Friday, December 12, 2014

Typhoon Hagupit

On December 6th, 2014 a large typhoon was predicted to hit the Philippines. Initially it was labeled as a "Super Typhoon." Due to the horrible typhoon that hit the Philippines last year, the people were understandably very scared, and of course, those of us who were here in the States were nervous for Elder and Sister Galbraith. Through the miracle of modern technology, we were able to be in contact with them as they prepared for the typhoon, and even during the actual storm. Sister Galbraith posted a few updates on Facebook:

"We have been told that the typhoon will hit us early Sunday morning. Some missionaries are being instructed to go to the stake centers or to other missionaries' apartments that are deemed safer and to bring 5 days worth of food and water. Last night I bought 400 antibiotic pills. It's a good thing the pharmacy does not require prescriptions. I'm really scared for the others. Elder Galbraith and I should be okay. I'm so grateful that we live in the mission office. Don't have to worry about flooding. We should be prepared pretty well....candles, water, food., plastic and paper ware. We have a gas stove so cooking won't be a problem. I bought wet wipes and small garbage bags just in case we're unable to use our toilet. I wish I brought that portable toilet like the ones I gave you guys for Christmas last year. Sister Mangum said the last time (in July) she did not shower for 3 days. The wet wipes will come in handy here. There was no internet service for a week. So who knows when I'll get to update again. On the other hand we really don't know how things will go until the typhoon comes. We are all praying it will weaken by the time it gets here. Please remember us in your prayers."

"All night non stop intermittent moderate to heavy rain and wind. It's now 10:30 am. Still raining, just moderate with some wind. Went to check the evacuees at the chapel...about 40 people. Each family took a room, slept on the tile floor. Some had really thin mattress pad, if you could call that a pad. Some just a sheet. My heart just breaks for these people. I felt so guilty getting to sleep on a comfortable bed with nice mattress and sheets. But nobody's complaining. In fact, they all had smiles, having fun, as if they were just on a camp out. The bishop had provided breakfast so I thought I'd cook some sinigang..with MEAT! Not just bones. It will be a real treat for them. I also wanted to cook adobo with pork and chicken but no chicken at the palenke. In fact there wasn't much pork. And the veggies are suddenly pricey!. Oh well, I better start cooking."

"2:45 PM. Looks really gloomy but rain and wind stopped. Hope that's the last of it. Hurray!!!! Cooked the sinigang for the evacuees. I think they liked it. Loved it even. So sad to watch. Actually, just Gordon and I were sad. The people were all smiles and when the food blessing was said, the young man thanked Heavenly Father for all their blessings! And for the church and for being together as a family. I wish everybody in America could have heard that. Because I know some of them will be cursing God for being put in this situation."

Not only did Sister Galbraith cook sinigang with actual MEAT, but Sister Mangum (the mission president's wife) provided ground beef, and Sister Galbraith cooked spaghetti for the evacuees at the church. Ground beef is something that is completely unaffordable for most people there, and so it was an amazing treat for them. The little children at the church took HEAPING plates full and for the rest of their lives, will probably remember the time they ate spaghetti with ground beef during Typhoon Hagupit. 

It makes you think twice about the things we take for granted- doesn't it?

We were able to Face Time with them a couple of times throughout the storm and they confirmed that their area did not get hit very hard. However, other areas did. Their bishop announced that a member family on another island had been killed in the storm, so not everyone got off easily. 

We were so thankful that things were not worse for our missionaries! 

Though the typhoon has now passed, Elder and Sister Galbraith still appreciate your prayers in their behalf! They love serving the missionaries and the Happy People of the Philippines.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The First Real Update

Dear family and friends.  Sorry it has taken so long to update you on our new adventure.  And what an adventure it has been these past 3 weeks.  Haven’t had any time to catch our breaths. It’s been go, go, go from day 1.  Arrived at the beautiful new Manila Airport late night Saturday, Sept. 20th. Somebody was waiting for us to take us to the Mania Airport Hotel. Next morning same person picked us up to take to church. Then back to the hotel. While we were eating at the Kentucky Fried Chicken next door I remembered it was my birthday, so I sang happy birthday to me.  We got stuck at the hotel the rest of the day because I could not get on the internet. I did not have phone numbers of relatives I wanted to call to pick us up.  It cost 50 pesos ($1.20) per hour, which I was willing to pay, but was told there’s no more time available.  Apparently, the hotel can only have so much hours available per day. The next morning we were driven to the immigration office to change our tourist status to missionary. Got there by 730 and did not get done until 11.  The process was supposed to take only 45 minutes.  Pres. Mangum and wife came to pick us up.  Poor folks they left San Pablo at 5:30am to get there at 830.  Pres M is already driving like a true Filipino.  He loves going in and out overtaking other cars. I thought I was gonna have a heart attack…multiple times. On the way to San Pablo they treated us to a Shakey’s Pizza.  It was great.  Even had a ceasar’s salad.  It was yummy! Then it began….the phone calls!  From missioanries  who were either sick or having some health/medical issueas.  And these phone calls have not stopped since.  I have to strap the phone to my body. I’m on call 24/7.  So even on Mondays, our supposed p-day, I have to take phone calls.  I still can’t believe that Sis Mangum with all her wife of the pres duties did this job before I came on board.  She’s good, though, even without a medical/nursing background..

Our new home is very nice.  We’re in one of the 2 apartments above the mission office. Got all the conveniences of good ole America…centralized aircondition, hot water for the shower, fridge, microwave, washer dryer, etc. the furnitures including the mattress are new.  And so are the cooking utensils.  Even got a crockpot and a rice cooker and a blender!  We have a water purifier on our kitchen faucet.  We can drink from there or else it’s bottled water.  When we eat at restaurants we pay for bottled water.  If we drink soda we ask first if the ice is from purified water. 

The grocery store we go to is very nice, much bigger than Smith’s. It’s about 8 miles from our place, but it might take 20 to 40 minutes depending on the traffic.  You can find a lot of American products you want but very expensive.  There is a local market called the palengke, which is only 5 minutes, prices so much cheaper  but I’m scared to get food there.  The meat is just hanging there all day with no refrigeration. Eggs are just set on the floor, the sun beating down on them.  Thing is you never hear about anybody dying from salmonella or food poisoning. Vegetables and fruits are a lot fresher there so I might buy those.  We have been taught to disinfect fruits and vegetables by soaking them on a bleach and water solution for a couple of minutes.  I’ve been spending a lot of money buying all kinds of fruits that I’ve been dreaming of eating for the last 45 years.  Some taste just like I thought, some disappointing..  Haven’t had a lot of opportunities to cook a lot of vegetables because we end up eating out a lot.  We’re on the road most of the time. I find that in most fast food places there’s not much vegetable dishes.  Not much in demand I guess because people eat a lot of veggies at home so they like meat when they eat out.

The first 2 weeks were like a marathon.  Pres Mangum took us with them when visiting different districts and zones.  We’d leave early mornings and came home late afternoons.  Then it was with the office elders.  The days are even longer.  Sometimes we’d get home around 10:30 at night.  They are teaching us how to inspect apartments, which is gonna be Gordon’s main job here. There is another couple, also from Utah, who are working in the office as financial specialists. They, us, the 2 office elders, the 2 assistants help President and Sister Mangum run the office.  Soon we’ll be driving on our own.  I’m very scared so I probably won’t do it.  Gordon has done it twice.  We’ll have occasion to go to Manila, too, to take sick missionaries to St. Luke’s Hospital, a nice hospital catering to foreigners. We decided we’re getting a GPS, since roads here are crazy confusing.

Every Sunday we have dinner at the President’s home.  We decided today we’re each gonna take turns doing the main dish.  I have fed the missionaries a few times.  Guess what their favorite?  Sinigang, of course.  They also love the birthday noodles…palabok, American style.  Even the Filipino elders say it’s the best palabok they’ve ever tasted!  I couldn’t find cream of chicken, so I improvised by adding cornstarch and milk to the chicken broth.  It worked! Sometimes when we met up with the other elders/sister missionaries on the road I give them treats or treat them to some fast food.  They get so excited for free food because they don’t have much leftover from their support money.

Speaking of missionaries….what a testimony building sight for me. Seeing their dedication and hard work and how HAPPY they are, it just makes me cry.  I am so grateful for this privilege to serve a mission.  It is hard work, but, oh, so worth it to be a part of this marvelous work and a wonder.  I look at President and Sister Mangum and see the work they accomplish and I know that they truly guided by the spirit. The work is moving forward. Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to go  back to His presence. Family and friends we miss you and love you, but there’s no place we’d rather be right now.  Doing service gives us so much joy.

Hopefully, I can keep updating more often.  I’m hoping we can slow down a bit the next few days.  Please take care, all of you.

Much Love,
Elder and Sister Galbraith
This is Sister Seastrand. She is from Orem and went to Orem Elementary where Sister Galbraith was the school nurse.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Welcome to Serving San Pablo: the place where you can follow all of the adventures Elder and Sister Galbraith are having while serving their mission in the San Pablo, Philippines Mission.

To get started, here are a few stats about their mission:

*San Pablo is located in the southern portion of Laguna province, Philippines, It is is one of the country's oldest cities. The city is more popularly known as the "City of Seven Lakes", referring to the Seven Lakes of San Pablo: Lake Sampaloc (or Sampalok), Lake Palakpakin, Lake Bunot, Lakes Pandin and Yambo, Lake Muhikap, and Lake Calibato.

*San Pablo has a cool climate owing to its location. It is nestled in the foothills of three mountains: Mount Banahaw, Mount Makiling and the Sierra Madre Mountains. It basically has two seasons, the Wet Season, and the Dry Season. Temperatures range from 68-90 degrees year round (sounds pretty perfect doesn't it?)

*According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 248,890 people, so it's similar to the populations of Orem and Provo combined.

*Elder Galbraith  was called as an "Office Specialist," and Sister Galbraith is a "Nursing Specialist," working with the elders and sisters in the mission.

We have been able to Skype with them a few times, and this is what we have learned:

*They are really busy! So busy that they haven't had time to send an actual email update (hence this update that isn't directly from them.) Sister Galbraith is on call 24/7, and her phone is always ringing with news of a sick or injured Elder or Sister. They don't even get much of a P-Day (a day off for preparation.) They are working really hard.

*They live in an apartment on the property where the mission home resides. The mission office is a separate building from the actual mission home, and their apartment is above the mission office. They kicked the AP Missionaries out of those apartments so Elder and Sister Galbraith could live there, but Elder Galbraith reports that the AP's aren't too mad about it.

*The Mission "compound" has security surrounding it, and apparently, the bishop of the ward serves as one of the main security guards after he gets off work from his full time job every day. Talk about dedication to the Church and the safety of the mission!

*They are happy! They are loving the people of the Philippines and the missionaries they serve. They shared a sweet story with us last time we Skyped. In the Philippines there are "taxis" that have names painted on them. A few weeks ago, they came out of church to see a taxi parked across the street from the building. The name painted in big letters across the back of the taxi was "Katrina."It was a tender mercy for them and helped them know that their daughter is still with them.

So, that's our first update. Hopefully we will get a real one soon- full of stories and pictures. They appreciate your support and prayers in their behalf.

Here are a few pictures we got of our Skype sessions!