Monday, April 9, 2012

How Many Degrees of Separation?

We have watched this happen so many times since we've been here. 
But it has always happened to other people -
This is the first time for us.

This young man is Elder Cooper, serving his mission in Laoag - about a 12 hour drive north of us.  (We were there last month.)  We encountered him at the Mission Home this weekend when we went there to celebrate Easter and watch the recording of General Conference. 

Frequently, when the Flemings, the Senior Missionaries in charge of the MRC (Missionary Recovery Center), want to be able to join us, but they have patients they're responsible for, they'll just pack up their charges and bring them along too.   Well, that happened Sunday morning. So that's how Elder Cooper found himself watching Conference with a bunch of old folks. 

Elder Bell was talking to him and asked his usual question, "What part of Utah are you from?" 

Really!  That's his usual question because it seems that the majority of missionaries - old and young, turn out to be from Utah.

 Elder Cooper's answer - I'm from California. 
Oh, what part?
Southern California.
Oh, where?
Orange County.
Oh, what city?
What part of Tustin.
Off of Redhill?
My son is a counselor in the Singles Ward down there.
John Bell!!!?!??

Elder Cooper tells us that our son, John, is a major factor in his being on a mission!  He said he was his Young Men's leader and was an important part of his life and a big influence on him while he was growing up. 
We quickly compared notes and discovered that we've met his parents. We've heard John and Colleen talking about him many times.  We even remember when he left for his mission because they talked about it. 
How fun was this!  And the major thing that he wanted us to convey to John and Colleen so they could contact his parents was that  -  he's OK!  They knew he'd gone to the MRC, but he hadn't been able to communicate with them since then.  So John and Colleen - get the message to them, all right?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jordan Leigh Jones

Here's another reason to throw caution to the wind and just
You can still be a part of whatever goes on at home. 

You just experience it live via Skype!
Jordan Leigh Jones
Born October 16, 2011 4:10 pm
Philippines time - October 17, 2011; 7:10 am
7 pounds 4 oz; 21 inches long!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pedring and Quiel

Here's what we didn't know - we didn't know that the typhoon season comes AFTER the rainy season.  Sortof.  We had a flurry of typhoons early in the rainy season, but they were nothing compared to the two that just left!  And we thought the rainy season was over in September.  Actually, as I write this, Ramon is gathering strength and heading towards the Philippines. 
So this is what happened in the space of a few days -

This is the only picture we have from our own camera of the first to hit - Pedring.  We were driving home from the office and turned the wipers off long enough to take the picture, but the blur of the rain still made it pretty fuzzy.  Tree branches were falling everywhere.  Lots of trees totally uprooted. 

This is a before and after set of pictures. 
On a clear day, this is a lovely area along Roxas Blvd
 for walking and sitting and watching the bay.
This cyclist was trying to negotiate the street at the height of the storm.

Now the seawall has been reduced to rubble.

The American Embassy is just down the road from this area.
It was under a few feet of water and is still closed. 

 But Manila was not hit as hard as a few of the northern provinces.  The hardest hit was Bulacan, about 35 km north of us.  That's where the major damage and loss of life occurred. 

If there's anything entertaining to be seen in all this, it's the picture below showing what one industrious guy with a truck and a generator can do - he drove around allowing people to charge their cell phone batteries!

So ...
The Standard Mormon Response ...

First of all, we boxed up donated clothing.

We got calls from members who were waiting on their rooftops to be rescued. 
Later, when they were all staying in a stake center, their major request was -
 please send clothes. 
The clothing was specifically for the members of the Church.
But the rest of our work was for anyone in need in the flooded areas.
So we bagged rice.
Lots and lots of rice.
When these 600  50-kg bags had been rebagged, we did 650 more!

Everyone took part in the action.

Moms came to help.
And Scouts
Senior Missionaries
Young Missionaries
Little people.

Not so little people.
PEF Volunteers (and Jib's mom)

Mission President
All equally yoked!

These bags filled one and a half trucks.
We sent out 12 trucks over the 2 days we did this! 

Some of the young missionaries didn't hold up so well!!!

At least the Seniors stayed upright!

One truck landed here in this Stake Center in Malolos

Where additional items were placed in the bags.
Then the bags were bundled up again,
And loaded on a new truck
That delivered the goods to the river
To be loaded onto boats
And delivered to those in need.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Jib's unfortunate choice of ties didn't escape Franco's eagle eye one day recently!
The only thing left to do is give the composition the proper title. 

Vote for your favorite, or come up with one of your own!








(Jib's own title)

lo and behold, the very next day,
Franco discovered his own, self-proclaimed, fashion faux pas!
It doesn't show as well as it did in living color,
but the FHE water containers are a perfect match to his tie!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Revolving Seniors

All of a sudden, the Senior missionaries we've come to count on are bailing on us and heading home and we're feeling sad. 

Home base for us is the Area Office in Quezon City.  We've mentioned before all the different types of senior missions being served in this building.  Well, in the last 2 months, the Burninghams, the Security couple have left, never to be replaced.  The job is now filled by an expat.  The ERC sisters - Sister McKnight and Sister J, have gone home and their new replacements aren't here yet.  The MRC couple, Elder and Sister Jones, are home working in the garden and fixing up their house to sell.  Their replacements, the Flemmings, have just arrived.  Sister Clark's job of mapping the stake boundaries throughout the entire Philippines is over and she's gone home, and her companion, Sister Burwell has moved to the newly created Quezon City North mission to work in the mission office.  And now, the hardest working missionaries in the Philippines have headed home.  Elder and Sister Smith, the Humanitarian couple who would be on the road for weeks on end, only to pop-in in the dead of night and hit the road again at daybreak have VERY RELUCTANTLY gone home to Washington State.  The Hardicks spent the last two weeks with them and, so far, the grueling schedule hasn't sent them packing.  Which, actually, wouldn't be hard to do because they haven't, yet, had time to unpack!

Our soft-hearted Jib was so sad to see the Smith’s leave that he organized an impromptu “farewell choir” on their last day.   I tried to upload it here for your viewing pleasure but, alas, apparently Blogspot is more discriminating than we give them credit for.  It won't allow me to post our singing.  Probably for the best.  Look at Sister Smith's reaction to our song!  I didn't think we were that bad. 

Elder Smith agrees with me.  He was enjoying himself!

Here’s what Jib had to say to us on this day that was so hard on him:  “Bells – don’t go!  But if you have to go home, the week before you leave, pick a fight with me.  Be very rude to me so that I will be glad you’re leaving.”  The guy keeps us laughing all day long. 

So … many of our friends have gone home, but there are still plenty of us here.  And we keep on doing what we do.  The Seniors are pretty organized.   Every other Monday night, we have a Family Home Evening.  The activities run from deeply spiritual talks to crazy free-for-all games.  Only Seniors who’ve been in the business of creativity for years could come up with a game to teach the Resurrection to old people! 

The last Friday of each month, we celebrate any Senior birthdays during that month.  That activity has also been peppered with games and craziness and fun being together.   

We've passed our 8 month mark and are starting to feel like the old-timers here.  When we think of major accompishments, the fact that we haven't crashed the car in several months comes to mind.  We've spent time with the President's Assistants and the Office Elders visiting their contacts and pretending we're on a real mission and attending their baptisms.  We've processed a gazillion loan applications and talked to as many new PEF participants.  We've survived the transition to the new PEF process and met a lot of wonderful Seminaries and Institutes Coordinators.  We've been teaching a temple prep class in our assigned Branch of Tanay and attending the baptisms that the new on-fire missionaries there have been conducting practically weekly.    We've conducted lots of "Cluster Meeting" training sessions of priesthood leaders, getting them onboard with PEF.  We've learned alot, testified alot, and loved a lot of people.  It's easy to love a Filipino.  No one enjoys life as much, laughs as much, or is more fun to be around than a Filipino.  They are deeply spiritual by nature and some of Heavenly Father's favorite people.  The saddest thing to know is that, no matter how long we stay and love the people, no matter how hard we try, we will never be Filipino.  We'll go home and just be plain old Americans.  Dang.