not stay to eat, they partied first, and it is 90 minutes home for us!
We did, however, stay long enough for most of the show, and they do such a good job having fun with so little!  The women danced for the men.  Then the men danced for the women!  Then a few of them danced for all of us.  The children danced and danced.  

The teenagers played musical chairs.  
And Sister Grace led the primary in a game of "Bring Me".  
This is how it goes:    She stood with the 
 mic with all the primary in front of her, about 25 of them, waiting.  She then said, 
Bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me,,,,,,,,,,,
a peso!  
The first child to get a peso and bring it to her got a lollipop.  
Then they lined up again, and she said, 
Bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me,,,,,,,,
a black shoe!   Again, a riotous rush to her.   This was so much fun, and we all had a great time, waiting for her to decide what to ask for.  A comb, a tissue, etc.  Finally she said: 
Bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me,,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring me
Elder Tipene!

Well, I have not really introduced you to Elder Tipene yet.  He is from New Zealand, but his parents moved to Australia while he is on his mission.  He jokes that they said, "Hi, son, we moved to Australia.  Good luck finding us."  
He is a Maori, big and strong and a rugby player.  So, when they were told to "bring him", he jumped up and ran all over the grounds, with 25 little children chasing him and yelling.  They finally caught him, and came dragging him back to Sister Grace!  Here he is, exhausted from being chased!
And then, on Wednesday, Transfers.  
Here we are, waiting for the new companions to arrive.  These days are hard, saying goodbye, and lots of waiting.  Then, we load the car and drive them home.  Lots of driving.  Usually involves at least one trip to McDonald's for sustenance.
Yes, that is a Santa Claus on my head.  Just ignore him!  Maybe he will go away.  
We got a lot of new missionaries in our zone this time, and also a young woman, Sister Franks, so we lost Sister Kahui. Also several of our favorites, but we are already learning to love these guys, too!  

Thursday we worked in Tanay, and Friday we shopped in the city for Christmas.  We were supposed to attend the Tanay Branch Party that night, but Jensen's needed an errand in the city, and we got our first taste of Filipino Holiday Rush!  

We got home about 30 minutes after the party started, so no time to drive another hour to Tanay.  Too bad!

SATURDAY the missionaries had their zone Christmas party, and they asked us to cook something.  So we made Sloppy Joes.  They made Filipino food.  More games, more gifts, more fun.  The American kids LOVED the Sloppy Joes, which were not exactly as I make at home, since the ingredients are hard to find.  The others, most of them, didn't know what it was.  We made the sandwiches for them, but they liked it better as ulam on the rice!  We also had Bulalo, which is soup with beef knees in it, mostly bones, and a few veggies, and lots of cabbage.  And Caldereta, which is done with pork or chicken or beef, in a spicy stew with peppers.  This one I intend to make myself soon.  Recipes all over the place, or you can buy the seasoning mix.

Here is Sister Medina organizing the games, and stomping her foot, telling the elders:  "listen to me"!
And Elder Tipene showing off!
AND SUNDAY it was time to say goodbye to the Jensens.  Here they are in our house, after spending the day running all over the mission still taking care of people.

We had a FHE for them, with the Kandara family, (Vanessa and Dexter) and the Peralta family, (Marivic and Juhn) and the missionaries from Teresa.  It was just like at home.  Elder read from Luke 2, with Christmas carols in between the verses, then the "Nativity" Video the church produced, then hot chocolate and donuts and candy, with gifts.  Lots of tears, too.  
Elder Lang Siu, and Elder Anderson, Dexter and Juhn Marc anf Tigero.
See Yanni in her tutu!  And Tigero.

TWO more parties on Monday!!

Sampaloc Branch had their party all day long, from 9-3.  This little branch is less than one year old; just a baby.  But they are doing so well.  Here they are on the patio, playing games and dancing:  The house in the back is the guest house where we could live, and below the patio is the swimming pool used for baptisms.

Here we have Sister Rowena in front right, with Sister Doletti behind her, Sister AJ  next with Sister Aguilar (Primary Pres) behind, then Sister Dong, a new convert with Sister Zanaida, YW Pres behind, and I don't know the one on the left front, but hehind her is Sister Tapiador, RS Pres.  They were pretty fabulous!  

Sister Esponilla, just baptized and already doing missionary work as fast as she can.  Her investigator is next to her.  

This is Sister Agnes, with most of her children.  We have been teaching them ever since we came, but they are not able to be baptized yet.  They are very faithful, though, and the children come to Primary.  Next to her is Janene.  Her husband, Juhn, helped with the food:

Pig on a Stick????
Yep, that's a pig.  Cooked on a spit and then chopped up with a machete to serve it.  Those are banana leaves, the universal table cover.  Pres Doletti is signaling that it is ready to eat.


And the ice cream man, with Elder Purificacion as his Assistant.  
Our holiday treats are a little different!
Guapo AND yummy!

And then, we delivered a package to a widowed sister and came home, and drove into the city for the senior zone party.  A nice ham dinner, but the entertainment was not nearly so good.  Wonder why??
Because most of us are about 1 dance step away from a broken hip and the old folks home!  But they are good people, and they work so hard, you wouldn't believe it.  Did a nice gift exchange.  We brought home a big box of Hazel Nut Chocolates.  Elder is very happy.  I wanted the polished bowl made from a coconut shell.  So did everybody else!

Here is another funny story:  This is the electrical socket in the ceiling above our shower, where the little heater is plugged in to warm the water.     We often have a breaker that pops, usually when this is on, and have to reset it to finish showering. It has also all the lights for upstairs on it. When we got home, the breaker was out. So I tripped it, and things went POP POP POP POP all over the upstairs, and this is the result.  These homes aren't really built for the electrical needs we have, and the Jensens added the heater when they lived here.  (THANK YOU!!) So, now until we can get this fixed, and most probably buy a new heater, we are showering in cold (ish) water like the young missionaries.  I have to say, I am minding that a lot more than I expected!!   My pioneer grandmas are not proud of me today, I think!  

It's more fun in the Philippines!

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,

And folks dressed up like Eskimos????.

WELL, maybe not.  Yes, they are dancing in the fountain.  
But, we had the chestnuts, and the carols. and lights and gifts and fun and excitement.

Have you ever eaten chestnuts?  My grandmother used to talk about them with nostalgia, but  they are not going to be a holiday favorite for us.

This is at the Market!! Market!! Mall
A very nice regular mall, but with outside and inside market stalls for the upscale vendors to come and sell their wares.   Here I have found real fabric stores, (but ONLY fabric, don't expect to find the necessary materials for sewing), and rows and rows of fine pearls,
and many different knds of Filipino foods.  WE have to ask " What is this?"

We went to find some gifts for the many parties to which we are invited.  Like, a nice souvenir for a senior couple to take home with them, for the gift exchange at our party on the 23rd.

AND So, the parties began.   

The Jensens leave for home in Canada on the 23rd.  Elder S keeps telling them that if we can accomplish 1/10 of the good they did, he will be a "happy camper".  They are such good, kind people, and Elder Jensen is a man who never quits.  So, here are some of the people who now live in homes of their own because of his work.  They wanted so much to have a surprise party for them.  We got them there, and then they all marched out singing a lovely little song about Thank You.
Then, everyone spoke, and they finished with a lunch of Pancit made by Vanessa, and ice cream sundaes, furnished by the Schlagers.  

This is Sister Erna.  Do you remember the woman on the side of the garbage dump, living in a wagon and picking trash to survive?  Well, she got moved into her house in Maligaya last week, with her kids, and is so grateful.  And the members of the church there are welcoming her and already teaching her the gospel!  They are trying to help her get a better source of income going, too.
Next to her is the quilt that everyone wrote messages on for the Jensen's to take home.  They will need it!  After being here, they are going home to - 35 C.

There is a lovely, historic church in Teresa, right behind the Jollibee!  They have decorated for Christmas, too, as you can see.  The tree is made of pink umbrellas.  

(By the way, if you haven't already discovered this, you can click on the pictures and see them larger and more clearly.)

We DID work this week, on Tues and Wed, but on THURS:


Because the mission is so large, they have to hold three separate Christmas Zone Conferences, dividing into about 100 missionaries each.  We attended the one on Thurs, at the Aurora Chapel in Quezon City. The Senior Couples did the first act, a spiritual presentation in the chapel.  Then, on with the fun.

  All set up for the lunch and the show.   

The office people and Pres and Sis Revillo sang and danced!

Every district did a song and a skit.  Ours were spectacular, of course!  Elder and I were cheerleaders, not performers.  After lunch, they all sat and watched a fun Christmas movie.  

Then, games!   Here is Sister Revillo directing the games.  Simple, and fun.  

Then, thinking they MUST be hungry again, she served another snack of cookies, drinks, and Buko Salad.

Finally, a gift exchange.  Plus gifts from the Pres.   Here is Elder S demonstrating a Filipino Fan.  Sort of a circle of silk fabric sewn to a wire edge.  Everyone got one, and they are useful!  Plus fun to toss at people.  They fold up into a pocket fan, easy to carry around with you.  

Yes, Sister Revillo did three of these parties!   But the young missionaries had such fun, and they need it at Christmas time.  For many, they have never been away from home before.

And then, they went back to work with renewed energy and dedication.  On Saturday, after a baptism in Morong, the Morong District had a zone activity.  We all went to the baptism, first.  
They had all pitched in from their meager resources, and bought enough treats to make about 140  treat bags.  

Here they are with their loot, ready to pack up and go caroling.  Sister Medina is in the front.  She came last transfer.  She is a girl of high expectations and high energy, and her companion is a talented and steadfast Maori woman who uses few words and less drama.  Night and Day!  But Sister Medina is fun, and funny, and a fabulous missionary.  She has had a number of health problems, and has been offered the chance to go home.  She won't go.  She wants to go serve on Mindoro, before the end of her mission, but President just keeps telling her,  "There is no St Luke's on Mindoro".  She needs to be near the hospital.  Under her very energetic and capable direction, we have a lot of fun.

 So we all trooped down the street to the Rizal Provincial Hospital.  There we went in to carol to the patients.  We began in the children's wards.   

Ill infant. 

 Exhausted parents.

Many women here have their babies at home. due to poverty.  But when they can, or have to. go to the hospital, it is not what we are used to.  See the baby here beside her sleeping mother?

A fairy typical ward.  But, we were welcomed and saw smiles as we sang and passed out little bags of treats.

Sister Tingey asked me if I had seen the little boy in the pneumonia room all by himself with no parents?  When I told her no, she said, "We are going back to see him  before we leave."  So, after all the treats were passed out, and we went up and sang to the few people in the "private rooms", still very basic and bare, but with a door, we went to meet her little friend.    Here he is, sitting on a bare pad, still all alone, with his little treat bag in his lap.  We never did get a smile, but whenever we put our hand out, he would slap it, with the tiny hand with the bandage on it.  Sister Tingey tried to explain that the bag had "chocolatte" but he just watched us.  The woman beside him, tending to her own ill child, said his grandmother and mother were there, but trying to find a way to go home.  He had been released, but they had no fare to get home to Antipolo.  (About 10 miles, I think.) 

About then, his grandmother came, and spoke to Sister Tingey and Sister Dudas.  Sure enough, they just had no money to go home.  So, we asked about the amount needed.  About P40, or $.95.  I gave her p50, and they told her to take her grandson home.  Poor little mite.  

ONE sad thing:   Just like in the states, at this time of year people get a little desperate for money to do things they think they should do.  That means you have to be very careful with your personal belongings.  We purchased a GPS system from Jensens when we came, mostly because they are very hard to find here, and while the Jensens no longer needed it,  we were still trying not to get lost on the way to church.  Sadly, it has disappeared, and most likely, was taken by someone we know, to sell.
On Saturday, while we were all together getting ready to go carol, AT THE CHURCH, Sister Tingey's bag was stolen, and Sister Medina was robbed of all her money, which is for medications.  There was a woman there at the building that no one recognized.   But the Sisters just  looked hard for what was lost, and then went on to the hospital with us as planned.  We lent them some cash until President Revillo could take care of them.  

One funny thing:  Since we retired one year ago, we are not much richer or poorer, but we are MUCH smaller.  I have lost 40 lbs, and Elder has lost 55. Between us, we have lost a whole Filipino Family!  Droopy Drawers is his nickname.  So, when I asked him what he is missing, he said, "Pants that FIT".   We finally found a good tailor in the larger mall, and had some pants altered for him.  He looks great!  They have three more pair on their way to fitting.   

One Sweet Thing: 

This is Sister Eva Aguillar, the Primary President in Sampaloc.  Baptized in February, she and her husband are preparing for the temple.  He is the only counselor in the branch presidency.  Today, while I was assisting her in Primary, she said to me:  "When I study, my goal is to be teacher, but no money.  Now, in this church, my dream comes true"   And she has a gift for it that is so evident as she leads this little primary.

And this is Jhazelle Ann, their daughter.  Two years old.  Just imagine how different her life is going to be, because her parents are embracing the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One wonderful thing:   Buko Salad
Sister Revillo always serves this, and it is heaven!   Did I already mention that it is young coconut season here?  Anyway,  the tender shreds from the inside are BUKO, which you need to make the salad.  We have not yet attempted harvesting our own, the only reason I am not living on the stuff and gaining back all 40 lbs.  They usually make it with a tropical fruit cocktail, but she uses fresh fruits like apple and grapes, too. Sometimes it has small cubes of cheese in it.   Then, heavy cream AND condensed milk, all stirred together and served either cold or frozen.  There are a lot of recipes, but first you have to catch your BUKO!  

 Another wonderful thing here is the custard.  Of course, with all the chickens, eggs are plentiful and used in many things.  For instance, if you order a meal in a fast food restaurant, the chances are it will have the option of a fried egg on the plate.  

Anyway, We have discovered that the Egg Pie in the bakeries, is really a fabulous custard pie.  Elder feels like they do it just for him.  So, all he wants for Christmas is Egg Pie, and all I want for Christmas is Buko Salad.  

And, of course, a camera call with our family .