Monday, January 9, 2017

2017-Bring it On! Announcing Adoption News

We're ready to take on the new year and all that is awaiting us.  We're close to having one year left on our mission.  In some ways it has gone so fast.  In other ways it seems like a lot of days ahead but we love being here and know we'll treasure the relationships and experiences we've had and will have.

We've adopted a school! 

We delivered a first aid kit sent by a U.S. Eagle Scout who wanted his project to reach areas of the world in need.  It was received with much gratitude by the principal and she remarked it is good to have in case of a typhoon.

Beautiful Students

The students were very excited to see a "foreigner" at their school.

Little did they know just days after our visit, the school was hit with one of the strongest typhoons to hit the island.  Thankfully it started in the middle of the night when school wasn't in session.  The school was flooded, trees fell on buildings. roofing was blown off and their books and papers were soaked in water.  When we went back two weeks after the typhoon they still had no electricity.  We spoke to the principal and asked what we could do and she said it would help immensely to have a typhoon emergency kit for each class which would include school supplies in order to continue teaching the children until they could get back to normal.  The day we were there all the children were working hard to help clean the yard and classrooms. 


Other news of the week is that one of our special elders, Elder Guarana, received his visa and is now serving in Ogden, Utah.  We can only imagine the adjustment he is having.  This is a recent photo he sent.  We're glad he is such a good guy who will serve with a smile no matter what is asked of him.

A really big event was the installation of a hot water heater in our shower.  Elder Bellessa headed up the project and our days of the cold showers are over.   Hallelujah!

We couldn't resist visiting this mommy goat with her kids.

No matter how humble the home, its beauty is shown by the neatness and care it is given.  This yard is immaculate and the owners found creative ways to make it lovely with a small garden and a fence topped with egg shells.  All this was done with materials available without cost.  They are in the midst of making a stone pathway to the door.

Our day at the beach was wonderful since we were in Pinamalayan for the baptism of two young men.

What a great day!

Two Witnesses

 We miss all of our grandchildren.  Here are the beautiful faces of those who were in Midway during Christmas.  Listen to the sweet voices of the children in the Calapan branch.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Christmas Typhoon and Shake Your Groove Thing

Our Christmas celebration started with Zone Conference in Lipa.  Afterwards  the senior couples met at the mission home for another scrumptious "American" meal prepared again by Sister Spencer.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, hot rolls, stuffing, etc.  It was so good!

At Zone Conference a whole pig was served.  A Filipino tradition.

Christmas Zone Conference, Mindoro Zone at Lipa 2016

As we journeyed home from Zone Conference we encountered miles of cars waiting to get on a ferry at the Batangas pier. This photo shows the cars behind us (in our new charcoal grey mission car), and there were as many in front.  We were a total 10 hours waiting in line before we boarded the boat.

A little Pepsi to help with the wait. Elder Bellessa says,"If there is sunshine in the bottle as well as on the label, there is sunshine in my soul".

A diversion while waiting in line was watching the progress of these men changing the tire of this cattle truck.

The bonus of getting on the boat finally was being given a tour of the pilot house.  We have been on the ferry enough lately they are remembering us.  We heard some mention of Elder Bellessa looking like Captian Jack Sparrow.

When we first arrived in the Philippines we would see workers we thought looked like Ninja warriors.  We soon realized this is how they protect themselves from the sun.  As you can see, the head opening of the t-shirt is pulled up to cover the head then the sleeves are tied behind the neck to protect the neck.  

This is another example of a man in his t-shirt coverings.  

We were able to provide food for some of the Mangyan people who come down from the mountains at Christmas time.

In addition to the food we gave, we bought gifts for needy families.  The gifts were really from our grandchildren.  They had agreed  for us to use the money we would have spent on them to purchase gifts for those who have so much less.  We took photos to let them know the happiness they provided.  Thanks to our grandkids we miss so much!

The branch Christmas party was privileged to hear a wonderful performance by the sisters and senior couple.  To check out some rather interesting moves check these out (or not).

I love this photo of the "angel" sisters bringing our gifts to a family.  They came with us on their "P" day to help us translate and shop for items they knew the family needed.   

We won't soon forget our "Typhoon Christmas" experience.  The storm began about 3AM and built power enough to get us up around 5:30.  To hear and see what 185MPH winds look and sound like click here.  It lasted around eight concerning hours.  Here  is what we saw as we drove around after.  Three member's homes were totally destroyed with 45 others damaged.  One of the first places we went was the home of the family we had taken Christmas to.  We were relieved to see it was still standing but was flooded with three feet of water.  The photo above shows what happened to the steel rebar on a project a block away from our home.

The owner of this tossed around structure brought some chairs while he and his friend made the effort to extricate it.  It was the very next day from the typhoon that everyone was out helping each other.  As Sister Bellessa went for her afternoon walk she recorded the following which was an indication  yet again of the resilient spirit of the people.

We've mentioned the faith promoting signs on the Jeepneys.  This one is a little different in that  it has a sports theme.  There is a Nascar race car on the side, the Nike swoosh on the back with the saying "God Speed" which gave us a chuckle.

On Saturday we attended our first baptism that was held in the dark.  There was no water or power in the chapel six days after the typhoon so the elders spent a good part of the day hauling water in with buckets.  By the time the font was filled and they had changed, it was dusk.  By the time it was over it was completely dark but the room was filled with the spirit as this ten year old boy stood and bore his testimony.

We were surprised to see the family we had helped greeting us as we came into church.   They were excited to be wearing the new clothes they were given and wanted to thank us for the gifts.   The wife is deaf, the husband has problems with his speech.  The ten year old is autistic, and the eight year old is blind in one eye.  

New Year's Eve Day was a big day for the local market.  Everyone was buying food for their celebration.  Many of these people are still without electricity but there was a spirit of fun and celebration.  Fireworks are a huge part of the festivities and as we looked out our window and watched the display in our neighborhood, it rivaled what we see from Memorial Hill in Midway on July Fourth.  Everyone from the Barangay (neighborhood) came out for the celebration (except for us since there was a 6PM mission curfew).