Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week 49

August 27, 2011

Dear Family and Friends, 

Zelma Ilene Roush Stewart

It is late, 10:30pm Saturday evening and we are sitting in the San Francisco Airport waiting for our return flight to the Philippines. This has been an eventful week that has been a blur to us in many respects.  Last Sunday morning we received a phone call informing us that Janene’s mother had passed away. It was fortunate that the call came when it did because we were just walking out the door to go to church. Janene thought at first that she would be alright not going back home but after our meetings she said that she felt we should go back for the funeral. We called  President Stucki to see if it would be possible to attend the funeral and he was able to obtain permission from the Area Office.  Monday morning we had to go into Manila to be fingerprinted and obtain an I-card to allow us re-entry into the Philippines. We had already made application and been fingerprinted in January or February after our initial 90-day visa had expired but the Bureau of Immigration was not able to find our applications and required us to come in again to reprocess our applications. Instead of going into the office however, we were able to meet a church employee and some immigration people in Manila. They drove us in a large black SUV to a market. We got out of the car and walked through the market to a little restaurant and they set up shop in the restaurant. There they took our picture and fingerprints and everything else they needed (I know it sounds pretty shady but it was ok – there was no smoke filled room or payoff). The church employee took all the information and told us he would meet us at the airport this evening with our passports and visas.
Meanwhile back at the apartment, we still had not heard from the Church travel people to know if we were to get the tickets or would they get them or if we would even be able to get a flight. About 4:00 in the afternoon we were informed that we had a flight that night at 10:30. We began to pack and try to get things as ready as we could. We still had to go back to Manila in rush hour traffic and also coordinate to meet the passport people at the airport. As we were sitting in the rush hour traffic jam we received a call from the immigration people informing us that they could not meet us at the airport – so we arranged to meet him at another location (can you say ‘time crunch’).  Well, it worked out. We could see the Lord’s hand in our efforts although it was somewhat frustrating. 

At the airport we met with long lines (many long lines). We had not traveled out of the Philippines before so we were not really prepared for all of the different things we had to do. First there was the line to get into the terminal (pre-screening). Then we stood in line at the ticket counter. This was followed by the line to pay our airport users fee. After that it was on to the immigration lines. There we found that we needed to pay another fee to leave the country and it was more that what we had in our wallets, so back outside to stand in line at the ATM. Back in the immigration line we discovered that after we paid the fee and the person printed our receipt we noticed that the receipt was just like the one that the man from immigration gave us when he gave us our passports and visas. We gave the immigration person at the window our receipts and he was upset that we hadn’t given this to him earlier. Well, he gave us our money back, slid our passports over to the next teller and went off to correct our mistake. We will know better next time! Now we were off to the customs line. Once through the customs line we were rushing to the gate. Great news – another line where they went through all of the passenger’s carry-on luggage and one receives another pat-down. Help! We made it through with a few minutes to spare and then we were told that the flight had been delayed for approximately one hour. Well, we had time to relax and prepare for the flight to San Francisco. Thank goodness it was a non-stop flight.

We left Manila at 12 midnight on Monday and arrived in San Francisco at 10:30 Monday evening. We actually got to San Francisco before we left Manila – thank goodness for the international dateline.  The only thing that made this night better was our rental car. I joked with Janene that we should rent a bright orange vehicle, something that would catch the attention of everyone since we are missionaries. They gave us a bright, bright orange Dodge Caravan. We were happy to be back in the US. The next morning as we came out of the hotel the sky was sooooo clear and blue. The air was soooooo clean and there was very little humidity. It was beautiful.   In traffic all of the cars stayed in their own lane. They stopped at red lights and used turn signals. I was in heaven for a little while then Janene punched me on the arm and told me not to get used to this or to let my guard down because we still have to go back to the Philippines and drive. 

Doug & Zelma
It was so good to be with family again. We were blessed to have our children and grandchildren come from Utah to the funeral. All the children and spouses sang ‘Our Saviors Love’ in the funeral and Jen, our daughter-in-law played a beautiful piano solo. Janene was able to tell some of the stories that Zelma had told her while she (Janene) was writing her (Zelma’s) life story.  Janene did a wonderful job.
Zelma & Velma
They were all great. The funeral was very nice and a good spirit was there. Zelma was a remarkable woman and always had a smile for everyone. She had experienced two fainting spells over the past 2-3 weeks and was hospitalized after the last fall. The doctors implanted a pacemaker to regulate her heart and she seemed to be doing well. But it was her time and she died peacefully in her sleep. She left a great legacy.  We will miss her but we know that she is happier now with her husband Doug, her twin sister and her family.

Isabel, Ben & Grandpa
 Never would we have dreamed that we could see the kids at this time in our mission. It was so fun to hug the grandchildren and to listen to them tell us about their lives. We were greatly blessed to hold little Sam. He was born 3 days before we left for the MTC last year so we were not able to hold him much then. He is so big now and so cute. He is such a happy 1 year old.  Hopefully this gave us a quick recharge of the ‘emotional batteries’ that will keep us going for the next year until we can see them again. We are so very grateful for family.

Jeffry, Jim, Janel, Julie, Janene
Sean, John, Sam & Me

Well, it is now Monday morning August 29. We encountered a lot of traffic in the Bay area and it took us almost 3 hours to get to the airport, but we had plenty of time. The drivers were also great because they stayed in their own lanes and didn’t try to go around the bottleneck. It was a nice traffic jam. J Our return flight was also delayed. I spoke with the airline people at the check-in counter (they were Filipinos) and said that there wasn’t a line anywhere to pay the airport users fee. She laughed and knew exactly what I was talking about. Well, we left San Francisco at 12 midnight on Saturday August 27 and arrived in Manila at 4:00 am Monday morning. We had no Sunday this week – it just disappeared over the international dateline. The Elders forgot they were picking us up at the airport, but after a text message and a phone call they found us after an hour of waiting. No problem, we are again happy to be back in the mission field. We are a little travel weary but in good shape. We are grateful to have had this opportunity to see family again. We sure do love each of you. Thanks again for your love and your prayers. We hope that you are all doing well. The gospel is true! Remember to BE good, DO good and BE men and women of Christ. And as always, remember to say your prayers. 

Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Janene and Grant  

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