|The Magi come to worship the Savior Display|
This has been a full week, I hardly know where to begin . . so I will start with my favorite part. Early Wednesday morning we drove some of the 35 missionaries to the airport heading for home. They had completed their full time missions and now had family and friends awaiting their return. George and I didn’t count how many Sisters were snugly loaded in the President’s van, but they said, “We are mostly Polys” (Polynesian) and they honored us by singing all the way to the airport. They sang hymns and Christmas songs, one after another. Their beautiful angelic voices were strong and clear and on key! George said I had tears rolling down my face and I really wanted to join in singing, but I did not want to ruin their beautiful harmony and rhythm. We have known these Sisters for half of their mission! Each time we say good bye it becomes more difficult. Today, already, some of the missionaries are asking to be friends on George’s Facebook.
|The Mission Office where we works gets VERY BUSY during departures|
|Part of a BIG BATCH of departing missionaries going home for Christmas after serving 18-24 months|
Just one day earlier, we had taken Sister Solome to the airport because she was going to her family’s new home somewhere in Polynesia and her travel time was especially long. Unfortunately she missed her flight out of Manila and she got to spend one more day with her “batch mates”. I am sure she liked that. I asked her what she wished she had known prior to coming on a mission. She said she didn’t realize how hard she would work or how much she could love.
|Sister Salomone departing the mission field|
|The newest batch of missionaries, arriving just an hour after 35 went home|
In the evening, after spending time some time at the mission home with our new missionaries, George and I went to the airport once again to pick up a returning missionary who lives in the Southern part of the island. We took him to the mission home to be released, but it was decided he would spend the night in Bacolod as his younger brother was coming to Bacolod early the next day on his way to the MTC in Manila. Elder Dolleno spent the night at our apartment and the next morning he met his brother who he had not seen in two years. They are the only members in their family of five boys and their mother (his father is deceased). His younger brother had a bit of good news to share, their mom is getting baptized in a few weeks. They are rice farmers.
|Elder Dolleno (left) just arrived home and meets his brother who is departing for his mission says final goodbye for two more years (our third trip to the airport in 24-hours)|
Our mission dynamics changed with this transfer, the Supply couple went home and they have been replaced with Supply Elders. Our couples now are George and me and the Self Reliance Couple, the Greens. So far, so good—everything appears to be operating smoothly (we’re keeping our fingers crossed ;-).
|Our 'miracle' Sisters--Sister Cruz on left was bitten by a poisonous serpent (longer than she is tall) with no ill effect because of her great faith and Sister Legaspi who endured through Typhoid Fever|
On a different note, supply and demand are interesting here. I do like Coke Zero but it is often not available. George asks where is Coke Zero? The reply is always the same: “Out of stock”. We even saw the Coke distributor one day and asked him where can we find Coke Zero? “Out of stock”. We like “Bob’s” a bakery and café and they have the most delicious Christmas bread. Unfortunately for the last two weeks, in the prime of Christmas season, it is also “Out of stock”. Hmmmm
Christmastime is wonderful in the Philippines! Lights and decorations are everywhere. People have the Christmas spirit and people are especially friendly and kind—looking forward to celebrating Christmas with their families. Many we speak to are from different parts of the islands and are going home to celebrate—or if they can’t, they have to stay (as Karen’s manicurist today said because of her “duty” (she is assigned to work the day before and after Christmas). Our Mission President, President Lopez, is stressing to the missionaries to have a “white Christmas”; meaning it’s a day for taking advantage of Christ’s greatest gift by being baptized. It will be the highest baptizing day in the mission. We look forward to attending a baptism or two on Christmas day.