Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas in the Philippines . . .

It has been strange to celebrate one of my favorite holidays with no snow!!! It is hard to get into the Christmas season when everything is green and temperatures are in the 70s and low 80s! But we managed to have a great Christmas!!

On Dec. 17th we attended a dinner in honor of some of the District and Stake President's in our mission. It was fun to visit with each of them and get to know them. We played the white elephant game, but I think everyone was afraid to hurt feelings by taking gifts. Pictures were taken of each couple . . . here we areWe had two Christmas Zone Conferences, Dec 20 and 21, where all of the Senior Couples attended. Each Zone was given 10 minutes to put on a skit. Since we were all looking for "Miracles in December" (miracles in the way of baptisms) allot of the skits centered around that. It was nice to see all of the missionaries in the two days.
Here are some of the pictures taken at both conferences.

The Senior Couples also preformed on the program. We sang "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth". We all blacked out our two front teeth and sang the song. It was pretty funny!
Elder Jewkes didn't want to put masking taper over
his teeth, thus the sign "Black Teeth"Sister Martino was the curtain . . .
Then we all sang the "12 Days of Christmas" and told what each of the twelve items represented. ( you can check out this website for more info It may only be an urban legend, but it makes some sense as to why we sing about a partridge in a pear tree!)Sister Martino had a game where you made antlers from a
panty hose and balloons. It was fun to watch and then see the
creations that were made.
Here are the Senior Elders and Sisters doing their part . . .
President Martino read a story by George Durrant, "Let Thy Alms Be Secret".
It is a wonderful Christmas story, but unfortunately is out of print!Each missionary left with a Christmas stocking with some goodies inside.
We had two wonderful days to spend with all of the missionaries.
It was a great beginning to the week of Christmas in the Philippines!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Memories of Christmas Past . . .

7 years ago yesterday, December 20th, we lost my father.

He was a great man - kind, never speaking ill of anyone that I can remember and always willing to help others. Dad was always there for me and each of my 7 siblings. He would tend grand-kids, help fix cars, help build, remodel or fix something in one of our homes, he helped build dog houses with his grandson, and he would take us sleigh riding in the snow. Summer was never complete without the camping trips to the mountains to teach each of us to fish. He would take my brothers deer hunting in the fall and I always wanted to go, but I was a girl! Dad and mom bought a cabin and we would all gather during the summer time to enjoy the fishing, boating and being with mom and dad! Dad always had treats for us, but he kept them hidden deep in his closet. As the grand-kids came along, he would keep a plastic tub in his room with the treats. The little ones learned quickly where he had then 'hidden'.

We had just had our annual family Christmas party on Saturday evening before Christmas. Dad had not been feeling well so we took him and mom to the party and then back home. (Dad wasn't one to let others drive him places.) Dad had requested a blessing that night with all of us there. All of the priesthood holders helped in giving that blessing. Monday morning, dad called my brother to take him to the hospital. He still wasn't feeling well, in fact we had taken him to the hospital on Friday morning early and they sent him back home.

My brother called from the hospital and I went there. They told us dad had had a mild heart attack and they needed to transfer him to a different hospital, but they were waiting for nursing help. I took mom home to change her clothes and get a quick bite to eat. My cell phone rang and my brother told me dad had just gone into full cardiac arrest! I got mom back in the car and we sped to the hospital. They were never able to revive him. He was gone just like that. I then had the task of contacting my brothers and sisters who all arrived shortly after at the emergency room. We then all gathered at my house including several nieces and nephews. We were all in shock . . . dad had always been the healthy one. We held dad's funeral on the 23rd of December.

Dad loved Christmas and always made it special each year. He would often go with his brothers to cut a Christmas tree. He would always help get lights and ornaments on the tree. Christmas morning, you could barely walk through the living room. We most always would get what we had asked for. As we got older, he would find ways to 'hide' gifts from Santa - like the year I got skis and they were hidden under the table. I was crushed because I didn't see them. I went back to my room, I think in tears. My brother soon followed laughing and told me where my special gift was, under the table. Dad got a good laugh from that one!

As in-laws joined the family, and then grand kids, dad would shower us all with wonderful gifts. I remember the year that Wade's brother was alone at Christmas and mom and dad invited him to spend Christmas morning with us. They made sure that there was a gift for him under the tree as well.

Our oldest daughter lives in Denver and was not going to be home for Christmas that year. I think dad knew how much I wanted my own grand-kids to be with us for the holidays. I think maybe that is why his time to leave us was at his and my favorite time of year.

My nephew read the following poem at dad's funeral.

I'm Spending Christmas with Jesus This Year

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,
With tiny lights like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear;
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas Choir here.
I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring,

For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart,
But I am not so far away, we really aren't apart.
I cannot tell you of the splendor or the peace inside this place
Can you imagine Christmas with our Savior, face to face?

I will aks him to light your spirit as I tell him of your love,
So then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.
So be happy for me, dear ones, you know I hold you dear,
And be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above,
I sent you each a memory of my undying love.
After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold,
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do,
Fo I can't count the blessings or love he has for each of you.
So have a Merry Christmas adn wipe away the tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year!

It was a fitting to a reminder that dad would be with our Savior at Christmas time that year. Now each year my niece reminds us all with Christmas candy and this poem so that none of us will ever forget that special man who taught us all so much in this life. He is now waiting patiently to continue to teach us and preparing a home in heaven.

May we each remember our Savior this Christmas - His humble birth, His life and His teachings and that He gave His life for each of us, the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made for man kind! I know Jesus lives and I know that through Him we can each be with our loved ones again!

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Remembered . . . .

Christmas 2007 I learned what is really important at Christmas time . . . .

It was the normal hustle and bustle of Christmas. I had Christmas Eve off and Patti was in town. We went off to do the last minute shopping and get all the fixings for our Christmas dinner.

Earlier that day, Charlie and Michael told me they were going to play football with friends. It was cold outside and I knew that the ground was frozen, in fact I was wondering where they were going to play because the ground was covered in snow. I found out later that one of the friends took a snow plow to the park to clean an area for football. I told them they shouldn't play, that someone would get hurt, but they went anyway.

Patti and I had run into some friends at the store and had just finished visiting when my cell phone rang. It was Michael. He said that Charlie had gotten hurt and they were taking him to Alta View Emergency Room. I thought he was just being funny and then realized he was being serious. I asked what was wrong . . . he had hurt his neck. I asked if he could move his fingers and toes . . . yes he could. I told them to go to Insta Care and I would meet them there. I was fuming! Why can't kids listen to what you tell them . . . they just have to learn for themselves.

I walked into the Insta Care and Charlie was siting on a chair holding his head very still. He was pale and I could tell he was hurting. I asked what had happened. One of his friends, the biggest guy there, had tackled him. When he went down, he landed on the back of his neck and slide on the ground.

I got him checked in and they called him back. I could hear the doctor asking what was wrong while she did a quick triage on him. She said he needed to go to the hospital. Now I was really mad! Christmas Eve, I needed to finish the preparations for the big day and now I needed to take him to the hospital. I told the doctor I would take him . . . At this point she said, "Your son had a bulge on the back of his neck. He needs to be on a back board and transported to the hospital for treatment." He needed to go to the new hospital in Murray about 15 minutes away.

My anger quickly left. I now knew this was pretty serious. They called an ambulance to transport him. Patti, Mike and I all followed in my car. We called Wade at work. He said he would meet us at the hospital. The snow had stated falling again and the roads were getting slick. The ambulance had arrived when we got there.

They immediately checked him over in the emergency room. He was sent for an x-ray. But before they left for that, Michael and Wade gave him a Priesthood blessing. Charlie laid on that backboard for 5 hours. He was hurting, but was a trooper. We had to wait for the doctor, so Mike and I went to get his car and I grabbed a couple of things at the grocery store. I met Mike at home and we returned to the hospital. They finally got a doctor who could read the x-ray. He had 3 fractures in his cervical spine! The doctor couldn't come into the hospital that night, but said he wanted him admitted for observation and they would decide in the morning if he needed surgery or not. The doctor said he would be in the next morning.

The male nurse who had been taking care of him came into see him before they moved him and told him that he was truly a Christmas Miracle. He could have been paralyzed or killed. As we left the hospital, I was so grateful that my son would be okay.

The next morning, we all decided to wait for Charlie to have our Christmas. We got cleaned up and ready to go to the hospital. The doctor had not come in yet, but Patti wanted to go be with Charlie so he wasn't alone on Christmas day. She is so sweet and she was worried about her brother. We were ready to leave for the hospital when Patti called. Charlie had been discharged and they were coming home!

We had our Christmas dinner and then opened gifts. The funny thing was, most of them were still in the bag from the store. But no one cared. We laughed at the wrappings. But enjoyed being together and celebrating this special season.

What did I learn about the meaning of Christmas in 2007? I learned that the important gifts are not store bought., Pretty paper and bows don't matter. What does matter is that we were all together as a family AND Charlie would get better! He had been given a Priesthood blessing and our Heavenly Father had other plans for this young man.

So as I reflect on Christmases past, I will never forget this special Christmas and realizing what really matters can not be bought or wrapped. Our Savior was a gift from God. the Wise Men brought gifts to the babe in a manger. But He was the greatest gift of all. He came to earth that we might all live again with our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Angeles Medical Center . . ..

Today you will be reading of my experience visiting a Filipino doctor in a
Filipino Hospital setting . . . What an experience it has been!!
The following pictures were captured on our second day to the doctor.
I have had a cough for a couple of weeks. This past weekend it got to a point where it hurt to cough . . . so Monday morning we headed to a doctor's office downtown Angeles. Now, this is not like going to a doctor's office back home. Sister Martino gave me the name and address of a doctor and we were off.

We found the hospital where the doctor's office was located. Wade dropped me off and went to find a place to park the car. The street was lined with tricycles, so he parked a couple of blocks away.
This picture was taken on Tuesday later in the day -
there was actually a place to park right in front.The front door to the hospital The front lobbyI went in and asked for the doctor, went down the hall, made a couple of turns and went in the office. After filling out some papers, I was taken back to talk to the doctor. He smiled after a few minutes and told us he was a surgeon, but his wife (with the same last name) was an internist and that is who we should see.No appointments, just come between these hours and wait your turn . . .This one lets you know that the doctor is actually in her office His nurse took us down the hall to the other office. they asked us to sit in the hall and wait until we were called. After about 15 minutes, we were shown into the 'office'. . . the doctor was sitting at her desk and a folding door was closed behind us.
See the brown folding door through the glass door . . .She took a short history, took my blood pressure (120/70 yeah!) and told me she wanted to run some blood test, get a urine test, a chest x-ray and and EKG before we left. I asked where to go for the EKG and she pointed to a table in the small office. I was asked to get undressed so that the EKG could be done . . no gown, no privacy . . . weird and this was just the beginning!

Next I was told to go to the lab and to get a chest x-ray and come back on Tuesday for the results of the test in the afternoon.
The left side is the Lab and the right side is the X-ray
First we went to the lab. I was given a list of my test and told to go pay for them. When Wade came back, they gave me a coup the size of a fry sauce cup (no lie! wish I had a picture of it!) and I was sent across the hall to do my thing . . . no toilet tissue (there never is here, you carry it with you) and no soap to wash your hands or towels to dry them offOn Tuesday when we went back to the X-ray department Wade
noticed that they did have toilet tissue for one peso . . .
I wonder if you got more than one sheet . . .I take my sample back to the lady across the hall and wait again.
They finally called me back to draw my blood . . Now I am getting a little nervous, will it be clean and sterile I thought? . . . but they used alcohol to clean the area and a clean, wrapped syringe to draw the blood. then they use the syringe to put it into the vial for the test.
Next it is across the hall for a chest x-ray . . . I gave them my name and was ask to sit down and wait my turn. Wade went and paid for the x-ray which is usually about 250 pesos.
Mine was 370 pesos . . . darn white tax!I was taken into a room and asked to take my bra off . . . at least I was given a gown this time!
They use the old type of film to take the x-rays and they are just in a box in the from of this little office. (Now when I say little office, I am talking about being about as big as a very small kitchen area or large bathroom in a house back home). They had the air conditioning cranked way up and it was cold waiting your turn . . . now this is in a place that doesn't often get below 70 degrees!
They gave us the x-ray, we picked up the results of the lab test and went back to the office.

Tuesday I received a text asking if I had the results of the x-ray. I told them I only had the film. So we had to go back to x-ray, waited again while they had a radiologist read the x-ray. (By the way, they gave me the film to keep.)

Then back to see the doctor and wait again on the benches . . .
only this time most everyone had been seen and gone home.We met with the doctor again. She is really nice and i felt taken care of . . .Diagnosis: Pneumonia, both lower lung zones.
She gave me a prescription for some antibiotic to take . . .
this is what you get at the PharmacyIf you don't keep the prescription from the doctor, you don't have directions on how to take the medications. They are sold by the pill not in a bottle . . . a little strange for us Americans!

This experience reminded me of when I was in nurses training 40+ years ago. I saw machines that we used way back then. I understand that there is a hospital in Manila that is much more modern and more like our hospitals back home . . . for now, I am thankful for my health!

I feel pretty good . . . I just need to rest a little more and not overdo it. I know that the Lord is blessing me to not be right in bed for a couple of weeks . . . there is too much to do to keep the work moving forward here in our mission!

Cost of this visit:
Doctor Consult 300 pesos
EKG 300 pesos
Urinalysis 60 pesos
CBC (blood test) 350 pesos
X-ray 370 pesos
2nd Doctor Consult 300 pesos
Medication 200 pesos (20 pesos per pill)
Medication 378 pesos (16.7 pesos per pill)
Total Cost 2258 pesos or $52.00 US

7:30am on the Expressway . . .

December 8, 2011

We had a meeting in Tarlac. We left about 7:30 to make the hour drive.
This is what we saw on the expressway . . . All of the cars, motorcycle, tricycles and jeepnies are all driving around the towns . . .
not the express way!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"HUMP" DAY . . . .

December 7, 2011

To me December has always been a time to reflect on that fateful day in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I always think of my sweet Uncle Jimmie Forbes who was actually on the USS Arizona, when the bomb hit, was able to jump off and survived. He is one of my heroes.

But today was a new day to reflect. It has been 9 months since we started our mission on March 7, 2011. We are 1/2 way through our 18 month mission. This brings bitter sweet emotions. The time has flown by so quickly. I wonder if the next 9 months will go by as quickly.

Some of the emotions and thought I have at this time are . . .
  • Will I really be ready to leave this beautiful country and it's wonderful people?
  • Will I want to stay just a little longer? (The president keeps asking me that.)
  • What will be my most memorable moments?
  • Will I keep in touch with my new found friends and fellow saints?
  • What will it be life to get back to the 'real' world?
And the list goes on. Serving a mission has been one of my most rewarding experiences. I have met so many wonderful people - missionaries and Filipino men and women. I have been able to support a fabulous mission president in the mission office and work closely with his wife. They have become great friends of ours.

So we are on the down hill side of our mission, but I will continue to work hard to do those things that the Lord prepared me to do throughout my life! I see now the way that the Lord has guided me in my life to be prepared to do those things that I am asked to do at this time! I know that my Heavenly Father loves me!

'Baby, It's Cold Outside' . . .

Sunday December 4, 2011

As we were driving home from church in the rain, I looked at the outside thermostat in the car. It read 22 degrees Celsius which translates to 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the first time since we have been here that it really seemed cold to us! Everyone keeps telling us this is the 'cold' season and we usually just laugh. But I went home and curled up under a blanket for a nap!!

S & R Pampanga Here We Come . . .

Thursday Dec 1, 2011

They just opened a new store in San Fernando (about 30 minutes from us). It is an S & R Membership Store. It is owned by Costco and is set up the same way. You buy a year membership and are able to purchase items in larger quantities. But they also have smaller sizes as well.
After we finished with transfers, President and Sister Martino and Elder Jewkes and myself all headed to San Fernando to check out the new store., It was so fun to see brands that we have seen in Costco back home! They even have those Costco famous hot dogs and pizza. We are all so excited to have this store close by (there is one in Manila, but that is out of the mission and 2 hours away!)

Transfers . . .

We had another successful transfer Nov 29 - Dec 1, 2011

Our Assistants to the President with Elder Jewkes
Elder Apolinario and Elder StrongWe had 7 missionaries leave us this time . . . 6 Sisters and 1 Elder.We are so blessed to be able to attend the last testimony meeting before these young missionaries return home to their families. It is always a tender time as they bear witness of our Savior Jesus Christ and their love for Him and the work they have just finished.
Then they are off . . .

New Elders giving up their suit coats for 2 years
New Missionaries doing a project for Sister Martino
What a great new group of missionaries!!!Add ImageAdd Image