Saturday, March 26, 2016

Usa pa

We dedicate the post this week to our three beautiful grand daughters. Just look at how this jeepnee is decorated. Pretty cool, right? (pun intended) Which leads us to our question of the week:

Question: How many people will fit in a jeepnee?

Answer: Usa pa (one more)

The pictured jeepnee is a good example of this, they are never really considered 'full'. This concept actually applies to all forms of transportation.
Our grandson, Zach, mentioned that this past week was called Holy Week in Colombia. It is the same here. The thing we noticed most was how much quieter it was than Christmas. And the streets, at least where we traveled, were less crowded. We went to the local mall on Thursday (seen in the background of the picture above) and it was all closed except for the grocery store there. We were told that it would be closed through the week end. Imagine malls in America closed for more than a single day at a time.
As it turns out we spoke too soon. After writing about how uncrowded the streets were (we started putting the blog post together at home early Sunday morning) we drove to church. The street where our building is located is very busy today. As we finish writing this we are looking out at the traffic thinking it is going to take a while to get home.
Since we have time, we can tell about the Lilo-an lighthouse.

This is an operating lighthouse on a peninsula not far from us. It can actually be seen from the mission home.  A lighthouse in Cebuano is parola so this is officially the Parola of Bagacay Point. The original structure was built by the Spanish in 1857. It was replaced in 1904 by virtue of an executive order given by William Howard Taft who was the first American Governor-General of the Philippines - later the 27th President of the United States. This is the one seen today.
Parola of Bagacay Point
Parola of Bagacay Point

Yes, this is a real home cooked beef hamburger, real cheetos and real milk. There is a reason it is called comfort food.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

When I'm 64

This song means even more today than it did some 42 years ago.
We were invited to have dinner last night at the mission home with President and Sister Tanner and the office Elders. Along with the fancy, Elder decorated cake they had this little surprise:

It is called a tarpaulin here. They come in all sizes, are relatively inexpensive and are created and used all the time here for special occasions. It was a fun way to celebrate a birthday. We still don't know why a unicorn.

On Monday evening there was a special dinner and fireside for senior missionary couples serving in the Cebu and Cebu East Missions. It was held at the temple compound in Cebu. Elder Steven Snow is a member of the Seventy who is currently serving as Church Historian and Reid Neilson is an Assistant Church Historian and the Managing Director of the Church History Department. They travel a couple of times a year to various areas throughout the world as part of their duties and this year came to the Philippines.  The growth of the church in the Philippines has been dramatic going from four missionaries in 1961 to 710,000 members today and the church is wanting to make sure that a proper history of that growth is recorded.

 After dinner they talked briefly about the scriptural basis for keeping a record and the difference between recording facts (like names and dates) and keeping histories (like recording personal experiences) and how both are important. We then had about 30 minutes to ask questions, which went way too quickly.

From left to right are Reid Nielson, President and Sister McCurdy of Cebu Mission, Elder and Sister Snow, President and Sister Bowen of the Philippine Area Presidency, President and Sister Tanner of Cebu East Mission and Elder Perez who is a Philippine Area Seventy.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


We start this week with a picture taken while driving to the airport to drop off departing missionaries and pick up those coming in.  It is a picture of a typical tindahan or small local shop that, like jeepnees and tricycles, can be seen everywhere here - on main roads and in every neighborhood. At first it looked like the reflection from the car window ruined the picture but the white shirt and name tag along with the tindahan actually captures a glimpse of missionary work here in the Philippines.  I had no idea when taking the picture that it would turn out like this. It is like some of life's best moments and God's tender mercies - they may not be recognized the moment they happen. In fact, at the time they may be considered a disaster or mistake. Sometimes it is only when looking back that we are able to appreciate them for what they really were. 

So ... this was transfer week again - our fourth now. Normally most of the departing local (Philippine native) missionaries will fly out Wednesday morning and need to be dropped off about an hour before the new missionaries arrive. We left with the departing missionaries and their luggage from the mission office about 6:30 AM.  When traffic is light it is about a 40 minute drive to the airport.  Traffic wasn't too bad and we all made it without incident. This transfer we had nine missionaries depart and nine new missionaries come in.

Departing Batch

Waiting at the airport for the new arrivals.

New batch with trainers.
Those that are leaving us are excited and nervous while those coming in are both nervous and excited and the trainers are always excited to meet their new companion but a little nervous at the same time.  
Elder and Sister Halladay with son and grandson
We also lost a senior couple this week.  Elder and Sister Halladay flew out Saturday morning with family members who had come to visit and travel home with them. Their grandson was a missionary here when the Cebu East Mission split off from the Cebu Mission and ended his mission in Cebu East.

Halladays were one of two senior couples serving on the island of Bohol and will be sorely missed. The remaining couple, Elder and Sister Bell, will be stretched pretty thin over there. Have we mentioned how much senior couples are needed pretty much everywhere? 

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Here are two short videos that capture a hint of what it is like to drive in Cebu. The original video was too long to post so we made a sequel - kind of like the Hobbit - except, unlike the Hobbit, there wasn't enough material to make a third movie.

When watching the videos keep in mind that traffic, vehicle and pedestrian, is quite light. One-way, two lane roads are not very common here. The street shown is pretty wide and there is a bit of a shoulder where people can walk. It is really not very congested. One reason we like this route is because traffic generally flows nicely with only a few choke points along the way. Maybe someday we can do a video when traffic is bad.

Driving in Cebu - Part 1

Driving in Cebu - Part 2

Wasn't that exciting? We drive this street quite often as it is part of the main route used to get to the area of Cebu near the ferry terminals, S&R (Costco) and two major malls. On this day we were taking a van load of missionaries to catch ferries from Cebu to the island of Bohol which is 2 to 4 hours away depending on the ferry.

There it is. It is hard to believe that we have passed the five month mark. We feel more comfortable in our assignments now but each week brings new challenges and opportunities and we feel like we still have a lot to learn. The missionaries here are the best - we really love and admire them.
Elder Albar focused on the road ahead.
Missionaries on their way to catch a ferry.