Monday, October 31, 2016

Thirteen Years Celebration

We took a few days to go on an anniversary trip to Lipa which means a nice sunset trip on the ferry.  As mentioned in a previous blog,  the trip starts with a televised prayer then a movie plays for the two hour ride.  Usually we come into port just as the movie is coming to an end and we never get to see what happens.

The highlight of our anniversary trip was eating two meals at David's favorite American fast food restaurant.  There is nothing like a Whopper with extra pickles, large Coke and fries!  We think of our friends who are serving in Paris as they go to museums, French restaurants and historic architecture.  Who would have thought we'd be so excited about a trip to Burger King.  

Mindoro North District meeting gives us special time with these wonderful missionaries.  Elder Labastida (front row far left) is waiting for his visa to go to the Denver, CO mission.

Ingenuity, hard work, and co-operation is symbolized in this photo of men moving a home.  

The Mountain People known as the Mangyns come to Calapan during the Christmas season (or giving season as it is known here).  They come to beg for money or food.  They are an aboriginal tribe who live a very primitive life and are the original inhabitants of the island.  Our district president was raised near them and told us a lot about them.  Many of them are staying close to where we live.  They sleep on the sidewalks and wander the city.  They don't wash their clothes or bathe and after a few months of wearing the same thing they will throw them away for something new.  They are nomadic and move to different places in the mountain areas as they see fit.  Men, women and children smoke pipes using the beetle nut plant.  They also chew it.  They fiercely protect their lifestyle and are not interested in becoming civilized. The following article is very interesting.

 We attended a baptism in Pola and met in this cabana near the ocean for the service.  There was a sweet spirit of love from the members as the talks were given and songs were sung.

It was a long walk to waist deep water since the tide was  out.

The big smile on Elder Mesias' face says it all.

Following the baptism we took the short walk back to the cabana to celebrate and greet friends and loved ones. 

The newest member of the Pola Branch, fourteen year old KC.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

City Walk, Country Sights and Ocean Baptism

Our walk this week took us through the downtown area.  I (not so much Elder Bellessa) always like going there because it is where you really get a sense of the culture.  There are so many interesting people, sights and smells.  When we walk about we are the subject of interest and stares since there are very few "foreigners" on Mindoro.  People are always kind and polite.  The other day a mother asked if she could take a photo of us with her daughter.

The river that runs behind the Palengke or town market in Calapan.

This is typical of what we see as we walk in the neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are called Barangas and have names, mottos, a neighborhood president and an archway entrance over the street. 

We always think of the grandkids when we pass this store.

This is an interesting sign at a restaurant.  Elder Bellessa refuses to leave his machete in the car so when we saw "No deadly weapons allowed" we decided we probably won't be stopping for lunch.

This is the "iceman" who has ice in one bucket and yummy flavors in the other.  He walks down the streets and makes a particular sound that everyone knows.  The treat he makes is much like a snow cone.

Cow Resting in the Morning Sun

A very comfortable chair made from tires.

This little piggy is going to market.

Another "made with pop bottle" Christmas ornament.  The hanging down part is made from plastic grocery bags.

This photo shows how large the Carabou are.  They seem to be very docile and didn't mind that we were right next to him.  (safely in the car) They are as big as a hippo.

District meeting in Pola.

This is the Pimalayan City plaza.  It is in the southern most city we visit each week.  It is about 1 1/2 hour drive from Calapan.

Walking through our shopping center in Calapan, a ski video was playing on  a flat screen in the appliance store window.  The video reminded us that it will soon be winter at home.  Elder Bellessa will miss his days on the slopes with his favorite ski partners - the grandkids!

Baptism of fourteen year old Patrick.  Elder Gaurana, who is waiting on a visa, will soon be serving in Ogden, Utah.  We know he will have a big weather adjustment.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Prayer, Christmas Decorations and Chalkboard Art

  Here you see the labors of a "master" gardener with just the size yard he likes.  Elder Bellessa trims the greenery in front of our apartment with the best tool available (a knife) and picks up garbage left by people as they walk by. 

Elder Bellessa's basketball buddies.  Whenever we visit a branch, Elder Bellessa tries his hand at hitting a basket or two.  When that happens, there are cheers and gleeful laughter all around.  

We are told there are multiple electric companies vying for business and each one requires access to their clients, thus a  massive tangle of wires.  It is hard to imagine how one would go about repairing a broken line...although it all seems to work with only an occasional brown out.

This is a very small house at the edge of a rice paddy right off the highway. A family of six lives in this 8x10 house.  It is amazing how the mother cooks on the porch with the children playing happily around her. 

This painting greets the patients as they enter the lobby of one of the hospitals.  There is also a waiting room TV that breaks programing every once in awhile as someone comes on and says a prayer for everyone watching.  We also noticed when the ferry leaves for its crossing, a prayer is televised for the passengers.  Comforting and a bit unnerving.

We pass this rice field and large sign as we drive out of Pinamalayan.  

  We see reminders for good character on public buildings even when we are waiting in line to pay our utility bills.

Our first Christmas decorations are a far cry from the usual frenzied holiday decorating at home.  We value these because they were lovingly made by a grandma out of plastic pop bottles.  David is sure he must have contributed the bottles by drinking so much Mountain Dew.   Nothing goes to waste and they think of many ways to utilize the simplest objects in creative ways.  We need to do a whole blog on the creative use of old tires.

Honoring our new convert, this chalkboard art greeted us at a recent baptism.

Baco Branch baptism of Marvin Hernandez.  Marvin is a wonderful young man who has plans to go on a mission in one year.  He has the support of a great group of young adults and will be a force for good as he moves forward in his faith.  We drove the district president to the branch this morning and on the way home he told us about the devastation of the typhoon one year ago.  The city of Baco was under water with over 150 fatalities.  Livestock, crops and homes were destroyed.  It says much about the resilience of the people as they  have come back and rebuilt what was lost.  President Mones, the District President, told how the church sent relief aid and supplies to help.  The members of the Calapan branch packed 5000 boxes of relief supplies for their  neighbors in surrounding communities.  He said their service was a great blessing to the branch members as it united them and helped them forget their own problems.  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ET, The Hulk and Life Long Friendships

As mentioned before, we see reminders of the Savior everyplace we look. Most jeepneys are personalized with a message of faith, as these photos show, but we also see decorated jeepneys which pay homage to a favorite NBA team, or appropriately, NASCAR racing.

Morning Star

The Three Marias: Grace, Joy, Hope.  God is Love

Praise the Lord

 In God We Trust

These are the current senior missionaries in our mission:  Front row:  President and Sister Mangum, Elder and Sister Howard.  Behind: Elder and Sister Spencer, Elder and Sister Bellessa, Elder and Sister Haroldsen, Elder and Sister Spencer, Elder and Sister Bisbee.  We had a wonderful day of training and good food.  We have a bond with each one of these couples since we know of their sacrifice and desire to serve.  We know they will be life long friends.

  If you don't know exactly where to look, you'll miss ET greeting you from this roadside garden.

 When we saw this the other day we couldn't believe we had driven by it multiple times and never noticed.  Surprise!

Tucked back on a side road, the Incredible Hulk.

We have been puzzled to see this truck/tree encounter for the last two months on our way to and from Baco.  It has stayed intact the whole time and only this week were the wheels removed by someone.  It reminded me of a story from my friend Enoch Palmer, who served in the Las Vegas Nevada Mission. He told of coming out of a short investigator meeting to find the mission car up on blocks and missing all four wheels.  Perhaps it shows people here are less likely..or at least take longer to do such a thing.  We think the truck is left as a cautionary sign for passing drivers.

More beautiful color

Umbrellas For Decoration at a church in Victoria.

We just went though another transfer week.  Some members came to say goodbye to the departing elders after district meeting in Socorro.  We enjoy sharing the joy and love they feel for each other.   Elder Bellessa says he is at least twice as wide as any of the  missionaries.

There are many wonderful members who live far enough away from the church who don't have the resources to pay for transportation.  Few have cars and depend on tricycles or jeepneys to get them around.  This is Sister Sosa and her daughter Ashley.  The Sosa Family is one of Elder Bellessa's home teaching families. They have a small rice paddy and fruit trees.  Her husband works in Manila in order to earn enough money to support the family.  They share a home with other family members.  She is bringing us a papaya from her yard.

Such great advice!