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