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E-Mails/Letters

From Mom & DadMarch

If you get some that I donít post & want to just send it to

Jen@fitzgarrald.com

3/1/09

Hi Jen, Jeremy and kids,

 How are all of you doing?  I tried a couple of times on Skype hoping that you would be on the computer.  What's a good time to call you?

 We miss talking to you all.  We were on another road trip this weekend but got back into town about 4:30 last night.  We went up North again, part of the same freeway as last week, so that was good.  I really like it up North. Another Stake had Family History Training with another one of our Area Service Missionaries, they are great and really know their power points - they love power points over here!

 There are 600,000 members in the Philippines and the goal here is to register the 300,000 adult members and then the 12-18 yrs. olds in New Family Search.  6,000 have already registered since last July and the goal for 2009 is to make it to 15,000. They are really serious about it so that's what all of the training is about and then to get them to encode their ancestors.  A couple of the areas don't have internet yet or maybe their Chapel doesn't and then members don't have computers, but they are trying to get them to use internet cafes like for youth activities, etc.

 Jen, what should I do with the rest of the pictures that I have been taking and put in Picassa?  Should I upload them to the Fitz webpage?

I finally figured out how to delete from my camera but I also bought two more cards for the camera so I don't have to worry about it - til they all get filled!  ha

 A computer guy at work looked at my laptop and said there was space and memory, so I don't know why Picassa is so stubborn about my sending more than a couple of pictures as EM attachments.  Any ideas?

 It gives me a brain freeze trying to keep up with these gadgets, but I've got to.  Monday we start some online training, so that will be even more brain freeze!  The Temple is now closed for cleaning til the 15th, so we are playing catch-up with things we have to learn and schedule out.

 On Sunday mornings we can watch the bardges and tug boats go up and down the river. I think about Jayden and how he would have fun watching them.  Not too many, but enough to keep us entertained for a little while.

 Hey Jeremy, how are you and what have you been doing?  We called Gabe and he told us about his little boy. He seems really happy and I hope this gives him motivation to keep on working and looking towards the future. I appreciate the time you take to talk to him and be with him Jeremy.  This is all precious time that can't be replaced and you & Zak are his pillars right now.

 How are the newspapers going Jen?  This time of night I always look at the clock and wonder if you are out folding them yet.

 Love ya,

 Mom & Dad Fitz  :)

 

3/1/09

Hi Jen,

 I didn't know Dad had opened up your EM til today.

 I am so happy that you got to take the kids to the Open House, I bet the Temple is beautiful - aren't they all!  That is so funny about Jayden. I knew that he would be looking for Jesus, all of the little kids do like Kilisi wants to see Him so badly.  That is a new one about a bed for Jesus and the "big bathtub"!!!!!  ha

 Please tell them thank you for their prayers and that they work everyday because PaPa has been able to drive in this crazy traffic. He really doesn't see out of his left eye, like you know, so it is important for the kids to pray that Jesus will help him see.

Carmen's Brit asked us if we had baptized anyone yet - I paused & said that we hadn't baptized any live ones yet,but that we had helped people find their ancestors so that they could get baptized for them. That counts as baptisms on your mission right?!  :)

 My laptop has been having an error message at night saying, "oops...a server error has occurred" and then the next day it is alright.  I reloaded my computer card so that isn't the problem.....computers are so wonderful when they work!

 How is your craft business going?  Are you going to make something for Easter? 

 Love & hugs to all,

 Mom & Dad Fitz :)

 

3/2/09

Dear Family and Friends,

We are home after a fun trip north and east to a new area.It was very rewarding for a couple of reasons.The route lead us to the site of the an infamous POW camp at Cabanatuan.That's where the death marchers, what was left of them, were held.There were about six thousand there for a time, working in the rice fields.Many died of malnutrition, beatings, and execution.About 2,500 were shipped to the west coast of the island, where they were put on boats headed for Japan.Most of the boats (which were unmarked) were sunk by our Air Force.The remaining prisoners, many were too sick and weak to make the trip to the coast, were held.In January, 1945, a contingent of about 100 Rangers and 90 Philippine guerrilas worked their way behind enemy lines and in an attack, freed the prisoners.Only two of the soldiers were killed.The Japanese lost hundreds.Local people with carabao (water buffalo) carts helped the 200 sick and wounded 27 miles back to American lines.The local people fed and provided water for the troops.It is considered the largest group ever to be freed from a concentration camp in the history of war.There at the site were two well constructed memorials to the rescuers.The story was made into a movie Carolyn and I saw on the History Channel accidentally before we came over here.†† I think it is available in the rental stores, maybe under the name, "Ghost Soldiers".

We stayed that night in Cabanatuan, riding to the local mall in a trike and finding a local chapel, which was really fun.The next morning, we drove on to San Jose to participate in a training session with the bishopric and stake leaders of the Abarr Stake in San Jose.

We saw lots of rice paddies, carabao, fighting roosters, and again many people working in the fields.It still is amazing to us how they get those fields prepared, planted, and harvested. We drove home that afternoon.Sunday, we headed out to our Branch and had a enjoyable afternoon.MIssing the previous week, it was good to be back.The members are so loving.

It is humorous as we drive.There will be some long stretches with few structures, and then we will come to a densely populated town, often with signs warning, " Slow Down, accident-prone area".It isn't the drivers; it is the area!!!!One thing that makes it less hazardous out in those areas is the lack of those big Jeepneys, which we call "warthogs", as they are usually well worn, big, and often times ugly.They are a real menace on the streets.They force their way into any lane, anytime, and anywhere, daring you to not let them in.They are built heavy, a lot like a tank.It is smart to not play chicken with them.The cabs aren't as aggressive and the trikes are big more careful.The little pedicabs and pediwagons really get taken advantage of.

Last Wednesday, we left for the office at the usual time, and up Edsa, the main thoroughfare north, became pretty crowded quickly.We had forgotten that they were celebrating a revolution at the site of a huge statue with about fifty freedom fighters in bronze, right at the corner where we turn east towards the office and temple.It took us two hours to go the three miles.One couple that left shortly after us were stuck for three hours!!!!

It is Monday and our "P" day, but we came up to the office, which is closed on Mondays, to get some needed work done.I felt sorry for the little, old taxi driver, as his vehicle just putt, putted his way up here.We stayed here and had sandwiches from the local market at lunchtime, as it is our no-drive-day.One day each week, cars with a certain last number on their license plate can not drive in the city.It alternates, but it is inconvenient for us as we can't drive on the only day of the week we have off.It is supposed to help cut down the pollution.

We stayed for family h.e. held here at the temple housing and went back to the apartment with another couple.I didn't get this finished, so I am writing this Tuesday morning before our first meeting. It is another beautiful day.

I hope everyone is fine.Sorry, this so long.You"ll have to take the day off just to read it.Please send me a slingshot and rubber pellets to get rid of the pidgeons that land on our window ledges.

They aren't getting the message.Our roosters still crow every morning down below.Love you all so much.Take care.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† YFM, Elder and Sister

3/15/09

Hi Everyone,

We are back from our weekend trip up North to a city in the Mts. called Baguio. Dad/Garlan is busy typing up the story. We will send some pictures as soon as our laptop will cooperate! A woman in our training group sent this little story and it fits here in the Philippines as well as our families back home. Our big meeting with the Mayor of Marikina, a neighboring city, is not taking place this morning, so maybe Wed. The agreement to be signed is for the Church to put computers and microfilm readers and volunteers in one of their city buildings to teach Family History. The first country in Asia to do this, so it is a big deal and that's why all the details & wording has to be just so on the contracts. The building will be ready the 16th of April. I need to write Stef and ask her how to get ahold of Meisen for his birthday this week.....wow, the days are flying by, we have been here two months already!  You all deserve a big cheer for holding down the fort for two months.        Love & Hugs, Mom/Carolyn 

 It all depends on how you look at it??!!!

 One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, 'How was the trip?'

'It was great, Dad.'

'Did you see how poor people live?' the father asked.

'Oh yeah,' said the son.

'So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?' asked the father.

The son answered:

'I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.'

The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, 'Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.'

Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.

Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!

'Life is too short and friends are too few.'

 

3/15/09

Dear Family and Friends,

It is a beautiful morning here.  We got back yesterday (Sunday) afternoon late.  What a trip we were on.  Baguio (pronounced bog e o) is one of the most unusual cities probably in the world.  It is north of us in the mountains about 5 to 6 hours away, so different from anything we've seen yet.  The mountain range where it is located rises quickly out of the flat plain.  We arrived at the base as it was getting dark, and so it was just a dark and winding road up, with no real view of the sights.  We could see distance lights scattered on mountainside and down in dark valleys, and we kept going up and down and higher and higher.  We came to the streets and the traffice, and soon to the hotel, which we reserved about two blocks from the Stake Center, where we were to have the Training the next morning.  We had supper, and I got up the next morning and asked the directions to the Church.  It was just up on a higher street behind the Methodist Church!!  The Stake Center was typical of our churches here manicured aand beautiful.  We took two service missionaries that we work with here at the PAO with us.  They are both wonderful sisters and have served for quite some time in this calling.  We had breakfast at the Pancake House, which is a lot like IHOP.  And, the Sisters now really love pancakes. 

We had a great meeting with the Stake President and his wife, who is the Family History Director for the Baguio Stake, along with about 12 or 14 ward consultants, wonderful saints.  Our meeting lasted until about noon.  On the trip up there, we had Loy Abbalos, one of our computer technicians at the FH Center with us. He is one of the finest men I've ever met.  He is a Bishop in one of the wards in that stake in Baguio.  Talk about sacrificing for Church and family.  He rides the bus early each Monday, leaving at midnight from Baguio for Quezon City, and arriving at 5 a.m., walks, catches a taxi, or the Temple shuttle at the bus stop to the PAO, which is about a mile distance.  He is here at the office until about 5 or 6 each day and catches a ride, walks, or a taxi to a local Bishop's home about a mile away, where he stays during the week.  On Saturday evening, he catches the bus home to Baguio, arriving at about 5:00 in the morning, for his Bishopric meetings at 5:30.  He spends the day at Church, going home until Monday midnight and starts all over again.  He has been a Church employee for about ten years, and though he has a rigorous schedule, I have never heard him complain of the lack of sleep, having to be away from his family, spending long hours here or at Church, long rides on the bus, or etc.  There are so many like him; it is so humbling to work around them.

About Baguio now, it was laid out as a city by an American Army officer following the Spanish-American War as a training ground and base away from the cities and secure in the mountains.  It was designed to be a pretty selfsupporting city of about 50 thousand, right on top of the ridges of the mountain with valleys running in all directions.  It has pines trees, beautiful flower gardens and several large preserves dedicated to John Hays and a Colonel Burnham, another American Officer.

You literally travel up over a ridge into a part of the city, up over another ridge and into another part of the city, and etc.  It is almost dizzying.  It is now a city of 600,000!!!!  Being at about 6 thousand feet in elevation, the air is fresh, the city quite clean, and busier than the busiest streets in Manila, but so beautiful.  The weather is about 75-80 in the day and about 60 at night.  They consider the nights cold!!!

We came home Sunday morning after Church, down a different, narrower highway, where the view is a little more spectacular, with steep dropoffs and towering mountainsides.  Carolyn took lots of pictures, so you will be able to view the drive.  People have built homes on the road edges and on the steep slopes in the most unbelieveable places.  They carve out an existence like few have to on the planet. 

We are here at the office this morning on our P-day.  An important meeting got postponed without our knowing, but we are getting some necessary things done before we go exploring again.  The weather is getting just a little bit warmer each week as we get closer to the summer about a week or two away. 

We hope this finds you all well and taking good care of each other.  We think about and talk about you often.  Our American and Filipino friends always want to know all about you.  It makes us feel like you are closer than the distance it really is.  Mahal kita.  YFM,  Dad and Mom Fitz

 

3/26/09

Dear Family and Friends.

We are both doing fine.  Things are really busy, but very enjoyable.  We have been swamped here at the center, with lots more patrons coming in for help with their research. It is a little quieter in one respect;  we have lost some of our favorite couples, who finished their missions and returned home.  So far, they haven't all been replaced yet.  One new couple is from P.G.  Only three couples live at the apartment house complex, down from seven.  Two new couples are scheduled to arrive next month.

We had a very enjoyable experience on Monday; we went to the War Memorial Cemetery, which is only about twenty minutes away.  It sits on 152 acres of rolling hills, with manicured lawns, flower beds, and towering acacia trees.  It is breathtakingly beautiful.  There are over 17,000 Americans buried there and about thirty six thousand honored Missing In Action with their names culptured into the granite walls.  We found Carolyn's father's cousin's grave (Mike Hammon) and another cousin on the walls (Earnest Fields). 

The one died on a commando raid, and the other perhaps in the ocean and was never recovered.  The cemetery is taken care of so carefully.

We've been getting around pretty well, now that the streets are a little more familiar and easier to navigate.  I am still amazed at how it all works.  Fortunately, there is no malice or ill will generated by the crazy driving.  You just have to dive in and survive!!!  You can not drive more than about fifty yards without hearing at least one tooting of a horn, and sometimes, it is down to say ten or twenty yards.  Someone is always trying to get ahead of someone else.  Then, the street will narrow from three lanes down to two or even one.  Fifty yards later, it will widen out again.  With few lane lines and fewer street or warning signs, it all gets pretty hectic.  Most of the American couples have had at least one fender bender.  One car went by me so close that he clipped my mirror, but didn't damaged it.  Often, cars are so close on either side that you can reach out and touch them.  Then, there are the buses that crowd you out at will!!! 

The other afternoon, we sat in traffic going home on one street for almost 35 minutes without moving more than about four or five car lengths.  It only took us about 55 minutes to go the three-three and half miles home.  How's your commute been lately?!!!  But, we are having fun, and the time we spend here at the office is very enjoyable.  We are still a little overwhelmed that a couple of small town kids from Nebraska are in MetroManila on a mission!!!!

We got the Valentine's box from home with all the candy, cards, drawn pictures, photos, and stuffed bears!!

We laughed so much; it was so fun and funny.  The pictures were sooo cute, too.  We'd have liked to have been there to just hug all of you.

It is warming up here and getting more humid each day.  We haven't any mountain trips to look forward to for a while.  Our next excursion will probably be out to Bataan sometime next month. 

Hope everyone is doing well, and enjoying the snow!!!!Well, give our best to everybody, take care, and 

                     Love,  Always,  E/S Fitz

 

3/29/09

Dear Family and Friends,

 

Thanks for your emails.  Being here in a new culture adds a dimension to our mission that I wish you could experience.  Every day is an adventure.  Besides being here at the office, seeing a life so different from ours there in Utah, Idaho, and etc. and living around such a unique people makes it all the more exciting.  A couple just arrived from Pleasant Grove and are working in the mission office about two miles away.  They were here a few minutes ago at the office on their way to getting their Philippines driver's license.  Having gone through that just makes me laugh because it, like a number of other things, is so unique that you there could not even imagine it!!!!  When we got ours back two months ago, a hired driver and guide drove us to the site.  The testing center was in a rough looking, two story cement block building.  We walked up a flight of open-air stairs to a rough looking window.  We filled out a form application, handed it to a lady, paid the six dollar fee (300 pesos), and sat down on the open balcony chairs.  She called us up, and we went to the next window, where we filled out another form, for drug testing and paid another 300 pesos fee.  Again, we sat down and waited.  About five minutes later, another lady called us up, one at a time.  I walked down a short hallway to a door that had "Enter" obviously painted by hand on it.  I opened the door to a small room with a lavatory in it.  The room was as rough as the exterior of the building.  A sign inside said...do not close the door completely.  Through a shoebox sized hole in the wall, about waist high, the woman handed me a small plastic bottle.  She said, "When you finish, leave the bottle on the opening shelf."  I zipped up and placed the container on the shelf, and she thanked me. So much for privacy.  Carolyn was next.  Then, I went into another little room for my eye test.  There was a chart on the opposite wall.  I read the chart, she signed the form, and I went back out, where I handed the first lady the forms.  I was told by another American couple here that when they had trouble reading the chart, the tester helped them with the line.  We then left for the City Building, where our pictures were taken, and we received our license with another payment of about 600 pesos.  No written or driving test, we passed!!!I  They did not have any knowedge of our former driving experience or whether we had ever started a car or not.  It is no wonder that traffic is so hectic here.  There was a drivers' road testing area in the parking lot, within a fence.  Local people were lined up to roadtest.  The area was about 30 yards wide and 40 yards long. 

One sign I see fairly often says...Keep the intersection clear.  What that means is beyond me. There are so many vehicles darting through that intersection that it is never clear.   As I said in an earlier email, there are few lane markings, and fewer street signs.  The way to survive is just to find a comfortable place and get after it.  It requires a little imagination and lots of patience.  Often, the drivers ahead of you will drive, straddling two lanes so they can get in the one that moves the fastest.  They don't mean it as selfishness, just survival.  Nobody gets upset, and seldom do you hear a beeping that is could be interpreted as, Hey; learn to drive!!!   I am truly amazed that I have seen few dented fenders and only a couple of cars that had experienced an accident.  With the masses of humanity only a few feet from the road edges, walking, shopping, living, yes living, it is a miracle that anyone survives. 

Well, I've written you a book.  There is so much to tell you about.  The days and the weeks just seem to fly by. 

Tomorrow, we have a soft opening of the first FHCenter in a civic building in Asia.  The Mayor of a neighboring city, Marikina, has requested a center available to its citizens.  We have met with them for two months now.  They have remodeled a city building in the complex specifically for a FHC.  It will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on the 16th, which is the beginning of a week long festival.  The City will furnish the facility and a manager, and we will supply the computers, readers, film, and the consultants.  We have had requests already by other cities' officials nearby on how they can have a similar center, too.  The Spirit of Elijah is definitely busy.

It is a marvelous opportunity to expose the Church to the people here.  It will not be used as a proselyting tool, but it should plant lots of seeds.  The proposed manager is here often at our center, doing the research on the Mayor's ancestory.   She is a sweet lady and not a member of the Church.  One non-member comes in often and has a data bank of 65,000 family names!!!

Well, I hope this find you all well: we love you all.  Take care.  Don't get freeze-dried while I am working on my tan. 

                                       YFM,  Elder G. and Sister C.