Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's almost June...

Welcome to ReedsinCebu with the jeepney of the week. We saw this one coming down the mountain toward Cebu City. The man on the hood--the load of produce going to market on top--stuffed full of riders, a steep, windy road. Amazingly, there are very few accidents considering the conditions, which we highly-cautious Americans see as alarmingly dangerous. Well, the guy on the hood seems a little risky...

50 -year-old thoughts on May 27th—

This morning my prayer was one of thanksgiving—
For another year—another decade
This magnificent body—one of God’s greatest creations
This whole mortal experience
For knowing who I am and my purpose here on earth
For opportunities to learn and grow and serve and lift
For opportunities to walk by faith
For talents given to bless the lives of others
For generations who came before, forging the way for me
For beloved Kevin--all boyz--boyzwives--little folks who call me Grammi
For boundless support from our loved ones (that would be you) for this present adventure
For a wonder-filled world, meant to sustain us and enliven our souls with its beauty and functionality

Ahh! I am blessed indeed.

The 27th was an uncommonly fine day in all its ordinary-ness. We performed our office duties then taught our piano and English classes. Then it was time to go to bed.

Happiness has very little to do with glitz and glitter. It has to do with being settled in yourself, knowing you are known by God, wanting to please Him, and seeing his hand in your life.

Of course you know that as long as you're celebrating, it's still your birthday.

We celebrated for 5 days; pretty fun! As in other life details, the people here are very thoughtful about birthdays. Today at church I received birthday greetings from a half dozen people, and a spray of orchids.

Yesterday, our preparation day, was the designated celebration day where I got to choose whatever I wanted to do. (Yes, you can still have kid-privileges at 50. Kevin was a great sport!)

We opened the day with a trip to the highest mountain on Cebu, Mt. Manunggal, where the youth of the ward were having an encampment. We read about this mountain before coming on our mission; unfortunately an airplane carrying a former Philippine president crashed into Mt. Manunggal in the 70's and everyone on board was killed. It is somewhat famous, complete with a memorial marker and an annual commemoration day that draws a lot of hikers and campers, which draw a lot of roadside merchants. We will hike to the top soon, and make sure it isn't on the commemoration day.

Imagine this, you western North America dwellers--pine trees co-existing with banana trees. Hmmm. That's kind of a mind bender isn't it? I wish I could identify this one--long, supple needs in fasicles of three. At one point of our drive we could see two different oceans looking to the east and west.

Here's the heart warmer of the trip: when we arrived in camp (we'd told them we were coming up first thing in the morning but they didn't REALLY think we'd come...) the girls, who were all in one tent squealed & welcomed us just like the 11th ward girls at home would! And then we proceeded to have a tent girl-gathering just like any American girls camp. We are more alike than different.

Girl gathering 2009, including the one very white, old lady. Oh it's GREAT to be loved by the young women!

Here's the different part of camping in the Philippines: no sleeping bags or pads, and I think most of the kids hiked in in flip flops. What can I say--flip flops are the national shoe. The girls all had a mat, then slept in a cotton fabric tube about the size of a sleeping bag, only no fat, fluffy stuffing for warmth. One of the girls said her bones talked to her all night..."ouch", "this ground sure is hard".

Hanging out and working on YW stuff in the tent.

Their focus for the encampment was ecology, so when we'd had a little breakfast of dried fish, rice and fried SPAM we hiked to a tree-planting site where we all planted Philippine Mahogany seedlings as part of a reforestation effort. Ninety-nine percent of the island has been deforested. It isn't bare and ugly, but the lack of rain forest definitely affects the water situation on the island.

Jeanette and Vernadette planting a seedling.

They would have had us stay for the rest of their activities, but we had other birthday plans and had to get going.

Item two on the birthday list: a visit to my horticulture friend Jesusa (pronounced Heysousa). We met her the first time we ventured up the mountain back in March. She is a nurserywoman with a small growing operation on the side of the highway about 45 minutes out of Cebu City. We have since passed many bigger growing operations further along the road (with much better parking--Kevin's focus), but Jesusa is a friend and part of my birthday pleasure was to see her.

Although Jesusa's English is limited we communicate just fine, and our hearts are very much united in our love for all that grows. This was the first time we stopped to see her that I wasn't in a skirt and blouse, but pants, which made it a little more believable that I really enjoy working the soil and don't mind getting dirty. On other trips I have had to beg her to let me plant what I've purchased. Otherwise she insists on planting them for me.

Discussing plant possibilities for our bathroom where there is only artificial light, or in front of the mission office/entrance to our apartment--morning sun.

Part of my pleasure in visiting Jesusa is walking up and down with her, looking at all that she grows and wondering how many of them I can reasonably take home. There are pots all around the church/office complex--this is a common outdoor planting practice here, and if I find one that has a dead plant in it I adopt it and put one of Jesusa's plants in it. The office entry is looking very nice.

What else in my birthday play day?

A pedicure, a little fabric shopping, and dinner out. My comment to Kevin as we partook of the fabulous buffet at the Marco Polo hotel, "boy I'm glad I turned 50 so we could come here for dinner!" If any of you come visit us, we will recommend you stay there. In fact we might go there for our anniversary, etc. It is the nicest hotel in Cebu, and by American standards, not that expensive.

And of course, warm birthday remembrances from you dear friends and family. We love you! We miss you in the sweetest way. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers, for your life success and happiness. Hearing from you is like being showered with sparkles through our week. I remember thinking when others were serving missions, "I'm just home in my ordinary life--what in the world could I write to them, out in a very interesting setting?" Here's the scoop. You don't need to write an epistle to shower us with sparkles. Just two or three sentences are great--"thinking of you--hope all is going well--just did......" Do you get it? Don't wait for "big happenings!" Just say "hi", and there's a good chance we'll "hi" back. Isn't modern technology great?

Blessings from the Philippines. We're so grateful to be here serving in the Cebu Mission. The gospel is true everywhere, even here on the other side of the earth.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jeepney of the week..... the majority of the jeepneys are of this vintage

The mission opportunities keep moving forward here in this part of the vineyard. Good people continue to respond to the invitation to hear the gospel message. Faithful missionaries all over the world continue to act under the direction of the Spirit. We feel a great blessing to be able to observe and be part of the work of the Lord.
Last week we received training via internet/ phone that prepares us to jump from MOS ( the accounting and organizational program) to IMOS. The I standing for internet. When this is up for our mission those who need to access mission information will be able to from any computer in the world with internet access. IMOS has many changes in some of the functions but it looks as though it is a great improvement in information technology. We are to receive further training this week.

This is a view from a rest area on the road from Barili

We had the opportunity on our preparation day ( Saturday) to drive to the other side of this island. We went further south than before and arrived in a town called Barili, yes it sounds Italian. We had received directions from the docent at the museum that we had visited a couple of weeks ago here in Cebu. He directed us to see Mantayupan (Mon-tie- u-pan) Falls

We had also heard of Kawasan Falls which are located further south through some really pretty country. The falls are impressive to see if you are in that area but it is a distance to drive and then walk/hike up to see them. If you could (as most visitors) swim and cool off it would be a fun place to go. It was really nice to be out of the city.

We had been looking for a basket like these and happened upon this man making them

On the way home we came upon this three wheel setup that is used throughout this area, although we had never seen it used for hauling cattle! As we passed by, in between the driver and the women were two of their children probably going off to market. We had to follow behind them for a while as the turns in the road made it difficult( by my standards) to pass. There must have been a bug or something because several times the cow got really jumpy and started whipping that long tail and as it did so the poor woman got a really thrashing until the cow settled down. Hopefully they arrived without serious incident.

We happened on some Carabao cooling themselves in the mud hole

There is great need for missionary couples in all and many varied service opportunities. We just have had a new couple arrive who have been given the assignment to coordinate the efforts in preparation of the Temple open house and all the events that will go with that event. They are the Pecks from St. George, Ut. For the time being they are not really in our mission because they have a separate assignment, but after that portion of the assignment they will be part of the needed couples and senior sisters who serve in this mission.

All the best and thanks for your support

The Reeds in Cebu

Monday, May 18, 2009

Two and a half months into our mission and it feels like it’s speeding by. At this rate we will be home in about a week!
This blog entry is pretty random. Let’s start with the jeepney of the week. They are as individual as their drivers.

Note the money fanned out in the fingers of the back assistant. Cool guys fan their money.

Plant of the week—Travelers Palm, a.k.a Ravenala madagascariensis. It isn’t a true palm but a traveler’s true friend. It stores water in the stalks, so you could make a slit and water will gush out, probably saving your life.
And to go along with the above, name that plant. Hint: it is grown in Boise as an annual; of course here it’s perennial.

Wonder of the week (sorry—no picture) tree-ripened bananas. A young man who works with the missionaries brought a bag full from his tree at home. Oh heavenly eating! They had to be consumed immediately (banana bread for all involved), but such a treat for we temperate climate dwellers.

Temple update: it’s coming along, although no Angel Moroni yet. The brackets to hold the granite slabs are being installed. The rectangle building in front of the temple is our future home. We’re delighted to report that it is FAR from the street.

We enjoy walking every morning and try to be out the door at 5:15- 5:30 each morning. Well, truthfully, Kevin enjoys it every day and Ann has to be dragged out half the time. It isn’t the walking, it’s the profuse sweating that makes her whiney. Thankfully, Kevin keeps the health interests of all in mind and tries to keep Ann happy, including looking for new, interesting places to walk.
Our new walking destination is Beverly Hills Suvdivision. It’s the first subdivision built in Cebu, located on a hill close to our apartment, clean, quiet and interesting landscapes, which pleases our favorite sweat-hater. All the homes are large even by US standards, and of course they all have high security walls and guards. Just down the hill a bit, and in view from our walking street is the Taoist Temple.

Now doesn’t this picture make it look like we’re living in an exotic tropical paradise? Silly! We ARE!!

This is lookong from the area we like to walk toward the more modern part of Cebu

If you recall, last Saturday we attempted to visit Fort San Pedro after our tour of Carbon. We were rained out though, so we went yesterday. It is one of only a few triangular shaped forts, and the oldest one in the Philippines. It was erected by the Spanish in the 1500’s to protect the harbor of Cebu

The highlight of the week was to be able to attend the baptism of Bro. and Sis. Escotto and their daughter. When we first arrived here in Cebu I was asked to go with Elder Young to a teaching appointment. This visit was to this family. I didn't then, and I still do not converse in Cebuano, but the Spirit of Christ enhanced by the Holy Ghost is a language all can understand and feel.

The Escotto family embodies the great lesson taught in Alma of how pride is a wall that blocks the Spirit and that humble circumstances can and will allow the Lord's spirit to bless lives. It is a great blessing to participate in such events.

We thank you all for your support and always enjoy a comment on the blog or an e-mail.

Love from the other side.

The Reeds in Cebu

We leave you with a couple of examples of the flowers that are around the chapel grounds

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This is a pre-post for the week. We had this video which was too large to post directly to the blog and so, with the help from Justin I have ventured further into the great unknown and have posted the video to YouTube. You should be able to view this while in the blog. If it is successful we will do more in the future. The blog entry will be up over the next couple of days, see you then. Click on the play arrow and enjoy the commentary!

PS.... Carter, did you see the little blue jeepney in the video? I have a new jeeney picture for you in the next blog, but I am sorry I can't drive one home for you. Love Grandpa.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

We went on an outing to Carbon yesterday after we finished our preparation day chores of cleaning, and laundry. Actually, it was an exploration, for we felt like we were in a far off land.

Carbon is part of Cebu, sort of like Meridian is almost part of Boise. It’s a 20-30 minute drive from the mission office, and we are very close every time we go to the post office to pick up packages. This is Cebu’s primary open market, where most things are available if you know where to look for them.

It was an average summer day; sunny, hot, (probably 95ish) and humid. I didn’t see many people mopping their brows (everyone carries a sweat wiper, which amounts to a hankie, or better yet, a smallish terry hand towel) except for Kevin and I. This was one of two times thus far that my whole person was covered in sweat. I know, I know—a sweat report in a blog?! What can I say; we westerners are amazed at the phenomenon. As amazing as profuse sweating is, seeing people in what I would term as hot clothing--long sleeves, high necks, even neck scarves and hats is even more amazing. But all in flip flops; we were the only people I observed at the market who had on regular shoes.

It was a check-out-and-be-checked-out experience. There we were—tall, very white, and dressed up. Oh and throw in my blonde hair for good measure. We stuck out, or as Kevin put it, we were a market item. I was a little uneasy, although I don’t think I had any reason to be. Kevin was relaxed enough to hear, “Mormon, Mormon” as we walked up and down.

Chickens for culinary purposes. Cock fighting is VERY big here--sometimes we wonder if the children get fed as well as the cocks.

The market is a mass of buyers and sellers, jeepneys loaded with people and supplies, commerce at its best.

If you're short a display table for your dried fish you can always use a nearby motorbike.

It was a sight, sound and smell smorgasbord! You can see from the pictures that there were all kinds of interesting nooks and crannies, but words are feeble when it comes to all the smells. There were good, savory, food-cooking smells. There were dried fish smells. There were moist-things-that-had-been-washed-into-the-street-to-molder smells. We walked, and looked, and were looked at.

Three local models, eager to be discovered by a passing photo journalist.

I’m sorry to report that we didn’t find the basket and gardening tool we went for. Most of the merchants have the baskets, usually in size XXL to hold their produce; they are hand-made, sturdy, and we would like a smallish one. No one could tell us where to get one! As far as the gardening tool—there aren’t garden centers, and maybe what they use to cultivate their flower beds are machetes, which are the Philippine equivalent of a leatherman. (Even kids carry them and are very adept at their use.) Next time we go to Carbon we’ll hire someone who knows the market and speaks English as well as Cebuano to help us find what we’re after. And next time I will relax and enjoy the adventure.

We next went to the old fort that was built by the Spanish to protect their interest here in Cebu. Unfortunately we were rained out and so we will have a picture or two when the opportunity avails itself to go back.

No day is complete here without interaction with some of the many jeepneys that follow their respective routes. My impression is that these became a way of mass transportation following WWII when many surplus 'jeeps' were modified such that they could carry passengers.

There is of course the driver but the real interest is the conductor type who hangs onto the back of the jeepney and waves at and attracts potential riders. At places where several jeepneys gather you will here inviting shouts from competing jeepneys. And there is always the actual jocking for the best position to pickup passengers.

The other side of the me lay that is in constant motion on the streets are the taxis. Their tactic is to spot you as a potential rider and honk to get your attention. Often they will slow down by you to assure that you are aware of their presence.

While the jeepneys mostly stay to the right side of the road, unless going around each other, the taxis on the other hand dart and weave. It is one great like one great big aquarium,....... many different types of fish all moving in concert with together and you don't see any fish banging into each other, each one finds there own way. It all seems to work!

While the taxis are all pretty much the same in appearance the jeepneys can be a real work of art. Over the next several blogs entries I will try to post a Jeepney of the Week.

This driver really smiled when I told him I wanted a picture of his jeepney!

We are loving the opportunity to be here, and engaged in the real work that we are asked to perform, that is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are learning more each day as to our office duties but find a myriad of opportunities to invite those around us in all our interactions to hear the message of the restoration.

All the best from this side of the earth.

The Reed in Cebu

Sunday, May 3, 2009

We just concluded a week of change and movement in the lives of many of our missionaries. Every six weeks is transfer week. When a missionary is called a designated release date is also assigned and all this is correlated through the church missionary department. At every six week cycle a group of missionaries will be leaving for their homes and a new group will be arriving to begin their mission experience. Here in the office we help to arrange and expedite this process.

It is interesting to observe the great blessing in personal growth that occurs when our young people spend this time in their life to be of service.

These are the missionaries that are going home. Note: The V-shape under the chin indicates they think they're handsome (guapo for the elders, guapa for the sisters).

We only knew these departing missionaries for the short time we've been here in Cebu, but it is inspiring to talk with them and hear of their mission experiences and see in their eyes the love they have for the people they serve with.

The flip side of this week is the re-arrangement that needs to take place in the companionships and the locations that they will serve in. This transfer we sent nine missionaries home and only six arrived. President Hansen, with those that assist him, decide where the new missionaries will serve, and with whom, and also other companionships that are reassigned. This is a great opportunity to start fresh in a new area, and with new acquaintances coupled with inspiration, the work of the Lord moves on in this, and all the missions of the Church.

Here are the new missionaries that just arrived from the Manila MTC.

By the way Elder Antonio is neither leaving or arriving which one is he? It is like Where's Elder.........instead of Waldo!

These Elders along with two others are heading off to open the island of Camotes

We are continuing to learn our trabejo ( job, work )( roll the ‘r’ and the ‘j’ has an ‘h’ sound) in the office, and it is starting to feel a little more known. Our training couple will begin to venture away and resume their previous work in strengthening the wards and branches. They will check in with us when needed and continue to guide us via phone or texting, which is big here. You often see people walking in a group of two or three or more and all of them are texting.

We head off in a jeepney to help with a stake service project. The Church will celebrate 50 years in the Philippines in 2011. Our mission has a goal of performing 7000 hours of service in the year 2009 as part of the build-up to that celebration.

Yesterday, Saturday, our preparation day, we visited a museum which was developed recently to tell the history of the Island of Cebu. This island like many in the Philippines has gone through several conquerings and has been under the thumb of other countries. There are four main time periods. The first and longest would be the time of self development as a people. Each island developed and adopted some characteristic that distinguished them form the other peoples in the area. They traded with other nations and so there are relics that support this fact. We saw many pieces of pottery from the Ming and earlier dynasties in China. Vietnam, Thailand, and Greece had trading ships that passed by Cebu and all left some evidence. In those days the name of the island was Segbu.

The Spanish era was the first big shift in the direction of development for these people. Magellan first landed on Cebu, and his soldiers were able to convert the people from their Pagan religion to Catholicism, all in forty days.

His next goal was to do the same with an adjoining island, Mactan. The king, Lapu Lapu had a different idea and with overwhelming numbers resisted and killed all but 8of the soldiers.

The Spanish returned within a couple of decades to re-establish their foothold and develop the country. They were not resisted, and so the Spanish influence expanded. Over time the local Philippine people developed a resistance to the overbearance of the Spanish State, and in the process began to exert guerrilla tactics to weaken the government. While all this was becoming effective, the Spanish sold the Philippines to the U.S. in a land deal.

The Spanish left, and the people of Cebu celebrated for a brief time before a U.S. ship came to see what was purchased!

This American period was a time of education and growth in the infrastructure for the island. The money and government were patterned after the U.S.

Then came WW2 and with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the islands of the Pacific were under a new threat. The invasion of Cebu happened on the beach near Talisay and because of the overwhelming army the Philippine people and the Americans had to surrender. Much pain and suffering took place under this army’s rule, mostly by the strangling of commerce. Japan set their own money in place and under death penalty no one could use any other.(If you are interested you can see this money on E-Bay; search under Japanese Peso).

The American military under MacArthur liberated the Philippines and after some time set the nation of the Philippines on their own course.

We admire the heritage that has developed here and can better understand some of the culture.

There is always room for another goat picture!

We hope you enjoy what we can share by our being here, and always enjoy your reply. As members of the Lord’s gospel we are all engaged in work that has eternal meaning; may the Lord bless you and your family in your efforts.

The Reeds in Cebu