Sunday, December 6, 2015

 
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! I actually started an email last week before Thanksgiving but then our internet went down and it is down at the Church so I couldn’t send it. Someone came out and fixed it. Actually it was just the adapter I think, but we didn’t know that. But, at least for now, and the next 3 weeks it will be good.

Our Thanksgiving was a lot of fun! The Wolcotts invited us and the Atkinsons to Thanksgiving dinner there in Puerto. It was really good! No turkey, just chicken, but everything tasted so good, and I have not eaten that much for a long time. I made pies – pumpkin and a chocolate cream pie that Sister Hiatt gave me the recipe for, and also Apple Crisp. I couldn’t make apple pie because I didn’t have any more shortening. But it was good. We stayed in Puerto Thursday night and brought the Ostlers to Narra Friday evening for District Conference. It was great! We also had Elder Adduru again, which was really surprising but he is such a great speaker and has such a strong testimony. He just has a way of drawing everyone in to what he is saying. The members love him and we had a great turn out. He talked about keeping the Sabbath day holy, which is a big emphasis throughout the Church, I think, and it is so important. I know that when we keep His day holy we show our love for Him and gratitude for all He has given and done for us, and I know also that as we honor His day our lives can change in drastic and important ways.
 
Week before last was good. It was fun getting to know the Atkinsons a little better. They are really spunky. We traveled to Brooke’s Point, Cabar, Quezon and Rizal for apartment inspections. They are a little concerned about making the trip to Rizal every transfer because of his injuries, I think, and the road is SO bumpy, and President may just tell them to go every other transfer or something. They have officially taken over that responsibility, but we will be going to Rizal on the 13th of December, which is after the upcoming transfer, so we will offer to take care of the apartment check when we are there. We had another weeding activity at the property but not many showed up. I think we will have to finish the weeding ourselves if we are going to get the garden planted before we leave. People are busy, and it is a lot of work. But, it will be so beneficial if they will just be willing to learn and then do the work. 

The Primary program was great! It is always  good. And it was all done in English! Pretty impressive for all those children. It is so fun to hear them speak English. Our training afterwards was good, but not a very good turn out, which is too bad, especially for Narra, being the biggest branch in the district. And we had so many people there for the Primary program because Sandoval joined with Narra for the program and then some of the less actives came because their kids had parts. We were packed! But, I understand no one wants to stay for another meeting after 3 hours. Oh well, we are half way done with the trainings. 

Just a side note, they are planning to expand the Narra chapel. I’m not sure when they will get started but it has definitely been decided that they will do it, and they really need to. It is too small just for our branch, let along district conference. This year they held District Conference in Aborlan because they expanded their building – finished it shortly after we arrived here, and it is bigger than Narra. So hopefully they will start soon. 

We did not do our TP visits  two Sundays ago because Brother Palo was sick. But we were able to do those, and also the visits with Brother and Sister Corpuz yesterday. They were all good visits! And the last teaching visits before they go to the temple. Brothers Gineza and Lagan were both ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood and it was really interesting when we visited the Lagans. Brother Lagan is a convert but his wife has been a member for a while, mayber her whole life, I am not sure. He has always been kind of shy and very quiet. I have wondered if he was doing this just for his wife or what, but as we visited last night he was just different. He seemed to have more confidence. He answered questions and shared some things. I believe that it was receiving the Melchizedek priesthood. Sister Lagan said how grateful she was that now if they needed a blessing he would be able to do it. And you could tell he felt good about that. They also shared their testimony about tithing. Since they have moved here he has not been able to find work. Before they moved here he had worked but worked on Sundays and so became less active. She has found work that is close by so she doesn’t have to pay fare to get to work and she is close enough that she can come home and nurse their baby. She said that she makes just 4,000php a month for their family of 3, which is about $100.00. She does not know how they get by but they always do with some money left over. He has been able to pick up a few side jobs. Anyway, it was just so good to hear their testimonies and see the changes in Brother Lagan.  We have 1 more visit with 3 more families, which we will do next Saturday and Sunday (hopefully) and we are done with them. We know that they have had many challenges, temporal and spiritual, as they have been preparing to attend the temple. But we know the Lord is blessing them and we just keep praying for them. It is so important. 

At District Conference the Rizal branch was asked to provide a choir. On Saturday as they were singing I looked through the group and saw all but one husband and the handicapped brother singing in the choir. I just felt like you could see it in their faces, the joy they had, as well as the peace and gratitude for being able to receive the blessings of the temple. Afterwards one of the sisters came up and just thanked us for helping them to get to the temple. We really didn’t do much, paperwork and encouragement, but it was just so wonderful to see and feel the joy. We both were crying. Sometimes we take these precious blessing for granted. I wish you could all have seen them, before and after. There was just something about them, in the expressions, their countenance, and even in the way they were standing – with more conviction and dedication. It probably sounds silly but it was powerful to me.

Well, we have transfers on Wednesday, probably a cooking class on Saturday, as well as more work at the garden. Plus trying to get some cleaning etc done around here. Oh, and we also got paperwork for two families in the Quezon branch that are preparing to go to the temple in January, so we are excited about that. Next Sunday we go to Quezon for the home/visiting teaching training.

We hope you are all doing well! The time is passing so quickly! We are so excited to see you all again and be with you! Family is what it is ALL about!!!!

We love and miss you more than words can explain!
Love,
Dad and Mom,
Grandpa and Grandma
P.S. You have one more week to make guesses on what we saw a few weeks ago that we have not seen since we have been in the Philippines. So far, no one has guessed it. Love you all!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A great week!

Dear Family,

So, we are on our way home from Brookes. We had our H/V teaching training there. We were planning to attend all of our meetings there but last night we got a text from one of the elders there asking us to pick up some medication for him. Up until about 6 months ago you could get almost any medication except for narcotics without a prescription but then they passed a law that you  needed a prescription. Sister Lemmon, our mission nurse, said they do that periodically here, so in Brooke’s they follow the law – at least that one. But in Narra only one of the drug stores does. So anyway, we got the text after the stores were closed and we figured they would open about 8am so we decided we would stay in Narra for Sacrament meeting and then head or Brookes. Turns out the store opens at 6am so we could have made it, but, we didn’t know. Oh well, it was good to attend in Narra.
The cooking class was fun! Everyone loves the Spudnuts! And they had a lot of fun making them.  They talked about starting a spudnut business. I don’t know if it is just me, but they seem better here to me. They definitely raise better, but maybe that is because of the heat and humidity. Anyway, it was fun. We had a good visit with the Manralls.They are struggling because they had harvested their rice and then we got all that rain so it didn’t dry properly so it is damaged which means they will get a lot lower price for it. It’s hard because for those who just planted the rain was good, but or those that just harvested it was detrimental, and there are a lot of people who just harvested. Everywhere we go there is rice out drying. Dad said there was a pretty good turn out at the weeding activity Saturday afternoon. We will weed again next week – the RS gets to help this time – and then I think they plan to plant the first weekend in December because the 28th is district conference.. I sure hope so. The gardening has not gone as we had hoped, but there does seem to be some interest now.
Our training in Brooke’s’ went pretty well. It is so hard for the members to sit through another 1 ½ hours after just finishing 3 hours of meetings, but so far they have been really good. They participate well and don’t seem to bothered that they have to stay for ANOTHER MEETING! I can’t remember if I explained this to you, but we had planned on doing it every Saturday, a different branch  each week. Our first was in Aborlan and there were 2 people that showed up, about 45 minutes late. The district president lives in that branch and he came later. He said he thought we should just do it on Sunday after meetings because people can’t afford to travel twice in one week. So we thought we could have a luncheon after the training. We thought that would make the members more willing to stay. But the branches don’t have the money and the district won’t cover it so… But the turn out so far has been pretty good.

This  coming week appears, at least at this point, to be a little slower, which is really good because we have got to get things done in the apartment – deep cleaning, organizing, etc.

Dad had a little bit of a scare last week. He found a LIVE scorpion under one of the gas cans outside.We leave our walking shoes outside and he leaves a couple of other pairs of shoes out that he can just slip  into. We decided we better start checking them carefully before putting them on. We have seen several around, not on our property, and they have all been dead so we haven’t worried about it too much. We will be more careful. This was smaller than the one we sent a picture of, but still pretty good size compared to the ones we’ve seen in the US.

Now it is Tuesday and we are home from our District Meeting. It was really good! We got a new district leader last transfer but this is the first DM we have been able to attend since then. Elder Bolnick is really great! He is a convert of only 2 years. He is the only member in his family. He is from the US and we haven’t really heard his story, but we know that he was living with a friend in Utah before he came on his mission. I think he said he moved there when he was 16. He is really dedicated and works hard. We have met some really, really incredible missionaries here. Some from the US and some from the Philippines or other countries. There have been quite a few that are the only member in their family. Elder Jim said that his grandma beat him when he got baptized, but it was ok because he knew it was true. It is a pleasure working with them.

We found out a that one of our referrals is actually being taught! They have been to church once or twice. That is pretty exciting for us! I think they are the first ones that have come to church. A lot of times the people here will say yes, they would like to hear the message and the missionaries can visit them but when the missionaries text them they either don’t respond or tell them they are busy or whatever. Or they let them come once or twice and then tell them they are not interested. So, we are hoping this goes somewhere. Our mission goal for December is to have a White Christmas – 2 baptisms from each companionship on December 26th. After Christmas, but still would be awesome. We wont be here but we are trying to do more OYM’s and will fast for this goal.

The rest of the week will be busy! Appointment with President Bunquin, our new BP, visits with Narra C and the Gattuds tomorrow. Thursday we will take the Atkinsons to do apartment inspections in Brookes, Cabar, Quezon and Rizal. Friday will be prep for the training on Sunday and things here. Saturday Dad has meetings in the morning and then we will have the service project. Sunday we get to stay in Narra for church since our HT/VT training is here, and it is the Primary program. I’m excited about that. We missed it last year because we had to go to Rizal. On Monday the elders want to do an activity here – donuts and a movie. I think it has become a tradition! That’s ok. It is fun to have them and we won’t be here much longer. We love it here, and we really love the people, but we CANNOT WAIT TO GO HOME!!!! We are so excited!!

Well, it continues to rain here. We are in another rainy season. How is the weather there? Well, we have only received guesses from the Drysdales about what we saw a few weeks ago that we hadn’t seen the whole time we have been here. So, I will give you one more week to submit your guesses. Good Luck!!!

Well, better run. There’s always something to be done. We hope you are all doing well and staying healthy!
We love you all SO VERY MUCH!!! And miss you more than you can know!!! We are so looking forward to our reunion!

Love,
Grandpa and Grandma,

Dad and Mom or Sir and maam – that’s what the kids call us

Friday, November 13, 2015

Busy! Busy!

November 11, 2015

Well, we have had quite a week! We actually saw something that we have not seen in the Philippines since we have been here. It was a big surprise! Can you guess what it is??? I bet not. I think I will have you guess. You can guess as many times as you want. If you guess right, we will bring you some Filipino candy! I will tell you the answer next week, if I don’t forget. If I do you can remind me. Another surprising experience – which is unimportant, actually both of these things are totally unimportant, just surprising. I’ve told you about Suhat, it is like Pumalo or Pumelo, I can’t remember what it is in the US, but the big green grapefruit like fruit that has a really thick skin and is citrus, but pretty dry, not very juicy. Well we have eaten a lot of suhat because I miss grapefruit and it’s all we can find here. But it is dry and not sweet, although some has been better than others. Well, on Wednesday we went on visits with the Gattuds and they gave us one off their tree. It was amazing! The skin was a little thicker than a grapefruit, but not bad, and it was so juicy and sweet. It was masarap! We really thought that they were just dry and not sweet, but this one was so good. So, 2 totally unimportant and irrelevant things, but sometimes there are irrelevant but interesting things in life. 
So, I started this letter on the way to Brookes Point on, I think it was October 31st but I am not sure. I had planned on finishing it and sending it last week, but we have been so busy and I just didn’t get it done. And now, this week is half over so, I’d better finish it and get it sent. We had found a place for the new couple that we thought would be it! We didn’t see inside it but the elders did and said it would be good. They were renovating it but it would be ready in 2 -3 weeks. That was all information from the caretaker. So we scheduled an appointment with the owners to talk about it and for us to see it. But when we got there the family sent someone out to tell us that the apartment was no longer available. The missionaries were under the impression that it was because we were “Mormon Missionaries” and the father is a minister of another religion. So that was down the tube. Anyway, we couldn’t find anything else. We did get the manager of the lodge to go down to 25,000/month, which isn’t a huge drop from the 30,000, but, the daily price is 1350/night, which is 40,500/month, so 25,000/month is a significant discount. So, we let President Ostler know our results and he said to go ahead and move them into the lodge. He said they may just stay there for the 3 to 4 months they are there. And the Atkinsons FINALLY made it to Narra. As often happens in the Philippines, things don’t happen according to plan. Their car was being shipped from Manila and was suppose to be there on Friday or Saturday. So we went to Puerto on Friday to get a chest xray because they are required for us to go home. We were going to stay overnight and meet the Atkinsons and Wolcotts (who had been in Manila) at the airport and bring them back to Narra and then to Brooke’s Point. However, the car did not arrive. We got word Friday afternoon that it wouldn't be there until late Saturday night so the Wolcotts said they would have the Atkinsons stay until Monday so they could get their driver’s license and then bring them out. But, the car didn’t actually arrive until Tuesday evening I think. So they came out yesterday and we took them to Brookes Point. They are a great couple! They have been on 2 missions to Malasia. They were planning on going on another mission last year but Elder was doing some kind of construction work, helping his son, and he fell off a ladder from high up and broke both feet, both hips, I think, his back and I think an arm, maybe there was more. And he is older – actually they are the oldest couple in the mission right now. They had to pin one foot back together, the other one wasn’t too bad, and I think they had to replace both hips, but I am not sure about that. But, he was determined. He apparently healed really fast and gets around pretty well. They are really determined and spunky. And, come to find out, their daughter lives in Mendon and Nyree knows her. Her son is in Audrey’s class. The Atkinsons have 11 children – 9 daughters and 2 sons. And all but one live in Utah, most of them pretty close to the Atkinsons! I’m jealous! Anyway, they are great and I know the members will love them. We got them settled into their little room. They seemed pretty  tired when we left, but they were going to go out with the missionaries.

I think the rest of our mission is going to be pretty busy! More busy than usual. On Saturday I have a cooking class, Dad has a service project at the Church property, and we have a visit to one of the temple prep families that we have yet to visit because they are never available, and we have a movie night at the church. We are showing “Meet the Mormons” and inviting members, nonmember and investigators. Not sure if we will make it to that because it conflicts somewhat with our appointment. On Sunday  we will travel to BP again for our HT/VT training. Our one in Cabar went pretty well last Sunday. I was concerned about doing it after 3 hours of meetings, but the members actually did really well and participated well. We had a brown-out so were not able to show the videos we had planned, which was a good thing because it would have made it much longer. As it was it was 1 ½ hours. We have made some adjustments in the training so hopefully it will stay at 1 ½ hours and we will only show 2 short videos. Every Sunday from now until we go home we will travel to one of the branches to do the training, except Nov 29th, which is district conference.

It has been REALLY raining here the past 2 or 3 weeks. Unbelievably so. Lots of flooding. Hopefully it will dry out a little. We thought  we were out of the rainy season!

Well, we love and miss you all SO MUCH!!!

Hope things are going well for all of you.

Can’t wait to see you all again!

Love,

Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Christmas!

September 29, 2015

So, officially we have less than 3 months before we will return home. Honestly I cannot believe it. The time has gone by  so  fast! You don’t need to worry – we are not getting trunky! There is still so much work we need to do  here. But, we do need to make preparations for our return. When the young missionaries have 4 transfers left President encourages them to start thinking about what they are going to do when they get home, to apply  for college, take the tests they need to take or whatever. Of course he expects them to NOT get trunky and finish strong, but they have to make plans. Obviously it is very different for us, although I have wondered what is in store for us next. But we will worry about that later. I would  like to start making plans for our reunion. I have asked a friend of mine from our ward in Idaho to see if we can reserve the church for December 24th and the 26th. I know the older girls  have talked and probably planned to have a Christmas program on the 24th. I am so excited about that! I hope everyone can participate. We will be speaking in church on the 27th so we will invite extended family out and will have a luncheon on the 26th. Both of these are scheduled from noon till about 6pm. I thought that would be better so we are not getting home late and then trying to get the kids ready for bed. Hopefully we will be able to schedule the church. As for the food, my plan is to have nachos on Christmas eve, (a tradition),  prime rib and chicken on Christmas day, and ham and turkey on the 26th, with whatever to go along with the meat on both days. For those staying longer, and you are all welcome to! We would love to have you for as long as you can! But we can figure out the rest of the food after Sunday. So I would like to know what sounds good to everyone, side dishes, deserts, etc. I don’t know that we can have everything everyone wants but hopefully something that sounds good to everyone – including the kids. So if you can just send me an email and then I will figure things out. Of course all the shopping will have to be done before we get home but I will ask for help and send you the money. Also please let me know how long you will each be staying because I want to have a family picture –  I know some don’t like pictures but we haven’t all been together for soooooo long, and who knows what the future brings, so we need to plan the day for that as well. I think we are going to be exhausted when we get home so I think you will all be having to do the work, but I am so excited!!! I really can’t let myself think about it too much. Well, I am sure there are many other things we need to plan. Let me know what you are thinking and planning, other than food. That is always first on my list J.
Love you all!!!

Warning!!!! This is a REALLY long one!

October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween Everyone!!!
We hope you send us pictures of all of you in your costumes! When we were in Puerto for transfers we noticed some Halloween costumes in one of the stores so maybe some of the people there celebrate, but I don’t know if they trick-or-treat. I got an email from someone, don’t remember who, but it showed something that looked like Halloween candy – the little smartee like candy that is shaped like skulls, bones, etc. Anyway the email said that it is some kind of drug and it could kill a child. Just a warning. It is a sad thing, but we need to be aware and be careful. Do the kids still have Halloween parties in school?
Well, transfer day was crazy! We had to be to the airport in Puerto by 5:30am, which meant leaving here about 3:45am because we picked up a couple of elders in Aborlan. Then we had two groups of missionaries coming to Puerto – one about 4pm and the other about 6pm, I think. With the truck we cannot take many elders down or back so sometimes we just take luggage. Since we had 8 new missionaries and all their trainers were new trainers and had to be in Puerto for new trainer training, we just planned to take luggage. All missionaries are suppose to be in their apartments by 9:30pm. With the flight coming in at 6pm those going to Narra and past would all travel to Narra and spend the night here with the Narra elders. However, there were 2 or 3 delays in the 6pm flight so they ended up not getting in until about 8:30pm so there was no way they could make it to Narra in time, besides the fact that there were no shuttles leaving that late. So, they had them stay with the Puerto elders. And, since they all wanted their luggage for the night we ended up not bringing back any luggage. But we did take a ton of luggage and some of the missionaries to the Puerto apartments. We got home about 11:30pm that night. It was a LONG day! It is so strange to think about that we only have 1 more transfer to do. And actually, we may not do it. We may just have the Atkinsons do it. Probably though, we will have them come to Narra and then ride with us, or we will ride with them to Puerto so they can learn the routine. Not sure how they will handle it from Brooke’s Point but they will figure it out. Right now President only plans to have them in Brookes Point for 4 months and then come back to Narra. But, they will work with the Aborlan branch, which is only about 20 minutes away. That brings up the apartment hunting in Brookes. There just isn’t much available. We had about decided to rent the small new apartment that I mentioned last letter, but we found out that it had just been rented L L L. The elders there found another apartment, but it is smaller than the first. It is just one big room with a couch, two beds, a tiny table, a sink and small counter, and a small bathroom. They actually call the bathroom a CR (comfort room) here. They cannot cook in it because of ventilation, but there is a cooking area across the street that they can use. I am really not excited about it but we may have to take it. It does have air con and they said that we can bring in a fridge and we can install an on-demand water heater. That is what they use here, and they are actually pretty nice. I don’t know what they cost, but I’ve heard that they are very cost efficient and they are convenient – at least the ones here are. I don’t know about in the US. They want 13,000php/month, which is high for the size and the area. We were paying just 7,500/php for the house we rented for the elders there. It just went up to 8,500, and doesn’t include utilities which the other one does, but it is still high. We checked out the lodge – we actually stayed the night there. It is nice but would be about 30,000/mon, which President is willing to do if it is the best option. But we are going there again tomorrow to see what we can find. The elders have been diligent in looking, it is just hard to find something suitable. We are running out of time, and we found out earlier this week that they are coming on the 7th, which is a week from Saturday, instead of the 9th. It is only 2 days diference, but I am kind of stressing about it. But I know it will all work out.
We had 4 GREAT temple prep visits on Sunday. They are excited but some of the shyer (is that a word?) – more shy ones are a little nervous. Actually, I think they are all a little nervous, but some are more so. We also got a new branch president on Sunday. The first counselor, Brother Bunquin, was called, and Brother Tana is his first counselor. They haven’t called the 2nd counselor yet. We will miss President Andres. He did a lot for the branch here.
We think the Rizal branch members are in Manila now, and will go to the temple tomorrow. But we have had a few problems this week and last, getting them there. First of all, no one had heard anything about the TPA funds (Temple Patron Assistance). So I called the brother at the area office who is over that and he said he had not received the forms, which are suppose to be in the area office AT LEAST one month before their scheduled date. We had sent them to President Ostler for his signature a month and a half ago. We are not sure what happened, but Brother Santos at the area office did not have them. So President sent them again. Two days later Brother Santos sent us an email indicating the funds had been approved. But it is a long process to get the funds. If the branch has that much in their account they can withdraw it and be reimbursed. They never have that much. If the District has that much they can withdraw it for the branch and then receive reimbursement, but if the District doesn’t have it they have to send a written request to someone else to have the money deposited. In this case, because of the late date, they contacted the brother by phone and he had the money sent via a western union type company. But by this past Monday they still had not received the money (and they were leaving on Wed to go to Puerto). Anyway, they got the funds. So, they got to Puerto. The Galzote family had not been able to interview with Pres. Caduada of the mission presidency, so we set up an appointment with him for them at 5pm last night. We didn’t hear anything last night so figured it was all fine. About 8am this morning we get a call from the Rizal elders saying that Pres Caduada had told the Galzotes that their oldest daughter, Yumi, could not be sealed to them because she was too old and had not received her own endowments. We had not heard that. So I checked her birthdate, she is 20, and called the temple. The sister explained to me that at 20 she could still be sealed to her parents but at 21 she could not unless she had received her own endowment. We learned something new. Anyway, we contacted President Caduada. He said none of the children had recommends – 8 years old and up have to have a recommend signed by the bp and a member of the mission presidency to be sealed. He said he had told the Galzotes to contact their bp because he didn’t go to Puerto until today, and have him bring his recommend book so they could get recommends.  They had done that but by 9am he still hadn’t arrived. But, he arrived, and they were all able to get their recommends. We think President Cadauada had maybe gotten mixed up, thinking the age limit was 18, but we don’t know why the confusion with that, and we don’t know why the bp didn’t do the interviews for the children, but, it all worked out.
 Also, earlier I had had  to call the temple to verify that their records now indicated that one of the members had received the Melchizedek priesthood and that they had the membership record of a young son of one of the families, because previously the temple had said they did not have that. So we had contacted the branch president and were told it was taken care of, but we needed to verify it. Later I had to call the temple to find out their initiatory, endowment, and sealing schedules. The brother I spoke to asked if patron housing had contacted me with the schedule. I said no and he indicated that they always send the schedule. He asked if we had reservations at patron housing, I said yes and he asked if I had the reservations confirmed and I said yes. I can’t remember what he said exactly, but he led me to believe that there was no record of the reservations. He said he would contact housing and someone would contact me that day. No one did. I went back and checked my emails just to verify that I had received confirmation and I had, so I felt better about that. The next day was transfers and I forgot about it. So on Thursday I called and all was good.
So far as we know, they are all in Manila now. Hopefully there will be no more hitches.They will go to the temple tomorrow morning at 7:30am.
Well, that was a long story. And a longer email. Sorry! I just ramble on. We hope you all have a great Halloween and a great weekend!
We love and miss you all so much!!!
Love,

Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Just an Update

October 20, 2015

Kumusta po kayong lahat???
Mabuti kami talaga! We are doing much better than many people on the mainland, where the super typhoon hit. The death toll has stayed low compared to the typhoon in 2013 – 16 so far. But that is expected to rise as they receive reports from the outlying areas. The biggest problem with this typhoon is it is moving very slowly across the Philippines, allowing it dump A LOT of rain, which is causing flooding, flash floods and landslides. We saw a video yesterday of police in water up to their chests, trying to rescue people. We also read of a family that were putting their pigs on tires trying We to save their hog farm. Many of the rice fields are destroyed from what we hear. It will be so hard on these people who are already so poor. But we did hear that after the typhoon in 2013 the church went in and of course helped rebuild the nipa huts, but also started a program to train people for on how to do construction and other occupations so many of the people are doing much better financially than they were before the typhoon. If I remember correctly the people had to go through the course and if they completed it the church provided them with their personal tools so they can work. It is amazing to me how the Lord works! We have had some wind and rain, but nothing out of the ordinary. I think I have told you, everyone here says Palawan never has any of the natural disasters that are frequent in the Philippines. The word NEVER makes me nervous, but from the direction the typhoons typically come, at least the ones we have followed, Palawan is kind of protected. We are thankful for that.
Our cooking class was a lot of fun! With every one that I have held I always get so stressed about it, and wish they would cancel. But EVERY SINGLE ONE has been so much fun! Sister Fetalco also came and we just had a good visit and emjoyed the time together. Sister Fetalco’s husband works in – I can’t remember now – but out of the country and she only sees him about once a month. She said he has been taught the gospel and has said when he returns he would like to learn more. We hope it all works out. She has a really good family. We have got to get pictures of all these people so you can see them!
Unfortunately, ALL of our Sunday visits were cancelled. The sisters of both of the couples that teach were sick, and also the daughter of one of the families was also sick. Hopefully we can get some of them this Sunday. The other 2 we will just visit on our regular day, the first Sunday of the month. They will just have to combine the lessons. Last Thursday we had some great visits with the Narra C elders. We visited a family that was having some struggles because of some gossip (which is called tsismis in Tagalog – it is pronounced cheece-meece) in the branch. We were able to talk to them and hopefully help them understand that it is Satan that is working on them because he does not want them to become and eternal family. They are just the cutest little couple! She is in her early 50’s and not sure how old he is. Afterwards she gave me a big hug and the brother gave Dad a big hug. It was just really awesome. We then went with them to visit an investigator who is the sister of the sister we had just visited. It was a good lesson, but not sure how interested they were. But we shall see. The woman’s son, in his 20s I think, had been bitten by a cobra. It was wrapped up but Dad got a little bit of a look at it and said it didn’t look very good. I’m not sure it was a cobra because one of the members or missionaries told us they say every snake is a cobra. Still, it definitely would not be a good thing. The elders told us in that area where we were – we had to walk a little distance – they have seen a lot of snakes! It was dark when we went there so I was a little nervous about that, but, we were blessed.
Yesterday the Narra missionaries came over to learn how to make Chicken Pot Pie. We had served that for our last missionary luncheon and they really liked it. So they bought the stuff and came over. It really turned out well. They ended up being here for quite awhile but it was fun.  
Tomorrow we will go to Puerto for transfers. I think we are getting 8 brand new missionaries! I guess this was the biggest group of missionaries leaving this transfer and the biggest group coming in, at least for President Ostler. I honestly do not know how he keeps going. The first of October he had missionary interviews in Puerto, and also the district conference there, along with interviews for members and leaders of the church in Puerto. Then he came out here for interviews. He went back and had to prepare for MLC. Then transfers and all the missionaries leaving. I don’t know when he has time to sleep. We really love him and Sister Ostler. They are amazing people.
Saturday we will go to Aborlan for the district RS activity I think I told you about in my last letter. Next week we will go to Brooke’s and Quezon again to continuing looking for a place for the Atkinsons. We found one possibility in Brookes. It is actually a new little place, but the key word there is little. But it is in a safe area, and I think we would be fine with it. We have to measure the bedroom though to see if a bed will fit in it. We also saw one in Quezon that looked nice on the outside but no one was home so we don’t know if it would be suitable. With transfers this week we didn’t want to burden the elders with loking and going with us, but we have asked them to see what they can find the rest of this week and we plan to go there on Monday and Tuesday. We really need to find something as it is only about 2 ½ weeks before the Atkinsons will come.
Well, that’s about it for now. I will try to send pictures next week. We hope you are all doing well! We know you are all very busy! We love and miss you so much!!!
Love,
Dad and Mom,
Grandpa and Grandma

Masarap talaga!

October 8, 2015
Dear Family,
Well, another week has past! It was a really busy week! But a good one. Our trips to Quezon, Rial, Brooke’s Point, Cabar and Aborlan were good. It was a little frustrating at Aborlan though. Since we had planned to go out with the Narra C elders Wednesday evening we decided to go to Aborlan abound 5:30pm because they are only about half an hour away and then we would pick up the elders on our way back, at about 6:30, because their apartment is about half way between our house and Aborlan. But when we got to Aborlan we found that they had broken their back door knob. It didn’t even latch, let alone lock. They had some barbells pushed up against the door – like that is going to keep anyone out! They hadn’t let us know about it so we didn’t have a new lock or tools or anything. But we found that there were locking doors on the the bedrooms so we were able to take one off and replace it. Dad had to go around to the neighbors to borrow a screw driver. They are suppose to have one in the apartment but we could only find a little one that would not work. The knobs were an old style and were very difficult to get off. So we ended up having to cancel going with Narra C. We felt bad about that but we felt that having a locking back door was more important.
Something that I forgot to mention in my last email. I  had an interesting experience while I was fixing the missionary luncheon on Monday. I was using my mixer and I noticed some black flecks falling into what I was mixing so I looked at the bottom of the mixer and there was some chocolate stuff on it. So I took the beaters out and started to  clean the bottom of the mixer and noticed there was something up inside where the beaters go in. I thought it was just some of the chocolate so I got a toothpick and started digging and it was this huge bug of some kind. It was so disgusting. It was pretty mashed but I could still tell it was big! I wonder now if that was the black flecks that were falling into whatever it was I was mixing. Oh well, I guess it didn’t hurt anyone.
Some have asked if we have eaten any interesting things lately. Well, not really. We try to avoid the “interesting” foods here. We do eat a lot of fresh, raw coconut. The church property has a lot of coconut trees. Actually there are a lot of coconut trees all around here and a lot of the coconut just goes to waste. But we have gathered some of them up at the property. They are so good! People here don’t really like the mature coconut, called niyog. They like buko, or young coconut. Dad thinks it is alright but I do not like it at all. It is soft and mushy and not much flavor. We also eat a lot of singkamas. In the tagalog dictionary singkamas means turnip, and I guess it is, but in America a singkamas is called Jicama. They are really good. We grate them with some carrots, - mostly singkamas though, and put in a can of crushed pinapple. Then dad adds some brown sugar and I think that’s all. It is really good, and the singkamas stays really crisp or several days, even after grating. We had heard about singkamas fries so we tried those last night, but didn’t really like them. But it is good sliced and put into vinegar, like we do cucumbers. Masarap talaga! We tried a new fruit last week, called an atis. I will try to remember to send you a picture. It tastes like most of the other fruit here. Actually, there are so many seeds and really very, very little fruit. It is definitely NOT worth the trouble. But they have an interesting look so we had to try it. Right now is not a very good time for fruit, and I really miss it! No mango, no watermelon, no pineapple L. I am hoping something comes on before we go home. We will miss the mango and pineapple here. The watermelon is good, but I think it is better in the US. We are looking forward to having some fresh citrus – oranges and grapefruit. What citrus they have here is very old and very expensive.  Another thing we eat pretty regularly are roasted peanuts. I guess you would call them roasted. They grow a lot of peanuts here. The way we have seen them cooked here is they boil them in the shell and then eat them. We don’t like them that way. But we can buy bags of shelled peanuts that are fresh and raw. We cook them in our toaster oven without salt or oil and they are really good. We usually take them on our trips with us. Dad eats a lot of papaya, but I do not like it at all. Actually we have cut up green papaya in our soup and it really doesn’t have much flavor like that, so it is ok.
This week has been crazy! That’s why I was not able to write until now. Sunday evening President Ostler came to Narra. He had Elder and Sister Wolcott bring him out so we had them all for dinner. Sister Ostler was not able to cone with hin this time. On Monday we had interviews. We don’t actually interview with President, but they usually have us involved in some way, teaching a class or something. This time we met with each of the missionaries to see how their language training is going and to go over their 72 hour packs. There were not many who had a complete pack, which was too bad. Those whose pack was not complete had 200php deducted from their support. The area is just really pushing to make sure the packs are complete and up to date. We ended up throwing away a lot of outdated food. On Tuesday we took President to Puerto to catch his flight back to Manila. We had brunch with the Wolcotts and got to know them a little better. They are great! Yesterday we had plans for the whole day since we didn’t have a p-day and needed to get some things done, as well as go on our usual visits with the Gattuds and Narra C. But we got a text about mid-morning that it was district meeting. DM is usually on Tuesday but because they spent their pday in interviews they had pday on Tuesday and DM on Wednesday. So, it was a busy day, but a good one. Today we have been able to get caught up a little bit, which has been nice. 
Oh, and this morning we got our travel itinerary! This is the schedule:
Wednesday, December 23 – Departure: 8:45am – Manila; Arrival 10:55am – Hong Kong
                            Departure: 1:05pm – Hong Kong; Arrival: 9:40am(December 23) Los Angeles, CA
                            Departure 4:05pm – Los Angeles; Arrival: 7:20pmBoise, ID – YIPPEEEEE!!!!!
Hopefully weather and everything will be good and there will be no delays. Not sure what we are going to do because we have no cell phone to travel home with. I guess we will figure it out.
Anyway, these next 3 months are going to be very busy. We need to find a place for the new couple. President wants them to start in another branch, since we will still be here when they arrive. And we will need to get it set up. Then we will be training them and helping them get familiar with the area and their responsibilities. We will also continue to work with the members preparing to go to the temple. As well as taking care of TPA’s and travel arrangements for members from other branches. And Dad just got a call this morning from the District president. He would like us to attend the finalization meeting for the YSA conference at the end of this month. It will be on Sunday right after General Conference, and it is in Puerto. So we will travel to Puerto early Sunday morning so we can watch all of both sessions of conference and then go to the meeting afterward. We may or may not get an assignment to help with the conference. We did last year but this year they have a member of the 70 coming, at least for one day, maybe both, but who knows.
We are really looking forward to conference. We could watch it early on-line, but we never have time. And it is nice to gather with the members to watch it.
Well, better go. Oh, just FYI, our Sunday meetings in Nampa start at 11am, Sacrament meeting first. I have received some input on the menu for Christmas etc. Some have not responded. If you have something specific you would like to have let me know. Otherwise I will just come up with the menu.
We love and miss you SOOOO much, and can’t wait to see you all again!
Love,
Grandpa and Grandma,

Dad and Mom