Tuesday, June 28, 2011

YIKES! Itch, itch, itch, scratch, scratch scratch, runs, runs, runs. WOW! Back at the allergic reaction again, only this time there were some stark differences. Emergency run to the hospital, short/shallow breathing, blood pressure almost non-existent, getting slapped in the fact by the wife of the 2nd counselor of the Temple presidency doesn’t sound like much fun. I wasn’t really aware of any of this but Sister Byram (wife of 2nd Counselor) is an RN and as I was fading out, she wasn’t going to have me do so on her watch. Pres Byram, Sis Byram, Shanua and one of the security guards had to escort me to the Chong Hua (Chong Wa) Hospital for another round of Antiphalntic Shock. This time they started an IV but gave me an oral antihistamine and over the counter dosage of Benadryl to stop the allergic reaction. The welts got bigger the itch got worse but at least I could breath and understand what was going on around me to a moderate degree. For two days this went on. Boy I sure was glad to check out of this place.

Check in: they give you a Hospitality Bag containing 1 small bar of soap, 1 short roll of TP, 1 TV Remote, one fork & one soup spoon wrapped in your wash cloth and two pass’ for people you would like to have stay with you overnight. The room contents, besides the bed, was: one pillow, 2 sheets, one pillow case, one plastic patio type chair, one bench that doubles as a bed for your overnight guest, one dipping pan (more on this later), a Comfort Room (CR) with toilet, shower and sink. Did I mention this was the deluxe single room? Notably missing was the hospital gown, towels, drinking water, glass. Did I also mention the initial issue of Fork & Spoon was your only issue of such items, Meals arrived without them? Oh there was a telephone in the room also.

Now going on from here it only gets more interesting. As the itching continued fiercely and everyone telling you not to scratch as you are going insane trying not to but there is no relief in sight. The nurse suggested trying a hot or cold compress to see if that will stop the itching. Anything is better than digging our skin off. She leaves and comes back in with a 4” diameter “can” full of hot water about 3” deep to dip my wash cloth in, wring out and lay over my itching that has not progressed to cover pretty much from my knee’s to my head. I told her I could just get in the shower and take a hot shower to do a better job of that. To which she stated she could go and get me some hot water to shower with. This would entail bringing some kind of bucket full of hot water. It is now later, by using the dipping pan I could pour the hot water over me from the container to bath with. Otherwise I could just use the cold water straight from the tap. Here again this is tap water which is rarely ever really what you would call cold but rather cool, and even this is not accurate but it is not warm.

In all fairness the nursing staff was very attentive. They made their rounds almost hourly and if we call for anything they were right there to check on things. They conveyed all information directly to the Dr.s. Dr. Tan was my “Dr.” but a Dr. Michael was Dr Tan’s associate who can in about three times. Working for Dr. Tan was also an internist who visited every 3-4 hours as well. They were right on time to administer all medicines. Finally after complaining about the incessant itching the internist came in an add something to the IV that was dripping and the itching finally subsided so that I could get some sleep during the night.

Shauna in the mean time was relegated to sleep on the bench which she side was softer than our bet at the apartment, which she is constantly complaining about being so hard. Although without proper pillow(s) she had a bad night plus fell off the bench at one point during the night. Needless to say we were both very thankful to be back at the apartment after a 3 hour marathon checking out.

Shauna had to wait for the Dr.s bill at the same time as the hospital bill. When they presented the Dr. Bill to her she thought it was the hospital bill and thought we were getting off really cheap. It was only P3.800. But at closer look found out it was just the dress bill. The hospital bill was P13,000+ so they came together over P17,500 which either had to be paid in cash or by credit card. They don’t bill insurance’s. For those of you who are Paso challenged it is just a little over $400, for my one night 2 day stay at the hospital, including medications and can of hot water. What caused this – we are not too sure but the Dr. seems to think it might have been some bad chicken. NOT necessarily the way it was cooked, but could have been but how it was handled, which is more likely. This was our Sunday dinner we are talking about of grilled boneless & skinless Chicken breast with mashed potatoes and gravy and beets. The Dr. advised eating no more Chicken, sea food of any kind (shelled or otherwise), no pineapple, mangos or egg plant or eggs. Seafood and egg plant are the only things here that is no problem, the rest are all favorites. Now a real sacrifice, or at least until we get home that is. Which, as of this writing is only 120 days away. Love to all of you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WE FELT LIKE ROYALITY LAST NIGHT! I wrote about the October time frame about a couple that had come to the Temple and got married, one of the first couples after the Temple opened. Then they came back with a group of youth from their stake for Baptisms for the Dead. Well they are back for more Baptisms for the Dead. They have 220 youth in the Stake and Bro Ledesma is the Stake YM Pres. They bring 1/3 of the worth/eligible youth to come to the Temple every six months. They will be here again before we leave in October. They are from Bacolod which is on an island to the west of us. Cebu City is on the East side of Cebu Island and Bacolod is on the West side of Negros an Island just West of Cebu. They had to bus across Negros then ferry across to Toledo, on Cebu Island and then bus across Cebu Island to the temple. I am giving you this background so you will understand what I’m rambling on about, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story”.

We were the coordinators in the Baptistry yesterday when the Bacolod So youth came and Bro Ledesma is still the YM Pres. He was in charge of this group of youth again. He mentioned they were thinking of having a Fireside at Patron Housing in the meeting area at one end of the floor later in the evening. I mentioned that a lot of the groups do this but they use the Chapel just across the parking lot and mentioned that Bro or Sis Gale could probably help them in scheduling the church. He then asked is WE would be their featured speakers. He mentioned how the youth last time had had such a good time and that they just loved Bro & Sis Cummings, so he thought since we are still here it would be very appropriate for this batch of Youth to get to know us also. What else could we do but accept. I told him we would just meet them at the Church around 6:50 which would give us time to find them and be on time. They called about 6:30 to be sure we remembered as we were frankily preparing something to say, which we assure them we would be there at the appointed time.

After the temple we went to lunch/dinner (luner) with the Asher’s and then came back to our apartment to work on our talks. As we were getting on the elevator to go up one of the local Stake Young adults came rushing into the elevator and asked us to come to the Stake Young Adults meeting at 7:00 and talk to them. Asher’s spoke to them a month or so ago so they were excluded. And of course we had to decline their invitation.

When we arrived they were ALL assembled in the chapel in their Sunday best and as we entered they all stood and greeted us. We were so humbled at this gesture that it brought tears to our eyes, and even now just writing about it-yes girls- dad is tearing up. No one came late which is totally unusual in and of itself because Mormon Standard time is so in fashion here. After a brief opening exercise, scripture and the 13th Article of Faith, Shauna spoke and gave an excellent talk for about 10 minutes and then I spoke for about 20 minutes. Closing song and prayer and then thought we are so out of here. Not so Fast! They wanted to have a group picture out in front of the temple. Each one had to have their own picture and each one wanted a picture of us with them and their friends. Soooooo about a half hour later we were free.
We, in a very very very small way know how humble the Prophet feels when the whole conference center rises when he enters for conference. The pictures are of those wonderful youth. Bro and Sis Ledesma are directly in front of us in the vertical picture.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just Milling Around- Today, April 12, 2011, is one of the busier days of the year for the temple. We did 29 endowments, numerous sealings and had Baptisms scheduled from 8:30 every two hours of groups from 20-30 youth with the last session starting at 6:30 so as to be complete by 8:30. It is interesting to watch the groups out of our 3rd floor window as they “Mill Around” temple square. There are probably over 300 people staying at the Patron House/Stake Center. The Patron House can accommodate 120 people, 6 per room, 20 rooms. The overflow stays at the Stake Center across the parking lot and sleep on mats on the floor of the various rooms at the Church. This is a first for most of them to spend time in such a Luxurious facility as the patron house. Most equate it to a 5 star hotel from their knowledge of accommodations. The Temple is just overwhelming to them with the elaborate d├ęcor and facilities. A lot of the kids have never been able to shower with hot water, most don’t even know how to turn the shower on let alone use one. It is fun to watch them as they discover the faucets that are motion sensor controlled and the water fountain that you push a button and water comes out. They jump back and look and then the water shuts itself off, they can’t quite figure out what makes the water come on and they run their hands all over the faucet until the water comes on again. Adults as well as children are amazed. A lot of these Saints come from the jungle villages of the remote islands of the Philippines where even running water from a pipe is about all of the modern plumbing they have ever seen. But yet they all come in their Sunday best. The young men in fresh pressed white shirts (and I mean they are spotless white), ties and long pants that you can tell they are not accustomed to wearing. The young ladies in their pretty dresses that they act like little princess’ they are dressed so pretty.

As I look out the window you would think that the kids would take off down the road to the local shopping or McDonalds but no, they are just milling around on temple square. On the left at the basket ball court there are 20 plus youngmen/youngwomen playing basketball. Just in front of the Stake Center is a group of 8 youth playing badminton over an imaginary net. The older ones both male and female are sitting on the stairs of the stair landings that lead up to the temple and the parents are walking around just visiting. There are some youth in the Relief Society room doing what appears to be dancing. At the other end of the building another group of youth is playing games. You can tell those that went through the temple for the first time because they are still wearing their tags sporting “own endowment” on it like a great badge of honor. AND so true it is, because most of them have had a lot of baggage to give up to be worthy to be here and participate in the work of the Lord. In front of the Patron House is a group of about 10 kids playing what I can only approximate to be what we played in the winter called “Fox and Geese”, but there definitely isn’t any snow. The temperature is around 85 degrees F right now; it is 8:00 PM.

NOTE: The church houses here have no carpet anywhere in them. They have tile on top of concrete for floors. This stake center has wooden benches (no padding), but they are not attached to the floor, most chapels just use stacking chairs in their chapels. The rest of the rooms have only stacking plastic chairs, like our outdoor plastic staking chairs used on patios. They stack up the chairs and spread a small mat on the floor to sleep on and roll them up while they play and the church is generally busy 6 days a week with people just coming to enjoy a safe placed to play. There isn’t too much to be ruined with the simpleness of the church furnishings.

The days are getting longer and nights shorter, but there will only be a cumulative gain of about 1.5 hours. Instead of the sun rising at 6:00 AM and setting around 5:30 PM, it now rises just before 5:30 AM and sets shortly after 6:00 PM. It will remain this way until sometime in November when the sun rise/set will work back about 1.5 hours difference. The primary difference will be in the temperatures and humidity. Daytime temps will reach over 100 degrees F most days now and cool to 85-90 Degrees F at night. The humidity will be a searing 500bazillion%, like walking outside into a sauna. You take a deep breath and the hot steamy humidity will burn your lungs and no need to take a shower because you will be wet all over without taking a shower in the first 1-2 minutes as you walk. We leave our apartment and less than 3 minutes later we are inside the temple, now soaking wet from the humidity. I remember well those hot searing days of last summer when it was difficult to breathe outside but you had to go outside to get anywhere, shop, work, church. Etc. I’m sure you get the picture, or do you. Have you really been that hot? Being in Phoenix doesn’t count because it is a dry heat not the soaking wet steamy heat we have. I have been to Phoenix and this is not Phoenix.

As I look out our window I can see 8 high level cranes as they are working on that many high rise buildings all around Cebu, and yet in their shadow are tin roof one room homes. Some of these homes are just 8X8 and those that are a little better off have, if they are lucky, 12X12 homes. They don’t use them to cook in, it is far too hot to cook inside or even eat inside. Insides are used to get in out of the rain or a safe place to go to bed in. The walls are reed woven panels and the roof is just corrugated tin over a few poles as structure. Very simply built. Most of which are built on what is termed “squatter land”, they don’t own the land but just build there and then the owners of the property have to “buy” them out to move them. The Temple lot has a lot of extra property and they are continually moving dirt from one end to the other primarily to keep the quatters off, 2nd to keep the jungle from reclaiming the land. But when you live in paridise what more do you need?

Living on a tropical island totally surrounded by water you would think that everyone would swim like fish and be stripped down to just the bare essentials, not so. As the youth come to the Temple for Baptisms there is a surprisingly large number of them that are “scared” of the water. They stiffen right up and don’t want to go under the water and some of those they try 4-5 times and then finally give up and send them to the showers. The outside workers all over the city have long sleeved T-shirts and some even have one wrapped around their head with the neck hole around their face or pulled back so that just their eyes are showing. They don’t want to get a sun tan. Every where you go in all of the stores, big ones little ones, no matter the size you find shelf after shelf full of “whitening” lotion. They don’t want to get darker because they will then have to buy more lotion to get lighter again. In the states there is shelf after shelf of Tanning agents to make you darker. Makes you wonder who is in control of our lives doesn't it? Love you all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Country side views of the mountians leaving Baguio, note in the second pic the daylight below the house? The 5th pic, wonder why they have electronic brown
outs, this is totally typical.

UH! which wire was that?

Tarraced gardening

Hillside housing

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Baguio was a "small resort" 45 years ago when I was here in the Navy, it is now 1Million plus people. Much more than we expected.
Baguio is a city set on top of a mountain which is much cooler than the sourrounding country, this first pic is of some of the surrounding
housing. The below pic is the "Camp David" of the
Phillipines, the presidential retreat or summer residence.
Then Shauna touring the Botanical Gardens in Baguio.

Our tour group in front of a Sister City to San Francisco monument a Miniture of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Presdient Fabrose our Tour Guide and Sister Cadiz a local
Baguio member who did a local tour for us of Baguio.

These are the apartments we stayed in in Baguio. We
Do NOT recommend them.

Building houses on a hill side is a little bit of a challenge. You

are either building up or down with the road. The road getting into and around Baguio was on many occasions about a 15% grade or more. It took just about all of the energy the van president Fabrose had.

This is the town of Erdaneta, the site of a new future Temple that was announced
in last October Conference. This town is on the "flats" not even a hill to build on. The surrounding area is almost all rice paddies, which means there is a lot of sub water so the site will have it's challenges.

This wash "was" the site of a small village prior to the 1996 eruption of Mt. Pinatuba in the Phillipines. Clark US Airforce Base was partially enguled in the ash and such and the US turned the site over to the Phillipines and is now an international airport,very small and mainly local travel.

Under the shroud of clouds to the left is the culprit of the ash and devisation, Mt Pinnatuba.

Tri-cycles are everywhere here in this country as well as the Pedi-Cabs noted below.

Ahh! The infamous Grande Island on the right,the little island on the left is a part of Grande Island on low tide. The pier photo below is the peir my ship was docked at when I swam over to Grande Island. The US Navy base here was given back to the Philippine governtment back in the 1990s and the attached civilian community known as Olongopo is now a thriving city of close to a million people, here again when I was here in the Navy is was a Military brothal community of bars and the like. Very little signs of the US Navy influance here, in fact it is the home of the Olonogopo Mission Office of the church. This restaurant and a hotel are now built on the pier we docked up to but you can still see the tale tale signs of the navy there.
Our Tour group having lunch.

Just barely visable on the leading edge on the right side of the building below is the tale tale signs of Grande Island. The mountains behind were very lush with jungle when I was here before. Don't know the cause of the barren hills tho.