Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas once more!

Today is December the 28th and this is our first day of sunshine for about 2 weeks.The original DeGrange Rain Guage was filled to the brim (a pint jar) It is time to start again and so without any fanfair it was  dumped! December has been a busy month for us.We bought some lights and decorated our balcony.That made it feel a bit more like Christmas. Last week we had Family Home Evening at the Mission Home with the FM group and their families and several stake leaders and their families. We enjoyed Kentucky Fried Chicken, Doritos with  layered bean dip, fruit salad with fresh grated buko (coconut), brownies, cookies and a Philippino deseret and I can't remember the name but it was pretty good. Then each family had the opportunity to show off their talents. There was singing and dancing and story telling. The people here love music in any form. Children started caroling at our door on Dec 12. They would sing several song in Tagalog and end with We wish you a Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells. At the end of the singing, it was time for us to pass out gift to the carolers. We just gave each of them a couple of pieces of candy.This happened nightly until Christmas Eve. We would get between 5-10 groups every evening. Some just sang but some really put some work into their performance and it was fun to listen and watch. Wednesday and Thursday were the mission zone training/Christmas lunch and party. Wednesday we were in Naga and had a fun day being with the missionaries. Each area was responsible for entertainment and singing and dancing and clowning.

 Northern Zones  Training, Christmas lunch and party

Thursday we traveled to Legazpi with the Bakers. It was so nice to ride and not drive. Again, training, lunch and entertainment with a gift exchange at the end each day. It was a lot of fun.
 The caterer for lunch presented us with the center piece as he was leaving.
 Elder and Sis. Baker, Pres. and Sis. Bliesner and Sis.and Elder DeGrange in Legazpi
 One of the skits that the missionaries presented.
 One group of missionaries. The 2nd Sis. from the right is from Pakistan.

Friday, we attended Christmas parties for 2 wards. We attended the Canaman Ward first. They started preparing the roast pig at 5:30 a.m. The children's party started at 4 p.m. with the adult party at 6. They played games and had a kareoke  program going for members to sing their favorites. After eating roast pig and other Bicol favorite foods, we quickly drove to the Panangiban Building for the Naga 3rd. party. We missed the program but they have a very nice stable built for the Nativity Story. We were not going to eat but soon plates of food were handed to us and we enjoyed Roast Pig along with Bicol favorites. They also played games and music. In both wards there was lots of fun and laughter.

Canaman Ward Primary singing .
 The honored guest at Naga 3rd.
 Some of the sister in the ward who helped prepare the food. The big pot was full of rice.

 Christmas Eve found us again at the Mission Home. President and Sister Bliesner invited all the missionaries in the Naga Zone to their home for Christmas Eve. We enjoyed a buffet of Fried Chicken, Bean Dip, Chili, carrot sticks, and cheese cake. Each companionship were supposed to share a talent. One Elder played the piano and the rest sang and danced. They sang several Primary songs.Sister Bliesner and Rose Paje rewrote the words to the Twelve Days of Christmas, which we have had a lot of fun singing at every party. Elder DeGrange and I  did a lot of dishes while the party was winding down. Paper  plates are not used much here so a lot of dishes are washed.
 Christmas Eve at the Mission Home. Lots of good food

 Sister Narvarro singing while Sis. Bliesner played a Christmas Carol

Christmas Day was a quiet one for us. We opened our gifts and went to church, came home and had  macaroni. Almost forgot something,  our neighbor Jo rang our bell early and presented us with a big plate of Spanish Rice and Buko Salad. We really had a nice dinner without any work.We read a short book and watched a movie and just enjoyed being together.
 Some of our Christmas gifts. The shirt and purse are from our neighbor
 The painting is from Cristy Martino.She was in our first English Class and we became very close to her. It was painted by Abbe Loventino a local artist. He has painting in both temples here in the Philippines.
Each Barenguy  (neighhorhood) does a display on Panangiban Drive as part of a local contest. Here are a few pictures of the displays. The displays are all made of recycled materials and are very creative.

 This is a gas station and is made of oil cans and bottles.
 This is San Felipe the Bryg that we live in
This is all made of plastic flyers and grocery bags
We both completed our goal of reading the Book of Mormon before Christmas. Surprise!! Larry beat me. I still had 17 pages to go.
We are both thankful for the birth of Jesus Christ and His gift to each of us. We are thankful that we have this opportunity to be serving as missionaries in the Philippine Naga mission to stand as witnesses for the Gospel.


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