Sunday, March 29, 2009

The promised pictures...

We're making friends of all kinds, and this goat is one of growing number we've met so far. He supervises our walks each morning from the top of the wall. As you can see, it isn't the most hospitable wall, what with all the barbed wire, but he doesn't seem to mind. Since meeting this fella we've met a number of other goats; in open fields, on ropes at the side of the road, being lead along by lovely Filipina goat keepers. I'd like a goat or two, you know. I'd name the Pierre and Sven.

This is the front porch of the mission home on the morning of Zone Leader Council. It's customary to remove your shoes at the door, no matter how grand or humble the abode. It seems like great good fortune to find YOUR shoes at the front door of a mission home. Note the stone flooring. It's very common here in outdoor settings. Our humble apartment has stone--travertine-like--on all the floors and countertops. Interesting to see what building materials are used. All construction is concrete, which is good in terms of price (lumber is $$$$$ here)and termite warfare, but not so good if you want to hang pictures!

This is a view of the valley from part way up the mountain. We drove up our first weekend here, and now we can say that we've walked up also. It wasn't as harrowing as we thought it would be from our drive up (motorcycles and jeepnys are many and fast, but not so bad in the up hill lane). It was early last Saturday morning (5:30) with a Chinese-Filipino fellow we met on one of our daily walks. We probably wouldn't have braved it on our own, but he apparently does it every weekend. We walked for about an hour, then stopped at a vegetable stand where they had cooked fresh corn on the cob, which we purchased and munched as we walked up further to another outdoor eating establishment which served fried bananas and boiled eggs. It was shady and a great place for a chat. Our guide's name is Kai Kai, pronounced like eye eye.

Kevin is behind the camera. We had a great time learning more about the Philippine culture from a Cebu native.

Another goat friend!

Speaking of friends, we've seen a few roaches but not many. Our office and apartment area is quite well maintained. I also saw my first rat over the weekend, a 12-incher skulking along the wall of our motel parking lot. Couldn't help but think of Templeton in "Charlotte's Web" when I saw it.

This view of the temple from our motel window is probably the best thing about staying there. Delivery of the granite slabs for the exterior are scheduled for the end of April. It's an easy walk --about a block--to the walled construction area. We walked around the corner and visited with the construction manager last week. It's awesome to be living in the shadow of a new temple!

There are very modern grocery stores here in Cebu, all located in malls. They are always busy, sort of like around the holidays, so shopping takes a dose of energy and courage. All the employees wear uniforms--girls in dresses (all the seafoam green behind Kevin) and guys in white uniform shirts. Kevin couldn't resist using the senior check out line!

Friday, March 20, 2009

First Week in Cebu

It's Saturday morning. Most of the senior missionaries are either attending a meeting or visiting a museum. I am grocery shopping with Sister Hansen in a little while and this waiting time is a blog opportunity. As you can see, no pictures today. Now don't close out of the blog! I'll post them first chance I get--my camera battery is dead.

These last six days have been measured by our nights, which have been an adventure in themselves. We've dropped into bed in complete exhaustion each night, only to awaken a few hours later from the noise of the air conditioner, the noise of the street, or the noise in our heads.

All of you who have moved to another culture are shaking your heads knowingly at this very moment, right? So much to absorb and sort out; so much to get used to. Wouldn't it be a dull life if we only did things removed from the unknown, and that required no adjustment? I think our Cebu motto will be, "each day, a new adventure."

When we've finally survived the night, (each one has been a little better, slept a little longer, more peacefully) Kevin and I head out for our morning walk, which is an adventure in itself. The walking "sweet spot" is from 5:30 to 6:30, as it's dark before 5:30, and after 6:30 the traffic gets bad. Every day we go some place different; the first day we walked around to the temple site. Most morning we include what's called the IT park, which really isn't a park as we know it, but kind of a landscaped business setting with more uniform sidewalks and less traffic.

Philippine drivers do not stop for pedestrians.

This morning we only did a half hour of laps around the IT park since Kevin needed to be ready for the meeting at 8:00. There are quite a few folks who exercise at the IT Park, and we practice our Cebuano by greeting them--Maayong Buntag! Good Morning! They are pleased to be greeted by Americans in their language and return the greeting or just say "good morning" and smile. On our 3rd time around a gentleman who had finished his workout commented on our speed, (it's difficult to get your heart rate up at sea level when you're used to 2800 ft.) then the 4th time around he engaged us in conversation, which of course we loved. He mentioned the mountain, which isn't far away, and said that we could climb up for an hour or so, stop for a bite to eat, then take a jeepney back. What a lovely thought! Maybe next Saturday when we have no commitments.

We're staying at a hotel about a block down Salinas Dr. until the present office missionaries go home. It would be an easy walk to the office, but the sidewalks are very uneven, and crossing the street--remember, they don't stop for pedestrians here. Don't talk to me about crossing lights and cross walks either. The locals will just walk out and stand between the lanes of moving traffic, waiting the next lane to be empty for a moment. We wait and watch for an opening all the way across the lanes.

Kevin has been driving for three days now, and is handling the new conditions well. Sister Hansen says to think of driving like playing football--look for an opening and go for it. The lane markings are only a guideline--go ahead and pull around on the left or the right--there is almost no wrong way. If you need to turn across other lanes of traffic, don't wait for an opening, just ease out into the oncoming lanes and they will stop. Miraculously, there are very few wrecks, only occasional fender benders. I don't know about pedestrian deaths... There are no old, damaged cars here; they are all new, and nice.

The sisters who currently reside in our (future) apartment have been very welcoming and generous in sharing their space in this transition time. We are invited to cook, do laundry, or whatever we need, including me doing my hair there every morning since they have 110 outlets and the hotel only has 220. I look around as I am blowing and fluffing and think about setting up housekeeping here in just 12 days. It's hard to say who is more excited about them going home--them or us, for completely different reasons, of course. By the time we move in we'll have lived out of suitcases for about 6 weeks. Enough!

Our Cebuano is coming along. Not fast enough to suit us, but we've only been here for a week, after all. We have good support--many capable missionaries and the ward members, all of which are delighted to help us learn their language. I've taken advantage of a couple of opportunities to read to young sister missionaries who've been waiting in the office. They are shy (Fillapinas--feel like their English isn't good enough) but with a little encouragement they prove very capable teachers. Plus we have a good time talking about their mission experiences and life in general. Reading out loud to someone who can correct me is VERY desirable. Next comes understanding what I'm saying.

Many thanks to those of you who have dropped us a line. You are ALWAYS in our minds and hearts, even though we're living a magnficent adventure in a far away land. We pray for you every day. Oh rats! I can't even write this without getting tearful. Gihigugma ko kanimo.

Pictures for sure next time I have a minute to blog.