Saturday, December 27, 2014

Maligayan Pakso sa kayong lahat!

December 22, 2014

Maligayan Pakso sa kayong lahat!

We hope you are all doing well! I'm sure things are pretty crazy there about now. The kids here are WILD! They are so excited about the party.  I don't think they really do much for Christmas here so it should be fun.  We are expecting about 25 kids - the number keeps growing. We are fixing spaghetti, Filipino spaghetti, which is REALLY sweet, but that's how they like it. We will just play some games, eat and maybe watch a Christmas movie if we can find one here. We will have a couple of missionaries here just before the party starts to Skype with family so I think I am going to ask them to share the Christmas story with the kids. We want to share the true meaning of Christmas with them, but didn't know how to do it because they don't understand much English, so this would be great. 

We had our mission Christmas party last week.


 The nativity was really beautiful!






We even had a surprise visitor!



I think Sister Ostler bought the costumes before coming here. That was on Tuesday and we stayed in Puerto that night. 

Dad went to the dentist on Wednesday. The dentist said he needs to have the tooth pulled, but his partial hooks to it so he suggested an implant, which is crazy, or another thing which Dad didn't really understand.  So we are just hoping and praying the tooth will hold out until we go home.  He's had this problem before with the tooth and then it settles down for a while. 

We got our new branch presidency and Brother Tana, the recent convert, was called as second counselor!  We were kind of surprised, just because he is so new, but they seem so committed and are really trying to learn the gospel. They attend everything, even the extra meetings and broadcasts.  The president and other counselor are new to the area - the president has only been in Narra for about a month, and the counselor has been here for about 4 months. It may be a little hard for them because some of the older people here are kind of put out that "the new guys" were called.  But I think it will be really good.  I think they will follow the hand book, which doesn't happen here - mostly I think because it is in English and they don't understand, but also because they just continue to do what the past presidency did. We are excited.  

Our BP is really missionary minded.  In the first correlation meeting he talked about the branch becoming a preach my gospel branch. We are still just meeting with 3 families for temple prep. There are several other families we want to meet with but need to meet with our BP first because we found out that the families are required, if possible, to help with the cost of the temple trip so the BP has to meet with them and discuss it and have them commit to what they think they can pay.  So we will wait to visit others until we meet with him. But the 3 families are excited. The husband of one family has to work in Puerto for the next 6 months on probationary terms, and then if he passes they will assign him somewhere, not sure where. So he will be in Puerto through the week and here on weekends.  We told them if they wanted to postpone the lessons we could do that and start up later but they said no, they are committed to going on the date planned and they want to go with the other members of the branch, so that is really good. We love visiting with them, but it is kind of stressful for me trying to teach in Tagalog.  Last night our member couldn't go with us so I texted the families and asked if they wanted to cancel but they said no, it was fine.  One family does pretty good with English but the other one not so well, but things really went pretty good. 

The self-reliance project is moving slowly but it's going. Dad is getting a lot of plants started and already members of the branch want him to come help them plant them in their yards. Some of our neighbors seem interested as well.

Well, it's a different Christmas this year. But the REASON for the season is the same. I have been reading Jesus the Christ and am so in awe of our Savior - His perfect life, His perfect light, His perfect love. We are so blessed in so many ways, but the greatest blessing any of us can receive from our Heavenly Father is the gift of His Son, and His atoning sacrifice.  Without that, there would be no purpose in our life here. We are so blessed to have that knowledge, and we feel so blessed to be able to share that message with the wonderful people of the Philippines. We know that as the Church grow here, the Filipino people will be blessed both temporally and spiritually. One thing that has been hard here is seeing individuals and families who, as they are being taught we know that they feel the Spirit and they know that what they are learning is truth, and the join the church, and then slowly fall away. For all of us, it is so important that we nourish and nurture our testimony every single day. We will not be able to remain steadfast and immovable with out continually feeding our spirit.

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! We have only heard from the Drysdales about skyping but we hope we can Skype, or call for those who do not have Skype, with all of you. Please let us know when you will be available.

We love you and miss you all so much! It is especially hard at this time of year. I think we all feel it.  One of our Elders here was just really talkative the other night when we went visiting with them, and he talked about their Christmas traditions in Tonga. 

Anyway, hope to hear from you soon!

We love you,
Grandpa and Grandma, Dad and Mom 

Self-Reliance Project

December 15, 2014

Dear Family,

How are you all doing??? I bet everyone is getting excited about Christmas!  With the weather here it is hard to really feel like it is Christmas.  I guess I need to get some Christmas music and play it during the day.  That would help. We do have a basket of decorations, but I just haven't had time to go through them. Maybe tonight. 

Well, the typhoon came and went and we didn't feel any effects of it.  But last night we had quite a rain storm.  Lasted all night and some today as well.  Our electricity has been off most of the day and no water, except from the pump outside.  That's how we showered today. Hopefully the water will come back on soon. 

The week was busy!  We found out that the church property where we want to do the self-reliance project was the site for the first Narra chapel, so we figured they probably had water to it. But we checked it out and found nothing so Dad will go today with the Elders (so they can explain in Tagalog) to the water company and see where we need to start and what the cost is going to be. Then if we can get water to it then we need to find out how much it will cost to have the land cleared and tilled. Then, we can start moving forward if President Ostler approves all the costs. If not, then Dad will just hold classes to teach and then go to the members' homes and help them plant. It's getting to be a longer project than what we had anticipated, but if we can get it going I think it will be really good. And then after the gardening, for those who stay with it and really work, they will have the option of learning to raise small animals, like chickens. So we will see how it goes. 

We visited another family, the Pamulags, about the temple preparation and it was a good meeting.  We took the Dagdags with us.  I love this couple.  They are so humble and good.  They live in probably the smallest shack we've seen. And they live far away from the church but he rides his bike every Sunday to church.  Even though they are so poor they have been to the temple 3 times in the last 8 years.  That is amazing because we have to fly or take a boat.  I guess they could have taken a boat, but it is still amazing.  Anyway, the Pamulags were excited about planning to go to the temple.  Brother Pamulag said that is his dream. He got quite emotional during the closing prayer. We are excited for them.  There are other families that we want to meet with as well, but we have to get clarification on the financial assistance. Sister Martinez, who goes with us on Sundays, told us that a couple of years ago a few families were preparing to go to the temple but they were going to have to pay 3/4 of the cost and the Church would cover 1/4, and they could not afford it so they didn't go, and some are less active now. That isn't what we understand it is now, but we don't want to get hopes up and then have that happen. 

These people are so poor and sometimes don't even have money for food. Sister Martinez says here people will often borrow rice from each other because they have no food. I was thinking about a family that we visited last week. They father is not a member and is being taught. They have 9 children, one is married but lives with them. They are less active and very poor.  I thought about it - if even just 5 or 6 of them go to church it would probably cost at least a quarter of their weekly income, maybe more, just for the fare. I wonder how many of us would be active if it cost us a quarter of our weekly income just to go to church. It is hard.  

Anyway, we are hoping that we will have many who will be able to go.  What a blessing for them and for the branch here. We had our second visit with one of the families yesterday, but the other family did not go to church and I didn't have a cell phone number so couldn't text them to remind them, and they said the mother was not there so we will try next week. They seemed really excited, but it is always hard to change. 

Well, we would love to Skype with all of you - not at the same time, of course. If you can let me know days and times you are available that would be great.  We will have the Narra elders here to Skype with their families and then also Brother and Sister Ordanza, who skyped with their daughter who is serving a mission in England, on Mother's day, so I want to try to have some kind of a schedule.  But it will take time for them to figure out times because they can just email once a week.  So if you can let me know what days/times (Christmas day or after) that you are available, that would be great! 

Last week we had about 5 carolers at our gate.  The only song we recognized was we wish you a merry Christmas.  Everything else was Tagalog, and pretty jazzy songs, but it was fun. We gave them a treat. 

We are planning for our neighborhood Christmas party. It will be fun, and the kids are so excited! We really can't give gifts because we don't know how many will show up but we will have a spiritual messages and then a Christmas video if we can find one in Puerto tomorrow, games, spaghetti, and treats. We will try to remember to take pictures and will send them to you.

Well, I always ramble on.  We love and miss you all so much! The Christmas Devotional was so great. There's also a little message called, He is the Gift that is really good too. We hope your Christmas is wonderful and captures the true meaning of Christmas.  We can't wait to see/talk to you!

Love,
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Typhoon Ruby

December 4, 2014

We just received a forwarded email from President Ostler, which he received from Elder Ardern, Area president. There are many areas that are threatened, but there was no mention of Palawan, so we do not believe the typhoon will hit here. We are fervently praying for the people in the threatened areas. From what we could see, it looks like it is about the same area that was hit last year, and I can not imagine the devastation for those people if the storm is not averted. We appreciate your prayers for us and for all of the people of the Philippines. We love you and will keep you posted.

December 8, 2014

Hi everyone,
We are fine here. So far we have not really felt any effects of the typhoon here in Narra.  There are suppose to be some strong rain and wind starting tonight in Metro Manila, but we probably won't have anything.  The people here are not really concerned because they say there are never typhoons or earthquakes here. Brother Gattud said they have been here since 1987 and never had either one.  It just always makes me a little nervous when people say it NEVER happens here.  But I am so grateful because the people here are so poor and I am not sure what they would do if what little they have was destroyed. We haven't heard too much about the other areas.  We know there have been some deaths and destruction but don't know how bad it has been. We've thought and prayed for all the parents of missionaries serving in those areas that have been hit, as well of the missionaries, of course.  But then I thought there are probably missionaries in this mission who have family in some of those areas. When Yolanda hit last year there was a fairly new missionary here whose family was in Tacloban. He said that was really hard, but they and the members of his branch or ward were all fine.

I guess everyone is getting ready for Christmas.  It is hard to believe it is already December. The kids here want to have a Christmas party and I asked them when and they said December 25th.  At first I thought, no, I don't want to do it on Christmas day, but then I thought, why not??? We won't be doing anything and you are all almost a day behind so it sounds like a good thing to do. What are everyone's plans for Christmas this year? We will have a Branch Christmas party on December 20th I think. The Gwilliams told us that they don't do much activity wise all year but they have a huge Christmas party, but this year they have used up the budget so not sure what we will do, but it will be fun.

We got a new branch president on Sunday. A man who just moved here about a month or two ago.  Actually he lives in the Sandoval area and we were hoping that the family would be in that branch, but he is needed there. He is young, someone said 24. He looks older than that, but I don't know. Both he and his wife are return missionaries.  We are hoping this will get our little branch going again.  We have struggled for quite a while now. 

Yesterday Dad and I and Sister Martinez visited our first 2 families about this temple preparation program we are starting. We had a good visit with both of them. The Spirit was there and they are happy and excited about preparing to go to the temple. We are excited about it too.  What a difference it will make in their lives, and in our branch if we can help these families live the gospel and make these sacred covenants. There was another family that we wanted to visit last night but we found out that the mother has been in Manila for the last month and is planning on going to Canada, to work, we presume.  The kids are living with grandparents.  It is so hard and heartbreaking.  It destroys so many families. It's probably wrong of me but I have been praying that she will not be able to find work, or better yet realize that it is not good for her family, and come home. Since being baptized last March the mom and kids have come somewhat regularly but the father works most Sundays. I don't think the kids will come to church and who knows about the mom. They were just so excited when they got baptized, so happy that they had found something that could help strengthen and protect their family. 

Satan is working so hard to destroy families. There is nothing more important than family and the gospel. But there are so many things that are distractions. Our families are worth our VERY BEST effort because in the end, if we do not have our family, well, I just can't imagine that.  Nothing could possibly compensate for that. You may have fame and fortune but in the end that is emptiness, and you have all of eternity to think about what might have been.  

We are so blessed to have all of our children and grandchildren! We love you all so much and are grateful for the way you live your lives. We appreciate you love and support. The gospel is true. Families are meant to be eternal - that is central to Heavenly Father's plan for His children. We are so bless to have that knowledge and understanding. We need to always remember that, and continually evaluate our priorities and make sure our focus is an eternal family. 

Anyway, we have an appointment with another family on Friday and hope to set up another one for that day.  We are going to take the Dagdags with us to that appointment.

Well, we love you all and hope you are all doing well. Remember the true spirit of Christmas. What a beautiful, amazing Gift we have been given.  And we need to share it with all the world.

Mahal mahal naming po kayong lahat!
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma
December 3, 2014

Hey everyone!

How was your Thanksgiving?  I would love to hear all about it.  We just seem to get busier and busier.  Last week we had the opportunity to pick up President Ostler and Elder Adduru, an area Seventy, from Puerto and bring them to Narra for District conference.  We had a great visit.  Elder Adduru is a very successful salesman, but he had a very hard life!  His mother died when he was 8 so he started working in the rice fields because his dad had to stay home and take care of all the kids. It is VERY HARD, back breaking work!  Think of Neal, Willie, and Dallin having to go to work everyday, probably 10 hours a day to support a family.  But he learned to work hard and went to college.  His brother and sister helped him and he promised them if he could get through college he would never ask to borrow anything ever again, and he never has. 

He and his father were taught by the missionaries when he was still young.  His dad joined but he did not because the first time they went to church they had to walk 8 kilometers to get there and as they were going into the building, there were other investigators and I guess he was the last in line and they shut the door in his face.  I'm sure it was not purposeful, but he was so humiliated and thought that it was because his skin was so dark because he had to work outside all the time, so he turned around and walked the 8 kilometers home and told himself he would never join that church.  But when he was in college I think his brother introduced him to the missionaries and they taught him every day that week and he was baptized at the end of the week.  He said since that time, about 40 years, he has only missed 2 Sundays.  He was a great speaker and we had almost 600 people total at conference. (That includes the broadcasts to Quezon and Brooke's Point.) The Spirit was strong the members were really engaged.  

Last week and this week we have been working on a report for President Ostler so he can submit a proposal for the Sandoval group to become a branch. So we have had to track down ALL the members in the Sandoval area, which was over 100. But it turned out not to be that difficult.  The Lord blessed us and we had the help of the Elders there and Brother and Sister Gattud, and Sister Gabil, who knew everyone in Bagong Sikat. We met a Brother Alda who was really receptive.  He and his family had been very active but then his wife left them and he hasn't been back to church since.  I am hoping the elders will go out with us to teach him because I think he would listen.  He was very  kind. Three of his kids still live with him, and at least one of them has children because he had baby clothes hanging up in his house. We also have to make a map and indicate where each family lives. They have no maps of the area here. And we have to submit a proposal for a building as well.  The Elders out there found three possibilities so we are just going to take pictures of them and send them.  We have no idea what the criteria is for meeting houses here. 

This week is my last week for language training. In 8 months of training I haven't progressed very much.  And on Sunday we will start our visits with the recent converts to help them prepare to go to the temple.  I am hoping to teach in Tagalog, but we shall see.  It wont happen without Divine help.  Your prayers are appreciated!  

Well, it's late and we need to get to bed.  Another busy day tomorrow as we have to go look through old records to see if we can find baptismal info for several members.  That is another requirement for this proposal - all the records need to be in good shape for the members in the proposed branch.  And the records are an absolute disaster!!! We have a full page of people who have been baptized but there is no record of it.  So we are doing what we can to find the records.  

Anyway, we love and miss you all so much and hope everything is going well.  We know you are all very busy, especially with the holidays.  Just know that we love and miss you.  Love, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma 

P.S. This is a picture of Elder Adduru on the left, then President Betita, district pres, Sister Angoy, wife of the first counselor in the mission presidency, President and Sister Hiatt, and me and dad.

This picture has Pres. Ostler at the left, and President Angoy is also in the picture, along with their "adopted" son, RJ. 

 Love you!

Pix

November 25, 2014


Brother Uda and his family.  His wife is next to him. Next to her is her mother, who has been reactivated (Sister Uda is also reactivated), and the woman next to her is her sister and the mother of the boy getting baptized. The girl on the far right is the Uda's daughter, and the other girl is their neice. Her mother works in Hong Kong. I don't know if I  mentioned it in a previous email, but we had a fireside here - broadcast from Manila, with Elder Oaks.  He said 3 million mothers are working outside the country and send back 6 billion US dollars every year.  It is a tragedy because it is destroying families.
Sister Martinez' daughter, Jen-Jen. We made pita bread and she wanted some dough.  She had fun and the pita bread was masarap!


Sister Martinez' daughter, Jen-Jen. We made pita bread and she wanted some dough.  She had fun and the pita bread was masarap!


 Jen-Jen and her brother Gian. Dad popped them some popcorn and we put in a video for them.  They loved it!


Dad and Wendell Magsino.  He really loves Dad!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2014


Happy Thanksgiving to All!!!

We had our Thanksgiving dinner today with the Elders and it was a lot of fun!  Boy some of them can really eat.  Elder Saipa'ia ate almost a whole chicken himself.  We planned for half a chicken each, but the American elders only wanted a quarter. We have 3 Filipinos, 2 American, and 1 Tongan (Elder Saipa). No one was too crazy about the stuffing.  I had to use Stove Top because that's all we could find, the gravy was really good because we had a lot of juice off of the chicken and then some packets.  They ate most of the potatoes, and Filipinos have to have rice ALWAYS, so they ate that as well.  And they did pretty good with the pie as well.  But we had some left over so we took it outside and all the neighbor kids came and finished it off.  They really liked it. 

Last week was super busy, and so far this week is the same.  Last week we had a trip to Puerto for transfers and then to Rizal, Brookes Point, Cabar and Aborlan. This past Sunday we went to Brookes Point again for their Branch Conference.  It was really good. This Friday we will be going to Puerto again because it is our District Conference and we need to pick up our mission president and the visiting GA, Elder Adduru and bring them here. 

But our BIG news is, BROTHER MAGSINO WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!! 



We are so excited for their family. After the Elders finish their follow-up teaching we will start the living the gospel daily lessons and then temple prep.  Hopefully we will still be here then and can go to the temple with them! Well, this is kind of short, but it is late and we have a service project tomorrow morning so I'll close. We love and miss you all so much!  I will try to write more next week. 

Ingat palagi,
Dad and Mom 

Kumusta po kayo sa lahat?

November 10, 2014

Kumusta po kayo sa lahat?

We are doing great!  We are so busy working on our two projects, but that is good.  We just don't seem to have enough time for everything.  Last week we attended the Bi-district YSA conference in Puerto.  We were asked to give a presentation on preparing for temple marriage.  We stressed out about it quite a bit, mostly because of the language barrier, but things actually went pretty well.  We prayed continually that there would not be a language barrier, and they really seemed to understand, but we can't be sure.  After we were done they had a question and answer period for us and the gal that spoke before us, which we did not know they were going to do.  But the other gal is native, so most of the questions were directed to her.  However, at the end someone asked if there was an age when they should be married.  I laughed and told them what Brigham Young said about men becoming a menace to society after age 25. They all laughed, so I guess they understood that, at least.  

We had our little Halloween party for our neighbor kids.  There were sixteen.  We just watched a kids video, played some games, ate hot dogs (not our hot dogs! - and we didn't eat any), and had some treats.  Yesterday, when I was getting out of our truck one of the little girls, Kristen Joy who is 5 said, "Ma'am, ma'am (they always call us ma'am and sir), Party, and I laughed and said "kalian?", (when?) and she said "bukas", (tomorrow).  I laughed again and said, "hindi, pero, seguro para sa Christmas." (No, but maybe for Christmas.)  They really seemed to have a good time and it was fun for us as well.  

Earlier that week it was heart breaking as the mother of the kids next door (ages 11, 13, 14 I think), left to go back to Hong Kong I think. The 11 year old girl just cried, just a really heart wrenching cry, begging her mother not to leave as she chased down the street after her. I just cried for her.  I don't know how a mother can do that.  I know they think they are doing what is best for the family, but there has to be a better way. Last Sunday, well, the first Sunday in November we had a broadcast with Elder Oaks and several others.  He use to be the Area president here several years ago.  He said that there are about 3,000,000 mothers who leave and work outside the country and bring home about 6 billion dollars a year.  He stressed how this is destroying families, and it really is. And, what seems to happen is the mother goes off to work so the father doesn't really think he has to work. And, marriages break up.  Anyway, there are some women in our Branch that have talked about it and I have just really tried to help them see that it is very detrimental to the family.  Another sister told me that she would not do it because her mother did and her dad found another woman.  Here, there is no divorce, except for the rich - you can actually pay to get a divorce but only the very rich can afford it.  

So...  Anyway, the weather has been really hot.  Not much of a rainy season.  But the other evening Dad and I went for a short walk and it was actually almost a little cool.  It was actually bearable.  But, today it is hot again.  87 degrees in our air conditioned living room.  But I will not complain, because at least we have air con. 

Just a little more good news.  Brother Magsino, whom we have been going to visit with different sets of missionaries since we got here, is doing really well with overcoming his addiction.  He is scheduled for baptism on the 29th I think.  We love that family!  

And one of the families from Bagong Sikat has been coming faithfully and the father and 8 year old daughter will be baptized on the 22nd. He had to overcome his coffee addiction but is doing well.  We love them too.  

We had a fun Branch activity on Saturday at the beach.  Quite a few of the recent converts were there, which was so good.  We had a good time!

Well, better go.  We hope you are all doing well.  Keep us posted.  Let us know when we can Skype again.  We miss you all so much.  I can understand why they only let young missionaries talk or Skype with family twice a year because I love seeing and talking to you all, but my heart hurts afterwards because I miss you and love you so much.  But it is a blessing to be here and we're grateful we can be here, and are so very grateful for your support and prayers!

We love you all!
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Mailing Address

October 24, 2014

Hey everyone, I just received this email from Sister Paine in the mission office. We are not asking for mail, but some have mentioned mailing things and I don't want it to get lost.  Love and miss you all!

The post office has asked that letters and packages for our mission be addressed as follows:

Philippines Manila Mission
c/o "Missionary name"
PO Box 1997
Makati City
1200 Metro Manila (note the change of zip code)
Philippines


There has been a change in personnel at the post office so it is very important to put the mission name first. Christmas is coming and we expect lots of packages. Hopefully putting the mission name first will help ensure that we actually receive the packages.

Sister Paine
Manila Mission

Brother Tana's Baptism!

October 20, 2014


 The Tana family - all baptized by Brother Tana (with Elders Rosario and Calixto)

Brother Tana's baptism

Pix!

October 20, 2014

 Elder Rivera

  Elder Lewis


A pitiful dog where we were building the house.  Most of the dogs here look so bad - I think they are just slowly starving.


Dad and I thought this was so funny - how often do you see a welcome sign to a prison???

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pix!


October 20, 2014

  Bahatala staff

 I thought this flower was beautiful!

 The Gatuds. We love this couple!  They are so faithful!  We go out visiting with them every Thursday. They have a granddaughter leaving on a mission to Temple Square in SLC and a grandson going to Arizona.

Distributing wheelchairs

More Pix

October 20, 2014

  Primary


 I actually played basketball at a branch activity.  it was a hoot!

 One of our bigger avocados

 Bahatala - the nonprofit organization that the Church works through to distribute wheelchairs. This is the founder's wife - he passed away. They not only get wheelchairs, but they specially make wheelchairs also. There are many children with cerebral palsy here. For many, they get fed in the morning and then the parents leave them all day because they have to go to work in the rice fields. They make chairs that can be taken to the field with them. It is a great organization.

They also make artificial legs. They are made by hand by the man in this picture. They do not have modern equipment, but he does a good job.

Otober 20, 2014

Kumusta ang lahat?  Napakabuti kami!  On Saturday 

The rest of the Tana family were baptized, by Brother Tana.  They are just an incredible family and we know they will be a great asset to our Branch.  We have a new focus, a new direction and I am really excited about it.  We are going to start meeting with recent converts and begin preparing them to attend the temple to be sealed. Recent converts include those who have been members less than a year - and actually a couple of the families we will be working with have reached their year mark, but there has not been any temple prep class so they are not yet prepared.  One of the families is starting to become less active so we are really hoping this will make a difference.  I discussed this with President Ostler in our temple recommend interview and he had great counsel.  For the Tana family and others who have a year or almost a year we are going to set a date for them to do baptisms for the dead in about 5 or 6 months.  There are also a couple of families that the father has not been baptized so we will focus on baptisms for them as well.  We will start with teaching them about living the gospel daily in their lives - personal and family prayer, scripture study, FHE, keeping the Sabbath day holy, etc.  We will also focus on family history (thus my need for that info), because they are really pushing for new converts to submit names and do the work for their ancestors.  Then we will move into temple preparation. With those who have already passed their year mark or will soon, we will meet with probably weekly.  Those who have more time we will meet with less frequently. At least, that is the thought now.  We will see.  I am so excited about this direction and focus.  Dad and I will work on this and his self-reliance programs together, but he will do the planning, prep, etc for SR and I will work on TP.  We will have to come up with our own lessons for living the gospel daily, and will use the temple prep manual for that.  If you have any personal stories about prayer, scripture study, FHE, etc etc, please share them with me.  That would be so great to be able to share them with these families.  I do not know how the language is going to go.  We are going to take a member with us on each visit.  Probably a different member for each family.  I have prayed about this, whether to have the member teach and we just listen and testify/share experiences, or if we should teach.  I think it would need to be in Tagalog, or mostly in Tagalog, and I am not sure if we could do that.  But I have prayed and plan to fast about this.  Dad would most likely have to do English, but I would really like to be able to teach in Tagalog, but I mostly want what is going to be best for these families.  We shall see.  It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds, but I know that it is needed and inspired.  Like President Ostler taught in our last zone conference, missionaries focus on faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  But that is not the end.  It seems like here, many of the new converts just sort of get dropped at that point.  The missionaries do the follow-up teaching, but then that's it.  And the first year of membership can be so hard for some people. I guess some wards may be very good at fellowshipping and helping new members, but ours is not, at least not yet.  We are also hoping including members in the visits and teaching, they will see the need. Well, I didn't mean to ramble on.  I just am so excited about this.  And dad is excited about his SR.  Both can be a great benefit for the people here.  We appreciate your continued prayers in our behalf.  We need them so much, and we know they help!

We hope you are all doing well!  We LOVE hearing from you! We miss you all so much!

Ingat palagi!

Love, Grandpa and Grandma, Mom and Dad

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Tanna Family

October 6, 2014

What a great couple of weeks we have had!!! Well, except for 2 Saturdays dad cut his had.  He was trying to get some coconut out of the shell (we love the coconut here, and it is  really cheap, only 10 pesos. It is cheap because here they  like the young, immature coconut. They call it buko.  The mature coconut that we are familiar with is call niyog. Buko is really soft and  mushy and yucky!) anyway, Dad was trying to get it out and the knife slipped a d cut his hand.  It was not a long cut, but very deep.  The way it was bleeding I thought  maybe he had cut a vein or artery.  We were going to go to the hospital but I was really worried about that because the conditions are not sanitary.  I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but the misssion doctor had me go  check out the hospital because we had an elder here that they thought may have had appendicitis and he wanted to know if they could take care of it there and what the coditions were. They  can’t take care of appendicitis and I don’t think I would ever send anyone there.  Seriously I think you might become sicker, maybe much sicker than before you went there. Anyway, we finally got the bleeding stopped.  The doctor told us to get keflex – you can get any antibiotic  here without a prescription, and actually it is healing really well.  Dad usually has a little trouble with healing but not this time.  We are blessed, and I think the medication really helped also.  
On  the 21st we attended the Quezon Branch conference.  It was really good.  They had both a Primary choir and a YM/YW/YSA choir.  They were amazing! They sang with such  feeling and testimony. 
Through the week we were able to go on visits with the missionaries on several occasions.  On Thursday we went on our regular visiting in Bagong Sikat. But this time we had Sister Gabil with us.  I think I mentioned that she said she had family that she wanted us to visit.  I just felt like it could really be good because she said they really didn’t have any religion so I thought they might be really receptive. So a few weeks ago we’d planned to visit them but Sister Gabil was in Puerto (because nothing is ever scheduled here –because, according to the Elders they don’t keep appointments anyway) so we talked to her husband and found out where they lived. We went there and taught but they were not receptive at all so I thought oh well, a seed was planted.  But, that was not all of her family. That was just a very, very small part.  So she took us to some of the  do rest of her family.  I think we visited 5 families, and they were all friendly and receptive, some more than others.  And, she still has more family to visit, so we will go with her again next Thursday.  The Elders were really excited because they were all just in this small area and it seems like so much potential. (Oh, just a side note, when I say “we” we are involved, but the Elders do the teaching mostly we testify when they ask, and in Bagong Sikat we always have the Gatuds with us so they are the ones that talk to the people.  I just didn’t want you to get the idea that we have any  real communication skills here. A little bit of get acquainted stuff is mostly all.) 
On Friday we checked out a house that the Elders found in Sandoval.  We have been looking for an apartment in that area for them because they spend most of their time there and it is quite far from their apartment, which costs them quite a bit for travel. Anyway, it was great! We are so excited because everything else we have found was really unsuitable. 
After we got back to Narra the Elders asked us to go on visits with them. We visited our neighbor and they taught her again.  Then we visited two less-actives – one was the branch president here about 12 years ago – good visits.  Then we visited the Fetalco  family.  They are recent converts and just such a good family. They are the ones that the father is working in Saudi Aradia so he was not baptized. Sister Fetalco is just really on fire and has referred several  people to the missionaries. It is so inspiring to see the fire burnning in these new converts.  The problem is if they don’t keep the fire burning it is quenched with the trials and hardships of life and they lose the faith. After the Fetalcos we went to the Tanna family, who are ready for baptism.  And they are incredible. In missionary work they use to talk about “golden” families, and they are that! Brother Tanna was raised 7th Day adventist.  All his family and extended family are SDA and his eldest brother is an SDA pastor. They were very active. Growing up he said they went to church on Wed, Fri, and all day Saturday, every week. Very faithful. But for some reason he and some others broke off and formed their own church. They ended up leaving that church and going back to SDA but they were not well received because they had left the church earlier. One time the church was fasting in order to make some decisions about the church and they did not invite them to fast with them. Brother Tanna was really hurt so he said he “cried to God” asking for help to find the true church.  He had always had questions and doubts. I’m not sure what religion Sister Tanna was but from a very young age she had questions.  She always wondered why she couldn’t remember her life before she came to earth.  When she asked the  pastors they would tell her she didn't exist before this life, when she was formed in her mother’s womb that was when her existence began.  She just felt that wasn’t right.  She asked about what would happen to her family when they die and she was told that there would be no sorrow and no tears and no family, that she wouldn’t remember them.  She said of course she would remember them and there would be tears because she would miss them. They said “God would wipe away the tears and the memories” and she told them, He might wipe away the memories in my head, but they will always be in my heart. (I just thought it was amazing that at a young age she would be thinking and feeling these things.) Anyway, she said she was always sad growing up because of these things she was taught. She just knew in her heart that there was more but she didn’t know how or where to find it (they are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it). Well anyway, they have been searching and kind of discouraged. Then one night Sister Tanna had a dream. She saw two men in white shirts coming down from heaven. And she knew they had the truth. But then nothing happened for a couple of weeks so she thought she had missed them. I’m not sure how the elders got their names, but they  had been looking for their house for about two  weeks.  When they knocked on the door she was so surprised and not prepared because, as I said, she thought she had missed them.  Brother Tanna said when he met them at the door he just felt that he knew them from somewhere.  He said they are very careful  about inviting strangers into their home, even though  they were in white shirts and ties, with name tages, but he just felt really good with them so he invited them in. The first visit they did not even teach a lesson, they just answered question after question.  I wish  I could have been there because I can just imagine it – all these questions that they have had all their lives and then in one evening their hearts are just so full as all of these truths are brought into light.  Truths that were buried deep in their hearts but they  did not really understand and could not express.  But, as they did with every other religion they had checked into, they got on the internet and searched out the”dark side”. When they read about poligamy they were horrified.  They just  thought this is of the devil, we can’t be apart of this.  That’s what their minds were telling them, but their hearts wanted it to  be true. They had trouble sleeping.  They said they had decided that they were not  going to go to church, but somehow, they ended up on the front row at church, listening to the speakers. They continued to pray about it and to struggle.  But finally one night Brother just cried to the Lord again and the Lord said to him, Son, this church is true.  What you have been reading on the internet is of the devil because  he is trying to destroy my church. And from then on they have just progressed.  They  read and study so much. Anyway, on the 27th Brother Tanna was baptized.  This is so unusual. Usually it is the wife and kids that get baptized first because the  WofW problems. But Sister Tanna had a hard time giving up coffee, so she and the kids will be baptized in 2 weeks. And I think it will be awesome because Brother Tanna will be able to baptize them!  Elder Saipa’ia, who is the district leader here, said when he interviewed Brother Tanna for baptism  he asked if he could start paying tithing before he got baptized because  his family needs the blessings! Unbelieveable!!!
I know this goes on and on, but it was such a great story and we are so excited for them and about them.  This past week was great too!  More family of sister Gabil to visit, and a couple that seemed really interested.  We had a great zone conference.  President Ostler is really focusing on getting the members to the Temple and helping them do Family History work.  I am really excited about this new focus because I have felt that we really needed to focus on getting families in our Branch to the Temple.  
Anyway, we hope you enjoyed conference.  We will watch it next Saturday/Sunday because of the time difference. 
Jus a closing thought - I was thinking about the rock sculpture of the faces of I think 4 presidents - is it Mt.Rushmore? I can't remember and don't have time to look it up.  I'm not sure why I was thinking about it but I thought, wow, wouldn't it be cool to have an accomplishment like that, that has lasted for many, many years. But then instantly the thought came to me that sharing the gospel with others and helping them to come unto Christ, receive His gospel and become eternal families, and gain eternal life - there is no greater accomplishment than that.  The rock sculpture has endured many years, but an earthquake could destroy it instantly, and even time can wear it away.  But those who embrace the Gospel, the only way it can be taken from them is if they give it away.  So, I hope that you are all striving to share the Gospel. I was never very good at that, but you are all much better than I am.  And we all have the responsibility to do it.  One really important way that we can assist in the work is by really, conscientiously fellowshipping new members and less-actives.  I see how very important this is and it is missionary work! In our Branch members are not very good at fellowshipping, so we have seen people who really gain testimonies come into the church, and then as the missionaries move on they feel alone when they go to church and it is hard and many  of them go inactive.  We are really hoping that, with new leadership we can build a missionary spirit in our Branch and help our  members feel that and recognize their responsibilities.  Again, I was not a good example of this, but I hope and pray that I will be when we get home. 
Sorry, don't mean to lecture, just some thoughts.  We love and miss you all and love hearing from you.  Can't believe it is already October.  The weather has been hot here, and not much rain, which we are concerned about for some of our members.  But, the Lord has a plan. 
Remember, Life is good!  Life is better when you are happy, but life is at its best when others are happy because of you!  We are happy because of ALL OF YOU!!! Ingat palagi!
Love, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Magandang Gabi!

September 15, 2014

Kumusta po kayo? Napakbuti kami! 

We hope you are all doing well. I can't believe September is already half over.  We went in to a store today in Quezon and they had a couple of Christmas trees up.  Not the trees we know, just a bunch of empty branches with lights on them, but definitely Christmas trees.  I can't believe that start this early even in the Philippines! But, Christmas will be here before you know it. I can't imagine Christmas without snow and cold, but we will find out what that is like.  

It was another busy week last week, but good. We were able to visit several less active families, mostly in Bagong Sikat. And we went to see the family of Sister Gabil.  She is recently reactivated and comes to the Sandoval meetinghouse. She has wanted us to visit for a while, and had previously asked the Elders to go, but they hadn't made it out. We were finally able to go.  I was excited about it because she had told us that they really don't have a religion.  However, only the wife was available to meet with us, and although I think she felt something as the missionaries were teaching her, she said she didn't think her husband would listen and she will follow her husband.  But perhaps a seed was planted. 

And last week I invited our little cleaning gal to have the missionaries teach her.  I don't know if I told you about her or not.  My mind has been going for a long time, now I think it is gone completely.  Anyway, her name is Marina.  She started cleaning for Elder and Sister West, who were before the Gwilliams. The Gwilliams continued with her and so we have as well.  She comes in every 2 or 3 weeks.  Not that we really need it, but she needs it.  She is really an amazing young woman.  I have also had her coming on the weeks that she doesn't clean, to help me with Tagalog, and I pay her for that as well. During one session I asked her what things she likes to do and she said what she would really like to do is study - go to school but she cannot.  Then she told me her story.  When she was 14 her dad died after being sick for 11 months. At that point she quit school and started working to support the family. I think there are 6 kids, but I'm not sure. And, I know she is not the oldest in the family so I'm not sure why she was the one to support the family.  I know she has an older brother who is handicapped, and an older sister that was in some kind of accident and can't work. And I know she has several younger sisters. Anyway, she told me how hard it was.  She worked for a woman who did catering from her home. Marina would cook and clean and deliver the food. She said the woman she worked for was very mean to her, but she was thankful for the job because she learned to cook.  At some point she started working for Sister Lopez, a member of the church and the owner of the house we rent.  Marina took care of her husband after he had a stroke.  She also did outside work here at the house, and she continues to do that and Sister Lopez pays her. She is now 25 and continues to support her family.  She also provides support for one of her sisters and her daughter because I think this sister took care of the dad while he was sick so I guess she is paying her back for that.  Anyway, she is also paying for a younger sister to go to college.  She is in her second year of college.  Last April she had a baby, not married. So 1/3 of the money she makes is hers, and the rest goes to support her family.  She is just such a good, kind, humble person.  She is catholic, but unlike 95% of the catholic here, she goes to church every Sunday and takes all of her younger sisters. Anyway, as part of our lessons I have been reading the Restoration pamphlet to her in Tagalog, actually she reads it to me so I can hear pronunciation and then I read it to her and she corrects me etc. We have had discussions about what our church believes, as best we can because she isn't really good at English, and we did again last week.  She asked what apostasia was.  Anyway, we talked for about an hour. I invited her to have the missionaries teach her. She said they came once and left her a Book of Mormon to read and she said she tried and tried to read it but she didn't understand it.  All the Filipinos say that it is "deep Tagalog" and many of them prefer an English B of M rather than Tagalog.  Anyway, we had a great visit, I gave her the pamphlet and asked her to pray about having the missionaries visit.  I just so hope she does. She is just an incredible young woman and the gospel would bless her life in so many ways.  But we shall see. 

Saturday was a branch activity - a Sports Fest.  I played volleyball and basketball! Which I have not played for over 40 years, but it was fun.  Dad has been sick again, so he just watched.  I was, and still am sore though.  It was so good for the branch to get together. They are still struggling so much, but we are hoping for some changes to come soon and that should help. 

Also we have been looking for another apartment for the Narra C elders.  Right now they are in the apartment with Narra A but they cover the Sandoval, Bagong Sikat etc areas, which are quite far from their apartment so they spend a lot of time and money traveling.  They and we are hoping we can find something suitable for them that would be much closer.  So far though, we have been unsuccessful.  We have been to 3 different places but they are unlivable, at least for our standards.  The church does have guidelines, actually I think they are the mission standards, and that was one thing that President Stucki really worked on was to improve the living conditions of the missionaries. So, we are praying to find something.  We think it could really help grow the branch out there. The members are getting more enthused about helping the missionaries, so having them closer would be beneficial.  

We also went with Narra B to teach our neighbor.  I still don't think she is genuinely interested, but again, you never know.  If she will read and pray about the Book of Mormon she might change her mind.  In reading the scriptures the other day I realized that just because someone does not feel the Spirit does not mean the teachers are not powerful teachers.  We are all free to close our hearts to the Spirit.  We have really good missionaries, and they teach with the Spirit. We are going to visit her again this week so we will see.  We will be taking the BP and RS president out with us on Friday to visit the 2 less active families that I think I mentioned in our last email. Both have been through the temple and both have been inactive for about a year.  President said he thought they had been offended.  

 Well, I guess it doesn't matter if I write every week or not.  I still go on and on.  I apologize.  I guess I need to learn that I don't need to tell you everything we do.  Actually, I don't, but maybe I need to consolidate or something.  Oh well.  We hope you are all doing well. Please keep us posted.  We love to hear what's going on there.  

Can't believe you're going into fall.  It has cooled off here the last couple of days.  It has been pretty crazy weather.  Mostly hot and not much rain.  Kind of a drought here, which I didn't think happened because they call it the rainy season, but I guess they have droughts here too.  We are praying for more rain because at least one family in our branch has a farm that doesn't have irrigation so they have to wait until there is a lot of rain before they can plant. I'm not sure what they will do if we don't get it. 

Well, we love and miss you all!!! 

Love, Grandpa and Grandma, Mom and Dad