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 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.

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Last Days

Last week was the final transfer where we will actually meet arriving missionaries. This past week was the final Mission Leadership Council (MLC) that we will see. As we meet with and talk to missionaries we wonder if it will be for the last time.  
Elder Cirunay, Elder Clark doing leadership training at MLC
The urgency of the last days are upon us. Sometimes the preparation for returning home feels as strange as it felt when we prepared to come. There are times when minutes drag even as the days fly by. We think there is still a lot of time left to wrap things up but then look at the calendar and see that there may not be enough days to do everything we think needs to be done.  We did have time this week, however, to take a batch picture.
Sister Cook, Sister Osumo and Elder Crapo were in the Provo MTC with us and now come to MLC. It was good to see Sister Cook looking healthy again after her stay in the hospital.  The sisters will be going home with us in March. Elder Crapo returns in September, the same time as our grandson, Zach.

On Monday we had a chance to take Elder and Sister Wilding to a mall in Cebu and then to S&R (Costco) so that they could stock up before heading back north to Bogo. We enjoy these kinds of opportunities to get to know the other couples serving here.

We have been using our good friend, Elerie, as a resource for special assignments. This week he was asked to find material for making 50 white shirts. This picture shows he and his mother getting ready to ride a motor bike with 75 meters (about 38 lbs.) of material to take to the tailor.
Elerie and his mother.

Thought for the Week

"A pebble held close to the eye appears to be a gigantic obstacle. Cast on the ground, it is seen in perspective. Likewise, problems or trials in our lives need to be viewed in the perspective of scriptural doctrine. Otherwise they can easily overtake our vision, absorb our energy, and deprive us of the joy and beauty the Lord intends us to receive here on earth."
Richard G. Scott

Sunday, February 12, 2017

348 - 14 -18

348 is the number of missionaries entering and leaving the mission over the course of 14 transfers in an 18 month period. Those numbers represent a lot of warm hellos and sad good-byes. The good-byes are especially hard knowing that there are many we will not see again in this life.

This week we said good-bye to
Sisters Raoiroi, Chand, Viqasi and Matafeo
Elders Minoc, Robanakadavu, Tamonang, Acosta and Lag'aia
Departing Batch
Since Sister Raoiroi was returning home to Kiribati and there are only two flights there a week from Manila, we had the opportunity to drive her to the airport Tuesday afternoon and see her off. The rest flew out early Wednesday morning.

Coming in to the Philippine Cebu East Mission Wednesday were
Sister Baldivia, Elders Bolipata, Rogers and  Babiera, Sisters Kilisi and Pulotu
And for trainers this time we have Sister Lacerna, Elder Lang, Elder Grimpluma, Elder Benting, Sister Matautia and Sister Alpuerto.
New batch and trainers.
In other news we made a new friend in church last week.
We didn't find out his name but he stayed long enough to eat a cookie and play with our tablet.

We also helped Sister Samoya and Sister Mariano move apartments yesterday and brought Sister Cook and Sister Loreto home today after a short stay in the hospital. And for Janica we had a goat sighting.
Of course there are goat sightings here every week. It would be very unusual to have a not goat sighting week.

Thought for the Week

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Crazy Sauce!

Our attention grabbing headline this week is to pay tribute to our grandson, Zach, who is currently serving in the Colombia Bogata South Mission. It is one of his favorite expressions.

We were actually in the MTC at the same time as Zach, just not in the same country. Zach left for the MTC in Bogata just a couple of weeks before we entered the MTC in Provo.

'Crazy sauce' is a good description for the similarities between many of his cultural experiences and ours. A lot of the things he talks about in his emails home sound very familiar. Things like challenges of food, heat, and language barriers to name a few.  Here are a few pictures that made us think he could be in the Philippines.
He is an inspiration. His example of faith and dedication helped us more than once when we felt like giving up experienced opportunities for growth - especially during the first 16 few months.

Check out his blog at

We had opportunities to see families baptized this week. On Thursday Sister Maughan and Sister McNett went to a baptism in Lapu-Lapu.
Sister Lumogdang and Sister Magbanua with the Amongdon family. 
In spite of 'taking the long way' to the church where the baptism was held and being 'a little bit' late, they were on time to be part of this special occasion. They met and witnessed the baptism of the Amongdon family.

On Saturday we attended a baptism in Lilo-an where our good friend, Elerie, was able to baptize his cousin's daughter. There was another family consisting of a mother, Roneda Trinidad, and her two sons Bryan and Ryan who were also baptized.
Elerie Bugtai and Janice Pogado
Elerie, Janice and Wilma
Altogether it was a good week.

Thought for the Week

"The tender mercies of the Lord are real and they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence."
Elder Bednar