Sunday, February 28, 2016


It is hard to believe that we have now passed our 5 month mark. Time really does "fly on wings of lightning".  
Elder and Sister Nelson
The first picture today is a hold over from last week. We actually drove all by ourselves into the heart of Cebu to the temple complex in order to swap supplies that had been mis-delivered. We had received the order for Cebu Mission and they had received ours. The Cebu Mission office is on the temple grounds. This was the first time we made this trip without someone to guide us. We did it with only one minor moment of confusion, with the driver saying something like "I don't remember this at all..." and the right seat passenger thinking something like "Oh no, what have we gotten ourselves into?". Thankfully, both recovered fairly quickly and made it the rest of the way.

This was an opportunity for us to talk again with the office couple in the Cebu mission, ask them questions and swap ideas. Elder and Sister Nelson are the best. They have been a major help to us as a resource as we continue to learn our assignments. We were able to pull them away from the office long enough to have lunch together at a little place they knew about not far away. They are every bit as nice as they look.

So what is Balut? We are glad you asked.

Balut Vendor
In a nutshell, or more accurately, in an egg shell, Balut is a duck egg. But not just any duck egg. It is a fertilized duck egg that is allowed to develop for 16 to 18 days before it is cooked and eaten. Elder Giauque felt that it was time to introduce us to this delicacy. He also thinks that the 18 day eggs are better than the 16 day eggs. Sometimes we question Elder Giauque's judgement. 
Ellerie is a local member who happened to be working with Elder Albar and was very excited when he was invited to stay and join in the feast. One of these days we will need to tell more about Ellerie.
Elder Albar is really excited.

Balut on the half shell.
Just add vinegar and salt.
Close up view.
Elder Jimenez, Ellerie, Elder Giauque, Elder Albar. They just couldn't get enough.

Did he or didn't he?

It wasn't easy but we managed to save a balut to take to Ruben who is the security guard for the church/mission office compound here in Lilo-an. Ruben is another very special individual who is the embodiment of dedication. He is at his post from 6 PM to 6 AM every night, rain or moonlight.
Elder Giaque presenting Ruben with a balut.
The pictures this week have truly spoken louder than words. We would like to end with something that seemed so out of place we don't even know what to say about it.


Friday, February 19, 2016


This week we have a lot of pictures to share from the second day of our Senior Couple Conference/Retreat. We took a day trip to the island of Camotes which is about a two hour ferry ride from the town of Danao which is about a 30 minute drive from where we live in Lilo-an. There are actually two islands reachable by ferry that are separated by a narrow channel with a short bridge between them. These are the islands of Pacijan and Poro.  The main town on Pacijan is called San Fransisco. To catch the early ferry we were on the road by 4:00 AM. They can pack a lot of vehicles on these ferries, including large trucks, all of which must back on as all loading and unloading is done from the bow.

Ferry from the stern.
Loading ramp.

Enjoying the ride.

Elder Bell catching up on sleep.

Approaching Camotes by ferry.
The first area we visited on Camotes was Santiago Beach. Clear water, white sand. What more can we say?

This chapel near Santiago Beach was built in 1862.

Next we went to  Mangodlong. Although the day was warm there was a nice cool breeze coming off the water. Some swam, some chatted and enjoyed the views. This is a resort area that looks and feels like some parts of Hawaii without any of the crowds and where the rooms are much more reasonable.

There are currently six missionaries assigned on Camotes, four elders and two sisters. We met the elders for lunch at Cindy's where we had hamburgers, fries and chocolate malts that were actually quite good. We had heard about Cindy's from missionaries who had been on Camotes and it definitely lived up to it's reputation.

We also went to Buklit Cave. It is only a short hike into the mouth of the cave and unlike caves we are used which tend to be cooler than it is outside, this was quite warm and humid with seawater inside.

Older Elders.

Young at heart Sisters.
We enjoyed our time on Camotes with the other senior couples. There were quite a few 'foreigners' visiting the islands and many of those were young people with backpacks. We talked with a man from Austria, another from Australia and a group of young ladies from Switzerland. Hopefully we will have opportunities to return to these islands again.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Senior Couple Conference/Retreat

This week the four senior couples assigned to the mission met again for a two day conference/retreat. One couple, Elder and Sister Halladay, are returning home next month and this was a chance to be with them one last time before they leave. Halladays have been on the island of Bohol with Elder and Sister Bell and will be sorely missed. We could easily have three or four couples on Bohol to help fill the need there. When Halladays are gone Bells will be left to cover the island by themselves and will be stretched pretty thin.
Elder Bock.
The seniors all arrived at the mission home Wedneday evening. We had dinner together and visited for a bit but there wasn't time for much else. We  returned to our home to sleep since we live not far from the mission home while the others stayed there for the night.  Although we see the Bocks from time to time as they are also on the island of Cebu - about 4 hours north - the last time we were with the couples from Bohol was at the last senior couple retreat last November. It was good to be together again.
Bells fixing breakfast for us.
On Thursday we returned to the mission home, had breakfast together and met for the day to discuss our assignments and be instructed by President and Sister Tanner. Just as we were getting started some special guests arrived.
Debra and Raymond Goodson (middle couple)
It just happened that Raymond and Debra Goodson were visiting Cebu from Salt Lake and President Tanner had invited them to come meet with us and tell us about the work they are doing in the Philippines through a non-profit foundation they started called Rise & Rebuild. Reyson and Judith Pua from Cebu also came with them.  The Puas are helping the Goodsons with the logistics of operating their foundation in the Philippines.
Judith (foreground) and Reyson talking with Bocks.
By way of introduction we learned that Brother Goodson was one of the first four missionaries assigned to the Philippines in 1961. At the time he had already served for three years as a missionary in Hong Kong. He said when he received the call to come to the Philippines that President Hinkley asked him to convert a nation. He has been involved with helping the people here ever since also serving as mission president in Manila in 1974.

To give an example of the service given by Brother and Sister Goodson, after typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines in the fall of 2013 they helped organize a team of returned missionaries and other volunteers who helped build 3,000 homes on Tacloban, an island just east of Cebu that was hit hard by the typhoon. While the rebuilding was going on, at a time when food was hard to come by, Sister Goodson cooked and served meals to the volunteers every day. He said that being his friend is very expensive, that during that time his phone bill alone was around $12,000.  

The foundation they started is dedicated to helping build CRs and other structures for communities here. A CR is a Comfort Room (bathroom). They are built out of compressed earth blocks with about 10% cement mixed in. The blocks are compressed in hand operated presses, are about 20 times stronger than hollow block at half the cost and are shaped something like Legos so are set without mortar. A CR can be completed in 5 days after the foundation and septic tank are finished. The best part is that block presses and CR construction will employee dozens of people who desperately need employment. Some other things the foundation is involved with is hand driven well drilling and providing libraries to schools. They are truly helping people here to help themselves improve
their living conditions and find meaningful employment. They will work with people in local communities so that they have a personal interest in what is done.
Bocks and Tanners

Halladays and Bells
We had dinner Thursday evening at a restaurant North of us about an hour and a half called Borussia that serves German food. We would come to the Philippines to eat German food? Who knew?

Anyway, the first day of our get-together was very inspiring and educational. On Friday we took a day trip to the island of Camotes. It will be covered in our next posting as there are a lot of pictures to share.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Winter in Cebu

We had a spot of rain this past week. It actually rained almost continually over a three day period. We were starting to wonder if we should invest in a small boat. The standing water disappeared pretty quickly though when the sun came out again.

This was the week for MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) where all the zone leaders and sister training leaders meet for instruction from President and Sister Tanner. This meeting is on the first Tuesday of the month. The sisters actually arrive and meet by themselves with the Tanners on Monday evening.
Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders with the Tanners
On Thursday after MLC each zone holds a meeting to pass along information and training received at the MLC. Then on Friday President and Sister Tanner met with the local district leaders to provide additional training for them. Immediately after the Friday meeting Tanners left with the Assistants to the President to travel by ferry to Bohol in order to repeat the training for the district leaders on Bohol and so that President Tanner could do missionary interviews there next week.  We wonder if President and Sister Tanner ever sleep.

Mactan Doctors Hospital
Speaking of sleep, or lack thereof, this is what the entrance to Mactan Doctors Hospital in Lapu-Lapu looks like at about 3 A.M. Saturday morning. In addition to Mission Mom, Sister Tanner is also the designated Mission Nurse. We received a call from Sister Tanner at 11:30 Friday evening. There was a Sister Missionary in Lapu-Lapu who was experiencing a medical condition where she needed to go to the emergency room to be checked out. Since Tanners were on Bohol, she asked if we could go to assist. So off we went being reminded that if Sister Tanner were here she would be going and that this is her 'normal'. It seems that when she is not with missionaries helping them in person or on the phone, she is on the phone talking with doctors in Manila.
Hospital Main Entrance

Hospital Lobby/waiting area
We first met and picked up the two zone leaders in Lapu-Lapu, Elder Schnoor and Elder Racca, so that they could direct us to the sister's apartment. You may recall that last week we took the zone leaders from Lapu-Lapu to lunch at McDonalds - these are the ones. As it turned out, we met them at McDonalds because we knew where that was and we were not sure if we could find their apartment again. We then picked up the two sisters and a member from the ward in Lapu-Lapu named Marissa. Marissa was there with the sisters making sure they were cared for - she is an angel. 
Entrance to emergency room. Elder Schnoor is inside.
We proceeded to the hospital emergency room.  It turned out after a full night of testing and observation that the the sister missionary was all right.  She is recovering from having a wisdom tooth removed last week and had some difficulty related to that. She was released about 10:00 Saturday morning. By then we had taken the zone leaders back home and the two sister training leaders from Lapu-Lapu had come to assist.  The sisters were driven back to their apartment and we returned to our house - about an hour drive home due to traffic.  On our return trip we drove again past the point where one of us got the ticket for making an illegal U-Turn and saw that indeed there is a sign, although in the guilty party's defense it was hard to read. The guilty party would also like to take this opportunity to thank Elder Racca and Elder Schnoor for making sure the ticket was paid last week in a timely manner. All is well that ends well.
Elder Racca and Marissa
In the lobby of the Mactan Doctors Hospital is a sign above a desk written in Japanese Katakana (phonetic lettering) that reads Jiyapanisu Herupu Desuku. Roughly translated it is Japanese Help Desk. Apparently there are enough Japanese patients to warrant a help desk, although no one was at the desk the whole time we were there.  
Also, this prayer is posted on the hospital bulletin board. It made us wonder who Pedro Colungsod is. 
This is from the web site for the Embassy of the Philippines
"Blessed Pedro Calungsod also known as Pedro Calonsor was born in the year 1654 and died on April 2, 1672. He was a young Roman Catholic Filipino migrant, sacristan and missionary catechist, who along with Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, suffered religious persecution and martyrdom in Guam for their missionary work in 1672.

While in Guam, Calungsod preached Christianity to the Chamorro people through catechism, while baptizing both infants, children and adults at the risk of being persecuted and eventually murdered. Through Calungsod and San Vitores' missionary efforts, many native Chamorros converted to Roman Catholicism."
Blessed Pedro Calungsod
Pedro was from the Cebu area and is the second Filipino to be granted sainthood by the Catholic Church. It is also interesting that Joseph Smith was 14 when he had the first vision and Pedro was this same age when he left on the mission to Guam.