Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dedicated shoes ... having experienced the rain, mud, and challenges of missionary life

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Maayo hapon (good afternoon) from Bacolod!  This morning we woke early to not only the regular chickens and roosters vocalizing, but to lots of “neahhhs”.  Several goats have been brought in to the next lot, to help trim up the lush foliage.  The flora loves all the rain we have been receiving and it is thriving.  Even our outside cement is green tinged and a little slippery to walk on.  When we first got here, we used a lot of bleach to get rid of the green.  The cement looked good for a short period of time.  Our neighbors have been intrigued by our unusual way of doing things, like getting rid of the green and often spraying for the opportunistic ants and such.   They have asked questions, and I am sure they look at each other and raise their eyebrows, but they smile at us!

Our new 'neighbor' cleaning up the yard
We visited the Santa Fe Ward today for Church.  We had attended a baptism of a very pregnant woman a number of weeks ago there.  Since that time, her husband has also been baptized and her very small 11 day old son Vince Michael was blessed today.  Her husband invited us to attend their sealing in the Cebu temple next year.  He earns a living by driving people and deliveries on his “trike” (motorcycle with a sidecar).

Photo from baptism yesterday of elderly man and mother of 9 with Elder Pack and Basay
We were able to attend baptisms yesterday.  I was touched by an elderly gentleman who was baptized.  His wife was a dedicated member for many years, but he was not interested in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  His wife recently passed away, and he has realized the blessing of eternal families.  Be bore a humble testimony, which I have no clue what he said, but the spirit was strong.

Waiting area in Doctor's office building; first come first serve
Visiting doctors here is not like what I am used to.  Many doctors post hours and see patients first come, first serve.  This sometimes makes it difficult, when you show up to see a physician and even though you are there during their posted hours, they have taken the day off for one reason or another.  Of course, you might also get right in on a first come, first serve.  Some doctors even make their own appointments by just texting.  We do, however, love their prices!  They are much more reasonable than what we’re used to in the U.S.

We found this displayed in a surgeon's office--it may scare away the faint hearted!
Water is a precious commodity!  Our water tank is up high outside our apartment.  George has to go out every few days and fill the tank from the city water supply.  When we have had rain, the tank fills quickly.  When it has been dry for a few days, it takes much longer to fill.  Our water pressure is gravity fed, so our “shower” upstairs is usually just a trickle.  All bathrooms (or CR comfort room as they call them here), have a tap where more water pressure is available to fill buckets for the flushing of toilets.  Rule of thumb: the lower the faucet from the water tank; the better the water pressure.  I know I have mentioned; we have no hot water.

Our apartment water tank
We love the young missionaries and enjoy every opportunity we have to spend time with them!
George sings a hymn from his tablet as curious children watch

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beautiful Children dressed in traditional costumes for their schools celebration of "Philippine Day"

Monday, August 25, 2014

I love to hear people pray here.  Their entire prayers are filled with salamat (thank you).  We have heard “salamat” up to seven times in a prayer.  This is a good reminder for me to look around and be more thankful for little things.  Today at a baptism two young girls around 9 or 10 years of age sat on each side of me.  I asked them if they spoke English, they didn’t.  They asked me if I spoke Ilonggo; I shook my head no.  So we just sat together and smiled at each other and although we didn’t verbally communicate, I could feel of their tender spirits.
School where Sunday Service is held

School courtyard
Curious spectators
We had another interesting experience with the local power company last week.  Aside from the occasional brownouts, which we’ve grown accustomed to, we had a total loss of power at the Mission Office, where we spend most days—enjoying the ‘aircon’, the Philippine term for air conditioning.  We came into the Office Monday morning to find we were without electricity.  When it’s 90 degrees out with near 90 percent humidity, IT’S HOT!  Turns out we had a backup generator, but that only supplied enough energy for basic lights and a few fans.  Here’s the rest of the story. . No it wasn’t what happened with our internet a few weeks ago; where someone in the Area Office forgot to pay the bill.  The power company had purposely terminated the electric line to the Mission Office.  I guess they frequently get wildcat squatters who splice into power lines and steal power.  Well, they had just been out to work on the transformer at the CES Office, in the adjacent building, and they thought the power line going to the Mission Office was a wildcat line (duhhhh, right across the parking lot, where the line was going?).  So, without doing any checking, they just assumed it was an unauthorized user and cut the line!  Okay, now back to the fun of getting the power back.  So, this was their fault, but before even recognizing our issue, they were insistent on seeing our power bill (twice) to make sure we had a valid account and were current on our payment.   By the end of the day, we had power.  Now we have even more appreciation for electricity!
School classroom where service was held
Wall Posters

Sunday we started out early and didn’t get home till the day was done.  As we traveled north to our destination, we stopped along the way delivering much hoped for letters from home and supplies.  We enjoy these times as we get to spend a few minutes with young Sisters and Elders serving in the Philippines Bacolod Mission.  

The missionaries: Elders Abalos & Meek

The participants of the special service (Karen & I supervised the picture taking)
We were invited to attend a special Sacrament meeting in Gawahon.  This is an area that is new to missionary work.  We traveled from Victorias and took missionaries and several members up into the mountains to the little community where the meeting was held.  This trip takes an hour by trike (motorcycle with sidecar).  The special meeting was held in the elementary school cafeteria or “feeding area”.   Picnic style tables were moved to the sides and the bamboo benches were lined up in congregational style.  Even with the windows opened on each side of room, it was very warm.  Chickens and dogs peeked in the meeting room.  Eighteen investigators came, along with around twenty members.  As is typical, there was music, Hymn books were brought and the chorister stood and sang a line of the song, and then said, “Ready, start!”  The Bishop of the Victorias 1st ward and his counselors spoke along with a sister.  There was a beautiful song sung about Christ provided by young girls and the missionaries prepared and blessed the sacrament.  People are receptive to hearing about Jesus Christ.  The Philippines is a Christian nation.  A sign posted in the cafeteria, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”.
View coming off the 'mountain' from the special service

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Young boy making a lei out of flowers from a bush
Saturday, August 16, 2014

Checking out at the grocery store, they were playing a song, a very loud song (it seems the higher the volume, the better here).   The cashier was singing and the bagger was also singing along with the music.  One was on key the other, not so much.  We have been many places where people are humming or singing songs with or without music.  I love to hear singing here!  They pronounce their words and syllables differently than we do.  My favorite hymn to hear sung is, Beautiful Zion (beu-tee-full zi-een).

I have been told, “You Americans have unusual accents”.  I just smile and am thankful they try to speak to me in English.  One day I was speaking on the phone and I could not understand.  I asked her to hold for a minute so I could have someone speak in Ilonggo.  She said, (the only thing I understood), “I am speaking English”.

Security is very visible here in Bacolod.  To walk in most places, they have a security guard stationed at the entrance.  It was a little frightening to me when we first came here as I have never seen so many guns and rifles.  Some places even look for explosives under your vehicle.   Bags are checked and some people are patted down when you enter some businesses.   George and I must look harmless as we have not had that experience (yet).  There is a black lab at the District shopping center my favorite place to buy groceries (and George added and other things ;-).  Her name is Beauty and she is trained to check for explosives.  Her handler allows us to pet her.  It is wonderful to see a healthy normal looking dog.  Beauty reminds us of Cappy, our big beautiful yellow lab we left behind.
We will miss Sister Canimo

This week missionaries went home and new ones came, an exciting time for all involved.  We were invited to help take missionaries to the airport and pick up new ones.  The old and the new greeted each other as they passed in the airport lobby.  We have a special love for Sister Canimo who worked in the office the last few months; she completed her mission and flew home to Manila.  She was so excited to see her family.  She is the only member in her family.  We will miss her fun personality and dedicated purpose.   Although she and Sister Fitzgerald worked many hours in the office, they spent their evenings proselytizing and found many looking for the truth.
Bring their wares to the market (see the truck ahead with people sitting on motorcycles)
Today we attended a baptism of a friend of President and Doctor Deyro (the doctor who often helps our missionaries).  Since we met him about a month ago, his testimony has grown strong.  Dr. Deyro said, “Sister Mower look at the water” (in the baptismal font), it was green tinged.  She said that is what their water looks like at home too.  I guess I won’t complain about our sometimes yellowish brown water!
Another trike carrying fruits & vegetables
We have learned of new blessings coming to the Mower family.  Our daughter and daughter in law are expecting babies in February and March.  We were also saddened to hear of our beloved daughter in law Stephanie father’s passing earlier this week.  We are thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Small boy (and sister in background) watching us by a scenic stop

Sunday, August 10, 2014
Brother & Sister Infanto preparing for baptism in river
The highlight of our week was traveling to Candoni with President and Sister Lopez to attend the baptism of a husband and wife.  Their daughter was baptized in Manila several years ago and when she returned home, she went to Church in Kabankalan (about an hour ride from her home) and told the missionaries, I want my family to have the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Two young Elders traveled the long winding road to the area where her family live and shared the gospel.  Her father is a “medicine man” for the area.  Her parents have twelve children.

Children swimming near where the baptism will be
We traveled south from Bacolod and then up to a mountainous area (around 2 ½ hours each way).  The family has built an area in front of their house where church can be held; it even has a new tin roof.  The family laboriously collected big pieces of cement from a road that was no longer needed and created a floor.  They also made sure we sat in the best area (with a cushion).  There were about forty people in attendance of the baptism; about twenty were investigators.  The Spirit was strong as we followed the trail down to a river where the baptisms took place.  Elder De Vera and Elder Parry assigned to this area glowed (Elder De Vera’s mission ends this week).  At the river, children swam and many carabao enjoyed the cool slow moving water.

Bro. Infanto coming out of the water after being baptized to help his wife into the river
It was “wonderful” (a favorite word of the President) to be with the President and his wife.  They have devoted their lives to serving.  We are fortunate to be in the Philippines Bacolod Mission.
Walking back from the river
View coming off the 'mountain'
Back in March of this year, we spent time in the Salt Lake City, Utah area for some special medical training for Karen prior to departing for our mission.  We met Sister Melody Marquez and several other Filipina sisters from this area who were serving their missions on Temple Square.  They were so friendly and willing to give us tips on living here.  We were invited to their Sacrament meeting in the Joseph Smith Memorial building and got to spend a little time together.  Well, she returned home from her mission this week and we were privileged to pick her up at the airport.  We took her to the Mission President’s home to be released and where she also met up with her family.  I love to witness the reunion of loved ones!  It was great to be with her and meet her family who traveled by bus to pick her up.  After her release we dropped the family off at a bus terminal for the long ride home. 
Sister Marquez upon her return from the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission.  She served as a Zone Leader
Today we traveled to her branch in San Enrique and got to take part in the Sacrament meeting and speak with her.  Her family brought us Buka Pie (coconut pie) and pineapple juice.   In Relief Society, they mostly spoke Ilonggo, which is okay.  But the teacher; Sister Lopez kept asking “Sister Mower, what do you think about this?”  Hmmmmm, I’m pretty good with classic Primary answers.  Sister Lopez works at a hospital many hours away from her home.  When she works two days in a row, she sleeps at the hospital.
View of ocean on the return drive

Karen this week teaching mission leaders about the importance of good health
George trying to have fun with the missionaries while teaching finance rules