Monthly Archives: September 2013

Buka Juice –September 26, 2013

flower in Balaman Stopping traffic for construction Philippine road construction

The Zone Leaders climbed out of the tricycle into the pounding rain, paid the fare, came through the gate, and ran up our steep driveway. The first Elder to the porch took off his shoes as he stepped into the house. A big grin split his face.

I am sooo wet!

I handed a towel to him and one to his companion.

Did President call you?

No. Was he supposed to call?

I thought he would. He called us. We need to go to Balamban to bring the elders here. Could we borrow the car?

Of course. We’ll get the keys.

Could we have a drink of water?
Of course.

We have a water dispense which cools the water, which is a real treat for the young missionaries, as they only have a counter top dispenser which dispenses the water at room temperature. Room temperature is about 90 degrees.

We were eating some apple slices with peanut butter, and offered some to the missionaries, which they gladly accepted. I sliced some more apples.

When the elders returned, there were four of them. We started to cook a large pot of rice, and to heat up the left over Adobo and some chicken soup. I put the soy sauce on the table. The elders from the Philippines always mix soy sauce with their rice, then the put the other food on top of the rice.

The elder from New Zealand looked at the coconut tree.

I can climb that.

Go ahead. Too bad it is dark. This would make a great picture.

He changed to shorts and a tee shirt, got the machete (bolo) from the kitchen and slipped it into his waistband. His bare toes and fingers gripped the rough bark as he walked up the tree trunk and began hacking at a coconut. He held it in his hand, then carefully dropped it to the ground. The elder from Australia stood and watched. The elder from New Zealand climbed down the tree, chopped at the coconut until he had a hole in the top, then tasted the coconut water inside. He grinned.

This is good!

He climbed back up the tree and chopped off several more coconuts. He asked for a big bowl and I brought out the two biggest ones that I have. |He poured the coconut water into the bowls and scraped the coconut meat in also before bringing the bowls into the house.

There he added some sweetened condensed milk, and asked for some graham crackers to add to the drink. Drinks with chunks in them are popular here. I gave him a measuring cup for a ladle and he put the bowl onto the table. I put the jar of almonds on the table. The elder from Australia likes almonds. The elders finished everything but the rice. It was a big pot of rice.

The young missionaries didn’t understand why we were not eating. We explained that the apples and peanut butter were our dinner. They shook their heads.

I could never do that.

We could not resist the Buka juice though. It was delicious.

One of the elders went back to his apartment and the other three stayed with us. Four elders from Lamac were staying at the apartment in Toledo, which made seven in the small apartment.

The next morning we took two of the elders to Cebu City. They were to meet with President Schmutz. This was the first time that Elder Hall had driven the road over the mountains to Cebu. The last time we went, one of the zone Leaders drove. Elder Hall complained that the Zone Leader that Elder Mejos, drove like a fiend.

The elder from the island of Mendanao gets car sick, so he rode in front. I sat in the back with the elder from Australia. After Elder Hall passed a “tricycle” and a pickup with inches to spare, the elder from Mendanao said,

Good job, Elder Mejos.

He found other opportunities to make the same comment. After Elder Hall passed two pickups on a sharp, steep blind curve, the elder from Australia gasped and put his hand over his racing heart. He muttered,

I miss road signs!

And wide straight roads?


We visited with the mission couple missionaries, paid our car fee for the month, and picked up mail for our district. As we walked out to the car with the mail, we met two temple missionary couples. They invited us to go shopping at “S & R” with them. It is a knock off of Costco. We did not go there the first time we were in the city because we were not able to use our credit card. It would have been cheaper this time if it had not worked. We found big bottles of peanut butter, the “Better Than Boullion” that I used at home, chili, and a number of other items. It feels good to have some “food storage.”

When we went back to the mission office, there was some more mail for our district. We checked on the two elders, and found that they were not finished and would go home with the elders from Lamac. We decided to go back, as we wanted to get home before dark. It gets dark here by six o’clock.

We stopped in Balamban to give mail to the sister missionaries there. We texted them and they said they would meet us at their apartment. I am actually able to get this text thing down most of the time. We waited for the sisters for about a half an hour. They apologized and said they were teaching a lesson in the “way far” part of their area.

When we got to Toledo, I started to text the Toledo 1 sisters, as they had asked us to make some visits with them. I guess I am not really so fast at texting, because we saw the sisters walking down the street before I finished the text. We gave them a ride to our apartment, and they helped us bring in the groceries. Sister Perrigo was amazed to see so much “American” food.

We visited four homes in our “barrangay” with them, and left them at a home where they had a dinner appointment. The Zone Leaders, who had asked to borrow the pickup to do a baptismal interview in Aloguinsen, came by just as we left and promised to give the sisters a ride home as it would be nine o’clock before they finished.

We made a mental note to ourselves to remember to pay the water bill tomorrow, and put the food away. We found that we had a sack of food items from one of the temple missionary couples that we had put in our car by mistake. The Zone Leaders will go to Cebu City for training on Monday, so we will send the sack with them.

We had both electricity and water in our house, so we hurried and got ready for bed while both were still functioning.

Friends –September 25

069 104 085 Travel by bus

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Friends are people who make it easier to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.” We are truly grateful for some friends here in the Philippines who have certainly made it easier to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, both spiritually and temporally.

Sister Marz came over today to help me learn to cook Adobo, a staple dish of the Philippines. She first helped me make a list of necessary ingredients, along with other fresh vegetables and fruits that we needed, and went to the market by tricycle (motorbike with the sidecar). She washed and disinfected all the vegies and fruits (not an easy task, as this is one of the recurring no-water days). She showed me how to cut a whole chicken into serving size pieces, and wash it thoroughly (thank goodness for the blue bottles of filtered drinking water), then add vinegar, soy sauce, cut up onions and garlic, and water, and boil on the stove. It is a gas stove with a manual lighter, which was good, as the electricity was off again at the time. As we worked, Sister Marz tutored us in Cebuano.

After the chicken was cooked, she added cut up carrots and potatoes. Yes, potatoes do grow in the Philippines. They are smaller than Idaho potatoes, and have a light yellow flesh, but the flavor is delightful. It is said that the vinegar and soy sauce actually serve to preserve the Adobo for a day or so, even in the tropical heat of the islands. We put what was left after our meal in the refrigerator, though. As our son LaMont told us, the electricity will go off, but it will come back on—maybe today, maybe tomorrow, but it will come back on. It came back on in about two hours this time, and we feel much more comfortable with our food in the refrigerator.

The Adobo was delicious! Before Sister Marz left, she got a ladder, and the machete (bolo) that came with the house, and cut a coconut from the tree in the yard. With a few deft strokes of the machete, she cut the top off the coconut so that we could drink the coconut water. What a treat! It has a slight almond/ coconut taste, and is very refreshing. It has many reported health benefits, among which is that it is very high in potassium. After the coconut water was gone, Sister Marz cut the coconut in two (again with the bolo) and gave us spoons to eat the immature meat. The taste was mild and very similar to the coconut water and very satisfying.

We had gone to the office to pay our electricity bill yesterday, but they said that we could not because we did not have the “paper.” Sister Marz showed us where to find an old statement in the meter box, which had the account number, and we were able to pay the bill today. No bills are mailed, but everyone is expected to pay the bill between the 21st and the 23rd of the month. Since we stood in line for about 40 minutes yesterday, the clerk remembered us and did not charge a late fee. Sister Marz also contacted another friend, and he came by later with a copy of a water bill so that we can go to another office to pay that bill tomorrow.

Sister Marz promised to come back Friday to take Elder Hall’s pants to a tailor to have them shortened so that they will not drag in the dirt, and also told us where we could get our hair cut. We took her advice, I conquered my fear of having someone new cut my hair, and we now both have nice new haircuts.

Elder Robert D. Hales also said that “seeking another person’s highest good is the essence of true friendship. It is putting someone else first.” We are thankful for friends.

A Week Goes By –September 20, 2013

copper mine view from Lutopan chapel Carved bench Tinedo home Pinamungahan flower garden by elders apartment in Lamac Neighborhood basketball court

How do you describe a week in the life of a missionary?

Is it a list of activites?

Monday: district meetings

Tuesday: Receiving all of the things from the Dover’s house that belong to the mission, and trying to find places to store them until we can distribute them to missionaries who might need some of the things.

A visit to a young man who is paralyzed from the waist down from a motorcycle accident two years ago,

Wednesday: Zone activity, with volleyball and basketball in the church parking lot, followed by pizza.

Thursday: Zone conference in Cebu City.

Friday: A trip to Balamban to buy a laundry tub and blender for the sister missionaries, and a visit to an elder who is not feeling well.

Visits with the sister missionaries in Toledo during the afternoon and evening.

Is it sights and sounds?

Sitting on a covered “patio” listening to the young man in a wheelchair and the elders playing the piano, laughing, and singing.

Feeling the ocean breeze waft across the hillside, fluttering palm fronds and bringing delightful coolness.

Standing in a church parking lot and looking a copper mine on the mountain across the valley.

Watching young elders and sisters laughing and cheering each other in a parking lot ringed by coconut palms while a group of school children watch curiously at the gate.

Listening to amazing musical presentations by young men and women ages 18 to 24, while knowing that they got up a 3:00 AM to ride a bus to Cebu city and only had time to practice their songs maybe twice before preforming.

Walking in the rain down a two foot wide “sidewalk” between tiny homes almost touching each other while exchanging a cheerful “Maayon Hapon” (good afternoon) with the families along the route.

It is activities. It is sights and sounds. But most of all, it is feelings: joy, laughter, tears, compassion, gratitude, testimony, and amazement.

It really totally indescribable.


Baptism September 14, 2013

Sis Marlene,Maryan, and elders

Baptism of Sister Marly and Maryan

This morning we went with the Dovers to a last piano lesson in Lutopan. We also went to the elder’s apartment to determine their needs and took them to get more LP gas for their cooking stove.

Lutopan is in the mountains, and the most jobs there are in the copper mines. It is another beautiful area.

At 6:00 PM we went to the baptism for Sister Marly and her nine year old daughter. As we were sitting and visiting before the baptism, the elders who came to Toledo with President and Sister Schmutz for the baptism, brought mail from the mission office for the missionaries. They had a large white envelope for Sister Noreen. She gasped and tears filled her eyes. She knew immediately what it was. It was her mission call letter. The excitement was electric as all the missionaries and members gathered. Cameras appeared, and the missionaries urged her to open the letter. She wiped her eyes, then wiped them again before she could see to open the envelope. She tore the envelope open, pulled out the papers, dropped part of them in her excitement and then found the letter that she wanted. She read it out loud: Philippines Naga. Tears came again, tears of joy from Noreen and from those around her.

After the meeting was opened, we moved to the baptismal font room. President Schmutz and Maryan, all dressed in white, walked down into the water of the baptismal font. After stating his authority and pronouncing the words of the ordinance, President Schmutz baptized Maryan by immersion as Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Then Sister Marly was likewise baptized.

We met back in the chapel, where President Schmutz, Marly and Maryan joined us after they had changed their clothes. There was a talk and then Maryan, dressed in a beautiful white, sang, “I Know My Savior Loves Me.” She looked and sang like an angel.

Tomorrow Sister Marly and Maryan will be confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by Elder Dover. We will probably attend both the Toledo First and the Toledo Second Branches. In the evening both branches will hold a farewell fireside to honor the Dovers.

Parties –September 13, 2013

Philippino hula Farewell Welcome birthday banner main dish

Philippino pinata

In the morning we went shopping at the market down by the harbor. After lunch, the zone leaders asked us to go visiting some less active members with them. The first two were not home, although we talked to some other people there. The last was a sister and her husband. We talked to them quite a while. They are good people who were “offended” by another church member.

I wish everyone could understand the following counsel from Elder David A Bednar:

In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.

As Elder Neal A. Maxwell has said, the restored Church is not “a well-provisioned rest home for the already perfected” (“A Brother Offended,” Ensign, May 1982, 38). Rather, the Church is a learning laboratory and a workshop in which we gain experience as we practice on each other in the ongoing process of “perfecting the Saints.”

Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).

After the visits, we went to a birthday party for a one year old son of the Toledo 1 branch president. It was great fun, with a complete roasted pig, much other delicious food, including pickled papaya (which I loved), and a Philippino version of a piñata.

We left the birthday party to go to a farewell/welcome party for the Dovers and for us, with decorations, entertainment (think Philippino sisters doing the hula), games, and, of course, good food. It looks like John has become addicted to a desert called Mango Float.

These people really know how to have fun. How could anyone want to stay away from Church activity here?

The Piano Lesson –September 12, 2013 PM

sister Dover and FionaSister Dover & Fiona

Fiona is eight years old and has had about ten piano lessons. She has been playing the hymns in Sacrament meeting for the last two weeks. We had the amazing opportunity of watching Sister Dover give one final lesson before the Dovers go back to the States. Fiona stacked three couch cushions on a straight back chair so that she could reach the portable keyboard on the table. She put her tiny right hand on the keyboard and, remembering to watch for sharps and flats, played the melody line for the new song she is learning, “Come Let Us Rejoice” from the Simplified Hymns book. Sister Dover then asked her to look for the chord notations and play the chords with her left hand. After she did so, she then put both hands on the keys, and played the hymn. She will play this song in Church this coming Sunday.

After Fiona’s lesson, we went to see Fae, a young adult who has also had a few lessons, and will continue to help Fiona. Fae’s family insisted on serving us dinner, even though their electricity and water had been off for two days. When these people offer to feed the missionaries, they will not take no for an answer. We had a delightful candle-light meal even though the house was a bit warm without even a fan to move the air. It is a good thing this is the cool part of the year.

I am adding Fiona and Fae to my list of wonderful young people who are the hope of the world.


Get-togethers -September 11

Harbor scene On the way to Aloguinsan (2)

Elder Dover came by our house, and asked if we wanted to go over to their house. Sister Marly was going to be there and teach us how to make a basket from rolled up pieces of newspaper advertisements. When we were at her house, I had seen a hat that she had made and she had invited me to come see how to make it.

We went to the Dover’s house, and Elder Dover and Elder Hall went to the church to talk to Brother Marven.

Marly cut a sheet of advertisement in half lengthwise, then rolled it up tightly diagonally around a “stick”, which was a spine from a coconut frond. I struggled to get it right. Marly had a pile of rolled up papers. She said that it had taken her about 15 minutes to do them. She then laid eight rolled up paper straws in groups of two crosswise over each other, glued them together and held them until the glue stuck. She then chose one straw and began Continue reading

Errands –September 10

Ocean on the way to Balaman On the way to Aloguinsan Two people on back of motor bike; inside is full

Yesterday when we came back from the District meeting, we stopped at a place just around the corner which sells bottled water. John went in to arrange to have some water delivered to us. He came out shaking his head.

Don’t tell me that everyone here speaks English!

There were two men in the store and neither seemed Continue reading

District Meeting –September 9

el Hall going to get LP gas Two lanes of traffic

There are 24 young missionaries in the Toledo zone. The zone is divided into two districts: the Toledo District and the Tutay/Pinanungahan District. In addition to the Zone Leaders, there are three sets of two elders, one set of two sisters and one set of three sisters in the Toledo district, and four sets of two elders and one set of three sisters in the Tutay/Pinanungahan district. There are so many new sister missionaries arriving in this mission, and in many others, that the leaders have to put sisters together in groups of three because they do not yet have enough housing to put them in groups of two

District meeting are scheduled on Mondays at 10:00 AM. We went to the Toledo meeting. At the meeting, we met a missionary named Sister Perrigo, who is from Meridian, Idaho. She knows our son Lyman and has worked in Liz’s store. She is Shayna Gunnel’s best friend. She is glad that Kaleb’s motorcycle incident did not delay his entry into the mission field. It is a small world! Imagine not only being in the same mission, but in the same Zone.

One of the Zone Leaders, Elder Mejos, who is from the Philippines, has a best friend who is serving in New Zealand, Aukland Mission. Watch for him, Kaleb.

The zone leader conducted the meeting, and the amazing young missionaries gave accounting of their work, encouraged each other, and taught from the scriptures. One quote that we took away from the meeting is: Whatever you are doing, ask yourselves, “Does this bring me closer to God and Heaven? If not, don’t do it.”

After the meeting, we went to lunch with the missionaries at–guess what– Mang Inasal. It is a favorite place for the missionaries to get a filling meal for little money. Our meal cost about $3 American.

After eating, we went to see Brother Marven, who took us to the place that sells LP gas for our cook stove.

In the late afternoon, the zone leaders asked us to go make visits with them. We visited a young man who is struggling because he grew up without any parents. The missionaries are working to get him coming to church again and to prepare to serve a mission. He promised to come to church Sunday. We visited a family who had not come to church for some time because of their special needs son. This family also committed to come to church. It is very special to visit with these Philippino brothers and sisters.

We made another visit to Sister Marly She had a wonderful meal for us again. For dessert, she served Mang Blanco, a smooth coconut pudding. We will either have to stay in the Philippines forever so that we can have this dessert, or learn to make it ourselves.

The elders taught a lesson answering the question, “Where are we going?” A family friend named Kathy joined this discussion. The missionaries taught that as we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The elders taught that at death, our spirits go to the spirit world. Death does not change our personality or our desires for good or evil. We remain in the spirit world until we are resurrected. When our bodies and spirits are reunited through the resurrection, we will be brought into God’s presence to be judged. We will remember perfectly our righteousness and our guilt. If we have repented, we will receive mercy through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We will be rewarded according to our works and our desires.

After the lesson, Elder Ratu, who is from New Zealand, started talking in a pronounced British/New Zealand accent. The girls were giggling at him, so he then started speaking Bisaya with the New Zealand accent. We  laughed and laughed.

The evening ended with a song:

I lived in heaven a long time ago

So did you.

Lived there and lover there with people I know

It is true.

Then Heavenly Father presented a beautiful plan

All about earth and eternal salvation for man.

Church –September 8

Big takes priority Bus named Pink Floyd


Pink Floyd 2

We drove along the coastal road for about 21 kilometers to Aloguinsan for church. The Young Women’s president was concerned that the young women in the branch were losing their faith. After some brainstorming, she and the other leaders decided to ask President and Sister Schmutz to come and give a presentation as examples and mentors to the young people. The young people had been looking forward with excitement to the visit for several weeks. We greeted many people, shook their hands and gained another group of new friends. Much of the meeting was in Bisaya (Cebuano), but the songs were English and the same ones that we sing at home.

I went to Primary and watched a young sister give a sharing time presentation to about twenty children ages three to eleven. She was on the same Sharing Time schedule, with the same theme, Come unto Christ, as the Primary in Logan, Utah.

On the drive home, we stopped and took some pictures of this beautiful land. For lunch we ate barbequed chicken and took a long nap until the Zone Leaders came and invited us to go with them to visit an investigator family.

We parked the car along the street and stepped carefully across the gutter filled with water from the afternoon rain. We followed the young missionaries through the dirt pathway between several houses. They stopped at the screen door of the house at the end and called “Aayo! Aayo!” A woman with a smooth unlined face and dark hair invited us in.

Her name was Marlene. A young girl with mischievous brown eyes offered her hand. She was Marlene’s nine year old daughter, Mary Ann. A smaller girl, about five years old, who was Marlene’s granddaughter, shyly shook our hands and then laughed with the young missionaries. Marlene’s husband is away from home working in Cebu.

Zabel, who is about sixteen, stepped gracefully around the curtain which divided off the kitchen area, and brought out food to set on the table. Zabel is a ”working student”:  someone from a family too poor to pay school expenses, so another family will let her live with them and will pay her expenses in return for her help in cooking, cleaning, helping with children and washing clothes.

“Come to the table,” Marlene invited. We sat with the four missionaries in front of the four plates set at the table. After a blessing, the two young missionaries helped themselves liberally to bihon, a noodle dish, small sausages, and of course, rice. For dessert, Zabel served a coconut drink with pieces of green Jello mixed in. Everything was delicious.

Marlene and the girls did not eat with us. It is considered polite for the family to eat earlier and then serve the guests, who eat alone.

One of the missionaries offered a prayer, and began the lesson. They talked about the questions:

            Where did we come from?

           Why are we here?

            Where are we going?

The missionaries taught that God is the Father of our Spirits; that we are literally His children, and that He loves us. They taught that we lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth.

Most of the lesson and conversation was in Bisayan (Cebuano), mixed with some English. However, when the missionaries asked nine year old Mary Ann to read the following scriptures, she read them fluently and with perfect English pronunciation:

Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither can be. D&C 93:29)

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jer. 1:5)

The Philippine people are very humble and loving. Both Marlene and her daughter easily believe in a Father in Heaven who loves them.

The missionaries taught that Jesus Christ is central to God’s plan. Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ fulfilled His Father’s purpose and made it possible for us to enjoy immortality and eternal life.

We are physically separated from God during life on earth, but He wants every one of His children to find peace in this life and a fullness of joy in His presence after this life.

During the lesson, Marlene’s daughter-in-law drove homer on a motor bike and sat listening on the couch. She is the mother of the younger girl. She had been to the evening Catholic services. Her husband works abroad, and she says she wants to wait to be taught until he can be here.

Although we could not understand many of the words that were spoken, we felt the unmistakable testimony of truth through the Holy Ghost. We felt very happy and comfortable in Marlene’s small home.

Missionary Farewell –September 7

Mang Inasal dinner Mang Inisal Philippino drink

The zone Leaders, young elders who have been given charge of all the missionaries in the zone, or area, brought back the car that we are to drive, and my wonderful companion, Elder Hall, decided it was time for him to learn to drive here. We drove to the Metro, a local chain grocery and home supply store, then about town. The check-out lines were long and moved slowly. Many people are intimidated by the large stores, so owners of tindahans fill their shopping carts completely full of things to resell in their small non-intimidating stores. The big stores are intimidating: they play very LOUD music.

We drove around several streets to get to know the town.

In the afternoon, the Dovers took us to the market down at the harbor. It is a large open-sided building with vegetables at one end and fruits at the other. We bought bananas, mangos, fresh pineapple, and a couple of tropical fruits that I can’t name. A bunch of bananas cost 10 pesos, or about 25 cents. Elder Dover went to a small shop to get a new battery for his watch, and John bought a hot barbequed chicken at one of the tindahans. 

Sister Alan, a member of the Toledo First branch, had received her mission call, and the branch had a farewell party for her. They opened with prayer and a song, then played games. Individuals, small groups, the family of Sister Alan, the Young men, Young Women, Primary children and Relief society each performed spontaneous musical numbers. The ability of the people to sing in perfect pitch is amazing. The love, acceptance, and excitement in having us with them was even more amazing.

The activity ended after about two hours with snacks of bread, sticky rice, noodles, and soft drinks. It was a joyful evening.

Toledo –September 6

front door, our house Our house& mango tree Our kitchentethered hen with chicks

Hen and chicks                                                     Our Toledo home

It is Friday. We read an e-mail from our daughter, Alicia, and talked to her on the phone. The credit card problem should be resolved today. We had breakfast and packed our things, as the senior missionary couple, Elder and Sister Dover, will be coming to take us to Toledo. They are about to go home to the States, and we will take their place. Before we left, they took us to the bank. The magic worked, and we were able to withdraw funds from the ATM. We went to the mall again, and the magic card worked there also.

I wanted to take pictures are we drove through the mountains to Toledo, but I was so entranced with the tindhans, the people, the scenery, the traffic, the tricycles (motor bikes with side cars) and tricikads (bicycles with sidecars), that all I could do was to look. Besides, I am not very good at drive by shooting,

We stopped on the way to deliver a closet rack to a set of sister missionaries, and I took a picture of a hen who was tethered with her four chicks scratching around her.

Some of the Church members were waiting for us at the gate to our house. I call them Sister Marz and Brother Marven. Last names are difficult. Brother Marven had found the house for us. It had been vacant. He found the owners, negotiated a contract, got signatures, arranged for the rent, electricity and water, new paint, cleaned the yard, and still other things, I am sure. Sister Marz has spent days cleaning to prepare the house for us.

The house that the other senior missions have been living in is difficult to live in. It is old, very near the seashore, so the humidity is high, it is smoky in the evenings, as people burn dead leaves and trash to keep the mosquitoes away, and the kitchen is almost unusable. The decision was made to find other senior missionary housing, and Marven was asked to find a place. Housing is difficult to find, as there are a number of foreign executives looking for housing here. Marven spent a great deal of time looking. He finally found a place and began making arrangements. When everything was almost settled, the owners decided that they would return to live in the house in February. Marven began looking again. One day when he was going past this house, he said that he heard a “whisper” saying he should look at that house. He found a neighbor, who was not usually home, but happened to be home that day, and asked her about the house. She helped him find the name of the owner. He found the owner, and through another series of coincidences, was able to make arrangements to rent the house. A coincidence is, after all, a miracle where God prefers to remain anonymous.

The house is beautiful, with a tiled front porch, shiny tile floors throughout, two bedrooms, a bathroom with a new shower and an in-line hot-water-on-demand heater for the shower, AC, and a nice kitchen. It is on a small hill, has large windows with great views, and a gated yard. There is a coconut palm, with coconuts, and a mango tree in the yard. The neighbors across the road have large banana trees. The Dovers (missionary couple) took us to the internet store, and the technician promised to come set us up on Tuesday. Monday is some kind of a holiday here, happy fiesta. We are very comfortable here; in fact, we feel like royalty.

We went to dinner with Elder and Sister Dover, Brother Marven, and Sister Marz. The place, Mang Inasal, serves barbeque chicken and pork, and all-you-can-eat rice. It was delicious.

Getting a Driver’s License –September 5

Cebu temple

We arrived in Cebu on Wednesday. On Thursday we go to get our Philippine driver’s license. The young missionaries picked us up at the mission home at 7:30 AM.

We make our way through four lanes of traffic, approximately half going each way. The few inches between vehicles are filled with motorcycles or bicycles, or people walking between the cars offering things for sale. The edges of the road are filled with people; the sidewalks are used as an extension of the small tindahans, or shops, which line every street and roadway. The streets weave through the city with no discernable pattern. There are many signs, generally in English, but no signs to identify streets.

The elders point to an opening across the street that appears to lead into a small parking lot.

We need to go in there.

We make our way across two lanes of traffic, then edge across the other lane and into the parking lot. There are no available parking spots and the space to drive between the parked cars is minimal. We edge through the parking lot, around a building and enter a narrow one-way alley. The elders point to a gated opening between the buildings.

We’ll go in there when we come back.

We edge back into traffic and go “around the block” to come back to find a parking spot. We drive about two miles. When we get back, we find a parking spot across the street and down from the building where we need to go.

Now we learn how to cross a Cebu street. We watch for a break in traffic, cross one lane, wait for another break, cross to the middle, wait again for a break, cross one lane, wait again, hurry to the sidewalk. We walk sometimes on the sidewalk, sometimes on the edge of the road, enter the narrow alley, pass an armed guard by the gate and enter an area with lots of plastic chairs, most of them occupied.

The young elders go to the door of a building that opens off the waiting area. They follow the instructions of the mission president and talk to the official at the small desk. They explain that they are with some elderly people and can they please go to the front of the line?

They are told that we must go to the doctor in another building to get our blood pressure and other things checked. We go through the alley (which is really a street), cross another street, and go into what looks to us like another alley. We enter a small room with a partition at one side. The room is crowded. Finally one official measures our height and weighs us. He writes the information on a small piece of blue paper and gives it to the woman sitting at the small table.

She writes information on a form, puts the carbon copy in a drawer in the table, and sends us to behind the partition. We wait there until the woman sitting at the small table, who is the doctor, indicates that I should step behind the table. She tells me to take off my glasses, cover one eye, and read the eye chart, starting at the top of the chart. I read until she tells me to stop, then asks me to cover the other eye and read the line after the last one that I read before. I tell her that I cannot read it without my glasses. She waves her hand.

Her eyes are good. Next!

My companion steps up to repeat the process. There is no blood pressure check. We are given several papers stapled together and sent back to the first place. There the young elders again take us to the head of the line of people waiting to go in the door of the building. The young elders explain that they cannot wait with us in the building, but will meet us in the waiting area when we finish.

An official sitting at a small desk takes our papers and asks us to take a seat. We wait. A large number of people are waiting and chatting constantly. The sign says Please observe silence. Another sign says that a license can be obtained through seven easy steps.

People are called by name to go up to a window at the counter running the length of the room. It is very difficult to hear; more difficult to understand the names called.

My companion is called to a window. He steps back in front of a screen to have his picture taken. He signs a form and goes back to sit down. After several other people, I am called to repeat the process.

One at a time, we have our pictures are taken again, we sign forms again, we are called to pay our fees, we wait to receive our driver’s license card. We complete the whole process in about three hours. Because we had our licenses from the US, and because we were given senior citizen priority, the process went very fast.

With licenses in hand (no waiting three weeks for the license to be mailed to us) we go back into the alley/street. The young missionaries suggest that we wait there and they will go get the car. We back up to a concrete wall and wait with the other people. We watch the trucks, cars, jeepneys and motor bikes squeeze by. Then the elders come and we ride back to the mission home. We are so grateful for the young elders who spent the morning helping us through the process.

Sister Schmutz gives us some lunch, and we go back to the mission office. A senior missionary couple has offered to take us shopping. We go to a very large, modern, multi-level shopping mall. The people are very polite, they step back and gesture for us to go first. We find a few things that we need, but our credit card is denied. The couple with us pays for our purchases. We go to the large Citi Bank to use the ATM. Our cards will not work there either. We go back to the mall to exchange our American money for pesos, and reimburse our missionary friends. We had planned to go S & R, a large warehouse imitation of Costco, but since we are short on funds, we go back to the mission home, where I e-mail Alicia. (It is the middle of the night in Idaho.)

Instead of more shopping, we attend a session at the temple. It is a much more peaceful and enjoyable activity. After our session, a sister missionary asks me if I would like to see the bride’s room, where mothers and attendants help brides put on their wedding gowns, fix their hair, and prepare to be married, with family and friends in attendance, in an elegant room called a sealing room. All bride’s rooms in temples are outstanding, but the intricate gold and pink tinged chandelier in this one is totally amazing. In this temple, they also have closets with beautiful wedding gowns, veils, and even flowers for those who cannot afford to buy such things for their wedding. A temple wedding is dream come true beyond all imagination.

When we walked out into the warm evening, a number of couples and families were sitting and walking along the paths of the temple grounds. They seemed reluctant to leave the beauty and peace of that place.

We’re Here! –September 4

We had an uneventful flight from Salt Lake to LA, where we left the building to go to another big building which was the International terminal. There we stood in the ticket line again to get boarding passes to Manila and to Cebu. We went through security again, then boarded the plane for the fourteen hour flight to Manila. The plane going to Manila was surprisingly empty; probably only a third of the seats were filled. The time went fairly fast. I only woke up when John started poking me and saying that I needed to get up and move.

After nearly 14 hours of travel, we flew from Manila to Cebu, and got our first real view of the Philippines: turquoise seas sparkling under the bright early morning sun, bright green mountains covered with palm trees, vertical thunderheads piled up over some of the islands like variegated whipped cream from an aerosol can. Then a higher mountain came into view.

Look at the clouds over that mountain! No, wait, those aren’t clouds. That’s smoke! That’s a volcano! An active volcano! 

In our exhaustion, we could only think, “The Land Before Time! mixed with, “What are we getting into?!”

Many years ago, when we were dating, we walked across the campus of RIcks College (now BYU Idaho) through the snow of a late spring storm. The blooming daffodils by the Administration building were frozen solid. After we walked back to my apartment, John (now Elder Hall) put his arms around me and asked me to marry him.  I gave him the answer no young man wants to hear:  I need to think about it. Through the weekend I fasted and prayed. Late Sunday evening, I again knelt in earnest prayer. The answer came: it will be alright.

All daffodils don’t survive; life is not always happy ever after. But through the past 46 years, the Lord has carried us through joy and jubilation, through heartbreak and hardship, and it has been so very much more than alright.

The Lord’s promises never expire. This journey, too, will be alright.


We traveled with a couple that we met in the MTC. They are from Hawaii and he is excited to go to the Philippines because his grandparents were from there.

We arrived in Cebu and our luggage was waiting for us. We went outside and the mission president and his wife were waiting for us. President and Sister Schmultz took us to their beautiful modern home in the Temple Complex, where we took a shower, changed our clothes, and brushed our teeth.

We walked down to the mission office, stopping often on the way to meet young missionaries and members. Today is their preparation day, and most of them were coming from the temple. Everyone was friendly and greeted us enthusiastically.

We finally went into the mission office to meet the couples who work there. We, five couples, then went to lunch at a restaurant. The food was delicious; the driving interesting.

After lunch we talked to the couple in charge of finances, the one in charge of records, and the couple whose place we will be taking. We will be working in the Toledo area, through the mountains to the other side of the island.

Sister Schmultz fixed us a nice supper, President talked to us about some of our responsibilities, especially with the young elders ad sisters, and when we started to doze off, sent us to our room.

John is already asleep, and I think I need to do so also.

Cacayons and Halls mission office Cebu

Our very helpful traveling companions                The mission office building