Have we really just been gone five days? Six if you count the one we lost on the airplane. I will try to describe in a short email what adventures we are having.
On Sunday afternoon our miraculous office couple, Elder and Sister Gorringe came to Manilla to bring us to Olongapo/Subic...I still am not absolutely sure which we actually are in. Along the way we passed a church, so President Dahle said let's stop and meet the members coming out. They were thrilled to know they were the very first to meet the new mp. All the reports of the warmth and love were not exaggerations in the least. It was a great beginning! When we got here there were a dozen missionaries that had gathered to greet us. Everyone was so excited and welcoming. There was the two hour or less visit with the outgoing president, and we were left to it. We sat down right then and planned the week with the Assistants and the Gorringes. Whiplash.
'The house is handsome', to quote Elder Oaks. White tile floors throughout. They are a nice backdrop for the little house lizards that scurry around. :) New black granite countertops in the kitchen. Two bedrooms full with bunk beds ready for missionaries. Another with a queen bed for a general authority. Our bedroom is a suite. And the maid's quarters are empty, which I am beginning to wish was not the case. Missionary leadership council is Friday and we have to feed 60!!!!!!!! We have said it over and over..."we are not in Kansas, Dorothy!" There is no Costco or anything like unto it. There are a few good grocery stores, but that means you have to drive!!!
I don't know why every car isn't a scraped up mess. For public transportation there are a half dozen jeepnies (Google it) in sight at any given moment, and twice as many trikes (ratty old motorcycles with a side car). There are buses for a longer haul; some even have air conditioning. Don't forget the pedestrians and stray dogs. The roads in the towns are a mass of slow moving confusion! At an intersection you just start going out and so does everyone else! There really aren't any lanes or rules except try not to hit anyone. Occasionally you will see a policeman who STANDS on the side of the road and waves you over with his hand if he thinks you did something wrong. Pedestrians literally just walk out into this throng, giving jaywalking a whole new definition! Children play on the side of the road a foot away from all of this. And yes, we will learn to drive here...it's actually not really dangerous because it moves so slowly, and there is no road rage. Go figure. We are fascinated!
The AP's took us to get our drivers license first thing on Monday - DMV places have the common waiting thing all over the world! But guess what? President Dahle got two good referrals while we sat waiting! A retired Philippino from California who came back to retire in luxury, and a sea captain of an oil tanker, turned harbor pilot. What fun! The AP's are like our parents.
There is a fantastic mall! It even has a Crocs store, which I could not find at home. Ha.
Today the President was invited by special invitation to a lunch event put on by the mayor of Olongapo. He was asked to give the last opening prayer (there were 4 or 5), then came away after a nice visit with a tentative tennis date with the mayor himself! Probably won't happen since he also has firm dates with about 200 missionaries and the rest of the Priesthood Leadership in our mission over the next two weeks. Tonight he is reading the first of 170 or so weekly letters and setting up another wireless router for the upstairs.
I went to a district conference and completely enjoyed participating and being taught by some amazing sisters! One from Samoa and one from Tonga, and they were great. So fun to see them practicing their teaching on each other in real situations and testifying with great spirit and confidence.
The medical issues are coming out of the woodwork! Yikes stripes.
Tonight we had a living room full of beautiful members bringing a son for a mission interview. Three friends came along that are all waiting for their calls! So bright and strong. The father/grandfather of this group was baptized by our neighbor when he served here 10 years ago! Isn't that fun!
There is a rice cooker in the cupboard that you could take a bath in. :)
We have been at this for only 48 hours. OM..gosh!
Driving in downtown!
President and Sister Dahle