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.