Monday, February 20, 2012

Week 75

February 13, 2012

Dear Family and Friends, 

Well, we are trying our best to ‘break’ or at least ‘break in’ our new van. The roads are bumpy and rough and if there is a hole in the road I can guarantee that I will find it and hit it. The nice thing about the van is that it is white. Let me explain. Most residents do not own cars. They travel here around the island in jeepneys or shuttle vans – mostly in shuttle vans. 
The jeepneys are used to haul goods and materials and they are loaded to the limit. If there is any room for passengers they ride on top or they hold on to the side or back of the jeepney. You can only imagine how difficult that ride would be due to the road conditions. Well, the vans haul lots of people and they drive fast. The drivers are paid by the number of runs they make in that day and the number of passengers they carry – crowded and fast. The people and even the animals know this and so when a white van comes down the road, they get off the road. It is so nice not to have to honk at people and animals to move off the road so we can pass. Now, as we drive by in our white van we zoom by (at 25 -30 miles an hour) and look at the expressions of fear in their eyes. Oh, the power!!! It is sad however when they flag you down for a ride but we can’t stop for them. I feel bad that we can’t help them. 

 We have had another busy week. We were able to meet with the District President and assist him with his building projections and needs. It was fun to get him to look into the future 3 to 5 years and project what he wanted to have happen in the district. We love to see that excitement and it is delightful to get them to ‘see the big picture’ and what we are trying to do with the church. Sometimes we all get bogged down in the daily grind and don’t see the overall picture. He invited us to a training meeting with the branch presidents and clerks on Saturday. 

Elders Kummer & Morales, President, Sisters Gupta & Dyer
 We drove to Puerto Princesa on Friday for our Zone Conference. The conference was very spiritual and fun. It is good to see the missionaries, even if there are only 28 here on the island.
Elders Halterman, Villa, Cooper, Jensen, Morales, Cayago, Mahinay

Sisters Dyer, Gupta, Peterson; Elders Comish, Kummer, Villa, Buasen, Cayago
 We were able to do some additional shopping in Puerto since the market in Narra isn’t fully operational. We were so excited that they had some yoghurt. Even in the large grocery store in Puerto, the dairy section is found in 2 coke coolers. Most of the store consists of canned foods and bagged treats. 

On Saturday, after the District Training meeting, we headed out for an overnight trip to Brookes Point Branch. The trip takes about 6 hours of round-trip driving on a good day. If the weather is not good we were told to add another hour or two each way. Well, along with the Petersons we arrived late Saturday evening and stayed overnight in a mountain resort. 
Mt. Maruyog Farm & Garden Resort

our cabin

It was really quite nice. We found that the room was full of bees and I killed my fair share of those little critters. The resort personnel came in and put plastic bags over the lights – the bees were in the attic and were coming down through the lights. We were serenaded most of the night by the angry humming of bees in a plastic bag. The different colored bags did provide us with ‘mood’ lights.

The resort was very pretty.
They had a large playground with animals to climb on, slides and even a teeter-totter where kids could play (when is the last time you have seen a teeter-totter?).  The flowers and trees were beautiful. It was a nice break. 


We had dinner that evening under a canopy and as we ate we watched the bugs and the lizards fight it out. We were delighted when a larger tuko (about 12 – 14 inches long) came out to watch us. The Filipinos that were also in the dining area moved – they were afraid of the tukos. We love to listen to them. They sound like a ‘wind-up’ toy as they say tuko, tuko, tuko. 

Sunday morning we attended church at Brookes Point. When we walked in, the Branch President was happy to see us. The four of us became the program for Sacrament meeting. It was nice to have the missionaries translate for us as we spoke. The teachers in Sunday School and Priesthood kept calling on me to answer questions or give comments. I did my best to speak Tagalog and I think I could be understood. I have been asked to speak in most of the meetings that we attend.  In our meetings in Rizal I asked that one of the Filipino elders help translate for me. He was very shy. I know enough Tagalog to know if they say what I have said. He did really well. After the meeting, his companion came up to me and told me that we had just witnessed the gift of tongues because his companion does not speak English and avoids every opportunity to speak English. He was excited for his companion that he was able to translate so well. 

We are working on completing our assigned projects. We should have them done after this week and then we will get more serious about visiting more members. We are doing well here. We are not starving nor have we been lost in the jungle.  We haven’t seen any snakes yet but the members assure us that there are plenty of snakes. It is better that I don’t see them!

 We hope that you are all doing well. Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!!!! We have sent postcards and cards but we have no clue how long things take to get there from here. We need to coordinate our mailings with the times we go to Manila. Everyone tells us that the mail here on the island is not very reliable. How is school, everyone? Are you becoming educated? We love you and pray for you always. 

We really enjoy the pictures on the blogs. We have had many of them printed. We took the little plastic sleeves in the picture books we have bought and we taped them together into three large pictures. We put the pictures in the sleeves and have hung our three large pictures on our wall so we can see everyone every day. It is fun for us to look at your pictures. Everyone is growing up so fast. 

Thank you for your love, support and prayers. We love you and miss you. Please be careful and be happy. 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          

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