Wednesday, May 22, 2013


During March and April we had occasion to celebrate!

Angie had a birthday and in the tradition of the Philippines invited guests for a birthday lunch she prepared at the Lapiton home. 

Angie with some fellow cooks

With guests

 Some of the food: a deep fried mild pepper, some rice "cakes" rolled in coconut, mayonnaise sandwiches, pineapple upside down cake (I brought that).  She also made a huge dish of pancit (a noodle dish).

We manage the CLS program in the mission (Companionship Language Study) which encourages Philippino missionaries to study English while their companion studies Tagalog.  They have manuals to study grammar and pronunciation.  They have modules to pass off.  After they complete their 3 books of study they can take a test which gives them a rating and allows them to receive a certificate of proficiency.  After a year of presenting, promoting, encouraging these 5 missionaries were the first to take their test.  We were so proud of their excellent effort and wanted to celebrate their accomplishment. 

Victorious Elder Valdez on the right
(Sister missionaries commonly dress
alike for special occasions.)
Sister Cajigal on left celebrating completing her test

After district meeting on Sister Mills' birthday we had a surprise lunch.  President and the Assistants happened to drop in that day:

Regina graduated from college and invited us to attend her graduation.  She will be an elementary school teacher.  She is putting in her papers for a mission any day now.  After she receives her mission call, her family will go to the temple to be sealed.  This is a great year for her family!

Elder Mills' birthday was celebrated at the mission home with a delicious dinner prepared by all.  We were so excited by this beautiful fruit plate Sister Kiholm brought we forgot to take a picture of the birthday boy :)  He loves fruit more than anything! Happy Birthday Elder Mills:

We were blessed to have a visit from Elder Brent Nielson of the Seventy. He will be the new Area President in July. He and his wife  spoke to the missionaries in two different groups.  This was the southern part of the mission.  The Senior missionaries enjoyed a dinner with Elder and Sister Nielson afterwards at the mission home.  Along with a wonderful meal we particularly appreciated the time to share insights and hear experiences and council from them. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Arrival of 23 new missionaries . . .

March 27, 2013 was an historic day  for our mission as we welcomed 23 new missionaries to the Philippines Cauayan Mission.  This was also the first batch to arrive on the plane instead of the overnight bus from Manila so they really looked bright eyed this morning!

Sister Carlos greeting the first ones

We had just an hour earlier said farewell to the departing missionaries.  They were already checked in at the airport and actually watched through the glass partition as the new missionaries arrived.

It is a wonderful feeling to finally arrive after all the preparation a missionary goes through.  You can see the anticipation on their faces.


Also arriving on this plane was the family of Elder Wooden who served with us in Gamu for seven and a half months.  His mission was complete and his family had come to see the places he had served and meet the people.  I remember well the anticipation of finally seeing our sons and daughter again after 2 long years!  

The Wooden family including their 3 younger sons came to Gamu on Sunday.  Brother and Sister Wooden spoke in Sacrament Meeting as well as Elder Wooden.  Our branch was happy to see him again as he had been serving in Tuguegarao the last 3 months.

This is a picture of the Lapiton family and Angie Pico at their baptism in February.  These were precious people Elder Wooden and Elder Armoreda had found and taught the Gospel to.  They were both transferred before the baptism took place, but President Carlos allowed them to come back to baptize them.

Everyone in the branch wanted to be in the picture!

 After Church we invited the Wooden family and President and Sister Carlos over to our house for a little merienda (small meal).  We wanted them to have a chance to get to know the Lapitons and Sister Angie and hear their testimonies. It was a very tender experience for them to hear these converts express their strong testimonies of the Gospel, and their gratitude to Elder Wooden whom they loved so much.
Sister Lapiton is an amazing cook and was preparing fried bananas.  Her helpers are Sister Angie in the black, Bonifacio (Angie's nephew), and Lordinette (a member of the Branch)

It is hard to measure the amount of love felt here!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Baguio Training

President and Sister Carlos received special permission from the Area Presidency to take the Senior Missionaries in our mission to Baguio City for some RRT (rest, relaxation, and training). Within our mission boundary we don't have many sight seeing places so this was a special treat to go up to the mountains!  We drove in three cars about 7 hours through winding mountain roads, a challenge to those with motion sickness issues. 

As we drove we passed some of the vegetable gardens in this cooler climate.  We always look for and enjoy the fresh produce from this area in our markets.  Lettuces, green beans, cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage. . .  Aren't these beautiful terraced gardens!

Another spectacular view from the road. 
When we arrived in Baguio City after about 6 hours we went immediately to check in at the hotel.  We stayed at the Forest Lodge at Camp John Hay, a resort that was a U.S. army base after World War II.  During the war the Japanese had their headquarters there.  This area has always been a desirable, although somewhat remote location, because of the milder climate.  Being high in the mountains it is pleasantly cool and not as humid (no need for air con).  The hotel was surrounded by beautiful grounds with pine trees and plenty of places to enjoy walking.

During the four days we spent there we enjoyed seeing some of the local sites.  

We visited the Easter Weaving School where you could watch the ladies weave their incredible traditional patterns. This was at the end of the day and their focus was amazing as they ignored us walking around and peering over their shoulders.  We enjoyed getting a few souvenirs at  their shop.

We went to an area known for its warm springs.  The resort we stopped at had multiple pools and was very inviting. Some of us even put suits on and enjoyed sitting in a warm pool.  On our way there we traveled through a part of town where wood carvers had their shops. It was fun to walk up and down the hill and see the beautiful wares. 

 We did share training each morning and evening  from a different couple missionary.  These were very informative, enjoyable and uplifting sessions.

Some of us visited a museum, and a beautiful park.  There was a huge mall also with some shopping for some and some American restaurants like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.  mmm. . . food from home.

Here are some of those fresh vegetables at Baguio's wonderful palengke (city market).  It was amazing to see the incredible variety of produce.  Also it was so enjoyable to walk through and shop as the temperature was so pleasant!  Usually at our local palengke you want to go early for the best selection but also because it gets so hot under the tarps in there.
The last night we were there President had been saving a special surprise for us all including Sister Carlos.  He kept telling us to save our appetite for the evening meal.  We loaded into vans and were driven to a private home in a higher part of the city.  Here we were treated to an 8 course meal prepared by Chef Vicky in her family home!  She was trained in New York City at the French Culinary Arts School.  President found and paid for this himself as a gift to us all.  We were enchanted by the beautiful garden overlooking the city.  

 The view was just incredible!  

President Carlos just couldn't stop smiling.  He is a wonderful cook himself and was so excited to share this incredible gourmet meal with us.

The home was built by Chef Vicky's father.  She moved back to help care for her aging parents.
Inside we prepared for some delectable treats!  The atmosphere was amazing with the beautiful surroundings. There was wonderful music playing in the background adding to the ambiance of a perfect dining experience.  At this large table you could hear and converse with everyone.
We began with a variety of sweet and savory dips with bread and crackers.

 The first course arrived after we were seated at the table.  It was  the appetizer course and was a custard with carmelized onions and mushrooms baked in an egg shell.

The second course was cream of three mushrooms soup served "cappuccino" style with a frothy foam on top


This was the third or intermezzo course.  It was an amazing parmesan lollipop topped with a marshmallow rosemary sauce. So delicious!

The 4th course was many people's favorite:  seared salmon on asparagus with lemon, fried capers, and garnished with alfalfa sprouts and browned butter.

The fifth course was a pork ginger dumpling with cilantro in a soy ginger sauce.  (All of these
courses were served on Chef Vicky's families' china.)

After this course we took a break for about 20 minutes to stretch and visit.
This home with its beautiful views and vaulted ceilings reminded us of our mountain home 
so we felt a little homesick.

Back to the table we enjoyed the main course, #6.  It was beef tenderloin in the style of Shepherd's Pie.  This was delicious beef from the U.S. which we never can 
get so was a special treat.

The 7th course is European tradition - a salad.  It is supposed to help with digestion.

The delightful finale was creme brulee with fresh Baguio strawberries and cream

What an amazing evening we will all remember!  Not what we expected we would experience while serving a mission in the Philippines.  

Thank you President and Sister Carlos for your generous and thoughtful gift.     And thank you
Chef Vicky for an incredible experience.