Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Week 13

November 28, 2010

Dear Family,
We hope that this letter finds everyone healthy, happy and stuffed from Thanksgiving Dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It’s all about family and how very thankful we are this Thanksgiving to have such a wonderful family. We love you all. Being away seems to deepen that love even more. We had an enjoyable pre-Thanksgiving dinner with all of the senior couples, the Mission President and his wife on Wednesday. After the dinner we had Mission Presidency Meeting. Turkey is not common here but it can be found – and we did our best to eat as much turkey as we could to stock up until next year. (Picture: village by the side of the expansion brigde)

I have been going to teaching appointments with most of our Elders. On Thursday evening we visited a wonderful family and I had the opportunity to teach about Temples and Family History. It is such a marvelous thing to see their faces light up with the hope and love that the gospel brings not only into their own lives but also the lives of their extended family. As we were coming back home, I asked the Elders (both Americans) what they did for Thanksgiving Dinner. One replied that he ate 4 chicken burgers from a local eatery. His companion said that he ate at the mission home but was surprised with a cake. His mother had found a Philippine bakery on-line and ordered a cake for him. It was delivered to the mission home but he said that by the time they got it the cake was infested with ants. His companion said that it really wasn’t that bad! Guess that the added protein was a bonus. It wasn’t until I had asked the Elders about their Thanksgiving that I realized – mom and I each had a Hot Pocket for Thanksgiving dinner (they weren’t even turkey – they were Philly steak and cheese). They were good and we were thankful for the dinner. I think we appreciate what we have more each day. This year I’m very grateful to have 5 fingers on each hand.
Mom and I went with our Elders on Thursday evening to visit some families. The first family has 5 beautiful little girls. The 3 youngest were home. (Picture: this isn't their home, but it is a thatched home located off the side of the expansion bridge) We had a good discussion with the mom and the 2 older girls. The littlest girl wouldn’t come into the room with us – in fact, when the girls tried to get her into the room she cried and screamed. The mother finally told us that she was afraid of us because we were big and white. I was finally able to get her to shake my hand when she saw that I would shake her sister’s hand and make her arm go ‘like rubber’. I’m so talented.
This past week, we have been preparing a presentation for the Branch Family Home Evening on Saturday evening. We were asked to talk about Home and Visiting Teaching. Now, the previous Family Home Evenings have been socials with games and fun and food. So our challenge was to somehow make this so it wasn’t too boring. We did a Power-point presentation and did some role playing. The members seemed to enjoy the role playing and some of them really got into their parts. It was fun and I think that they enjoyed themselves. Mom and I were on the front row and there were a couple of little children that would tickle our backs through the openings in the chair-backs. One little girl about 6 years old kept reaching around and touching my arm. I didn’t think anything about that until we were finished and I was taking some things back to the library – she came down the hall and grabbed my arm and rubbed her hand up and down on my arm. They don’t see many people with hair on their arms here. I was delighted and it will always be a fun memory for me. The sisters frequently come up to mom and tell her how ‘white’ she is. The Relief Society President always says to mom, “I wish that I were white like you.” Mom always says, “No you don’t. Look at all of these freckles.” We seem to be a source of never ending entertainment for the members.
I also had the opportunity to go with the Elders to visit a gentleman that was born in Nuremberg, Germany. He lived there until he was about 20 years old and then moved to Chicago. He married a Philippine girl and is now living here. Go figure, I had to come to Manila to teach a German about the Gospel in the English language. He has a real fun accent (English with a German and Chicago accent). Hopefully this contact will be a good one for the Elders. The Smith’s (one of the senior couples here) will be going back home on December 8th. We will miss them. They have been good mentors to us and have helped us in so very many ways.

While we were travelling to a member’s home, the Smith’s asked us if we would like to see a suspension bridge – of course we did. So we had the opportunity to walk across this fun, bouncy, swaying bridge. I was proud of mom. She made it all of the way across the bridge and back and didn’t get motion sick. I admit that I was a little ‘wobbly’ when I stepped off of the bridge – not sick – just wobbly like when you get off a boat onto dry land again. We also were able to see some beautiful scenery. We were able to see pineapple fields and sugar cane fields. I was amazed at the pineapple – I never realized that they grew on a bush. It was a fun and new experience for us! (Pictures: top - mom and smith's on bridge, top right- mom and dad on bridge, left- pineapple field, right- pineapple growing on bush, bottom- sugarcane on the back of a motor bike)

We had the Teaching Assistant’s in our branch today to go on exchanges with the Elders in our Branch. They arrived here early this Sunday morning and they didn’t get breakfast. They were going back to the Elders apartment after church for dinner but our Elders said that they didn’t have any food in the apartment. I told him that if they could wait until after the Temple Preparation class we would take them home with us and fix them some dinner. He was so amazed (probably that we could cook) that we would do that for them. We ended up with the 4 Elders and so mom fixed Sweet and Sour Chicken and a lot of rice (lots of rice) for them. She even made brownies. They were great. It still amazes me that they can eat so much rice – it is nothing short of just amazing! It was good to have them here in our apartment (3 Filipinos and 1 Fijian). They are good Elders.

Hope that you are all doing well. Don’t let the snow get to you – it is consistently 86 degrees here every day (and it will get warmer I’m sure). The humidity is still high but the evening temperatures are nice. Tomorrow we will get our Christmas tree. Most Filipinos don’t have a Christmas tree – they decorate the outsides of their homes but usually don’t have a tree (no room for it in the houses). Those that do have a Christmas tree have it on the little front entry way or porch. Mom has been wanting to put up the decorations since early November – but being the Scrooge that I am – we have to wait until after Thanksgiving! (Picture: I guess if they got a big tree, they could always hire a trike to deliver it for them. These people in the picture fit a bed on the trike!) Please take care. We love you all and pray for each of you every day and night. Keep up the faith. Be good, do good and be men and women of Christ. And always remember to say your prayers.

Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Janene and Grant


  1. Grant, the little girl rubbing your hairy arm reminded Don & I of Kim "petting" Don's arm when she was little because it was so hairy.

    I'm proud of you 'Nene for walking on the bridge. I may have crawled across it, LOL.

  2. Hello! What a wonderful adventure you both are on! My mother sent me your blog link and I have loved reading your entries. I'm sorry we missed seeing you before you left but I'm so very happy that y'all were able to come to Andria's sealing! Your family means so much to me. And you are all legends in our family. We are praying for safety for you both as you share the love of the Lord with the people that you meet and interact with every day.