Sunday, March 29, 2015

Abala kami talaga!

March 18, 2015


Dear Family,

Time just goes by so fast! I am sorry I didn't write last week. I try to do it on Mondays, but sometimes the day just slips by and I don't get it done and I always think I'll do it tomorrow, and then before we know it it is another week. 

We have been very busy with District conference - our branch was assigned to have a choir, which was a lot of fun, then we had Zone conference last Friday, and then flew to Manila that night because we had to do fingerprinting on Saturday. We have to be fingerprinted before we can leave the country, so for all foreigners who will finish their missions this year (any of the 21 missions in the Philippines), they are trying to get them all done so there are no hold ups when it's time to leave. The Gwilliams almost got held up because they were not told they needed to be fingerprinted so at the last minute they had to fly them over to have that done. It was really kind of fun because we met so many senior couple missionaries from the various missions. 

After we were done Elder and Sister Northrup from our mission, who work in the office, took us to S & R, which is the Philippine's Costco - we really think it has to be connected because they have a lot of the Kirkland brands and it is set up just like a Costco -, any way, they took us there and then to the hospital to see Sister Hiatt. I think I told you about her emergency appendectomy and then all the trouble since then. Actually, I'm not sure what I told you, but I didn't tell you about a couple of miracles that happened to them with regards to all of this. She had the surgery in Puerto because it was emergency and there were no available flights to Manila. She went home and just got sicker and sicker, so went back to the hospital in Puerto. They didn't seem to know what was going on, but there were still no available flights to Manila. President Hiatt called President Ostler so he started looking and found 2 flights. That was a miracle because the reason there were suddenly flights is because the day before they had had to cancel a flight, probably because of high winds, so they sent a jumbo jet from Manila so they could take all the passengers from the day before and that day as well. And it just happened that there were 2 extra seats, even with passengers from 2 flights. They never have jumbo jets in Puerto because it is a very small airport and the take off and landing strip is short. Anyway, the jet was backed up all the way to the road and when a plane takes off it is right over the ocean and Sister Hiatt said when that jet took off she looked out her window and the ocean was right there - they were just barely above it, but it just kept going and finally was able to actually take off. Pretty scary! Even in Manila there continued to be problems, so she has been in the hospital for about a month, maybe longer, I can't remember. But we just got word that she was released today, but they  will stay in Manila for at least a month before they can return to Puerto. Sorry - that was a long side note, but I just find it so amazing the way the Lord works. 

But to finish with our trip - then the Northrups took us to the airport. It was really fun spending time with them. We didn't really know them well. They are from Colorado and converts. We got home late Saturday night, exhausted, but it is good to get that out of the way so at least there won't be a hold up there. The work just continues on. 

They started the temple prep class in our branch last Sunday and all 4 families were there. We are really excited for them! They are great families! And, the area presidency wants all new converts to take family names with them when they go to the temple (obviously they want all members to do that, but sometimes I think that probably is overlooked when members are going for the first time), so we are and will be working with them to get the names. It is so exciting! 

The Church property is finally getting cleared and tilled so that is great. It is hard, back-breaking work because it is all done by hand with a big bolo, or machete, and they make 300 pesos per day, which is about $7.50, which the elders said is really good money for them.  Then we have to check into getting water to it. So, there is still so  much to do, but nothing new at the moment. But that could change in an instant. 

I did want to share an experience we had yesterday. We were coming out of a store and an American man called out to us, something like, "oh, they even let Americans here", just something kind of funny and very friendly. But when he found out we were "Mormons", his attitude changed immediately to negative and hateful. He said he was a Christian and when we told him that we were also he said, "No you're not, you follow Joseph Smith and Brigham Young" He said they were anti-Christs. He wouldn't really let us say much but we were able to tell him of course we believe in Jesus Christ - His name is the name of our church. He said, well, the bible says even the devil can dress up like a person of light, something like that. We told us we needed to be born again and washed clean in the blood of Christ. We said, yes, absolutely, we all need that, and he said, "Oh, you believe that huh? So, you're just hanging around with a bunch of "morons". Then as he walked away he said, "but that's okay because one day you will find out that you followed the wrong church!" That was kind of what we were thinking about him. But I've thought a lot about that since then. I have never really faced much persecution or even people expressing really negative, hateful feelings about the Church. But I believe that in the coming days there will be much, much more of it, and much stronger than what we experienced, which was really nothing at all. That is why we need to be strong. We need to be truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to be striving to keep all the commandments, we need to be studying the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon every single day, individually and as a family, and that study, both individual and as families needs to be meaningful and purposeful, not just going through the motion. And we need to also be praying at least morning and night individually and as a family. We need to have regular, meaningful, fun FHE and we need to always be working to strengthen our families. I know that we were not good at that. I think that is why I felt like I needed to write this, because you didn't have a good example to teach you how it should be done. I regret that so much and can't tell you how many times I have wished that I could do it all over again, knowing what I know now. But, I can't. But hopefully you will do much better than we did. Actually, you all already are doing much better than we did. I have always said that we have great kids IN SPITE of us, not because of us. And I just want to encourage you to continue. Sometimes you get tired and overwhelmed with everything you have to do, and you may wonder if it really  matters. But I know it does, and it will make a HUGE difference as we get closer to the Second Coming. And for those who do not yet have a spouse (hint! hint!), it is just as important for you to be doing these things so that you will be prepared when you do have a family and you will already have those habits established. Sorry, for the "preaching", but I have told you before how being on this mission has made me realize even more than ever before just how important our family is and that we need to do everything we can to strengthen our family.

We love and miss you all so much!!! I will try to write to individual families tomorrow. It should be a little bit slower day.

Love,
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Another Busy Week!

March 2, 2015

Hi everyone!

We hope you are all doing really well! We are into March now so hopefully weather for you will improve. For us it will just be getting hotter. It already has, and this seems earlier than last year, but we will survive. 

It was a busy, but good week last week. We had our second family history activity on Saturday. It was not near as well attended, but it actually worked out really well because those that were there were actually able to input some names and some were able to print off the forms to do baptisms. That is until we had a brown-out, which seems to be happening more frequently right now. 

This weekend is our District Conference and Ostler asked dad to help President Angoy prepare a 40 minute training sessions on home teaching for the Priesthood session. President Hiatt was going to do it but a week ago yesterday Sister Hiatt had an emergency appendectomy. She was really sick and there were no flights to Manila so they had it done in Puerto. She went home on Tuesday, and just seemed to get worse so on Friday they flew to Manila. She has some kind of blockage and may have to have another surgery. We are really praying not. She is just this little tiny woman and she hasn't been able to eat or drink anything for more than a week so she has got to be really weak. She is not very old, a year younger than I am. (I know that seems old to you, but not really for senior couples :)  ) 

Our week has been pretty much the same, although we were assigned 3 new home teaching families and took Brother and Sister Dagdag with us to find them as they thought they knew where they lived. We did eventually find 2 of them with the help of a member in that area. It's right close to the ocean.  One family was very receptive and the other one not so much. The Elders told us that the unreceptive family said they were going to ask to have their names removed but we are hoping they will let us come. We will take a member with us as I don't think either family speaks much English and my Tagalog is still pangit! (Literal translation is ugly, but they use it for bad, or like when dad was looking for a bolt they found one that didn't fit so they said "pangit"). But I'm still working on it.

This week is a slower one, so far, but I am having another cooking class with a few more sisters. Sister Martinez wants to learn cheesecake so I will do our good baked one but if anyone has my  jello cheesecake recipe I will try to do that one as well. 

Sister Martinez is actually moving to Tarlac, which is about 2 hours from Manila. Her husband got a job that lasts just a year, in Manila and that has been hard the family. And now her mom needs someone to help take care of her so they will go there and Brother Martinez can at least see them on weekends. I will miss her and her children. I don't remember if I told you about Brother and Sister Laureo. They are a cute young couple with 2 children. Sister quit her job in January to stay home with their kids, and they told us they are expecting again. Anyway, they asked us to teach them how to make pizza because they want to try to open a business. At first they want to do by orders and then maybe establish something. They want to learn donuts and probably some other things. I think she is coming to the cheesecake class too. I'm just so happy that she is able to stay  home with her kids! 

Next week is Zone meeting on Tuesday and Zone conference on Friday, so it will be a busy week. English class is going well. I think I told you we have 2 American elders working with us and they really make it fun! 

Well, that's about it on this home front. We love and miss you all so much! We are so blessed to have such a truly wonderful family! I mean that with all my heart! We love and appreciate you all so much and are so proud of you! (In a talk by President Uchtdorf  "Pride and the Priesthood", he says there is a difference between being proud of certain things and being prideful. He says he is proud of his children and grandchildren.) 

We appreciate your love, support, and prayers, and that you are all striving to live the gospel. We are so very blessed!

Love,
Dad and Mom,
Grandpa and Grandma

Just Some Pics

February 26, 2015


These are our two most recent baptisms. Brother Mike Ferrar who is just a quiet humble man, but so prepared for the gospel. The missionaries that taught him said everything they committed him to do he just did, no question - quit smoking, quit drinking coffee, pay tithing, go to church, etc. He will be a great asset to our branch.  He is single, so everyone is trying to play match maker! But we do have several very available YW.
The little girl is Jela Mae Bascar. Her family is less active but hopefully  they will come so she can keep coming. They are a good family - I think they have five daughters.


Our last group of departing missionaries - from L Elders Estigoy and Fernandez, me, dad, Elder Rivera, whom we really loved and we thought he would "die" here (you probably know that means end his mission here), but he was transferred back to Manila for his last transfer. He is in the Sandoval area and has worked so hard to build the branch there. He is a great teacher and he loves kids and they love him.


Dad with (now) Elder Felmore Flores from Rizal. We again had the privilege of delivering his mission call. He was so excited! He has only been a convert for about a year, has no family to speak of, and I'm not sure how it all came about but has been living with the BP in Rizal since his baptism. He has learned to play the piano fairly well and has served as branch clerk. He'll be a good missionary. He just went into the MTC on the 21st.


Dad's papayas. 
They are very interesting plants. They look like trees but are not.



 Some of the fruit is large and some small. 
I don't like it but Dad is trying to learn to like it. It is suppose to be very healthy.


 We've told you how they load their motorcycles, trikes, buses etc but this has to be one of the best! It's a motorcycle with a little side cart.


 Incredible!



Sunday, March 1, 2015

BUSY WEEK!

February 26, 2015

Dear Family,

Sorry I am late writing this week. We did finally get our internet fixed (who knows for how long!) but it has been a very busy week. 

Monday was prep for the missionary luncheon on Tuesday. It is always so fun to have the Elders here, but it is a lot of work. After the luncheon we had District meeting, then we drove to Aborlan to replace their kitchen faucet and do an apartment inspection. Then to Bagong Sikat to go visiting with the Gattuds. They were gone from about the middle of December until about the end of January so we haven't done a lot of visiting with them lately. With other obligations we had to rearrange our schedule and have had a hard time coordinating with them, but hopefully we're back on track.  It was good to go out with them again.  Probably in April we will have them go with us to visit and teach the Uda family and the Magsino family to help prepare them to go to the temple.  We will probably only visit them once a month because they will not be going until November. We are hoping to have 2 families from Narra going as well. And we hope there might be some less active families that will have a desire to come back and then prepare.  There are so many less actives here. After that we had choir practice. It is our branch's turn to sing for District conference. We have not had a choir since we have been here. Brother Tana has a good voice and likes to sing so he is in charge. Sister Ostler told me about a cool tool on lds.org where you can find a hymn and have it play parts, separately or any combination of the 4 parts. It's been fun and the members who have joined are working hard. 

Wednesday was devoted mostly to preparing for English class.  I am having the Narra A Elders, who are both American, help me and the class really loves them. They are a lot of fun and it is a good class.  Brother Tana and his whole family come. 

Today we spent the day in Cabar and Brookes Point. Cabar needed a new fridge, a lock on their back door and we tried to connect a hose to their hand pump for water, but that didn't work very well. Right now they have no indoor water but there is this big tank outside that is hooked up to the water pipes from the kitchen sink so if we could run the hose from the pump to the tank they could have running water in the kitchen. But when they attached the hose water pours out of the top of the pump so there is not enough pressure to get it into the tank. It is a REALLY old pump! But the Elders were pretty excited about the possibility of having running water so they are going to work on it and see what they can figure out.

Tomorrow we will go to Rizal and Quezon for apartment checks. 

Saturday we have another Family History activity as well as training for the 2 new branch FH consultants. We are hoping for a good turn out. But the 2 computers at the church are not working. Someone, someplace, is suppose to be working on getting us some new computers so we can actually have a family history center. 

Our 4 families are moving steadily forward, preparing for the temple. We are so excited for them! We LOVE them all - they are great families! 

Other than that, things are pretty much the same.  The weather is heating up because we are moving into summer here. It has been so dry here, very little rain. We are concerned for the farmers here.

Thank you for all the emails! I will not have time to respond to them this week but I will try to get to them next week.  It should be a little calmer week next week, but from day to day we never know. But we love hearing from all of you - we love and miss you all so much!

Just a closing thought, well a couple of closing thoughts. I was reading the other day about Nephi and his family and the broken bow and how they had no food. As I thought about that I thought about the good people here who know what that is like to have no food. Many of them have and do go without food. We have never experienced that - ever. We have always had so much and have never had to go hungry or worry about where our next meal is coming from. We are so blessed and it is so important that we remember that and not take for granted the many, many blessings of our Heavenly Father. It is so important that we strive to be obedient and faithful in all things so that Heavenly Father will continue to bless our country. There is much wickedness in the world, and in our country, but individual righteousness blesses nations. And because we are so blessed to have the gospel we need to share it with others. It is the greatest blessing we have and it will bless the lives of any who accept and live it's teachings. 

The other thought is more of an experience that we had last night at English class. The students are encouraged to read for at least 10 minutes each night out loud in English. I have encouraged them to read the Book of Mormon (English), but it is their choice, of course. But a few days before class I decided that we would read it in groups for about 15 minutes, primarily for pronunciation and to explain any words that they did not understand. So we did that and as we read there was a power and a spirit that came into the class. I know that there is power in the B of M, but this was just another witness of how the B of M can bless all aspects of our lives. I was just surprised, and didn't expect it because we were not reading it to gain insights, but the power was so evident. I hope and I pray that all of us who are able to read are reading, studying, pondering, praying about, and applying the Book of Mormon to our lives EVERY SINGLE DAY! With the wickedness in the world, I think it will be very difficult to endure what is to come if we are not doing this.  

We love you all so much!

Love,
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma