Friday, March 24, 2017

Amping!

Batch
It is hard to believe that all of these missionaries are home now - well, all except Elder Mereki who had to wait until Saturday for a flight to Kiribati.  Who knows when we may meet again?

On Monday we invited Elerie and Wilma over for lunch where they tried KFC for the first time. Wilma is due any day now and we are bummed that we will just miss seeing their baby. They are such a cute couple.
They brought a gift for Elder McNett's birthday even though they were told he no longer has birthdays. There are no excuses for not exercising now.
 Monday evening was the final supper and testimony meeting at the mission home. Lets just say it was a bit emotional. On Tuesday we drove around Cebu and then met our batch at the Cebu Temple so that we could go with them to dinner at Army Navy. After dinner we took Karla and Ian to the Temple of Leah and then later that evening drove Sister Cook to the airport to catch a very early (1 AM) flight to Manila.
At the local beach.
Cebu Temple
Temple of Leah
Wednesday saw some last minute shopping and in the afternoon a tricycle ride with Elerie in Lilo-an.
Making custom bracelets.
On a tricycle.
video

Elerie let Ian try out his father's motor bike. If it fit in a suit case it probably would have come home with us. We will really miss Elerie.
video

One last video.
video

You're welcome, Janica. Finally.


Thought for the Week

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

This is it...

Thank you Elder Goulding!
Thursday was our last official day in the mission office. As excited as we are to return home, leaving has not been easy.

On Friday morning Karla and Ian arrived in Cebu. They are here for a few days to experience the Philippines and to escort us home.

After picking them up at the airport we drove to the nearby Mactan Shrine and then to the Alegre Guitar factory.  Ian has been teaching himself the ukulele and was able to see how they are made. He even found a new one to bring home with him.
In the evening Elder Clark (also named Ian) and Elder Cirunay took Ian with them on two teaching appointments. The elders joined us for dinner with balut as the appetizer.
Enjoying balut.
On Saturday morning we left early for Kandaya Resort on the northern tip of Cebu Island where we planned to spend the night and try snorkeling. To get to the area where the snorkeling is around Malapascua Island we rode one of the sleek outriggers we see everywhere here.
It was quite fun. We saw the remains of a Japanese ship that sank in World War II along with colorful fish among amazing underwater formations.
Sunset in Daan Bantaya
The plan for the rest of the week is to tour Cebu, say our final goodbyes and fly home. Easier said than done.


Thought for the Week


"God be with you till we meet again."


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sacrifice?

When we receive back more than we give, is it still a sacrifice?

There were opportunities this week for us to stop and reflect on the past 18 months. On Thursday all five Cebu East senior couples rendezvoused with President and Sister Maughan at the Marriott Hotel in Cebu for a short get-away. Thursday afternoon was spent relaxing and shopping at Ayala Mall near the hotel. We met Thursday evening for dinner at the Brique (pronounced brick). 

The food was very good and we had a wonderful time visiting on a wide range of subjects including food, family, fishing and four wheeling. 
Dinner at the Brique
After checking out of the hotel Friday morning we drove the short distance to the Cebu Temple and attended a session there.  Allowing for traffic, which is always a big unknown, put us there early so we had quite a bit of time to reflect waiting for the session to begin. A lot has happened during our time here, we have many new friends and much to be grateful for.

After the temple we traveled to the Mission Home for dinner and an evening swapping stories of our many adventures here in the Philippines. It is really hard to say what a mission for a senior couple will be like because, although there are many shared experiences, each couple has their own set of experiences unique to them, their talents, interests and abilities.
After finding an issue with the little bridge between our home and the mission office some months ago it was closed to vehicle traffic, but then, over time, gradually re-opened until it was back to two lanes of vehicles. It looks like it will be closed again for repairs on the 15th of March. This will mean that the 10 minute commute to the office will be 30-40 minutes - at least 'temporarily'.

It seems that every day we see things that are 'camera worthy'. Most of the time we are not 'camera ready' so we miss a lot of pictures we would love to take. Here are a few that were caught on camera.
A long way from home - notice the cab.
Tree House
Is this a rough road or what?
The last picture was taken from the window of our van as we passed a truck. Yes - it was moving too.

Thought for the Week

"Since it is so common, why worry about selfishness anyway? Because selfishness is really self-destruction in slow motion."
Neal A. Maxwell

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Time is Far Spent...

18 months ago it felt like we had all the time in the world - and then some. Now, as time runs out, it feels like we need to rush to wrap things up and put things in order for those taking over when we are gone. The Weatherstons will be on their own in the office (with some part time help) for about a month until Elder and Sister Christensen arrive. The Christensens will also be helping in the office but Sister Christensen will be doing double duty as Mission Nurse. We hope they are caught up on their sleep. We are trying to do as much advance work as we can on the next couple of transfers to help with the transition.

Well, this week was Sister Maughan's birthday and Elerie wanted to do something special for her. He was so excited he could hardly contain himself when he brought the printed tarpaulin and cake to the office Monday morning and waited for Sister Maughan to arrive. Surprise!
Elerie also recorded a birthday message and his testimony on a DVD to give to her . As the custom here is for the person with the birthday to take food to others and since Elerie brought the office pizza on his birthday, Sister Maughn invited Elerie with Wilma and other family members to McDonalds for lunch. Those of us in the office also joined the party. It was a big enough group that McDos opened the party room for us.
Wilma, Elerie, Lavender, Orange with the birthday girl.
This was the first time any of Elerie's family had been to McDonalds. Of course the two cute nieces, Orange and Lavender, had Happy Meals - and here the children pick out the toy they want with the meal. Their excitement hit about 12 on the Richter Scale. Watching them was the best of all.
Four of the Mandaue Elders also came by and joined the party.
Elders Caña, Murphy, Javelo, Pacaña
Elerie's Aunt Trinidad was with us too. She was the first member of the church in Lilo-an.
The combined Consolacion and Danao Zone Conference was on Tusesday where Sister Maughan was surprised with yet another cake.
Consolacion and Danao Zones
To end the week we drove to Danao Saturday for a baptism. Four were baptised, two taught by Sister Loreto and Sister Cook and two taught by Elder Ular and Elder Eustice. We were told that there are six or seven more on track for baptism next week. Great things are happening in the Cebu East Mission!



Thought for the Week

"Time is clearly not our natural dimension. Thus it is that we are never really at home in time. Alternately, we find ourselves wishing to hasten the passage of time or to hold back the dawn. We can do neither, of course, but whereas the fish is at home in water, we are clearly not at home in time--because we belong to eternity."
Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Block Party

This week we finally got to see how compressed earth blocks are made. We first heard about these amazing building blocks a year ago when Raymond and Debra Goodson came to tell us about them during a meeting of senior missionary couples in the mission home.  Brother Goodson (as everyone who has followed our blog religiously and has perfect recall will remember) was one of the first four full time missionaries to come to the Philippines in 1961 shortly after President Hinkley dedicated the island nation for missionary work.

Brother and Sister Goodson created a foundation called Rise and Rebuild which is involved in several projects aimed at helping the people in the Philippines to help themselves. Visit the website at http://www.riseandrebuild.org/ to see what kinds of things they are involved with.

When the Goodsons came last year to talk to us they brought with them Reyson and Judith Pua who are a local couple helping drive these projects in the Cebu area. About two weeks ago Brother Goodson and Brother Pua were in the area and stopped in at the mission office. They invited us to come see the block making operation they have set up in an area of Cebu located about half way between the office and the Cebu Temple. On Monday we were able to go and see.
Judith and Reyson Pua
The first few steps of the operation involve sifting rocks and other debris out of dirt delivered by the truck load, bagging the dirt and taking it over to where the blocks are made. The rocks are collected, crushed and used in making concrete for the footings and foundations of the buildings. Nothing is wasted.
Dirt screening area
Final sifting


The finely sifted dirt is the main ingredient in making the blocks. The only other thing necessary is about 5-8% cement - this is about one bag of cement for 70-80 blocks. The dirt and cement is mixed in a big mixer with just enough water added to hold the blocks together when compressed. The mixture is damp but not wet like cement. It is about the right consistency for building sand castles. An interesting side note is that the dirt must be dry when the cement is first added to it or the dirt and cement won't mix properly.  This can be a challenge during a wet season like the one we just had.
Mixing
Mixed


These blocks are very inexpensive to make - you might say 'dirt cheap' - but they are very durable and so easy to work with that pretty much anyone could do it. Once the first course is laid on a level, solid foundation the blocks stack and lock together like Legos. No mortar is even necessary.  There is a special shaped block with a channel for rebar that is laid about every four feet of wall height, but that is it.  Even we could do it. Elder McNett is seriously thinking about bringing a block press home with him.
Block press
Compressing blocks
With their current operation they are able to produce about 2,000 blocks a day. This is enough to build a CR (Comfort Room) or other small building. The goal is to eventually employ 50 local people just in the block making operation here in Cebu.

The reason our blog is late coming out this week is because we made a quick trip out to Bohol Saturday and returning to Cebu on Sunday. While there we were able to watch a special Philippine Area broadcast on Saturday evening in which Elder and Sister Bednar sat with Elder and Sister Bowen and answered questions for two hours. It was almost like they were just sitting and chatting with us. It was great.

On Sunday we attended the Calape District Conference and saw many missionaries (probably for the last time 😢). Irwin was there and greeted us as we came in! He is someone who Sister Maughan befriended at the Tubigon McDonalds and came to District Conference in Calape just because she was speaking.
Elder Carillo, Elder Emfield - Calape Zone Leaders

Elder Lang and Elder Bolipata with Irwin

After conference socializing

Headed home

Thought for the Week

To paraphrase Elder Bednar - Remember the church is a laboratory and we practice on each othe