Thursday, December 26, 2013

It was a very good Christmas!!

 A Very Merry Christmas for our family this year!!

Our family had a wonderful Christmas Day.  We were able to wake up in the morning and open gifts with our two children here at home.  Santa was very good to them once again this year.
We have two sister missionaries currently serving in our ward. One is from Idaho and the other is from Utah.  We were able to have them over to our house on Christmas morning so they could use our computers to Skype with their families.  They were each able to spend about an hour talking and visiting with their families. It was the first time their families had seen their daughters face or heard their voices in over six months and we were thrilled that we were able to help them have that time together.  We knew that our time would come later that day!!
Our beautiful daughter and handsome son on Christmas Eve
Picture perfect
All day long we anticipated the call from our missionaries.  We prayed that the Skype would work properly and that we would be able to connect with them.  It's such a blessing to have the technology that we have today where we actually get emails weekly instead of waiting weeks or even months for a letter to arrive in the mail.  We get to see their faces and hear their voices on the computer screen instead of going two years or 18 months without that blessing like many missionary families have done in the past.  This is truly an amazing age that we live in. 

Sis C's companion Sis. B hopped in the video for a few minutes so we could meet here and get a quick picture. Her companion is a native Filipino, but our daughter says she speaks very good English and the two of them get along really well.  We spent an hour talking with AJ. It was Christmas Day for us, but it was the day after Christmas for AJ since she is 16 hours ahead of us. She shared with us what life is like as a missionary in the Philippines.  She pretty much walks every where she goes. Sometimes if she and her companion need to get somewhere far away they will take a Jeepney, which is a small bus.  It cost more money to ride a Jeepney, but it's faster.  They also travel by Trike which is a motorcycle with a side car. She says those are real cheap to travel in, but also a lot slower and have less room.  As far as the housing, she lives in a 2 bedroom apartment. It's very small and she cooks on a range top. She has no microwave or oven and only a small Rev (refrigerator).  She eats mainly vegetables and rice, and noodles. She says she eats a lot of apples and hard boiled eggs.   She says the Philippines don't really have any regulations on building homes like we do in the USA so most of the homes in her area are built out of whatever materials the people can find.  Most homes are built out of bamboo with thatched or tin roofs and they have dirt floors. It's not uncommon for large families to live in a one room house.  The sanitation laws are non existant also. She didn't go into too much detail for us on this topic, ( I don't think she wanted us to be freak out), but did say that she takes two baths a day just to stay clean.  There are no public bathrooms, so she said that it's not uncommon to see people going to the bathroom in public.  That was shocking to her when she first got there in the "Pines', but now she says it's just the way it is.    The television stations don't censor news reports like they do in the USA, so during Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November the news was reporting and showing all the destruction and casualties on t.v.  She said it was very sad to see all the bodies of men, women and children who had been killed by the storm.  When destruction like this happens she says the bodies of the deceased can lay in the streets until they are able to be collected and that can take days.     We asked what the population was of the area she was in, she didn't quite know but she said she was told that if you took all the islands of the Philippines ( there are 7,000) and put them together they wouldn't even be as large as the state of Arizona, and that for every 1 person in the state of Utah there are 3 Filipinos.   We didn't do the math, but we figured there was a lot of people in the Philippines and it's very crowded.   We asked our daughter if she was happy, and she said she was and that although the culture still seems very strange to her she loves the people of the Philippines.  They are a warm and loving people, always smiling and she is blessed to be there serving them.

Hermana Carr called us Christmas Day as well and we were able to spend an hour talking with her.  She called a few hours before her sister AJ.  Sarah is serving in Yucatan and it's only 2 hours ahead of California time. She was able to call us from a place called the House of Prayer.  It's the building where they meet for their church meetings.  Sarah is in a small town and she says the streets are mainly dirt or cobblestone and the houses are mostly cinder block. She has only been there a few months, but she absolutely loves it in Mexico.  Her companion is Hermana N. and she is from Southern Mexico, but lived in the United States for about 9 years so her English is very good.  Sarah says that Hermana N is very patient with her as she struggles to learn the language and communicate with the people.  Sometimes Sarah gets frustrated because she wishes she could understand more, but Hermana N. just tells her to be patient and the language will come.  Right now the weather is pretty good she says, but in a few months it will be blazing hot and the sunblock she has will be useless. She took SPF 30 with her, but says she'll need like SPF 1000..Haha!  We told her we would send her the strongest SPF we could find.   She is loving the food.  She says they eat a lot of tortillas and a soup made out of black beans and meat.  She adds a little chile and lime to it and it's delicious.  The people like to feed the missionaries and Sarah says they feed them A LOT of food. She feels bad, but sometimes she just has to tell them that she is full otherwise they would keep putting food in front of them.  She says the Mexican people are wonderful and have been so welcoming to her.  The area she is in right now has never really  had sister missionaries so right now she and Hermana N. are somewhat of a novelty.  Being a missionary is hard work. She is up at 6:00am goes about her days teaching and doing what she can to serve the people and like her big sister in the Philippines walks most every where she goes.  It's the hardest thing she's ever done, but she says it's the most amazing and wonderful experience she's had in her life so far.
We enjoyed our time talking with our missionaries and told them how much we loved them and how proud we were off them.  We tried very hard not to keep telling them how much we missed them, they know we do and we didn't want to make them too homesick.  Of course there were tears shed as we had to say good-bye, but before we let them go we had them bear their testimonies to us in their new languages.  It was wonderful to hear them speak in Tagalog and Spanish. AJ sounded like a pro and Sarah while she struggled a little bit sounded great to us. Her companion gave her a big thumbs up.  We recorded each of them speaking and will post it to the blog soon.  
We had a wonderful Christmas and continue to be so grateful for the many blessings given to our family by the Lord each and every day.

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