The second week of the month we had the opportunity to travel to Manila which is about 10 hours from here. We flew Cebu Airlines and both the planes we were on looked brand new. They only have about 6 flights from here with 3 different airlines so you don't have much of a variety on times the airport is closed at 2:00pm. But not knowing what to expect we were pleasantly surprised, not much security though. Not much baggage screening either. I took a bottle of water on board and they never said a thing. You also have to go outside to board the plane and that is okay unless it is raining hard like when we came home.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Queson City, this is sure not like our Holiday Inn's, it was better than the Marriott. The hotel is international and so was the delicious buffet breakfast, food from several different countries and even a good old American breakfast. YUM, YUM
Temple Christmas lights:
Up first on our agenda was our first Philippine wedding. We arrived at the Temple almost an hour early and about one plus hours late the marriage took place. Even in the temple they have Pilipino time. They are late to everything and in starting every meeting.
The bride and groom, Carlo and Esmeralda Adille, were both gorgeous and the dress was so pretty on her. She had two different tops that she wore during the evening. It was very unusual. We were guests of honor and sat at a special table and also listed on the invitation announcement. We were told that if we were listed as honored guests or sponsors then we had to help pay for the wedding. Of course that didn't happen so all went well. The reception was long, these people know how to party and they enjoy it to the last second which is about 4 hours later.
Our next appointment was with our friends up North the Costley's. They also came to Manila to a meeting and training we had on Thursday. This gave a couple of days to spend at the temple, talking, shopping at the Mall of Asia and the pearl market. We also had the chance to go to Chili's for dinner one night and it tasted sooo good. We also went to the American Cemetery which is so beautiful and peaceful. You can tell that the US takes care of it everything is trimmed perfect and immaculate. Another point of interest was the Old Fort Santiago where one of their hero's-Dr. Rizal died. With the men you know we had to see some history sites.
Thursday was our meeting and training and it was great. We have a leader, Jomel that is so loving, caring, funny and so interesting to listen to he has a story for everything. The only sad thing is they are opening a ERC center in the North so we won't have the Costley's with us in Manila any more. We will miss our meeting with them! This however means the employment centers are doing there job and so expansion is taking place.
Our arrival brought bad news for us. Our dear friend and neighbor Andrew was leaving in a couple of days for Russia where he will be working for a few months. He goes overseas to work because the money is so good compared to what he can get here. There are so many people who do that here, families without one spouse some times for years. Children some times have never met their father and they are teenagers. The money is sent home and that makes up for the absences of the spouses. Count your many blessings!
We arrived just in time to go to the first convert baptism here in a long while. We now have four Elders in our city and they are working hard to get the part member and non active families coming to church again. This little girl is nine, her family are members just not coming, but since the baptism I have seen her and her mother every Sunday. I visit teach three sisters that are not coming to church either. They say that our ward has seven hundred members but we only have about a hundred to a hundred fifty coming to church regularly. I think the missionary spirit in the ward is missing, especially the fellowshipping.
Also going on that night at church was a cultural event for the YM & YW. They were to take an event from the Book of Mormon and do a skit and it was truly amazing of what they came up with, costumes and ideas. Our youth at home should try this.
Sunday we actually had an opportunity to attend our home ward and get reacquainted with the members. It is always a spiritual experience to hear and see the strength of our Philippines saints. Especially the youth that will be the second and in some cases the third generation to be members in some families.
On the fourteenth and fifteenth we taught our favorite career workshop which is the workshop we give the missionaries that are going home. This is the most rewarding and spiritual workshop we have. If any of you want to have the best experience of your life you should come to one of these workshops. To stand and teach these strong and valiant Elders and Sisters is a real joy and blessing in our lives. You will know why the Philippines is going to be having a life altering change when these missionaries are the leaders of state and church. There are so many sharp missionaries here from neighboring areas; they come mostly from Northern Luzon. We love this part of our calling and it comes every six weeks! We I must admit have the best missionaries in the world.
Mt. Mayon has been giving a lot of activity and they have raised the warning level to 3 and a possible 4 soon. We are on constant alert and have our emergency kit in our trunk just in case. The eruptions are getting more violent and more often than we have ever seen.
We love you all of you and hope your Holidays are filled with family and the true SPIRIT Christmas