Monday, July 31, 2017

Cuteness Alert!

During Sister Bellessa's walk about this morning she encountered these children getting ready to parade around their neighborhood.  Their costumes were made from local produce.  Cuteness overload!

A crown of beans and greenery.

Here is a watermelon hat with lime and salad greens.  (He doesn't look too happy.)  The little girl is carrying string beans (which grow really long) as a scepter with a cabbage skirt.

Flowers, corn husks, corn and beans

Carrots, lime, white radish, peppers and dried spice plants

Tomatoes, beans, squash, and cabbage

Cabbage, carrots, peppers, beans and salad greens.

Pineapple crown, avocado and lime necklace.  String beans and banana leaves.

This sign shows the state of employment in the Philippines.  Many people work abroad and are away from their families for years at a time.  The economy depends on the money sent home from other countries.

As Sister Bellessa walks about she has made some special friends.  Tess (to her left) has become someone she greets and visits with when she goes by.  She works sewing at her machine by 6:30 AM and hardly looks up until 6:30 PM when it gets dark.  She has mentioned her daughter, so Sister Bellessa dropped by a little headband for her last week but come to find out her daughter is seventeen not three like she thought.  Tess looks like she is seventeen.  The others in the photo are "boarding mates."  They are paying money to sleep in this one small space

Sweet Sisters

Neighbor Cow

Street Art

Lobster Street Vendor

Mangyan Family

Roadside Bathing

There are always interesting sights to see.  This whole roof is a religious art piece.

Transfer days are here again.  Goodbye to some and welcoming others.  We neglected to give Ronald McDonald a copy of the Book of time.

McDonald's Grimace was after me but he gave me the traditional hand to forehead sign of respect.

Our favorite beach day is a baptism.  This is in Pinamalayan

Seven baptisms in our zone this last week.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

One Year of Joyful Service

Pola Branch.  We got up around 5AM to travel to Pola for their branch conference.  Pola is one of our favorite towns to visit.  It is a fishing village on the southern end of the island.  The branch is small but was full this Sunday.  They seldom see people like us so it is as though we are rock stars.  We got lots of hugs and respect and people wanted their photo taken with us.  We had to keep telling them Elder Bellessa was not the new mission president that we were the senior couple.

Rainy season is here.  These little kids came to the gate of the sister's apartment to say "Hi."  They were soaked but didn't seem to care.  The little boy in the photo is keeping dry by standing in the tree.

Calapan Branch Baptism:  We have such a strong, supportive branch in Calapan.  

Barker Backpack:  As we were driving by the elementary school we spied someone with a green backpack donated by the Barkers. (My daughter Amy Barker and family.)  Many of the children don't have the money to purchase one so we were happy to see this.

Beautiful Lola: This Lola (grandmother) is 87 years old.  When we go home teaching she often walks by dressed in traditional clothing looking regal.

This is a pig farm across the street from the sisters' apartment.  We park the car right at the gate of the farm so we check on them each week.  The other day while we were in the middle of leaving a spiritual message we heard one being slaughtered...not a pleasant sound.  

The Mangyan people are coming down from the mountains to visit.  They keep together as a tribe.  We will see them bedded down on the sidewalks laying on cardboard.  They are respected as indigenous tribes of the island and people are very generous to give them money.

Posing for Money:  The men, women and children smoke pipes with something that keeps them warm and feeling full.  They wear the same clothes until they wear out then find something else.  Taking baths and washing clothes is not a part of their culture.

Pinamalayan Baptism:  We had a grandmother and a young man baptized this week-end.  The Elders did a wonderful job of making it a special event.  The talks and music take place in the chapel then trikes transport the members to a secluded area of the beach for the baptism.  Afterwards, back at the church, those who were baptized bear testimony and often there is food to celebrate. 

Entering the Gate.  There are two witnesses one is off camera.

On the way to get baptized

An angel on a Trike

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Don't Judge a Fruit By It's Cover

We have an elder who has been teaching us about Filipino food.  Here is some fruit he has shared with us.  This is dragon fruit.  It looks like a dragon but the fruit inside is like a big kiwi but not as sweet.

Just take a spoon and scoop it out.

Looking at this fruit made me think of the expensive cheese that is covered in red wax.   It was our dog Gidget's favorite treat.  The fruit is very interesting because it is crunchy when you bite into it.  When it is cold it is like..maybe watermelon rind.  It isn't sweet but can be refreshing.

They call this an apple.  The skin is green and smooth. You don't peel it you cut it in half. The inside is like a lychee and you scoop it out with a spoon .  It is sweet and delicious.

At our branch Relief Society activity last Saturday I was introduced to boiled bananas and taro root.  My contribution was rice crispy squares which were a new treat for the sisters.

This is what waiting four hours at the doctor's clinic looks like.  Elder Bellessa is taking a walk for exercise .  

Driving along the rice fields


New Growth

There are certain times eating at our local McDonalds can be a challenge.  The school next door has 6000 students which means long lines and few tables during lunch break.

There are many festivals in different cities.  Last week it was the festival honoring John the Baptist.  Our elders in Pola described it to us.  It was like a citywide water fight.  Everywhere they went they had water thrown on them. Pola is a beautiful ocean fishing village that seldom sees "foreigners" so the elders said at first people weren't sure if it was okay to make them wet but after the first person soaked them they became the target for the whole town. Being soaked is supposed to cleanse you of sin and bring blessings to you.  Lucky Elders.  They were prepared and had their Book of Mormon in a plastic bag. 

In some of the provinces the farmers do a procession covering themselves in mud and donning banana leaves. VIDEO

Banana leaf costumes.

Just a mention of how to cross the street.  If traffic is moving at all it is usually about 10MPH so if there is a  slight space to step onto the road you do so and usually all the cars stop to let you by.  If not, you wait in the middle of the road until another space appears. The trick is that everyone goes slow so the car or you have time to stop before anything bad happens.

This photo was taken at our last zone conference with President and Sister Mangum before they left to go home.  The Elders love Elder Bellessa and are giving him some "Haka" love.  We love the elders and sisters so much! We miss the Mangums but are looking forward to meeting President and Sister Davies this week.