February 17, 2014
Just another quick hi to everyone! I apologize for not responding individually to everyone (but I really do appreciate hearing from you!), but as I said we do not have internet in our apartment, so we can only get on when we are at the Gwilliams, which is often, but we are always involved in something so don't have much time. And, the internet is not very reliable. It was out for 4 days last week. We continue to feel overwhelmed but hopefully the Lord will bless us and help us do everything we need to do. We have traveled so much since arriving in Palawan because we are in the Narra district which covers quite an area. I can't really say how many miles (or kilometers here) it is, but it is a 4 hour drive to the point furthest south, which is Rizal,and about 45 minutes to the point north, which is Aborlan. However, we often have to travel to Puerto Princesa, which is about 2 hours north because there are things that have to be done there, as well as that is where the closest grocery stores are. Distance wise, it is not that far, but about half of the road to Rizal is VERY ROCKY dirt roads and we can only travel about 10-15 mph. The road north is better. People drive crazy here, but fortunately it is not as bad as in Manilla. I will have to try to describe it to you sometime. We have been able to go out with the missionaries several times and are working with some really incredible families. I think that because these people are so poor - they don't have all the material distractions and really know what matters most. But because they are so poor some of them have to work 6-7 days per week, sometimes 10-12 hours/day just to feed their families. That makes it hard for them to attend church. Also many cannot afford to travel to church as the branch is pretty spread out. So we are trying to find another place where we could hold just sacrament meeting to begin with and then hopefully form another branch. No one owns a car here, a very few own what they call tricycles. It is a motorcycle with a kind of a covered cart. Many of them use them as a business, they drive around and give people rides for a small price. You also see many motorcycles, and there are often 4-6 people on one. President Stucki said they have seen as many as 8 on a motorcycle. Often very small children and babies. Well, I hadn't planned on going on so long. Just a couple of other "events". One morning last week we were getting ready to go on another trip and it had started raining. Then it just started pouring and our kitchen ceiling starting leaking REALLY bad! We had 6-7 big containers to catch it. The rain finally slowed a bit and it stopped leaking. Later that day it started leaking in our bedroom, but not anything like the kitchen. Anyway, it leaked because of a too small drain pipe which couldn't hold the really heavy rains, and also the wind blowing so hard that it blew the rain in through a place that wasn't sealed off. We are in the process of getting it taken care of. That day it rained all day long, heavy rain. By the time we got back to Narra many of the road were flooded. But a day or two later it was all dried up, because it is so hot. But the hottest time of year is March - June, so we have that to look forward to. :) And just one other funny thing. Most people, probably every home we have been in have geckos on the walls. They say its a good thing because they eat mosquitoes, so it's just not a big deal. (They are usually small, 3-5 inches, but yesterday we saw one that was about 8 or 9 inches long and fat!). Anyway, about a week ago we were in a family's home and I was sitting next to one of the elders and all of the sudden a gecko drops down onto his back from the ceiling. He says, "Sister Wirthlin, what's on my back?" I told him and asked if he wanted me to brush it off. Then it just quickly crawled off. (They move really fast!) Anyway, it was funny. I was so thankful that it did not fall on me because it was right in the middle of the lesson and I would have screamed and disrupted the lesson, so that was a blessing. Anyway, I know this is really scattered and probably doesn't make much sense, but there is just so much to tell. And we have been taking pictures. Once we move into the house which will be around the 26th, then hopefully we can get on a schedule and be in more regular contact. BUT I DO REALLY ENJOY RECEIVING YOUR EMAILS, EVEN IF I CAN'T RESPOND RIGHT AWAY!!! It is just so nice, when I do get a chance to check my emails to have something from family. Well, we love and miss you all!