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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Philippines :: Land of Happiness

We have been planning this trip to the Philipinnes for years...literally! Braden's uncle and aunt were assigned as LDS Mission Presidents there for three years and we knew they were leaving in June this year so we had to find a time to visit them before they left. We had so much fun! It so happened that Elder Russell M. Nelson was visiting their mission the week we were there so we ended up only spending a couple days in Naga and then the rest of the time backpacking around the Philippines. 

The best part of the Philippines...the people. As we were walking off the plane from China into Manila, all of the flight attendants stood there cheerfully at 4am saying "Good morning, Ma'am, Good morning, Sir." And every single person we met there had the same happy, sweet disposition. I would go back in a heartbeat just to spend more time with the people.

Here is a little breakdown of part of our trip. 


^ I love the small planes that fly to and from the islands around the Philippines.

One of our favorite activities in Naga was going to the market - we always love to see where the locals go when we travel!

^ Riding a trici to the market

^ This sweet LDS family in Naga - Sister Divine (far right) takes such good care of our Sharon

^ We went through a little drive through the rural parts of Naga and loved the fields of palm trees and adorable little houses

^ Cock fights are very popular in Naga (and probably throughout the Philippines)

Who doesn't love coconut water? One of our favorite treats in developing countries. This cute man took good care of us

President and Sister Reeder at their mission home - here I am about 22 weeks pregnant

^ Braden made a fancy dinner for the Reeders - Sharon loved the flames

^ This is in a little restaurant/shopping plaza - so fun that they have the same statue you can find in Philly!


If we did it again, we would avoid Manila at all costs. We would even stay in the lounge in the airport to avoid leaving to a hotel overnight for early morning flights. A lot of flights to the other islands only come and go from Manila so it cannot be completely avoided but do your best! Even at 3am the traffic is awful...yes, the traffic. There is also not a lot to see in Manila. But here are a few photos from the ~1 day we spent there.

Right before Valentine's day, we spent one evening in Rizal Park, only because we missed visiting the fort because with traffic, it took us almost 2 HOURS to get 3 miles in Manila

American Cemetery

This was Braden's first time in an American cemetery abroad and it was such a cool experience. It is in a ritzy part of town and it is so sacred and peaceful.

Manila LDS Temple

And of course anytime we travel somewhere new, we have to find the closest LDS temple and spend some time there. Such a beautiful, sweet temple. We went to do sealings and one of the workers asked me "Are you in the family way?" I chuckled and said yes, I am pregnant. He was so worried I would not be okay kneeling for the ordinances but I assured him I would be just fine and it was such a special experience in this sweet temple.


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