Saturday, December 27, 2014

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!

Love,
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

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