Sunday, December 31, 2017

Starting out with a Full Heart

I am starting out this New Year with a deep well of gratitude to the Lord for the tender mercies in answering my prayers and blessing Jeffrey's family. His oldest sister had a heart attack before Christmas and was able to awaken and talk with her sister (Jeffrey's other sister) for almost 5 days before she was found unconscious again. The odds of her survival are about 10%. In spite of this many tiny miracles are happening to bless the family and I can feel the Savior's love as I 'watch' with Jeffrey.
Happy New Year 2018

I had a video chat with Jonah on the 31st and was able to see and chat with the family and then on the 1st I was able to have a video chat with my friends from Concord. These circles of friendship and love mean so much to me that fill my bucket of gratitude also.
Sorrow endures for the night but joy comes in the morning.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Once upon a time....a young man had 9 siblings. Today 5 of them are dead. Two were infants and died shortly after birth "while washing cloths". I speculate that the babies died while the mom was still recovering from childbirth. Another of the boys got meningitis and the mom would take her boy in the trike to the hospital back and forth but he died anyway.
This young man first heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints while he was studying to be a priest in his own church. His father was an apostle of that church and his mom was faithful. The young man had an older sister who sent the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints to him. One of the missionaries asked the man, "Do you KNOW Jesus Christ?" The young man did not answer. The missionary told him there was a way that the young man could know Jesus Christ and the young man was intrigued enough to listen. He joined the church, his parents put up no objection as they let him decide for himself. Soon he went on a mission. After telling another sister about the church, she joined and went on a mission also. A brother lives a ways away from both of them and has been a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints. No knowledge of his story.
The oldest sister had a baby and died "while washing cloths" though the baby made it. The young man and his other sister moved to another island and found spouses and had beautiful children. The father died and the man and his sister did some proxy work for him. The young man grown has talked on the phone often with his mother but hasn't seen her for almost 20 years as the distance is "much money". Now his own son is serving a mission.

Excuse me while I go repent of whining.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Babies and reality

It was one of those awkward situations where I almost blurted out my thoughts on some grim sights when I noted the young woman with Jonah put her hand protectively over her unborn baby. I changed  mid-thought and immediately spoke about the good part of going to the maternity wards in the hospital, how happy the mothers were to have their babies though tired.
Roma (on right) visited the temple for the first time with Jonah and her good friend who is expecting a baby
The reality was far more sobering, enlightening and ultimately life changing for me.
Sister Stroud asked the missionaries to come with them on their humanitarian project to give out newborn kits to those in the maternity wards of the hospital. The rows are narrow so each person carries a bag with kits to give out, so many hands are needed.
This is a charity hospital and will serve a meal if the relatives don't bring the patients food - but it is only life sustaining. We sang carols at the top of largest room and then wound our way down between the beds to hand out kits to every bed. Each bed had three and most of the time four women who were sharing. Most sat on the bed, some curled around the foot of the bed beside their baby and some sat on a chair and laid their head on the bed. The most heartbreaking was asking a lady if she had a boy or girl and she would answer, "It didn't make it." We had a small teddy bear to give to those women with a heartfelt, "I'm sorry."
I didn't bring a camera as it would not be allowed in the United States because of privacy issues. I guess there are no issues of privacy in the Philippines.
The beds lined the wall and the missionaries walked down the centre giving out little bags

Sister Stroud is bending down talking to patients,  Sister Bowen is reaching in her bag to get more kits

The long hall with charity beds
This is the room where the babies with problems are taken care of. The mothers tend their babies sitting in plastic chairs. There is no space to lay down.
This is the email I sent my family after visiting:
"My mind and heart got an awakening and new paradigm shift when I went to the hospital to visit the newborns. Right now all I have are feelings that I'm having a hard time writing down in words. The reality here is just different than anything I have experienced and so I'm having trouble describing this reality. 
The inadequate words are the fact that three or four women share a bed after giving birth. They sit, curl, or sit on a plastic chair with their head on the bed next to their child. Survival is at its most grim and the truth is a percentage of these babies will be abandoned. Many are well loved and will still die. The lucky ones will go home with a mama to a room that is the family home, or back to the street, bridge, or side of the road.  When I went to the NICU I saw a baby that would fit in the palm of my hand. The equipment is probably in the fifties with one or two modern pieces and though I put on a gown, slippers and a hair net, babies with different difficulties are still all in the same room. There are not enough incubators.
The paying rooms have one or two mothers to a bed. They lay curled around their baby on one side at the bottom and the other mother is at the top of the bed and down the other side. Visitors sit on plastic yard chairs or stand. The wall at one time were painted in vivid colours and some whimsical motifs, now they look tired, just like all the mamas. In this hospital they are given a meal if their family doesn't provide one. In the other hospital visitors need to come with food or the patient goes without. As we walked down the corridor, ten or twelve more mama's who just delivered were being pushed in wheelchairs down to the long ward to squish onto another bed to recover. If the baby 'didn't make it' the mom gets to sit on a bed surrounded by all the other mother's with babies until she feels good enough to go home. No one acted like this was odd. There was just a quite acceptance of life as it is.I have been more comfortable at the Ranch camping out, than I saw and experienced last Friday. When we went home I noted and really understood that the people on the street, under the bridges and sitting on the side of the road - live there. I'm grappling with a reality that has always been there. But now I can see."

My mind keeps thinking back to a time I dropped off Rachel's friend in the middle of Concord. The mom and grandmother obviously lived in the living room but I didn't think anything other than they probably were painting or fixing up the bedrooms. The people I see living on the side of the street I would chalk up to transients, mental illness, or choice. In my mind they were always going somewhere. After being in the Philippines the knowledge drifting in my mind is now a reality. I see and feel differently about reality, the grim hard facts of poverty and helplessness. My convictions of generosity have changed also. I cannot help everyone but I can and will help all who come within my circle. Who knows when I'll be on the other end.

Merry Christmas

This has been the best Christmas ever!
Today I anticipate going to the MTC to help out with some activities for the new missionaries. The mission president's wife, Sister Carlos is concerned that these very young missionaries will feel homesick on a holiday that is very big in the Philippines and is all about family. She has devised lots of different projects on different days to cheer and bless their lives. I will be helping out with the gingerbread houses and frosting cookies mid-morning while the missionaries one by one call their families. The husband and wife teams from the dental clinic are going to help out in the Christmas follies tonight by putting on a shorties skit. There are devotionals, carolling through the halls where Sister Carlos passes out "crackers" filled with candy and some hot chocolate bonding activities. The missionaries don't know it yet, but when they come back singing through the courtyard, it is going to 'snow' on them.

Anticipation is more than half of the fun of Christmas. In late November I had an idea for Christmas dinners. I asked the Chan's to make dinner for some families as she is a very good chef. I gave names and some pesos for food and a wage. I told them to give anonymously and finish out the list as they know the ward better than I. WOW! The Chan's magnified my idea into many families instead of the short list I had. Pretty soon Facebook exploded with thanks to the Chan's and anonymous for the wonderful dinners. Some people tried to thank me personally but it just made me feel a little guilty because it was all the Chan's doing. They took the money I hired them with and turned it into many more dinners!

I made burp cloths for new babies coming, sewed up pillowcases for people, visited a hospital to give out gifts, bought toys for 10 children, sewed up stockings for the dental clinic and the Solera family, then bought little things all month to put in them, saved and then stuffed envelopes with money for all the maintenance workers, staff, and security people who work in our apartment high-rise, asked the Chan's to make a dental thank-you meal for the  maintenance workers at the MTC,  and wrote letters to old friends. Last week I got to talk with all of my children - that's the only niggle to a fabulous Christmas, not being with my children. We were part of getting ready and attending a wedding and that brings a lot of joy. Jeffrey and I have been invited and gone to lots of parties. One of the beautiful ones was with Elder and Sister Schmutz from the Area presidency where we exchanged white elephant gifts, had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed the reading of the Christmas story and sharing stories. In between working at the dental clinic, I have been working on projects every night. Fun, fun, and a little phun.  Being with the grands on Saturday was the pinnacle of joy. There really is nothing like children at Christmas time! We will visit with the Bowman family this afternoon and then gear up to go back to work on Tuesday. More parties are anticipated for New Years.....

Favourite shots from the Wedding

A beautiful reception for a beautiful couple
I watched them do this in 5 seconds
A welcome dance line for the new couple
Roma's mother with her grandson
A money dance. The couple dances very slowly to a beautiful tune while people pin money to their clothes

Interesting Situation

Who is Important? I think it depends on the situation and circumstances.
On Thursday morning I arrived dressed in my baronga early so I could take pictures of Roma's day - I have a few hundred now- but luckily for you I will only post a few of the pictures.
The Magno family had mostly arrived by Tuesday and were at the temple early on Thursday. It was a good thing because the traffic, even very early in the morning, was horrible. Roma was later than she wanted to be and others trickled in as they were able. I watched as everyone got ready and skirts, shirts, belts and ties were brought out of sacks and given to the participants.
A temple worker came and talked to the different family members and gave out blue tickets for the sealing room. I was given two and worried about where Jeffrey was, though I suspected he would be waiting in the temple. The lady from the temple came out a few minutes later and took back most of the tickets. We were to follow her into the temple. I asked Jonah why she didn't have a ticket and she said she would take care of her niece and would be able to go to another wedding when her other brother got married. I felt something wasn't right as family should be in the wedding ceremony. I told her I would stay out and she said I was witness couple and needed to be there. Imagine my surprise when I got to the sealing room and found it full of missionaries. US missionaries. I told Jeffrey and some of the other missionaries what was going on. Sister Stewart listened and got up to go talk to the temple worker. Jonah's mother soon followed. When they came back we all scooted over and took half a chair and fit more of the Magno family. Another chair was brought in and we fit in a few more. Jonah was able to witness her brother's wedding.  I don't know if it was Sister Stewart, Sister Magno or who did what but it was a much better situation. I just hope all of Roma's family who could come into the temple were there.
Sister Hoem's, The Whiteheads, The Adams, Roma and Arron Magno, The Tuckers and The Stewarts.
Jonah and her niece Mia

Newly married!  Coming out of the temple

Ready for the Wedding

Roma and Aaron's wedding day finally arrived!
There had been a bit of a problem because Roma's brother wanted to get married this year and evidently having two siblings get married in the same year is not acceptable because one sibling might get slighted - I think - at least that's the translation I came up with from the explanation. So Roma and Aaron were going to postpone their marriage - but then the temple is closing for four months and that would really put their marriage date down the line.
They worked it out that both Roma and her brother would get married in December. A hall for the reception was found, a friend of Roma's did the photography, another friend did the make-up, I made wedding skirts, another friend did her cake, the flowers were taken care, Roma got a forth and so forth. Roma is a warm, sweet girl and it is easy to want to do things for her. She never asks - then again not many Filipino do. I actually love Jonah and will do whatever I can for her family. Roma is in her family. From what I could see, a lot of the wedding came from Aaron's family, Roma herself took the lion's share.
Jeffrey was asked to be a witness and we were a witness couple. We both felt very honoured to be asked but felt we may be usurping someone's place, but it worked out that Roma didn't have a lot of family that could go into the temple.  Roma had help from all over. I thought it was all part of God's grace.
December 21, 2017 Roma and Aaron Magno

Con getting married next summer to Matthew middle brother of Jonah, Jonah's dad with mom in front, Romarie and Aaron Magno, Juna with Mia in front and Ezra, Jonah's oldest brother and Jonah. Esther is in Brazil as a missionary and is the youngest sibling.

Roma's family and friends who came to support her on her wedding day

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Susie's Gift

I have mentioned the dearth of sewing machines to my sister, relatives and some friends, that exists in the Philippine wards. Jonah's sister-in-law Juna was in search of a sewing machine for her co-op that she is starting with a few ladies in Legazpi. Susie sent me money for a basic sewing machine that she collected from herself and friends. I bought a machine and gave it to Juna when she came for her brother Aaron's wedding last week. I also gave her the box of notions Susie dropped off at the first of December.
I found that Juna is going to have a certified teacher teach her co-op how to sew and she wants to set up a business selling modest stylish clothing. Here's to the birth of a business and idea!
Juna Magno with a box of sewing notions and the new sewing machine

New beginnings

Gingerbread love Everywhere

Princess adding decorations to her roof, the only trouble was that the wall were not yet dry. Luckily I had filled the interior with big fat marshmallows so the roof wouldn't cave far
Since I hadn't planned for Asenath she and Andrei used one kit with house parts and the scrapes to put their houses together
Kyle was doing so well but ultimately this roof became flat because the frosting wasn't dry and hard. The sides bowed out so I put a ribbon around the walls (which were around the marshmallows and he went home with a flat roof (much heavier than the present scene. I was able to take the ribbon off after the frosting dried - so at least it all stayed together.
This is in the beginning stage of Andrei's creation and like the rest of the children, he did not want to wait for the frosting to dry. He went on to cover his entire roof with candy and stick lollipops through the side and top of the roof which caused a collapse onto the marshmallows and hardened into something resembling a house............if you are from the Philippines which have all kinds of patch jobs on their homes.

Though I told the kids there were some other things to play with they all wanted to finish their houses - or maybe my communication was really off

After the houses were completed (the candy was almost gone) they went on to the other toys
I gave the boys lego cars to assemble, here is Kyle beginning his

The children were all given toys to play with (supposedly while their gingerbread houses dried and harden) the boys were given lego cars and the girls were given pens, journal and Frozen dolls. I needed to finish the 'cinch' bags to sew in the the ribbon to cinch them up. Then we were going to do another project - Banana cake for Christy's birthday.

When I was two bags away from being done the parents called to say they were done. What?!! I hadn't even started the banana cake for Christy's birthday. I asked Jeffrey to go pick the parents up from the Annex while I finished sewing and the children wrapped up their mom's birthday gift.

Wrapping as a group used up a lot of strapping tape
With wrapping paper, tape, frosting splatters and candy wrappers and toys all over the room, Ernesto, Christy and Joycelyn walked in to greet the children. We gave Christy her birthday present. Kyle had mysteriously wrapped a second present. It took her a few tries to unwrap the present as it was covered with strapping tape.
Christy has to use scissors to open her present, a handbag
Kyle's gift was a fun prank of empty boxes, her new handbag is on her arm

Jeffrey took the kids to McDonalds because the last time we took the family for dinner the kids did not like a fancy meal. They loved McDonald's.  I found out in the course of talking with the family that Joycelyn's birthday was on December 26th. So on the way out the door, I picked up an envelope and my wallet.
There was a light drizzle as is pretty typical at this time of the year, but it wasn't a long walk. Interestingly Christy pulled out an umbrella from her purse.
McDonald's has what children want

I wrote Happy Birthday, put money in a yellow envelope and then stuck it under Joycelyn's tray.  The kids thought it was pretty funny and made motions of picking up their trays. Joycelyn didn't get it and we all talked until Kyle pulled up her tray and she found it. Lots of fun everywhere.
Half of the family took a cab to the train station and I got to take the boys and Christy to drop them off at the station.  I was very happy that the roads were lighter than normal but it is still scary when the big busses come barreling down the road and I had to get out to open the door on the passenger side because it is stuck (or maybe has a child safety switch).
Christy and I can't talk a lot to each other, but the heart speaks loudly. I love her so much and she expresses the same feelings.
It was one of those really great days.

It's the Grandkids!!

A little before 5 am I jumped out of bed to get ready and go pick up the grandkids from the Temple Annex. I made the Royale frosting and put together the first house. It was the lightest shade of gingerbread and I was worried about how soft it was. Well my instincts were right. The gingerbread was so soft the weight of the frosting broke the roof down. Maybe I didn't wait long enough for it to get hard either. Since I was in a hurry I told myself I would have the kids put their houses together and then go play for a bit and come back to decorate them. Yup......
The joy in seeing and being with these children is immeasurable. They bring such love to my heart.
On the temple grounds with the Solera family and also Ernesto's sister and daughter
Ernesto came with his sister Joycelyn and her daughter Asenath. In my mind I was thinking what I could put in another stocking as I didn't have one for Asenath. Joycelyn went on a mission to Boise, Idaho and knew English very well and so does her daughter. It was nice because I wasn't sure how well I was going to communicate and now she could translate.
I took them on a quick tour of the dental clinic (Sister Stewart gave the a present which Andrei is holding)

I told them I expected all of them to be missionaries when they grew up, so here is a before picture
While waiting for them all to arrive, I noted that many of the patrons held tickets for the 7 am session and in my mind I thought the parents would have to wait for the next session and so in my mind the time table was a little know what they say about assumptions...........

Phun Gingerbread

After going to the Fabric Warehouse, I stopped by True Value and bought a hand mixer. Assistants stand around to help each customer and will open up the box of your item and show (plug it into an outlet etc.) that it works and will count all the parts. They then carry your items up to the front counter. I took everything home then headed to the grocery store. I found everything on my list except molasses and after two assistants asked and looked all over the shelves, I determined to try a different kind of sugar because I figured it was the closest to molasses I could get. I had a nice discussion with another customer who uses this kind of sugar in his bar-be-que instead of molasses. I didn't know anyone used molasses to cook meat.
Very brown - not quite wet - coarse sugar
The dough didn't have the moisture that molasses would bring, so I debated between adding an egg or using some oil. I figured eggs were not even part of the recipe and used some oil to make it the right consistency so I could add flour.
The phun part came when I realised I did not have a rolling pin. The first thing I tried was a wrapping tube stuffed with paper and wrapped in parchment paper - it gives too much. Then I filled it with a plastic bag with rice packed down and wrapped in parchment paper. That was better. The best item was the handle of the whisk though I had to use it on the side of the table and only a portion of the gingerbread dough could be reached at one time.
Various ways to make a rolling pin - I wouldn't recommend any of them

I put parchment paper under and over the gingerbread to cut down on any sticking

After using the handle of the whisk, the rice filled wrapping paper roll would smooth the dough out
I really miss my marble rolling pin - and Laura Nausin.
So after some fits and starts, I had four little houses cut out and cooked. At least it smelled right. The dough was a little too soft, so I had to cook it almost crisp. Phun, phun.
I was sewing and cooking and filling up the stockings until midnight so I thought I'd whip up the frosting in the morning and put the houses together before I picked up the kids at 6:30 am. Ah, the plans of mice and men - and women who should know better.
I love parchment paper. Cooking is so much easier with it!!


Since the last day is fresh in my mind, I'm going to save the weightier hospital story after I ponder it a bit more.
Yesterday - my Friday - I had hoped to get off early but of course it wasn't meant to be. I had a few stops to make in my preparations for the grandkids coming on Saturday morning. I went to the fabric store - which is a fabric warehouse and has a limited though large selection of items. I found my sturdy blue fabric for 'cinch sacks' and noted they had a type of Aladdin's cabinet of zippers, buttons, thread, elastic and odd notions. Everything is behind a glass shelf and the assistant helps with every little thing. I told him I needed some kind of rope, cord, or ribbon to pull through a casing. Maybe the understanding wasn't quite there on both sides but I did find a type of red piping attached to a white flat piece that I decided would work just fine, so I bought 10 yards. This warehouse did not have ribbon of any type, but did have elastic and other odd pieces.
When they cut fabric at this warehouse, the assistant pulls the yardage off the bolt (most bolts are 60 inches wide) he/she will measure out how many yards standing in the isle with the bolt and a meter stick (though they mark off in yards). When they determine how many yards you want, he will fold the material at that point and taking a pair of scissors will cut down the fold. The assistants are very fast cutting down the fold from the bolts. Then they put the bolt of material back away, then using a piece of masking tape on your yardage, the assistant will write down the particulars from the end of the bolt. They will stack up all your folded purchases and carry them to the counter and add them up and tell you the total. The clerk then counts your pieces and checks with the assistant that the same number of items are accounted for and the customer buys the materials.
I never carry anything until I go out of the store with my sack of items. There are many assistants to help each customer.
In November I had made the Solera family stockings for Christmas and had bought little items throughout the month. Yesterday I wanted to make some 'cinch stacks' so they would be portable to carry on their back as they have a two hour train ride and then a bus ride to get home.
I found a great "how-to" here:
My dimensions were different and I put the ribbon a quarter of the way up the bag from the bottom and folded the bottom instead of sewing it up as two pieces - but essentially the same process.
They worked out fine - though the material was very sturdy and the "ribbon" didn't slide well, so it takes effort to 'cinch' it up or out. Still everything works 'almost' perfect. It's pretty much my norm here - Everything just about works.


The grandkids have gone and are hopefully safe at home, our home is clean again and there is no where we have to be. Bliss......The feeling of contentment comes after a super busy week of effort, planning and running around. But this evening I'm just counting my blessings being in the Philippines with my best friend and love, enjoying this mission life in a country of warm, sharing people and a satisfaction of a job well done. Ahh.........
What shall we have for dinner?
My vote is take-out.......if Jeffrey will go get it.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Results from Light the World

On Monday I asked Ernesto what he was going to do about his 21st Anniversary that night. He said they would just have a meal in. I said, "What! It's your anniversary and you aren't going to take Christy out?!!" He told me he had already used the money he was going to spend at the hospital when she broke out in an allergy attack and had to get a shot. I did remember that occasion - actually it happened twice in the past five weeks.
So I put on my cat-in-the-hat persona and told him I could buy some groceries that he could bring home so she didn't have to make a meal. I told him how great it would be if she didn't have to make something on their special day. He said three hours traveling with groceries would make them 'spoiled'. I agree - even going home through the mall can make the lettuce wilt. So after a steady stream of different scenarios and how he could make Christy happy, he agreed to take some pesos for Christy and his family to celebrate their anniversary.
Christy and Ernesto Solera 21 years of marriage
I got a a message and pictures on FaceBook this morning:
A surprise date and gift for our anniversary,thanks for my hubby,and Sis.Linda Ann Adams.I really appreciated.Thank you very much.....
Christy, Princess, Andre, Kyle, and Ernesto

Princess with a national favourite Halo Halo

Cute kids!!

Solera Family
Her end message was:
We celebrate our anniversary together with our kids.It is not complete with out them.Their very happy and enjoy eating and malling.We Love You Nana.

All Done!

I am grateful that as a 15 year old my son Michael introduced me to the "Piano Guys" saying, "Mom you gotta listen to this!'

The last of the skirts for the wedding are done!  As I sewed on waistbands I listened to the Piano Guys and thought about Michael and Julia and their new life together.
Romarie and Aaron are getting married next week and will be starting a new life together too. Lots of new beginnings.
Nine Circle skirts ready to go!