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.
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