Sunday, September 27, 2015

A few more pics.

September 22, 2015

The Rizal Branch
With with Elders Baquiran and Lambert
(We couldn't get back far enough so we took a couple of pictures.)

And some other pics!

JhunPaul Diosma with his shoes!

The Diosma family. 6 children are members, 2 are not. I am not sure about the father.

Repairing the bridge. 
The 2 men in white shirts and ties are Pres Betita (far left) district pres, and Pres Visitacion, 2nd counselor.

More bridge repair.

This is a new sign in Narra. We noticed it a few weeks ago and thought it was hilarious! 
Mag-Ingat sa pamamaneho is the Tagalog interpretation of "Be a Defensive Driver".

Love you all!

Our Adventure!

September 22, 2015
Magandang Hapon po kayong lahat!
We had a great week last week! We got all of the TPA (Temple Patron Assistance) forms sent in for the Narra branch and also for the Rizal branch. So hopefully we will hear back from the Area office on those soon.  
Anyway, we were not able to go visiting with the Gattuds last week, but we did go visit a widow sister in our branch – Sister Capiendo. We have visited her before as we have been out walking, but this time we went specifically to visit her. She takes care of her mother who is, I think, 96 years old. She is lonely though. Her husband passed away about 2 years ago and she still misses him, which is understandable. We only understand part of what she says because she tries to speak English but then reverts to Tagalog and just goes on and on. She loves to visit. She is just really a cute lady! 
My cooking class was a lot of fun! Not too many of the girls showed up but they had fun making the pizza and waffle cookies. I think they really liked doing the waffle cookies because they could all participate. And they both turned out really good! They do not have mozzarella cheese here in Narra. They have Eden cheese, which is kind of the consistency of Velveeta, but white, and a different taste, but the pizza actually tasted really good. 
Dad’s self-reliance class did not go so well. Only a couple of people showed up and nothing really got done. I don’t think it was announced very well and no one really knew what was going on. Actually, we didn’t even know about it until our branch president told us when it was and asked dad to bring the seedlings, plants and seeds. We have talked about it though and we discovered another sister in the branch who is really into gardening. So we are hoping that we can have her, and the Bebita couple (I think I told you about their awesome garden. They are just a cute older couple, but very shy.) work together to organize a group and teach them and all work together to plant a garden at the church – a teaching garden, but then if they help in planting and caring for the garden they can share in the produce. And hopefully the will learn how to plant for themselves. The reason we think this other sister would be good is because she moved into a place that was just covered with weeds, really a lot of weeds. When we went there on Monday we saw that she, or she and her husband, had cleared it and planted a variety of vegetables, etc. The people who had been living there before really would have been benefited by growing some of their own food so we are hoping the members can catch that vision and work to become more self-reliant. It is a lot of work, but if they work together maybe they will see that it can be productive and give them a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, and also more peace in being able to provide for their families better. 
Sunday was quite an adventure!!! We went to the Rizal branch conference. We have not been there for a while because dad’s high counsel assignment was changed several months ago, but we really enjoy the people there. We were able to get a picture of the little boy who had club feet and is having them corrected through  Bahatala. I think I told you about them. They are a non-profit organization in Puerto through whom the Church Humanitarian Services goes through to distribute wheelchairs. They also have other programs, including making artificial limbs, and this program to correct club feet. The club feet program is completely free for those who need it. They pay for travel and every thing else, except food. The correction is done with casts, and they focus on infants and young children. I did ask if they can do it for adults and really didn’t receive an answer, so I think they don’t do it because their bones are set. Anyway, both of his feet were turned inward at a 90 degree angle to his legs. But he was so cute and he could really get around. But of course, it was difficult and he couldn’t wear shoes. On Sunday he had shoes on! and he was so proud of them. And his mom was smiling from ear to ear. He is the youngest of 8 children. He still has to go through more casts – in fact he goes in tomorrow to have them put on but he is doing so well. (I have some pictures of him, his family, and some of the Rizal branch). President Caduada, the 1st counselor in the mission presidency who took President Angoy’s place, was also at the conference, with his family – 1 son and 3 daughters, ages 12 – 22. This was their first visit to Rizal. After meetings we take off and President Caduada leaves a short time after us. But he catches up to us because he drives pretty fast.  Dad decides to pull over and let him pass because thankfully dad drives a little slower, and he knows that President C was trying to make it back to Puerto by 5pm. After about an hour of driving we come to the old rickety bridge that I have told you about and sent pictures of. There is a LONG line of vehicles on both sides of the bridge just parked and waiting. Come to find out, the powers that be decided the bridge needed to be repaired, which is a good thing. So they asked a man there to make a detour so people can still get around while they repair the bridge. He did that, but then he proceeded to charge everyone 100 pesos to use the detour. That is only about $2.50, but is a lot of money for these people. Some of the people got angry so they found the police. The police showed up and didn’t really know what to do. Finally they decided to close down the detour and everyone had to wait until they finished the work on the bridge. Luckily for us, they only completed about 1/8th of the bridge before they let us pass. We ended up only having to wait for about 45 minutes. So, President C takes off again, and we follow quite a ways behind. After about 20 minutes we come upon Pres C pull off to the side of the road, with TWO flat tires! Because this was his first time traveling the road there, he was unfamiliar with the way they often do things here. They are continually working on the roads, which again, is a good thing because they are replacing dirt with a concrete road. However, for whatever reason, they come to a certain spot and stop. Sometimes they build up dirt at the end of the concrete so you can get back down on the road, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they put up warning signs, or “use other lane” signs, and sometimes they don’t. On the way to Rizal we had that problem – no sign and we just continued on the cement road and came to the end of the cement, with no way to get back onto the dirt, because the cement is several inches high, it’s too much of a drop off, so we had to back up quite a ways until we found a place we could get down onto the dirt. Anyway, back to the Caduadas. His problem was the reverse of ours. Instead of there being no way to get off of the concrete road, there was no way, no built up dirt to get ONTO the concrete road. He did not realize this, just saw the concrete road and assumed that was where he needed to go because, again, no signs, and he hit the edge of the concrete and blew two tires. Interestingly enough, it was the right front and the left rear. Don’t know how that happened. The people living close by came out to see what the LOUD noise was. So, luckily we were behind them and we drive exactly the same vehicle so we were able to lend him our spare so they could get home. Thankfully no one was hurt. Thankfully dad listened to the prompting to let him go first. Also, we were blessed because they were just finishing the tires we got a downpour. Needless to say, they did not make it to Puerto by 5pm. But everyone made it home safely. And we made it home in time to go to Brother Tana’s birthday celebration. We had been invited to Sister Tana’s birthday and their anniversary celebration (they are on the same day) several weeks earlier and were unable to attend because of teaching appointments, so we were glad to be able to attend. It was a lot of fun. Lots of members of the branch. The food and the company were great!
Well, sorry SO long! I just had to share our Sunday adventure. Our two favorite sayings here really fit on Sunday – “Only in the Philipppines” and “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
We love you all and hope you are all safe and happy and doing great!!
Love and miss you all so much!
Grandpa and Grandma,

Dad and Mom

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Few More Pix

September 15, 2015

 Elders Merrill and Tabanou - their last day on Palawan.

Transfer day!

Missionaries leaving Narra district. 

Elder Sison from Cabar. They were riding their bikes and someone had strung a wire across the road I guess for laundry and he didn't see it until it was too late. They think he broke his nose.

This is really interesting. Dad saw this in the grass and thought it was a whole rat, but upon closer examination it was just a head and tail! We have no idea what happened to the rest of it or how those 2 parts ended up there. Weird!

Love you all!


September 15, 2015
Dear Brenoch, Jean, Anne, Leah, Neal, Luke, Claire, Kamber, Mike, McKenna, Hannah, Dallin, Eliza, Esther, Adelaide, Nyree, Stephen, Grace, Willie, Shelby, Audrey, Tommy, Lizzie, Keira, Mike, Shae and Kyler
We hope you are all doing GREAT! We love and miss you all so much! It was fun to type all your names and just think of you.
Things are busy here, as usual. We made 2 trips last week to Puerto, which was fun but long. We took Elders Merrill and Tabanou to the airport. They flew to Manila on Monday and flew home on Wednesday. It was kind of funny, (and maybe I already told you this), but Elder Merrill was here when we first arrived. I think Narra was his very first area and he had been here a few transfers before we arrived and just stayed one transfer after we arrived. And then he came back a few months ago to finish his mission. President Stucki did not send missionaries back to Palawan if they had already served here, but President Ostler does. Elder Tabanou had served here before as well, but he was in Quezon the first time. And our new zone leader served in Brookes Point previously. Anyway, that was a good trip to Puerto. We got most of our shopping done and got home fairly early. We were glad that we did because on Wednesday when we went down again President and Sister Hiatt asked if we would do some shopping for a new apartment they had to set up for missionaries. We were happy to do it, but it took us a little longer because we are not as familiar with Puerto. But it was good. They are really busy as they will be going home September 28th. The couple replacing them will arrive in Puerto on Friday. The Hiatts will bring them out next week to meet us and see the area. It will be fun to meet them. But we will really miss the Hiatts.
Sunday was a little disappointing because 2 of our 3 appointments were cancelled. But we had a good visit with the Gineza family. And we attended church in Sandoval and there were almost 50 members there, including children! We were really hoping that they would become a branch officially, before we leave, but it is looking like that may not happen. But, we shall see. As I was sitting there in church watching some of these members I was just so happy to see them active again in church. The gospel blesses our lives in so many ways! And keeping the Sabbath day holy  is so important. Today for zone meeting we were shown several video clips of a training meeting that was taught by the Quorum of the 12 and was for all General Authorities, Area Authorities, Area 70’s, and General Auxilliary leaders. It was given in April of this year. The focus was on building faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through keeping the Sabbath Day holy and they talked about what we need to do in our wards and branches to make Sacrament meeting a spiritual experience and help members understand the significance of the Sacrament. They also talked about the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy in our homes, not just at church. Anyway, it was really good and just made me think of those Sandoval members and how happy they all seem when they meet together on Sunday. And seeing the growth in some of the new members there.
 Yesterday was a very busy day! There was a promo for the flights we needed for the December temple trip so I spent most of the day on line buying tickets. Including us and President Andres (his wife won’t be able to go) and Brother and Sister Bunquin (he’s in the branch presidency), there will be 38 people going to the temple! President just added another family a couple of days ago. And we also got great news from temple housing – they will be able to accommodate all of us in temple housing.I may have told you before, but President Ostler invited all of the members going on this trip to the mission home for a meal and probably a little family home evening, so that should be good.  The members were pretty excited about it when he told them. It was kind of strange purchasing our tickets – one way. Just kind of strange to think about we will go to the temple with these members and then next day we will be flying home! Time goes by fast!
Well, I have rambled on long enough! We hope you are all happy, healthy, and moving forward!
Love you all!!
Grandpa and Grandma
Dad and Mom


September 7, 2015
Dear Family,
Well, it was a very busy week, but a good one. We were able to do all of the apartment checks. We will be moving the Narra A/B elders into a new place at the end of this month. It will be a good move. It is much bigger – it is actually a house, not an apartment – gated, and in a nice area. They are pretty excited about it. While we were in Rizal we were able to meet with the branch president there and the 2 families and 2 individuals preparing to go to the temple. We will hopefully get their TPA forms completed and sent tomorrow. 
We are once again having problems with the internet, which is so very frustrating!!!!! But maybe it will be back tomorrow. If not we will go back to the church. It was kind of cool because after we met with the families we went back to the elders apartment because they have a rat problem – they have caught or killed about 14 rats in the last couple of weeks because they have a huge hole in the screen covering one of the windows. So we bought screen and heavy gauge chicken wire to replace what was there. While dad was working on that with one of the elders I was working on the TPA’s. I felt prompted to call the temple patron housing. That was kind of strange because they and the temple have been closed for several weeks for cleaning and maintenance and won’t reopen until the 24th of this month. I have called and left messages and no one ever answers or returns my calls. But this group of members from Rizal wanted to go to the temple in October – they were thinking the 2nd or 3rd week. So I called. It wouldn’t go through when I went into contacts so I just tried dialing the number and it went through and someone actually answered! The housing was not available the weeks they wanted but the last 3 days of October was still available so I was able to schedule that for them. I was so happy about that! The elders let them know that they were scheduled and they texted us and said, “we wish you could have seen their faces when we told them they were all scheduled to go to the temple”. We are really excited for them. 
Dad and Elder Whittle did a really nice job fixing the hole so hopefully no more rat problem. While they were doing that and after I had finished what I could do on the TPA’s I talked with the other elder there – Elder Baquiran. He told me his family’s conversion story. I’m not sure what religion, if any, his parents were -  probably catholic. But they were very poor. When his parents got married they decided they would have just 2 children – a boy and a girl. Well, their first 2 children were boys, so they decided they would keep having kids until they got a girl. Their 3rd child was also a boy. But with their 4th one they finally got a girl. So, that was to be the end. Only his mother got pregnant. As I said, they were very poor so they decided she would have an abortion. About that time the missionaries found them and taught them about the importance of families and that abortion was wrong. They  listened and were converted, and their 5th child was Elder Baquiran! He said growing up he was told that story and from a very young age he felt like he needed to serve a mission because it was missionaries that saved his life. Before he left on his mission he emailed the missionaries that had taught his parents and thanked them. His family has stayed active. He said his mother has a really strong testimony about tithing because she was so unsure about being able to pay tithing because they were so poor but they committed to do it and were so blessed. I thought that was just a great story! 
Another fun thing on our apartment checks – we always take treats for the elders. This time I made no bake cookies. When we got to Quezon the elders said, oh, no way!!! Then they went in the kitchen and brought out cookies they had made for us!! The funny thing was, they also made no bake cookies! It was funny, but that was just so thoughtful! 
The Cabar elders have had a time of it. We got really good rains last week or a couple of weeks ago, and they apparently did too. They had been up to their ankles in their house because it was flooded because of so much rain. And of course there was a lot of mud too. They did a good job cleaning it up. 
We also go some good news – I don’t think I told you about it – there will be a couple coming to replace us! We think they will come in November, but we are not sure if President will have them live here or in one of the other branches. He said he is thinking about having them focus on a different branch every 6 months to help them progress and get members going to the temple etc. but they would probably just live in one apartment, not move every 6 months. But he is not sure exactly what he is going to do or where they will live, so we will just wait and see what he decides. We are just excited that someone will be here to help the members. 
Saturday our service project was cancelled because they  didn’t have all the supplies to repair the roof. Hopefully this week or next. Saturday afternoon we had an FHE in Sandoval to say goodbye to Elder Tabanou who will be going home on Wednesday, and that evening we had an FHE in Narra to welcome home Sister Ordanza and say goodbye to Elder Merrill, who will also be going home on Wednesday. It was a lot of fun. It was really unbelievable to see Sister Ordanza. I think I told you we were here when she left. We didn’t know if we would still be in Narra when she got home, but it was so fun to see her. It is unbelievable that actually 19 months has passed. Elder Merrill was also here for when we first arrived. He was here for one transfer after we arrived and then was transferred off the island. But he was transferred back for his last 2 or 3 transfers. We took he and Elder Tabanou to Puerto this morning for their flight to Manila. They do some things there at the mission home, and usually go to the temple, but they will not be able to do that because the temple is closed, but they will fly out on Wednesday. The Northrups are also flying home on Wednesday. We were here when they arrived too, but they were only here for 18 months. 
The Hiatts will go home on September 28th. We are the last of the senior couples that were here when we arrived. Hard to believe. But a new couple will arrive in about a week to take the Hiatts place. 
The work moves on. It’s kind of strange to think about but the elders that came last transfer and those that will arrive on Wednesday this week could actually still be here when we leave. We have sent so many missionaries off – not home, just transferred (actually the 2 that are leaving are the first 2 that have “died” here in Narra since we got here), and pretty soon we will be the ones leaving. 
Well we went with Brother and Sister Abrigo to visit the Tana family for our TP visit. They did a great job! We really, really love both of these families! Last Sunday we went with the Corpuz’ to visit the Uda family. Usually we also visit the Magsino family also but Sister Magsino had to go to Puerto because her sister was in an accident and had to undergo surgery for head trauma. This is the second member of her family to be involved in an accident and have head injury this year. The other was her nephew. His accident was more serious, but he was younger. He is doing ok but not great. Anyway, the Corpuz’ did a great job also, and we really love all of these families! And also the Palo and Gineza families too. We haven’t been able to visit the Lagan and Manrall families yet, but we know we will love them too. There are so many really good people here and it is such a blessing to be able to work with them. 
Well, I have really rambled on. Sorry this is so long. As I said, the internet is down. I am typing this in word and will hopefully be able to copy and paste later tonight or tomorrow. We love you all so much and miss you! I have to be honest and say that sometimes it is hard not to think about going home. I think it is just with so many going home or who have gone home, and we are pretty close. But there is still so much work to do. I have realized that you don’t really finish your work on a mission. Your time just ends and someone (hopefully) just steps in and takes over for you. And, you just hope you did something to help someone.
Well, it is good to hear from you. You are all so busy and we really appreciate it that you take the time to write. Life is good!!!
Dad and Mom,

Grandpa and Grandma

Magandang Umaga sa lahat!

August 30, 2015

Magandang Umaga sa lahat!

This will just be a short one because we still have no internet. The guy came out from Puerto and said it is a problem with the tower. He said maybe it would be fixed by Wednesday, but we have our doubts. The Hiatts said they were without it for 3+ weeks, and probably the only reason they have it now is because the owner of their apartment is some retired military bigwig and was calling daily to get it taken care of. So, we will see. We are going to check if there is another option when we go to Puerto next week.

Things are going well here. Kind of a slow week last week but this week will be very busy. 7 apartment inspections and while we are in Rizal for that we will also meet with the branch president there to help him do the temple assistance fund request for some of  the members there. The elders there sent us the names of those going and we were really excited because there is a family there that is so faithful and active and we just assumed that they had been to the temple. We can't really imagine the joy they feel knowing that they are finally going to be able to go the temple and be sealed as a family. I am so grateful that through some very generous people many of the members here will be able to receive the blessings of the temple. 

On Saturday we have a service project to finish repairing the roof on the Sandoval meeting house and then that evening a welcome home party for Sister Ordanza, whose brother just left last week for his mission. It is so strange - we were here when she left. Can't believe she is coming home. Well, hopefully we will have internet soon. We try to come to the church everyday, but with our schedule this week don't know if we will be able to do that. But, you can still write to us. We will get here sometime!

We love and miss you all so much!!

Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

Everyone back in school???

August 23, 2015

We love you all so much and hope you are doing well. I am going to try to get this email off before we lose power or have more problems with our computer. I am at the church right now because we cannot connect with our internet, which we now think is a problem with the internet service and NOT our computer, which is a good thing. We have had so many problems with this computer lately, so if I have not responded it is because when our computer is functioning AND we are able to connect to the internet it is usually for a short period of time and I just have to try to get as much done as possible. And to add to everything else, we have had a lot of power outages lately. 

There have been typhoons in the Philippines, you may have heard that. They are not close, I don't think but our weather has been pretty crazy! A LOT of rain and some wind, and last night we had the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life. A little scary. It continues to rain today and it is not like rain back home. I have never seen rain like this! There is some flooding, but so far it soaks into the ground pretty fast. We are having the church property tilled today. They till in mud and water all the time but I didn't know if they would do it in the rain but we got a text this morning that they were on their way. They live a ways from the church and of course they walk or ride the caribou (still don't know the right spelling of that). When we got to the church they had left the windows in the RS room open, which is not uncommon, but their was a little frog on the floor right by the window and he just kept hopping like he was trying to get back to the window. Dad picked him up and tossed him outside. We still love the sound the frogs make when it rains. It was really loud last night. We just think they are so happy about the rain. 

We had a great zone conference on Friday!  It was about receiving power to do this work, and our need to be worthy in order to receive that power. Serving in the Church in any capacity is doing this work, His work, and we all need that power. We also got our flu shots, which is nice. The Church is doing measles shots for children here. They are actually doing it through the schools here. They sent a lot of posters to put up in the schools. We may be helping with that - no one was quite sure about that. It is such a blessing for the people here because people cannot afford them. They can't afford flu shots either. Living in the United States is such a tremendous blessing in so many ways. There are so many things that we have come to appreciate while being here, that we have taken for granted for so many years.

Well, it will be a busy week this week. We have our missionary luncheon tomorrow. After tomorrow we will only have 3 more after that because we will not do one in December.  We do them the 4th Tuesday of the month and we will leave before then. We could do one earlier but I think we are going to be very busy that last month. If there is not a couple to take our place we will have to be liquidating all of the furniture, etc that we have in our home so I think that could be pretty time consuming. If we do have someone taking our  place we will be involved in helping them get settled and learn the area a little. But - that is in the future. We have a missionary leaving from our Branch this week - Brother Raymark Ordanza. We love this family. I may have told you that their daughter will be released from her mission just 5 days after he goes to the MTC. We were hoping that she could be released early so they could see each other. That will not happen, but she has been given permission to visit with him at the MTC in Manila, so their parents are very happy about that. She is returning from the England London mission. We have a farewell party for him and visits and district meetings and self-reliance meetings this week. Always a variety of things to do. Next week we will do apartment checks. Oh, that reminds me, we also have to check out a house that is for rent here for the Narra A and B elders. They have had numerous problems with theirs, and they have very close neighbors that blast their "Babylonian" music all day and most of the night, which is really distracting so we need to find a more suitable place. We have checked out this house before, it is HUGE, but the owner would have to do a few things in order for it to meet mission standards so we need to discuss that with him.

Well, that's our life! At least that is the plan for this week. There are always changes! We hope you are all doing really well. We love and miss you all so much!!!

Have a GREAT week!

Mom and Dad,
Grandpa and Grandma

Its more fun in the Philippines!

August 16, 2015

That's their big advertising slogan here. We, as senior' couples, use it when things are more FRUSTRATING in the Philippines. But, all is good here. I can't believe some of you will be starting school soon, or have already started - I can't remember what dates you told me. That had to be the fasted summer ever! 

We got some disappointing news yesterday. One of the families that was hoping to go to the temple will not be able to go. He was previously married. He was away working in another country - NEVER a good thing - and she found another interest. So they split up, but since there is no divorce for poor people (for the very wealthy they can pay for an "annulment" but the poor could never in a lifetime afford it - 300,000php) they just split. He eventually married the woman he is married to now, and they actually have a marriage certificate, so they were hoping that the first marriage was not recorded. However, after checking, our RS president who has a friend who works in the office in Puerto where you have to check, found out that the first marriage was recorded. This couple was really upset when our BP explained to them that if there was record of a previous marriage they would not be able to be sealed. Hopefully when it is explained to them that they will eventually be able to be an eternal family if they keep their baptismal covenants and obey the commandments, they will be able to exercise faith and trust that it will happen. Hopefully all of the other couples and individuals will be able to go. We are starting to check flight prices and have gotten permission from President Ostler to purchase tickets when we find a good promo.

Last week was busy. We had a great zone meeting. The  ZL focused on the character of Christ. There is a great article by Elder Bednar - I think it was when he was president of BYUI - called "The Character of Christ". I recommend it!  Elder Gibson, an elder from Australia taught about humility, which was really good. 

Wednesday we went visiting with the Gattuds and Sister Gabil, which is always fun but we didn't have much success finding people home. We were able to take some papaya and calamansi trees out to a couple of members there. And we found out from a member out there that the elders working that area were crossing a river to go to the mountain home of a family. They have a home close to their farm. Anyway, the member told us that they go through the river, which is sometimes mid-thigh. Brother Gattud said the real problem is that sometimes, even when it does not rain down below it will rain heavy in the mountains and they will have flash floods. I was really glad to get that information and we talked to the elders about that. And they said, oh, we don't go when it has been raining. So we explained what Brother Gattud told us. Hopefully they will listen. 

We did a service project in Sandoval on Friday. We repaired part of the thatched roof of the meetinghouse. We will finish it on Saturday, I think. Actually, they don't repair, they just replace. It is much easier than repairing. The little huts that many of the Filipinos here live in are called Nipa huts. Nipa refers to the thatching material the roof is made of. It was really interesting to watch how they attach it to the frame. And the walls are made of bamboo mats called sawali. And, that is basically what the meeting house is, a large Nipa hut, but the walls only go half way up. 

We had more rain and the burning on the property is almost done, but because of the rain the small areas that are left have really slowed down. We were going to go over this morning and start a couple of more fires because we haven't had rain for a few days, but we got heavy rain last night so it will be pretty wet. Maybe tomorrow. 

We had a great lesson in RS. You may have already had this lesson - Lesson 13 Marriage and Family -- Ordained of God. There were just a couple of quotes that really impressed me. President Benson said, "God intended the family to be eternal. With all my soul, I testify to the truth of that declaration. May He bless us to strengthen our homes and the lives of each family member so that in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in His celestial home that we are all there--father, mother, sister, brother, all who hold each other dear. Each chair is filled. We are all back home."  I want this with all my heart! I can't imagine eternity without ALL of us together. But that has to be our top priority. Another quote from one of their sons: "Our parents instilled deep feelings of loyalty and love among us children. I don't think that kind of atmosphere is generated naturally in a home, but is encouraged and promoted by a concerned and loving mother and father. I don't think we did very good at this. Not that we are not close, but I just hope that we feel that love and concern for each other. I know that we can develop stronger ties, even now. A couple more quotes: "the Church teaches that everything should center in and around the family. It stresses that the preservation of family life in time and eternity takes precedence above all other interests." and "The family is one of God's greatest fortresses against the evils of our day." I love those two last quotes and I know that they are true. This is why satan is working so hard to destroy the family. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, we have got to work harder at strengthening and fortifying our families and also sharing our beliefs about the importance and central role of marriage and family in our Heavenly Father's plan. I am just so thankful that you are all living and teaching the gospel in your homes. I know you are not perfect, but you are all great! Sorry I don't mean to preach or lecture. I think I have told you before that being on this mission has helped me appreciate my family more and realize how very important families are. Of course it has also made me look deeper at myself and realize how many, many mistakes I made as a mom, for which I really truly do apologize for. But I love you all so much and am so thankful for each of you! I hope even with all my failings, you have no doubt about that.
Anyway, this week we have zone conference, which is always nice. It is nice to go to Puerto, and it is nice to be so spiritually fed. President and Sister Ostler are amazing and wonderful people!

Well, we hope you are all doing well. Life can be so challenging sometimes. Sometimes it seems like all of the time. But the good news of the gospel - the Atonement of Jesus Christ - can bring hope, help, happiness and peace, even in the midst of trying times.

We love and miss you all so very much!!!

Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma 

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Rice Field and More...Pix

August 10, 2015

 This was from when we worked in the rice field. Dad got home and I saw what I thought was a rash or something, but then we realized it was just sunburn. His legs were splattered with mud so it left an interesting design.

Burning the rice hulls. This has really been amazing to us, the way it just keeps burning.

 More burning.

Just some pics of some really cool leaves. I especially like the first one - It looks like someone just dabbed paint here and there.

Dad found a turtle in our yard. He wanted to eat it :). Joke lang! 

The jungle. Actually the church property. We had it all cleared and burned a few months ago and now it has all grown back.

Love you all!

The Rainy Season

August 10, 2015

Well, we THOUGHT we were in the rainy season, but this past week has convinced us that we definitely ARE!! It has rained SOOO much!! And really, really hard rain. It does not rain like this back home. At least not where we have ever lived. It is so good and so needed. But a little frustrating because we are still trying to get the rice hulls burned at the property. We haven’t checked since Saturday evening, but even with all the rain they were still smoldering. Just not as much as before. Since then we have had even more rain, so not sure what we will find when we go there tomorrow on our walk. We have really been amazed that it is still smoldering. And feel very blessed! We have had so many set-backs with this self-reliance project that our goal is just to get it burned and tilled and ready to plant. Then if the self-reliance couple has been called and accepted we can maybe help them get a class or program going. There is still enough time, but the next hurdle is finding someone who will come in and till for us. It’s not a very big area because we had to change our plans and just have a teaching garden because of the cost of water, which is really wise. If the members are depending on some other source to pay for them to garden that is not really helping them become more self-reliant. But, because the area is small, we are not sure we will be able to find someone who will bring their kalibaw (I’m not sure that is the correct spelling, but it’s what we would call a water buffalo, or similar to that. We always pronounce it karabaw, with the r but someone told me it was with an l. I don’t know.) Anyway, not sure on that. If not, we will have to figure out something else. 
The internet was so bad last week. We were beginning to think it was our computer but it is better this week. Just slower than normal, but we are so thankful to have it. It is a blessing – we know that. 
We had some good visits with the Gattuds on Wednesday. We are really hoping the Sandoval group will be organized into a branch before we leave. It has been almost 1 ½ years since we started the group. There is a good, steady group that attends each week. We did a lot of work to get the forms filled out and do the mapping, but then they came back and said our mapping was not sufficient. All the members needed to be put on the map on line, and also it needed to be indicated who was still there etc. But, President and Sister Hiatt came out on Friday and met with President Andres and got it finished off so that is good. He said President Ostler wants all the paperwork done and to him by Wednesday, so hopefully it will happen soon. The members are anxious to be organized and to be able to hold all the meetings. It would also be really good for President Andres because he has so much going on in the Narra branch and he also has to worry about having someone conduct there, getting speakers, etc. It would be really nice for them to have their own leadership who could really focus on building and strengthening there in Sandoval and surrounding areas. We will see what happens. 
Dad and I were counting up yesterday - if all those families and individuals that have said they want to go to the temple in December are all able to go, we would have 40 people in the temple. That includes Dad and I, President and Sister Andres and Brother and Sister Bunquin (member of branch presidency), and the kids, but that is a great group. Hopefully they will all be able to go. We have a slight problem in that the temple patron housing is booked. We booked the 5 original families and 5 single members back in June. But when we called about these new families they said they are booked. We are trying to figure it out. I may have told you that President and Sister Ostler has invited the whole group to go to the mission home for dinner and probably a family home evening type of thing, when we get there on Monday. The members were really excited about that. 
Our branch is also starting a self-reliance group – “Starting and Growing Your Own Business”. The Church has come out with 3 different groups – this one, one about finding good employment and one about getting good education so that you can find a good paying job. That one is connected with the PEF fund, and anyone who applies for it must take the course first. They are really good courses. They have manuals that go along with each of the courses, and also 2 other booklets that they work from, called “My Foundation” and “My Path to Self-Reliance”. They focus on gospel principles as well as good business practices etc. We are really hoping this will take off and help the economy here. The courses don’t have a teacher, but rather a facilitator. I think it is really an inspired program. President Ostler asked us to attend the classes just to see how they are doing. He is anxious to have the members take advantage of these programs.
Well, I think that’s about all for us. With all the rain the weather has been a little cooler, which has been nice for us. We hope you are all doing well. When does school start? I guess it is probably getting close. I just have a closing thought. Something that I have been thinking about, as we have helped and are helping prepare these members to go to the temple. They have to really make sacrifices to be able to go to the temple, and even just to go to church and to serve in the church. Most do not have transportation and therefore have to pay the fare each time they come. The pioneers also sacrificed so much so that the gospel could be established. We have benefited so much from their sacrifices. I have thought about us. We really have never had to make sacrifices to do either of those things. And I wonder what we would be willing to sacrifice if we had to. Sacrifice is a law of the gospel, and I think the Lord expects us to sacrifice. If we do not have to sacrifice in these ways, then I think He expects us to recognize other ways that we need to sacrifice so that we can more fully and completely follow our Savior. I know we sacrifice time and money to serve in the church. But they did that also, and so much more. I guess I share this just because it has been on my mind and I know that I need to make sacrifices to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ. And, to be able to have an eternal family.
We love you all SO MUCH!!!
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma