Sunday, January 18, 2015

Although we have been trying not to get "trunky",  

we HAVE begun thinking about going home.  So, we have purchased some things for gifts and some things for us:

  We had this quilt made, with blocks to represent all of our favorite things.  (Well, except for our missionaries!)  I had this ring made for me with one of the nice Southsea pearls I bought.  It had to be big to be more attention-grabbing than my age spots.  I edited them out of the picture, but I can't edit them off my hand!
We packed up a box of keepsakes, and shipped it home to Missouri. Here is Elder at the DHL office, arranging for it.  YES, it cost more than we paid for the things we shipped.  He sees that as a negative.   I, on the other hand, think it just proves how brilliant I was to purchase these things so cheaply!
And, of course, we had our plane tickets and plans for going home.


Another Change for us. 

  We have decided, for several reasons, to extend our mission for another 10 weeks.  Our February release has been officially changed to Mid May.  We feel really good about it, and President and Sister Revillo are glad, too, I think.  (Well, honestly, what COULD they say?  Thanks, but we are really hoping for somebody better?)  Anyway, at present no one is coming to replace us.  We have GOT to be better than nobody, right? 
And guess what?  Elder Ferrin tells us that he can extend us a week at a time up to 6 months.  After that, you have to talk to a lawyer, as it becomes a problem in the US to be out of the country for 2 years.  (Not so much for our young missionaries, but for those of us who own homes, are receiving Social Security, etc.)
We do plan, though, to come home in May.  At least we won't be coming from pretty hot to really cold.  More like, really hot to pretty hot.  That might be a good thing.  Especially since all my warm clothing is locked up in a storage unit. 

And, in the meantime, life goes on for us here.  Working, playing, resting and learning.

And now

back to work!   Here I am at a "working lunch" with Sister Revillo, Sister Johnson, Sister Sheffer, our STLs and the APs and TAs.  We were planning for the upcoming Zone Conference and for THE FIRST EVER IN QC HISTORY SISTER'S CONFERENCE, as Sister Revillo is calling it.  

The Elders said to me, "What are you doing?"  
"A conference for all the Sisters in the Mission"
"Oh.  What will you be doing"?
"Workshops, training, and a movie"
"Oh.  What will WE be doing?"

Note Sister Revillo here, like a gunfighter in the old west with a six-shooter in each hand, she has a phone in each hand!  Probably talking to one of her missionaries and the hospital or President at the same time.  All while ordering the birthday cake and singing happy birthday!

As two of them were celebrating birthdays, we had a birthday cake, full of bananas, covered with cream, and decorated with Chocolate Ganache.  Because we are women, and we COULD!
The Sisters told us what they wanted and needed.  There will be a workshop on how to exercise, which they are supposed to do every day for 30 minutes, but mostly, don't.  (None of us can relate to that, right?)  
Another workshop about Dress and Grooming, with emphasis on looking professional after a cold bucket shower, with crocs on your feet, and your makeup running down your face in the heat.  
Sister Sheffer will be doing a class on cooking:  I told her we need menus that cost P10  per serving and can be prepared in a frying pan over a gas burner and served with rice.
They do the same thing all the time.  Like really bad corned beef, in a pan, stirred up with eggs.  
Sister Johnson will be teaching them organizational skills, personal and work-related. 
Interesting, because they use planners, and literally every minute of their time IS planned, but some are still really struggling with keeping themselves together.
I have been asked to address "Self-Esteem".  Apparently, these incredible women often battle with self-doubt, and thinking they are not good enough or doing it well enough.  (Also, I think, something many LDS women can relate to.)  After all, a 16 hour day, packed every minute with work, could not possibly be good enough, right? 

Sister Johnson and I are working on a small trinket for them to take home.  More about that later.

Here is another

Filipino Dish for you.  It is Bicol Express, and the missionaries always ask us if we like it, because it is made with HOT peppers and can be pretty spicy.   I had not tried to make it before.  Basically, it is pork, cooked with shrimp paste or shrimp, in coconut milk, with peppers.  You serve it, of course, with rice.  I got the heat about right, first time.  What I forgot was how careful you need to be with peppers.  So, I burned my hands more than my tongue!   (There is actually a blister on my thumb from the capsaicin.)

You can try it yourself, there are recipes all over the internet for it.  STAY AWAY from the "pork belly", though.  I never use it.  It is just the fresh bacon, but as you will imagine, far too fatty for us.  I always use nice, lean pork loin for the dishes I make.  It is cheap and lovely, here.  

And, I decided to try a cake from Facebook.  Thank you, Niece.   I used to make something like this when all the kids were at home.  It is made with fresh apples, and really yummy.   Although I am very lucky to have had an oven all the time, I rarely bake.  Here, except for a semi-successful bout with Cabbage Burgers back in the day, and granola, I have not baked at all.  The other senior sisters make cookies, brownies, gluten-free desserts, etc.  But the bakeries here are SO good, I just don't see the need to work that hard.  Plus, if you bake it , you have the entire thing to eat.  Better a small treat at a time.   This one caught my fancy, though, and so I tried it.  We liked it, so I recommend it here for you.  (The rest of it will go to the office tomorrow!) 

One Bowl Apple Cake

2 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup oil
6 medium Gala or Fuji or Honey Crisp apples
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tbls vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and oil. Peel and slice the apples and add to mixture in bowl (coating as you go to keep apples from turning brown.) Mix together the baking powder and flour and add to the ingredients in the bowl. Mix well (best with a fork) until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet ingredients. Pour mixture into a greased one 9x13 or two 9″ round pans. Bake for approximately 55 minutes.

I glazed it, because why not add MORE sugar, if you can figure out a way to do it!

We have had a restful weekend, but tomorrow begins the three week rush of conferences and then transfers.  No time to think about why we are not packing.  Elder says he is going to feel sorry for himself on Feb 26.  (Warning me, I guess.)  I don't believe it, though.  I think he will be rejoicing that he is not on the plane, looking at 21 hours of 'uncomfortable', if not 'miserable'.

We shall see!

Friday, January 9, 2015


On New Year's Eve:

We were all supposed to be in by 5:00 pm. So, we worked, and then went home to party.  The Johnsons came in to spend the night with us, and we went to dinner.  Mexican!  Yummy!  Then we visited with Morrellos at their apartment:  Apple pie and Ice Cream.  Then, at 11:15, we met the Whittakers, and went to their 5th floor garden level to watch the fireworks.  (Might as well---nobody was going to sleep through THAT!
Got to bed at 1:30, got up at 5:00. No one can say we Seasoned Missionaries do not work  play hard!

On New Year's Day, 

we took the day off. Johnsons were celebrating their anniversary, and had not been out to Corregidor. So, four couples got up very early, and we got on the ferry and had a great time.   
Here are Elder and Sister Sheffer, Elder and Sister Peck,  Me, and Elder and Sister Johnson, and the door to one of the armory tunnels. (Not one of my better days---I look like I barely survived the war.) That island is riddled with tunnels, tiny and huge. When the Japanese came, they dug a lot more, sort of "fox hole" tunnels.  The government is still finding them. Corregidor Island is a National Park now. No one in lives there.      
It is a combination of natural beauty and sad commentary on the inhumanity of war.   

This is Jhazmay, nearly two.  We met her while walking on the street near our office.  There is a foundation here, Mabuhay Deseret, that provides surgery for cleft palate, club foot, and other needs of children in the Philippines.
Her mother and friend did not speak much English, but we got them to follow us to the office, where our Sister missionaries could talk to them.  We have referred her to Mabuhay, and hope that her surgery can be done before we go home.   Incidentally, we fell in love.  They had to hold her still so I could get a picture of her for the referral.  She was bouncing all over the office.  We gave her an orange, and she thought it was a ball, and kept trying to bounce it!


We had MLC.  All the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders meet with the President and APs for training and planning.  Sister Revillo always does a fabulous lunch for them, to which we are invited.  This time, they planned some fun for after the meetings.  
Bowling at the Eastwood Mall, where we live.  

Here are the leaders of our mission---great teachers.  Not so good at bowling!
I teased the Sisters a little bit.  They had changed to jeans, (for modesty, I am sure!) but the Elders still had their ties on. 
They had a great time.  
Then they picked up their mail and orders from us, (changed to skirts!)  and took taxis back to their areas.  

This one is deceptive.  President looks so serious, like he is working in the midst of the party.  Don't believe it.  He is studying the scores, and guess who won?   HE DID!  highest score of the night.  He likes getting strikes.  And there are good reasons for 50 year old Mission Presidents.  He keeps up with them very well!

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.” 

Our best wishes for a very Happy New Year

to all our loved ones.   

Just like all of you, December has been busy and full of parties, fun, gifts, and love.  Thank you for all the happy messages we received, pictures that were shared, and memories.  

We went Christmas shopping one night, and these Christmas Soldiers were marching all over the Mall, with trumpets.  

We had a 2 Christmas Zone Conferences:

Complete with Lechon (Roast Pig) and a Chocolate Fountain.
And you can see, we POLISHED OFF that PIG! (Don't infer anything--I did not serve it.  It was catered, and Jenny, Sister's House Helper, served this.  She KNOWS how to cut up a pig---I don't!)

We had entertainment, provided by our wonderful, talented, missioanries.
We welcomed a new couple, Elder and Sister Peck, who will be replacing Elder and Sister Whittaker as the directors of the SRC (Self Reliance Center). They are part of PEF, and they train and offer everything from PEF Loans to resume, interviewing, and language skills.  
The office next to ours is SO busy-Elder and Sister Whittaker, from Idaho Falls, have done an incredible job.  And on weekends they carry our little Sampaloc Branch. 

We had a senior Zone Christmas party, with a wonderful spiritual Musical Presentation by a Filipino man who works for the church, and writes music.   (Not at the same time.) 
As last year, it was the most "sedate" of the parties we attended.

On Christmas Eve, 

we played Santa Claus to OUR kids;  the office Elders, APs, TAs and STLs that we work with.  Here are Elder Accaling, Elder Hart, Elder Rawson, Elder Kaitani, Elder Gako, Elder Yourglich, Elder Malmrose, Sister Dudas and Sister Ordakowski.

They are SO GOOD to us.  

That night,  

we were invited to the Sheffers apartment with the Pecks and Whittakers for "Christmas in Bethlehem".  She had prepared a simple finger foods meal of those things the that they would have eaten at the time of Christ.  (Well, sort of.  Tortillas for unleavened bread, tuna for "fishes", turkey instead of lamb, and grapes instead of figs)   
I did not take any pictures, (Drats!) but we ate by candle light, had prayers and scripture reading.  Then we all held the candle and bore our testimonies of what we were grateful for.  
It was a wonderful way to celebrate the spirit of the season, and we appreciated it very much.  One  thing that Elder Whittaker said touched me.  They are 3 weeks from returning home to Idaho and their 8 children.  I don't even have a good picture of THEM, sorry.  
He said he had been thinking about what a senior mission is.  He said, "It is an opportunity to demonstrate our devotion.  We put ourselves on the alter, and allow Him to use us as He will."

U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines
Security Message for U.S. Citizens:  Holiday Security Reminder 
December 19, 2014

The Embassy wishes to remind U.S. citizens that we are in the holiday season which is a prime time for pickpockets and thieves.  U.S. citizens in the Philippines should remain aware that while you may become a victim simply because you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, foreigners may also be targeted because they are perceived to be affluent.  The Embassy receives regular reports of U.S. citizens who have been the victims of both violent crime and crimes against property, such as theft, burglary and robbery.
Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.  We offer the following suggestions to help reduce your odds of becoming a victim of crime:  
·         Maintain a low profile and do not bring undue attention to yourself.  Do not display lavish amounts of jewelry.
·         Always carry some type of identification.
·         Do not carry around large amounts of money. Take with you only what you will require for the moment and keep it in the front pocket of your pants or skirt. A good rule of thumb: Do not take more with you than you can afford to lose.
·         If you carry a purse, consider carrying it across your body, with bag in front of you. Purses with long straps may be grabbed off your shoulder.
·         Do not resist armed criminals to avoid injury.
·         Pay attention to your surroundings, realizing that crime can occur anywhere, anytime. Be cautious about traveling after dark, especially alone or in unfamiliar areas. There is always safety in numbers. Know where you are going.
·         If you notice suspicious individuals approaching you, make an attempt to avoid them. In the event they continue to follow or harass you, walk to the nearest establishment and seek assistance from the security guard or door escort. Pickpocket gangs often appear to be homeless and begin by demanding money. They will sometimes aggressively follow the victims until they eventually swarm around them and begin to surreptitiously grab personal items from the victims, such as wallets and cell phones.
·         Be aware that public transit like Jeepneys, Light Rail Transport (LRT) and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) systems are prime venues for pickpockets.
·         Do not consume excessive alcoholic beverages, which could make you an easy target.


·         Drive defensively at all times.
·         ALWAYS drive with the windows rolled up and the doors locked.
·         Use a supplemental anti-theft device that locks either the steering wheel or the gearshift. These are not fail-safe, but they require valuable time and effort on the part of the perpetrator.
·         DO NOT park in deserted or isolated areas. At night, park in well-lighted areas. Take advantage of guarded, paid parking.
·         Do not leave personal items openly displayed in the car—you are inviting a smash-and-run thief to remove them.
·         Always maintain copies of your driver’s license and vehicle registration in your vehicle. Avoid surrendering the original document to police.
·         If you are involved in an accident, attempt to summon police or medical assistance, if necessary. Try to remain calm.


·         Control the keys to your residence. A thief with a key has a much easier time.
·         Anytime you leave your residence, make sure that all doors and windows are secured.
·         During the day, keep the doors locked, even though you and your domestic help may be inside the house.
·         Know visitors or other individuals, such as repair men, who may ask to enter your home. Ask for ID.  Keep repair men under observation while they are in your home.
·         Secure valuables and important personal documents. Do not leave them lying around.
·         During extended periods of absence, consider asking a neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your residence.
·         If you are home during a burglary, DO NOT confront the perpetrators. They may very well be armed. Instead, either flee or lock yourself in a secure room and call the police.
·         If your residence has an alarm, make sure you use it.
·         If you live on a residential compound or in an apartment building, know your area and be aware of the security and safety rules, especially rules for visitor and vehicle access.


·         If you see a suspicious object or package, do not disturb it. Immediately notify an appropriate official, such as a police officer or building security staff, and leave the area.
·         If you are in the vicinity when a security threat occurs, leave the area immediately. Do not approach the scene of a bombing or remain in the area.

Demonstrations in the Philippines are generally peaceful.  However, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

The Embassy recommends carrying a means of communications at all times. If you feel that you are in danger, seek assistance from security personnel or the local authorities. Holidays are a joyful time, and basic security awareness and precautions can decrease the likelihood of an unfortunate occurrence spoiling your holidays.

The Department of State offers tips for travelers abroad on our main website.  A U.S. citizen in trouble can always call the Embassy at (02) 301-2000 and ask to speak to the American Citizen Services unit during business hours or with the Embassy Duty Officer after duty hours.


from the above, that our embassy was busy taking care of us.  I file these in the "worthless alerts" file that was established by a former office secretary.  But, like all government work, it was  "a day late and a dollar short".  The day before it arrived, I was "Pick Pursed" in a large shopping mall, and my tablet was stolen out of my bag.  Afterward, we realized that I had been targeted, and then trapped, to make it easy for them.  VERY frustrating!
It was also my own fault.  I have been told over and over again, sometimes by perfect strangers!, to keep my bag across my body and in front of me.  Too old to learn new tricks, I guess.  
So, what did YOU get for Christmas?
I got a new tablet.  
We also got: 

A piece of original art from a family in our branch.
An adorable hanging Santa from the Johnsons.
 A New Angel Moroni from the Peralta Family.  

 This was a surprise, as he was two months early.  See how tiny he is?  16 inches long and 2.2 K.  But he is doing great.  Don't tell anybody, but there was NO WAY I was not going to hold THIS baby!          Of course, I LOST something, too.  My wonderful Marivic is no longer coming to do my housekeeping and my ironing.  Needless to say, we miss her very much. 
December 30 was transfers.  It was moved from Dec 31, not a good day in the Philippines to be out and about.  So, we had to rearrange a lot of things.  Career Day and Temple day for the 22 leaving was moved to the previous week---Dec 23.  That day, we got up at 5, and finally got everyone returned and got home about 11:00 pm.  Here they are at the temple, about 8:00 pm.  We handed them a hamburger and fries (delivered by the office elders) and sent them back to their areas to work another week.  Those that live distantly, we drove home.   
WE spent a little time waiting for Sister Judd's companion to come home, on the street where she lived.  We see families, loaded on motorcycles like this, all the time.  
By this time, it was about 9:30 pm, but the street was still very alive and these children danced and sang for us.

Then, Christmas! 

And then, transfers.  22 out, 17 in.  President and Sister Revillo had a daughter return from the Mission Field, and then go off to BYU.  So, house full of family, busy with Karlmaine, and no household help, as Jenny and Eugene were away for Christmas.  Several things she usually handles fabulously, fell to us.  Not so fabulous, but it turns out she DOES have limits, and we muddled through.