Monday, February 27, 2017

Vacation with Doranda and Tianna

After we completed our 18 months as missionaries, we went on a vacation in the Philippines with Tianna and Doranda.  Although we are no longer serving as missionaries in the Quezon City North Mission, we won't officially be released until we get home to meet with our Stake President.

 There are some interesting things to see and do in the Philippines.  They have a saying here, "It's More Fun in the Philippines."

 Our first stop was Palawan Island, which we traveled to by plane.

 The first day we visited a native village near Porta Princesa where we were staying.

We saw bearded pigs there.

 Tianna, Doranda, and Sister Swift wanted to hold a scorpion.

 They had a butterfly enclosure too.

 On the second day we went to see the Palawan Underground River.  This river was voted one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

We could only get there by boat.  We rode in these skiffs with pontoon  arms.

 The beach was white sand, very pretty.

 Tianna, Doranda, Jacquelyn and I, about ready to go into the caves.

 Our boat approaching the mouth of the cave.

 Inside the cave we were not allowed to do anything that might disturb the natural environment.  Our guide paddled the boat, no motors.  We could not even talk or whisper and we were told about the caverns through a recorded headphone presentation as we moved through the water. 

 On the third day we went Island hopping in Honda Bay. The first island was Luli Island where we got to go snorkeling.  It was a lot fun.

 The second island was Starfish Island where we again got to go snorkeling.  There were more colorful fish to see here.  Jacquelyn, Tianna and Doranda all got sunburnt.
 At the third island, Cowrie Island, there was swimming and also Tianna and Sister Swift got a massage.

 It was very beautiful there.  This is a part of the Philippines we had never seen before, the island beaches.

 After getting home from Palawan Island we went on a tour of part of Luzon Island north of where we've been living and saw some tourist areas that were outside the mission and we couldn't see before.

 First stop was the famous rice terraces of Banaue.  The guide called it The Eighth  Wonder of the World.

 They were very pretty even though a lot of the terraces weren't green because of the season.

 Most of the housing was built right on the hillsides and didn't look too stable to us.

 Here we are at one of the lookout points.  It was nice to see the mountain areas, another part of the Philippines we hadn't seen before.

 The second night we stayed in Sagada original home of some of the mountain tribes.

 A man out for a walk with his pet.

 Why waste space burying your coffins when you have caves and cliffs and can hang your coffins.

 We drove along a pretty treacherous road.  Probably the most dangerous road I've ever been on in my life.  On the right you had falling rocks and mud slides blocking parts of the road all through the drive.  On the left you had parts of the highway that had literally fallen away or were sinking in and about to fall off the side of the mountain.  All through the country you could see rice terraces.
 The last night we stayed in Baguio.  They had overbooked at our hotel so we got put in this billionare home where they had guest rooms that they occasionally rent out to friends or family.  Home of Joel Cruz who owns a perfume line.  On Sunday we went to church in Baguio at the Burnham Ward.

 Here we are in front of the Philippine President's vacation home.  It was a fun trip for us but we are all totally tired.  We got back to Baliwag about midnight and then had one day to pack up and clean out the house.  Tomorrow we fly out of Manila and will be leaving the Philippines.  We are so glad Doranda and Tianna could come visit and see the Philippines with us.

We will miss being missionaries and we will miss our friends here.  However it will be great to get home and once more see all the rest of our children and grand-children and our parents.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Our Mission officially ended on February 19th when we had exit interviews with President Bertin.

 We had a farewell dinner with the other Senior Couples on Thursday.  Here we are with President and Sister Bertin, the Bremners, the Broadheads, and the Dicksons.  It's been a pleasure and an honor to serve with these brethren and sisters.  We were really lucky to have President and Sister Bertin running the Philippines Quezon City North Mission where we were assigned.  They did an outstanding job and we always felt appreciated and needed.

 We were given these cool barbecue aprons at the farewell.

 On the Sunday before last they called us in to have pictures with the Relief Society Sisters.

 Also with the Primary.  We love the little children.

 After Tianna and Doranda arrived we took them around with us to say goodbye with some families.  This is at the Sta. Maria home.  We visited 5 different homes.  We are going to miss everyone.

 Also the Branch had a going away social for us.  They are so appreciative.  It was really really nice of them.

 The Primary children dressed in traditional costumes and did a dance for us.  Then the Young Women, Young Men, and Single Adults also did a dance.  Then they had us sit in front and one by one came up and told us how thankful they were for all we did and how much they were going to miss us.  Then we had food and then a film clip that Chiqui made of us with various members.  We are really going to miss them.  After serving in a Branch for 18 months you really get to loving the people.

 At our last Sacrament meeting they wanted to take lots of pictures with us.  Here's Sister Swift and Tianna and Doranda with a lot of the sisters.

 This picture was taken at the back of the chapel after Sacrament of everyone that was there that day.

 Here were are with Alma, Aiza, Fatima, Erica, and Erin.

 Micalyn taking a selfie with Sister Swift, Tianna and Doranda.

 The Branch Presidency.  Me with President Joven Cruz and the first councilor Gilbert Perez.  I was the Second Councilor.  It was a privilege to work with these two great men.

It's been great being on a mission here in the Philippines serving in the San Ildefonso Branch in the Quezon City North Mission.  We loved it.  We loved the people.  We loved being missionaries.  The members here were so friendly and kind to us we felt right at home.  Sister Swift said she couldn't imagine not going on this mission and having these experiences.  We are thankful to have been able to be missionaries.

 Just recently Nathanael and Mary-Anne had their baby.  Here is little Jonathan Nelson Swift.

Also Joshua and Rebecca had their baby.  Here is little Asher Benjamin Swift.

We are so blessed to have such a great family and two new grandchildren (we now have 23).