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.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Visitors on Guam

For those of you who do not know it, my Dad served on Guam in World War II. When he heard we were coming to Guam he was really excited and started planning a trip to visit. Well the time finally arrived and just after his 90th birthday he and Mom were headed here.
After 19 1/2 hours of airports and planes they arrived looking amazingly spry and alert. They left Fresno Yosemite International (ha ha) Airport at about 6:30 am on Thursday, August 12th, and we picked them up at the Won Pat International Airport at 6:00pm Friday the 13th (our lucky day). They crossed the International Date Line so it did not really take as long as it looks.
Because we are short on Senior Missionary Couples here in Guam, we are storing a lot of extra furniture in our apartment and so we have an extra bed. It is really good that they are able to stay with us instead of having to shuttle back and forth to a hotel.

Saturday morning we decided to introduce them to the north end of the island. This would be the area where Dad's air base was. The first stop was Two Lovers Point. Every island destination has to have their great looking cliff where star crossed lovers jumped to their death. The story is a sad one but the view from the top is spectacular. As you look out over Tumon Bay you see hotel after hotel now but when Dad was here that was just one huge stretch of beautiful beach.

Our next stop was Ritidian Beach. It is a little difficult to actually get to the beach - you have to find little openings in the jungle to park and then walk a little to get through the jungle but it is beautiful and you get to see lots of black butterflies along the way.

Sunday, we attended church in the morning and the rest of the day was a laid back day of relaxation.

Monday was World War II day. We hit the war museums and commemorative parks, etc.

Dad took this picture because he thought my brother would like it. These were in the Pacific War Museum which is a private museum. The owner was a veteran who started collecting war memorabilia and has developed a really nice display. Unfortunately, he died last May while he was trying to retrieve an engine from an old Japanese plane he had discovered.

This is at the top a hill looking out over one of the bays where the Marines landed. The cannons are from the Spanish period of Guam's history. During that time there was a fort at this site.

Tuesday we went to Anderson Air Force Base. This is the present day base where Dad's base was. The air base takes up a lot of the land on the north end of the island. We stopped to get a visitors pass for Wayne and I and a parking permit and then we just drove around the base while Dad tried to envision the past. The landing fields are still in the same area but everything else is completely different. We tried to go into the Commissary but they have strict rules about visitors not entering so Mother went in to grocery shop while Dad had to stay with us. We were not to be left alone on our own anywhere on the base. An hour and a half later Mom comes out with much more than was on her list. She did get some really good buys though. The butter that we pay almost $4 for was $1.99. The military are lucky enough to be paying stateside prices. The prices on Guam seem to be about double on most things.

By the time we finished up at the base, it was about 4:30pm and time to head home. We unloaded all the groceries and then headed to dinner at the Capricciosia. This is a really good Italian restaurant served family style and it was a big hit with Mom and Dad.

Wednesday was our Zone Conference and I was doing the lunch so Mom ended up making Pilaff while I was in the Conference. I had prepared everything else ahead and so we just had to serve it up. I do want to include one picture from our Zone Conference.

Sister Dowdle did a little presentation on First Impressions and talked about the need for keeping clothing, etc. in good repair. She then passed out pieces of material that had been sewn together with a hole left in the middle to represent a hole in a seam. The missionaries were given needle and thread and told to sew up the whole. They then had to sew on a button. It was a great exercise for them. Just look at how Elder Krauss is concentrating on the task.

Unfortunately, we had an appointment with a Major at the Air Base for the afternoon and we had to miss the rest of the Zone Conference.

There is a member in the Dededo Branch who is the head of the Guam Tracking Station at Anderson Air Force Base and he had agreed to give us a tour of his facility. This is at the northwest end of the base. We were disappointed that there was a situation that had arisen which required his attention but he put us in the hands of a Lt. Montague who gave us a great tour. We got to see a huge antennae that tracks all the satellite communications around the world. We got to drive golf carts out to the old air field that is still used for practice flights. The drive was fun, however I was at a disadvantage because there were three of us on our cart and the extra weight slowed us down. I had the pedal floored and Wayne could still pass me.

That night we went to Chamorro Village for some authentic Chamorro food, which Mom and Dad did not partake of, and some entertainment.

This was Dad's idea of entertainment. He had to have his picture taken with Miss Earth Guam.

Thursday we went for a Jungle River Cruise. We shared the boat with 37 Japanese tourists. Most of the talking was done in Japanese but the boat driver would intersperse English so that we knew what was going on.

We passed a Chamorro village which was discovered along the river several years ago. They think that there were about 600 people who lived in the village and that it was here about 2000 years ago. The latte stones are from that original village. How they can determine the age of them I do not know.

Sister Miyazaki, the Mission Nurse, joined us for the outing. We are all modeling the woven articles that we got when we stopped to watch some demonstrations.

That night the Dowdle's came to dinner. We had a very nice visit which my parents enjoyed immensely. It was the only free time that the Dowdle's had for most of August. We are so impressed with all that they do and were happy that they could join us.

Friday Sister Miyazaki joined us again as we went through Underwater World. There were giant sea turtles, sharks, manta rays and hundreds of other types of fish. It is a great place to go.

This lion fish is one of my favorites. He is so cute.

Is that a big fish or what? I would not want to meet him in the water!

Saturday we spent the morning making a loop around the south end of the island. There were a few places that Dad had taken pictures of in 1945 that still look the same today. This is one of them. I am going to post before and after pictures in another post and explain where this is.

We saw our caribao friend again. Sister Zaugg had ridden this big guy when we were here back in March. Wayne decided that he needed the experience this time.

Things were going fine until the caribao decided he needed to make a pit stop (see the little pile in the back). Needless to say, the ride was not the most comfortable but at least Wayne can add caribao to the list of animals that he has ridden.

After having gone almost a week without playing a game of scrabble, Mom finally went to Kmart to buy a game. This has pretty much been our nightly activity along with Rummikub. I hope I am as sharp as she is when I am her age. She still wins the majority of the time. I will really miss being able to play when she leaves.

Saturday night we attended a Cultural Night at the Dededo Branch. They had tables set up with food from Mexico, Chuuk, Phillipines, Pohnpei, America and Samoa. This is a pig that was deep pit cooked. They carried it to the table in a basket woven from coconut leaves.

After the food there was entertainment from the various islands. This is our star Institute student, Juliette, in her Pohnpeian headdress. She danced with several other women.

It has been a busy first week but we have really enjoyed having Mom and Dad here. Dad is amazed at all that is here and it has been fun showing him around. They have come at a slow time for us in the office and so it has worked out just right. We show them around half of the day and work in the office the other half. They have seen most of the highlights of the island but we have a few more fun things in store for them next week. Tune in later to see what they are.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Service Project

We have a family in our Branch that is building a home on the family property. This is a weekend project and the missionaries decided to lend a hand. It was interesting locating the property. Guam does not really function on an address system so we had a map drawn showing that you turned right just before the yellow bus stop then turn right on the dirt road and go until the end. It was back in the jungle and was so green! The first thing I noticed when we got there was President Dowdle. In the six months that we have been here this was the first time I had ever seen him in anything but a white shirt and tie.
I also noticed that one of the counselors in the Branch Presidency was helping out too. Brother Henry is from the Marshall islands. He works for the Facilities Management office of the church. He does the maintenance on the Church facilities and here he is on his day off doing more of the same.
The missionaries were clearing the land of trash and rocks. A big part of the homes here is the cement slab out front where most of the living is done. The rocks needed to be removed and the dirt leveled out to pour the cement.
Construction is very simple. This is a typical tin house. It consists of two bedrooms and a main living area. The kitchen will be outside. This keeps the heat out of the house. Many hands make light work and I am sure that they saved the family hours and hours of work.
This is my favorite little sweety in our Branch. Angelina is a perfect name for her. She is an angel who never fails to give me big hugs whenever I see her. She and her cousins seemed to be having a fun time "helping".
Tonight we had an opportunity to see some more of these tin houses on the north end of the island. Wayne and I have tried to visit potential Institute students with the Yigo Branch Presidency. Our destination this time was to the Ranches. This is an area that was marketed to be a new development with power, water, etc. but when the people bought there property the improvements were never installed. The roads are dirt which is full of potholes. Since it has been raining they are like little ponds everywhere. Only parts of the Ranches has electricity so there are actually people without lights and power. They also do not have water and so they have to haul in any water they need. I noticed port-a-potties on several properties. A lot of the homes are actually cargo bins like you find on trains. There will be several used for bedrooms, etc. I am impressed that they have been so resourceful. Cargo is shipped over here and the containers are not sent back to the point of origin and so they have found a really good use for them here. By the time we reached the first home it was dark and raining so it was an interesting experience. I was SOOO lost. I am glad we were riding with someone who knew their way around. I would hate to have been lost in the jungle under those circumstances.

As I have thought about how long it had been since I blogged, I thought about the things that I could put in a list of the things that I love about Guam. Here are a few:

The clouds - I still am in awe daily of how beautiful they are.
The green, lush growth - it is rainy season!
The people - they are so friendly
The smiles - of those friendly people
Polite motorists
Suicide lanes
The detours we have found to avoid all the road construction
The chickens - and their little babies
The roosters and their beautiful colors
The cultural diversity
The variety in foods - because of the cultural diversity
The slow, calm lifestyle
Chuukese skirts and dresses
Rain showers that do not last more than 10 or 15 minutes
Clean missionary apartments
Diligent young missionaries
A wonderful mission president and his wife
And I could go on and on. We really do love it here and are enjoying the life that we are living right now.