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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!
School grounds in Tanay
We spent Saturday in Quezon City, at the Mission Home, watching 3 sessions of GeneralConference 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!!