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.  


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