This week we began settling in and getting adjusted to our new life. We are very comfortable in our little house, and can walk around the neighborhood to get our exercise, if we need to. This is the view from the hill just around the corner from our house. The weather has been cool and mostly sunny, although we get really heavy rain when it comes! And lightening, and thunder!
Believe it or not, Elder Schlager is becoming accustomed to driving in this kind of mess, and gets us safely where we need to go, along with a lot of other people, too.
We had transfer week this week, which left us free on Tuesday, so we took the opportunity to go into the city to take care of some business at the Philippines Area Office, (Hereafter to be called the PAO), get some repair work done on our car, (remember, been used by teenagers in the city!) and attend the temple. We had a very nice day, except that Tuesday is our "coding day". That means that, according to the last number on your license plate, it is illegal to drive in the city during the heavy traffic hours, which are 7-10 am and 3-7 pm. Well, needless to say, we tried to find a way to avoid that, but in the end we got in the car and headed to a very near place to eat, as we were starving after a long day, and got caught at the first stop light. The office waved at us, and followed us on his motorcycle for about 3 miles until we could figure out where to stop in all that. The fine is P300, or $7,50, but the problem was having to give him the driver's license and show up at the offices to pay it. By the time we explained that we had no choice, don't know what we are doing, and couldn't find the place, he felt so sorry for us he gave us a warning instead and offered to lead us out of town along roads that were legal!
The temple was beautiful, and we had a very nice day, but we won't get there much. Our P-day is usually on Mon, with the young missionaries, and of course the temple in closed that day.
Transfer day is a big deal, and happens every six weeks. This time, our mission got about 30 new missionaries. We help out by meeting a lot of them at the local stake center, and then waiting with them as their new companions arrive, by van, jeep, trike, and anything else they can get. Then, we deliver some of them to their areas, wait and play with them while they wait for luggage, make sure they are fed if necessary, and push them along as they get paired up, as they would rather stay and visit.
We got four new missionaries in our areas, giving us 12 to work with. None of ours are sisters, but here are some of the sisters from our District
The one on the left is from New Zealand, the one in the middle from Hawaii, and the two smaller ones are native from the Philippines. Transfer day was fun for us. We spend the entire day hanging out with the young missionaries, driving them out to their areas, and generally just enjoying them. We had lunch at McDonalds!
Speaking of food, everyone asks me what we are eating. I am not sure what stories the Philippines Elders tell, or how limited their budgets are, but we are doing fine. I can find most things, if I go to enough different markets. We have to be very careful about parasites, etc. so we bring everything that is fresh home and wash it, usually in chlorine water, before we use it. It all takes time, of course, but we CAN cook. We have a crock pot, which I like anyway, but it will be invaluable here as our work days will mostly be about 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. So, I can put dinner in the pot, leave it all day, and come home tired to a meal all ready. We did that last night, and it was wonderful..
Here is a pot of skillet of fried rice I did this week, along with Meatball stew, Tuna Macaroni Salad,,and today, Chicken Adobo, with Rice. We had hamburger steaks with baked potato last Sunday.
The Mango is fabulous, the bananas are fresh, and not as pretty as at home. Cereal is good but costly, milk is from a box on the shelf, but tastes fine on cereal.
Thursday, we had a wonderful day. We drove out to Sampaloc, about 30 miles from home but the roads are winding and slow and it is in the mountains. It took us 90 minutes. Then we took the four elders out there with us, as they had two new ones and wanted to introduce them and us to the families they are working with. We (all six of us!) had three teaching appointments, and then a visit to a less active couple, the Besarios. More about them another time.
These are the first two families we were able to help teach.
This couple has 8 children. These three were gorgeous! The other 5 were in school. They live under a banana tree, and we sat outside at their table and had a discussion. They are not married, and can't be baptized until they are, usually. Sometimes, I guess, that is negotiable. The people here don't marry, as it is very expensive and quite a few don't have any identification to get the necessary paper work. Isn't she lovely? They are trying to read the Book of Mormon. Where she gets the time, I can't imagine!
On Saturday, the district did an annual Family day, all day long, complete with t-shirts. They have the temple on them, and they say, "Unity across the generation---A strong family, A strong nation"
We only went for a little while, but it was well attended and fun. This is Vanessa and Dexter, and Yanni.
And here are Marivik, Juhn, Mark, Marjorie, Marianne and Renaldo. We love this family so much.
That night, we had the privilege of attending the baptism of two women, one a single adult Sister and one expecting her third child. Her father joined the church a few months ago, and baptized her last night.
Okay, two funny things from this week. Elder S. and I were shopping in a large market here in Antipolo. It is SM, and is sort of a Super Target kind of place. Two floors. Customer service is alive and well in the Philippines, sometimes to the level of annoyance. Also, there are uniformed guards everywhere, at the gate to all the neighborhoods, on the streets, and at the shopping centers. Sometimes they check your purse as you go in and out. So, we went in different directions, looking for things we have trouble finding, and got separated. I found chicken broth, a real happy moment for me, and picked up three cans. But no cart. The guard looked at me, and wanted to know if I needed a basket. I told him I had just lost my "asawa", or spouse, and that I was fine. A few moments later, he chased me down about three isles over, and says, "Ma'am, Asawa!!!" He had located Elder and took me to where he was. The funny part is, of course, that he had no trouble knowing who my "asawa" was, as nobody else in the whole big place is our size or color!The second story is about the Besarios. They are quite elderly, and live in Sampaloc. The missionaries took us to see them, as they have not been coming to church. They live in a nice house in the middle of the most beautiful gardens. He is a "Philippines Pioneer", in that he joined the church back in 1962, before they really had any organization here. He can tell you the history of the church in the Philippines from day one, and met Hugh B. Brown, David O. McKay, and many others. But his wife, a little white haired lady, was a "raging Catholic", according to him and was only baptized in June! They invited us into their home (all six of us) and welcomed us so warmly. Brother Besario took to Elder S. like a long-lost brother, and sat down practically on his lap and talked like crazy.
Now, Elder S. wears size 13 shoes. We were concerned that he have all he needed, as that is a size we don't expect to find easily over here. He took 3 pairs of new, good shoes. But it is muddy here, always, and the first thing President taught us was that you ALWAYS remove your shoes to go inside. So, we do. Usually the people tell us not to bother, but they don't really mean it. The door to the Rosario home is up a beautiful long tiled stairway. So, we left our shoes at the bottom of the stairs, and went up. We had to be dragged out of there, as we were late getting back on the road and we try not to be out on those country roads after dark.
As we came down the stairs, we realized that the shoes were not where we left them. The family has a dog. The young guys ran around and found most of them, but Elder S. was one shoe short. They were running all over the gardens, and finally found it, with the shoe laces chewed apart, on the far side. We are still trying to find extra shoe laces.