Saturday, December 27, 2014

Maligayan Pakso sa kayong lahat!

December 22, 2014

Maligayan Pakso sa kayong lahat!

We hope you are all doing well! I'm sure things are pretty crazy there about now. The kids here are WILD! They are so excited about the party.  I don't think they really do much for Christmas here so it should be fun.  We are expecting about 25 kids - the number keeps growing. We are fixing spaghetti, Filipino spaghetti, which is REALLY sweet, but that's how they like it. We will just play some games, eat and maybe watch a Christmas movie if we can find one here. We will have a couple of missionaries here just before the party starts to Skype with family so I think I am going to ask them to share the Christmas story with the kids. We want to share the true meaning of Christmas with them, but didn't know how to do it because they don't understand much English, so this would be great. 

We had our mission Christmas party last week.

 The nativity was really beautiful!

We even had a surprise visitor!

I think Sister Ostler bought the costumes before coming here. That was on Tuesday and we stayed in Puerto that night. 

Dad went to the dentist on Wednesday. The dentist said he needs to have the tooth pulled, but his partial hooks to it so he suggested an implant, which is crazy, or another thing which Dad didn't really understand.  So we are just hoping and praying the tooth will hold out until we go home.  He's had this problem before with the tooth and then it settles down for a while. 

We got our new branch presidency and Brother Tana, the recent convert, was called as second counselor!  We were kind of surprised, just because he is so new, but they seem so committed and are really trying to learn the gospel. They attend everything, even the extra meetings and broadcasts.  The president and other counselor are new to the area - the president has only been in Narra for about a month, and the counselor has been here for about 4 months. It may be a little hard for them because some of the older people here are kind of put out that "the new guys" were called.  But I think it will be really good.  I think they will follow the hand book, which doesn't happen here - mostly I think because it is in English and they don't understand, but also because they just continue to do what the past presidency did. We are excited.  

Our BP is really missionary minded.  In the first correlation meeting he talked about the branch becoming a preach my gospel branch. We are still just meeting with 3 families for temple prep. There are several other families we want to meet with but need to meet with our BP first because we found out that the families are required, if possible, to help with the cost of the temple trip so the BP has to meet with them and discuss it and have them commit to what they think they can pay.  So we will wait to visit others until we meet with him. But the 3 families are excited. The husband of one family has to work in Puerto for the next 6 months on probationary terms, and then if he passes they will assign him somewhere, not sure where. So he will be in Puerto through the week and here on weekends.  We told them if they wanted to postpone the lessons we could do that and start up later but they said no, they are committed to going on the date planned and they want to go with the other members of the branch, so that is really good. We love visiting with them, but it is kind of stressful for me trying to teach in Tagalog.  Last night our member couldn't go with us so I texted the families and asked if they wanted to cancel but they said no, it was fine.  One family does pretty good with English but the other one not so well, but things really went pretty good. 

The self-reliance project is moving slowly but it's going. Dad is getting a lot of plants started and already members of the branch want him to come help them plant them in their yards. Some of our neighbors seem interested as well.

Well, it's a different Christmas this year. But the REASON for the season is the same. I have been reading Jesus the Christ and am so in awe of our Savior - His perfect life, His perfect light, His perfect love. We are so blessed in so many ways, but the greatest blessing any of us can receive from our Heavenly Father is the gift of His Son, and His atoning sacrifice.  Without that, there would be no purpose in our life here. We are so blessed to have that knowledge, and we feel so blessed to be able to share that message with the wonderful people of the Philippines. We know that as the Church grow here, the Filipino people will be blessed both temporally and spiritually. One thing that has been hard here is seeing individuals and families who, as they are being taught we know that they feel the Spirit and they know that what they are learning is truth, and the join the church, and then slowly fall away. For all of us, it is so important that we nourish and nurture our testimony every single day. We will not be able to remain steadfast and immovable with out continually feeding our spirit.

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! We have only heard from the Drysdales about skyping but we hope we can Skype, or call for those who do not have Skype, with all of you. Please let us know when you will be available.

We love you and miss you all so much! It is especially hard at this time of year. I think we all feel it.  One of our Elders here was just really talkative the other night when we went visiting with them, and he talked about their Christmas traditions in Tonga. 

Anyway, hope to hear from you soon!

We love you,
Grandpa and Grandma, Dad and Mom 

Self-Reliance Project

December 15, 2014

Dear Family,

How are you all doing??? I bet everyone is getting excited about Christmas!  With the weather here it is hard to really feel like it is Christmas.  I guess I need to get some Christmas music and play it during the day.  That would help. We do have a basket of decorations, but I just haven't had time to go through them. Maybe tonight. 

Well, the typhoon came and went and we didn't feel any effects of it.  But last night we had quite a rain storm.  Lasted all night and some today as well.  Our electricity has been off most of the day and no water, except from the pump outside.  That's how we showered today. Hopefully the water will come back on soon. 

The week was busy!  We found out that the church property where we want to do the self-reliance project was the site for the first Narra chapel, so we figured they probably had water to it. But we checked it out and found nothing so Dad will go today with the Elders (so they can explain in Tagalog) to the water company and see where we need to start and what the cost is going to be. Then if we can get water to it then we need to find out how much it will cost to have the land cleared and tilled. Then, we can start moving forward if President Ostler approves all the costs. If not, then Dad will just hold classes to teach and then go to the members' homes and help them plant. It's getting to be a longer project than what we had anticipated, but if we can get it going I think it will be really good. And then after the gardening, for those who stay with it and really work, they will have the option of learning to raise small animals, like chickens. So we will see how it goes. 

We visited another family, the Pamulags, about the temple preparation and it was a good meeting.  We took the Dagdags with us.  I love this couple.  They are so humble and good.  They live in probably the smallest shack we've seen. And they live far away from the church but he rides his bike every Sunday to church.  Even though they are so poor they have been to the temple 3 times in the last 8 years.  That is amazing because we have to fly or take a boat.  I guess they could have taken a boat, but it is still amazing.  Anyway, the Pamulags were excited about planning to go to the temple.  Brother Pamulag said that is his dream. He got quite emotional during the closing prayer. We are excited for them.  There are other families that we want to meet with as well, but we have to get clarification on the financial assistance. Sister Martinez, who goes with us on Sundays, told us that a couple of years ago a few families were preparing to go to the temple but they were going to have to pay 3/4 of the cost and the Church would cover 1/4, and they could not afford it so they didn't go, and some are less active now. That isn't what we understand it is now, but we don't want to get hopes up and then have that happen. 

These people are so poor and sometimes don't even have money for food. Sister Martinez says here people will often borrow rice from each other because they have no food. I was thinking about a family that we visited last week. They father is not a member and is being taught. They have 9 children, one is married but lives with them. They are less active and very poor.  I thought about it - if even just 5 or 6 of them go to church it would probably cost at least a quarter of their weekly income, maybe more, just for the fare. I wonder how many of us would be active if it cost us a quarter of our weekly income just to go to church. It is hard.  

Anyway, we are hoping that we will have many who will be able to go.  What a blessing for them and for the branch here. We had our second visit with one of the families yesterday, but the other family did not go to church and I didn't have a cell phone number so couldn't text them to remind them, and they said the mother was not there so we will try next week. They seemed really excited, but it is always hard to change. 

Well, we would love to Skype with all of you - not at the same time, of course. If you can let me know days and times you are available that would be great.  We will have the Narra elders here to Skype with their families and then also Brother and Sister Ordanza, who skyped with their daughter who is serving a mission in England, on Mother's day, so I want to try to have some kind of a schedule.  But it will take time for them to figure out times because they can just email once a week.  So if you can let me know what days/times (Christmas day or after) that you are available, that would be great! 

Last week we had about 5 carolers at our gate.  The only song we recognized was we wish you a merry Christmas.  Everything else was Tagalog, and pretty jazzy songs, but it was fun. We gave them a treat. 

We are planning for our neighborhood Christmas party. It will be fun, and the kids are so excited! We really can't give gifts because we don't know how many will show up but we will have a spiritual messages and then a Christmas video if we can find one in Puerto tomorrow, games, spaghetti, and treats. We will try to remember to take pictures and will send them to you.

Well, I always ramble on.  We love and miss you all so much! The Christmas Devotional was so great. There's also a little message called, He is the Gift that is really good too. We hope your Christmas is wonderful and captures the true meaning of Christmas.  We can't wait to see/talk to you!

Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Typhoon Ruby

December 4, 2014

We just received a forwarded email from President Ostler, which he received from Elder Ardern, Area president. There are many areas that are threatened, but there was no mention of Palawan, so we do not believe the typhoon will hit here. We are fervently praying for the people in the threatened areas. From what we could see, it looks like it is about the same area that was hit last year, and I can not imagine the devastation for those people if the storm is not averted. We appreciate your prayers for us and for all of the people of the Philippines. We love you and will keep you posted.

December 8, 2014

Hi everyone,
We are fine here. So far we have not really felt any effects of the typhoon here in Narra.  There are suppose to be some strong rain and wind starting tonight in Metro Manila, but we probably won't have anything.  The people here are not really concerned because they say there are never typhoons or earthquakes here. Brother Gattud said they have been here since 1987 and never had either one.  It just always makes me a little nervous when people say it NEVER happens here.  But I am so grateful because the people here are so poor and I am not sure what they would do if what little they have was destroyed. We haven't heard too much about the other areas.  We know there have been some deaths and destruction but don't know how bad it has been. We've thought and prayed for all the parents of missionaries serving in those areas that have been hit, as well of the missionaries, of course.  But then I thought there are probably missionaries in this mission who have family in some of those areas. When Yolanda hit last year there was a fairly new missionary here whose family was in Tacloban. He said that was really hard, but they and the members of his branch or ward were all fine.

I guess everyone is getting ready for Christmas.  It is hard to believe it is already December. The kids here want to have a Christmas party and I asked them when and they said December 25th.  At first I thought, no, I don't want to do it on Christmas day, but then I thought, why not??? We won't be doing anything and you are all almost a day behind so it sounds like a good thing to do. What are everyone's plans for Christmas this year? We will have a Branch Christmas party on December 20th I think. The Gwilliams told us that they don't do much activity wise all year but they have a huge Christmas party, but this year they have used up the budget so not sure what we will do, but it will be fun.

We got a new branch president on Sunday. A man who just moved here about a month or two ago.  Actually he lives in the Sandoval area and we were hoping that the family would be in that branch, but he is needed there. He is young, someone said 24. He looks older than that, but I don't know. Both he and his wife are return missionaries.  We are hoping this will get our little branch going again.  We have struggled for quite a while now. 

Yesterday Dad and I and Sister Martinez visited our first 2 families about this temple preparation program we are starting. We had a good visit with both of them. The Spirit was there and they are happy and excited about preparing to go to the temple. We are excited about it too.  What a difference it will make in their lives, and in our branch if we can help these families live the gospel and make these sacred covenants. There was another family that we wanted to visit last night but we found out that the mother has been in Manila for the last month and is planning on going to Canada, to work, we presume.  The kids are living with grandparents.  It is so hard and heartbreaking.  It destroys so many families. It's probably wrong of me but I have been praying that she will not be able to find work, or better yet realize that it is not good for her family, and come home. Since being baptized last March the mom and kids have come somewhat regularly but the father works most Sundays. I don't think the kids will come to church and who knows about the mom. They were just so excited when they got baptized, so happy that they had found something that could help strengthen and protect their family. 

Satan is working so hard to destroy families. There is nothing more important than family and the gospel. But there are so many things that are distractions. Our families are worth our VERY BEST effort because in the end, if we do not have our family, well, I just can't imagine that.  Nothing could possibly compensate for that. You may have fame and fortune but in the end that is emptiness, and you have all of eternity to think about what might have been.  

We are so blessed to have all of our children and grandchildren! We love you all so much and are grateful for the way you live your lives. We appreciate you love and support. The gospel is true. Families are meant to be eternal - that is central to Heavenly Father's plan for His children. We are so bless to have that knowledge and understanding. We need to always remember that, and continually evaluate our priorities and make sure our focus is an eternal family. 

Anyway, we have an appointment with another family on Friday and hope to set up another one for that day.  We are going to take the Dagdags with us to that appointment.

Well, we love you all and hope you are all doing well. Remember the true spirit of Christmas. What a beautiful, amazing Gift we have been given.  And we need to share it with all the world.

Mahal mahal naming po kayong lahat!
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma
December 3, 2014

Hey everyone!

How was your Thanksgiving?  I would love to hear all about it.  We just seem to get busier and busier.  Last week we had the opportunity to pick up President Ostler and Elder Adduru, an area Seventy, from Puerto and bring them to Narra for District conference.  We had a great visit.  Elder Adduru is a very successful salesman, but he had a very hard life!  His mother died when he was 8 so he started working in the rice fields because his dad had to stay home and take care of all the kids. It is VERY HARD, back breaking work!  Think of Neal, Willie, and Dallin having to go to work everyday, probably 10 hours a day to support a family.  But he learned to work hard and went to college.  His brother and sister helped him and he promised them if he could get through college he would never ask to borrow anything ever again, and he never has. 

He and his father were taught by the missionaries when he was still young.  His dad joined but he did not because the first time they went to church they had to walk 8 kilometers to get there and as they were going into the building, there were other investigators and I guess he was the last in line and they shut the door in his face.  I'm sure it was not purposeful, but he was so humiliated and thought that it was because his skin was so dark because he had to work outside all the time, so he turned around and walked the 8 kilometers home and told himself he would never join that church.  But when he was in college I think his brother introduced him to the missionaries and they taught him every day that week and he was baptized at the end of the week.  He said since that time, about 40 years, he has only missed 2 Sundays.  He was a great speaker and we had almost 600 people total at conference. (That includes the broadcasts to Quezon and Brooke's Point.) The Spirit was strong the members were really engaged.  

Last week and this week we have been working on a report for President Ostler so he can submit a proposal for the Sandoval group to become a branch. So we have had to track down ALL the members in the Sandoval area, which was over 100. But it turned out not to be that difficult.  The Lord blessed us and we had the help of the Elders there and Brother and Sister Gattud, and Sister Gabil, who knew everyone in Bagong Sikat. We met a Brother Alda who was really receptive.  He and his family had been very active but then his wife left them and he hasn't been back to church since.  I am hoping the elders will go out with us to teach him because I think he would listen.  He was very  kind. Three of his kids still live with him, and at least one of them has children because he had baby clothes hanging up in his house. We also have to make a map and indicate where each family lives. They have no maps of the area here. And we have to submit a proposal for a building as well.  The Elders out there found three possibilities so we are just going to take pictures of them and send them.  We have no idea what the criteria is for meeting houses here. 

This week is my last week for language training. In 8 months of training I haven't progressed very much.  And on Sunday we will start our visits with the recent converts to help them prepare to go to the temple.  I am hoping to teach in Tagalog, but we shall see.  It wont happen without Divine help.  Your prayers are appreciated!  

Well, it's late and we need to get to bed.  Another busy day tomorrow as we have to go look through old records to see if we can find baptismal info for several members.  That is another requirement for this proposal - all the records need to be in good shape for the members in the proposed branch.  And the records are an absolute disaster!!! We have a full page of people who have been baptized but there is no record of it.  So we are doing what we can to find the records.  

Anyway, we love and miss you all so much and hope everything is going well.  We know you are all very busy, especially with the holidays.  Just know that we love and miss you.  Love, Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma 

P.S. This is a picture of Elder Adduru on the left, then President Betita, district pres, Sister Angoy, wife of the first counselor in the mission presidency, President and Sister Hiatt, and me and dad.

This picture has Pres. Ostler at the left, and President Angoy is also in the picture, along with their "adopted" son, RJ. 

 Love you!


November 25, 2014

Brother Uda and his family.  His wife is next to him. Next to her is her mother, who has been reactivated (Sister Uda is also reactivated), and the woman next to her is her sister and the mother of the boy getting baptized. The girl on the far right is the Uda's daughter, and the other girl is their neice. Her mother works in Hong Kong. I don't know if I  mentioned it in a previous email, but we had a fireside here - broadcast from Manila, with Elder Oaks.  He said 3 million mothers are working outside the country and send back 6 billion US dollars every year.  It is a tragedy because it is destroying families.
Sister Martinez' daughter, Jen-Jen. We made pita bread and she wanted some dough.  She had fun and the pita bread was masarap!

Sister Martinez' daughter, Jen-Jen. We made pita bread and she wanted some dough.  She had fun and the pita bread was masarap!

 Jen-Jen and her brother Gian. Dad popped them some popcorn and we put in a video for them.  They loved it!

Dad and Wendell Magsino.  He really loves Dad!