Sunday, June 29, 2014

This has been a

THERE is so much to write about, I could not wait to get started.  After the past entry to my "journal", I really wanted to record all the great things that have been happening.  
Another really terrific FHE with the seniors. We lost two couples we have loved, Woods and Jacksons, and got two more, the Kastelers, and the Morrisons. 
The Kastelers are both nurses, and are now taking over the care of our ailing missionaries (from ALL the missions here in the Philippines) at the MRC (Missionary Recovery Center.)  They are just fabulous.  I have been over there three times this week, and it feels like a home over there.

The Morrisons replaced the Jacksons, and he is the new Medical Adviser for the mission.  Warm and wonderful.  What does a medical adviser do?  Well, when we got here, Elder Schlager had a bad bout with his back.  We texted to Elder Jackson, and he texted back what to get at the pharmacy (pain pills and muscle relaxer.)  We went to Mercury Drug and got it.  No more back problem.  And, I had a lump in my arm our second week.  I dropped by, asked him if it was the dreaded "arterial thrombosis" (blood clot) from the long flight over here.  He said, "no, it's fat!"  I said, "if it isn't going to kill me, I am going back to work!"
They also order tests for the missionaries at the Hospital when necessary, and counsel Mission Presidents on ailing missionaries.  THEY do not write prescriptions, but you don't need them here, anyway.

At FHE, we played "family feud".  What a riot!  Here are the Johnsons, master(s) of ceremonies and generally hilarious couple. They are so crazy, but the parties are just great fun!

Elder Nielson has been released as Area President, and he and Sister Nielson are returning to Salt Lake to serve in the Missionary Department.  Elder Ardern will become Area President, Elder Bowen comes to replace him as First Counselor, and Elder EchoHawk remains as Second Counselor.  So, we were invited to a devotional and reception for the Nielsons. 

Elder EchoHawk, Elder Ardern, Sister Nielsen, Elder Nielsen, Brother Tapp, Director of Temporal Affairs.
Elder Ardern wrote an ODE to the Nielsens.

An Ode to Elder and Sister Nielson
Ian S. Ardern
The Nielson's came from Idaho
And now...oh no! It is time for them to go
They arrived in 2011
Looked, smiled and said, "Hey, we're in heaven"

For three short years they've been here
And they have traveled everywhere
Giving their Magandang Umaga
But sadly it's now time for their Sayonara

They're from Idaho and love potato
But now...they're Filipino...and love adobo
He likes it most with cold rice
And not just once a day nor twice but thrice

A counselor he was to Michael Teh
And when he left he got to stay
The Area President he then became
And the pace he set was insane

A counselor I was again
And right now a counselor I wish I could remain
Away to far flung places we would fly
And we always wished it was to Boracay.

The delayed flights were on PAL
And occasionally he would growl
But Elder Nielson, you will miss all that
And will soon wish that you were back

And lest you think I have forgotten
Sister Nielson has also done a lot of 'trottin'
She has been everywhere
But be assured...on leaving here there will be tears

The Filipino economy will soon be in decline
 As Sister Nielson won't be in the shopping lines
Oysters are sighing with relief
The pearls she has purchased are beyond belief
It is true...the pearl ladies at Greenhills
Now won't be able to pay their bills

With Sister Ardern, La Isla was their project
It made poor Ed almost sick
Get rid of this and bring us that
Move that here and bring that back

But look what we have got...
We pause to thank you both a lot
La Isla does not look the same
And now for you to leave is such a shame

But back to America you both must go
Yet there are two more things you should know
One, you have helped us to grow
And two, all here gathered love you so.

And, we had a beautiful reception afterward, held downstairs in the PAO fleet garage!  
Just one of three tables of food.
standing tables, to eat at and hear the choir sing.

SEE, it really is MORE FUN (and a little bit funny) in the PHILIPPINES!  

We actually got home at a resonable hour on Wed night, and had some dinner, and were resting.  I was in the bedroom, and the bed began to shake.  Finally, I got up and went down the hall to the living room.  Elder S said, "Are you feeling that? "  Well, yes, and things were shaking a little bit, and swinging.   No big deal--been there before, twice!  
But sure enough, it was a 5.6, centered between us and Mindoro.  Not sure I like the idea of an earthquake when I am on the 15th floor.  
Just FYI, Sheffers live on the 28th floor of their building , and had a fire this week.  No elevators for a couple of days, then only to the 22nd floor for a couple of more days.  THAT's an exercise plan!

Marivic and Jhun went to the temple!  
As you see, they were well attended.  The Johnsons brought them down early, with their kids, and took care of all the details, including a small miracle.  Jhun had asked us to be proxy for his parents at the sealing, but we were not able to to get him on to Family Tree on Monday.  So, we could not tell if they were ready to have their work done.  Well, the Johnson's went with them to the Family History Center  across the street, and they could not find the parents.  But, they left it with them, and a little while later they called over the temple to see if the Johnsons could do the work.  YEAH!  
We went, with Whittakers, to the temple for the sealing.  And we were able to represent his parents when Jhun was sealed to them.  It was POURING rain when we came out, so the pictures were a little bit difficult, but here they are with Jhun Mark, 14, Marjorie, 12, Maria Jane, 9, and Rolando III, (Tiguro) 7. The Peraltas.  Another Eternal Family.

One of our challenges has been clothing. We came with enough, but we still have a high fatality rate!  I can shop here pretty well, but Elder just can't.  We had several pairs of his pants altered, but they still are SO loose on him.  Finally, we were walking in a new mall and found:
A great little tailor shop.  So, I sort of dragged Elder S inside, and we learned and ordered a pair of pants for him.  (The missionaries do it all the time, at the public markets, but I have seen the results and we needed a slightly different look and shape!) We chose the fabric, the tailor did a lot of measuring and listened when we said a little narrower in the leg and adjustable waistband.
On Friday, we picked them up, and immediately ordered another pair just like them.  
THIS was a win for our side!  He looks great, the price is comparable to what we pay at home on sale, and it was really easy.  
Also, on Friday, I was finally able to get Elder S to take me swimming.  It has been a battle, but we have GOT to find more time to exercise.  It was a lovely morning, no one down there but us, and we enjoyed it so much.  

So, we went again on :

Which was the beginning of another day.  We started out slow, and had our swim and a nice breakfast.  Then, we went out to Maligaya to the Peraltas.  They were having a party to celebrate their day at the temple.  It began an hour late, as they had a baptism in their branch first, and THEY always begin an hour late.
But, here we are,   and the Jardines
And the decorations, 

Some of the guests, (there was a crowd),   and a game of marbles going on,
Here I am with Marjorie, my girl. a little taller than the picture of us together back in September!  She is a Young Woman now.  Her dad tells me that she says to him, "Papa, I have to go to Young Women tonight",  and he says, "Okay!!"
 Not as easy as putting her in the car or walking her over, but he gets it done!  

There was a ton of food, and I think Marivic cooked all day.  Johnsons also brought food (Filipino spaghetti and hot dogs and fruit Salad) and I brought two cakes and drinks, but we could not stay to eat.  WE had to leave to go to a Baptism in OUR branch.  (Because that is what we do.

PQCM--we baptize!

This is Carlo Elporlas, with our missionaries and his family.  The happiest person there was his mom, red hair.   This was the last of her children to join, except of course, the little one in her arms.   

 Here is Carlo bearing his testimony.  I included it to show what the dress code is for baptisms here.

Just another day at Primary.  Not really.  We had a very large group today, and I had a big balloon bouquet, and had them burst balloons to find the name of the next song.  They loved it, of course. They sang GREAT.  But after I went into Relief Society, the Primary President came into the joint meeting to make an announcement.  
This branch is almost ALL in Tagalog, but I am understanding more and more.  (Side note: When they send seniors here, they call it 'English Speaking', meaning, I am sure, that that is what we are.  And, you CAN get along alright and survive, but you can't honestly contribute very much.  When I get home, I am sure my answer to "what was the hardest part of your mission? " will be, "not being able to talk to the people".)
So, today Sister Domingo comes in to make this announcement.  When she left, I said to Elder Ganal, 
"Did she just say that the Primary is doing a roadshow?"
"Yes, she did".
And did she say it will be the story of Samuel the Lamanite?"
"Yes, she did."
"And did she say that the children will need costumes, including a bow and arrow, so that they can shoot arrows at Samuel?"
"Yes, that is what she said."  
Watch this space to see how THAT goes!

Driving back to the office from the Temple on Thurs, it was still raining hard, but I took this picture of a beggar child in the traffic, trying to sell
flowers for some pesos.  I could not help comparing him to the Peralta children, above, recently in the temple with their parents.  What a different future these children are going to have.  

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