Sunday, September 20, 2015

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!!!

Love,
Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma 

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