Sunday, November 9, 2014

You guessed it--another carabao picture; you gotta love this sweet man on his gentle steed
George asked a missionary what is the source of all light?  She replied “Ceneco”, the local electric company (LOL).  I mention this because just yesterday George commented that we hadn’t had a “brown out” in a long time and then last night we had a brown out and again today the electricity was cut off at 8:00 this morning and at 4:00 in the afternoon, we still have no electricity.

Today, we attended our 35th different sacrament meeting since coming here almost 7 months ago.  Instead of being assigned to one unit when we came, our president asked us to attend a different meeting each week.  We have tried to do that.  Although we aren’t able to build close relationships with a single community; we have had many wonderful experiences.  Today, since the power was out, we sat in an overcrowded sacrament meeting and sweltered in a ~90 degree Fahrenheit heat with ~90% humidity; it was very warm and humid and there was no moving air.  A sweet sister sat by me and fanned me.  Her arm must be sore from the constant movement.  It was well worth it!  The people were so kind and friendly to us. 

We remembered an experience years ago when we attended our first meeting in Rochester, Minnesota.  The bishop stood and thanked everyone for attending on such a cold day.  Turns out, it was -20 degrees F; one of the coldest days of the winter.  We were visitors there with light jackets, but warm hearts.

 Busy cemetery gathering on All Souls Day
Backing up an entire week, we were invited to tag along with the mission president and his wife to some outlying areas last Sunday.  This travel required a truck (which we are using) because of the roads.  We traveled 2 ½ hours north to Sewahon a small community and a fairly new area for missionaries.  Because it was All Souls day, there was much traffic on the main road that included trucks of all sizes with chairs in the back for people to sit on, many trikes (motorcycles with side car) that were loaded with passengers, and even motorcycles that had up to 5 humans stacked up. 
Primary Class outside home

We have been able to experience what a tourist probably wouldn’t see here.   When you travel down a street you see many bamboo tin roof structures.  But many times, if you look closely, there are narrow passageways that can take you deeper into communities.  George parked the truck in deep mud on the main street in Sewahon and we ventured single file down a narrow path to a member’s home where Church was being held.  Out of respect we removed our shoes and attended Church barefooted.  Normally with shoes on I might step on a wandering bug, here I hoped the bugs would stay away from me.  In this small house the electrical wires were visible and hanging.  I noticed sun shining though small holes in the rusted tin roof.  Several of us sat on a narrow wooden bench.  About 30 people attended Church.  The small living room was crowded and some people sat on the front porch and listened.  Even in these humble circumstances, it was wonderful to partake of the sacrament and to hear heart-felt testimonies.

Members, investigators and a bare chested (drunk) onlooker after meeting
After the meeting we were escorted to another cement house where a “special snack” was waiting for us.  They prepared sticky rice and had out their best plastic dishes and cups.  Our president and his wife shared a plate and as they ate a little, the hostess piled more on their plate.

Children posed before another special Sacrament Meeting we attended

Prior to meeting--these benches (and more) were filled
These chickens were milling around during the meeting looking for food

Another 6 weeks have come and gone (time between regular transfers) and 19 missionaries went home and in the turnaround 17 new missionaries arrived.  This is kind of a bittersweet time; the missionaries grow so dear to our hearts.  The new “batch” as they are called seemed ready for the task at hand and we enjoyed getting to know them.
An excited "batch" of new missionaries arrive
This next week is the “Mission Tour”:  The area president and his wife are coming.  The caterer of choice was not available, so we ordered food from a new source.  We thought we better try the food first, so George drove the Assistants to the President, the Office Elders and me to the restaurant.  I must tell you, the establishment from the outside and even looking around the inside is probably not a place I would be interested in trying!  But they graciously brought out plate after plate of some of the food that would be served at this special event and the missionaries ate and ate until they were stuffed.  I am sure they brought out at least 10 different dishes.  The missionaries unanimously agreed the food was a good choice.  When George asked for the bill, we were advised there was no charge.  Only in the Philippines!
Freshly plowed field across from where the meeting was held

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