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