|Jordan with his MTC district, October 2011|
Neither of us slept very good Monday night. Maralea and I had a 5:30 am wake up call, but were up way before that. We just could not sleep. There was too much concern about getting to Tarlac on time, getting packed and ready for our scheduled 8:00 am pick up. But, despite our bad night’s sleep (Maralea complained again about all the noise from other guests, but I did not recall any of that, so I must have slept better than I thought.) Our drivers Kimmy and Mark were due to arrive at 8:00 am, and we were ready like champs. I had all our baggage at the front area, ready for a quick pick up and getaway. The only thing missing at 8:00 am was our drivers. When they did not arrive by 8:30 am, we started calling and texting, to no avail. (By the way, we brought Jordan's old phone and have no idea how to use it, so texting . . . even answering a call . . . was an adventure.) Maralea and I began searching for alternatives to get to Tarlac. We confirmed that we could get a taxi in a pinch, but the guy said it was a minimum two hour one way trip. (A freeway has been extended from Angeles City north, which goes right by Tarlac, and we understood the trip was closer to 30 minutes.) This got us into an ever so slight panic. We needed to get to the mission home on time and were ready to hire a cab (even if the guy had no idea what he was talking about). Kimmy called about five minutes later to advise that they were about 10 minutes away. That was very welcomed news and it was a great relief to see Kimmy’s ever smiling face. He told me 8:00 am last night, which I thought was kind of early, but I figured he just wanted to make sure they got us to the mission home on time. (I actually think he was planning on 9:00 am all the time. Ha. I guess I'm not used to Filipino time.) When I asked Kimmy if I misunderstood him about the 8:00 am pickup, he said, “No” and then looked at his watch, smiled and said: “It’s 8:59 am.” (It was actually 9:10 am, but perhaps his watch was slow. Ha.) (Kimmy is a great guy and we loved spending time with him. He brought a different driver, Lionel, who served in the Angeles Mission from September 2005-07. In fact, Lionel would have entered the mission home the day after we arrived to pick up Brad in September 2007.)
|This is a generic picture of the Tarlac main street post|
typhoon. There is still work to do.
The anticipation of our reunion with Jordan grew the closer we got to Tarlac. The effects of the typhoon also became more apparent. As you drive into Tarlac, there is what was clearly once an incredibly beautiful row of large old trees along both sides of the divided four lane main street that formed a canopy over the entire roadway. What was once a proud landmark of Tarlac now looks much different. There were downed branches and uprooted trees everywhere. A lot of work had already been done to clear the area of damage in the prior 10 days. However, there is still clearly much work to do. In the residential area of the mission home, there are downed power poles and trees. Yet, the mission home (newly constructed) looked relatively undamaged. While it was without electricity, the home is also equipped with an emergency generator that kept everything up and running (so we were to later learn). As it turned out, we were not late at all, but were 90 minutes early. (Yes Kimmy, you were right, I should have just trusted you all the way.) We walked up to the mission home front door with Kimmy, who knocked on the door. I thought that Jordan might answer the door after seeing us arrive, but it was Sister Martino, who advised that the missionaries were involved in some post mission training with Pres. Martino. We did not want to go inside and interrupt anything, but Sister Martino insisted. So, we walked into the living room where we sat down rather sheepishly and conspicuously. All of the elders turned and looked at us . . . except Jordan. He just kind of looked away and acted like we weren’t there. Once we were advised that there was another 90 minutes of instruction to follow, we excused ourselves and drove to the mission office, where we delivered some very special items we brought with us by special request (i.e. packages for some missionaries (Elder Watkins and Sister Littlefield), some oatmeal packets for the senior missionaries there, Elder and Sister Tischner, caffeine free Coke (by very special request by a certain someone), white shirts and bed sheets, etc.) We met Dave & Sandy Bell, parents of Elder Derek Bell from Gilbert, AZ, with whom we had arranged to share a ride from Tarlac to Manila and had a nice visit. After about an hour, we departed again for the mission home. This time, when we arrived, Jordan was at the front door and Maralea got the big hug she had been anticipating for so long.
The Tarlac Reunion
|Mother & Missionary reunited|
|We were all smiles when we walked into the mission home|
|Pres. & Sis. Martino delivered Jordan to us. So grateful for the great care they took of Jordan while|
he served as Elder Royal in the Philippines Angeles Mission
One more time (with Dad in the picture - ha)
|Our reunion with Sister Lopez, who served both our|
missionary sons in the Philippines!
It was an amazing thing for us to be with Jordan again. What a journey it was to get here! The mission home moved from Angeles City to Tarlac last year, so this was our first visit to Tarlac. However, we did recognize the mission home furniture from our last visit (very unique). Also, Sister Lopez, who has served as a mission cook for about 15 years, introduced herself to me in the kitchen as I went back for seconds. (I admit it, I gorged - it was so good!). Sister Lopez said: “Do you remember me? I’m Sister Lopez, I washed your other Elder Royal’s clothes. We met when you were here before.” I did remember her. In fact, Sister Lopez was the first local member we met from Brad’s mission when we surprised him at his apartment and he introduced us to her while providing a tour of where he had been living for the preceding six months. (Brad, Sister Lopez said that she was very sad not to get to see you during your visit with Whitney and Beckham in January. (She was busy cooking/working at the mission home.) She wanted us to tell you hello. So kumasta and ingat from Sister Lopez.)
|Maralea and Sandy Bell having lunch in the mission home|
We sat with other parents and family visiting (the Bells and Johnsons) during the testimony meeting and final words of counsel provided by President and Sister Martino. It was really great to be there as Jordan stood and shared his last testimony as Elder Royal with his fellow missionaries. After getting a few pictures, we all raced to our vehicles to get to the Manila Temple by the 5:00 pm session. Jordan rode with his mission buddies, and we traveled separately with our group. We got a few pictures outside the temple after our arrival. As we prepared for the session, we learned that there was a problem with Jordan’s passport. It would not be available for us to pick up before we were scheduled to leave Manila for a visit to another island for a few days. That created a bit of anxiety, but we got it all cleared up for Jordan to travel. (He had his NV DL and BYU ID, which was good enough for domestic travel. Who knew?)
|Loved going to the Manila Temple with Jordan|
|Manila temple is beautiful at night|
The temple in Manila is amazing. We attended with Jordan’s entire mission “batch.” I had a mission to deliver a package to Elder Watkins, from Alpine, UT. (His father, Tom, used me as a courier, but only after we watched BYU stomp Georgia Tech together in Provo.) The package was delivered to the mission office earlier, so I just waved to the MTC across the street from the temple. We were so, so tired when we made our way to the Manila Airport Hotel, where the departing missionaries were staying. (By the way, if there was ever a hotel to avoid in the world, it’s this one. Holy water buffalo! Since it is where all the missionaries apparently stay their last night before departure, we figured it would be fine, or even semi fine. Um, not so much.) Jordan stayed with his mission buddies, who were to leave very early in the morning. After this evening, Jordan would be in our exclusive care. (We promise to be good companions.)
|Here with Jordan and his trainer, Junjun Declaro, at the Manila Temple|
(Very grateful to Junjun for being a fantastic trainer to Jordan!)
|Mission Training Center (Quezon City), just across the street from the temple.|
Somewhere in there was Elder Watkins, who has a package waiting for him at the mission office