Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Waterfalls and Rivers

Saturday we decided to check out more possibilities for when my parents come. We planned on going on a river cruise first thing in the morning but we were a few minutes too late to catch the morning boat. What to do till 1:30? We thought that we could drive south and check out a few things there. The first thing we came to was a waterfall.

This is the entrance to Talfofo Falls Park. Quite a fancy facade. We were expecting great things.

You had to ride a gondola to the bottom of the hill.
BAD picture but this is the air conditioning in the gondola. There were four of them hanging from the side of the car.

At the bottom of the hill they had several areas to look at. One of the "attractions" was a replica of Yokio's cave. This was a Japanese soldier who, along with two others, hid in a tunnel when the US landed on Guam. They hid out living on the land and fish. The two others died of food poisoning after several years but Yokio lived this way for 28 years before a Chamorro farmer discovered him. He returned to Japan, married his high school sweetheart and moved to South America. This board showed the layout of the cave.
This is falls #1. There are two large waterfalls. We have been having a drought and so there was not a whole lot of water going over. When my parents come it will be rainy season. We hope to see a lot more water. We just hope it will not be pouring rain when we go again.

This is the second waterfall. There were several suspension bridges that took you from one area to another. They are really fun to bounce on when someone else is walking ahead of you!

We caught the gondolas again for the ride up the hill. I think there may have been a trail that you could hike up but it was so hot and humid that it would have been really uncomfortable to do so.
When we got off the gondola there was an old Asian man who asked if we had been to Love Land. We said no and he told us we really should go because it was quite interesting. As you can see there is a sign posted that this was an area for those 19 years and older. We should have taken that as a warning but we did not catch on until we had gone through the gate. They have a nice landscaped walkway with large white statues throughout. Unfortunately, the statues could probably be categorized as pornographic. We only walked a short way in and then turned around and exited through the entrance. What a shame. They could have made it a very nice garden. That little old man must have had a good chuckle.

We decided that the Ghost House would probably be more our style.

This is pretty much what was in the Ghost House. It was a pretty good spook alley with lots of sound and flashing lights. There were ghosts popping up everywhere. Most of it was pretty hoaky but there were a couple of spots that were great. They had a walk way going through a spinning tunnel and you really felt like you were spinning. There was also a glass floor over a body that was pretty weird walking on.

There also was an area with a bunch of pigs, a kiddie carnival and another garden area that I did not dare check out after Love Land. It seemed like a hodge podge of things thrown together but we did enjoy it and look forward to returning.

After the falls, we still had 2 hours to kill so we kept driving south. We have been wanting to check out a Chamorro village that sounds good in the brochures but when we got there we were not impressed and so we continued down to an area we had stopped at several months ago. I cannot remember the name of these pools but it is beautiful here and so we stopped and walked along the beach for a while.

Wayne found some fossilized coral and thought it made an interesting picture. It was around lunch time by now. There are very few options for food in this area so we headed back up north with plans to have lunch at McKrauts. Sadly, it was not open and so we ended up at a gas station that had Nathan's Hotdogs. It is interesting that we have found several places that sell them. Smothered in onions they were really good.

Well, it was finally close enough to the time for the next river cruise departure so we returned to the dock. This is the boat that we went on.

This is the boat with the 29 Japanese tourists that we were with. The tour guide is originally from Kosrae, living on Guam, speaking Japanese. We were lucky enough to have had our own personal guide in English.

The scenery was beautiful and we got lots of information about the area. It was somewhat reminiscent of the Jungle Cruise in Disneyland.

Coming back down the river we stopped at an ancient chamorro village. Originally, they were clearing this area to put in some fish ponds of some sort but as they were clearing the jungle growth they discovered these Latte stones. They have been carbon tested and found to be 2,000 years old. They figure there were about 600 people who lived in this village. There were fresh water springs and lots of vegetation to support the people.

Above the village were caves where they could go when the typhoons hit. This is looking out from one.

We had a demonstration showing the weaving done with plants in the area. The guide is showing the grass skirt that was made from hibiscus bark. He went on to show hats, bowls, pouches and fans woven from the Coconut tree fronds.

Ben showed how to make fire with two sticks. The stick is from the hibiscus plant. You can see one of the woven fans in the background.

This is Ube ice cream that was served to us. It is made from the purple taro plant. It was really good. Tasted like a berry ice cream.

After the weaving demo they played rock, scissors, paper with the audience to give away the different items he had shown. I was hoping I would have a chance to get the hat and I did. I remember my parents getting hats like these when I was a child. I have seen them made in Hawaii and here and I was glad to get one myself. They look really good when they are fresh and green but as it dries it will turn to brown.

Well, so much for another Saturday. We have slowly been checking off things to do on our list and we are coming to the end. There are not too many more things to check out. Oh no, I will have to start staying home and cleaning!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Catch Up

I finally got around to downloading pictures off both my camera and Elder Clarke's. It is now catch up time for the last few weeks of activities.

We have been wanting to go to a cultural show which would highlight local dances and music. We had seen an advertisement for the Gef Pago Show and thought this would be the dancers from Gef Pago Village in Inarajan on the south end of the island. This is a demonstration village showing the housing and activities of an early Chamorro Village. We have been wanting to go through but have not made it there. We thought the show would give us a glimpse of the village. Well were we wrong. Turns out that the show was celebrating the 10th year of a school in Inarajan which developed a program to teach the youth the songs and dances of their culture. The performers were all junior high and high school kids. They were presenting a story of keeping the culture alive. A lot of the story came from the songs that were sung in the Chamorro language. I was fortunate enough to have one of the teachers from the school sitting next to me and he would lean over and tell me what the song was about. I really enjoyed the performance, especially the young men. They were so animated and lively! We also had a wonderful Chamorro meal before the show started. It was really an enjoyable evening.

I got a reminder that the dominate religion for the Island is Catholic. It was really quite refreshing to have them start their evening with a prayer. This was followed by a song that was a traditional blessing.

The young ladies were a lot more subdued. The decoration on their grass skirts was quite interesting. I can't remember what it is that they used but the flowers were woven out of the plant they use to weave the baskets and hats you see all over the tropics.

One Saturday we decided to go check out a few possibilites for sightseeing when my parents come in August. We headed south and on the way decided to stop at the big latte at Adelup Point. There is a government complex here but the attraction for us was the big latte. This was built with the idea that it would be like the Statue of Liberty in New York. It is something that can be seen from afar and is somewhat of a landmark. It was funded by children saving there pennies in latte banks. The view was quite spectacular from inside it.

Our next stop was the Talifak Bridge. This was part of the El Camino Real during the Spanish era of Guam. The bridge was built in 1785 and is now known as the Old Spanish Bridge.

We later stopped at the San Antonio Bridge which is another part of the old spanish road. This part is located in the main area of Hagatna. The river and canal was diverted after WWII so this is the only part of the old spanish roadway remaining in the central Guam area.

We had seen this tree the day that we went to the "Secret Beach" for our sunset picnic but traffic was heavy and we were unable to get a picture. We wanted to go back and get a picture before it lost its color. Unfortunately, we waited too long. This is a Flame Tree. A week earlier the tree was totally reddish orange and was absolutely gorgeous. We see the Flame Tree all over the island but had not seen any as colorful as this one.

We recently had a Branch Bar-B-Que and the Primary had organized some games for the kids. You cannot see it too good but this picture is of Coconut Bowling. It was so fun to watch them bowl. The pins were 2 liter soda bottles that had just a little water in the bottom to make them stable. The kids would roll coconuts in the husks to knock down the bottles. If you are familiar with coconut husks you know that they are not round - they do not roll straight! It was so funny to watch them and quite surprising at how often they actually knocked down the pins.

We have had quite a few Branch dinners lately and I have noticed that Bro. Taiwairbwe is always at the Bar-B-Que doing the cooking. If he is cooking you can be sure the food is going to be good. His son, Junior, is in our Institute group and is one of the boys who did the cooking at our Institute Bar-B-Que. Like father like son. Anyway, it was just too bad that there were not more people in attendance. Oh well. All the more for those of us who were there.


We went with the Dowdle's to pick up 8 new Elders. This was at mid-night! I was so disappointed when the batteries in my camera went dead. This is the only picture I was able to get as the first of the elders came through from Customs. It is always such a treat to be able to see these new, excited missionaries arrive. We loaded all of the luggage into the President's truck and hauled it to the Mission Home. As soon as we unloaded Elder Clarke and I headed home for a few hours of sleep. We were back at the Mission Home in the morning to go over financial information during the new missionaries orientation.

We returned to the Mission Home in the afternoon to witness a changing of the guard. It is transfer day and there was a lot of changes going on. This is a combination of new missionaries, seasoned missionaries and "dieing" missionaries. We are so sad that we will be losing 13 Elders and 1 Sister tomorrow. They are going home! I had never heard "dieing" used to describe a returning missionary before. They certainly did not look like they were dieing. They all looked quite happy.

This was just one of several areas that was a massive pile of luggage. Surprisingly, many of those who came out with 2 suitcases are returning with only one. Or not surprising. They have certainly worn out a lot of clothes and shoes.

I am especially sorry to see Elder Walpole go. He is on the right in front. This is one of our Office Elders and I have really enjoyed working with him. He is very bright and so spiritual. I just love listening to him talk about the gospel. Elder Mabey, sitting across from him, was in the office when we first arrived. He also is very special and is going home. We really will miss all of those who are returning home.
Elder Dold is from Placerville, Californian. Another young man who really impressed us with his maturity and sense of responsibility.

These are our winners of the "Celestial" rating for a clean apartment. Before we even started our inspections this month, Elder Garcia was telling us how clean their apartment was. He seemed so excited about it too. We were pleasantly surprised to find that he really had been working hard at getting their apartment spotless. They even arranged the furniture so it actually felt like home. Good job Elder Garcia and Elder Wood.

To end our LOOOONNNNGGGG day we had fun at Institute. We are teaching a Leadership class this summer. I started the lesson out with a game of Concentration. These kids love games and we had fun with it. After Elder Clarke gave the lesson, Sister Hidalgo came in to teach dancing. Elder Clarke thought we would lose kids because I had told them that we would be dancing tonight. Oh contrare. It was fun to watch - we did have a few duck out as soon as the lesson was over but the majority stayed and one even asked if we are going to do it again next week. Sorry, Juliette, we are playing games next week! I like that.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We Love Skype!!!

This is a picture of my sweet, very pregnant, youngest daughter. She is having her first child, a baby girl, in July. That I will not be there is one of the hard things of serving a mission. Well, she had a baby shower today and through the wonderful technology of SKYPE we were able to attend. It was really fun to be "a part" of her shower. We could see friends as they arrived and were able to talk to just about all of them. We got to watch as she opened presents and it really was as good as being there. She took us on a tour of the yard and we got to see all the decorations and food. It really helped to ease the sorrow of not being able share this special time in her life. I appreciate all our friends and family back home who are filling in the void with their advice and support of Ashley and Josh. Thanks!