Monthly Archives: May 2014

Perspectives — May14, 2014

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We took some Branch members to clean a long-neglected apartment. Cobwebs along the ceilings and under the study tables seemed to be accepted decorations. Only the centers of the floor were deemed worthy of sweeping, let alone mopping. The walls were a showcase of fingerprints and shoe marks. Every horizontal surface was covered with clutter.

I gasped as I opened the refrigerator door. A voice spoke behind me.

Sister, we cleaned the fridge this morning. You should have seen it before.

Water dripped out of the refrigerator onto the floor. Apparently the drain line had frozen. The freezer tray was frozen in thick ice on the bottom of the compartment. The tip of a plastic sack stuck out above the ice where it had frozen in its death throes.

Spilled food and grime covered the inside and outside of the refrigerator. A cup filled with an unidentified whitish substance and a slimy soup bowl with green floaters leered from the dank interior.

Where’s my camera? We need pictures for the mission bulletin board.

No, Sister! We will keep it clean now. We promise!

A special Happy Mother’s Day wish to all mothers whose children have been taught what clean really means and do what they have been taught.

For God hath not called us unto uncleanliness, but unto holiness. 1 Thes 4:7

Five hours later we wearily stumbled out of the apartment.

Who would like an ice cream cone?

The votes in the affirmative were unanimous. Elder Hall paid for the cones and took the tickets to the dipping station. All of the sister received their cones and then Elder Hall ordered.

One dip Double Dutch and one mango please.

We walked out to the pickup with our ice cream. One of the sisters looked at Elder Hall’s cone.

Elder Hall, I tried to order two different kinds of ice cream.

But you only have one kind.

Yes. She told me it was not allowed to give two different kinds of ice cream on one cone.

But she gave me two kinds.

Yes. I heard the other clerk ask why she had given you two kinds. She said it was too hard for her to explain it in English, so she just gave it to you.

Maybe there are advantages in not being able to speak the native language here.


Significant Events —May 9, 2014

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It was a week of events: new babies born, a wedding, a baptism, missionary transfers. Our personal significant event was a bit less exciting. We went to the immigration office to renew our visas.

Apparently our missionary visas have to be renewed, according to government regulations. On Thursday, in the midst of getting transferring missionaries to the terminal and meeting incoming missionaries to get them to their new areas, the telephone rang.

An actual telephone call is relatively uncommon here, as most communication is by text. When we first came here, we considered communication by texts a huge frustration. Now we think it is handy because a text does not demand immediate action, and reception for voice calls is usually poor. This time the telephone rang and I scrambled to get to the phone before we lost the call.

Sister Hall, this is Elder Peck from the mission office. How are you doing?

We are doing fine. And you?

Great! How are transfers going?

We’ve gotten all the outgoing missionaries on the bus and the new ones should be here soon… unless you have other information?

Oh, no, that is not why I am calling. We just received a call from Manila and they need you and Elder Hall to be in the immigration office in Cebu by 9 tomorrow morning.

Umm, okay. But what is going on?

Well, they just need fingerprints and photos to renew your visa. Can you be in the mission office by 8 and we will give you a map and instructions?

Okay, we will be there.

Great! That will save you a trip to Manila.

In that case, we will definitely be there.

We started our trip at 6 am. In the office we met two other senior couples, one from the island of Negros and the other from the island of Bohol in the Cebu East mission, who had left their area the night before to be in Cebu that morning.  A number of young missionaries had also been called randomly to come into the office.

We were handed a picture of the office, a map, and given oral instructions. We carpooled in three vehicles. We carefully followed all directions and found the street where we were to turn into to get to the immigration office. Unfortunately the street was marked with a sign that said, “Do not enter.” We continued to the next corner, turned, and followed the street until we found a place to turn around, or in other words, stop, back partly out of the street and pull back into traffic.

You sisters get out and go get in line while we find a place to park.

The pickup disappeared down the street. We walked into the area in front of the building and milled around with the other waiting people. Our husbands came back. We greeted people we knew and caught up on their activities. Finally a lady asked all the senior couples to follow her into the building and up a flight of stairs. They offered us chairs to sit and wait until we were called to the counter for computerized fingerprints and photos. We returned to our seats to wait again.

We were asked to go back downstairs, back outside and to a booth at the edge of the street for another photo. We were asked to go back upstairs and wait. We were asked to go back downstairs for ink pad fingerprints.

We were asked to go back upstairs and wait. We were asked to go through a door labeled “Information Capturing” for another photo. We were asked to wait again. After only two and half hours we were given permission to leave.

For one of the senior couples, only the husband went through the process. The wife was told that she needed to come back later because her papers were still in Manila.

The wheels of government bureaucracy are interesting to deal with on all sides of the world.








Larong Pindoy –May 1, 2014

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Sister, what does Larong Pindoy mean?

It’s the name for our Youth Activity. We will play native games.

Native games?

Yes. Games that we play here to keep our bodies strong and agile. Will you come?

Yes, we will be there.

The games were to prepare the youth physically for the three-day self-reliance camp to be held later in the month. They started with indoor games at 9 am, had a break for lunch, and then had outdoor games in the afternoon.

There was a type of long jump called Chinese Garter, where the participant would run and kick up their feet to bring down an elastic string held progressively higher by two young women. It was amazing to see how high they could kick, and more amazing to see how gracefully they could land.

A string knotted through a hole in a coconut half shell formed shoes to wear for one race. There was an indoor baseball game, complete with teams, bases, fielders, pitchers and batters. But the pitcher tossed a flip-flop for the “batter” to kick. The fielders tagged the bases, not the runner. Flip-flops are sometimes used here as a handy swat for a recalcitrant child. A flip-flop “ball” does not break nearby windows.

Elder Hall was captured by a camera as he jumped rope. He coached the outnumbered team in tug-of-war as he shouted “Heave! Heave!” so they would synchronize their pulls. One of the Young Men’s leaders talked to him after the game.

Wow, Elder Hall, that really worked! All of the leaders joined the other team, but we could not hold your side back. But I have a question. What does “Heave!” mean?

“Heave” actually means “a strong pull.” But for these young people, I think it meant to be obedient and work together, because that is what they did.

Fish Market —-April 28, 2014

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Brother, do you want some souvenirs?

No…it will be alright.

We have some things here that you can’t get anywhere else. People who visit from Manila often stop here.

We were taking the Area Auditor back to Cebu to finish his audit there before going back to his home in Manila.  We followed our guide’s directions as we wound through downtown Cebu. The last turn took us to a street lined on both sides as far as we could see with small shops…all selling dried fish.

Our guide handed us a small piece of white dried fish and urged us to try it.

Did you like it, Elder Hall?

It.. it wasn’t bad. It’s not as salty as the fish in the market in Toledo.

No, they don’t add salt to these fish. They just have the salt from the sea water. It tastes a bit sweet doesn’t it?

Yes. What is it?


Our passengers gathered up their packages and we climbed back into the pickup. The man from Manila thanked us for taking the time to stop at the market.

Dried fish is a treat for us. We like to keep some in our house because that is our food storage here. Then we always have something to eat.

National Day of Service — April 26, 2014

A hat is good

A hat is good

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In a tropical country, plant tomatoes in the shade

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I have never worn one of these yellow vests before.

Neither have I. Isn’t it great?

The young sister missionary and I looked at each other and laughed. We didn’t know that being on a mission in the Cebu Philippines mission meant that we would be one of those wearing the famous yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” vests. It felt good.

The day was hot; after all, it is summer in the Philippines. The Toledo Branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had promised to dig holes to plant tomatoes and guava trees and to pull out weeds from a large area for future planting. I watched the tomato planting and my mouth watered for a nice fresh red ripe juicy tomato. The shovels were all in use, so some sisters and I moved to the weed patch.  It was covered with a flowering, vining plant very similar to the morning glory |I have continually fought in our yard at home.

We pulled and chopped at the weeds. Sweat dripped off us as we piled up the weeds to form a long roll across the patch. We moved about halfway down the slope before we were called to take a water break and pose for pictures.

Sister Hall, are you ready to go?

We had promised to be in Cebu City by noon to pick up an Area Auditor and bring him back to conduct church audits for the next three days in the Toledo area. The young missionaries needed to get back to apartments to do their morning studies and we had promised them a ride. We made our apologies and started our trip.

When we stop to think about it, everything we do is really service. Only sometimes we also get to wear a yellow vest.

Light — April 14, 2014

View from the top of the mountain after a 5 AM hike

View from the top of the mountain after a 5 AM hike

Youth conference" Getting to Know You "activities

Youth conference” Getting to Know You “activities

Testimony Meeting at the end of the conference

Testimony Meeting at the end of the conference



There’s another big typhoon out in the ocean.

Elder Hall looked up information about the storm on the internet. It was a very large typhoon right on track to hit Cebu. It was moving about 25 knots per hour. The next day it had slowed to 5 knots per hour. The next day the typhoon dissipated.

Well, I guess we missed that storm.

On Thursday , April 10, President Schmutz came to conduct his last Zone Interviews. He presented a workshop on following the light of Christ. He spoke of the three voices that we hear:

  1. Our own voice, or the voice going on inside our minds at all times: This voice gets better as we respond to spirit, and worse as we reject the light. It is the voice of who we are at the moment.
  2. The voice of the devil and his angels: He throws “fiery darts” but cannot see where they land, or how effective they are until we act. The adversary seeks to smother the voice of the Spirit. His is a murmuring voice, a voice of perceived injustice, a seductive, soothing voice, a voice of intellectualism, a proud, flattering, cynical, entertaining, commercial, delirious voice. When we learn to recognize that voice, we can simply choose not to listen.  If we do not “give way to the temptations, that the evil one have place in our hearts to destroy our peace and afflict our souls” (see 2 Ne 4:27), then after a while he will get tired and shift to another target.
  3. The voice of the Spirit: It is given to us as we seek the Light of Christ. It will enlighten our minds, as “there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.” (see D&C 6:14-15).  We can recognize the voice of the Spirit because it invites us and entices us to do good continually, and to love God. The way to judge this voice “is plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark.” (Moro 7:15) If we choose the light, day by day, then the revelatory power of the Holy Ghost can become our constant guide.

On Saturday night the clouds, heavily laden with moisture sucked up by the typhoon winds, moved over the islands, and it began to rain. It rained hard and almost continually for the next three days.  Houses built in the lower spots were flooded. People began worrying that it would be a cold summer.

Because of the time zone difference of 14,000 miles, we watched the General Woman’s meeting on Saturday April 5, and General conference on Saturday and Sunday April 12 and 13. The conference was a pleasant contrast to the storm that beat outside. We went in and out of the rain several times during the break between meetings on Sunday. When the session started again, we were damp and as we sat the air conditioning, we wished for a warm blanket, even though the temperature outside was in nearly 80 F. (27 C).

On Sunday night we went out to visit a new member family. The trail which had been hard and dry a few days before was now a lake, and we crossed on the narrow elevated wooden planks that served as a bridge. Our shoes turned into large clumps of mud.

On Wednesday the sun came out. We rejoiced in the light and gave thanks that the rain stopped before the Youth Conference, which was scheduled for April 17, 18, and 19.

We enjoyed the Youth Conference at the Hidden Valley Mountain Resort, which included a 7 AM arrival; a devotional with the Area Executive Secretary and his wife; getting-to-know-you activities; a talent night where each Branch presented an original dramatic music and dance fairy tale interpretation with elaborate costumes; a Mission: Possible program; water games and swimming; unity-building games; a semi-formal dance; Zumba; and a closing testimony meeting. We left on Saturday morning to attend a wedding in Pinamungajan, then returned to make sure that everybody and everything returned home.

We enjoyed the light of the conference and were glad that Lewis and Celia were able to play in the sun while they were here.


April Fools Day — April 1, 2014

Overlooking Cebu city

Overlooking Cebu city

Traffic in Toledo

Traffic in Toledo

Seminary graduation

Seminary graduation

Family picture

Family picture

Kawasan Falls

Kawasan Falls

Lewis goes native

Lewis goes native

Swwimming with the Whale Sharks

Swimming with the Whale Sharks

We are coming to the airport now.

We’re there already?


We got out of the pickup as they unloaded their luggage. We gave them each a good-bye hug and tried to hold back the tears. Lewis and Celia’s short visit was over, and in a few minutes, they would be on the airplane to Shanghai and then on to the United States at the end of the week.

It was hard to see them go but oh! How we enjoyed the visit!

We picked Lewis and Celia up at the airport early on the previous Friday morning. Their plane had been delayed leaving Shanghai so they missed the last plane from Manila to Cebu. They spent the night in the airport in Manila and caught the 5 AM flight to Cebu.

People in the airport just kept coming by and asking us if we needed anything. One lady went to get water for us. Another asked if we needed a blanket. Others just asked if we were alright. I have never been treated so well in an airport.

 The airline offered to take us to a hotel. But we would only have been able to sleep 2 hours. In retrospect, though, we should have taken it. Two hours is better than no hours of sleep.

After hugs and hugs we drove to the Cebu Temple Complex and had a Philippine breakfast in the Patron House. We showed them the panoramic view of Cebu City from the overlook called TOPS. We drove slowly over the Trans-Central Highway and stopped for pictures. We arrived at our house in Toledo in time for a nap before going to lunch at Sister Vineyard’s peaceful mansion by the sea. Her beautifully set up table under a pavilion in the yard overlooking the sea was spread with a delightful feast.

What are these?

There are sticky rice cakes spread with chocolate. I made the chocolate from my own trees.

We had one, then another, then another. She sent what was left home with us.

We walked past Balwarte Park and then through the lush jungle along the Boho river.

You had better go to bed early. You didn’t get much sleep last night.

Yes. I think I will get up early and go for a run in the morning.

Are you running Robie Creek again this year?


Elder Hall and his son looked at Goggle Earth and planned a route. In the morning, we fixed fresh coconut, fresh mangos, bananas, scrambled eggs and rice. Breakfast was ready when Lewis came back.

Wow! It’s hard to run I this heat. I only did four miles before I gave out.

Did you run up the stairs?

Yes. The stairs here sure have a high rise. I missed the turn at the top and had to run through some people’s houses.

You mean literally through their houses, of course.

Yes, through where they were cooking, through where they were eating. These people live outdoors, don’t they?

Yes, they do.

Elder Hall presided at the Saturday morning Seminary Graduation. Then we drove to Kawasan Falls, where Lewis went with the others on the raft under the falls for a “super massage.” He said it actually felt more like he’d gotten beat up.

Sunday, we went to church and treated them to mango shakes.

Monday we got up at 3 AM to drive to Oslob at the southern tip of the island of Cebu to swim with the whale sharks. In the evening we had a Family Home Evening with a new convert family.

Tuesday morning, we left at 5 AM to drive to the airport in Cebu City. The visit went really fast, but we were so glad to have them here. We would love to have all our family come for a visit.

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest known extant fish species. The name “whale shark” comes from the fish’s size, being as large as some species of whales The largest confirmed individual had a length of 12.65 m (41.50 ft) and a weight of more than 21.5 metric tons (47,000 lb), and unconfirmed reports of considerably larger whale sharks exist. Claims of individuals over 14 m (46 ft) long and weighing at least 30 mt (66,000 lb) are not uncommon. The whale shark holds many records for sheer size in the animal kingdom, most notably being by far the largest living nonmammalian vertebrate, rivalling many of the largest dinosaurs in weight.

Whale sharks have a mouth that can be 1.5 m (4.9 ft) wide. Its mouth contains between 300 to 350 rows of tiny teeth and 10 filter pads which it uses to feed on plankton. Whale sharks have five large pairs of gills. Its head is wide and flat with two small eyes at the front. Whale sharks are grey with a white belly. Their skin is marked with pale yellow spots and stripes which are unique to each individual. The whale shark has three prominent ridges along its sides. Its skin can be up to 10 cm (3.9 in) thick. The shark has a pair of dorsal fins and pectoral fins. Juveniles’ tails have a larger upper fin than lower fin, while the adult tail becomes semilunate. The whale shark’s spiracles are just behind its eyes.

The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea, with a lifespan of about 70 years.

Despite its size, the whale shark does not pose significant danger to humans. They are docile fish and sometimes allow swimmers to catch a ride, although this practice is discouraged by shark scientists and conservationists. Younger whale sharks are gentle and can play with divers.