Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hey!

April 20, 2015

How is everyone doing???

We had a great week last week! We had one day that it rained almost the whole day. We were hoping that it would continue, but it did not. And I was hoping that even if it did not continue, maybe things would cool off a little. But it did not. Actually the day after the rain was even hotter! But, we are hopeful that the rain we did receive is indicative of what is to come during the rainy season. We're not sure when the rainy season begins, some say May and some say June. We are hoping for May. So many plants and greenery are dying here.  We are waiting to find out if it was enough rain so that the Church property can be tilled. 

Also last week we had the opportunity to help some YSA get their PEF applications done and submitted. It's kind of a long story, but a sister asked me if we could help her to kids, both YSA, apply for PEF. We have a specialist in our Branch but she had not been trained and didn't have the current booklet. I checked on line and all the info is in English so I didn't know if she would be able to understand it. So I contact the brother in Manila who is over PEF for our area to see if I could be a facilitator for them, since they want to go to school in June and had to have their apps in by April 15th. He said yes, that would be great and then I could help train the specialists in the district. But, right after that he decided to come to Narra and do the training. So, our specialist was trained and took over the meetings. In order to qualify they have to go through a program that teaches a lot of principles, including self-reliance and how living the gospel can help them temporally as well as spiritually. It is a good program, and the facilitator doesn't teach. They go through the material, usually the class members take turns kind of being in charge of what they will go over, but then they discuss and find solutions to problems, etc. They also have to decide what they want to do, career wise, and then talk to people who are in that career. There's a lot of things they have to do. Anyway, on the 14th I got a text from one of the YSA asking if we could help with the apps because they were having problems. We had not had any experience with the applications, but we went down to see if we could figure it out. We could not. Our BP had called the help line twice and was told someone would call them back but he never did. I tried calling and got the same answer. These YSA were really stressing about it. Anyway, it was late so we told them we would get on it first thing in the morning. We finally got someone to call us back in the afternoon of the 15th. It was a very simple mistake, so they were able to correct it and get the apps sent. They were all so happy - they cheered when the first one got his app actually submitted. 

The PEF program is really a good program. Honestly, for most YSA here in Narra, they would have no hope of going to college, getting a better paying job and be able to get out of poverty without this program. For the program they are going into, something to do with computers, it is anticipated that they will make about 32,000php/month, which is about $800 us dollars. That is not very much in the US, but that is a huge amount of money for here. 200-300php/day is a good wage here now, which is $5-7.50/day. Our BP does on-line graphics for a company that has offices in US and Australia. He says they are very generous. They probably get a really GOOD deal having him work for them because they probably pay him about a quarter or less of what they would pay someone in the US. But it is good for him and his family - they are great people! 

This is what we are hoping for these YSA. That they can live here, make good money for their families to raise the standard of living, and help build and strengthen the church. Anyway, it was fun helping them, and we were so thankful that Heavenly Father blessed us to be able to help them.

Anyway, the missionary work here is kind of slow. But that happens. Our branch is having an open house on the 25th so hopefully that will spur some interest.

We are still working on getting a branch organized in Sandoval. Actually, we have nothing to do with it now, those in charge are working on it. They are also working on getting an expansion approved for the meetinghouse in Narra. We desperately need it. But we got word over the weekend that the Church now requires us to map and verify all, or as many members as we can find before they will consider the applications. We did a mapping before for Sandoval, but this is an online thing and they want to find out about the members, their status and activity. It really falls to the District and branch presidents, but we will be helping. Maybe that will help get things going as well.

We met with a member of our branch, a YSA, and he prepared 25 names for temple work. We need to get more members interested, but not sure how to do that. We will keep trying. President Ostler is also trying to get new computers and equipment for all the branches here. They all only have one computer, most of them old, and he was told they all should have separate FH computers. Things move slowly in the Philippines, but we will keep working.

We are getting excited about our temple trip. But we still need to meet with some of the families to get some names ready, and they are suppose to take a family group sheet and a pedigree chart with them. Lots to do.

Well, once again, I have  gone on and on. But I just read through it and it only took me about 3 1/2 minutes to read, so hopefully it is not too annoying. The kids have asked about food we like or if we've seen any more interesting animals. We have learned to like some of the Filipino food. Dad makes really good pancit. Some members make good Chicken Adobo, and we've had some pretty good fried chicken, but it is not in pieces like we do, thigh, leg, wing, etc. They just chop it up like they do for everything else. But we are careful.

We have seen some really BIG frogs. After the rain we could hear them. They are SO loud! It's a strange noise, but fun to hear. I think we've kind of adjusted to the wildlife here. Although lately we have had some REALLY BIG cockroaches! Those I cannot handle. Most kids, age 3 or 4 and under, where a shirt, and that's all. I think, but I don't know, that they can't afford diapers and they don't want to keep changing pants, so they just let them go without anything on the bottom half. I think we have adjusted to most things here. We have been here 15 months today! Hard to believe.

Well, I hope you've been getting our emails. I think I've been pretty consistent for several week, although I'm not positive, so please let me know if you are not receiving them. I guess if you don't receive this one then you won't know and I won't know.

Well, we love you all so much!! We pray for you EVERYDAY! EVERYDAY! EVERYDAY! Usually several times a day. And we appreciate your prayers in our behalf.

Ingat Palagi!

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

Another Week

April 13, 2015

Dear, dear family,

We love you all so very much! We are so thankful for each one of you!

It seems like I just wrote, but maybe it was. I can't remember if I emailed last Monday or later in the week. In any case, it was a good week. 

We had a great zone meeting! We have really good zone leaders who put a lot of preparation into the training, and we always learn so much! We were not able to visit in Bagong Sikat because Brother and Sister Gattud were in Puerto to see the doctor. We are actually really concerned about both of them. Brother G. said he had just been peeling a banana and then he couldn't do it, he couldn't coordinate his hand to do it. He thinks it was a mild stroke. And we think Sister Gattud has Alzheimer's. We of course have not said that to them, but she is doing some of the very same things that Grandma Wirthlin started doing when we noticed problems. Bro. G. is really concerned about her. It is sad because there is medication that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's, at least that is what I was told, but they could not afford it, even if it was available. We just keep praying for both of them. 

English class was good. I've been having the Elders come and help and they are a lot of fun and the class really enjoys having them. I'm not sure if we will do another one when this is over. We will see. 

We are really hoping that things will be in full swing with the SR project. The property has been cleared and we got water to it, but we have to wait to have it tilled and that has to wait till we have a lot of rain. We really haven't had any for a LONG time. 

Thursday I had a cooking class just with Sister Abrigo because she wanted to make a birthday cake for her husband. It worked out good because we had 2 elders' birthdays on Friday so we made those two cakes. Then on Friday I made another one for Marina, our little helper here, because it was her son's 1st birthday on Saturday. Friday night was fun because it was also Aries Magsino's birthday. He is the older son of the Magsino family that was baptized last year that we have been visiting since we got here. I'm not sure how old he is, 14 or 15 I would guess, but not sure. Anyway, it was Elder Magno's birthday also and they are in his area so they had a party there Friday night. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but they love videoke. They rent this machine that has a TV screen and it plays music and shows the words and has different pictures or animated people dancing to the music etc, and they just take turns singing. Whether they sing well or not doesn't matter. They are not shy about it and it is so fun. However, it is not so fun when it is our neighbors and they play it all night long, and into the next morning. I guess usually they rent it for 24 hours so they get good use out of it. Anyway, we had a good time. 

We were able to watch Conference on Saturday and Sunday. It was so GREAT! I am so, so grateful that we have living apostles and prophets that teach us the things the Lord knows that we need to hear. Their messages are so timely and relevant. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like several in the last conferences have address the issue of leading with your faith, not your doubts, not giving up what you DO know because of some things you do not yet know. I think that Satan is working so hard to cause doubt, distractions, deceptions,and discouragement among strong, active members. I was just reading today where Christ says, "Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth." We are just little children, especially when we compare ourselves to our Savior, and we can't and won't know everything now. And there are times that we have questions and concerns, but we need to lead with our faith. We need to remember the things that we have known and felt. And we need to continue in sincere prayer, to study, ponder, pray about, and live the scriptures, and serve and answers will come. Sometime, for me, at least, the answer is just peace. I don't really receive a direct answer, but I feel peace and know all things are in His hands. I think that we as a people are facing these challenges because we need to be strengthened for the trials that are to come. And we need our faith strengthened. We do walk by faith in this life, even to the end. I remember Elder Mark E. Peterson saying, at a Stake Conference in Elko, that through the years he and his wife have had many questions. And after praying, pondering and studying it, if they didn't receive answers they would "put it on the shelf". He said through out their years they have put many things on the shelf. They have been able to take many things off the shelf, as they learned and received answers, but there were also many things that have not been taken off, and he believed may not be taken off the shelf in this life. I have always remembered that, and I continue to remind myself of that. I often compare it to like, understanding the technology to Skype for instance. That is so amazing to me that that is even possible. I cannot even begin to comprehend it or understand it. But I KNOW that if I was devoted to learning and understanding it, eventually I could understand it. It would probably take years  because I would have to start at the very beginning, and I am sure there are so many principles involved that I have probably never even heard of, let alone have any knowledge of. But still, I know I could understand it. The gospel, the plan of salvation, all of the universal, eternal truths can, and will be understood in time, according to the Lord's time and our diligence and sincere desire. We cannot understand everything with a finite mind. But if we are dedicated, if we sincerely strive to do all the things we have been commanded to do, even though we continue to fail, I KNOW that eventually, in the eternities, we will be able to understand all things. But, because in this life we walk by faith, we need to lead with the faith we have and the testimony we have, and we need to continually strengthen our faith and testimony.

Anyway, I didn't mean to go on and on. When I sat down to write I thought, well, this will be a short email because we didn't have a whole lot happen, just kind of the same things. I guess I should know myself better than that - me, write a short email???? I know, I can just hear you laughing after you read my thought that this would be short. You said to yourselves, "Mom, write a SHORT email??? Not possible!!!! Anyway, I LOVE the gospel! I am so thankful for it! Yes, I have had questions, but I KNOW that this is the true gospel and the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. And I KNOW that we have living prophets and apostles that lead, guide, direct, and teach us as the Lord would have them do. And I KNOW that THEY KNOW our Heavenly Father and Savior personally and they KNOW that this IS His true church and that the things they teach us are His words, and that knowledge gives me great comfort. And I KNOW that each one of us can come to know Them just as personally if we are willing to put forth the effort. For me I know it will take a life time, but I believe it will be worth the effort. I also KNOW that if we do not take our eyes off the prophet, if we are absolutely committed to following him, no matter what, even if it doesn't make sense or we don't understand or don't like what he says, if we do that, we will always be safe and secure and we will be able to return to our Heavenly Father and gain eternal life. I KNOW these things.

I also KNOW that we LOVE you all so much, and we are counting on being an eternal family with ALL OF YOU, and all of those yet to come!

Love,
Grandpa and Grandma
Dad and Mom 

Happy Easter, a little late!!



April 7, 2015

Dear Family,

We love you SO much!! And hope you are all doing well. We hope you had a wonderful Easter and really enjoyed Conference. We are so looking forward to it this weekend, since we have to wait a week because we are 14 hours ahead of SLC. Actually last night for FHE we watched the Priesthood session. It was so good.

Last week was busy, as usual, but so good! All four of our families have their flight tickets to go to the temple in May. We were concerned that some would not be able to go for a few months because the temple assistance fund requires the family to pay 60-70% of the cost and the fund will pay the rest. The ticket prices at the time we submitted the request were really high. However, we found some really cheap prices for the flights so that is covered. We know this was a blessing from the Lord because we checked prices the next day and they had gone up again, not quite as high, but more than we paid. We are also going to be there with the families and are really excited. They are all wonderful families and this will be a huge blessing for them and for the Branch. There are four other families, all recent converts that we are hoping will all be able to go in November. 

We had four baptisms on Saturday. There were going to be five but one was postponed. I have included pictures of them. The older couple are Brother and Sister Espatera. They are the parents of our BP wife, and are the cutest couple! We love them! And the two girls are the Soberano sisters (I'm not sure on the spelling). Their mother is not a member and their father is less-active,  and there is a little brother as well, but they seem like really nice people and they were all at church on Sunday. We are hoping this will spur things on for them. They are a cute family. The oldest one is just like a little mother because her parents both work and she takes really good care of the two younger ones.



 It has been really interesting to me to see how so many youth and YSA are so prepared for the gospel. Like our BP's wife, Sister Andres. I can't remember how she came to hear the gospel, but she accepted it, gave up her studies and went on a mission. I think one of her sisters joined the church previously and now her parents.

We have a missionary in the Narra zone who accepted the gospel. After he was baptized he said his grandma beat him, but it was ok because he knew that it was true and that was all that mattered. He is just a humble, kind person. And we have had several YSA join the church. One in particular has just embraced the gospel. She is so active and involved. 

Anyway, it is just an amazing experience being here in the mission field and seeing people accept and embrace the gospel. It is so hard when some cannot give up bad habits or are influenced by family, etc. And it is hard to see those who really seem to be converted fall away. Member fellowshipping and friendshipping is so important! I was never good at that. But I am committed to do that now, after seeing what can happen when it doesn't happen. 
Well, better run. It's getting late.

We love and miss you all so much! We appreciate your love and prayers and all else that you do for us. 

Remember, Faith is not know what the future holds, but Who holds the future.

Love you all!
Grandpa and Grandma,
Dad and Mom

Another HOT week!

March 30, 2015    

Sa isang pinakamaganddang pamilya sa buong mundo!

Oh my goodness! It is HOT here! We are just finishing up the first month of summer and it is getting hotter every day. Some say the raining season starts in May and some say June. I am hoping for May!!! And we are REALLY hoping for a good rainy season. But other than that, things are going really great! 

We have 5 baptisms this coming Saturday. A mom, dad, and one of their daughters, and then 2 daughters from another family. This family, the father is a member but the mother is not. He use to be active but is inactive now, but the girls are really awesome. President Andres, our BP went with the missionaries to teach them and he asked an inspired question, what are you afraid of? One said she was afraid of what was going to happen to her family when they died and the other one said she was afraid of judgment day. These answers from a 10 year old and a 12 year old. They have been so eager to learn the gospel. Hopefully the mom will become interested and they can become a strong, active, sealed family sometime soon. We have not met the parents because they are always working. 

We are excited about our 4 families that will be going to the temple. Just one concern - reservations were not made for temple housing so that is not available and also we don't know if the endowment and sealing sessions have been scheduled, and we are afraid that since the temple housing is all booked that they may be all booked for those 2 days as well. We will call tomorrow morning and find out. But we see so often here that the Lord's hand is in His work, and things will work out one way or another. 

Speaking of that, we will hopefully get our meds on Friday. It has been such a fiasco, but there were a couple of brethren that work in the area offices that really put effort into finding the package. We had to send dad's passport and his Philippine DL. Finally, the one brother emailed us saying the package was available but it would cost us 8200 pesos to get it released - about $200.00. But this brother went back to them and convinced them to release it without a charge!! We couldn't believe it! We have been and are so blessed! Just to get the package is a HUGE blessing, and then to have the fee waived. The thing about the fee is, it would probably have gone into someone's pocket. There is a lot of that here. And it is pretty blatant. We are just thankful, and the zone leaders are going to Manila and will be back on Friday so we should have our package then. 

Things are moving ahead on the property. It is tilled and we should have water to it by next week. And hopefully we can get it tilled within the next week or so. It is done by karabaw and plow, not with any kind of mechanical equipment. 

On a different note, we were visiting with one of our temple prep families about family  history and in the middle of the lesson in comes this BIG scorpion! Not quite as big as the dead one we have, but still big. Bro. Palo pulled out his machete and cut it's tail off and then killed it. That is pretty scary to have it in their home. Sister said they also have snakes come in. And today walking we saw another scorpion, bigger than the previous one, but it was dead. Dad actually saw our first live snake since we have been here. Fairly long, but skinny, shiny green and FAST! I hope I don't get so lucky.

This past weekend we had a sick elder in Brookes Point. He ended up in the hospital for about 3 days. All of this because he ate balut, which is "bawal" (not allowed) according to mission rules. He is an American. His Filipino companion ate it too and he had no problem. We know the Lord blesses these people and causes their stomachs and digestive systems to adjust to their circumstances. We will not be trying it. Several of the elders have tried it. I guess its a rite of passage, even though it is bawal. Some have also eaten tree worms. I may have told you about that. They are about a foot long. They are a delicacy and are quite expensive. I guess you get them in a restaurant in Puerto. They probably have them in Manila also. They are eaten raw. One elder showed us pictures of him eating it. I imagine they are bawal too.

We are really looking forward to Conference, although we will get it a week later than you. We can actually go on line and watch it too, but will probably not have much time for that so will watch it with everyone else on the 11th and 12th.

Well, sorry to ramble on and on. We hope you have a wonderful Easter. I imagine you have all heard about the video the church has put out for video #Because He Lives. It is really good. We are so blessed to have the gospel and the understanding and knowledge that we do. Satan and his followers are working so hard to cause doubt and uncertainty in the minds and hearts of many people. We have to work really hard, we have to be so very diligent in sincerely studying the scriptures, praying, keeping the commandments and living up to the covenants we have made. I am so very, very grateful that we have living prophets and apostles who continue to testify of our Heavenly Father's plan for us, of His Son, Jesus Christ, and His infinite Atonement that makes the Father's plan perfect. Repentance and forgiveness are real. They are gifts from a loving Heavenly Father through His son as we exercise faith in Him, repent, and strive to follow Him. It is hard here. It is hard being away from all of you! We love you and miss you so much! BUT, we are so grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord full-time. I don't know that we make much of a difference, but it has been and is such a blessing to be part of this work.

We love you all!
Grandpa and Grandma
Dad and Mom