HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CARTER AND ISABELLE!
I really think I am holding up pretty well over here, so far, but you can see poor Elder Schlager is aging fast, and his birthday was very hard on him!
Parties, parties, and more parties!!
This week began with two Halloween parties on Monday. First, we met all the young missionaries in Morong for their p-day party. I cooked 4 pork loin roasts in my crock pot, for days, to make pulled pork sandwiches for them.
Sounds easy, right? Well, first you have to find a pork cut that you recognize. Two trips to S&R. Over here, the pork is good, and plentiful. However, a port butt is likely to be the top half of a leg, still covered with the hide, and with the foot attached or in the same package. Then, there is no JACK STACK rub or barbecue sauce. Elder S went on line, found a recipe, and we shopped and then improvised, and made our own rub. We settled for Kraft BBQ sauce, happy to find it. It was good! Different, but good! They all brought fruit, chips, drinks, veggie plates, and other stuff. Sister Jensen made orange icing (also a minor miracle) and brought cupcakes for them to decorate, with lots of choices for their decorations. She also brought the donuts for the contest.
This was a lot of fun, as Elder Vea is demonstrating here with Elder De La Serna. Sister Kahui was a good sport, and all the sisters eventually took their turn, but by the time we got to this game, they had all eaten so much I think the Dunkin Donuts were not that enticing!
What makes a good prize for a winning missionary? Well, Something he remembers from home, of course!
Then they went out to play basketball, and Elder McCoy, in the door with a brace on his knee, managed to sprain his ankle, too!
I tell you, you take your eyes off them for five minutes...........!
And then we went on to another party, at a really gorgeous home in the city, where the McAllisters live. He is a full time church employee, in the legal department here.
They had us all there for a chili and cornbread supper and we decorated more cupcakes, to take to share with the people in our neighborhoods and apartment buildings. It was a lot of fun, but boy were we tired!!
The next day, we had a district meeting, and then out to Sampaloc to work, and Elder McCoy was bravely walking around on his wrapped ankle. We went to another relocation village, high up in the mountains. See how gorgeous it is out there? But they live in little shelters all over the hill, around a dirty stream that is all they have for water.
The Elders found it a little while back, and talked to a man, and he said, "can you come back and teach me and my friends?"
However, they have no cell reception, so you can't make appointments with them, they work on the mountain making charcoal when they can, and are paid in food. They rarely have any money, so won't be able to come in to church.
Here is the village:
Still, they welcomed us and we taught them in their "kitchen", with his sister on the right with her baby. He and his wife have the two little ones, and the little girl between them was just really funny. Already learning to read, which I am not sure her mother can do, and she had a tiny yellow pocket on her shorts, with a very tiny banana in it, which she pulled out and ate during the lesson.
Just one of the boys!!! Elder tells me he needs one of the bags the guys carry to hold their pamphlets and scriptures and things! We got him one for his birthday.............
On Wed, we began our new duties as housing missionaries, with a day long trip out to see where most of the missionaries live and how you deliver the things they need. We spent the day with Elder and Sister Horsely, who have been doing ALL 50 + of the apartments for the last 6 months. They drive a nice big van, and when the missionaries need things, they order them. Horsely's purchase and deliver, everything from bug spray and dish soap to sheets, new mattresses, and desks. There is a member who builds the desks, drying racks, bunk beds, etc.
Some places are hard to drive into, so they deliver by Trike.
Haven't told you much about the trikes. They are everywhere, a motorcycle with a side car and a roof, and most of them are part of a Trike Owner Driver Assoc. which means they are owned by a company who hires the drivers. They say AMTODA, or SMGTODA, or something. on the back. Elder calls them todas, not trikes, and it is sometimes very much a four letter word! They are the taxis in the Provinces, as they charge a flat rate for the distance, and if you can "share a cab" your cost is lower. So, sometimes they put about 10 people on them! Jeepneys are more like a bus----each person pays the same, regardless of how many are on it. They get overloaded, too. Sometimes people are all over the roof, going down a steep hill at high speed.
The young missionaries can't take the trikes, too dangerous. But Elder Schlager and Elder Horsely jumped right on, with the driver and his son, and two fans, and a box of supplies, and a pillow, and headed off to the the Tanay Elders, who were ill that day. You can just see Elder Horsely sliding on to the seat behind the driver. You can also see, in the trike behind them, the people trying to be polite and not laugh too hard! I suppose I could have gone, too, there is room on Elder's lap! A lot of these are privately owned, as well, and are the "family car".
Thursday more teaching, back out to Malaya. Remember Josue? Well, we were teaching his mother. And, we had another Branch Missionary with us. I wish I had her picture. 19 years old, joined in July, after her 23 year old brother. Now, her parents and younger brother are planning for baptism! She is lovely, and so sweet.
Friday we took the morning off and went in to the temple. One year to the day since we woke up and found ourselves retired! WHAT A YEAR IT HAS BEEN!
Another party! We went to Jensen's for a pizza party to celebrate Elder S's birthday and to say "goodbye" to Elder Alvarez. He is going home. Not that he has a home to go to, really, But, he has learned English, and to be a leader. I told him to stand tall, those narrow shoulders of his are going to have to carry a heavy load back out in the country, as he is a "stake of zion" all by himself. He squared his shoulders and said, "I want to be a good leader". Here he is in the middle, with his companion, Elder Fausi, after eating his first corn dog! He asked me, "What is this?"
Many of our Elders come from other areas of the Philippines, and even Tagalog is not their first language. So, they learn two! English, which is required so they can go home more employable, and Tagalog, which they mostly teach in. We are just in awe of them. They have to be told all the time not to send their support money home to their families! We had a cake, for both of them, with Happy Birthday and Goodbye on it, and balloons, and lots of food. Vanessas family, Marivics family, the Borhas, baptized last week. Another family there got baptized on Saturday!
Anyway, kids, stop nagging us. WE have finally decided where we want to be stashed!! Just pile us on top of each other away from the road! (Joke Lang! ) that means, just kidding!
Several Things you might find surprising:
I have been cold more than I have been hot. I should have brought the two sweaters I didn't pack at the last minute! This is the cooler season, and the air con is sometimes too much. Won't stay that way, though.
The beautiful people here don't like their dark skin. Seems they want to be lighter. So, they carry umbrellas in the sun more than in the rain, and don't like it if I don't have one, to protect my skin. Also, you have to be careful when you buy skin care products, as most of them have a "whitening" agent in them, which is not healthy.
There is English everywhere, and they seem to read it alright, but don't like to speak it, at least not out here where we are. And more than you think, can't read.
Eggs are never refrigerated! Well, except at my house!
We bought an adapter for the AC/DC thing, really worried about our electronics. Turns out, almost everything, computer, tablets, cell phones, even our electric toothbrush, are dual voltage.
I have had a lot of questions about the hygiene over here. Sorry, but most of it is too graphic for my grandchildren to read! So, just ask over the phone or in emails. But, this is a basic survival kit, and if you are lucky, there might be a place to use it. Never leave home without it.
A couple of things that might NOT surprise you:
Elder S. has, after a few hairy starts, learned to navigate the traffic and the traffic laws very well. We get where we are going, on time, and pretty calm, mostly.
I DO not consider a gecko in my bathroom "good luck". I had to go gecko hunting yesterday before I could shower, and, I am not mentioning any names here, but my HERO preferred ignoring the dragon to defending me from it. So, I chased it around, they move really fast, finally covered him with the trash can, slid a piece of plastic underneath, turned it up, and carried him outside. He either was, or played dead. I probably gave him a heart attack with all my chasing. Better him than me!!!!
I love Visiting Teaching. I have a very strong testimony of that wonderful program. So, I have a story to share that I hope you will enjoy. The Senior Sister Missionaries shared it with me this week.
Recently, just before I came, they planned and held a "women's conference" for the women in the mission. The purpose: to help the Relief Societies here "catch the vision" of Visiting Teaching. About 100 women came, from all over the mission. The missionaries, all of them older and mostly from the US, did the usual things to make it fun and interesting. They had lunch, (of course) But, they also had to begin right at square one, with what VT is and how we do it and why we do it, bearing in mind the many challenges these women have.
They all thought it went pretty well, and felt satisfied with their efforts. The next day, Sunday, Sister DuPaix went out to the ward they are assigned to. The RS pres there had worked all night, and proudly showed her the VT districts and routes she had prayerfully arranged. There were THREE visiting teachers to each route.
Poor Sister DuPaix!! She thought they had not really understood, and she felt bad about it. She gently explained that usually, visiting teachers go "two by two", like the elders do. This sweet woman, said, "Oh no, Sister. In the Philippines we need Three sisters, so that two can go, and they don't know when they will be home again. The third one has to stay home and do all their work and tend their children."
Not really sure who is teaching whom, out here!