Sunday, November 29, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Even though Thanksgiving is not a national holiday here in the Philippines we had a pot luck Thankgiving meal with our district on Monday evening.  Ten of us, including President and Sister Tanner and our zone leaders, gathered at our house and enjoyed Kentucky Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, rice, sweet potatoes, fruit, and pork, with no bake cookies and ice cream for desert.
Yes, the sweet potatoes here are purple.They are called camotes.

At our regular district meeting Tuesday morning we each had a chance to express what we are grateful for.

On Saturday we drove in to Cebu to restock some groceries and pick up office supplies at a major mall there, SM-Cebu. It has hundreds of shops on four floors. We needed to look for binders to hold information given to both arriving and departing missionaries. We didn't find all that we needed, but we were able to order enough to last a while. Not only that but we took a new route home and made it! We are actually starting to learn our way around. Our next goal is to learn the way to the Cebu Temple - and back. Sometimes the best way back is not always the best way to go, depending on several factors such as day of the week, time of day and major intersections on the way. We are learning that getting around here is part art, part science and hope to do a future blog entry on the topic of daily travel here.

Today was the Ward Primary program. The size of the Primary here is about the same as our home ward in Coalville, which is to say not large, somewhere around 20 children. What they lack in numbers though they make up in enthusiasm. Most of the children had their parts memorizied - in English - and the songs they sang were in English too. It was a delightful program.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rules for Happy Marriage

About a week ago Elder McNett went with Elder Head and Elder Jimenez to visit the home of Brother Sugarol.  His name means 'Gambler' in English and his mother, the ward Relief Society President, thought that was quite funny. 

This poster was on the wall of their humble home across from the Proclamation to the Family. We could see the light of the Gospel in their eyes and feel it in the room. They know it, they love it and they live it.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Transfer Week

How can we tell that missionaries are meeting?
We are behind in our blog posts but now that transfer week is over maybe we can catch up. Transfers were actually last week, on November 3rd and 4th. We lost four missionaries and gained 15, nine sisters and six elders. One of the missionaries going home had been with us in the office. We miss him there, but wish him well. These new missionaries are our batch because we had already met four of the elders and two of the sisters in the Provo MTC. The rest of the group are native Filipinos who went directly to the MTC in Manila. 
New Sisters and their trainers.
On Wednesday morning we followed President and Sister Tanner to the airport to help pick up and transport the arriving missionaries and their luggage back to the mission home and office. (Made it back all by ourselves. Wahoo!) The assistants to the president were already there with a van because they had taken missionaries who were departing to catch their flights out.  There was an additional van and driver at the airport we had hired to help transport the group back as well.  This was a good warm up for us – next transfer in December we have 16 missionaries leaving and 19 coming.
New Elders and their trainers.

After arriving back at the mission home it was time for pictures, eating breakfast, bringing trainers from the office to the mission home, orientation, training, interviews with the president, lunch and then finally matching new missionaries with their trainers and telling them where they will be assigned. We helped Sister Tanner with food/clean-up and also helped shuttle luggage and missionaries between the mission office and mission home. We both helped with orientation by talking about our areas of responsibility in the office.
Learning who their companions are
We were amazed to learn that companionships of new missionaries and trainers are not decided until after the president has interviewed each of the new missionaries and then met with his assistants to decide what the match-ups will be. We had assumed that this was all decided ahead of time, not after the new missionaries have arrived. Not so.

and where they are assigned
was the highlight of the day.


Because of travel distances, all the new companionship's stayed at local transfer houses overnight and did not actually travel to their areas until Thursday when all the other transferring missionaries came by the mission office. 

We love opportunities like this where we meet so many young elders and sisters.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Our Trip to Bohol – Part 3

Our first stop on Friday, October 30 was Sagbayan Peak. After a short walk to the top we had beautiful views of what are called the chocolate hills. This is not because they are made out of chocolate but because during the dry season they will turn brown and look like chocolate drops.

  After this we drove to the remote area of Mantacida. 

Mantacida High School
This is where Elder and Sister Halladay helped to build houses for families who lost theirs in an earthquake that happened in the fall of 2013. This earthquake, by the way, was followed by a typhoon three weeks later. 27 homes were built over a period of about six months. A small group of skilled construction workers were brought in and each worked with 5 unskilled natives. After building 5 houses together those who had been trained were given a certificate and were then able to supervise a new team of 5 workers in building more houses. In this way as houses were built home builders were trained and provided basic tools they could use to make a living for their families.


Side by side view of new vs. old construction.

 This is Joselyn. She is a widowed mother of 8 children. The picture below is of her home now. She built the stairs to the loft herself.


This was her home before the new one was built for her. It was badly damaged in the earthquake.

Here is the muscle used for plowing the fields. It is called a carabou.

Carabou cart.


We passed a lot of rice fields and there were many places where rice was drying on tarps placed alongside and sometimes in the roadway. 

 In the afternoon we crossed over a bamboo bridge and had dinner on a boat that also took us for a short river cruise.

 We returned to Cebu Friday evening in a mission van on a vehicle ferry - a three hour crossing - and made it back to our house about midnight. A long but very informative and interesting day.