Friday, January 9, 2015

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.  



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