Wednesday, August 26, 2009


This is Humble Jeepney Week.

We dedicate this blog entry to every jeepney that's had its glory days--somewhere in the past.

That still rumble along in spite of being looked down upon by the new little sporty jeepneys, or the big "bells and whistles" jeepneys.

We've been back from lunch and errands for a couple of hours. The office is silent except for rode noise and the air con. That's what it's called here--air con.

When I'm sitting at my computer and I lean forward looking to the right, this is what I can see:

That bright white stripe is Elder Reed's back. He's sitting at his computer working on--finance stuff.

And now a close-up:

Definitely worth a full shot! Hmmm. That office resembles his office at home--teaming with activity. How do you keep a perfectly clean office and get stuff done?

This is my realm:

I make sure my desk is cleared off once a day. I'm so exposed up by the front door. It's probably a blessing or my desk would also look like my desk at home.

We must be getting better at what we do. It feels smoother--under control. Not that it's perfect, just that we don't feel like we're about to careen over the cliff.

This week is interview week. President and Sister Hansen were in most of the day yesterday, he interviewing (companionships this time) and she teaching the missionaries all kinds of interesting important things while they wait their turn.

Many of Sister Hansen's teachings are health-related. She is a very capable woman, having raised 5 children herself. But no mother, no matter how "Super Mom", who instantly becomes the "mother" of 130 knows what to do with all the health challenges that arise.

She has a well-stocked bag of mom-tricks, including capable doctors. One of her tricks is knowing when to send a missionary to see Dr. Tan and when to just put him/her on a round of antibiotics, which is entirely within her realm. Often this is successful--no perscription is needed, just go to the pharmacy and pick up your choice of bacteria-killer.

We don't wait around before going the antibiotics route here. Seemingly innocent hurts or sniffles or pains can turn nasty fast, including many skin-related issues. A rash could put you in the hospital if you don't tend it properly. A cut is nothing to scoff at! Scrub it! Disinfect it! Keep it covered.

We (at least the mission oldies) have heightened awareness of this from having watched President Hansen suffer miserably through a bad case of cellulitis, which stemmed from from a simple little cut when he was trimming his toenails. Needless to say, when I slipped on some wet coral when we were up hiking in our foothills a month ago and received a good scrape on my arm, I scrubbed and scrubbed. It healed well, by the way.

If Sister Hansen is Dr. Mom, then I am surely her first assistant. Reminding the missionaries of their responsibility to exercise good hygiene and encouraging steady, thoughtful self-care are definitely within my realm. The missionaries--I am the one out front who talks to them about all sorts of stuff when they come into the office. I love them dearly and am eager to encourage them in whatever area they are low in.

Recently we had the four missionaries from Camotes Island come in to pick up their support. It just so happened that they were all sick--poor fellas, having to travel when they should have been home in bed. Nevertheless, here they were in the office, so I quizzed them about their hygiene practices. Three of them as good as took notes and the fourth acted like, "oh yeah, yeah, whatever." This was my signal for a Scotch Blessing, which I think surprised him! I reminded him in no uncertain terms that it is our DUTY to tend our bodies mindfully. We didn't come across the world to get sick casually--easily, or to make others sick, but to share the gospel!

It's time to wrap things up for the day. I will teach my first piano lesson in a half hour to lovely Edren Sagayno--a young mom with 3 children. Her husband is in Cebu 1's bishopric and is building a catering business. His food is veeeery good. Edren is absolutely steady in her practicing habits, which means her progress is steady also. Very satisfying for both of us.

Look at that fine hand position! Can't beat that in a new student.

You are always close in our hearts! Want to make our day? Just drop a line. And I mean a line. An epistle is certainly appreciated, but don't wait till you've done something spectacular say hello. We're grateful for this very special opportunity of service. We know the gospel is true--know by the whisperings of the spirit that this is His work--His church. For all the challenges of life, we have great peace in our hearts. Life is good with Christ as our focus and role model.

Kevin and Ann
Elder and Sister Reed

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wowie! The Mandaue IS A LAKE

Showers going indoors
Showers going outdoors
It’s a duet of drops
We hope that it stops

One never knows.

The rain was pretty convincing,
which really had us wincing,
thinking about us blitzing
to the car without getting soaked.

Kevin was brave
did all he could to save
his princess from the wave.

I didn’t want us to fret
Travel when we’re wet?
An umbrella for my fella?
We settled for a beach towel instead.

The roads were clear
which made us cheer
The traffic—you know how we feel
to have to deal
with so much congestion.

To our dismay
Many cars lay
Dead in their tracks.

There was no turning back
To find a new track
For owners who were out wading
Their good humor fading

How did this happen?
I asked my wise prince
Too daring of speed
The thought made me wince.

Those engines were bathed
The water was deep
I sat oh so quietly
And didn’t utter a peep

Would our engine fail?
Would we become waders?
We took comfort in knowing
That Cebu has no gators.

It thundered, it lightening’d
Could this please be over?
Or else could we trade this Toyota
For a Range Rover?

Lake Mandaue went on
For more than a mile
Eventually though,
We left it with a smile

The shower had turned to a drizzle
It had surely decided to fizzle
The sun was trying to shine
And which meant we’d soon sizzle

On to Bogo we cruised
A good car, a blessing,
We mused

This light-hearted blog is done
We hope you’ve had fun
Please drop us a line
To help us not pine!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Time is like a dream and it is passing like a stream….

We are well here, and continue to learn in the responsibilities put before us. We aren't sure, but recognize hints that we may actually be acclimating to the temperature/humidity.

If you've read much of our blog, our morning begins with a great walk up through a subdivision called Beverly Hills. Many of the mornings of late seem cooler and there is often a breeze that reminds of the warm gusts at home that signal the shift from summer to fall.

We've had two typhoon warnings so far, with only one making it to Cebu. I say making it, but all we saw was steady rain for a day. Often a typhoon will be churning somewhere in the Pacific and the edges of the storm make themselves known here. Today is a little windier than normal; maybe it is connected to the typhoon that was announced and we've heard is hitting Luzon.

As I write this I see out the door of the office over on the other side of our stake center a large palm tree blowing in the wind. It is rather tall and singular in its place. The wind has wrapped all the frowns around to the downwind side. One branch has died and remains stiff and unmoving pointing directly into the wind. It reminds me of the Sesame Street character Big Bird, only green.

Watching our weather here, we're reminded of the summer hot days built by a high pressure ridge that can leave one wanting a little variety, like clouds or rain or something. Here there is plenty of variety with little chance of a ridge of high pressure. Often we are outside and if it is clear blue sky the sun can be hot and intense. But given time and not much, clouds will move across and often bring some rain.

Tropical rain is often very intense. I don’t think I will ever get used to the fact that when it rains the temperature doesn't drop, it will probably feel hotter since the humidity rises. Living our whole lives where rain, clouds, and darkness all equate to a significant lowering of the temperature, leaves us fooled again and again in those conditions. Either that, or hope springs eternal. We secretly hope for a really chilly morning. The locals think they happen, especially up on the mountain. If they only knew...

This morning we started on our usual walk with KaiKai and decided to walk over the back way to Guadalupe since it was Saturday and we weren't pressed for time. We didn't exactly know where to go, but KaiKai assured us that we could walk through the Boy Scout camp that is a stone's throw from Beverly Hills Subdivision. We had to see this one to believe it, since we've driven to Guadalupe and know that it takes 20-30 minutes in a car.

We walked on roads most of the time, including one that took us by the Provincial jail. There is some notoriety with this place, or rather the inmates. They have become famous for doing line dancing as a form of exercise. You can see them perform if you look on You Tube.

This area has a beautiful domed church with stained glass, all of which was built many years ago by the people of Guadalupe. The building doesn’t have the highly finished presence of some similar structures, instead it is at the end of the road through the village and the road completely rings the church property. And in that place appears to be the center of attention for the people of Guadalupe.

Our walk dropped us out on the back side of the street that circles the church and we ventured up on of the side roads to see where it went.

Since this is our preparation day and KaiKai doesn’t have kids to go to school, or his work, we had the time to explore. At first the road was busy and was not a relaxing stroll. But as we continued to climb in elevation there was less traffic and more opportunity to stop and look and talk with the people that live in that barangay.

This house intrigued us with it's purple roof and well maintained garden

We kept asking and were assured that indeed the road would loop back to where we began. At one point we sat and visited with a family that lived at the furthest point of our travel. They eek out a living harvesting Mangos and bamboo. They had cows ,chickens and perhaps other forms of sustenance, but it seemed pretty bleak.

You will see very steep hillsides where a plot has been cleared and a crop planted. When you are used to row crops that are planted on flat ground and seeded with a tractor, this site can really amaze you, no pun intended. What you see is the end of the season corn plants.

The Philippine people are quick to smile and engage in a conversation, (which would be simple and short if not for KaiKai), in all kinds of hard circumstances. We were informed that if we followed that road it would lead us to the area of the jail, where we wanted to go. We were told it would be approximately 30 minutes. Well, time can be relative!

Forty-five minutes later when asking other people walking the road we were informed it would be approximately 30 minutes, and so after another 45 minutes we arrived at the road by the jail. We saw some great scenery, and enjoyed seeing and hearing the large stands of bamboo. Some of the stalks were 6-9 inches in diameter and 35 feet tall. It is an amazing plant in it’s' design and usability. I mention hearing the bamboo, when the wind blows and pushes the stalks it is like the biggest wind chime you have ever heard. It is not loud but you hear all multiple tones produced by the various sizes of the stocks. We felt removed from the city bustle even though we were really pretty close.

We are well here and hope that you are also. Thanks for your interest in our adventure............. Elder and Sister Reed

PS. Here is the jeepney of the week.

As a side note this driver has painted on the inside for his riders to see, this statement.... Successful people do not have any special opportunity, they just work hard and succeed on principle!

All the best............A&K

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On the Road to Bogo

Think back to "The 10 Commandments" with Charleton Heston. The Israelites have worked through bondage and plagues and they've finally been set free. They prepare to go, gather, and begin the departure. That departure—masses of people heading out is what getting out of Cebu feels like to us as we drive north to our Sunday assignment in Bogo.

There are lots of interesting people, vehicle-animals as well as animals driven for food or merchandising. It’s teaming movement, ruckus, a constant din, occasional accidents or near misses; dust and grime. (Actually, MGM makes it look pretty clean.) Some travelers are impatient and push their way through the throng. Some wait their turn—patiently or in quiet joy or resignation. Fast or slow, the movement continues on and on. Progress is made—hopefully. The promised land inches closer.

Whoa! Am I talking about the Israelites or Kevin & Ann on the Mandaue Road? Hmmm. There are striking similarities as we inch our way out of town. To a small-city dweller, the inner clock is set at 20 minutes; the time it takes to escape heavy traffic congestion. Our inner clocks will probably adjust in about 13 months when it’s time to come home…

We inch along a 4-lane almosthighway instead of out over the open plain. Of course it’s paved, and at the moment in quite good condition. The painted lines are new and easily seen if anyone is interested in observing the boundaries they are meant to create. It’s flexible here though; the two lanes going either way may become 3 or 4 lanes as the traffic ebbs and flows.

Flow is a good word for Philippine traffic. Think of fish in an aquarium. They just swim without running into each other. Ironically, the only time the traffic snarls is when there is a barangay (that’s like a big neighborhood—our address is technically Cebu City, but Lahug is more informative) traffic enforcer. They look very official in full uniform, and blow their whistle like a professional musicians, but—what happens to the swimming fish when there is someone standing in the middle of the street waving their arms? It's always a mess.

The din is deafening, but muffled by our Toyota’s quality insulation, a small blessing. To have a car at all here is a blessing.

Animals? A double decker truck load of pigs, street-smart dogs trotting along just outside the run over zone; purposefully. Where do dogs go that makes them trot along so importantly? Tethered goats that munch nonchalantly, oblivious to the swirl of humanity around them. Cats and cocks are present also, but either caged (cocks) or cagey (cats).

If modern vehicles represented biblical travel creatures, the buses would definitely be elephants. Now don’t get all technical on me! I KNOW that elephants resided in a different corner of the woods than the Holy Land, but they fit the bill for my mind’s visual exploration. They, like buses, are the largest beast on the road, lumbering along assertively. They’re bigger than anyone is willing to oppose or contend with, moving remarkably fast considering how full they are. They snort and roar, weaving and swaying in and out of traffic like a Porche. If you’re a passenger you’re required to leave all your confidence with the driver when you board, along with your pesos. If you’re a transplant to this life, you pull over, let them pass, and vow to NEVER ride one because you want to live to return to your family and loved ones.

Next in the travel hierarchy are the jeepneys. Sassy and temperamental like camels, they are the overwhelming utility travel for most folks, and own the road unless a bus happens to be in the vicinity. They seem safer unless they’re overloaded with supplies or produce, which is much of the time.

Trikes. Hmmm. Donkeys? There are LOTS of them, especially lining the sides of the road in the little towns we pass through. Were there donkeys for hire in Jesus’ time? Trikes are a remarkable little beast of burden. For being a small motorcycle or bike with a side car, there could be as many as six people riding them, plus the driver.

We left most of the plain motorcycles back in town. They are an economical travel choice, holding from one to five riders. Their drivers are expert at weaving in and out of traffic. Imagine stopping at a light, leaving a respectful amount of space between you and the next car, and having it filled in with motorcycles that ride slowly up on either side, never putting down a foot for balance, and never taking out a mirror (that we’ve seen). This is the nature of the road in the city.

Finally the caravan cacophony thins as travelers go their own way, and we move more easily. Kevin drives on patiently or in quiet resignation. Or maybe it’s exhaustion. I’m exhausted because I’ve watched it all. We nearly got crunched back a ways. Our prayers for safety are always heartfelt, even as we plead for the same watchful care each time we head out.

An hour later we are out of Lahug, through Mandaue, Consolacion, Lilo-an and Danao.

We’ve reached the point in our travel of jungle forest on the left and ocean on the right. There are resorts all along the way, but not what you’re thinking. There are no fancy hotels, just day-use beach properties. Ocean front property can be owned on Cebu, which makes long beach walks almost impossible. Who ever heard of a fence or wall into the ocean?

And now through a winding canyon that will break into rolling hills of sugar cane. We’ve driven blissfully for a couple of miles without anyone in front or behind us. It’s blissful but not restful because of the children playing along the edges of the road. We MUST not run over anyone while we’re here. Or their dog or goat.

It’s a great relief to leave the city behind. I don’t know if I stirred your mind enough in my description. Do you feel tired? Are you tense between the shoulder blades? Think of an hour of Fairview Avenue at its worst, then add trikes and motorcycles to the traffic mix, dogs along the edge, and pedestrians walking out among the cars. There. NOW do you feel tired?

The relaxed undertone out in the provinces is almost tangible. Dusk has settled over the world (it is 6:00ish) and we are happy to pull into Bogo where we have a room reservation at the Park View Lodge. This is a modern hotel with eight rooms. We are the only guests tonight. Although the mattress makes “firm” seem soft, we sleep deeply in the quiet. Next time we come we will bring garbage bags to tape over the windows for a little more darkness, and egg crate foam for a more padded sleep. Nevertheless, the quiet is like a mind and body feast. We arrived in sound condition, and our $18 room is a bargain. Count your blessings--name them one by one.