Sunday, April 13, 2014


So, moving to a new country is all about adjustments.  I've had quite a few adjustments since I moved here.  I thought I'd share a few thoughts about them.

#1:  Heat and humidity.  I've been a western U.S. girl all my life.  That means I haven't had to deal with humidity . . . ever!  Even in Mexico, we lived in a high desert plain area and so I didn't deal with much heat or humidity.  The Philippines is very different.  :-)  We have temperatures in the high 80's with about 90% humidity.  That doesn't seem all that hot until you are in it.  The thing is, I don't usually feel hot (burning, etc) but I feel sweaty.  I'm talking "sweat standing on my face and soaking my clothes" sweaty.  We have some fans in our house which help so much.  When the air blows on me, it dries the sweat a bit and cools me a bit.  The problem is that by the end of the day, I feel sticky and my skin all tastes salty.  Not a pleasant sensation.  I have a shower EVERY night before bed because I feel so nasty.

I've also discovered that heat and humidity make me cranky.  :-)  I am usually pretty easy going but it's been so much harder since I got here.  Since I'm homeschooling everyday, it's stretching me a bit.  Today at the general conference broadcast, we spoke to an elder from Boise.  He has been here for about a year.  He told me some things that helped.  First he said that this is the hottest time of the year.  It's "summer" here and so we have our highest temps right now.  In a few months it will moderate quite a bit.  (probably 4 or 5 degrees)  :-)  He got here about this time of year too and nearly melted.  He also says that you acclimate.  The heat doesn't get to you so much.  He says that now when he sits through a temple session for a couple of hours he actually gets COLD in the air conditioned room.  So, maybe I just need to be patient.

#2:  Vanity.  None of my beauty equipment work with the electricity here (blow dryer, curling iron)  I could possibly buy some here but I haven't seen them yet and I can't imagine purposely blowing hot air on myself.  :-)  So my hair is just au natural.  And since it's so hot, I can't stand it on my neck so it's usually in a ponytail or bun and my bangs and drooping right in my face.  It's not a great look.  Plus, with all the sweating, my makeup just sweats off too so i don't wear makeup.  It's kind of shocking to see myself in the mirror.  This old, frumpy, red-faced lady looks back at me.  I've decided I've just got to let it go and not worry about it.  But when I'm cranky anyway (see #1) sometimes it doesn't help.

While I'm on the topic of beauty, I need to rant a minute.  The Filipino people have beautiful brown skin and silky black hair.  They really are lovely.  But many Filipino women try to dye their hair red.  It's so sad!  Also, everyone wants to be lighter.  In all the stores and on billboards I see "whitening cream" or "whitening treatments".  It just makes me shake my head.  Here are all these Americans baking themselves in the sun or tanning booths or applying "bronzers" to get brown and all these Filipinos applying stuff to make themselves white.  Why can't we just love ourselves for ourselves.  Ok, I need to reread my paragraph above after saying this.  We are beautiful because of who we are, not because of the color of our skin, our makeup, our hairstyles, or hair colors.

#3:  Poverty / Wealth.  The Philippines are very interesting in this regard.  In the U.S., we generally try to separate our poor from our rich.  Then we can hide away the uncomfortable reminders that people are poor.  Here in the Philippines it is all mixed.  You have these luxury hotels right next to little one room houses made of tin roofing.  There is a serious problem with garbage here.  It's . . . unsettling.  It feels very foreign.  I'm starting to adjust now and I can see the pretty houseplants in front of the little tin houses or the beautiful smiles of the children as they follow me down the road.  I don't see the garbage as much and I see the lovely bougainvillea blooming in the lush green vacant lots.  I can see past the poverty and garbage that shocked me so much at first.

When we looked for houses, we had an opportunity for a nice, large house that was basically right in the middle of life here.  We decided against it.  It also didn't lend itself well to the office but mostly it just felt . . . uncomfortable.  So we found a house in a subdivision.  That means we have a guard that controls who can enter and who patrols once an hour to keep things safe.  All the houses are beautiful and well-kept.   I feel a little conflicted about that.  Am I just retreating to my American mindset and trying to hide it from my eyes?  I do know I feel much more comfortable and safe here. Sigh. I don't know.

#4:  Food.  I was prepared for different food.  After all, we lived in Mexico.  I learned how to shop and cook there.   But this is MORE different.  :-)  We definitely aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto!  It's so challenging to find food that I recognize and know how to cook.  However, there is an entire aisle of tuna!  You can get hot and spicy tuna, tuna in oil, tuna in brine, whole tuna fillets, corned tuna, etc.  It's amazing.  There is also a whole aisle of dried fish that I could get. (plus the whole case of fresh fish)  And speaking of cuts of meat. . . holy smoke.  If it's on an animal, I could probably buy it from my grocery store!  :-)

The missionaries said that there is a store in Cebu called S&R.  It's basically a Costco.  It's where all the office couples and senior missionaries shop.  I'm figuring it out a bit but I may have to go check it out S&R pretty soon.

I'm sure I will keep finding new adjustments the longer I live here.  What an adventure!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


So we've had 3 Sundays here now.  In some ways that seems crazy . . . it can't be than long.  In other ways, it seems like we've been here forever.  As I said last week, our ward is a brand new ward.  Last week, we only had a bishop and one counselor.  This week, we began to get staffed.  A new Sunday school president, relief society president, YW president, and primary president were sustained in sacrament meeting.  Russ reported that the elders quorum and high priest quorum were organized in priesthood meeting.   So things were getting underway.

It was fast and testimony meeting which was interesting.  Again, at least half of the testimonies were not in English. . . at least mostly not in English.  It's a little different than sitting through church in Mexico when I didn't speak Spanish.  Every so often, even in a talk/testimony that isn't English, there will randomly be English words.  They do connector words in English all the time.  It's kinda crazy.  Also, since Spain occupied the Philippines for several hundred years, there are Spanish words in their language too.  So, I have this vague unsettling sense that I should be understanding what they are saying . . . but I don't.  It's crazy.

After Sunday school (2nd hour) I was heading down the stairs to go to Relief Society.  Joshua and Ammon met me on the stairs saying they were ready to go home.  I told them that they should hurry back to primary because church wasn't over yet.  They assured me that there had been a closing prayer in primary and they were excused.  I then saw the very harried-looking primary president.  She told me that they were telling the truth.  She had the whole primary (nursery to 11 year olds) with no help.  She taught as much as she could but just ran out of material.  So she dismissed!  Poor thing!

After the meeting block, the bishop asked to meet with Russell and then with me.  Russ was called to be the 1st counsellor in the Sunday school presidency and I was called as the 1st counselor in the primary presidency.  (So I guess it's poor me now!  :-) )  I spoke with the primary president and we divided the duties a bit.  I will come prepared with some singing time (she does NOT do music) and with a lesson.  She will bring a sharing time and a lesson.  Hopefully we will get through it.  :-)  Now I just have to get to the distribution center and get a primary children's songbook.

We also met the missionaries.  They said they don't get many dinner appointments so I think we will plan on feeding them once a week.  It's good to be able to be useful.  It's wonderful to live in an area that is growing so quickly.  The goal is to get 800 more converts and then we can get a stake here on Mactan.  Wow!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our new house!

So we finally did it!  We got a house!  What a relief (emotionally, physically, and financially) to get out of the hotel!

One side of the front of our house. (the roads are narrow and so I'm pressed right against our across the street neighbors house to take this)

Other side of front.

Pretty flowering tree at a house just down the road from us.

They love bold colors for their houses.

Looking down a street in our subdivision.

A neighbors yard.  This is very rare in the Philippines.  The grass is probably clipped with yard shears by hand!

A video from my walk.  I'm hoping to capture the early morning church bells ringing and birds singing.  (I don't know if you can hear them)

A neighbor has a monkey in a cage in his front yard.

The cats here all look like they are half-starved.

The house across the street from us.

The guard station for our subdivision.  They only allow residents or their visitors in.

Our front yard.

Our garage.  This furniture will be painted by the landlord and put back  in our house.

Our laundry area.

My tricky washer.  You wash/rinse in one one tub and then move the clothes to another tub to spin.

The front room.

Dining room.

Kitchen. (This is HUGE by Philippine standards!)


The office.  The table gets set up and all the workers gather around it.

The front room revisited.

Upstairs hall.

Sitting room upstairs.  (we work on homeschool here)

Boys room.  (Joshua is still asleep)

The dirty kitchen.  (Actually just an outside kitchen so that you don't heat up the house.)

My bedroom.

The other side of my bedroom and my bathroom.

So there you have it!  That's our place.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tricycle adventures

We've had a couple of fun adventures.  The first morning after we moved to our house, I needed to get to an ATM so that I could withdraw some cash so that we could pay the internet guys that were coming that day.  So I went out and hailed a tricycle.  I had been told that a ride on a tricycle should cost 10 pesos.  If I had all the kids with me, we could rent the whole tricycle for 60 pesos.  Well, I was alone so I figured I would just get the 10 peso deal.  Well each driver that I talked to said they would do a "special" for 60 pesos.  I said "no, no.  Just a ride"   But no one would do it.  Finally I found a broken down tricycle that agreed to do it for 20 pesos.  So, I got in and we took off. The poor tricycle could hardly go!  Then about halfway there, we stopped by this little roadside shop that had glass coke bottles filled with some pink liquid.  The driver turned to me and said "20 pesos". I thought he was going to buy me a drink.  I said "no thank you".  He looked at me again and said "Pay me!  20 pesos!"  I said "is this as far as we go?"  He said "No. I'll take you to the mall but 20 pesos!"  (You usually pay the driver at the end of the trip.)  So, I gave him my 20 pesos. He grabbed a little more change and gave it to the girl.  She gave him a half full bottle.  I thought, "man, he must be thirsty!".  Then he opened the gas tank and poured it in!  Turns out, this was a gas station for tricycles and my driver couldn't complete my trip without some gas! (sheepish grin)  I also realized that to go to the mall I was trying to go to was kind of out of the way for these drivers so I really did need to give them more money than the 10 pesos.

The second funny is when the kids and I went grocery shopping.  We needed to do the dreaded "first" grocery shopping.  You know,the one that is so big because you don't have anything at your house yet.  We took a tricycle there but I figured that with all our groceries, we would have to get a regular taxi to go home.  So we did the shopping and of course had a whole bunch of bags to get home.  I went outside and saw a taxi.  I approached it to see if we could take it but it was waiting for someone else.  I was starting to look for another when this tricycle driver came and offered to drive me.  I said, "can you take me and my kids AND all this stuff?"  He assured me he could so we decided to give it a try.  He loaded a lot of stuff on his  luggage rack and then piled a bunch on top of us in the sidecar. Finally we were all in. Then he started up and started to drive. Unfortunately, he just drove in circles.  Come to find out, we had so loaded the back that his front tire barely touched.  He couldn't get us up the little ledge onto the road.  We finally got on and headed home but the tricycle acted really squirrelly all the way home.  The girls and I got quite the giggles!

I'll try to post pictures of us on the tricycles