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