In spite of the moving chaos, I couldn't let this month finish without recognizing that 20 years ago this week, Greg came home from his mission in Cebu, Philippines.
When we're settled and stable, I plan to update this post with highlights Greg remembers from his 2 year experience proselytizing for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the meantime, you'll have to take a few of my recollections and some of my favorite photos.
These photos did not scan well - Greg looks too pale. They also don't come close to representing the excitement I felt every time I opened his letters. He worked incredibly hard in very humid, hot conditions. His favorite areas were Lapu Lapu, Cebu City, Carmen and Dumaguete. He still talks about how blue the ocean was around the islands.
He made life long friends with his companions and roommates. He survived living in Carmen for 4 months with almost no food and supplies. He was chased by a few killer-fighting monkeys. Fell in love with baby goats. Crawled out of a severe case of walking pneumonia half way through his mission. Became a devoted fan of the Coca-Cola drink, Lift (we've never been able to find it in the States). Nearly died from bad Jeepney drivers. Was miraculously saved while biking home late one night in the dark. Had a lady cancel on an appointment with him by literally moving her entire house to who knows where. And he lived through several disastrous typhoons.
Food over there is not complex or gourmet by any stretch of the imagination. If you ask Greg to make you a traditional Filipino meal, he'll make hot dogs and rice with soda on the side. I never push him on this. I know there were months he survived on just Top Ramon and some rice. Greg wouldn't eat rice for several years after he got home - I think he'd had enough.
But above all, I felt through Greg's letters, his growing knowledge of the daily workings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He was most moved by the members of the church and how much they sacrifice for their faith. They are happy in spite of so much poverty. They are blessed. And they are quick to credit all they have to their faith.
Lucky me that I got to share in his experiences through so many wonderful letters!