Sunday, February 22, 2015

Every day life 2-22-2015

I thought that I would show some photos I took while we were going about our every day business. We are getting used to the traffic and congestion. Getting around is not that bad if you understand how traffic works here. There is no road rage. People just calmly work together to get where they need to be. Our mission area is small, that there are lots of people in it.  So here goes.....

This is in the S&R Store in Imus. These stores are a lot like Costco or Sam's in the US. You can buy the same stuff here as you can home. The prices are about the same. It took me awhile to get used to the Pacos. 1000 Pacos is about $25.

Getting to Imus is another story. We pass through some older areas with tight streets. Here are some random photos of "The Road to Imus".

One persons trash is another persons treasure. This is an old bed someone has thrown in a open lot. It is a little hard to see, but there were kids lined up to jump on it like a trampaline. Kids will be kids. Their play knows no language differences.

Speaking of kids, this "Lego Station" is in one of the mauls. The buckes are for gathering up logos. But kids will be kids

Our street.

People put their roosters out on the streets for display. There is a short rope tied to a leg to keep them from running away. We have even seen them out on the major streets in the down town area, even in front of the Mission Office. 
I think cock fighting is not leagal. I do not know why these roosters are displayed. I think they are for sale, but am not sure. Anyway, we wake up each morning to a chorus of roosters crowing. I was told these roosters are not good to eat. They are pumped full of stuff.

I know none of these photos are very impressive, I wanted to show what we see day by day. 
The people are wonderful people for the most part. Many are poor, but hard working and happy. Maybe hard working and happy go together. They also are innovative. They make do with what they have. When I first got here, I would laught to myself about some of the things I would see. Now, I find myself respecting them for what they are able to do with what they have. And the government lets them be improvise. The people of the Philippines have more freedoms by far than we in the US do. We are so regulated that we could not do these things. I do not have photos of the things I have seen. However, here is one vendor on his way to market with his Tricycle full.

Hope you all have a great day, and God bless you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The 5000 2-18-15

We are starting to settle in. The cultural change was a shock to our system. But we are adjusting. We live in their country, we are going to do things their way. We are even getting used to the traffic. We have actually found that it is easier to get around here than it was in Las Vegas. The driving is crazy, but it is slow speed crazy. And the people are patient and respectful. This is why it works. People will stop and let you do what you need to do. Driving in Las Vegas is also crazy, but it is high speed crazy, and the drivers are not patient nor courteous. Your chances of getting killed are much higher there.

I have dropped 3, going on 4 notches in my belt since I got here. Sister Petersen thinks I may have picked up a little friend or two in my body. If i did, I'm keeping him. This is the best weight loss program I have ever been on. But actually, I think it is the rice. I feel full when I eat rice, which is a lot, so I do not eat near as much. Either way, I'll take it. However, we know we can not be careless. We know of the consequences of foolish choices in what we do and what we eat or drink. So we choose carefully what we eat and where we eat out. And we choose carefully what we take home. 

Now, on another note. I have been thinking a lot lately about the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. This story is found in all four of the gospels in the New Testiment. This miracle of Jesus has become my favorite. This is because I think I am starting to understand it. The thumb nail view of the story line. Jesus is in a desert place with this large group of people consisting of 5000 men plus women and children. His deciples want Him to send them away so that they can find food. But He tells them feed the people. All they have is five barley loaves and two small fish (most likely these fish were dried and salted). These five loaves and two fish were only enought to feed a a few people, not nearly enough to feed 5000 plus. In the Mathew version, He told His deciples to "bring them thither to me". The scriptures say that He blesses them and broke them, and then he did something that is not written down, but is quite obvious, he multiplied them. The five loaves and two fish fed all of these people and there were twelve baskets left over. I doubt that the original loaves and fish would have filled these twelve baskets. 
So what is there to be learned from this Miracle? Why is this story, and the related story of the feeding of the 4000 thousand, (with similar results) included in the scriptures in such a prominent way?
I am starting to believe that this story is not about giving people bread, I believe it is about giving people the Bread of Life. Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. He told us that His grace is sufficient.
I believe that this miricle helps us to understand just how sufficient His grace really is. 
I am trying to do the very best I can to do the things the Lord has told us to do. But spiritually, I only have the equivalent of five loaves loaves and two fish. I need much, much more. In my mind, I can hear the Lord ask me what I have? I only have five loaves and two small fish. "Bring it thither unto me", He says. He will bless, He will break and He will multiply. Then I can have enought and to spare.
Please understand this is not about a free ride. He requires all of my loaves and fish, not part. I give all I have, His grace makes it enought. This is what this miricle of the five loaves and two small fish means to me. The miricle of feeding the people the real bread is pale when compared to what it's spiritual implications are for me, and for the rest of mankind. Those who will bring their loaves and fishes to Him. His grace is saficient. 

To our family, we love each of you. God bless you.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Exploring our mission 2/14/2015

This Saturday, which is our preparation day, we decided to take a look at some of our mission. This was fine with our President as long as we did not go out of our mission. Our mission is not very big. But with the traffic the way it is, driving across it can take a long time. 
We decided to go south. Manila is north. We have already seen some of this area. So we set our sight south. We had learned about some waterfalls called the Malibiclibic Falls. So we drove south to the Naic area. There are no signs telling us where the falls are. We sort of knew where we should go, but we never found the falls. Out side the city, the people do not speak much English. We followed what directions we had, but failed. However, we had a great time and saw things we wanted to see.

Rice fields!!!

Harvesting the rice.

This one made Sister Petersen day,


What we did find.

Did you see the Water Buffulo.

First transfer. 2/13/2015

Two days ago was our first transfer. Transfer happen every six weeks. They are a very big event for the missionaries. New missionaries come out during the transfers. The missionaries who have served for their perscrived time go home, and missionaries move around within the mission. This time, about one forth of our missionaries were affected. A lot of what Sister Petersen and I do are related to the transfers. We started preparing for the next transfer the day after this transfer was over.
This is a happy time for these kids. They love to be with each other. Former companions and associates really rejoice in each others company. I think missionaries that were not involved in the transfer turned up to visit. 
Meanwhile those charged with making the transfer work are working hard to get people and baggage where they need to go. But the missionaries are more interested in visiting than getting it done.  President Tye was walking through the crouds holding a sign that said "Alis ka na". This means sort of, please get your stuff and kindly go to your new area, thank you. Not really, it means "leave you now". If you said this to a stranger, you might be fighting him. But to these missionaries, it has become part of the culture of this mission. They truly love this President. There is no fear in their eyes when they are around him. Only love and respect. I think that is great. My mission experience was way different. I am a little jealous of the relationship these kid have with their President. I didn't have that.
But you know, my thinking is that this is the way it should be. The Lord knows what he is doing. He calls these young people to go through out the world and build His kingdom. They are emerging from adolescence ready to become adults. They spend two years or so serving others. They are called to bring people to Him. To build His kingdom. But I believe that while they are busy building, He is busy building them. They will all go home better people, prepared to have a better life. Perhaps the most notable conversions that acure in the missions are the conversions of those who ware the name tags.

The following photo is of a group of out missionaries waiting to get on a Jeepney. None of the missionaries have a car in this mission, with very few ezceptions. They know how to get around.

They seem to do ok with the transportation system. But after riding one, I think I would rather lay down the road and let it run over me.

If I ever ride another one, this is how I will do it.

There are very modern malls here. The Philippines are not as backward as you may think. I have noticed that almost all of the signage is in English. English is widely spoken. We could get by without learning any Tagalog. But we are going to try to learn it. However, we do not use it in our work. Everything is done in English.

Lunch at Jollibees. Lot of rice and gravy and very good. That is an egg on top of the rice. Jollibees is sort of like a Philippino KFC.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Jeepney ride 2/10/2015

This post is about our Jeepney ride. What is a Jeepney? This is a Jeepney.

Not the truck, the other one. These things are as thick as flies here in the Philippines. It is most likely the most used form of transportation. Our missionaries use them a lot. It usually cost about 8 PHP per ride. That is somewhere around a quarter.

There are also Tricycles.

These are a little more expensive, but will give you a little more customized ride.

Well, Sister Petersen decided that we needed to ride a Jeepney. I must admit, I was courous as well. We talked our training Elders into going to lunch with us via Jeepney. It took us awhile but we finally found a Jeepney that was going our way that wasn't already jammed clear full, so we got on. We noticed that the other people let us go on first. I thought it might be some kind of white privilege thing, which I want no part of.  But our Elders explained that it was because of our age. Older people are respected here. They even have special checkout stands in the bigger stores for Senior citizens.  I am ok with that. After all, being old needs to be good for something.
These Jeepneys have two branches, one down each side of the interior. I soon found out that these vehicles were not designed for extra tall, slightly over weight bald Americans. I bent over as far as I could with my knees bent also, and my back still rubbed against the roof. I set down only to find that they were way too short for me. My head was calked at what felt like a 90 degree angle. We were the first on an empty Jeepnet, so we scooted to the front. But it soon filled clear full. Then I was time for us to get off. Now I was bent clear over with my knees bent as far as they could go and allow me to walk, with the legs of the other passengers protruding into the aisle. It wasn,t pretty. Before I could get clear off, the passengers began to laugh. I could still hear them laughing a half block away. I discovered one thing however. The Philippinos laugh in English. I vowed right then and there that I would never get on one of those contractions ever again. But we needed to get back to the office. 
After lunch, we debated what to do. We thought of riding one of the tricycles, but our Elders assured us that would be worse. I took their word for it. So back onto a Jeepney. However, this time I sat as close to the back a I could. When we got to the office, I was so bent over that I sat down and scooted off on mt bottom. Again, laughter, in Eniglish mind you. But because I am old, I'm am sure they were laughing at me in a most respectful way.  So ended my first, and most assuredly my last Jeepney ride.

However, lunch was great. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ward Choir 2-7-2015

One of the wards we attend had their Ward Conferance today. That means the Stake Presidency were there. All of the leadership in this Ward and all of the Stake people that we saw are native Philippinos. These are strong units. 
Anyhow, we were recruited to sing in the Ward choir. I could not help but show Sister Petersen's choir attire.

So cute. The songs are sung in English. I love to pause and Liston to the people sing. I love their accent. The vowels are pronounced differently in Tagalog than they are in English, so in many cases, they sing the English words using the Tagalog anounciation. I love it. I love these people.
After the meetings were over, the Ward had a luncheon for the members. We were invited. Sister Petersen brought brownies. We set the plates of brownies on the table. I heard some one whisper "brownies!". Before we got through the line, they were all gone. We were treated to a wonderful lunch. I  didn't know what some of the things I ate were, but i'm very OK with that. The food was all way to wonderful. I can feel my resolve to loose weight while on our mission teetering a little.
Now, tonight's Departing Missionary Fireside. We have 5 Elders and 6 Sisters going home this coming week. I was tiold that these Firesides are fairly new to our mission. What a wonderful idea. The fireside was held in the new Bacoor Stake center. The chapple was almost full of people to honor these young missionaries. These are people who's lives have been touched by these 11 missionaries in one way or another. I tried to show in the following photo the number of people that were there. However, I failed. There were a lot of people through out the building.

This is our Mission Preident, President and Sister Tye. There is no doubt in my mind why the Lord called this couple to do this work. These are wonderful people. I can't say enought good about them.

This fireside is the furthest we have traviled on our own. Sister Petersen said she was born to drive in the Philippines. She is right. She did a great job, and nothing died. However, I am sure that if she goes home to Las Vegas and drives like she did tonight, she will be arrested.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pioneer 2/8/2015

We attended a baptismal service yesterday evening. The cute little missionaries who are assigned to the Malinro 1st ward had a young woman to be baptized. There was also a young man there also.

The person I want to write about, however is the older woman standing at the left of the photo. Her name is Sister Teofesto. I call her Sister Maganda (Beautiful). And I mean that in every sense of the word. She is one of the pioneers in the Philippines. Her and her husband were baptized in 1984. Remember that in 1961 when the country was set apart for missionary work by Elder Hinkley, there was only 1 member of the church that was a native Philippino. Her husband eventually served as a Bishop and a Stake President. Before he died, they served a mission together. When there 18 months was up, they were asked to extend for another 18 months. When that 18 months was done, they were asked to extend another 18 months. A total of 4.5 years. When I am around her, I am humbled to dirt. Her countenance reflects exactly what the Lord's gospel does to and for people. The light about her is wonderful. She is my hero.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lessons Learned. 2-6-2015

I would like to talk about a couple of things that I have experienced that have caused me to think some.
While we were still in the MTC in Prove, something happened to me that has proven. to be very important to me. Toward the end of the week, we went into the caffitiara to eat breakfast. The Senior Couples usually sat together in the same location. We were the first ones there. I sat down to eat when I felt someone put their hand on my back just below my left shoulder and push in a little. I thought it was one of our new found friends. I turned around to see who it was, but there was nobody there. I was startled some. I know what I had felt. It was still on my mind when we went to our first class. The first thing that our instructor did was discuss a scripture.  

D&C 84:88 "....I will go before your face. I will be be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your heart, and mine angles round about you, to bear you up". 

Here is the deal. I have never felt that the promises of the Lord ever applied to me because I was not good enought to get them. however, I know what I had experienced in the cafeteria. This scripture hit me with power. 
Since that day, I have come to know without doubts that His Spirit is in my heart and His angles round about me to bear me up. I know he has excepted me and my choice to serve. We are very busy, but happy. We want to, and feel we can make a difference in the lives of the people. I know we will be OK.
We also want our service to make a difference for good in the lives of our family and friends.

I do not wish to afend anyone or belittle any religion. But I had something happen that has cused me to think. We walked to an open air market close to where we live in Malino. Make shift booths set up everywhere. They were selling everything from fish and meat to fruites, cloths and every kind of rice known to men. I think you could ever fine the kitchen sink if you looks for one. The smells and atmosphere was something I had never experienced befor.
While there we were approached by an Islomic street preacher. He was very aggressive to the point of being rude. I looked into his face and I was taken back a little by what I saw. We work all day looking into the faces and eyes of the missionaries. These kids have a light about them that I grown to love love. And their eyes reflect light, happiness and love. I have grown used to seeing this. But I saw none of this in this man's face and eyes. No light, no love. What I saw in his eyes was anything but love. I know he does not reflect all members of the Islomic faith. Being kind and loving is a personal choice that any person can make. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

End of first week.

We have had to adjust fast. Transfers are soon. Transfers are a big deal for us. A lot of the work we will be doing is to support transfers. We get new missionaries and missionaries go home during the transfers. Plus, missionaries move around within the mission. We are learning fast. We have had to.
Today after we came home we walked into Malino to one of the market places. Part of it was an open air meat market and fish market. Interesting combination of smells coming from everywhere. I would attach photos, but I did not think it wise to take my iPad along with us. We are feeling more confident, but we still do not known the culture well. When I feel more secure, I will go back and take pictures.
There somebody great houses in our area, and there are some dumps. They use all of the land they have. High fences and barbed wire are not uncommon. 

This house is right across the street from us. We enter our court yard through a little gate that I almost need to crawl through.

Breakfast with milk that we buy un-refrigerated. It is good, but it took some getting used to. I am sure they have regular milk somewhere here, but this boxed, un-refrigerated milk is what is common. We are not here to be spoiled Americams. We are going to live as 

This is not rush hour. This is light traffic.

Our battery went dead in our car. We went to the Motolite to get the battery. They are almost an open market store. About the size of a closet. They did the job however. 
The adventure continues.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Settling in 2/2/2015

I have not been able to write anything for a few days. Out of WiFi range when I have time to post, and am too busy when I have it. We are here and we are trying to settle in. We need to learn the language, the culture, our mission rules and duties, missionary names, member names and how to get around the cities. The traffic is nothing short of demolition derby on steroids. 
We spent a half day in the office training. The rest of the day was getting our drivers liciences. That was an experience in and of itself. We had one of the APs there to guide us through the maze. He was great. He got us through with our liciences on one day, which is unheard of. He found a new contact in the process. When I went to get my liciences photo, the camera was pointed at about my belly button. The guy kept waving for we to get lower. I would equate some more, and he would wave some more. I was almost setting before he could take the shot. I wasn't sure I was going to get up again. We have a car now and have driven. I do not know how I got my licience. I failed the eye test miserably. I had to guess because I could not see. The man doing the test said I needed glasses. I guess he didn't notice that I was waring glasses already. I didn't point that out, but he passed me.

    New Philippine drivers licience.

    First drive in Phillipino traffic.

Saturday we drove to Bacoor City to the grand opening of the nes Stake center. We rode over with another Senior Couple, the Rigbys. They have been wonderful to us. They helped us settle in to our apartment, and took us so we could shop for stuff we needed to stock the apartment. 
We were treated like rolyity when we arrived. They gave flowers to the Sisters and blue ribbons with flowers to Elder Rigbe and I. When the service started they asked us to set on the stand, not sure why. 
The new building is great.
    Open house for the new Bacoor Stake Center.

    Our hot water heated. Works great. We only have hot water in the shower. If we want it else where we heat it.

    Water filter system. Few can not drink the water unless it is filtered. We drink, wash dishes, and cook with the water from this system only.

    Our fly swatted.

Sunday was our first day in church. We are going to attend two wards, Malino 1st and Malino 2nd wards. Again, we were treated royalty. We were asked to come bear testimony in both wards. I spoke Taglish. I think I amused them, but did not offend any one. 
These Saints are a wonderful people. Humble and loving.

    Our new building. The chapel is on the second froor. These are both big strong wards.