Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Weeks 4 through 7

Approximately weeks 4 through 7 or more exactly dates December 5, 2011 through January 4, 2012.

Internet problems have kept us from adding to our blog site for a number of weeks.  Today we are in Cebu and able to use the stronger internet connection at the mission office. 

The weekend of December 9th, we spent the night in the Marriott Hotel in Cebu allowing us to participate in the Relief Society two day temple trip of the Toledo first branch. The Relief Society Sisters stayed at the Patrons House located in the Temple Complex.  The rooms sleep six.  Somehow Elder Dover and I just didn’t see how that would work for us Five sisters were endowed including Sister Prajes, Sister Marilyn’s mother.  Sister  Noriene Cabatuan was so excited for her first temple trip to participate as a proxy in baptisms for the dead.  Sister Mitzi Honoridez created a slide show with pictures from the trip.  She gave permission for it to be shared here. Thanks Sister Mitzi! 

Click this link to see the Temple slideshow previously posted on the blog.

The pancake breakfast we served in November was a great success.  The Elders have been hoping for another one before transfers.  We set the date for the last P-day before transfers, December 20th.  All but one companionship were able to make it.

Elder Dover will cook 4 dozen eggs!

Second pancake breakfast for Zone Elders. These are all amazingly dedicated and hard working but fun loving young men. We love them all!

Everyone is FULL!

Elder Herbst, from distant and mountainous Lomac, had asked if he could bring the two branch missionaries staying with him.  His companion had completed his service and was on his way home for Christmas.  His new companion wouldn’t arrive until transfer day later in the week.  He shared some pretty amazing pictures of helping members work their rice fields.

Means of transportation and distribution of goods continue to be interesting as they are so varied and creative.  We actually rode in a trisikel to church one Sunday when Elder Hardin had to use the car to take Elder Culala into Cebu for a medical emergency.  The seats are not very long or wide and knee room is restrictive, so it was a little tricky for Elder Dover to squeeze in beside Sister Dover.  The driver actually started out before he had his right leg completely in.  The driver stopped when the door fell off the trisikel because it bumped Elder Dover’s leg.  Elder Dover got situated while the driver put the door back on.  He was not hurt, and the door sustained only minor damage.  We had our trisikel experience complete with strong exhaust fumes. I definitely prefer the “comfortable” ride of the car.

Check out the Philippine traffic smilebox posted previously by clicking on this link.

Home of our neighbors two doors down
On a clear day, 100 steps from our back door will open up this view of Negros, the Island just West of Cebu
Thursday, December 8th, we drove into Cebu for a Christmas Devotional prepared by President and Sister Schmutz.  On the way in, I had asked Elder Dover if he felt at all
 “Christmasy”.  He said,” No, do you?”  I had to admit that I did not.  After the Devotional reading of the Nativity Story from the Gospels and passages from Isaiah chapter 53, after singing all the Christmas Carols in the hymn book, after a lunch of pizza and several Christmas oriented games - one of which we had been asked to prepare - we began to feel the spirit of Christmas and were ready for Christmas to begin.

 President and Sister Schmutz presenting all missionaries with an official Philippines Cebu Mission panyo*. 

*The ordinary panyo, a colored handkerchief, is carried by nearly everyone to wipe sweat from their faces, but the Cebu Mission panyo is to remind of sacred experiences and tender feelings. It is to remind of covenants, friendships and farewells.  It is to remind that the time will surely come when the Lord will bid his faithful to come to the marriage supper of the Lamb and be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linens is the righteousness of the Saints.” Revelation 19:7-9

With Sisters Mitzi and Marilyn, we made second visits to the three families we mentioned in the previous blog entry.  The first contact, the LacongLacong family, received us warmly.  Brother LacongLacong was not at home this visit.  He was working, providing  transportation for people with his trisikad.  Elder Dover gave a lesson.  We invited them to return to church.

The Sister at the next home refused to let us in.  She turned her back on us.  I had brought a traditional Philippine decoration that I love, a star, for the daughter.  We left it hanging on the fence.  

We were well received at the third home.  Brother Ubay has found temporary work.  Sister Ubay was at home with two cute granddaughters.

We stopped at a third members home, the Bacalso family’s home.  They are inactive.  The older Sister suffers loss of sight from advanced glaucoma. It rained hard while we were in their humble home.  Sister Bacalso requested a blessing from Elder Dover.  We sang “I am a Child of God” together and offered a prayer before we left. There was a good feeling, but they said that church was just too far away for them to attend.  

We were appalled to discover that Sister Marilyn had lost her cell phone somewhere during our visits. It had been given to her several years ago by her mission President. She was so very worried.  Backtracking, after a prayer, we were so pleased that we found it in a field where we had parked the car. 

Here is an interesting note about visiting.  When planning a time for the first visit, I asked if we should call the families and make an appointment.  Sister Mitzi and Sister Marilyn both gave me a funny look, but just said that such calls weren’t necessary.  When we arrived at the rural homes where there is often no electricity and no phone service or cell phones,  I understood the quizzical looks from Sister Mitzi and Sister Marilyn.  Set an appointment?  How?  To just drop by and stand outside a home or fence politely calling “Hello” until the door is opened is very common.  Generally people have no problem taking time to visit.

The single adults asked if they could have their Christmas party at our place.  It was fun to host them.  They are a wonderful group of young people.  Some of the fun of the party is shared in the Our Christmas Smilebox in a previous post.

We prepared Noche Buena food baskets to take to the LacongLacong and Ubay families. 

Sisters Mitzie and Marllyn
I wondered what Christmas message we could leave give and suddenly it came to me that we should make small paper nativity scenes and tell the Christmas story.  The children at the LacongLacong home were especially attentive.  After the story was told and we let them know that the figures were for them to keep.  One of the older children quickly gathered the figures in her arms, took them inside and began retelling the story to the younger children.  We told the Lacong2x family that Branch President Honoridez would be contacting them about the new roof they needed. 

There are many words in Cebruano that are repeated.  When that happens a shortened form of spelling can be used by writing out the first word and then placing 2x next to it to show that the word is repeated, hence, LacongLacong can be written Lacong2x.

Christmas in the Philippines begins with the parents waking the children at midnight of Christmas morning for a big meal, generally of spaghetti.  The family eats and exchanges gifts.  Then they go back to bed.  Perhaps it is because there is no snow that Santa receives no requests to stop in the Philippines.  They know of the Santa tradition and a Santa hat is worn as part of their uniform by every clerk in every store from September through December.  Christmas is celebrated during the “ber” months beginning in September.  No one requests that Santa stops here.

See our Christmas smilebox posted previously by clicking the following link.

Transfers on December 21st brought us a companionship of Sisters, Sister Gumayao and Sister Hansen. They will be the second companionship, but only sisters,  in Balamban.  They were supposed to arrive in Toledo with the zone leaders about 8:30 pm on transfer day and then we were going to give them a ride to their apartment, about 30 minutes away.  They actually didn’t leave Cebu until 8:30.  It was suggest by the zone leaders that they stay with us the first night and that we take them to Balaman  the next morning.  We rushed out to buy a foam sleeping mat and sheets for it and for the couch.  It worked out just fine.  They were both very tired.  This was the second day in Cebu for Sister Hansen.   She was just out of the MTC.  Sister Gumayao is Pilipino and Sister Hansen is from Arizona.  (She owns a horse, Brescia. She loves riding.)

It is clear that they will be great missionaries.  They were up early getting in their personal study time before breakfast.
Companion study and then a breakfast of pancakes and eggs of course

Branch President Honoridez brings in the basket of rice – covered with banana tree leaves -  for the branch Christmas party. 

Relief Society President Melona Alec and Alicia Honoridez organize food for the party.

Knowing that our internet would not be reliable for family Christmas visits, we scheduled a room at the Marriott in Cebu to use their internet for the visits.  All we wanted for Christmas was this time to visit.

The missionaries wanted a Christmas Eve get-together.  They hoped to meet at our place.  Of course, they are welcome.  We treated them to dinner, and participated in what they call Shinning Moments when they pay tribute to other missionaries.  We read the Christmas Story and sang a few hymns.  Then the zone leaders received a call that an Elder from Lutopan was experiencing what might be appendicitis. They wanted to bring him to our place and then to a hospital in Toledo.  My thoughts were that he should just be taken to Cebu for better care.  We drove the Sisters back to Balamban because it was a holiday and the buses had stopped running early.  While we were gone, word was received that indeed Elder Rebojo should go to Cebu for care. All symptoms pointed to appendicitis.  When we got back from Balamban, we headed out to the hospital in Cebu with Elder Rebojo and his companion.  The Cebu hospital is a good hospital with a surgeon who is always requested by the mission to care for the missionaries.  Traffic was heavy, but Elder Dover prayed before leaving that the way would be cleared before him and that he would be alert for the drive. We arrived shortly after midnight. Elder Rebojo who was in a great deal of pain tried hard to ease everyone’s concern for him.  His companion, who had arrived from the MTC just two days before, was having a bit of a hard time adjusting to the idea of spending Christmas Eve and the next few days in the hospital with his trainer.   He was trying to put on a good face, but it was hard.  The APs arrived and took over.  President Schmutz was out of town but in touch by phone. We arrived back in Toledo about 2:30.  Elder Dover felt that his prayers had been answered and that the road had been cleared before him and he had remained alert.

Elder Rebojo had surgery Christmas Day.  He is doing well.  We brought him back today for a checkup.  That is actually why we are in Cebu.  His companion says there must be a reason for this experience for him also. However he was transferred out a few days ago and yes, that meant another drive for us to Cebu to bring him and Elder Rebojo in for the transfer.

It was such a joy to find Sister Lacong 2x  and the children at church  on Christmas day.  Elder Dover and I were asked to be last minute speakers at the sacrament meeting.  President Honoridez said he felt the members would want to hear from us one last time that year.  After church we headed to Cebu again to prepare for phone calls and skyping with family.  We enjoyed visiting from 6:30 am our December 26th  to noon.  It was Christmas evening back in the States. We are about 14 hours ahead of Utah time. It was awesome!  We talked to everyone but it wasn’t long enough!  We could have used much more time.  Thanks to everyone for being ready and awaiting the calls!

Wednesday we drove back to Cebu to pick up Elder Rebojo after his surgery. 

Thursday we made the drive one more time to participate in the temple sealing of Lorena and Kenny Larosa.  We were happy to make the drive again and appreciated their invitation to join them on their special day.  

Temple sealing of Kenny and Lorena Larosa.  One of the missionaries who taught Lorena the gospel in Hong Kong and Relief Society President Sister Melona Alec, who asked the missionaries to visit Sister Lorena in Hong Kong, are there as invited guests also.  Sister Melona was working in Hong Kong at the time.  Her family was here.  She missed them so very much.

Rosa, who washes for our landlady, comes by our place every Thursday morning’s to do the ironing and to mop the floors.  This is a great help.

Sister Marilyn or Sister Mars, as she prefers to be called, is coming two morning a week to shop, prepare a couple of meals and tutor us in Cebuano.  The first time Sister Mars came, her fingers had sores from washing clothes.  Because we do have a small washing machine I lent her the Breathing Mobil Washer our daughter Mindy provided for us to use when we thought we would be washing clothes by hand.  She is anxious to see how well it works.  Several of the single adults are waiting for their turns to try it out also.  There may soon be a run on Breathing Mobil Washers. 

One morning recently I woke early, put my glasses on, stepped out of the bedroom and turned the light on.  I wondered if I was having a serious eye problem.  A black spot kept moving in and out of my direct line of vision.  Hastily I took my glasses off, rubbed my eye and then looked at the glasses and noticed an ant was darting back and forth across the lens.  Actually we haven’t been as troubled by ants.  I’m wondering if it because they don’t cohabitate with  termites. Yup, we are finding terminte sawdust in many and varied places around the house every morning.  However, we understand that termites “just are” also.

One final special event of 2011

President Honoridez coordinated the effort with branch members and missionaries to give the Lacong2x family their new roof.  President Honoridez had the nipa at the Lacong2x home several days in advance.  By the time members and missionaries arrived to help, Brother Lacong had the job half finished.  He had worked hard.  All he had needed was the materials.

It was fun to watch as the Lacong2x children interacted with the missionaries.  They were so happy.

 Brother Lacong2x was sick Sunday, but the rest of the family was at church the second week in a row. We need to continue exploring solutions to their other problems with President Honoridez. It did not rain until the roof was finished. Prayers answered for sure.

We left after serving lunch.  We had to help with some apartment problems some Elders were having. Sister Mars sent us the following email later that day. Lacong2x so happy coz new year, new roof, new life. Spirituallity reborn. Nice new year. So happy to have yu here in our place.

We dropped back to the Lacong2x home after we helped the Elders. We took a new table covering for their table. They were so happy and appreciative.

Lacong2x home with inadequate tarp covering a large part of the roof
Cooking area of kitchen will receive a new boards and a new tin roof to replace the charred boards that held rusted tin roofing in place.  Cooking is done with an open fire and coals on this cement platform.
This beautiful family consented to let me take their picture.  I will be getting prints of it to them to keep. I do want to get one of the whole family, though. Brother LacongLacong.  Sister LacongLacong holds Eddie Junior, Jefreld is next, then Charlyn, Nina May and Wenjelyn.

Bath for Edwin Jr.
Details of the underside of a Nipa roof
Lots of instruction from the ground for one experienced missionary worker, Elder Lenoy
Elder Lenoy
Removing the roof
Back finished
AND Front finished - Brother LacongLacong's trisikad sits in front of their home
Happy New Year Everyone!

News from Elder Dover

Several weeks ago I was asked by the President Rago of the Toledo 2nd Branch if I would accept a call as a counselor in the Branch President.  I told him that if President Schmutz (the Mission President) gave his OK, that I would be happy to serve with him.  President Schmutz told me that it would be OK, but apparently the District Presidency felt like they needed to get the word directly from him.  That finally happened this past week.  On New Years Day I was called, sustained and set apart as the 2nd Counselor in the Toldeo 2nd Branch. 

They had scheduled a PEC meeting that evening, which I attended, but did not really contribute anything because they spoke only Cebuano, which I do not understand.  I was beginning to wonder what function I could serve in the Branch Presidency if I can’t speak the language.  President Rago asked me to stay for a few minutes afterwards to meet with him and his 1st Counselor.  In that meeting he told me that there could be many times in different meetings when they would ask me for help based on my experience in past callings.  But he said that he had a special task for me that was to be my main responsibility.  He asked me to sit down with his Branch Clerk (who is also the 1st Counselor) and get all of the Branch records straightened out.  There are lots of problems in their records and they don’t know how to fix them.  I think this is very perceptive of President Rago – not everyone in his situation would be worried about the records.  Many would just like to ignore the problem and hope it goes away.  This will work out very well for me because the 2nd Branch meets first this year, so I can go to work with the Clerk right after the first block while Sister Dover attends the 1st Branch meetings. 

Interestingly enough, President Schmutz had previously asked me to serve as a sort of “unofficial” mission auditor.  There are problems all over the mission in virtually every branch, particularly in the financial records.  He is going to be talking to the Area Presidency in Manila to get their approval, and then plans to send us to Manila for a few days of training.  We will be traveling all over the mission auditing the financial records and training Branch Presidents and Clerks in how to handle Church records and how to fix their current problems.  This new assignment in the Toldeo 2nd Branch will be a good review for me and help me understand better the particular problems they have here in the Philippines.  President Schmutz also wants us to get some training in Manila on the record keeping in the mission office.  Our mission office couple is brand new in the assignment and has no financial background whatsoever.  He wants us to be able to help them from time to time.  I will enjoy both of these activities, and Sister Dover is looking forward to the challenge also.  Anyway, when we get started on these responsibilities we will be spending quite a bit of time traveling and less time here in Toledo.

1 comment:

Sommer Family said...

Sounds exciting. It is always fun to have a variety. Maybe you will even get a few more hot showers!