Tuesday, 28 April 2015

National Day of Service 04/28/15

I took this from the car.  Look beyond the fence
at the beauty!
No one actually says that here, but that IS the way to say hello and I love that word!  Speaking of words...our struggle with the language continues, but unte unte (little by little), we are learning it.  People usually speak a little bit of English (konte lang- just a little).  There is a saying and an action here, that the people use if we speak too much English to them.  They say "nosebleed," which means that their head is going to explode inside which will cause a nosebleed.  They have a gesture that goes along with that.  So, since we don't want to give everyone nosebleeds, we are trying so
hard to learn.  Everyone loves helping us, so we have many teachers!  Most of the time WE are the ones who feel like we'll get the nosebleed!  Everyone speaks Tagalog, but there is another language people use in our area called Pampangan, and they try teaching and speaking that to us as well.  We just tell them we can only learn one language at a time!  The 2 languages are very different!

Still on the subject of language, many people would love to learn to speak English as it will help their job prospects at call centers and other better paying jobs.  We have gotten the official okay to start English classes and hope to have it up and running by next week.  We are busy planning lessons, games and songs to use.  The District President promised us that if we teach English, WE will learn Tagalog.  We hope people will have enough time to attend the class.
This is April, the teacher.

The youth are amazing!  How we love the youth and the young single adults!  In one of the branches, the teenagers organized a family history workshop.  There weren't any adults there, but there were probably 12 teenagers from 9-4, loading their family history into Family Search.  The internet is awful everywhere, so they had to be so patient.  They were all totally engaged in this effort and soaked in all that was taught by the young woman in charge.  They were on the phone with their parents, getting names to type in and loved seeing the family history fans.
Group work around 1 slow computer.

Elder Wood posing with a fighting cock rooster in it's cage.
The normal wake up time is with the sun and the crowing roosters- around 5:30am.  Our branch planned a service project that started at 6:00 on Saturday morning!  We picked up garbage in one of the barangy's (neighborhoods).  The barangy captain claimed that most of the garbage came in from an outside community, but there really aren't any anti-litter campaigns here.  We see garbage being tossed all the time.  A favorite pastime is burning garbage piles and rice stubble.  We breath in a lot of smoke as there are always fires going.  Here are some pictures of our service project.

Burning garbage along the side of the road.  This one
got a little out of control and a water truck came later.
Notice the electric wires just above it!

We were given brooms to sweep the garbage
into piles to burn.
One of our work crews.

More sweepers.

Elders and young people in the branch.

Branch President is on the left.

After the service activity we had a lunch that was masarup!  I got to help with the string beans.  They grow them long here!  We are at a member's house.  I guess this is a good spot to talk about some of

 the food here.  We always go to the palenke's to get our mangos and bananas.  Mike has been telling me about them forever and his is right- they have more flavour here and we can't get enough of them!  We also love getting fresh coconuts.  They husk them with their machete's very quickly and then we bring them home, cut through the top, drain the water to drink and then spoon the soft coconut flesh out- YUM!!  That's one of my favourite things!  They are 20 peso's which is about .50.  There is so much sold in the markets, but the meat has been out in the hot sun for who knows how long.  We choose to get that in the grocery stores.  I've been trying to cook
 some filipino dishes, but I'm certainly not up the calibre of our Winnipeg friends!  Oh, another thing we love is the hot pandasal.  Those are little hot buns that are so tasty!

Thought you might enjoy the name of this
canned chicken!  How do you think this brand
name would go over in the US or Canada?
One of the areas we work in is called Guagua.  It has a town centre that is quite nice.  Here are a couple of pictures from Guagua.  One is a government building and the other is a picture of the jeepney's lined up and ready to go!

Our little city of Lubao has a VERY old Catholic church in it.  I will include some pictures of it.  The plaque tells the history- so interesting!

Finally, we were able to visit with Steve and Bette Gibson, my parent's neighbors in Provo.  They run a bunch of schools that teach people how to run their own businesses and how to take their ideas and help them to grow so they can provide decent income for their families.  It's a wonderful program and runs with the Self-Reliance program.  It was great to see them and to hear about the wonderful things they do for the people here and in Mexico (mainly).
Here we are with Steve and Bette Gibson as
well as their program directors here.
Four of our outstanding missionaries!
Until next time!  Kita-Kits sa Linggo!  Have a great week!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Who Let the Dogs Out? Who!


I should probably explain this week's blog subject.  From what we have seen, there is basically one breed of dog here- MUTT.  They all look alike and they all look hungry as they just wander the streets reproducing.  This is not a place for animal lovers as there are so many dogs, cats and other animals (besides fighting cocks), that are starving and unloved.  We confess that we are not lovers of the dogs and cats whose barks and human-like cat crying, that we hear all night.  We also wake up to the roosters in the mornings, but we don't mind that as much! Now onto lighter subjects...

Many members and friends gathered together in one house near where we live, for a Family Home Evening.  We had a wonderful lesson, games, and we introduced the primary song,  Smiles.  The lesson was about the importance of families and treating each other with love.  We got the gyst of it even though it was all in Tagalog.  There's always enough English thrown in to make it sort of understandable.  They call it Tag-lish.  One game we played was a new way to play Simon Says and it was really fun!  That is a good way to teach us Tagalog.  I used the missionaries as props for teaching Smiles and everyone was having fun.  Filipino's LOVE to laugh and have fun, one of their many traits that we are falling in love with!  There is ALWAYS food at their gatherings and we love that too!
Here are a few people from the Family Home Evening.
The man in the wheelchair is an artist.  We hope to get
a portrait done.  Our Branch President is in the white.

Another highlight is our keyboarding class.  There are very few piano players here, so sometimes the church chorister will just stand up and sing the first line of a song, then says "go!" and then people all sing the melody at that pitch.  We are getting piano lessons going in a couple of branches.  The youth are VERY enthusiastic about it.  There is a family in Oregon that provides the Harman Grant Fund.  They fund electric keyboards and teaching materials to countries and people that would never be able to afford instruments and training on their own.  Another missionary couple got the program started here last January and I'm continuing with it.  I'm very thankful to them for getting the program going here!  Three of the branches we work with, have music programs we are helping with and we are loving it!  The students practice so hard and are such fast learners!  The Church has developed a very easy program to teach.  It is just wonderful!!  Here is one of our classes we work with.

This is their "funny faces" shot!  These kids are awesome!
We have so much fun with them!
 On Wednesday we went with about 8 other
missionaries to do a service project.  A family
was adding to their house and we went out to help mix the concrete (with shovels), haul concrete blocks, and chop wood for their cooking fires.  They grow rice, and vegetables.  Here are a few pictures from that day:

Just a few roosters hanging out by the
outdoor kitchen and some cement mixing
on the side of the kitchen.

Caren and the Caribao.

A better view of the kitchen and area.
 We all had a great time working and got a LOT done.  The walls went up fast- just cinder blocks and cement, then they use a trowel to put more cement on for smooth walls.  The family made us a feast to thank us!  A really fun part was being able to sit on a caribao.

Here is the house under construction,
It will be a wonderful house!

We were invited back out to the Pangang's again on Friday for their joint birthday party and daughter's graduation party.  An activity that is enjoyed here is Videoke.  From what we can tell, filipino's love to sing.  We have heard many beautiful voices and noticed lots of place to rent "videoke" equipment for gatherings.  Again, some delicious food was prepared.  Masarup!
Here we are with the guests of honor including the graduate that is hiding
next to me and behind her mom.

 Here are some other pictures of some scenes and houses out in the country.

 The Young Women in both of the Lubao branches asked me to teach them to make cookies.  This fulfilled one of the Personal Progress requirements.  We haven't met many people who have ovens, so they had never made cookies before.  We had a lot of fun!  They loved it!  They made enough cookies to bring around to less active YW.  We made peanut butter cookies and snickerdoodles.

This is not a good picture and doesn't include everyone, but
the internet won't allow me to upload anymore.  Some of
the young men appeared for the activity since they heard
there would be cookies!
These are our 2 ovens we used to
bake all the cookies!

Princess is surrounded by her family.
We were able to attend a missionary farewell on Saturday night.  Many young people go on missions here.  It is so wonderful because they return and become leaders in the branches with their learned skills from their missions.  It is VERY rare that a missionary is called to serve outside of the Philippines.  This is a young woman named Princess that is leaving for her mission to Laoag this week.  She will be a great missionary!

Here are some pictures of our apartment (more of a townhouse) and views from our window.  We've been subject to a few "brown outs" this week- a government enforced way to ration electricity.  One night the water was turned off as well.

Home, Sweet Home!
Side yard.

Our view past our gate.

View from our balcony.

Travelling on our way back home after a meeting we were behind this little piggy on a motorcycle tricycle.  He's going to market in style!  These trikes are more like miniature trucks and carry every imaginable type of freight.

We miss all of you and love you!  Kita-kits sa linggo!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Home, Sweet Home! 4/11/2015

Magundang Umaga!  Kumusta?

It has been an eventful week here for us.  We had a zone conference, went on a senior missionary tour cruise on a yacht, got our driver's licenses, moved into our own apartment in our zone, went to church once, went to a member's house for dinner, bought groceries, drove a car, have met our neighbors, rode on a Jeepney, did cleaning checks on missionary apartments, went out with the elders and many more things.  We are trying to figure out how to serve best and adapt to the culture as quickly as possible.  We still have a long way to go, but it is coming and we are enjoying the adventure!
Mission home and Sister Dahle.

Elder Wood with the guard
for the mission home.
We were glad when Holy Week was over.  There was a ton of traffic and lots of places were closed.  I am not including a picture, but we would see processions constantly for 2 days.  On Good Friday we saw groups of men that would whip themselves on their backs over and over as they walked.  Their backs were covered with blood.  That is their penitence.  It is just horrible.  Stephen commented that it makes going to the bishop look easy!

We were expecting a typhoon, but it decided to take a turn and miss us completely.  We gathered with all the senior couples from our mission, 7 couples total, and went on a yacht tour of Subic Bay.  We really enjoyed meeting the other couples.  One of the couples lives here and one couple goes home in 2 weeks.  If any of you out there would like to come to this mission we are in great need!  Here are some pictures from our tour:    

We didn't get General Conference until this weekend because of the 14 hour time difference, so we went to church in our area even though we were still living at the mission home at the time.  We were waiting for the couple in our apartment to move to the office.  It was nice to meet some of the members.  The Branch President asked us to introduce ourselves and bear our testimonies.  We had everything written down and spoke in Tagalog.  I don't know if anyone understood us, but we made that attempt!  We saw lots of smiles, so we take it that they got a kick out of hearing our bad Tagalog!
Caribou and people working in rice fields
Rice fields
We were invited to dinner at the Lubau 1st Branch President's house.  Their daughter had gotten married in the temple the day before and we think they were having people over for a celebration after we left.  It was the most delicious food!  They had killed a goat and chickens for the feast.  Masarup!  Their house was in the country, so we got to see people working in the rice fields with their caribou.

Goat and chicken meal
Branch President's family and
the senior couple we replaced.
First thing on Monday we were able to get our licenses, pack up our brand new mission car (Toyota Corolla sedan) and head to our apartment.  We met some neighbours who were watching us move our things inside.  They are very nice and have been very helpful.  We brought some muffins to one of the neighbour families and came back with some delicious lumpia that they insisted we take.  It was nice to unpack and get settled!  They call this an apartment, but it is more like a townhouse.  We have 2 floors- 3 bedrooms (one bed), 2 bathrooms, laundry area which is an outdoor covered area, kitchen and living room that doesn't have any furniture besides a table.  We are in a gated area and have bars on all our windows.  We are all settled in, but we need to find a couch to sit on.  We have air-conditioning in our bedroom and office.

Our washing machine.  We
are spoiled!  The young
missionaries have to wash by hand.
Our kitchen.  See the filters for our
water at the sink?  Our water trickles out
and it's only cold water.  To do dishes
we need to boil water.

I call this my Easy Bake Oven.
The oven control only says high and

Tuesday was our Zone Conference.  It took us 3 hours to get about 50 kilometers!  Our average speed was 15 km/hr. because of bridge construction in 3 places and the fact that 1 lane of traffic turns into 4 lanes and then everyone has to merge back into 1 lane to go over the bridge...oy!  Mike handled it like a pro!  I have my license, but I really hope I never have to drive!  Zone Conference was great.  We have a very diverse missionary force.  Only 1 Canadian elder that leaves in 2 weeks from Lethbridge- Elder Wetterstrand.  There are very few Americans and most go home in 2 weeks.  70% of the missionaries are from the Philippines and others are from Marshall Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Sri Lanka, India, Hong Kong, etc.

Our first zone conference

Tuesday night we met our piano and conducting students.  The senior couple that had been teaching the class before, moved to the office.  Sister Winters told the students (before we got there), that a real piano expert was going to be teaching them.  One person was wondering where I got my music degree from.  NO PRESSURE!  I don't know where she got that information, but I quickly dispelled that rumor!  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  I am looking forward to teaching the keyboarding course however and getting to know the youth that are taking the course.

We took Wednesday to do some more shopping and to discover our area.  We tried out 2 grocery stores and the palenke which are all the little vendors that sell food and wares out of little stands.  They were fun to see.  We bought some fresh mangoes from a sweet toothless (very common) lady that loved talking to missionaries.  She knew some missionaries from the past.  She was impressed that we could speak Tagalog to her.  We find that if we put both our brains together we can usually come up with a few sentences!  We also found some hot pandesol for 2 peso's a piece.  Those are fresh buns that are wonderful!  We like walking around in our area and talking to people along the way.

Thursday was apartment check day.  We made it to half our area and it took 6 hours.  There was a difference between elder apartments and sister apartments, to put it mildly!  All the missionaries have to do their wash by hand.  They only have hot plates to cook on and if everything isn't completely clean there are spiders and ants all over the place.  To get all their missionary work done and to keep everything clean is difficult.  It is so dusty and dirty here so there is always a layer of dirt that needs wiping down twice a day.  We also have to boil our water to do dishes as we don't have any hot water.  It is easy to get behind, but who wants bugs in their apartment?  I had made some banana muffins to bring around to the missionaries, so even though we asked them to do a little better on their cleaning, they were good sports when they saw the muffins!

Friday we went out tracting with a set of elders.  We didn't do very well as they got "punted" on their 2 appointments we were joining them on, but we did get to ride on a jeepney.  These are little buses that about 20 people squeeze into.  There is no such thing as personal space here!  It's pretty funny- people just tell the driver where they want to go and pass the money along from person to person until it reaches the driver, then the driver makes change and it gets passed back down the line back to the person.  When people want to stop they just yell, "Para!"and off they go.  We practically have to fold in half to get on and off.  We also studied language and I spent time trying to get to understand the keyboarding course so I can at least pretend to look like I know what I'm doing!

Today and tomorrow is General Conference for us.  The Saturday sessions were wonderful!  We felt like many of the talks were tailored for us- one of the miracles of conference.  We have responsibility in 5 branches.  Today we went to Lubau, but tomorrow we will head to Dinalupihan and maybe Guagua so we can meet more people.  We forget everyone's names.  They are hard to remember!

So, that's it for now.  Life is good in the Philippines and we hope it is for you as well!
(More pictures below!)

Mahal kami kayo!

This is the entrance sign into Olongapo City.  Mike made me
pose under this sign and add it to our blog! Back when there was
a large US Navy base you can imagine why Olongapo
had this notoriety.  There are still plenty of "Joe's"
that make their home here.

Lots of religion on cars and other transportation.

We are in the one OFFICIAL lane and
getting squeezed by the 2 Unofficial lanes!
This picture won't fully load.  Hope
you can tell!

Rice is dried on the road.  Cars drive over it.  It is shoveled up
and put into bags after it is dry.  

Typical housing.

On our way to church.  Downtown Lubao.