Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 84

April 16, 2012 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Chris!!! Wow ! How did you get to be so old? 

 Greetings from Palawan,

How is everyone this week? Is time racing by as quickly for you as it is for us? We are sitting here on our Preparation Day doing laundry and studying and thinking that we just did the laundry just a couple of days ago, not an entire week ago! We are now what would be called in military lingo ‘double digit midgits’ – we have less than 100 days left in the Philippines according to our countdown clock. 
We hope that you are all doing well. How is everyone doing in school? The kids over here have completed this school year on the March 29 and they are in their two-month summer vacation.

 Our youth in the Branch have a Temple trip scheduled for April 29 – May 3 at the Manila Temple. They are excited to go to the temple. As mom and I were driving last week, we were watching the kids work and play and we began singing, ‘O What Do You Do in the Summer Time’ but we made up our own lyrics to reflect summer in the Philippines. It was quite humorous. Perhaps we'll blog it...

We have traveled a great deal again this week. We have three new District Leaders in our Zone so we felt that we needed to visit the several District Meetings to see how they were doing. We started with Brookes Point on Tuesday. I know that the roads are getting worse and not better! As we see the numerous caution signs along the road, we never see anyone working on the roads. It seems that the only workers we see are those that are ripping up the roads or bridges. 

notice the 'safety first' sign
 It was exciting to see the work that the Elders are doing in these remote areas. Cabar is having 2 baptisms this month – the first in many years in that area! On our trip back we were surprised to see a white-pink (albino) carabao. That was cool. 

Mom had an appointment to help our branch family history consultant learn about the computer and New Family Search on Wednesday. It rained very hard most of the day and she never came. I’m sure that she would have to walk to our home and she is one of the older sisters in the branch. We were surprised later that afternoon, one of the members showed up at our door selling some chico fruit. Chico fruit is somewhat like a pear but the flesh is orange and very sweet. 

We said that we would put them in the refrigerator but she said , “Oh no. They won’t get ripe in the cool.” Then she told us that the fruit would ripen in 2 or 3 days and you could tell because the fruit would get soft. When the fruit is soft it must be eaten immediately. If it is left out one more day the fruit goes rotten. We put them in the refrigerator! It is an interesting fruit. This member works on a farm. She helps with the planting, harvesting, household chores and various things around the farm. They grow/raise rice, bananas, chico fruit, pineapple, and many other fruits. She gets some of the fruit as part of her salary and then sells it to help her make ends meet. We were happy to have her in our little home and to purchase some of the fruit. I told her we would gladly buy the pineapple.  

We were up early in the morning on Thursday to travel to Puerto Princesa to catch our plane to Manila. We discovered however that the flight was delayed. Our one hour flight at 8:00 am arrived in Manila at 2:00pm. We had just enough time to get to the Temple and do a sealing session. It was so good to be in the temple since it has been closed for 2 months for cleaning and repairs. That evening we had dinner and Mission Presidency Meeting at the Mission Home. It was good to be with all of the senior couples again and to meet with President Stucki. We have a new senior couple, Elder and Sister Paddock, from Florida. They will be a great addition to the mission. 

While we were in Manila, we were able to meet with the Zone Leaders in the Zone Leaders Council. President Stucki had asked that I do a portion of the training. It is always good to be with the Zone Leaders and share in their excitement. We were fortunate to see Elders Te’o and Arquiola at the mission home. They will be going back home in May and this was the last time we would see them before they leave. Elder Te’o is from Samoa. I asked him to pick me up and give my back a shake – that felt so good. He is the only missionary I know that could pick me up an ‘pop’ my back and he loved it. He kept asking me if he could pick me up again. 

Elders Arquiola and Te'o
 Saturday it was back to the airport for us. We woke at 4:30 am to be at the airport for our 8:00 flight. We discovered that the flight was delayed due to mechanical problems. Our estimated departure time was 11:00. At 12:00 they rolled out another plane and we left at 12:30 – 6 hours in the airport was not my idea of having fun. I was able to meet a CIA agent that is part of the NCIS force in the Asia area. He wouldn’t tell me exactly why he was going to Palawan but in light of the recent activities in El Nido, the Underground River and Puerto Princesa I had an idea why he was going to Palawan. We get regular security briefings about activities here. The bottom line is that Palawan is still one of the safest places where one could be assigned. 

We were glad to be back in Narra after our 2 hour drive home. Saturday was just one of those travel days.  We found that the ants had not eaten everything – they left some cereal for us. One morning last week, we opened our ‘rubber-maid’ container where we keep our cereal and poured out 2 bowls of cereal. The ants came running out of our bowls. We patiently smashed the ants as they ran out. After a few minutes we would shake the bowl again and watch some more ants come running out. After 4 or 5 shakes of the bowl it seemed that they were gone and we poured on the milk. The unfortunate ants, those that didn’t get out just floated to the top. With the price of cereal and milk – we just consider that is what the manufacturer means when the box says ‘protein fortified’. It just doesn’t get any better than this! 

Well, so goes another week. We are happy, healthy and still sweating buckets of water. We love this beautiful land and the wonderful Filipino people. We have been so blessed and we love being missionaries. Heavenly Father has been very kind and gracious to us. We hope this letter finds all of you happy and enjoying life. We are all so blessed to be here in this point of history. Keep smiling and working hard. Remember that we love you and pray always for your success and happiness. 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

Week 83

April 9, 2012

Dear Family and Friends, 

Last Sunday we were still not feeling at our best. We had scheduled to meet with the members in Aborlan but then decided at the last minute to attend the meetings in Narra. In Narra we found that our families that we had visited have attended church each week for the last 3 weeks. We were so happy to hear that. We were delighted to see our one family all get on the motorcycle to ride home (the 2 older girls walked home but the other 5 were on the bike). 

In Sunday School the Branch President stood and welcomed Brother Gattud and his family to the meeting. They were back in the area to visit and to check on their house in Bagong Sikat. Brother Gattud had served as the Branch President in Bagong Sikat and also later as the District President in Narra. While he was Branch President, the saints in Bagong Sikat met for Sunday meetings in a small meetinghouse on his property. The meetinghouse is still there. What a coincidence!

 I was able to talk with him and make arrangements to use the old meetinghouse for our Sacrament meetings when we receive approval to conduct Sacrament meetings again in Bagong Sikat. There are things that are happening to bring these saints back into the church!

Well, another transfer week is upon us. The time continues to race by even faster than before. We had some major changes in our zone and also overall in Palawan. We are experiencing a flux in missionary arrivals (we will get most of the American elders after school is out and after they complete their MTC training in July and August – but right now our numbers are lower than they have been). One set of missionaries was taken from Narra and their area was closed temporarily. That doesn’t help our efforts in Bagong Sikat but we trust in the Lord and know that it will happen according to His timetable.

We invited the four Narra missionaries to lunch on Tuesday before we left for Puerto Princesa and the transfer activities. They were in ‘heaven’ because we made grilled cheese sandwiches, fruit salad and brownies. This was the first time that one of our Filipino Elders had ever had ‘real’ cheese. 

Elder Kunzler
Our Elder Kunzler, who comes from Richfield, Utah, told me that he was being transferred to Manila as a new trainer and new District Leader. He is a very exciting missionary and has a ‘bubbling’ personality. He told me that he was nervous but I told him that was to be expected. He then told me that Narra has been the biggest city he has ever lived in. I tried not to act shocked but then I said, “You do know that Manila is the most densely populated city in the world – right?” That is what he was nervous about. Bless his heart! He was at home in the jungle here and now he is going into a different ‘concrete jungle’ filled with millions of people. I can relate to that feeling being a young 19 year old from Logan and my first time away from Logan I found myself in Munich, Germany. I thought that all of those tall buildings were going to fall on me at any minute. Elder Kunzler will do great things in Manila.  

Narra Zone

Wednesday morning we said goodbye to those 8 missionaries that were leaving Palawan. The only problem was – after 2 unsuccessful attempts at take off, the flight was aborted. The airline flew a mechanic over to Palawan to see if he could fix it – but no luck! I think they just didn’t want to leave Palawan. They were able to get another flight for them at 6pm that evening. They couldn’t leave that little airport to get food so they were stuck there. Sister Peterson was able to get a care package to them.

Sis. Caubalejo, Elders Roberts,Munk,Antonio,Kunzler,Cayago,Mahinay,Declaro
We traveled back to Puerto on Thursday to conduct training for the 3 missionaries that were assigned as new missionary trainers. This week is also Holy Week. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens on Holy Thursday, Good Friday or Easter Monday. Well, we did plan to do some grocery shopping but the stores were closed. We did find a place to eat lunch. As we came through the door a young Marine came over and began talking to us. He and his buddies (there were three of them at the restaurant) were on a special assignment in Palawan for 40 days. He was a returned missionary and had been home from his mission for 1 year and 1 month. He was so excited to see us and we talked like we had known each other for a long time. He told us how he was keeping his buddies in line and wouldn’t let them get into any trouble. They did take him to a ‘strip joint’ one night but he refused to go in. The trike driver wanted to know why he wouldn’t go in there and he pointed to his chest and said, “Mormon”. The driver understood and took him to find the chapel. From our conversation I could tell that he was a remarkable young man. After about 20 minutes, his buddies called him back over to their table to finish his food.

I kept trying to catch the attention of the waitress so I could pay for the Marine and friend’s food, but she wouldn’t look at me. It was as if she was trying to avoid me. I was too late and the Marines paid for their food and left. Our friend smiled and waved as he left. I was sad that I couldn't pay for their meal.  As we finished our food we asked for the check. The waitress came over and apologized that she didn’t have a check for us because the American at the counter paid for our meal! We were both trying to pay for each other’s meal. I will make sure that I pay this one forward for him. We have been blessed so much for being here.

Well, this is Holy Week. Good Friday was so quiet that it was almost ‘spooky’ here. Usually our street is noisy with trikes, street vendors, kids, noisy dogs and tukos, and very noisy chickens. These roosters crow all the time, all day long. Who ever thought that they only crow in the morning to wake people up? Good Friday was unusually quiet and the streets were empty. We had a very relaxing day reading and studying but it was almost too quiet.

Saturday and Sunday were able to listen to the General Conference broadcast. It was so good to watch conference. I thought that next conference we will be together and enjoy Priesthood meeting and other activities together.  It doesn’t help to have received our travel plans and flight schedule this week!  On Sunday during the break one of the missionaries asked if they could all come over and have dinner with us. So we made dinner for 12 missionaries after the last session. We are limited in what we have on hand – mostly canned food! We did sweet and sour chicken with canned chicken and it all worked out, AND we were able to have a Family Home Evening with them. They are good missionaries. 

New Narra Zone with Sister Peterson and the Stuckis

We are so blessed to be missionaries. We love the work and this beautiful country and the Filipino people. I continue to be amazed at their faith and love. We love you all and miss you very much. We always pray for you and hope that you are enjoying life. It is good to be happy and involved. We hope that you are all healthy and happy. Keep smiling. Write when you have time. Thank you again and again for your love, support and prayers. 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


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Week 82

April 2, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, I have to start with the weather report again:

Hi 89° RealFeel® 107° Precipitation 60%
Sun and clouds with a couple of showers      (what do they mean by 'a couple' of showers?)
  • Max UV Index: 10 (Extreme)         (Burn, baby, burn !)
  • Thunderstorms: 24%
  • Precipitation: 0.07 in
  • Rain: 0.07 in
  • Snow: 0 in
  • Ice: 0 in
  • Hours of Precipitation: 1.5 hrs
  • Hours of Rain: 1.5 hrs
It is good to know that they track the snow and ice totals over here. I imagine that it is a very easy calculation.

We have been under the weather most of this week – no not heat stroke- but a flu bug of some sort. It is an easy way to lose a few pounds but I have found that the pounds come back after you begin to eat again. With this in mind, instead of a boring letter, I thought we could just share a few pictures that will give you a feel for life (as we know it) in the Philippines.

We have been plagued with frequent brown-outs. We are trying to figure out if they are due to the new street light they installed on our street:

… or maybe a power pole that just went down:

 …or maybe some wires just got crossed somewhere?

There are so many carabao here on Palawan and I love carabao (even though they stink). They are just a magnificent animal that is almost a necessity of life here in Palawan.  Enjoy these pictures:

 The young carabao walks everywhere alongside of the mother. This is how they learn. Interesting concept – learning from the mother!

It doesn’t matter the size of the water hole – it has to be cooler than standing out in the sun. If there is a water hole, a carabao will find it.

 Sometimes it is too hot – even for the pigs. So how does a pig stay cool? One way is to go for a ride in the trike and feel the wind blow in your face.

One day in our journey we found a Filipino RV. Pretty cool huh?

  How many people can you get in or on a trike?

...or in or on a bus?

Or a jeepney?

Some days it just begins to rain and it rains hard. If you don’t have an umbrella handy, you make do with a banana leaf…

There are chickens everywhere. And we have found out that roosters crow all night and all day. They don’t crow only in the morning. There is something about a little boy and animals (right Ben?)

We have often said that this is the friendliest country and people that we have ever seen. But a welcome sign at the prison?

Yes we have some bananas, we have some bananas today ….
these are actually cooking bananas

It is always reassuring to know you can buy gas on the road. (No that is not pop in those bottles!)

And when all else fails you can go to the basketball court and play...

Or roll a tire.

What a wonderful and beautiful land this is. We are so blessed to be assigned here. We hope you have a wonderful week. We love you and miss you all very much. We love the work. We love being missionaries. We hope that you are all doing well and that you are enjoying good health and are happy. We pray every day for you. Remember to BE good, DO good, and BE men and women of Christ. And always remember to say your prayers. 
Mom and Dad, Grandma an Grandpa, Janene and Grant