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.

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