Sunday, November 1, 2015

Warning!!!! This is a REALLY long one!

October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween Everyone!!!
We hope you send us pictures of all of you in your costumes! When we were in Puerto for transfers we noticed some Halloween costumes in one of the stores so maybe some of the people there celebrate, but I don’t know if they trick-or-treat. I got an email from someone, don’t remember who, but it showed something that looked like Halloween candy – the little smartee like candy that is shaped like skulls, bones, etc. Anyway the email said that it is some kind of drug and it could kill a child. Just a warning. It is a sad thing, but we need to be aware and be careful. Do the kids still have Halloween parties in school?
Well, transfer day was crazy! We had to be to the airport in Puerto by 5:30am, which meant leaving here about 3:45am because we picked up a couple of elders in Aborlan. Then we had two groups of missionaries coming to Puerto – one about 4pm and the other about 6pm, I think. With the truck we cannot take many elders down or back so sometimes we just take luggage. Since we had 8 new missionaries and all their trainers were new trainers and had to be in Puerto for new trainer training, we just planned to take luggage. All missionaries are suppose to be in their apartments by 9:30pm. With the flight coming in at 6pm those going to Narra and past would all travel to Narra and spend the night here with the Narra elders. However, there were 2 or 3 delays in the 6pm flight so they ended up not getting in until about 8:30pm so there was no way they could make it to Narra in time, besides the fact that there were no shuttles leaving that late. So, they had them stay with the Puerto elders. And, since they all wanted their luggage for the night we ended up not bringing back any luggage. But we did take a ton of luggage and some of the missionaries to the Puerto apartments. We got home about 11:30pm that night. It was a LONG day! It is so strange to think about that we only have 1 more transfer to do. And actually, we may not do it. We may just have the Atkinsons do it. Probably though, we will have them come to Narra and then ride with us, or we will ride with them to Puerto so they can learn the routine. Not sure how they will handle it from Brooke’s Point but they will figure it out. Right now President only plans to have them in Brookes Point for 4 months and then come back to Narra. But, they will work with the Aborlan branch, which is only about 20 minutes away. That brings up the apartment hunting in Brookes. There just isn’t much available. We had about decided to rent the small new apartment that I mentioned last letter, but we found out that it had just been rented L L L. The elders there found another apartment, but it is smaller than the first. It is just one big room with a couch, two beds, a tiny table, a sink and small counter, and a small bathroom. They actually call the bathroom a CR (comfort room) here. They cannot cook in it because of ventilation, but there is a cooking area across the street that they can use. I am really not excited about it but we may have to take it. It does have air con and they said that we can bring in a fridge and we can install an on-demand water heater. That is what they use here, and they are actually pretty nice. I don’t know what they cost, but I’ve heard that they are very cost efficient and they are convenient – at least the ones here are. I don’t know about in the US. They want 13,000php/month, which is high for the size and the area. We were paying just 7,500/php for the house we rented for the elders there. It just went up to 8,500, and doesn’t include utilities which the other one does, but it is still high. We checked out the lodge – we actually stayed the night there. It is nice but would be about 30,000/mon, which President is willing to do if it is the best option. But we are going there again tomorrow to see what we can find. The elders have been diligent in looking, it is just hard to find something suitable. We are running out of time, and we found out earlier this week that they are coming on the 7th, which is a week from Saturday, instead of the 9th. It is only 2 days diference, but I am kind of stressing about it. But I know it will all work out.
We had 4 GREAT temple prep visits on Sunday. They are excited but some of the shyer (is that a word?) – more shy ones are a little nervous. Actually, I think they are all a little nervous, but some are more so. We also got a new branch president on Sunday. The first counselor, Brother Bunquin, was called, and Brother Tana is his first counselor. They haven’t called the 2nd counselor yet. We will miss President Andres. He did a lot for the branch here.
We think the Rizal branch members are in Manila now, and will go to the temple tomorrow. But we have had a few problems this week and last, getting them there. First of all, no one had heard anything about the TPA funds (Temple Patron Assistance). So I called the brother at the area office who is over that and he said he had not received the forms, which are suppose to be in the area office AT LEAST one month before their scheduled date. We had sent them to President Ostler for his signature a month and a half ago. We are not sure what happened, but Brother Santos at the area office did not have them. So President sent them again. Two days later Brother Santos sent us an email indicating the funds had been approved. But it is a long process to get the funds. If the branch has that much in their account they can withdraw it and be reimbursed. They never have that much. If the District has that much they can withdraw it for the branch and then receive reimbursement, but if the District doesn’t have it they have to send a written request to someone else to have the money deposited. In this case, because of the late date, they contacted the brother by phone and he had the money sent via a western union type company. But by this past Monday they still had not received the money (and they were leaving on Wed to go to Puerto). Anyway, they got the funds. So, they got to Puerto. The Galzote family had not been able to interview with Pres. Caduada of the mission presidency, so we set up an appointment with him for them at 5pm last night. We didn’t hear anything last night so figured it was all fine. About 8am this morning we get a call from the Rizal elders saying that Pres Caduada had told the Galzotes that their oldest daughter, Yumi, could not be sealed to them because she was too old and had not received her own endowments. We had not heard that. So I checked her birthdate, she is 20, and called the temple. The sister explained to me that at 20 she could still be sealed to her parents but at 21 she could not unless she had received her own endowment. We learned something new. Anyway, we contacted President Caduada. He said none of the children had recommends – 8 years old and up have to have a recommend signed by the bp and a member of the mission presidency to be sealed. He said he had told the Galzotes to contact their bp because he didn’t go to Puerto until today, and have him bring his recommend book so they could get recommends.  They had done that but by 9am he still hadn’t arrived. But, he arrived, and they were all able to get their recommends. We think President Cadauada had maybe gotten mixed up, thinking the age limit was 18, but we don’t know why the confusion with that, and we don’t know why the bp didn’t do the interviews for the children, but, it all worked out.
 Also, earlier I had had  to call the temple to verify that their records now indicated that one of the members had received the Melchizedek priesthood and that they had the membership record of a young son of one of the families, because previously the temple had said they did not have that. So we had contacted the branch president and were told it was taken care of, but we needed to verify it. Later I had to call the temple to find out their initiatory, endowment, and sealing schedules. The brother I spoke to asked if patron housing had contacted me with the schedule. I said no and he indicated that they always send the schedule. He asked if we had reservations at patron housing, I said yes and he asked if I had the reservations confirmed and I said yes. I can’t remember what he said exactly, but he led me to believe that there was no record of the reservations. He said he would contact housing and someone would contact me that day. No one did. I went back and checked my emails just to verify that I had received confirmation and I had, so I felt better about that. The next day was transfers and I forgot about it. So on Thursday I called and all was good.
So far as we know, they are all in Manila now. Hopefully there will be no more hitches.They will go to the temple tomorrow morning at 7:30am.
Well, that was a long story. And a longer email. Sorry! I just ramble on. We hope you all have a great Halloween and a great weekend!
We love and miss you all so much!!!

Dad and Mom, Grandpa and Grandma

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