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

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