It’s not often you get to see your hometown through someone else’s eyes, but that’s exactly the experience Ray and Trisha Messamer have had for the last six weeks, through the eyes of their guest Maricel Pajo.
“It was like she opened our eyes and we saw Lovell for the first time,” said Trisha.
The Messamers met Pajo while on an 18-month LDS mission in the Philippines, from August of 2009 through January of 2011. Pajo was also serving as a missionary in the same area near San Pablo. It was the Messamers first mission.
“She (Pajo) was assigned to the same mission area as us and she and her companion invited us to work with them,” explained Ray. “That’s how we met. We just fell in love with both of them, and that’s how we became friends.”
Thirty-two-year-old Pajo is a native of the Philippines, living with her family on Bohol Island, an area made up mostly of many small towns. She said the first thing that stood out to her about the Lovell area was how sparsely populated it was. She said she was not accustomed to seeing so much raw land that was not populated with houses situated close to one another. It’s also much quieter than she is used to experiencing.
“For me, coming from the Philippines, it’s too quiet,” she chuckled.
The Messamers said they enjoyed introducing their new friend, who was fascinated by Wyoming culture, to the unique attributes of their hometown and the surrounding areas. They provided her with a comprehensive Wyoming experience, including everything from milking a cow to tagging along on a hunting trip to experiencing an American-style Thanksgiving dinner, all for the very first time.
Pajo heard an echo for the first time in her life while visiting the Big Horn Canyon. She also saw seven wild horses, 16 bighorn sheep, a rafter of wild turkeys sitting in a tree, deer, antelope, elk, moose and other wild animals that she had never seen before.
While on her hunting expedition, she got a taste of deer heart, which she wasn’t particularly fond of, but later was treated to a delicious venison meatloaf that she enjoyed. She also visited a fish hatchery and caught her limit of fish on the Shoshone River, including a very large rainbow trout.
“When I told my family (about the deer heart), they said ‘ew,’” Pajo said.
She said the Big Horn Mountains looked like “heaven” to her.
“It’s so beautiful here, the sky is so blue and the sunsets are very beautiful,” she said.
It was the first time she had seen a colorful sunset. She also experienced the cold feeling of an early winter during her stay. She made a snow angel for the first time and participated in her first snowball fight, something unheard of in the more tropical climate of her homeland.
Pajo said she particularly enjoyed small town events like watching a Christmas program put on by local elementary school students and observing the Christmas parade in nearby Powell. She also enjoyed a horse drawn wagon ride, another first in her experience. The Messamers took her to see dinosaur tracks in an area near Greybull but had to first explain to her what a dinosaur was.
She said she was struck by the abundance of food available to Americans and enjoyed a variety of foods that seemed very exotic to her like baked potatoes, applesauce and chili.
Most of all, Pajo said she enjoyed meeting the Wyomingites residing in the area.
“The people here are so friendly,” she said. “I made so many friends.”
During a prior visit to the United States in 2017, Pajo also visited friends in Salt Lake City, where she plans to visit again on her way home to the Philippines. She also visited friends in Idaho. Following her visit to Utah, she plans to return to her homeland in late January in time for her father’s 60th birthday.
“I like it here,” she said. “I feel like I’m famous being interviewed by the newspaper.”
By Patti Carpenter