Wednesday, March 26, 2014


March 26, 2014
Yesterday we spent the day in Puerto for training.  It was great!  Days run together, and I can't really remember when things happen and what I've told you, so if I repeat something just chalk it up to old age :) I have really got to try to do better with just keeping a short daily journal so that I can remember things, but there just doesn't seem to be time.  But, I am dedicated to try to do that.  Anyway, it was a great week!  

Bro Magsino is still struggling with WofW, but he is still trying and we are praying for him every day.  They are such a good family.  I don't know if I've explained it but there are several of the magsinos that live in the same area, some next door to each other.  Anyway, they had a FHE on Sunday that we went to.  The people here are so fun!  And they LOVE to sing.  In EVERY meeting they have an opening and closing song, and they sing all the verses.  I think their favorite hymn is "Love At Home"!  I have sung that hymn more since we've been here than in my whole life I think.  As I think you know, that is not my favorite hymn, but I think I have really come to appreciate it more because I think the members here really desire to have strong families and I think they  just love that hymn.  And many of them know the verses by heart.  Oh, they sing all their hymns in English.  And it is kind of funny - they kind of have their own rhythm or beat to most of them.  You can tell what song they are singing, but they'll hold a note longer or shorter, go up when they're suppose to go down, that kind of thing.  In RS we have a piano that will play the hymns, but they don't like to use it.  And for an introduction the person leading the song stands up and sings like the first line and then says, "Sing", or "Ready, sing".  My first time in RS the chorister got up and did that and I didn't know so I started singing with her and she just gave me a look so I stopped because no one else was singing, and then I understood how they do it.  We do have some youth who are learning to play the piano and they play for Sacrament meeting.  They play the simplified hymns, but another funny thing, with the bottom hand  they kind of jazz it up.  Don't know really how to explain it, and I don't know where it comes from, but they all do it.  Anyway, back to the FHE - it was great!  Another thing they like to do is play games, and our BP is the "game master".  He has been at every FHE we have gone to and he always has games.  I don't think we have played the same game twice.  It would take too much time to explain them on line, but when we Skype, if you are interested I can explain some of them.  And then, if you mess up or get out at the end you get "a punishment" from the BP, which means you have to sing a song or something.  Most of them are not too shy and don't mind doing that.  Can you believe it - Dad even plays the games!  It's not his favorite thing, but he does it.  Remind me to tell you about the "Hello Harry" game.  Only, with their accents the Filipinos say, "Hello Haurry".  It's just funny!  I know, you're just falling off your chairs with laughter (joke lang), but I'll just have to explain it to you.  Oh, another thing about FHE - at least the ones we've gone to, there are several families, not just one, always a big group, and then they serve dinner afterwards.  We have one scheduled here next Monday for the Jagmis family, who are suppose to be baptized on Saturday.  We are so excited for them and just really love them.  Before the Gwilliams left we had an FHE here for them and it was just so fun to see them interact with the other members.  

Afterwards two of the sisters of the branch (Maricris Magsino and her sister, Cheryl Corpus) were washing dishes and Sister Jagmis went in and helped them and it was like they were just old friends.  I think that really helped her.  The Mondares family are suppose to be set for April 19th, but I'm not sure if they will be ready. Bro Mondares has a WoW problem.  He said before it would not be a problem to quit, but I think people don't realize how addicted they are.  He also said he has not "received a sign" that the BoM is true.  The missionaries asked us to talk about how we came to know the book was true, but you just don't know how much they really understand.  Anyway, we continue to pray for them.  We had an interesting thing happen on Monday.  We were at a store here and we were trying to find dish towels for the missionary apartment in Cabar that we are setting up.  Anyway, it was hard trying to get them to understand what we were looking for.  But after one of the workers came up and asked where we were from.  We said the US, Nevada and Idaho.  I then explained we were missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", and pointed to my badge. She responded, "Mormons?"  We said yes, and asked if she was a member.  She said no so we asked if she would like to know more.  She hesitated a minute and then said yes, so we got her name and number and told her the Elders would contact her.  Not sure if she really understood what we asked, but the missionaries will contact her and we shall see.  

We have had 3 more big spiders, but not quite as big as the one in the sink!  We sprayed on Monday so hopefully we won't have them.  Grandpa also found a tuko (don't know if that is spelled right) in our home.  It was about 10" long and REALLY UGLY!  They are some type of lizard and really creepy.  Anyway, I told him he needed to kill it or I wouldn't be able to sleep so he got the broom handle and took care of it.  But it wasn't easy because they move REALLY fast, and they even jump!  I hope that is the last one we see.  There was something else new, but I can't remember now what it was.  But there are ALOT of cats, dogs, and  chickens everywhere, just free-roaming.  The interesting thing is that you never see the dogs chasing the cats or chickens.  I don't know how that happens.  Our BP said he use to eat anything - cats, dogs, rats, etc, but now he does not.  I think he was being honest with us.  I think when you are very poor and have no money you do what you can with what you have. 

Well, there is so much always to tell.  We went to Quezon, Cabar, and Brooke's Point last week to do apartment checks, get apartment contracts signed, and to check on the new apartment in Cabar.  They are suppose to move in on April 1, so we will be going down there to take them all of the stuff they need, and help them move their bunk beds etc.  On Sunday, after Priesthood Dad was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting.  I think they do that last minute thing a lot here.  Also, Dad was called to the High Council and I to the RS District Secretary.  These are the callings the Gwilliams had so we are taking their places.  Anyway, later I am going to try to email some pictures, maybe tomorrow.  But tomorrow we are meeting with some organization that provides wheelchairs for the needy.  I don't think they are members of the church.  The Gwilliams actually got started with it but we followed up and they are coming tomorrow to assess and measure.  We have 3 people in our branch that need them. One a little bit older gentleman who had a stroke. Another woman who just recently had a stroke, actually the one I think I told you about that was in the hospital and couldn't get out because they couldn't pay, but the church helped them with some of the $.  The third is this most beautiful young woman.  She is really crippled and deformed, but she was not born that way.  I can't remember what we were told about how it happened.  Anyway, she is really beautiful.  She does not come to church because she lives with her sister and her sister won't take her.  We will see what we can do.  Anyway, got to run.  I will try to send pictures soon.  


Friday, March 21, 2014


March 17, 2014

The baptism on Mar 9th Benilda and Jezebelle Magsino  (sister in law and neice to Maricris Magsino) with Elder Appleby from Australia and Elder Julito from Philippines.

  Same with us and thee other Narra missionaries.

The Magsino family (not yet baptized) Bro Edwin, Sis Annabelle, Aries, Cherry Ann, Wendell (don't know if you can see what Wendell is doing with his hand by his face, but almost all the Filipinos love having their picture taken and the younger kids will often do that with their hand, kind of framing their face I guess.  We don't have many pictures of us, but we have had our pictures taken SO MANY times.  They not only love to have their pictures taken, they love to take pictures as well.

Missionaries in the Narra District

March 17

March 17, 2014

Hey!  How is everyone doing???  There are some I have not heard from for  awhile so I hope all is well.  I know everyone is very busy but drop us a line where you get a chance.  We miss talking to you all and enjoy hearing about what is going on in your life.
Please forgive me if I repeat some things.  I can't remember what I have shared with you.  But we had a disappointment last week.  Brother Edwin Magsino fell off the wagon.  From what I understand he went to a birthday party for a friend and they blocked his tricycle and wouldn't let him leave until he had a drink.  So then I think he just thought, "oh well", and went back to smoking too.  They have to abstain for 4 weeks in a row, but they can have one relapse.  However, the Elders don't like to tell them that because, well I'm sure you understand.  However, it might have been good for him to know it in that situation.  We went out right after we heard about it, but it was a couple of days after it happened, and he had started smoking again.  It is the smoking that is the hard thing for him.  He is such a good man, and has a wonderful family (I'm going to try to send a picture of them if I remember at the end of this).  We went to see them again last night and he is recommitted.  His sister-in-law, Maricris Magsino, (the one I told you about, although at that time I didn't know her first name, but she is the one that is on fire doing missionary work), anyway, she is always at the lessons, they live next door, and after the lesson and he committed to a baptismal date of April 19th, she spoke up and just really talked to him.  Of course, we could not really understand what she was saying, but I asked the Elders afterwards and they said she said, in essence, that even though he has 5 weeks to the date that he needed to start Monday and just commit himself that he was not going to have another cigarette for the rest of his life.  It was, of course, much longer than that, but I am so glad she said that.  As we worked with him in the past each week it was, oh, he's down to this many cigs a day, etc, and I just kept thinking, he needs to just quit now.  So, I hope he does that.  You just cannot believe how much you can come to love these people!  It was a busy week.  We had our first transfers.  We, of course, were not transferred, but we have to take departing missionaries to Puerto and pick up the ones coming into the area.  Even though we only spent about 6 weeks with these missionaries, we really grew to love them, most especially the ones here in Narra.  The other ones we see once a week at District Meeting, but don't have a lot of interaction with them.  But they are all great missionaries.  It was a long day, but good.  The Jagmis family is on schedule for baptism on the 29th.  Again, they are just truly a wonderful family.  We get to go see them tonight. And the Mondares family is committed for baptism on the 19th of April.  He has w of w problems, but is really working on it.  I guess the missionaries taught them a while ago, but none of them but the oldest boy, was interested.  He was really interested and asked the missionaries what he could do since his family wasn't interested.  I think they told him to read the B of M and pray, and maybe that is why they are doing so well now.  That, and they have neighbors that are members.  They have been friends with the Corpuz family for quite a while.  Bro Corpuz and Bro Mondares use to get drunk together.  But about 9 months ago, I think, the Corpuz' joined the church and are doing really well.  So they invited the Mondares family over for an FHE, and it has just progressed since then.  We were not able to find Bro Bert at home, which was disappointing because he is so cute!  But hopefully we will be able to get in to see him.  He did not come to church the Sunday he said he would try :( , but coming to church is a really hard thing for the people here.  We are still hopeful for him.  Mostly the Elders do not set a - ppointments, they just show up because people don't keep the appointments anyway.  But the people are always (almost) very hospitable when we show up.  Saturday was a VERY busy day!  We picked up 4 of the Elders and went to Sandoval to work on the meeting house.  I'm not sure if I explained about Sandoval or not.  Narra Branch covers a HUGE area.  Sandoval is to the South and is about 20-25 minutes by car, which no one has.  There is also another barangay (little town) called Bagong Sikat, which is I think west of Sandoval, and further from the chapel in Narra.  There are many inactive members in both areas because they cannot afford the cost of transportation.  So we got permission from Pres Stucki to start a group here that hopefully will become a Branch soon.  We looked for a place where they could meet but really couldn't find anything suitable so our BP, President Quiniones, asked the Zardomas, if we could build a little meeting house on their property.  (She comes sometimes but he has pretty much been inactive).  They were willing.  So we have been working on it.  It was kind of funny, or rather eye-opening - Bro Zardoma ordered the materials, and I expected 2x4's etc. NOPE!  The materials were branches and smaller logs, still with the bark on them.  And the roof, of course is the grass stuff.  Actually I don't think it is grass, but that's what they call it.  I think it is giant leaves, maybe from Palm trees, but I'm not sure.  Anyway, we were out Sat to help.  They had 1 shovel, 1 taped together rake, and a pitch fork kind of thing.  Oh, and they are not the full size shovel and fork, they are the short handled ones.  And a broken bucket.  We dug up dirt and dumped it on the floor of the meeting house and then they had a little bigger log to which they attached a stick on either side and that is what they used to pound the dirt to get a smooth, even surface.  Hard work, but it is coming along.  I plan to send you a picture of the meeting house too, but it was from the first day they worked on it.  When it is finished I will take another picture.  They plan to have their first meeting on April 6th. General Conference is a week later because of the time difference.  So once they start meeting out there we will go there for Sacrament meeting (that's all they will have to begin with) at 9am, and then back to Narra Branch for Sacrament meeting there.  Both places start at 9am because that is what works best for Pres Quiniones as he will be over the group until they become a branch.  Dad has to take him as he does not have a car.  I will probably go with them because it will be fun to get to know the saints there. We also want to focus on getting families to the temple.  There are many who are active but have not been sealed, so we have ordered materials to start the class.  We are also checking into teaching English.  We will see.  We, mostly Dad has a lot of things to do with the missionary apartments and monthly reports from the Branches and he is unofficially a member of the high council, but there is so much that can be done here.  We had our orientation last week for our infield language training.  We are excited to get started with that.  That is going to take extra time - 2-4 hours daily for 6 months, but I really feel it will be worth it.  I can't imagine serving here for 2 years and not being able to really communicate.  No new wildlife stories.  Geckos, actually here they call them butiki, are our constant companions.  It is so in every home we have been in.  I really don't mind them now, as long as they do not jump on me.  Tomorrow we head to Quezon, Cabar, and Brooke's Point to do apartment inspections for the missionaries, and then get a couple of contracts signed for the apartments, and so Dad can do some training on the monthly reports. 
Well, I' m sorry I go on and on.  There is just so much!  Probably after we're here for a while there won't be so much to tell as we will be use to it. 
 Anyway, we love and miss you all and hope you are all doing well. 


March 10, 2014

  We are swamped this week as we have transfers which means we have to take missionaries to Puerto (2 hour drive) and then pick up the new missionaries.  We also have district meeting and just several other things going on.  But please send us another email maybe on Saturday to remind us about the car thing and we will take the time to let you know what dad thinks.  Our families are doing so  GREAT!! We love them so much.  The father of the one that had the W of W problem is doing awesome.  He is just the sweetest man and we are so excited about them.  And we have another family - I think they have 4 kids, and they are set for baptism on April 26th I believe.  It is just so incredible to witness the Spirit working in their lives.  They are amazing and wonderful people!  I will try to take time to write more maybe tomorrow night if Dad has Branch Presidency meeting.  He is not in the branch presidency, but he is suppose to meet with them to help them learn their duties and responsibilities. Well, got to run.  We have to do an orientation lesson for our infield language training classes.  We feel so strongly that we need to learn the language and we feel that we will be more effective missionaries.  Pray for us that we will be able to learn it.
We love you all so much!  

March 10

March 10

So, how has everyone's week gone?  We had a busy week, but I think every week will be busy, and that is good.  We had a couple of disappointing days, but I imagine that is pretty normal too.  We had an appointment with a man who is the leader of a tribe here.  The"re are about 300 people in the tribe and he wants the missionaries to come and teach his people.  He has read the B of M and believes it is the word of God.  So we were set to go out with the elders but they got word that he had gone on one of his, I don't remember what they called it, like he just goes off wandering or something.  The elders have met with him once or twice before but he is just hard to follow up with so don't know if it will happen.  Then we were scheduled to go with the elders back to the family where the beetle attack took place, but they had to cancel.  I am anxious to get back there because the man seemed really sincere about reading and praying about the B of M and I want to see how that is going, so hopefully we will get back there.  We were able to visit a man who is the grandfather of one of the families we are teaching.  (I say "we" but we really don't do the teaching.  Usually the elders will ask us to share something, but we really don't teach, but we really enjoy going with them.)  Anyway, he is the father of the mother of the Mondares family.  They are very strong catholic.  In fact, his wife was at the catholic church that day, planned to be there all day.  But he told his daughter that if she has found out that the Mormon church is true then she should join.  But he was very receptive to message of the missionaries.  He said that he would read the B of M and ask the Lord if it was true and if he should switch (his word, but he pronounced it sweetch) churches.  He was receptive to the idea of Joseph Smith being a prophet and there being living prophets today.  He was just a really cute little old man, and he spoke English quite well.  He would speak tagalog and then translate it into English for us.  On Saturday we had kind of a scary thing happen.  Actually, it was VERY scary!  You know how Dad does not like drinking water.  Well here they really stress it obviously, because it is so hot.  But Dad still drank very little.  At breakfast he got really lightheaded and felt like he was going to pass out.  His heart was pounding out of his chest.  He went and laid down, but things got worse.  At first we thought it was one of his "episodes" but as I said things got worse.  He started throwing up and looked really bad.  He was having trouble breathing and said later that he was afraid he would pass out and then would stop breathing.  I was scared.  I asked if he needed to go to the hospital, which would be about 2 hours away.  He kept saying lets just wait and see, but he didn't get better.  I thought, I'm going to get ready to go because we are going to need to get him to the hospital.  Before I started getting ready I knelt down and prayed.  I really just said, Heavenly Father, I don't know what Thy plan is for us, but please help me to know what to do.  I got up to get in the shower and the thought just came to me - dehydration.  It came so, I don't know the word, nonchalantly but I told Dad I thought maybe it was that.  I looked up symptoms and all of his symptoms were dehydration.  Course they could have been a heart attack too.  But anyway, he just started drinking water and stayed down for the morning until our 1pm appointment, and he has been doing fine.  The rest of Saturday and Sunday he had a headache and was a little weak, but has been really good today.  He said as he was going through all of that he had the thought that I would be returning from the mission early, and I would be coming back alone.  I was also feeling that that might be the case.  I know that he was very serious.  The difficulty breathing was a symptom of severe dehydration and it said the person should be taken to the hospital immediately.  I know that it was very serious, and that it was the blessing of the Lord that he recovered so quickly and without medical attention.  Anyway, he is converted to drinking water!  Just a quick word about hospitals here.  Our trainers told us to die before going to the hospital here.  We drove past it once.  The outside of the building is covered with what looked like black mold.  They said that the outside looked good compared to the inside.  And, the way hospitals work here is that you cannot leave until you pay the full bill.  Of course no one has insurance here and so if you can't pay you just have to stay and you continue to accrue charges.  I'm not sure what they eventually do if you just really can't pay.  But there are guards at the doors so you cannot leave without the appropriate papers.  Sunday was a great day.  We had 2 baptisms, relatives of the Magsino family.  I will have to go into more detail about them another day.  Well, I've rambled on.  There is just so much to tell.

  I am going to attach a couple of pictures.    One is of a caribou (the ou is pronounced like in "ouch").  Anyway, there are a lot of rice fields here and they use the caribous a lot.  They fields are planted and harvested by hand. It is back breaking work!  And there are often several older people doing it. The only big piece of machinery they use is a thrasher.  You drive down the street and there will be huge tarps either off the side of the road or by the house that is covered with rice.  They put it out to dry. And about every 30-60 minutes they have to "stir" it so you'll see someone walking through it, back and forth. 

They just work so hard, and make so little.  The government is so corrupt here.  But the people are so good.  We love them.  
And we love and miss you all.  

The 2 green things were fruit - the bigger one was called Lanka, or Jack fruit.  the other is guyabano - I think that is right.  We don't care for either of them.  
But the mangos here are AMAZING!!!

Kumasta ka?

March 1, 2014

Kumasta ka?
Just thought I'd send a quick note to see how everything is.  Things here are great - and very busy!  It is warming up here -  we are moving into the "summer" season.  Not sure how we'll handle that.  It is already noticeably hotter and more humid.  But, we'll survive.  Dad spent the day in Sandoval building a little meeting house.  They are starting a group there which they hope will eventually become a Branch.  Sandoval is actually part of the Narra Branch, but it is so far away that the members cannot afford to come to church, so they go inactive.  I spent the day in meetings, mostly about the Perpetual Education Fund.  They have made some significant changes in the program - I don't know if it's just in the Philippines or not, but it should be a great benefit for the saints here, if they will take advantage of it.  Well, I hope all is well.  I'm hoping Monday will be an actual P-day and I'll have a little more time to write.  Hope to hear from you soon. 
 Love and miss you all!

We've Unpacked!

February 28, 2014

We have FINALLY unpacked our suitcases!!!  Our "trainers" left on Wednesday to go to Manila where they will stay for a few days and visit people they met while serving in that area.  Then on Monday they will fly home to Canada.  They are wonderful people and have done a great work here.  All of the Branch members love them and will really miss them, as will we.  But it is really nice to finally be settled in.  (Well, we're still settling in, but at least we know we're not going anywhere soon!)  I don't know where to begin, as I can't really remember what I have told you.  Hopefully we will be able to stay in contact more regularly, now that we have internet.  Although, like I mentioned, it is not really reliable.  But, at least we have it.  And warm showers.  And an oven.  I would say most people on the island have neither warm, INDOOR showers or ovens.  But they are happy, hard working people, very loving and have been very kind to us.  They love having senior missionaries, and treat us with such respect,  When I walked into RS a couple of weeks ago two elderly sisters were getting up and moving so that I could take a seat.  I said no, no and sat in the back.  Then another elderly sister came in and she got a chair and put it on the front row and made me sit up there. When we are somewhere there is food we have to be the first ones to eat.  Anyway, we love it here!  But we do not really love the wild life - at least not the ones that think they want to share our home.  The other night we came home and found a HUGE spider - almost the size of a tarantula in the kitchen sink!  And the Gwilliams said they had an even bigger one coming out of the spare bedroom one morning.  I frequently include in my prayers that no matter what happens I will be able to handle it with dignity.  We took the Gwilliams out for dinner before they left.  While we were eating a gecko fell or jumped from the ceiling, landed on the front of my shoulder and then went to the floor.  It happened quick enough that luckily I didn't have time to react.  I was grateful for that!  But a couple of nights ago we were with some of the elders teaching a man and his wife.  We were in an open hut and there were huge flying beetles.  One landed on me and I kind of jumped and brushed it off.  It ended up in my chair, which I didn't know until I felt something biting or stinging me.  So I felt down there and it, or another one, was in my chair so I brushed it off.  Then I felt something on my foot, biting or stinging so I reached down, thinking it was a mosquito or something, and it was another beetle.  I tried to not make a big deal about it, but I couldn't help jumping when I realized what was on me.  It didn't interrupt the lesson, thankfully, but Dad said the woman was getting a kick out of watching me.  For myself, I did not notice her watching me.  I was too busy fighting off the beetle attack.  But I survived!  They were an interesting couple.  When the lesson first started, and this was the elders third visit, but I think only the second lesson, I couldn't read the man very well, he didn't seem really interested, but I wasn't sure.  And since we don't understand tagalog I didn't know how he was responding.  But the woman did not seem interested at all.  But as the lesson progressed I could tell that they became  more interested and were really listening to what Elder Julito was teaching.  He taught about the restoration and the BoM.  We found out afterwards that he has a "calling" or whatever they call it, in the Catholic church.  But he committed to read the BoM and to be baptized if he finds out that it is true.  He agreed to say the closing prayer and in it he prayed to know if the things he was being taught were true.  We are excited to see how things progress.  The Jagmis family are set for baptism on the 29th of March.  Both parents have overcome WofW problems and are anxious to be baptized.  They have a really cute family - three kids.  All but the little girl will be baptized.  It is just such an amazing thing to see people who are truly hungry for the truth, and who recognize it and accept it so readily. 
The Magsino family are also set for baptism for the 29th but don't know if they will make it.  The father has a smoking issue and has gradually decreased, but has not made any progress this week.  He needs to be completely off them by tomorrow and stay off for the 4 weeks before baptism.  They are a great family and we are really hoping and praying for them.  The elders are also teaching other members of the Magsino family.  In the Magsino family there are like 10 brothers and I think most of them live here.  One of the brothers, a younger one, and his wife and kids are members.  The wife, Sister Magsino is really on fire and invites everyone to hear the message of the gospel.  She has given the missionaries several referrals.  Anyway, they are great and humble people.  Whenever we go there they have to feed us.  They cannot afford to do it, but they say they just love having the missionaries come to their home and they want to do it.  Filipino food is...interesting.  Some is pretty good.  The elders made Bical Express, which is pretty common here, but it was REALLY good.  I told Elder Limocon he cannot leave Narra without giving me the recipe.  He doesn't really have one, but he will try to write down how he makes it.  We've eaten pan cit, sopas, sticky rice, adobo (the national dish), lumpia (pretty good).  Anyway, we love these people!  We are in the process of starting a Sandoval group.  Tomorrow Dad, the other elders, and hopefully members of our branch will meet at the Zardoma's to build a "meeting house".  Actually just 6 posts with a roof.  It will cost about 250.00.  The Narra Branch covers a huge area and many of the members cannot afford to make the trip.  Most do not have vehicles and it is too far to walk.  They can take, what they call tricycles - I think I told you what those were, but it costs about 200 pesos, about 5 dollars, per person and they cannot afford it.  So we are building this meeting house and will start a group, with the hopes that in a very short time we will have enough to create a Branch.  The Zardoma's are allowing us to build it on their property.  They are members, he has been inactive, but is excited about having the meeting house built, so hopefully he will be motivated to go.  They will start with just Sacrament meeting. As I write this I just get pretty emotional.  There are so many really good people here.  I just wish I could fully explain.  But, I guess I have probably gone on long enough.  Hopefully I can get caught up on everything we have done in the past month.  But in case I forget, remind me to tell you about Brother and Sister Gatud.  They are TRULY amazing!  We use that word a lot, but it is so applicable to this couple.  Well, I hope you are all doing really well.  We love and miss you, but are so thankful to be here.  It is a little overwhelming and scary to be on our own, but really, we are not on our own, and we know that.  We received a powerful witness of that the day the Gwilliams left.  We came over before they left to help them and see them off.  A few days earlier Elder Gwilliam had turned the working fund over to Dad.  It is money, about 65000 pesos - about 1500 us dollars - that we use to take care of things here for the missionaries.  Anyway, we were on our way into the house and Dad had the pouch with the money in his hand to bring it into the house. He stopped on his way in to check the washer fluid in the Gwilliams car.  He set the pouch down just to do that, and as happens, especially when there is a lot going on, and your a little older, he completely forgot it.  We were busy helping them load up, we said our good-byes and they left.  A little while later I was going through the desk drawer and found Elder's wallet.  We called them, and they had also left their tickets.  So they turned around and we found the tickets and headed out to meet them.  As we were leaving I asked Dad about the pouch.  He could not remember where he had put it.  We took a few minutes to look for it but couldn't find it anywhere.  We thought maybe we had put it back in the car that the Gwilliams took because we switched cars.  So we left and met them.  When we got there Dad had the thought that maybe he had layed it in the engine cavity just to check the fluid.  When he lifted the hood he saw it in the corner of the windshield - on the outside of the car.  Somehow it had stayed on the car that whole time.  They Gwilliams had not noticed it.  Had Elder not forgot his wallet, had we not thought about it before we left to take the wallet..., well, the Lord's hand was in it and it was a miracle.  He is watching over this work, AND us!  We are so grateful for this opportunity!  We love you all and hope you are all doing well.  I plan to send you each an email, probably tomorrow when dad goes to build the meeting house, but I just wanted to kind of update you on what's going on here.  Hope to hear from you soon.
  Love you all   

February 17

February 17, 2014

Just another quick hi to everyone!  I apologize for not responding individually to everyone (but I really do appreciate hearing from you!), but as I said we do not have internet in our apartment, so we can only get on when we are at the Gwilliams, which is often, but we are always involved in something so don't have much time.  And, the internet is not very reliable.  It was out for 4 days last week.  We continue to feel overwhelmed but hopefully the Lord will bless us and help us do everything we need to do.  We have traveled so much since arriving in Palawan because we are in the Narra district which covers quite an area.  I can't really say how many miles (or kilometers here) it is, but it is a 4 hour drive to the point furthest south, which is Rizal,and about 45 minutes to the point north, which is Aborlan.  However, we often have to travel to Puerto Princesa, which is about 2 hours north because there are things that have to be done there, as well as that is where the closest grocery stores are.  Distance wise, it is not that far, but about half of the road to Rizal is VERY ROCKY dirt roads and we can only travel about 10-15 mph.  The road north is better.  People drive crazy here, but fortunately it is not as bad as in Manilla.  I will have to try to describe it to you sometime.  We have been able to go out with the missionaries several times and are working with some really incredible families. I think that because these people are so poor -  they don't have all the material distractions and really know what matters most.  But because they are so poor some of them have to work 6-7 days per week, sometimes 10-12 hours/day just to feed their families.  That makes it hard for them to attend church.  Also many cannot afford to travel to church as the branch is pretty spread out.  So we are trying to find another place where we  could hold just sacrament meeting to begin with and then hopefully form another branch.  No one owns a car here, a very few own what they call tricycles. It is a motorcycle with a kind of a covered cart.  Many of them use them as a business, they drive around and give people rides for a small price.  You also see many motorcycles, and there are often 4-6 people on one.  President Stucki said they have seen as many as 8 on a motorcycle. Often very small children and babies.  Well, I hadn't planned on going on so long.  Just a couple of other "events".  One morning last week we were getting ready to go on another trip and it had started raining.  Then it just started pouring and our kitchen ceiling starting leaking REALLY bad!  We had 6-7 big containers to catch it.   The rain finally slowed a bit and it stopped leaking.  Later that day it started leaking in our bedroom, but not anything like the kitchen.  Anyway, it leaked because of a too small drain pipe which couldn't hold the really heavy rains, and also the wind blowing so hard that it blew the rain in through a place that wasn't sealed off. We are in the process of getting it taken care of.  That day it rained all day long, heavy rain.  By the time we got back to Narra many of the road were flooded.  But a day or two later it was all dried up, because it is so hot.  But the hottest time of year is March - June, so we have that to look forward to. :)  And just one other funny thing.  Most people, probably every home we have been in have geckos on the walls.  They say its a good thing because they eat mosquitoes, so it's just not a big deal. (They are usually small, 3-5 inches, but yesterday we saw one that was about 8 or 9 inches long and fat!).  Anyway, about a week ago we were in a family's home and I was sitting next to one of the elders and all of the sudden a gecko drops down onto his back from the ceiling.  He says, "Sister Wirthlin, what's on my back?"  I told him and asked if he wanted me to brush it off.  Then it just quickly crawled off. (They move really fast!)  Anyway, it was funny.  I was so thankful that it did not fall on me because it was right in the middle of the lesson and I would have screamed and disrupted the lesson, so that was a blessing.  Anyway, I know this is really scattered and probably doesn't make much sense, but there is just so much to tell.  And we have been taking pictures.  Once we move into the house which will be around the 26th, then hopefully we can get on a schedule and be in more regular contact.  BUT I DO REALLY ENJOY RECEIVING YOUR EMAILS, EVEN IF I CAN'T RESPOND RIGHT AWAY!!!  It is just so nice, when I do get a chance to check my emails to have something from family.  Well, we love and miss you all!  

February 7

February 7, 2014

 We are feeling pretty overwhelmed, but our trainers, Elder and Sister Gwilliam from Canada, are GREAT!  But they are going home in about 2 1/2 weeks - so then we'll probably really be stressed!  We have met many of the members here, and have been able to go out with the missionaries several times.  They are teaching two amazing families.   Last night, after the lesson and closing prayer the father of one of the families asked for ideas to help their family become more spiritual.  It was so amazing.  The people here are so humble.  They are poor but happy.  There is so much to tell, but I will wait until we get moved into our home, which will be the end of February.  Also I will send pictures.  Our apartment is not too bad.  No hot water, but at least there is running water and indoor plumbing. And after the initial shock of the cold water, showers aren't too bad. When the Gwilliams leave we will move into their home and some Elders will move into ours. They do have hot water in the shower, not in the kitchen.  Anyway, we are very busy but not as busy as we will be when Gwilliams go home.  We are on the road a lot - Elder Gwilliam spends about 375.00 in gas per month.  And you would really not believe the driving conditions.  I will try to explain later.  This really is a third world country.  Many homes have dirt floors.  They are not really homes, but shacks or huts.  Oh, and we found out that when someone dies, the body is embalmed and then the family has to take it ho me (in a casket) and keep it at their house until they have the money to bury the body.  It is not "buried" they way we do.  Anyway, better close for now.  I just use their internet here once in a while but once we move in I will be able to keep up a little better - I hope ! 

Hey if anyone has any great ideas for games I would appreciate it.  We are doing an activity for the YSA and youth for our branch.  It is next Friday for Valentines day so if you could let me know asap that would be great!  Thanks and love you all!

We love and miss you all so much!  Hope you are all doing well.  Please send me a quick update to let me know how you are all doing.  Even though I don't have time to email much it is nice to sit down and see some emails from family.  We love you all.