May 7, 2014
Magandang tanghalia pamiliya,
Another week and a half has gone by. Actually it may have been more than that since I wrote last. We are so busy and days and weeks just kind of melt together. And I cannot remember what I last wrote, so I probably just keep repeating myself. On Friday, April 25th, our wonderful Magsino family was baptized, all except Tatay. That was so sad. He really is such a good man, and wants to gospel in his life. It was evident that he felt really bad that he could not participate with his family. I will never forget the picture of Sister Magsino in her white jump suit. She is beautiful and such a humble, sweet person. BUT, the good news is, Brother Magsino has set a goal to be baptized on! The day he made that commitment he had only had 1 cigarette. We just keep praying for him.
Starting on April 27th we were visiting all of the Branches in our District to get the Focus Reports done. That is one of Dad's responsibilities and it is always so hard to get them gathered in. We decided that one of the big problems is the BP's don't know exactly what they are suppose to do, and most do not know how to use the computer very well. (Oh, the Focus report is something that I think the Area presidency came up with to keep track of the progress in the Narra and Puerto Districts. They record things like # current temple recommend holders, #Active MP holders, Sacrament Meeting attendance, etc. They are hoping both can become Stakes soon and are really pushing for everyone to step up.) So anyway, the report is due on the 5th of the following month and Elder Gwilliam always had problems getting it. Then they changed the report and are now requiring names of individuals in each category that they are focusing on to get their recommend or become active, etc., so it is even harder to get. So we decided we would just visit the Branches and do some training and help them get the reports done. So on Sunday, the 27th we left at aboutand headed for Rizal since Dad had a High Council assignment there. After the meetings we did some training, but they do not have a workable computer there so we put it all on our laptop. That night we stayed at a resort (I use that term lightly). I may have told you about it. We stayed there once with the Gwilliams when they were showing us around. It is beautiful there, but they only have electricity from . Actually you can pay more and have it for longer, so they must have a generator or something. The resort is about 40 minutes from Rizal. In Rizal they only have it from . Our poor elders there have to buy food almost everyday because they can't really keep it in their fridge.
Anyway, Monday morning we went to Quezon. Tuesday was District meeting and I was going to get my hair cut but wasn't feeling too well so postponed it. Wednesday we went to Cabar and Brooke's Point. On Friday we met with our BP and went over things with him as well. The only Branch we did not visit was Aborlan. They got the reports in on time, with just one misunderstanding about what was needed on the report. We are hoping that things will go a little smoother once we get thing updated and the BP trained on using the computer.
Thursday was my big cooking class. There were supposed to be 20 people, but thankfully there were only about 10, and I'm not sure any of them were ones that had signed up. But, as I said, I was thankful for a couple of reasons. With just the 10 we were so crowded in our kitchen that I don't think we could have survived with 10 more. But more importantly, one of the families that showed up were new to Narra. (It was a man, and I think his daughter and I think her son, but I'm not sure.) To the best of my understanding they had come for an extended stay, and while they were here they got word that an older daughter had been killed by her boyfriend. Her first husband had died, and she left 4 little children. This family did not have any money to fly back to Manila, and it appeared that they really hadn't eaten much for a few days. So, with only the 10 there, 12 with me and Dad, there was a lot of food for them to eat, and they were also able to take some home. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and I wonder if the whole thing was planned so food could be provided for this family. I guess they are going to stay awhile and the daughter will try to find a job. Anyway, it was a lot of fun (and a lot of work). We made buko pie (which is young coconut), mango pineapple pie, pizza, and doughnuts. (Sister Martinez's choices, not mine.) We were also going to make breadsticks, but there was not time. They really enjoyed everything, I think especially the pizza. Also, our BP and his 2 boys and 2 other kids were part of the group, and I was glad for that as well because his wife is working as basically a nanny in Hong Kong, so poor President Quiniones has all of the responsibilities of his family and his calling. We keep praying that he and his wife can find a way that they have her come home and still get by financially. I guess many families do that here, but it is not good. One young gal told me that she is a nurse and wanted to go work abroad, but her husband said no, you need to be here to raise our children. I will do what I have to to provide. I wish everyone could understand how important that is. But, we cannot judge because we have never been in their situation.
The Cooking Class
The donuts! They were so proud of them! And they tasted good, too!
Saturday was District meetings for both Dad and me. We found out that we will be helping with Youth Conference, which will be next week. At least we got about 1 1/2 weeks notice. The Senior couple in Puerto were called 2 days before YC started and asked to come up with something for one of the mornings, until about.
On Sunday we usually attend the Sandoval Sacrament meeting and then go to the Narra Sacrament meeting. We miss priesthood and RS and SS, but we feel that Sandoval needs the support right now, and they really appreciate us being there. Things there are moving very slowly. But, we have about 40 who come pretty regularly, so we just need to build on that. There are many members in that area, but once you become inactive sometimes it is so hard to get back into the habit. You forget what you are missing. The Elders in that area are working really hard to reactivate and find. Really ALL the elders in the Narra District are fantastic. They are dedicated and focused and hard working. We love them and love being around them and especially love to go on visits with them.
In Sacrament Meeting in Narra I bore my testimony, IN TAGALOG! I was REALLY nervous, and it was pretty simple, but it was in Tagalog, all except for one thought that I had had while in Sandoval meeting. I just didn't realize how hard it is to do that, at least for me. But I love learning the language and we have really good tutors to help. Next week is zone conference and youth conference. It will be busy! But that is good. That is what we are here for. Before closing though, I wanted to share something that I learned or thought about while I was studying this morning. I was reading in Jacob 1, I think it was verse 2 where Jacob says that Nephi instructed him to write on the plates the things that he considered to be "most precious". I thought about how they really didn't have a lot of space to write, and it was so difficult for them to engrave the words, that they had to be very selective about what they wrote. That made me think of the story about the member of the church who was being held captive somewhere, I can't remember where or if he was in the military or what or why he was captured, but anyway, what I remember is that he was allowed to write a message to his family, but it could only be 25 words. So I thought, what would I write. After crossing out a lot of words, this is what I came up with: "I love Heavenly Father, Savior, YOU! Keep commandments. Make/keep all covenants. Integrity always. Choose wisely. Pray, study scriptures daily. Live to have ETERNAL FAMILY!" If I gave it more thought, I might change it a bit, I don't know. But as I was consolidating my words I had the thought that its kind of like life. Sometimes we get so many things in our lives, like so many words on a page. But if we eliminate all of the unimportant or unnecessary things, like the unnecessary words, we have what is really "most precious". Obviously there are a lot of less important things that we HAVE to do, but if we can just keep focused on the "most precious", I think we will be happier and more content. Anyway, just my thoughts.
And that, after I have gone on and on with probably a lot of unnecessary words. I'm sorry. If I could write more often it wouldn't be so long. But it just seems impossible. We do not have the same schedule as the young Elders, but that also means that we often do not have a P-day, so it is just a matter of squeezing in a few minutes - actually a lot of minutes, to write. I will try to do better. WE LOVE AND MISS YOU ALL! You are "MOST PRECIOUS" to us. Hope you all have a good week.
Ingat! Mahal namin po kayo!