Saturday, October 16, 2010

Week 6

October 11, 2010

Dear Family,

Some say that we would almost be a true Filipino – we had the honor of eating a Holo-Holo, This is a treat that you would eat on a hot day in order to cool off. In a large bowl, you take a scoop of white beans, a scoop of corn, a larger scoop of crushed ice. Now add some gelatinized coconut, tapioca, yam slices, a few slices of plantain(bananas), some pineapple, some jello cubes of any flavor (jello is a whole different story here), add a little coconut milk and top it off with two small scoops of ice cream (one scoop has to be a purple berry flavored ice cream). It is a delicious cool treat for a hot day ;) . I actually think they just wasted two good scoops of ice cream. But it wasn’t bad – although I probably won’t have another one anytime in the near future. We also had the courage to try a Chayote squash – it’s about the size and shape of a large pear. You peel off the outside and then cut it into cubes and cook it in stews and soups. The lime green color is a bit different (it’s the color of a honey dew melon) but it tastes like any other winter squash. I have also learned that things are not always as they appear – I bought a small bag of what I thought were limes (same color, shape and size) but they turned out to be oranges. I learned all of my life that oranges were orange but in this case oranges are green. The lime, onion and tomato dish for the sweet pork had a slightly different taste this time. I guess we’ll add that one to the learn-by-doing pile.
We have learned also that one has to be very alert when driving in a construction zone. There are no warning signs or flagmen on the road to warn you of the upcoming repair work – you just turn the corner and it’s there – right in front of you. They also don’t use any barriers just rocks – they line the area with large rocks so people won’t drive on the work area. Not only do you have to watch out for people, buses, cars, jeepneys, motorcycles and trikes but you have to watch for large rocks in the road. Driving is not only a challenge- it’s a game (with lots and lots of moving pieces)– and I admit that it is fun!
On Monday evening the Assistants to President Howard called us and asked if we could be at the mission home by 9:00 am on Tuesday. There were 19 missionaries going home on Wednesday and President Howard needed us to help transport these missionaries to the Temple and some other places around Manila.

President Howard likes to take the missionaries to the US War Memorial in Manila since this is where President Hinckley (at the time he was Elder Hinckley) stood in 1961 and dedicated the Philippines for the preaching of the gospel. It was an honor to stand at this sacred site and to pay tribute to the thousands of American and Philippine soldiers that lost their lives in World War II.

There are over 17,000 gravestones on the grounds and they also have a memorial with the names of over 35,000 soldiers that were missing in action. While walking on the grounds, it was clear why President Hinckley chose this site to dedicate the Philippines. (Pictured below is mom and dad with Elder Santillan in front of the wall of names)

After our visit to the War Memorial, President Howard took all of us over to the Krispy Crème Doughnut store. Of course our group of 26 filled the store and just our luck – the Krispy Crème sign was lighted up - that meant we all got a hot doughnut for free!

President Howard let the missionaries choose 2 more doughnuts and then we were off to the mission home again.

The Elders in our car were a real treat. Of the 6 elders in our car three had been Assistants to President Howard. Since we haven’t been here very long we haven’t had the privilege to get to know many of these elders. This time in the car was fun. One of the Elders was from Australia and had been a professional Rugby player. Another elder is a 27 year-old from New Zealand. Those 2 elders were hilarious. My mind reflected back to the stories Grant Douglas told of his companions from Samoa and the islands and I could see him singing and joking and teaching with these Elders. They love to sing and both play the ukulele. The whole car seemed to be singing everywhere we went. (Brady says this load carload probably made dad and mom feel at home....big boys in the back of a van!)

That afternoon we braved the traffic and found our way to the Manila Temple where President Howard was able to be the officiator for our session (he was an ordinance worker in the Las Vegas Temple prior to his call as the Mission President). President Howard received permission from the Area President to be set apart as an ordinance worker in the Manila Temple in order that he could officiate at this session. If ever I wanted to take a picture inside the Temple it was now – I would have given anything to have a picture of the smile on the face of President Howard as he stood before us in the Temple. This was a remarkable experience for us and for him. After the Temple session we went back to the mission home for dinner (mom sent a picture of a waterbuffalo....dinner maybe???) and testimony meeting. This was a spiritual day indeed. As we left late that night, I was able to give each of the Elders a big hug and thank them for the work that they did here. These are some great Elders and Sisters. We are very fortunate to be here.

We also were asked by the Area President’s Office to pick up a young 11 year-old girl and bring her to Manila for a doctor appointment. She was born with a cleft palette and the doctors have been working with her for 5 years – now she is ready for the final surgery. The church is affiliated with a charitable organization in Manila called the Mabuhay House (mabuhay means live long in Tagalog). The Mabuhay House works with doctors and hospitals to provide charitable services to those who can’t afford the medical care. They work with businesses and medical providers to give donations to provide these services. We were fortunate to be able to go to the Mabuhay House and meet the directors – they do a great work. (Notice the cows on the side of the road...figured this picture could go here cause they see this stuff on the way to Manila)

We were able to stay with President and Sister Howard and the other Senior couples for Saturday and Sunday to watch General Conference. The sessions of conference were great – I certainly liked the call from President Monson for more missionaries.
On the way to Manila we passed a work crew that was putting up one of the many advertisement signs along the freeway. As we were waiting to get on the freeway, we watched as they were welding the framework that would hold the sign – the one doing the welding was the only one wearing a protective mask – the others were just watching him weld. There was one individual that was doing the Filipino-squat (squatting down with his feet flat on the ground) on the beam – he was 3 stories off of the ground and he had no safety line attached to him (I’m sure he was wearing flip-flops also). I marvel sometimes at how they are allowed to do these things. We have seen workers repairing electrical lines by leaning the ladder on the lines and many more things that would never be allowed in the States. I keep thinking of the Dinosaur Show on TV – whoops, looks like we need another Timmy! (Mom says this is a random picture of a man carrying buckets...don't know what he is doing or what he is I put him with the construction paragraph :) )

We are doing well. The heat is still the same – I just can’t wait for the hot summer months (February through May) – I can’t imagine it getting any hotter. People say we just don’t get the afternoon rain shower in the summer months to cool us off – ugh! As I have said many times before, I have enjoyed studying Preach My Gospel. Mom and I have read the Book of Mormon together since we have arrived here. President Howard has a reading schedule of the Standard Works for the Elders and Sisters (we start a new schedule every 6 weeks –the missionaries will have read the Book of Mormon 4 times in their 2 years in the field). When we arrived they were 2 months into the reading schedule so mom and I decided we would try to catch up and be on the same schedule. It has been fun reading together.
Have a good week!

Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa


  1. Love the hair cuts. Yes, I'm sure they felt right at home with the elders :)

  2. LOL! I love the picture in the van with the boys. Made me laugh!