Friday, August 15, 2014

August 11, 2014

Minamahal pamilya,

Kumusta po kayo? Mabuting kami.  Abalang-abala kami! 

On August 2nd the senior couple who is over the Self-Reliance program and the Perpetual Education Fund for the Manila and one other mission, came out from Manila to do some training.  These are both really good programs and we are hoping they can get established here. We are not over the program but hope to be able to assist in getting them going and keeping them going.  We will see when our District and Branch President decide how they will proceed.  They showed a short video of a Branch here in the Philippines that started the SR program.  It was very successful - helping the members produce more food for themselves and also, I think, having some extra to sell and earn a little money.  As you would imagine, Dad would  really like to help with a program like this.  I think this is a new SR program and it is set up so that the Branch can organize SR groups in three different areas.  Those who want to be in the group meet together weekly.  There are lessons that they take turns teaching and they help each other to achieve their goals.  There is a facilitator that oversees the group, but that person does not take charge, they just facilitate.  Anyway, it is a good program. And they have made some really great improvements to the PEF program as well.  After the changes were made they said the number of people taking advantage of it went from like 300 to into the thousands, I don't remember how many. But they said there was only 1 person from Narra that applied.  So, we need to really get the information out and encourage the young people, I think up to 30 years old, to apply. 

We have been doing a lot of visiting in Bagong Sikat.  I think I told you about that, but last week we had kind of a cool experience.  We go with the Gatuds. They are just an amazing older couple.  They really want to see the Sandoval group continue and eventually become a ward because it saves them 120 pesos each week just going to Sandoval instead of Narra for church.  That is only about three US dollars, but that is a lot of money for them. 

Anyway, Bagong Sikat is part of the Sandoval Branch.  We were visiting a less active family and the sister started talking about another less active sister.  She told Brother Gatud where she thought she lived and we were going to try to find her. In front of this little group of houses was a little store ( I need to tell you about these little sari-sari stores - but that's another email). As we were leaving Sister Gatud had to go talk to another sister in the little area so we walked to the van.  As we were walking I saw a woman with 2 daughters buying something at the store. I felt prompted to talk to her, but I thought, oh, I'm just telling myself to do that so I can practice Tagalog, and I really don't feel like doing that, so I hesitated.  The Spirit got a little more forceful and said, Go talk to that woman!. So I did.  I introduced myself, explained that we were missionaries for the Church and had she heard of our Church.  I did it in Tagalog, so she started talking to me in Tagalog, and, of course, I didn't understand much of anything.  But by then Brother Gatud came over and started talking to her and it turns out she was the VERY woman we were going to go looking for! No coincidence that she was there and we were there at the same time.  And we found out that she does not live where the other sister thought she did, so we would not have found her had we looked. Brother Gatud explained to her about the group meeting in Sandoval and invited her to come on Sunday. I don't know if she committed to come or not, but she didn't come.  However, it was a very powerful testimony that none of us are lost to our Heavenly Father.  He knows where each of us are, physically, temporally, spiritually, emotionally.  He knows us personally and loves us and wants us to return. It was also a very strong witness that He is in charge of His work, we are just instruments in His hands. AND, I, we, need to ACT when we receive a prompting.  We need to open our mouths, and not just try to explain away or excuse ourselves or tell ourselves that it was just ourselves telling ourselves to do that, not really a prompting.  That is very easy to type, but not so easy to do.  But I am determined to do better.  It is not so hard to invite people to hear the message of the Gospel, it is hard and often embarrassing to do it in Tagalog because I get tongue-tied and frustrated. I just need to exercise more faith.  

Anyway, we have been having some success with some of the less actives there in the Sandoval area.  Last Sunday I think there were 5 of the ones we have visited in the last few weeks there, and most of them have come for a couple of weeks.  I say we, but really it is the Lord and the Gatuds.  They are very well respected and they love the Lord and the people.  Mostly we are just their transportation, but it is such a blessing to be able to go with them. We are planning to start going out with the leadership of the Narra branch to visit less actives here as well.  We are planning on sharing a SHORT message with them in Tagalog.  We will see how that goes.  

We were going to start this week but we have had 2 flat tires in a week. Both were repaired but neither of them would have been in the US because they were both really bad.  The one we traded with the spare because it has a big chunk of the tire out of it and the other one is on the van, but neither are really reliable and we decided we didn't want to be taking people around and have a flat and then no spare.  We have been planning on getting new tires on our next trip to Puerto, but now they are saying they are going to get us another vehicle, probably a 4 wheel drive, because the roads are so bad out here and the van is really taking a beating. So we will still get new tires, or the couple who takes the van over will, but we will have another vehicle soon.  The extra time gives us time to work on the message we want to share.  

Anyway, everything is just going along.  English class is good.  I had a YW cooking activity here last Saturday.  It was a lot of fun, but it is hard to understand very little of what is being said.  Oh well.  Maybe someday. 

Well, we hope you are all doing well.  We love and miss you so much!  And we love hearing about everything that is going on in your lives. So, please keep writing.  Again, I will try to do better about writing each week.  I always think I will and then something comes up on Monday and then the week just zooms by.  But, I will try!  

We love you all and look forward to Skyping with you again soon.  


 Love, Grandpa and Grandma

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pix, pix, pix!

July 28, 2014

More Great Pictures!

Cute little family that lives across the street from us, but they always go over to our next door neighbor's house. She is like their grandma.

Our English class, but Brother and Sister Dagdag were not there.  We will get their picture though - they are so cute!

We love this. Almost all the palm tree trunks are so straight, but this one is just a curly q. Like the trees, we are all unique, some more than others :) !

Dragon fruit. 
These are the 2 kinds we tried.  I don't know if there are other kinds or not.  They are interesting.  A little different on the outside and different colors on the inside. They are pretty expensive.

The inside of Dragon fruit. Kind of the consistency of kiwi, and the little black seeds like kiwi.

Last transfer - departing Elders Amante, Teeples (from Logan, who met Stephen just before leaving on his mission), and Appleby, from Australia.  Teeples and Appleby came to Narra the same time we did, and they were new missionaries too. But they had spent 6 weeks in the MTC in Manilla.

This picture doesn't do it justice.  This pineapple was HUGE!!! When we first got here we bought a few pineapples but they weren't very good so we decided we wouldn't buy any more.  But then we found out that now is the season for them and they are SO SWEET and yummy!  And gigantic!

Love you all!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New Mission President and More

July 28, 2014

Well, another week or two (or maybe more :(   ) has passed.  How is everyone doing?  How were your 4th and 24th of July celebrations?  We kind of missed not being involved in those fun things.  How is summer?  Can't believe it is 2/3rds over.  Time goes by way too fast.  Things here are moving along. 

Our new mission president and family arrived here on June 29th, and the Stuckis' left the same day. An interesting story about the Stuckis'. A couple of weeks ago  Kamber and Mike went to the temple. Mike took McKenna and did baptisms for the dead while Kamber stayed with the other kids.  When they were done Kamber did a session.  After the session, while she was changing, she overheard 2 women talking.  One had just returned from somewhere, and the one was asking her about the language.  Kamber had the thought she should ask her if she had just returned from a mission.  She did so, and the woman said, Yes, from the Philippines.  Kamber asked her if she was Sister Stucki, and SHE WAS! Unbelievable! When they were leaving the Stuckis' were also leaving so they were able to meet Mike and the kids as well. What is the likelihood? 

We went to Puerto for interviews with President Ostler, but when we got there we were told that he was so far behind with interviews that he would not be able to meet with us that day.  But we were able to meet with Sister Ostler.  She is very nice - very different personality than Sister Stucki, but both of them are wonderful.  This past week President and Sister Ostler and their 13 year old son, Caleb, came out with President and Sister Hiatt, to tour the Narra District.  It was a 2 day trip.  We did not go with them the first day, because we had prior commitments, but we were able to go with them the second day, to Brooke's Point and Cabar.  We were able to visit a lot and get to know them a little.  They are great people.  

Our English class is going well.  We have this cutest older couple, the Dagdags. They come each week on their bike.  She sits on the support bar and holds a flashlight, and he pedals them home.  Most recently they have had a little homemade sidecart attached to the bike. It has a little covering over it and she sits in there.  They are just so cute and so eager to learn.  

For the last couple of weeks we have been going out to Bagong Sikat, which is part of the Sandoval area, and visiting some of the less active families there, with Brother and Sister Gatud.  They are another amazing couple.  I'm not sure if I've told you about them but I believe they were the first members in Narra.  They use to have to travel to Puerto for church, but since being converted they have not missed a Sunday. We are really hoping the group will grow and be able to become a Branch.

This past weekend we visited Rizal for Dad's high council visit.  It is a small Branch, but they are good people.  We love going there and the people are so kind to us. I imagine you heard about the typhoon in Manila.  We did not think there was much damage but apparently there was. Trees were down and they were with out power for a few days. It delayed transfers for a few days because all flights were cancelled. I am not sure about injuries.  We had rain and wind, but nothing out of the ordinary. People say none of those things happen on Palawan, but that kind of talk makes me a little nervous.  But, I'm sure we will be fine. This is the typhoon season, so I expect there will be others. The weather is cooler, which is nice, and though we have frequent rain, so far it is not raining all day long.  But, people are saying we are not getting the usual amount of rain, so we are praying for more because some of our members farm and do not have irrigation so they cannot plant until there is more rain.  

We are doing good.  Dad was sick for a while, but I think it was from food.  President Ostler mentioned sending out some de-worming pills.  I know they have the elders take them when they go home, and probably the senior couples as well.  It wouldn't surprise me if that was the problem.  Speaking of worms, we heard about a delicacy here.  Can't remember what they are called, but they are worms that live inside trees.  They are about a foot long, or longer, and they serve them raw.  I guess it is a big thing for the Elders to try them and one of the Elders in Manila was telling us about them. I'm sure, like balut, they are not suppose to eat them, but...

Well, I had better close for now.  We love and miss you all and hope you are doing great! It would be fun to Skype again so let me know when will work.  Ingat!

Mahal namin po kayo!
Dad and Mom, Grandma and Grandpa.

Magandang Hapon Minamahal Pamilya!

July 16, 2014

Magandang Hapon Minamahal Pamilya!

Kumusta po kayo?  Mabuti kami.  We have been very busy!  I have got to be better at sending emails every week.  I can't remember what I have written about.  In the last 2 weeks we have done a lot of traveling, as the 2nd counselor in the Mission presidency wanted us to show them each of the areas in our District and also show them where the Elders' apartments are in each area.  That is President and Sister Hiatt, and they live in Puerto.  We invited the other senior couple, the Newsons, to come with them.  So that was traveling for 2 days (on Wed and Thur of week before last) to Aborlan, Quezon, Rizal, Brooke's Point, and Cabar, but we really had a good time with them.  I especially enjoyed it, because I am the only sister missionary in the Narra District.  It was nice to have some English speaking women to visit with.  Then we had to go back to Rizal on Sunday (last Sunday) and then on Monday we had to go back to Quezon, Cabar and Brooke's Point.  We moved the Elders in BP to a new apartment.  It was only suppose to take about 2 hours but ended up taking about 5 hours because there was a problem with the kitchen faucet. 

Most of the rest of last week Dad was sick or I was sick.  Dad's we think was some bad food, were not sure what my problem was.  But, we are much better now.  

Tomorrow we go to Puerto for our interviews with the new mission president, President Ostler.  Then the rest of the week we will be going on visits with our BP to the leadership of our Branch.  Next week is our Branch conference, and we are having a special leadership meeting, so we are going to personally invite each person who is in a leadership position to come to the meeting.  

The English class is going well.  We had about 12 there on Saturday. We have a variety of ages.  I was surprised, but also happy that we have a couple of older couples coming. I taught the 2 sisters that come for cooking class how to do donuts again.  One of the sisters asked if we could do it again because she had tried them and they didn't turn out very well.  So we did that, and I had them do all of it, I just gave them a little direction, and they turned out even better than before!  So the one sister went home and made them and then sold them.  She sold them all so that was really good.  She has also had her husband make her an outdoor oven our to bricks.  She has made pizza and, I can't remember the other thing she told me.  It is a little difficult because it is heated with fire, so she needs to get the hang of it, but I am so proud of her for trying and working so hard to improve their situation.  We will do cream puffs this week.  I just let them decide what they want to learn. Oh, and this week we will have another sister - one that just moved into our Branch from Manila, I think. We may have one other sister come as well.  My neighbor across the street is friends with Sister Abrigo, the sister that first asked me to teach her to bake.  When my neighbor saw her come here she asked her why.  Sister Abrigo told her and she said, Oh, with the American?  Can I come next time?  I said that would be great - a missionary opportunity.  I had talked to this neighbor before and asked if she would like to meet with the missionaries.  She said, I'm too busy, but maybe next time. Maybe something will come of it.  Anyway, I enjoy it, and I think it is so good for these two sisters.  They have a lot of challenges, and it is a nice break for both of them.

We have had 3 baptisms in the last 2 weeks.  One was a young women whom the missionaries have been working with for several months.  She wanted to get baptized, but her parents were against it.  She is old enough to get baptized without their permission, but she loves them and did not want to disobey them.  However, the Elders told us that they were teaching her one evening and the Spirit was so strong and she just said she was going to be baptized.  They always have newly members bear their testimonies after they are baptized and I only understood a little bit, but the Spirit was really strong there, and the Elders told us afterwards that she bore a powerful testimony that she loves her parents very much, but she also knows the Church is true and that baptism was the right thing to do. Last night 2 more relatives of Sister Pamulag were baptized.  I am not sure if they are her niece and nephew or what, one was Kyla, a young woman, probably 12, and the other was Gilbert, a young man, 16 I think.  He also bore a very strong testimony. It is just really an incredible experience to see these young people grow in their understanding and accept the truth.  We have seen some really amazing youth come into the Church.  We can see that the Lord is building His Kingdom here through the youth

We really do love it here! And feel so blessed to be having this experience.  On my birthday Maxine sent me an email wishing me a happy birthday and she said some thing like, Did you ever think you would be spending your 58th birthday in the Philippines serving the Lord?  I could honestly say, NO, I never thought of that, but I am just so thankful that this is where we are now.

Not too many new or exciting things here.  It is cooler, and rainy.  We understand it will rain even more, so that could be interesting.  We had a terrific storm this afternoon, and the electricity has been off all day.  But, being spoiled as we are, we have a generator, so we really don't suffer too much!  Well, I know if I would write each week I wouldn't write such long letters, but, where is the time??? The week just slips by!.

Oh, just a quick update on our Sandoval group.  We go out there for Sacrament meeting when we are here.  They are wonderful people, but the group is struggling.  Today we only had 19 there.  With such a small group the Sacrament doesn't take long so we started the testimony and I just thought, oh, this isn't going to be long...we will probably get out early because they'll be done with testimonies and what else do you do.  But, the WHOLE time was taken up these wonderful members sharing their testimonies!  There is such strength in those few members!  We just need to work harder to build up that area because I just feel that there is so much potential. It was a REALLY good meeting.  I actually understood a little.

Well, we hope you are all doing great!  And enjoying your summer.  They are back in school here - started the first of June. Oh, and Jezebelle Magsino, she was one of the first baptisms after we arrived here, she is the cute girl who was pregnant, not married.  Anyway, she had her baby on my birthday.  And she is so cute!  Her name is Shayne Lee. I'm not sure if it is one name or two.  Well, better run.  Actually don't have plans for tonight but we have to get up early to leave for Puerto.

We love and miss you all!  And love hearing from you.  Ingat!  Mahal naming po kayo!

Grandma and Grandpa, Dad and Mom