Monday, January 26, 2015

Ito ay isang kahanga-hangang misyion!

January 26, 2015

Well, another busy  week has passed. It was a great week! We have been doing some studying, well, mostly dad has been studying about Family History. He has contacted all of the branches to let them know they need to have a FH consultant. Then starting this Sunday we will be going around to the branches to train the consultants. One big problem is some of the branches don't have very good computers and their internet service is not very good.  But they are working on getting better and more computers. That would be very helpful, but, things move slowly here so don't know if it will happen while we are here. 

On Friday (all the missionaries meet with our Branch President every Friday, which is so good) President Andres said they have scheduled a Family History training for the branch on Jan 31st. Hopefully we will have a good turn out. We only have one older computer in the branch, but we will bring ours and President has one he will bring as well so hopefully we will be able to get some things going.  And we actually have two brethren (who happen to be brothers) coming here tomorrow night to work on FH.  We are hoping and praying that the members of the District will feel the spirit of Elijah.  I think this can really help the area grow. 

Our family temple prep visits are going well. We have been keeping President Andres informed about what we are doing, and have also asked him to visit the families because he needs to discuss the financial part of it. The Church has a financial assistance program for families going to the temple for the first time, but they like the families to  contribute as much as they can because things are more meaningful when we have to sacrifice to obtain them. So in our meeting on Friday he said he wanted to go with us on Saturday and Sunday to visit all the families. Saturday just he went with us, but Sunday the whole presidency came, along with the branch clerk and President Tanna's wife. We had some really wonderful visits! It just seemed to make it more of a reality for them, talking with the branch president about it.  One of the families is struggling, they had started to become less active, after being members for just about a year, and they aren't really committed to attending church and doing the other things, but they committed to start doing them.  We really love this family and hope that they will continue. President wants us to visit them more often.  The other three are doing great.  We get really excited to think about all four of these families going to the temple together. It will be such a blessing in their lives and they will be a blessing to the branch. Something that I tried to explain last night to the family that is struggling is that we are not just preparing for the temple but we are preparing for eternity. All these things that we do are helping us to become an eternal family - to be worthy of that great blessing. 

Oh, and the branch presidency asked me if I would teach the Temple Prep class. I told them that I would love to but my Tagalog is not good enough.They said that was ok because one of them would be in the class to help explain things. There is also the problem for the next two Sundays we will be doing FH training. They said they would discuss it and let me know. I REALLY would love to teach the class, but it is in the Lord's hands.  He may have other ideas. 

We are hoping to start the small Self Reliance class in March. With the FH assignment we had to delay that a little bit.  We will be starting the English class the first week of February. The Sandoval group is doing ok, but struggling a little bit. We hope to get all the paperwork in to request the organization of a branch there. Actually we don't submit the papers, President Ostler does, but we have gathered the information and sent it to him. But we have been waiting for the list of Active MP holders who are full tithe payers. We were a little concerned if there would be enough but President told us on Friday he has interviewed them all and he thinks there is enough. He will send us the list and we will forward it to President Ostler and see what happens. 

Things seem to be getting busier, which is good. Things seem to be picking up. We have baptisms on the next two Saturdays, maybe three. This Saturday is this cutest little couple. They are old, but so cute. And on Sunday their daughter and her 4 kids came as well. Our branch president is really doing a great job and we are so grateful to have him. It is funny, almost since President Ostler arrived here, after he found out about our past BP - his wife working abroad and not being around to help and support him, he has been saying they were going to call a new president, but it just didn't seem to happen. I think we all got a little frustrated. But, the Lord knows what he is doing.  He was just waiting for President Andres to move here. I think they had only been here for about 3 or 4 weeks before he was called. Anyway, we are grateful for him and grateful for a reconfirmation that this is the Lord's church and He is at the helm.  

We are so grateful for the opportunity to be serving here at this time. We just wish there were more senior couples. Every branch in the Narra district could use a senior couple. We feel like we really need to concentrate on Narra because it is the biggest branch and the Area is really hoping it will become a ward soon. One of the senior couples went home in December and another one is going home in February, and there are no other senior couples coming to replace them so they are once again going to have office elders to help with the work there. 

Well, I'm sorry I go on so long. There is just so much to write about. By the end of the day we are exhausted - I have slept better here than I have in a long time - it seems like the minute my head hits the pillow I'm out - but we love being missionaries and are so grateful for the Gospel. 

We love you all so much and hope you are all doing well. 

Grandpa and Grandma, Mom and Dad

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Great Week!

January 12, 2015

Minamahal na pamilya,

We had a great week last week! Dad is feeling much better -thank you so much for all your prayers and fasting.  I know that it helps and strengthens us and we could not do this without them! 

Nothing out of the ordinary happened, really, such so much joy in doing this work here! We visited another family about preparing to go to the temple and they seemed really excited, and we are so excited for them. We will visit them again tomorrow.  I have thought so much lately, about the blessings of an eternal family. That is really why we are out here - YOU are the reason we are out here.  It is so hard being away from you, sometimes my heart hurts so bad, but we are so thankful that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the principles and ordinances of His gospel, we are able to have an eternal family if we are faithful and true to our covenants, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to share this message with the people here in Narra District. This is the divine plan of our Heavenly Father for all of His children.  We are part of His eternal family and He wants us to return to Him and to have our own eternal family. When I think of the love that our Heavenly Father and our Savior had for us that made this whole plan possible, it is overwhelming. There are so very many people in the world that do not have this knowledge and understanding and it is our responsibility to share it - by example and by word. 

I think often about what Sister Tana (the amazingly prepared family that was recently baptized) said, that growing up, really most of her life, she has just been kind of discouraged and depressed because she was taught that when she died that was the end of family. She said she told her religious leaders that she would cry without her family and she was told that God would wipe away her tears and her memories. And she said the memories in her heart could never be wiped away. She couldn't believe it, but she didn't know anything else, until she heard the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Every Sunday she is so happy! It is a deep happiness that fills her whole being! Sometimes, I think - I know that I have taken the gospel for granted. The knowledge that I have had all my life that so many people have no idea about. And what a different life we would have had without that knowledge. 

Brother Pamulag, another of the families we are working with (he had a stroke and is in a wheelchair) said at our last visit that if he had not had the stroke he never would have found the true church.  When he had his stroke he was Catholic, and when he faced the possibility of death he was terrified. That made him open to the gospel. And now, he says he has no fear, because he knows our Savior and our Heavenly Father, and he knows the plan. He said having his stroke was all part of God's plan for him.  They are very poor, but so excited about going to the temple that they bought, I think 4 piglets and are raising them to sell just before they go to the temple so that they can have the  money they need. 

The gospel blesses us so much, it changes us and brings so much happiness, peace, joy and hope into our lives. We still have struggles, sometimes maybe more than others because Satan is working harder on those who are striving to become an eternal family. It is so important that we do all that we can to strengthen our families, to love them and help them come to know and love our Heavenly Father and our Savior, and to really desire to follow Their plan and keep their covenants.  We need to always remember our covenants. They are not just rituals - they are promises with our Heavenly Father. They are the means whereby we can become an eternal family and gain eternal life. I am just go very grateful for Their perfect, wonderful plan.  I love my Heavenly Father so much because all that I have in my life that matters - which is YOU, the gospel and His great plan of happiness, which are inseparably connected, He provided for me, and for all of us, through the sacrifice of His Beloved Son. We can never repay Him or our Savior, but we can bring joy to Them by keeping our covenants and helping others to be able to return to Them also. We are so blessed!

Dad has a new High Council assignment - he is over Family History for the WHOLE district!  That means seeing that the district and branch positions are filled, training all those who are called, and overseeing the Family History work in the District.  They want to have 20 name submitters from each branch and people to do indexing etc. What we both know about Family History together could fit in a thimble and still have room for a thumb, but this IS the Lord's work, and He will help us, and there are a lot of training videos etc on line. Dad is feeling a little overwhelmed, and the self-reliance may have to take a back seat for awhile until he learns what he needs to learn and gets organized, but it will all work out.  
Again, we really appreciate your prayers! 

Our new branch presidency is great and we are looking forward to things really moving forward.  We will be starting our English class the first week of February, and I want to teach an English Book of Mormon class, but that may have to wait for a month till the dust settles with Dad's new assignment.  We will see. I think things may get a little crazy around here for awhile - but that's ok.  We're used to crazy!

Well, we love and miss you all.  We hope you are all doing GREAT! Keep us updated on your busy, hectic lives!
Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma

A New Year!

January 5, 2015

Wow! Can you believe that we are into a new year?  It is kind of unbelievable to me. 

Things are going well here.  Busy, as always! It was a busy week last week, with transfers. They are typically on Wednesdays, but with last Wed being New Years' Eve, President wanted to have them on Tuesday.  But he was very busy with departing missionary activities, so it was all kind of last minute and we ended up having to stay over Tuesday because the incoming missionaries didn't arrive until Wednesday. But it all worked out well. 

We had stormy weather throughout the weekend so the Pamulags cancelled our appointment for Friday, because they have just a tiny house so we always meet with them outside and it rained all that day. And our other 2 families cancelled on Sunday, so not a very productive weekend but hopefully this week will be better. The Abrigos cancelled because Brother Abrigo has to work in Puerto for the next 6 months on probation. Then if he gets the job they will send him somewhere permanently - we hope, and they hope, back to Narra. They told us about this last week and we said that we could hold off on our weekly meetings or whatever worked for them but they said no, they are committed to going to the temple and want to go with the others in the Branch, so that was good.  We really love this family.  The other family does not seem so dedicated, but they are good people and we will just keep working with them. We are hoping, with this program and a new branch presidency we can get some momentum going in the Branch. There is so much that needs to be done here, and so much that can be done if the Branch is motivated and united.  We are going to start meeting with another family tomorrow and there are a couple of other families that we want to start with as well. And we want to start meeting with the Tanna and Magsino families, probably in February or March. They cannot be sealed until October or November, but hopefully they will be able to go to do baptisms. We were planning on about the 2nd week in May, and found out on Friday when we met with our branch president that the District temple day is May11-13 so that would be perfect.  We are hoping these families will be ready! 

We were finally able to find someone who can clear and till the Church property. He is a less active member and he said he will go to church next Sunday and then check out the property (because it is just across the street) and let us know how much.  He said he thought 300pesos/day per worker, and probably 3 workers, but he wasn't sure how many days it would take. That is actually very good wages for here (which is so sad- that's about $7.50/day) so it will be good for his family, and at least one of the other workers will be another member of the branch who doesn't have work right now. So that will be good. We have to get estimates on everything and submit them and go from there. Dad plans on starting classes at the end of the month, just teaching gardening and then helping families plant the trees etc that he has started here, on their property. When the Church property is ready we will probably divide that among those who are interested in doing it and they will plant more of a variety of fruits and veggies. 

We are planning to start our English class again, but we need to get these other things going before we do that.  I also want to teach a Book of Mormon class in English.  President and Sister Hiatt are doing that in Puerto and are having really good success with it.  We mentioned it to our new BP and he was really excited about it. His English is very good.  He is very young, 24, but he is willing to work hard and we feel like the presidency can really make a difference. For the past couple of weeks he has felt pretty overwhelmed but he is getting his feet on the ground and we think things will start moving. He has scheduled a weekly meeting with us and the young Elders here so that will be really good. 

The missionary work here has been kind of slow, I think with the holidays and everyone is busy and doesn't want to be bothered.  But I think things will pick up. It seems like we have these slow times once in a while. 

The weather was a little cooler, windy and wet last week, but today is HOT! We will be into summer in a couple of months, but really it feels like we have never been OUT of summer. 

Well, not much else new here. Today Dad helped the Narra A and B elders bring their trash over here to burn it.  I think there was a few months worth - which is A LOT with 4 elders. Anyway as they were gathering it up the elders found 2 BIG scorpions - about 5 inches long! They ended up burning them, but then they pulled one out of the fire to show me.  So we had to take a picture of it.

 Our camera has not been working and I was really sad that the pictures of the little boy in Rizal with casts on didn't turn out, but we will try to get others when we are there this month.

Well, we hope you are all doing GREAT! I  We love and miss you so much!  We are so grateful for each one of you and pray that this coming year will be an amazing, wonderful, faith-filled year. We are so grateful for this opportunity to share the gospel and serve the Lord here. It is challenging sometimes, very challenging sometimes, but so rewarding. We so appreciate your prayers and support. It is what gets us through those challenging times! The gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it can bless the lives of all who accept and live it.  We are all so blessed to have it and to be able to share it with those around us. Having an eternal family is what it is all about, and obtaining that is worth our very best effort and every sacrifice because without our family - every member of our family, eternity will be pretty empty.  

We love you so much and pray for you  always.

Mahal naming po kayong lahat! Ingat palagi!
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma