Yesterday a girl (somewhere between 8 and 10 years, I think) told me that I was fat! I am told that it is supposed to be a compliment. It means that I have always had plenty. I really didn't need to be told what I already know. She kept wanting to pat my fat arm.
I have also been asked how old I am. This has happened twice in the week and a half we have been here. For some reason these people like to ask that question. One questioner followed with, "you look so young". Nice save!
A little boy told Elder Shorter that he has blue eyes (as if he didn't know) and another told him he has a big nose (which he also knows).
We are busy learning the things we will be doing from the couple who is going home March 19. They are all business, which is great because we have much to learn. But once we are on our own, we plan to take plenty of pictures as we travel around the mission. Our assignment is to inspect the apartments (85 of them) that the young missionaries are living in to make sure they are keeping things clean. We also assess any problems such as a change in the safety of an area or the need for better living conditions and will be looking for new apartments if necessary. We have been introduced to the vendors that this mission deals with in providing the basic furnishings for the apartments.
One challenge here is that most (as in 98%) of all money transactions are in cash. Not many places to use the credit card. And there is no WalMart to get everything you need. We buy meat at the meat market, produce at the farmers market, and the rest of our groceries (what little is available) at the grocery. They have no cheese here other than processed stuff like Velveeta. The only milk we can get is in a box on the shelf. Their tomatoes are very small, much like Roma tomatoes. Most items come in small sizes. We guess it is because they can't afford to buy big quantities, nor do they have the space for them at home.
Here in Cauayan City there is no American food. There are about 5 McDonalds in our mission. We do pass them in our travels. A new "mall" is opening here in May. It is supposed to have a KFC. We do have a JolliBee which is the Philippino knock off of McDonalds. We did eat in McDonalds when we were in Manila. It has spaghetti, fried chicken and rice, along with a similar rendition of a Big Mac, Double Cheeseburger, and Quarter Pounder.
In Tagalog, the addition of the word "po" makes any word or phrase polite. So we greet everyone with "hello po". Most Philippinos can at least understand some English or will get a friend who does. They are very shy about speaking it--lacking confidence. Our missionaries here come from 17 different countries. The mission has a program for them to learn English while they are here. This makes them more employable and enables them to be better church leaders when they go home. We will be working with the administration of this program also.