Saturday, December 13, 2014

The typhoon that was, and then wasn't.........

We were told that this storm was bigger, and meaner, than Yolanda.

We were ready. We prepared, we planned, we provided, and we prayed.

Ultimately, we had over 3,000 emergency food kits ready, and so did the mission in Naga and the ones in Cebu. These were for the members we fully expected to have to shelter in our buildings during and after the storm.

By noon on Sunday, the truck was packed and ready to go. They were still telling us that Monday was going to be really bad in Manila. We were all safely in and waiting by Sunday night. Guess what? It fizzled out. We got a little rain. A very little rain. Elder and I swam that morning.  This time, the Philippines was protected.  

However, in case you think we do not work over here, I have to tell you that when I got dressed today, I chose the shoes I wore on Saturday. I could not figure it out at first. They were 

Full of rice! 

I am still teaching music

to the Primary in Binangonan. Now that the program is over, we are having fun with Christmas music.  I am not sure if I ever showed this.  This is the music stand I had built for the Primary, to hold the songs we teach them.  They sing and sing, but it really is hard for them to remember all the English words.  So, I write them, and we hang them up and they can read as they go.  It is good practice for them, also, in preparing to serve in the church.

Here is another nativity:

please note the sign over the manger.  This is quite common here.  It says:  If you are wondering why the manger is empty, it is because we are eagerly anticipating the Birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, on Dec 24th.  Merry Christmas.   Look for Him here on Christmas Day.

One of Elder's jobs is the mail.  

This requires that we go to the Quezon City Post Office about once a week.  We take all the mail our missionaries are sending by post.  (There is another entire facet of the Pouch Mail)  We also take the "package" cards that are delivered here, to tell us to pick up packages at the post office.  Of course, it is Christmas time.  So, we go with cards to pick up 7 or 8 packages and come back with 30.  It is at least a 2 1/2 hour trip each time.  About 4-5 miles!  
Well, While Elder is picking up all the packages, and signing for each one individually, in the book they manually wrote it down in when it arrived, according to it's assigned number, (Lots of notebooks), I go do the mailing.
We have to list, first, all the letters and packages individually, so that the missionary can have his postage costs deducted from his support.  Then, If I am lucky, NONA is there.  SHE has a postal meter.  She divides them up by area, after she looks through the lists to decide WHERE Tonga, or Kiribati, or Ceylon is.  (Can't blamer her for that.  I don't know where half of the places are either!)
But, if she is not there, I have to use the other window.  SHE has no postal meter.  She gives me stamps to stick on the letters, and then I have to record on my list the cost of each piece of mail.  Sometimes, this is done with a wet, dirty sponge, in a bowl.   Yuck. That is if the stamps actually have any glue on them.  
First, she has to weigh the letter, on a scale that I am sure is a relic from an old meat shop.  She records on the letter it's weight. Now, she is ready to find the area of the destination.  She has a mimeographed set of sheets for that.  Usually has to ask someone.  With the weight and the area, she looks at another list to determine the cost of the postage  Then, she has a book, and the stamps are filed in it according to denomination.  She carefully tears off the right ones, replacing the sheets of stamps in the book where they go, and then writes down how much for each, confirms with me that she is giving me that amount of postage.  On occasion, I just had to wet the stamps and stick them.  Usually several per letter.  Last time, she handed me a pot of library paste and a 2 inch long plastic stick.  ARGHHHHHH.   There are real concrete reasons why I am not a "scrapbooker".  I nearly pasted myself to the counter.  Well, yesterday Nona was away again.  I guess I flunked "paste", because the other lady didn't even offer the paste to me, this time.
Here she is, carefully pasting the stamps on all of the letters and packages I took in.  
Finally, she adds up all HER calculations, has me confirm with her that the mail has all those stamps on it, and then tells me how much to pay.  I take the receipt and my record back to the office, and we prepare an invoice for Elder Yourglich, so that he can repay us. In turn, he takes the appropriate amount of postage off of each Elder/Sisters support for the month.   Usually, this all costs, packages (p100 each) included, about p4000 -p6000 (about $100 -150.)

Elder has a cold, 

so I am having a quiet day at home.  Well, sort of quiet.  I decided to make more candy for Christmas.  First, here is another recipe for you.  I found it on Pinterest.  
Peanut Butter Truffles
You need:  
1 Cup powdered sugar
1/2 Cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbls. butter, softened

White chocolate chips or bark for dipping them
Cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugar together until it will form in to a ball for you.
Shape into small balls, about the size of a hazel nut.  (Keep them small, they get bigger when you dip them.  Should get about 25 from this batch.)

Chill on waxed paper in the refrigerator until they are firm.
Melt your white chocolate in a microwave oven until you can stir up with no lumps left.  Working quickly, dip them in the chocolate and place back on the waxed paper.  When they cool, you can dribble the chocolate over them to make them "pretty".    And they are very good!

While I was at it,I decided to make two more batches of the Glazed Almonds.  Well, here is your funny story.  I forgot to turn off the flame on the stove before I added the vanilla to the boiling sugar.  Flames shot up everywhere.  I pulled the pan off the fire, and then there were MORE flames.  I am dealing with that, and Elder jumps up and says, 

"Your hair is on fire!"  He put it out with his hands.  
Fortunately, I have an appointment later with my Stylist,  Miss Ned,  She will put me back together again.  I am not burned, just disfigured

.And, here I am with Miss Ned and Rayne, my angels.  They did the  best they could with my hair coming out in wads in the comb, and stubs 3cm long on the crown of my head!  
Not too shabby for 67!  (They are 35 and 20).

Goodbye, Sister Cutia.  
 (Mission home is beautifully decorated for Christmas.)



Sunday, December 7, 2014

RIGHT NOW ........we are hanging in,

 waiting for the final dregs of Typhoon Hagupit to come through Manila. We have been expecting her for about 5 days, and she has been a mass of contradictions.   At first, it looked like it would be a worse disaster than last year, in Tacloban.  But, she danced on the water for a long time, and gave us plenty of time to get prepared.  The Church, of course, was in the forefront and on top of it.  

While I wait, I will try to catch up a little bit on what we have been doing.


Turkey is expensive here, and they really don't know what to do with it.  They don't eat it. And, of course, it is not a holiday here, either, so Thanksgiving Day is a work day for all of us.  But some of the Seasoned Missionaries were determined to try again to have a fairly traditional holiday.  So, we hired a caterer, and paid p500 each, (about $25 per couple), gave them recipes, and they tried.  Really tried.  This is the serving table.  

In some ways, it was just about like home.  All the Mama's in the kitchen.

All the dads, sitting around on the couches, waiting to be served.  
The Turkey was good, the pies were better than last year.  The Green Beans were in their sauce, but had not been cooked first.  The stuffing showed up after the dinner was all over, (nobody knew it was inside!) .  And, everyone ate too much.

However, we had fun, as we always do.  We played a game on gratitude.  But the highlight was the entertainment.   There is, south of us, a home for children from the streets.  No home or parents to care for them.  At present, there are 80 there, ranging from 1 week old to 16.  Eight of them came to sing and dance for us.  The video is far too long to post, but here they are, posing with us.
 As none of us had our grandchildren here, we borrowed some!

After the dinner,

Elder took me shopping, and I decided to buy some "South Sea" pearls.  These are the better quality pearls, and I had not done that before. So, I spent "to infinity and beyond" on a couple of rings and some earrings.  Two days later, back to the Bazaar.  Quilt still not ready, but I saw something I WILL need, if I keep buying jewelry!  Now, THAT is a jewelry box!  (Closet?  Room? )  

Christmas is coming...

The next day, we were invited to the Area Presidency Devotional and Christmas Luncheon.  Elder decided to stay and work.  (Another story!) but I went, with friends. 
It was wonderful, of course.  Here are Todd Tapp, our DTA (Director of Temporal Affairs for the Area) Elder Bowen, and President Ardern.  Elder EchoHawk is away in the States.  

 The area choir dressed up in sequins and sang for us.  (Filipinas like Bling.  Me, too.)
And Sister Bowen played the piano and sang "Mary's Lullaby" for us (beautifully, of course!)  
Then, back to the area fleet garage for a really special luncheon.  All of the employees of the church, (there are a LOT) were celebrated and honored.  Very nice for them.


And, it is still the Philippines.
So, of course, there are some "different" touches, like a Christmas tree built from Whiskey kegs.  

And, nativity scenes in every lobby, and most everywhere you look.  This is one of the things I REALLY enjoy about the Philippines.  It is a Christian Nation, and makes no bones about it.  No one seems to be at all offended, or even disturbed.  It just is what it is.
So, in the mood for a little Christmas, I began making treats.
These are the Glazed Almonds I have been making for years and years, since my Sister in Law taught me.  My granddaughter wrote for the recipe this year.  (I had to chase it down--didn't bring it.) 

2 cups whole, raw almonds
1 cup sugar
2 T. Butter
In heavy skillet, combine butter and sugar, cooking over medium heat, and when the butter melts, pour in the almonds and begin to stir.  Stir constantly, until the almonds are roasted and the sugar is melted and becomes a golden brown syrup.  Remove from heat, and stir in 1 tsp. vanilla.  Spread out as well as you can, on a sheet of aluminum foil.  (Move quickly, it will harden).  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Cool completely.  Break into 2-3 nut clusters.   (hitting it will a knife handle works well.)  Store in airtight (and in the Philippines, BUG tight) container.

      Bath time!!
Everybody is cleaning up for the holidays!  

And the Mall has  a  different holiday special going on every week.  This week, it was SHOE MANIA.
(Marikina is famous for being the shoe capital)  

Yes, these are actually cars.  

AND then, 

in the middle of the holiday cheer and fun, we got the news of Hagupit, a Super Typhoon threatening to be larger and more powerful than Yolanda, and aiming right at the same place.  So, emergency plans went into place.  President and Sister cancelled their trip to Mindoro this weekend, with their kids, to celebrate her birthday and to hold the Christmas Zone Conference down there.  All our vulnerable missionaries, (vulnerable to flooding) have been moved to safer apartments.  Plans and flights cancelled.  Parents notified and reassured.

  And, an emergency call to come and put together 3000 emergency food kits for the area.  So, back to the area/fleet garage, for a different kind of party.
  Elder Accaling and I repacking rice. Hot, dirty work.  It came from warehouses, I guess.  I asked Elder Ferrin, "where did it all come from?"  
"Well, you've seen those big green fields out there?"  
I told him, I knew that was a lie.  I have seen it all over the roads, and had to drive around it. But the church has storehouses here, as well.  Your fast offering and humanitarian funds at work. 

About 30 of the Seasoned Missionaries, our doctors, nurses, humanitarian people. MTC staff, etc.

My Team, our office staff. They were able to come because Saturday is THEIR p-day.  I was so proud of them, and they were a great deal of help.  Young and strong.  And fun. Sister Oyler, Sister Felipe, Elder Accaling, Elder Malmrose, Elder Yourglich, Elder Gako, Elder Natural, Elder Hart, Daniel, an investigator, and Elder Kaitani.  
Elder Olsen, our legal beagle, hamming it up with them.
Some results of the day's work.  Hundreds and hundreds of bags of rice, with sardines, corned beef, etc.  
 And, a pretty tired out work force.  

We went that night to a baptism.  Elders Yourglich and Accaling work about 50 hours a week in the office with us, but they are still missionaries.
Sometimes for them, it works out differently.  This week, a woman walked up to them, and said, "CAN YOU TEACH MY NON-MEMBER HUSBAND?"

"Well, yeah!  We can do that.!"  
First lesson was this afternoon..  Because that is what we do.  
Come holidays, parties, floods, typhoons, we baptize! .  

Happy Birthday to my dear friend   

 Maligayang Pasko  

 Mahal namin kayo