Sunday, October 27, 2013

WEEK SEVEN Oct 21-27

It's more fun in the 
PHILIPPINES!!


have I mentioned that I miss my dryer?  
The people here wash all the time, and they hang their laundry anywhere they can find.  We stopped by the side of the road, and a lot of little houses were there, and little children, obviously not in school or really with anything to do.  All the way along the road, if the sun is shining, you see wash hanging on fences, roadways, and even on the houses themselves.  


This week, we began with splits.  Elder Jensen and Elder Schlager went into the city twice on Monday to retrieve two trucks full of recyclable materials that they bring out to Maligaya for the people there to use or sell.  This time, it was a lot of rubber backed commercial carpet, cut into pieces perfect for the people to sleep on.  

While they spent their p-day doing that, Sister Jensen and I took our shopping guru, Vanessa, and Yanni, downtown to look for materials for handwork and also for white shirts for the Priesthood holders in the branches who don't have them. 


This is Yanni, trying to decide if she wants her picture taken.  

And This is my "I love the children here" story for this week.  But, it begins with a story about, I'm sorry to have to tell you, Sweat Rags.  

Sweat Rags are one of the first things you have to learn in the Philippines.  Everyone has them, carries them with them, and uses them.  They are in your car, in your purse, in your pocket, and they sell them on the roads when you stop for traffic, always impeccably clean and ready to use.  I think they get old garments, wash them to spotless perfection, cut them into pieces, and sometimes put an edge on them, and then sell them.  The young missionaries use small  white ones tucked inside their shirt collars to catch the perspiration before it goes down their necks.  The people use them to cover their faces from the highway smog, to wipe their hands, etc.  Mothers tuck them into the back neck of the children's shirts, and they always look to me like they are wearing little angel wings.  


This is Vanessa, an angel herself, and Yanni with her sweat rag angel wings ready to take us shopping.  

When I mentioned that it has been a real blessing to me to have Sister Jensen here in the neighborhood while I got used to my new life, and that I will miss her when they go home in Dec,  Vanessa said, "We are here for you, Sister!"

So, she took us to get the shirts, which she has found for P150 or less. (About $4)  Sister Jensen had some money her ward collected to buy shirts and I decided to buy some too.  We are careful to always tell the people that anything we might be able to give them is not from us, but from friends or family or other church members who want to help.  
Anybody looking for a service project?  Collect some ties from the guys you know who don't wear them anymore, and send them to me.  They cost three times what the shirts cost here, and are hard to get.  

Then, Vanessa took us to a shop that sells ribbons, and trims and steel crochet needles and cotton crochet thread in lots of colors.  

After that, we went to a fabric warehouse.  Emphasis on WAREHOUSE.  But like  a treasure trove to Sister Jensen and I.  She immediately purchased some netting or tulle, and is teaching the women to make no sew tutus for the ltitle girls as a possible money making project.



They measure and cut with a yard stick and a pair of scissors, no counter.  





But it is right here in Antipolo, and I can find it again.  Thank you, Vanessa!
IMG_20131024_112627.jpg





Tuesday, we had a fun day with the senior missionaries.  MORE shopping!   The American Women of the Philippines have a bazaar every month, in Manila at the trade center, and the local craftspeople come and sell their wares.  Really nice, and a great place to get souvenirs, and gifts.  We won't go much--too far and we don't have the time, but this was fun.  All the senior Sisters buy skirts there.  This is my first purchase of a Filipino garment.   Afterward, we stopped at S and R to get the pork loins I need for our Zone Halloween Party Monday.  Remember the "fake Costco?"  Well, we bought a number of things, used the receipt to get out the door, just like home.  Then, we tossed everything in the truck, drank a big bottle of water, and headed home.  However, they attach your validated parking slip to the receipt, also.  I had tossed mine away with the other trash stuff.  Get up to the booth, need the ticket.  So sorry, we have lost it.  YOU can not get out of the parking lot without it---PERIOD!.   There is a big sign there, says  "No validated ticket----P100 ."  
We said we would pay that.  Sorry, sir, need the ticket.  But it is LOST!  Sorry, sir, need the ticket!  Or go inside and talk to manager.  
How do we do that?  We have a big truck, no place to turn around.  They don't drive, so they have no idea what the limitations are.  We were tired!! Still had an hour and a half home in nasty traffic.  Grumpy!!  I got out to go back in, and thought, what trash did I shove into that empty water bottle because I couldn't find any trash cans??  Found it, found the receipt, pulled it out wet and ragged, drove back around, and handed it to them.  The trouble here is that they really don't know anything about a lot of stuff.  Although they try hard to be accommodating and to offer good service, they can only follow the script they have memorized.

Wed was a wonderful day.  First we drove to Tanay, as Elder was helping the new Branch President there with some concerns.  He was taking 5 people to the temple on Sat for their own endowments, but had no idea how to arrange that with the temple.  So, Elder talked to them when we were in the city on Tuesday, got some numbers and things for him, and sent them, with an offer to come and help if we could.  
He immediately texted back to us to ask us to meet him on Wed at the chapel.  He came in his jeepney!!!  

See the name on it?  

We called the temple on my phone, handed it to him, and he made all his arrangements.  Happy man!  They ALL have phones, really.  But no contracts---we all buy "load", or minutes and service days.  They all text, as it is very cheap, but the calls are very expensive.  I was glad I had just loaded mine, as it cost over $5 for him to make that call!    The people here WANT to do their callings, but they just so rarely have the resources to do it.  As Sister Jensen says, "They have NOTHING but TIME!  They are often charging their phones at the building during Sunday meetings, anywhere they can find a place to plug it in.  They will tell you, I got your text, but I didn't answer because I don't have 'load'.  


While we were waiting for President, we watched a show.  Next to the Tanay chapel is  Tanay National High School.  They use the church parking lot to practice for their annual cultural celebration.  We are looking forward to attending next month.  Sister Jensen says it is fabulous, all in costumes, and better than shows she has paid to see.  They were working hard, but when we got there, they all turned around and waved to us, and then put on a fabulous show for us.  After ward, they came over to meet us, and were just wonderful.  Remember, High School?  They shook our hands, welcomed us to the Philippines, cheered when we told them we were coming to the show next month.  And showed off like crazy.  I took videos, but haven't figured out how to get them from my tablet to the blog, yet!

Then, we went back to Morong to Zone Interviews with Pres. and Sister Revillo.  He started with a short pep talk, and some teaching, but then he went in to the office to interview all the missionaries individually.  She is the "hatchet man".  She really let them have it if they are not keeping all the rules.  They are sometimes tempted here to buy DVD's, as they are much cheaper than in the states, and most likely pirated. But, it is against the rules.  
She said something about "watching the DVD's of Babylon on the Lord's equipment."

When one of the new Elders came in a little late, (they have to come from Malaya, and it is not dependable transportration,) she stopped talking and called to him,:
"Elder, Congratulations, You've lost weight!"
She told them they CANNOT have a machete in their apartments.  Machetes are a favorite souvenir here, and even Elder S. has one, as we could not get out of a parking lot one day until he bought it.  But they are Bawal (banned) for missionaries, and she said, "If you have one, bring it to the Mission Home and we will keep it for you until you go home."   She told a story of an Elder there, at the meeting, who was recently chased with one by an angry husband, who didn't like what they taught his wife!  She said, "Elder, what did you do?"   When he said they ran, she said, "Yes, you run, and pray.  You think you need them for protection.  You don't need Protection.  YOU HAVE protection."  Then she fed them like the starving hordes, and went off with the APs to check on apartments.  I am coming to adore her!  

 This is our zone, with President and Sister in the middle, surrounded by our 4 Sister Missionaries.  Then the four seniors on the right.  While all this was going on, the zone leaders conducted workshops.  They are so confident, so skilled, and so polished.  Many of them, a few months ago, were sleeping on a mat under a tarp or a leaky tin roof with all their family.  It is astounding to me.

FRIDAY, we went back to Malaya to teach, and met with Josue.  One week, baptized, confirmed, planning to receive the Priesthood on Sunday, and already has a calling.  He is second counselor in the YM  Presidency!!  On Tuesday, he is going to Youth Camp as a leader!  He wants to know how to go on a full time mission.  We just told him, as he does his calling and helps the boys prepare, he will learn! He wanted to know how to tie a necktie.  So Elder S. agreed to show him, but he only has one, and couldn't find it.  They used the one Elder was wearing.  We only brought about 6, or we'd share.  

That branch has 5 missionaries out, and another one going in two weeks.  They need P100 /month (about $2.50) to be able to go, or P1800 for YW and P2400 for young men.   But that is a lot for them,  and some need help from the branch to get it together.  We can help with that, but we can not give it to them directly. One young woman was going, but when they did the physical, she had TB. She can't go, but had her money ready, I guess, as she is employed.  So she gave it to the young sister who is going next month.  



For those of you who keep asking us "But, what do you do for fun?"  On Saturday, we went with the Senior Missionaries again on a quarterly activity.  About 20 of us, (some have to work on Sat, like Temple Missionaries,)  went on a three hour shuttle ride out to Pagsanjan Falls, to a resort.  There, we got into small boats, 1 couple to each boat, with a man in the front and a man in the back.  
Just FYI:  The Japanese tourists had three in a boat, mostly, but when they saw the size of us, I think they decided couples were a good idea. As you see, they ride VERY low in the water. Ours is the red, white, and blue one, and our front guy was young and beautiful and the Mario Andretti of the river boat men. We were all hooked together with ropes, (10 boats) and pulled with a small motor until we got out of the resort area.  Then they unhooked us and we were all on our own!
Here we are, on our way.  We went up river.  
 













And here is our Mario.   Sometimes, he just road along, or paddled, with the guy in the back helping.  We could not see the other guy, but they worked HARD. Bare Feet!  
Sometimes, they jumped out of the boat and guided us around the rocks and through the rapids.  Sometimes, they practically carried us over the rocks. At one point, everyone got out and waited while the boatmen carried the boats to the top of the rapids, EXCEPT US!!  Mario just hopped out, onto the rocks with the other guy, and just worked us over them.  We were very wet.  But, we got to the falls first.

He kept saying, Good job?  Happy?  



We made it up there, safe and sound.  Then, those who wanted to,
 got on a raft, and went underneath the falls.  We decided to wait that one out.  There is a cave behind there, and if you don't know how I feel about caves, this might tell you.

But, it was beautiful up there, really fun and exciting.  

The ride back was downhill all the way, and we went fast!  Well, except when they had to sort of carry us over the bamboo poles they laid from rock to rock to get us through.  I have to say, I even yelled "WHEEEEEEEEEE"
 a couple of times!

It's more fun in the 
Philippines!!!!



Sunday, October 20, 2013

WEEK SIX Oct 13-20


As the questions about food keep coming up, here is another cooking lesson for you.  This is a very traditional dish, as well, and you can find about 10000 recipes for it on the internet.  But this one is simple, if you can find the ingredients, and we liked it so much I think we will eat it often.  That is an orange on the side.  We eat a lot of fruit, and have tried several new ones.  The things we are used to are expensive, but we can get oranges, apples, red grapes, grapefruit, mango, bananas. watermelon,  pears and tomatoes.   So far, don't like pomelo, like a huge dry grapefruit , not a fan of papaya, Elder likes lanzones better than I do, mangostein is just a real disappointment.  We can both enjoy a lichi  fruit or two, but they are a lot of work for a tiny bit of fruit and a big seed.
We DO like, however, anything coconut, including the best macaroons I have EVER tasted, coconut candy, and fresh coconut shreds in a fruit salad.  It is  young coconut season, so they are stacked everywhere, big green basketballs that you need a machete to get into, and then you pour out the coconut juice, scrape out the most inner layer, into small shreds and add it to the juice, and then drink it like that.  Sort of a glass of sweet water with fibrous chewy stuff in it!  As far as we can tell, they just throw the rest away?!
The bakeries are going to be our downfall.  

Filipino Pancit                          
Ingredients:
2 lbs uncooked noodles   I use the Bihon (or bijon rice) noodles, but you can use pancit or vermicelli or a combination
4 cups sliced fresh vegetables  -  cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, green onions, red onion, celery
1 lb. lean pork, cut into very small pieces
½ cup oil
1 onion minced
1 Tbls.  Soy sauce
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pork bouillon cube
6 cups water
Instructions:
1.     Do NOT soak the rice noodles, but if you use vermicelli or pancit, soak them for a while to soften while you prepare the vegetables.

2.     Brown the pork in the oil with the soy sauce, garlic, and onion. Add the water and bouillon cube to the pork and bring to a low simmer.  Add the vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes.  Add the uncooked rice noodles, (About 8 cups worth, but they are very stiff and hard to measure! You need a lot! ) and simmer over low heat until the noodles soften and soak up all of the broth.  Serve with soy sauce and sweet chili sauce.  Or, just serve sweet chili sauce with everything. 

 This week began a little slow.  We went into the city to do some shopping again, and were able to find Elder a pair of crocs that actually fit, and can be scrubbed and dried and ready for a new day.  They were expensive, but if they save his other shoes it will be worth it.   Our clothing situation is really funny.  So far, we ruin about 1 garment per week.  And replacing them is not going to be easy.  I don't know if the younger missionaries do better, but we should have brought more clothes, I think.  

 Shoppping here is fun.  The malls are really big, like two or three together.  You go in to park, which costs about 15 cents.  There are guards at the door of the parking garage, with rifles,  who open your trunk, and also carry a mirror on a pole for looking UNDER your car.  Then they wave you in.  I don't think I want to know what they are looking for.
 Then, the big malls have lights above every parking spot.  It is red if there is a car there, and green if it is open for parking.  No driving all the way down the aisle and finding a "farking spot".
   At  the door of the mall, another guard, who  pokes a stick into your purse and pats down the guys.  Elder seldom gets his behind patted, though.  I guess we look honest, or harmless? I have been looking and looking and LOOKING for yarns, etc. to do some crocheting.  I finally found a few in a store in downtown Antipolo.  This is the ENTIRE stock of choices, which doesn't look too bad if you don't know that the little balls are about  the size of a golf ball, and the others about the size of a softball.  Anyway, still looking for hooks, etc.   

This will be of limited interest, I know, but any woman knows that a hairstylist you like and trust is pretty important.  Leaving mine home was almost a deal breaker for me.  As soon as I got here, I began to ask around.  I was told to go to Davids'.  That is a chain, and they have shops in the big malls and also near the temple.  So, on Monday, we went to find one.  I needed a haircut.  We stood outside, and Elder said, "It looks expensive."  Yeah, so what???? I was afraid "walk ins" might not be welcome, but they took me right in.  The young man in the back of the picture washed my hair, lovely!, and then put me in a chair and pushed me forward and gave me a massage!  I guess the stylist wants you too relaxed to complain?  Then, this lovely young woman came and cut my hair.  It doesn't look like this when I style it---she styled each hair separately, I think.  But, when it was all over, I went up to pay.  It was P220.  With tip, it cost me about $7.  Sister Jensen tells me that IS expensive.  She pays about P60!   

Tuesday and Wednesday we were teaching again, and met some new friends and saw some old ones.  In Sampaloc, we went out of town the other direction, to a neighborhood of cinder block and concrete homes,  and found a family that another set of missionaries were teaching, but then got transferred.  When the new elders tracked into them, they were so excited.  WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR YOU!  So, we all went, and met a Tatay, (grandpa) and Nanay, (grandma), their son and his three children, and their daughter and her baby.  They couldn't stop talking.  They were bearing testimony so fast, in Tagalog, and the grandma just kept holding on to me and trying to tell me what was in her heart.  I wanted to understand her so badly.  Finally, I asked Elder McCoy to help me understand.  The children, even the baby, just sat and listened.  


I    In Malaya, we were able to visit with two new families, the De Castro Family and the Magnai family, as well as with Josue Morales, who was scheduled for baptism on Sat.  We had Brother Alvarez with us, a member missionary from the branch who walks with a cane and needed to be steadied, but who is such a blessing! 

     This is the De Castro family.  She is actually the oldest daughter of the Magnai family, and they are all part of a huge family who own a lot of land out there, in the hills.  These are her children.  All but the two youngest are committed to baptism on the 16th of Nov.  The father is just a little behind them.

When we arrived at the Magnai home, THIS is what we found.  A Filipini cradle.  It was actually a lot of homes, all near each other, and we met at a sort of communal dining hall where they cook, and spend their time.  There is a big table, and all under a bamboo roof with a wooden floor and big benches all around.  The mother and three daughters were there, with their babies.  Little ones everywhere.  Another note about the kids here.  We frequently see them without pants.  Almost never without their flipflops.  I think they put shoes on them the minute they are born.  By they time they are walking, they manage  them like pros.  
These elders teach with such power!  That afternoon, we met with a young man to plan his baptism, and they committed 8 more people to baptism for the 16th of November.  It is such a privilege to be able to be with them.  I really wish I were three people, as we want to be in every branch, every week.  

Thursday our elders in Tanay were working with members, so we took the opportunity to run into the Distribution  center for supplies.  We had ordered some white pants for Elder several weeks ago, as we did not get the memo telling us to bring our White Clothing with us.  He will need them to help baptize.  No chance there will be a white jumpsuit in his size anywhere in these meeting houses!  So, we picked up a lot of books and things for our own work and for the Jensens, and then asked about the pants.  Turns out, they are here.  However, they are in a cupboard, which is turned towards another cupboard, and then big boxes of stock all around that.  So sorry, but they can't get to them.  Please come back next week, or maybe the next week.   That is one funny story for you.  So typically Filipino.  Can you imagine any business at home having that attitude?  And getting away with it? But we are adjusting, I guess.  When he needs them, I am sure he will have them.  


Every city has a public market, sometimes several.  These are streets and streets of small shops, selling all kinds of things.  I had wanted to try to find some yarns, etc. there.  So Friday, we took ourselves and our badges and our cards and went out to meet the people and explain who we are and ask them if they have the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives.  They are often quite anxious to talk to us, and to tell us that they are Christian, too.  We also bought all the fruits and veggies we needed for the week, some of it very lovely.  We got a small cauliflower and a small broccoli, fresh corn on the cob, and many other things.  They sell these fruits that look like limes, but are orange inside.  Great juice to use on things.  Anyway, here is your second funny story.  We are walking along, hand in hand, talking to people and buying things.  And I stopped to buy something, and then reached back for Elder's hand, and he lets go of me, and I turned around and it wasn't him!  Some poor man was trying to politely disentangle himself from this strange woman.  I have learned quite a few Tagalog phrases now, but "I am SO sorry" is not one of them!  Incidentally, we went down a couple of alleys off the main street, and it got pretty hairy.  That is the only place we have been since we got here that DID smell nasty.  And walking was a bit treacherous.  Don't think we will do that again. 





 Saturday was the highlight of our week.  We were up early, and met the Jensens and the young missionaries in Teresa for a service project at Maligaya.  Remember, this is the neighborhood where Elder Jensen has built several homes, and where several LDS families live?  I don't know if I mentioned that it is down off the hill from the highway, and there is just a steep path that runs down there, and then a lot of uneven ground
 between the houses.  Pretty dangerous.  Well, Elder Jensen has been working with the Baranguay leaders, local government, to get permission to put a concrete road down to it. so that the trikes can run up and down.  There is a Sister Mercy down there, in a wheelchair.  If the trikes can come down, she can come up!  So, we took a crew out there to make the road ready for concrete.  This is about half of our work crew.  Everybody grabbed a tool or a trash bag and went to work.  

   

Elder S. dug right in, along with the young guys, and he has the blister to prove it!
      






And, of course, Sister Jensen soon had all the children who were gathered around to watch these crazy people, excited and ready to work.  So, they did!


       When the roadbed was ready, they spread gravel and it is now prepared for the concrete trucks.  The blue lines are the water lines into the area.  The red ones are the power lines.  Each house has a hose for water and power to charge their cell phones!



Saturday night, we had our choice of three different baptisms to attend, but we went to Malaya to see Josue Morales baptized by brother Alvarez.  Good thing we did.  We arrived right on time, to find no one there but the missionaries and the young man and his branch missionary.  Elder Loste says, "Elder, I was looking for you.  Would you like to speak at the baptism?"  His companion was  in the office, waiting for an answer so he could finish the program.  So, Elder S. prepared a talk on the Holy Ghost.  No hurry, the baptism began 30 minutes late, which is pretty good for here, and the people kept arriving, until about 6:00.  The room was full, though.  And Elder S did a really good job.  

Brother Alvarez had a hard time, and nearly fell, and it had to be done again.  I was praying so hard for him, that his leg would support both of them.  This is Elder Loste on the left and Elder DePaz on the right.  And the new Brother Morales, 20 years old and so excited!  We gave him a Tagalog triple combination, with our testimony in it, in Tagalog, thanks to the help of the Sisters from Morong.






Things are great here.  We love our life.  Sister Harris said they missed milk and pie.  Well, I don't know about that, but I miss my bathtub, and my dryer!!  Elder misses fresh milk, also, and refried beans.  Elder and I both miss Mexican Food!  We ate out at a mall recently, and ordered fajitas.  And we shopped for weeks to find salsa and tortillas.  Then, we made tacos!!  We had to fry the fresh tortillas, but they were great!  No taco seasoning,  I had to season the meat with garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes.  Now I found cumin!


We really miss being a part of a ward, which makes us miss our ward so much more.  Although we are always so welcome, we are just visitors in 3 different branches.  Even the city missionaries get to attend in the same branch every week. But, lest this begins to sound like a list of complaints, 

There are little signs at the front of our neighborhood, and then here and there around it.  They say:

God is good,
All the time.
 All the time,
God is good.

Whenever I come home and see the sign, the Spirit confirms that for me.  How blessed we are.  









Sunday, October 13, 2013

WEEK FIVE

Thank you to so many of you for your feedback to us about reading our blog.  We are excited to share what is happening here, with you, and appreciate your questions and ideas on what we might include. 

This is just one of the views driving up the mountain to Sampaloc. We attended meetings there on Sunday, in the new branch.  They were only organized after the first of the year. 


 The Branch President and his wife are the only endowed couple, he has one counselor who rarely comes, and there is hardly any Priesthood.  President Dolleti immediately asked Elder Schlager and Elder Whittaker, to sit with him in front.  The Whittakers are Employment Missionaries, and come from the city every week to help the branch.  They were hoping to get a computer this week, and then Elder Schlager will be assisting the President in learning to use MLS and the financial records, and other clerk duties. 
 They meet in a large house with a guest house on the property where senior couples sometimes live.  This is the baptism font, when they need one, and that is quite often.


President Dolleti has asked me to assist in Primary whenever I can be there, as the Primary President is a young mother baptized in April!   More about them later.  I am really looking forward to that. He thought I might help her understand what Primary looks like, and how to use and teach the music.  So much for thinking, when we were being trained, that the course offered to us on how to teach music in the church was not something we would be needing!




On Monday, we went back to the city to find S&R, which is a sort of a Costco, and carries some things we can't get here, and a few Kirkland items.  We found a real Farmland ham, a turkey roast, dill pickles, and the best celery I have seen here.  


This is a Jeepney, and with apologies to my brother, as close as I EVER intend to get to one of them.  As you see, in the city there are street lights, sky scrapers, and wide streets, but still the traffic is mostly public transportation.  BIG buses, and lots of motorcycles, though.  We met several other couple missionaries in S&R, as they work in the temple and Monday is also their P-Day.  We immediately bought a membership, as although I think we won't use it that much, it was cheap.   And, of course, we got lost again, and went round and round past the Mega Mall we couldn't find last week! 

 Tuesday we had district meeting and celebrated the October birthdays with birthday cake.  I made them learn to sing "Oh, Somebody's had a Birthday", before I gave them the cake. 

Then we drove back up the mountain to Sampaloc with 4 Elders in the car, to teach up there.  We dropped two off, and Elder Magno and Aguinaldo took us on another long journey farther into the mountains, to the home of Eva and Antony Aguilar.  She is the primary president.  They have two small children, and were baptized with his parents and Sister AJ in April.   Here is Elder Aguinaldo, with a bag of Lichi fruits, and next to him is Sister Aguilar, with her little girl  Jhazelle on her lap and Antony behind her.  Next to him are Eva's mother and sister, Judith and Jemma, who are being taught for baptism by the Elders.  This is the Aguilar home, right on the road.  We were there all afternoon, at their front table, while people came from everywhere to be taught.  The Elders did 4 lessons there, as well as one across the road and down the hill, to a part member family, the Rowanaks, with three sons, 12, 14, and 16, who are scheduled for baptism next month.  

And then, there will be an Aaronic Priesthood Quorum  in the Branch!  Here are the two youngest, with their mother.  They are actually quite well to do.  Big piece of property, and a huge hog!  .This is the Aguilar Home, with the Elders and more investigators.  Sorry it is so blurry--hands shook, I guess.

We were back in Malaya on Wed,  and in Tanay on Thursday.  Always with the Elders there, teaching and supporting them as well as we can.  One thing I have learned to love about the Philippines is the Tagalog Language.  It is soft, gentle and musical.  Mothers DO NOT yell at their children, and small children rarely cry.  Everyone speaks with respect and we get treated so kindly.  In Tanay, we visited and taught at a school.  It was the end of the day, but the children were fascinated with us.  I kept telling them, Ako Ay Misyonero ni HesuKristo.  They all wanted to shake my hand and have their picture taken, and I was in a reception line like a visiting dignitary!   Now, don't get me wrong.  We don't speak Tagalog.  We are trying to learn, and we sometimes can follow the lesson pretty well.  But when we are asked to contribute, our efforts are in English and sometimes need to be translated.  We are learning vocabulary as fast as we can, and use flash cards to teach each other.  When we use a Tagalog word or phrase, they always smile, and ask us if we speak the the language.  We tell them, "Kuenti Lang" (Coon Tee Long) which means "a little" or "not much".

 What I love most in the Philippines are the children.  They are so beautiful!  And sweet and respectful and clean.  Look at the children above.  This is the end of the day, and their white shirts are dazzling.  Their mothers scrub them with a brush and a bar of soap, on a piece of rock or on a cement pad near the water pump.  I have seen them.  
I always try to get them to tell me their names,  and they tell us, but they always add "po" like Paul Ivan po.  I forget over and over that po is not part of their name, but an expression of respect for me.  When you shake hands with them, they put their forehead down on the back of your hand to "bless you".  The Elders do that too, for elderly people.  I have seen mothers gently instruct their little ones to do this, if they are shy or forget.  They say, "bless, bless" , very gently.  
One more thing about the children here.  They are held in the hand of God.  We see them in such dangerous situations.  In the States, they would all be gone.  The mortality rate would be 100%!!
Here they grow up to be hardworking and kind.  We were warned at the MTC to not be tempted to bring anyone home with us, or to facilitate the bringing of anyone to the US.  If I get home without some of these children in my suitcase, it is going to be a miracle!
So far, Elder Schlager says his favorite thing in the Philippines is the beauty of the place.  We drive all over, and the views are spectacular.  This is the view from the deck of the house where the Sampaloc Branch meets.                                                                                                                                                                      Now, they are harvesting rice, and they bring it to the road, and spread it out with brooms, and let it dry in the sun before it goes to the mill.  We all just drive around it!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is Habitat for Humanity, Philippines style.  These people were displaced by the typhoon  in 2009, to this neighborhood outside of Tanay, and we went out to see some members there.  Very very different from Ondoy.  They build the houses, and then live in them.  There are several streets of them, and the men have to work 2000 hours to pay off their house, building for the next family.  Quite a few members live there.   It is a little cinder block  one room house with a concrete floor.  They put up curtains to divide the  living area from the sleeping area.  Furniture might be a wooden bench, and some plastic chairs or table.  Everyone, no matter how they live, has family photos on the walls and some stuffed toys around.                                                                                                                                                                                                   Relief Society in Sampaloc  

School grounds in Tanay

We spent Saturday in Quezon City, at the Mission Home, watching 3 sessions of General
Conference with most of the seniors in our mission.  We had a lovely catered lunch, and enjoyed it very much.  Afterward, President Revillo met with us again, and has added to our duties.  We will now be also assisting the Horseley's with the management of the housing, most likely the eastern half, out around us.  This is a big job, including maintenance, supplies, contracts and moves, when necessary.  Most likely, at some point, our pretty little Toyota will become a van (ugh!) or a truck.  But, we can definitely be busier, and they need help.  


I was afraid he was going to suggest we move to Sampaloc, or out to Mindoro.  That might be a problem.  We came over here one month ago, in five suitcases.  Now, to move, we would need a moving van!!



Sunday, October 6, 2013

WEEK FOUR

WE had a pretty good week.  Unfortunately, Elder Schlager contracted a bug of some kind, and was under the weather for Thurs and Fri.  He is feeling  better now, and we are moving again.  It is hard here, because at home I can call a friend and get out.  Here, until I get  more confident about driving, I am pretty much housebound!  Pretty boring, and frustrating.  I am glad he is better!  I spent most of Thurs watching an NCIS marathon.  (Yes, sorry to admit it.  I am sure I COULD have been more productive.)

In response to a specific request, here is more food news.  Adobo is VERY popular over here.  This tasted great to us, but we don't know what it is supposed to taste like!  If you want to try a pretty authentic Filipino dinner, this is a good start.  I actually chose a whole, fresh chicken, thinking I could make sure it was cleaned properly inside before cooking it.  However, the young woman behind the counter took it, unwrapped it, and chopped it to pieces with a meat cleaver!  I could recognize the legs, when it came back.  Everything else was a pile of meat and bones.  In the future, I will not let that happen.  The little bits of odd bone were in everything!


Filipino Chicken Adobo
Ingredients:
4-5 lbs Chicken Thighs  (or pieces)    
4-5 garlic cloves         
½ cup white vinegar                             
1 tsp. black peppercorns
½ cup soy sauce                                   
3 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Cover and marinate chicken for 1-3 hours.  Bring to boil, then lower heat.  Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Uncover and simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened and chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes.  Serve with steamed rice.  
The orange sauce on the side is Sweet Chili Sauce.  We love it!  I could eat rice all day long, with soy sauce and sweet chili sauce.  Really recommend it for Asian dishes.

Now, for some of the questions we get.  This is my washer.  Next to the internet, and the electronics that make it possible for us to stay in touch with all of you, it is my most valuable and favored possession over here.  WE ARE very connected!

 We purchased this when we arrived, and the church has reimbursed us for it. It sits outside, in our back porch area, and draws water from the faucet nearby.  It does a great job, and sits next to the counter with a sink in it for messier jobs.  (We have a lot of those. )  Unfortunately, next to it is my "dryer".   We have to hang dry everything, and I really don't dry much outside.  I have a line upstairs, and a few other places, like a hanging rack they all sell and use here.  Laundry is harder, takes longer, and Marivik actually scrubs things on a washboard with soap for us, when needed.  But, everyone always looks so clean.  I don't know how they do it.  
Incidentally, there is no hot water.  We have a small heater in the shower, which gives us warm water to bathe in.  All laundry is done in cold or sort of tepid water.  If you want hot water to do dishes, you have to heat it.  Like going camping!

We have a filter on the water faucet in the kitchen, and buy water in big bottles to use for drinking and cooking.  

I wash everything fresh that we buy, when we get it home, in a bath of filtered water with a little chlorine in it.  Then rinse and refrigerate.  As you can see from above, we DO eat salads.  And quite a bit of fruit. Meals also take longer, to prepare and to clean up. 







The good things in our week began on Sunday.  We attended in the Malaya branch for the first time.  We have four elders working out there, and it is way south of us, right on the lagoon, at the farthest point of our mission.  More about the Lagoon another time.

Sunday was the Primary Children's program.  The Primary President is Sister Santos.  She is a living doll.  In Malaya, the sacrament and announcements are in Tagalog, but the program was in English.  The little children spoke and read as well as they could.  The songs are ALWAYS in English, no matter which branch we are in.  This is the entire primary.  They were all wearing crowns announcing that "I am a Child of God".  Two of them came running out to meet us when we drove up, thinking we were the Baileys, I believe.  We all drive the same car.  They work in the city and attend there every week, but were away last week.  The little boy, about 5, opened our car door looking for them. We were not a good substitute  as far as he was concerned!

Monday we went back into the city to the mission office for supplies, the PAO to pay for our car and consult Doc Jackson  (Don't worry, all is well!) and to find the MegaMall.  I wanted to get some crocheting supplies.  We got lost again, big time.

  We spent 1 1/2 hours driving around in circles around the mall, and got caught in a line of Jeepneys waiting for riders, and NOT MOVING until they filled up, for about 30 minutes, and then got out of that and went around a corner that is an illegal right turn during the day.  Then we got arrested, again.  AFTER the cop directed us around the corner.  Same story again as last week, except he kept saying "writing ticket.   Writing ticket now, sir."   We explained, but he just showed us where to pay it. So Elder S. asked him if we could just pay him, as again, we have no idea where to go to pay these things.  He was happy to let us do that, and said, " five hundred".  So, we gave him the P500, around $10.  

We have been here three weeks, been arrested twice, and bribed a cop!  Interestingly, it seems to have earned us some street cred with the other seniors.  Some of them have paid as much as P2000.  That is funny story number one.

Tuesday we drove out to Sampaloc again, and taught some of the same people, met some new ones, and took materials to Brother Besario.  They had been to church on Sunday, and brought 3 investigators with them!  So they arranged for the elders to teach them in their home.  This was all in Tagalog, so Elder and I were following along as well as we could, trying to keep up.  We frequently are asked to pray or bear testimony of something in these lessons, and we are trying to do it with more of the language.  We DO study.


One of the investigators was a lovely women, about my age, and a lifelong Catholic.  She listened to the Elders as they taught her all about the need for the Restoration, and what things had been corrupted by the passage of time after Christ was crucified and the apostles were killed.  She was really receptive and interested, and then said, " Well, I see that we are not supposed to baptize little children.  I am going to start teaching that in my class at church next week."   We all chuckled about that.  It will go well, don't you think?

This sister has now been to church twice and set a baptism date!

On Wed, we went to Malaya to teach.  It is a lovely, LONG, drive out there.  The Elders live in an apartment about a football field from the lagoon. If you look at a map of our Mission, you will see the big lagoon, or lake, that much of the mission abuts.  Malaya is in the very bottom little finger, on the side of the lagoon.  The people there fish in the lagoon, when they can, or farm in the rice fields.  We live somewhere near the middle of the mission, and Tanay is on the way to Malaya. Sampaloc is in the little finger to the east, in the mountains.  

We drove out to Malaya, and then picked up two elders and the Relief Society President, and continued driving down the little finger that runs into the lake.  There are little areas along the road of houses and businesses, but mostly it is either forest or farm land just off the road.  The fields are planted with rice, and these are the tractors!  


We taught several lessons, including a young man, Josue, who is scheduled for baptism this month, and his mother.  The elders had a pretty good audience:  Aren't they adorable? They sat for the entire time, just listening and smiling at us.  


Along the top of this picture, you can just see that there is a little village in the trees.  The Relief Society President, Sister Camungao, has been a member for 7 years and does not speak much English.  She wanted very much to go visit a sister who has recently sent her youngest son on a mission, but who is not attending now.  So, we set off across this rice field, along with Sister Santos, the Primary president, to walk about 1/4 mile to the little neighborhood.  There was a concrete irrigation ditch, about 15 inches wide, running with water.  We walked back and forth on a muddy little path that ran along one side or the other.  Sister Santos, in her impeccably clean flip flops and bare feet, never so much as picked up a drop of dirt.  So, I of course, fell flat on my face!   

Now, I have two young elders, horrified and picking up my broken glasses and apologizing all over the place.  And the RS Pres. and Primary President trying to fix me.  Not that Elder Schlager wasn't concerned----he is just used to it!   I handed Sister Santos some wipes from my purse and asked her to clean the mud off my face and tell me if I was bleeding.  I was, a little bit, and I have some scrapes that are healing.  My hair mostly covers them!   

Poor Elder Loste and Elder De Paz.  Neither of them speaks English that well.  Only about three of our elders are foreign, the other 9 are natives and speak varying degrees of English.  Elder Loste, says, "Sister, are you still going on to the visit?"  I told him, I was fine, and of course.  
So we went in, saw this sweet women, the elders taught  her the importance of keeping her covenants, and she just looked at them and thought, " They have no idea  what I am going through". She had invited us all in to her little front "porch", found us seats, and brought a fan to keep us cool.  But she cried.  She is raising four grandchildren, her youngest son and the only man in the house is gone on a mission, and she gets scolded because she can't bring the little ones across the field, catch a trike, and make it into Malaya for church every Sunday.  I suggested that a Priesthood blessing might be something that she would desire.  She asked Elder Schlager to give it, and they all went inside her little front "room" and the blessing was offered.  


Then we all hiked back through the rice fields into a beautiful sunset, happy and ready to go home.  On the way home, Elder Loste says to me:  "Wow, Sister, you are TOUGH!"
That is the second funny story from this week!

I don't know why we have been so blessed as to be here, in this place, with these amazing people.  I am trying to learn everything we are here to learn.  But, honestly, we are having SO MUCH FUN!!