Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cute little girls posed for a picture after Church today 
Busy, busy day at the office (we love seeing the missionaries)
I like Mondays at the mission office, because a lot of missionaries show up for one reason or another.  But this was transfer day and we had missionaries from all over the mission here to accept new assignments and meet new companions before traveling back to their areas.  Some of the missionaries from far away, left at 1:00 am to get to Bacolod in time.
Departing missionaries: all Filipino with President and Sister Barredo
Tuesday:  George and I were invited to be part of the departing missionaries’ farewell activities as we really don’t have a ‘batch’ (a group of missionaries we came out with), and our time here is coming to a close.  We sat with the eight departing Elders during our last meal in the mission home and enjoyed hearing about their missionary experiences and future plans and dreams.  This was a great batch; pioneers from the Philippines with strong testimonies.  We pray for their continued success.
Newest batch with an international flavor
Wednesday eight new missionaries arrived.  They came to Bacolod from Samoa, Tonga, Australia, New Zealand, England, US and a two from the Philippines.  When they were sharing their testimonies I looked around at the Elders and Sisters from all around the world; we have such different back grounds, but share a common thread, The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lunch with some of our favorite missionaries (they're all our favorites)
George picked up the new missionaries Thursday morning to take them to meet their new trainers and go out into their new areas.  On the way to the office with all the missionaries he stopped to let a parade go by.  After considering the importance of this new group of missionaries--he pulled into the middle of the parade and joined them!  It reminded me of the experience Heber C. Kimball had when he first landed in England and saw a parade with the banner “Truth Will Prevail”.
Young boy playing prelude in Sacrament meeting on Sunday
My greatest compliment this week was when an Elder texted me, “You understand my text thank you sister mower”.  We will miss this time in our lives; and the many friends and wonderful experiences we have been blessed with here.
Youngster entertaining himself (and us) at a baptism

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Of course you knew this was coming ;-)
Typhoon Goni is north of the Philippines, and is slowly moving away, but we have felt of her strength.  The dark heavy clouds have dumped buckets of water, the thunder has growled and the palms sway in the winds, but then it is quiet for a short time before the cycle starts over again.  The air is warm and damp.  After leaving the house this morning, George asked, what happened to your hair.  Hmm.  Of course he never has that problem ;-).

This is a Philippines people mover
Stand anywhere you want--and air conditioning!
Since early morning we have had no rain and it is starting to clear.  Our neighbor’s Mom and baby cat have been sunning themselves on the roof and Tom (cat) has been sleeping in front of the house; keeping a wary eye on us as we come and go.  Umbrellas are protecting from the sun today instead of the rain.

Even with the weather, it has been a great week and a spiritual boost to the missionaries; it was the Bacolod Mission Tour.  Elder and Sister Bowen from the area presidency arrived Tuesday morning and left Thursday evening.  The missionaries came from near and far to be taught by President and Sister Barredo and Elder and Sister Bowen in one of two sessions.

Grateful for a visit by Elder & Sister Bowen
We helped with seating on Thursday; we arrived at 7:30 am (the missionaries were to be in their seats by 8:00).  They were already there (for the most part) sitting quietly in the Chapel, waiting for the 8:30 meeting to begin.  Early Thursday we also received a text indicating that Elder and Sister Bowen would be doing a house inspection at our place following the meeting.  When they arrived, Elder Bowen said, I would really like to “inspect you”.   It was a spiritual day indeed as Elder Bowen left a blessing on the “cottage” and George me.
Interesting detour around a run down house
If you can't go through it, you go around it--I'm sure there's a logical reason (huh?)
Little boy pumping water into a bucket
These beautiful flowers outside our window reminded me of my dear Mother

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Children in Silay practicing for Primary program
Monday we enjoyed lunch with Sister Bal-lot and Sister Sagahgay.  We enjoyed hearing their conversion stories and the sacrifices they have made to serve missions.  Wednesday we got to take a new missionary (from the district) to the airport with her mother and Bishop.  She waited several months for her call and was excited to start her journey which included her first airplane ride.  These are always wonderful experiences to be part of.

Wonderful Sisters!

Sister Merwal at the airport with her mother and branch president
Friday we got to be the supply Elders; we traveled north to Sagay.  Along the National Highway we saw men cutting the thick green grass with machetes; back breaking work.  There were people including young children selling fruit and homemade treats along the busy highway.  We love to see the carabao working in the fields and and grazing along the highway.  I watched a boy lying across the mother carabao with her baby nearby enjoying the succulent grass.  We saw a few rickety trucks being loaded with sugar cane.  And if there is a problem with your vehicle; you just stop where you are and change the tire or work on the engine.  We brought the missionaries J.CO donuts.  These are the best donuts around.  Even before the truck was unloaded of the needed supplies, the donuts had vanished.

One of many fruit stands along the highway
Beautiful tubo (sugar cane) field next to Manta-angan chapel

Today we attended church at Manta-angan, a small branch north of where we live.  We started out attending Relief Society and Priesthood meetings.  George sat by an older man.  The lesson was on “The Elderly in the Church”.  The teacher began by asking the question:  ‘who are the elderly?’.  The older man next to George turned towards him, looked at his badge and said: “Elder Mower”.  Hahaha

A Sister meditating before Church in Manta-angan :-)
Traveling home today, we watched men carrying a cumbersome white casket on the National highway to the graveyard.  A sikad followed slowly with a few colorful flowers.  When we passed, they had at least another mile to go before arriving at the graveyard.  We stopped for a big Ceres bus whose reverse gear didn’t work; no worries. . men pushed the big loaded yellow bus backwards across all the lanes of traffic (stopping all traffic) and then the bus went forward on his way.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

We were so jazzed to hear about the groundbreaking for the Tucson Temple!

George drove the missionaries to pick up a baptismal “candidate”.  Esabel is 8 years old and she has been coming to Church with her older sister, a young woman and member.   She was a little afraid of the truck; they had trouble coaxing her in—she had never ridden in a private vehicle before.  By the time they returned to the Church, she didn’t want to get out!

Twins at the La Carlota District Conference--they were very curious about us

Today we were invited to the La Carlota district conference.  We arrived fifteen minutes early, knowing we would probably end up sitting in the cultural hall.  Although the choir was already seated, there were only approximately 30 additional people there.   After greeting everyone, we sat on a side bench and had to eventually move, because so many people sat on the small bench that could comfortably seat four.  We moved to the larger center section and the entire row followed and then more people joined our row, so we ended up still sitting very close together.  By the time the opening hymn was finished, the chapel and cultural hall were filled.  I was happy when George was called to share his testimony; I could move a little.  But then the girls who had been sitting next to George moved very close to me.  One was practically sitting on my lap.  

A bus from La Castellana filling up after conference

The choir sang on key and shared beautiful arrangements of hymns.  One choir member asked me how I liked their singing. I told her it was one of the best choirs we had the pleasure of hearing while in the Philippines.  I asked her about her outfit; all the sisters had white blouses, red skirts and red beaded necklaces.  She said it was one of two uniforms the choir members have.  Uniforms are big in Negros.  All schools have uniforms, including colleges.  Most store employees wear uniforms.  Bank and office employees wear uniforms.   When President and Sister Ferrin were here, Vivian the housekeeper was excited to have a uniform; they are just scrubs but in bright colors.

Riders piled high on truck load along the national highway

Finally typhoon Hanna has left the Philippines.  Although the worst of Hanna was not even close to the Philippines, we witnessed a little of her potential with winds and the rain that was dumped over this last week.  Today the ocean is pretty turbulent, but we have only had one rain storm.   As I write, I see a some sun trying to peak through!  The Philippines is so beautiful—what isn’t there to love about it?  And the people are even more beautiful.
Missionaries singing at the baptism yesterday--we love them!
The church has a font that opens from the outside

Sunday, August 2, 2015

What did you expect?
Besides our regular activities of medical and finances we have enjoyed visits with friends we have made in the Philippines.  Ina Deyro is attending the University of La Salle and will graduate in December in culinary arts.  Friday evening we attended a dinner prepared by “Batch 15” and enjoyed some of the dishes they have mastered.  We see Ina at least once a month to have a meal and ask her to critique the food.  Filipinos take their food seriously and she shares what could have been done to make the dishes more palatable.  No she is not judging food I have prepared; I have not made friends with the kitchen here.   We enjoyed the eggplant parmesan and pasta with chicken.  George enjoyed the dory fish; after seeing “Finding Nemo”, I just couldn’t eat dory!  It was a fun evening. 
Ina, Karen & Jane Anne
Temporary rickety bridge on national highway towards Sipalay
Workers harvesting the rice fields along the road
Several times we have been invited to Sipalay and we have talked many times about making the trip, but finally on Saturday morning we left early and finally made it to the bottom of the mission after 16 months!  The approximately 100 mile drive took over four hours with road constructions and driving here.  George mentioned more than once, “have you noticed that the yellow dividing lines on the roads are not to be taken seriously?” Hmmmm.  Once we left Kabankalan the traffic improved and the landscape was breathtaking.  We finally saw beautiful blue ocean waters and areas known for good diving.  We loved the million dollar views with bamboo houses on prime property. 
Beautiful ocean views along the coast
Later after a baptism we went to dinner with the missionaries.  We said let’s go to your favorite place.  We went to a small open air eating establishment overlooking the ocean.  It was a place I would have never considered entering, but the chicken and rice and orange soda tasted pretty good.  No need for forks or spoons, hands will do.    
Missionary's favorite place for chicken inasal--a wonderful local dish
Sunday we drove north to Cauayan to attend Church; we were the only ones who spoke English in the meeting, but we were treated like honored guests.  After the meeting the branch presidency walked us to the truck to bid us farewell.
Boat landing at the beach in Sipalay

Evening view along the beach

Another beach view (this place is gorgeous!)
Not too fast!!! These are children (7-10) directing the one-way traffic