Sunday, December 8, 2013


I HATE to admit it, but this is one of the most common phrases at our house these days.  Things are strange to us, of course, and also hard to understand some times.  "It's the Filipino Way" is an expression used to explain many things, and even the church leaders have spoken about the difference between "The Filipino Way" and the right way.  However, we are trying hard to be appreciative and welcome guests in a country not our own, and not be judgmental or critical.  So, we made a resolution this week.  From now on, we are trying to say


SO, I am going to begin this post with some of the INTERESTING things we noticed.  For instance, do you think it is interesting that they decorate for Christmas with snow men?  They even play Christmas carols everywhere, including "Frosty the Snowman" and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas".  But Elder S had to explain in Sunday School one Sunday morning what snow is, and the cold that the Martin Handcart Company endured.

Or, these signs are all over on buildings both in the city and out here.  This one is a few doors down from the Sister Missionaries in Antipolo, in a gated community. A Lady Bedspacer is someone who rents part of your bed!   Or part of a bed, with other strangers.

 In the house next to us, there is a man named Nelson.  Not really sure what he does, but he drives a van, usually parked in the front of the house, making it difficult for us to get into our driveway and park.  But they are friendly.  Also there is a lovely young woman, his "househelp".  She seems to speak no English, except to say Good Morning, and Coffee.  Last week, they decided to go into the restaurant business.  Suddenly, she was outside under a canopy, with a display case of foods prepared for breakfast.  Next day, another canopy and a dining table.  The day after that, a barbecue, and dinner, and the day after that, another dining table, another canopy, signs, and music.  

They serve early morning and night, and people come on trikes, etc, and sit and visit and eat!  Actually, we came home one night and I bought some to be neighborly.  However, Elder thought it looked good, barbecued pork and chicken, and so he ate it for dinner.  I tasted the pork.  Not Too Bad!  Of course, they are not the only  "Tindahan"  operators in the neighborhood.  Many many people use their homes as their businesses.  (See the picture at the top, just up the road from us, of a busy little store decorated for Christmas.)

There don't seem to be any zoning laws here, and frankly, as paranoid as I am about government interventions, they could use SOME.   We drive into town along a road lined with shacks and chicken cages, where they raise, butcher, and sell the chickens.  Behind it is a new neighborhood of nice condos, and their front windows look down on the "chicken alley".   How's that for a "room with a view"?

Or, this work crew. They are building a rock wall for several kilometers along the Marcos Highway, over the mountain between the city and Sampaloc.  It is all done by hand; unloading the rocks and sand and concrete, stacking the rocks, cementing it all together.  It looks really great, and will protect the highway from debris coming down the hill in storms.  But, the labor is fascinating.  Over here, you can rent equipment, work ten days, and have the job done.  Or you can hire a crew, work 10 months, and put food on the table for a lot of families.  They usually choose option B.  It is "the Filipino Way".

Yep, that's a rooster!! 
Have I mentioned that the days begin VERY early in the Philippines??  
And mine usually begins with some of these crowing and waking me up.  That is often about 2:30 AM.  We live in a suburban neighborhood, but these are not just pets.  Rooster fights are legal and popular, and they fight to the death, according to Sister Jensen.  (With gambling, of course.)  You see rooster farms, where each one has his own little hut, and they are tethered there, as this one is.  You also see them in the poorest neighborhoods, tethered with a small cage.  But we also see them in the yards of the "squatter" houses, and they are there to  keep the hens at home, who walk all over the place, and sometimes on us.  OK, here is my funny story for the week.  When we go to help the Elders teach, they are amazing.  It is like being with Alma and Amulek, the spirit is so strong and powerful.  But, Elder S says the stronger it is, the more likely we are to have a rooster crow right in the middle.  Sometimes they are even under our feet or next to us on the table, and we have been known to jump pretty high!

I have to admit, I am not a fan of fowls, except at my birdbath and feeders!  

We Eat quite well over here, mostly, when we have the time to cook.  We are becoming especially fond of a big batch of stir fried veggies over rice, and it is easy, once the vegetables have been purchased, washed, rinsed, and refrigerated!  

But I am getting a little tired of chicken, so often I use no meat, and we eat a LOT of bananas.  

How much do you (want to) know about bananas?

They come in so many different varieties over here, from three inches to 8 inches, brown, gold, yellow, and green,  and they are sometimes wonderful and sometimes not so much.  Have you ever eaten boiled bananas?  Sister Eva offered them one day at her house.  She just puts them in a pot and covers them with water and boils them for about 20 minutes.  Then, she put a big bowl of them out on the table, gave us all a dish and spoon, and we put them in the dish, peeled them, and ate them!  They taste different, more like a vegetable than a fruit.  But not bad!  

In the life of a banana, the time between "perfectly ripe" and "overripe" can be but a fleeting moment. That's why God invented banana bread.

We gets lots of fruit, and have tried several new kinds.  Mostly, they are not winning any awards with us!  But the mangoes are wonderful and sometimes the oranges are good, although seedy!  

This week, I couldn't face more chicken, so I made Beef Barley Soup, with hamburger.  But, no barley, so it has rice in it, (of course), and we tried a new vegetable.  It is Chayote or Sayote, or  vegetable pear.  Elder S saw one in a sister's kitchen, and asked her about it.  She said it tastes like celery, and it sort of does.  I threw it in the soup for a new taste, but it is so mild, it is almost like zucchini.  I think you could use it for anything.

WE DID work this week, too!   On Tuesday we were with the Elders all day, at their district meeting and then preparing their songs and skits for the Mission Christmas Party.  
On Wed, we had a great privilege.  We took Sister Perez, along with Sister Tingey and Sister Dudas to the temple.  The Jensen's came also, with two Elders, Wilde and Anderson.  After the session, we all went into the sealing room to seal her parents and grandparents.  Here she is, a happy woman.   

Thursday we were in Tanay, for teaching several families.  This is the Aurillo family.  Their father returned on Thursday from Saudi, where he has been working for FOUR years!   Three sons, two daughters, all members.  They had made an appointment with the elders, and we got there before they did, so we watched them all climb out of the transport van and welcome us in.    Can you imagine that they welcomed us to come in and teach their family?  But they did, and it was really a special time.  
The oldest boy is married, and his wife is pregnant.  She chose not to be photographed.

 This is the girlfriend of the next son, an investigator.  She wants to be baptized, but cannot while living in his home.  But, she has nowhere else to go, except home to another island, and she wants to do it here.  A challenge for the branch, to step up and find an option for her!  Sorry, I forgot her name.

And this is the Dela Pena family, baptized on Saturday in Malaya.  Father Noel, Mother Elvie, and Daughter Erica.  The little boy was too young, of course.  They have a story too.  Elder Blessant has been teaching them since he came 4 months ago.  But, they were not married.  So, he had to arrange a wedding for them first!  They were married on Thursday, and the baptism finally accomplished on Sat.  Confirmed today.  Happy family.

Although we seemed to get a slow start, we are now busy all the time.  One of the first things we were told, was that "senior couples" plan their own schedule.  I know that is not true for many assignments, but in MLS it absolutely is!  And we have to make decisions all the time about where we might be able to do the most good.  Many of our efforts are small and probably not significant in the big picture.  but we love the work, and the people, and the opportunity to serve our Heavenly Father.  We love those of you who we left behind, too, and pray for you always.

Mother Teresa

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