Monday, June 29, 2009

I knew this day would come, that I'd sit down to create a blog posting and think, "Hmmm. What's gone on this week?" Remember our last frantic posting? Contrast gives us a fresh perspective on what might otherwise be squirmed at and pined over as dull. We enjoyed our week of "mopping up" VERY much! Besides, it gives me an opportunity to share some of the ordinary treasures of our realm, such as our front porch.

Entrances are essential; entrances to our homes, our offices, anywhere we come to and return to regularly. They should be welcoming and inviting--give a hint of what's inside, welcome us and our loved ones. Now admit it--everyone who comes to your door short of a robber is a loved one. Here is the entrance to our office and apartment stairway.

When we came there were a few brave potted plants that had survived on nothing but sporadic rain. They responded instantly to regular TLC, and of course I was on the prowl for new specimen to add to the groupings. THIS is Boston Fern heaven!

Landscaping with pots is very common here, especially in the heart of the city where there is more sidewalk than soil. As you can see in the background, there are planter beds against the office designed for low-maintenance green; not anything that particularly gladdens the heart, just green. I've watched the maintenance crew that blasts through every couple of weeks. It's much like in America--trim, mow and sweep. (No blowers--ruins the mow blow and go rhyme doesn't it?) They don't appear to take notice of anything except grass, so my puttering and planting is okay. Right in front I pulled out a dead shrub and planted cucumbers and morning glory. There will be a true garden spot over at the temple complex.

If you can't tend a whole landscape, tend a few pots.

The up side of only having a few growies to tend is that you PAY ATTENTION in a whole new way. This plant (middle of the first photo) was Jesusa's recommendation. I agreed more to be agreeable than because I liked it. There were no blooms on it, but she assurred me that they would come and I would be dazzled. Oh my! Such a show they put on for everyone who came to the office! I've got bonus points for whoever can identify this one; so far I'm hard pressed to find books or horticulturists who are into scientific names. I'm sure they're around, just haven't met them yet.

Every visit to Jesusa's nursery operation has included an invitation to stop by the office when she's in town. She came! She brought her very friendly husband Peter! Oh joy! Her photos don't indicate her warmth and friendliness; oh she's a lovely woman! Her growing operation is helping support her daughter's nursing education. I assure her that we will lend our support to the nursing education by continuing to buy her plants. So many plants, so little time...

Kevin here--We had the opportunity to tour the temple construction site with President and Sister Hansen and their visiting children on Friday. As you can see, I went as Alan and Ann went as Steve! Don't you think the hard hats give a look of importance? Now where's my clipboard? The hard hats were more a formality than anything, as we didn't come with 50 yards of the temple itself.

The construction to the right is our new home and office, and to the left, outside the picture is the stake center. The construction manager said they have over 600 workers there at various times of the day. Many live near the site in temporary housing and so it's like a small town. They've recently erected the crane that will lift the upper portion of the base of the steeple, and eventually the Angel Moroni. They've also started installing the granite slabs on the outside. We'll keep you posted on progress. Still no open house or dedication schedule, but PLENTY of preparatory activity going on behind the scenes.

One of the nicest things about serving a mission is the relationships that come about through serving together. We are particularly grateful for the Morgans--John and Mariann from Richfield, Utah. Their call was to strengthen the branches, but they were transferred into the office the first of the year so they could learn how to run it to teach us. They are both extremely capable and efficient in all office proceedures and affairs and have shared their expertise and wisdom generously. We are experiencing the countdown with them; they head for home on the 26th of July. At least once a day I order them to hand over their airline tickets and inform them that they aren't going home. They just smile.

Elder Morgan and Kevin cleaning up our kitchen after dinner with some of the young missionaries. LOOK! Some of the dishes are STACKED Some things never change.

We end this blog entry with an ongoing story of amazing generosity. You've probably read in the Ensign about the program for getting keyboards out into developing countries so people can learn how to play the piano to play for church? My piano students are the recipients of that anonymous benefactor's generosity. I ordered 20 keyboards and they arrived a couple of weeks ago, just in time to start sending them home with my students who;ve learned to read rhythm and have mastered four octaves of note recognition. I didn't hold the keyboards out in front of them like a carrot; I wanted them to WANT to learn to play, not just want a keyboard in their home. Some students have dropped out, and I knew they would. You might want to learn something new, but do you have time to devote to it? Anyway, four have gone home with VERY happy piano students.

The latest keyboard adoption was to a beautiful young psychology student named Alma Cana. For some baffling reason, her lessons have been hit and miss--double booked--overlooked--you name it. If anyone had reason to be discouraged and quit, it was Alma. She patiently carried on as best she could, forgave me when I double booked her slot, and has learned more in spite of me than because of me. When she came to her lesson tonight, the first in 3 weeks, and rattled off her four octaves of notes (she had made her own flash cards as well as a cardboard keyboard--now that's an interested student!) I told her about the keyboards and asked if she was ready to take one home. She nearly started crying. She said she had been thinking about learning to play, and how was that going to happen if she never got to work on a real instrument?

I dearly love the keyboard benefactor. If we are ever in a similar position, we will use our money to accomplish so much for good, to bless lives and enliven souls.

On a little housekeeping matter, I recently had a blogging session with our blog mentor Courtney Rice, who helped me figure out how anyone can leave a comment. You don't have to be registered, etc. any more, so have at it! We love to hear from you! You are treasures in our hearts. Love and blessings, Kevin and Ann in Cebu.