January 18, 2010
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Noah!!!!!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!
We are getting settled into our new home. The millions of ants and I are in a no-win battle but I won’t give up. I know this is their territory but I am just trying to get them to understand that they just can’t come into the house anytime they want. We have been putting down the bait and their numbers are getting fewer, but . . . We also have many little butikis (house lizards) throughout the house.
They are good for controlling the insects but I think that they have this unwritten gentlemen’s agreement with the ants- they leave each other alone. My theory is this: there is one giant ant hill that provides the entire world with ants and the Philippines is that ant hill! I’m sure that we will bring many of our ‘little friends’ home with us. The spiders are another story – they are everywhere and they are huge! I know that they are necessary to control the other insects but I just can’t resist – I squish them flat whenever I get the chance (some are very hard to squish because they jump and they are very fast).
The weather is much different here. It is much hotter (stinkin’ hot!) and even more humid than the mainland of the Philippines. We are even closer now to the equator. The hot season begins in late March and lasts through June – then comes the rainy season! It will take a few weeks to get accustomed to the heat again after being in the air conditioned office.
The one striking thing about this assignment is how remote this place is – it is very obvious that we are in a third world country (except that almost everyone has a television). I have to smile when I see these bamboo ‘nipa huts’ with a satellite dish on a pole next to the hut.
We are fortunate to have running water (of course we have to filter the water) and electricity, and we are very grateful for these conveniences, but in the past five days we have had 2 or 3 ‘brownouts’ each day. They last from 30 minutes to over 3 hours and they seem to occur between noon and 4:00 – the heat of the day. We had a brownout on Sunday evening that lasted for about 2 hours and believe me it is really dark at night out here. I am really thankful that I threw my little flashlight into my luggage as we left Utah. I feel like we are having an extended stay at a scout camp since most all of the buildings look like buildings one would find at a scout camp (very rustic and things are done with whatever resources one has).
There is one bank in the village and of course there is no ATM access for us with an international bank card. We are trying to get internet service set up – the person does this out of his house. We looked for 3 days for an internet place that would set up service but couldn’t find anything. I stopped at the electric company and asked if there was a provider in Narra and she gave me a telephone number and told me to call that number. It was a personal residence. Anyway, we should have service set up on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. This is not like Manila where most people spoke English. My Tagalog must improve quickly or this could be a very long assignment for the next six months.
The island of Palawan is beautiful. We are about 90 kilometers (54 miles) south of Puerto Princesa. Puerto Princesa has 2 grocery stores and a few other mall-like stores, so we will probably be traveling to Puerto every 2 weeks for groceries. Mom and I have to cook for ourselves now since there is no ‘fast food’ here. There are 6 church branches in the Narra District and they are spread out over the entire southern portion of the island. Aborlan is about 30km (18 miles) north of Narra, Quezon is 150km to the south and east (on the other side of the island), Rizal is another 60km (36miles) south of Quezon. Cabar is directly south on the National Highway (if you would like to call it a highway) about 90km (54 miles) and Brooke's Points is the farthest south about 98km (72 miles) from Narra. We will attend the local branch for the next 2 or 3 Sundays and then begin to branch out and visit the other branches after that. We do have a Branch Conference next week in Rizal. We have to leave here at 6:00am to get there for the 9:00 meetings. President Stucki would like us to do whatever we can do to help the Rizal Branch. They are struggling with membership and especially Melchizedek Priesthood leadership. They are so far from us and the roads are mostly unpaved dirt roads so that will make it difficult to be there other than on a Sunday. Oh, one other interesting bit of information – the National Highway runs along the ‘unfenced, open’ prison work farm. We pray that we will never break down or have a flat tire along that stretch of road!
Well, that is about everything new this week. In spite of all the murmuring (mom isn't murmuring) we are happy to be here. Heavenly Father has blessed us beyond measure. We are fortunate to be here and consider it a privilege that Heavenly Father trusts us to work in this area. We have the assurance that everything will be fine and that He will protect us.
We love each of you. We hope that you are all doing well. We pray that you are safe, happy and warm. We miss you very much and look forward to when we can be back to be with you. Please take care and write when you get the opportunity. As soon as we can, we will get online with you. Be happy! And remember to 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