Sunday, December 6, 2015

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! I actually started an email last week before Thanksgiving but then our internet went down and it is down at the Church so I couldn’t send it. Someone came out and fixed it. Actually it was just the adapter I think, but we didn’t know that. But, at least for now, and the next 3 weeks it will be good.

Our Thanksgiving was a lot of fun! The Wolcotts invited us and the Atkinsons to Thanksgiving dinner there in Puerto. It was really good! No turkey, just chicken, but everything tasted so good, and I have not eaten that much for a long time. I made pies – pumpkin and a chocolate cream pie that Sister Hiatt gave me the recipe for, and also Apple Crisp. I couldn’t make apple pie because I didn’t have any more shortening. But it was good. We stayed in Puerto Thursday night and brought the Ostlers to Narra Friday evening for District Conference. It was great! We also had Elder Adduru again, which was really surprising but he is such a great speaker and has such a strong testimony. He just has a way of drawing everyone in to what he is saying. The members love him and we had a great turn out. He talked about keeping the Sabbath day holy, which is a big emphasis throughout the Church, I think, and it is so important. I know that when we keep His day holy we show our love for Him and gratitude for all He has given and done for us, and I know also that as we honor His day our lives can change in drastic and important ways.
Week before last was good. It was fun getting to know the Atkinsons a little better. They are really spunky. We traveled to Brooke’s Point, Cabar, Quezon and Rizal for apartment inspections. They are a little concerned about making the trip to Rizal every transfer because of his injuries, I think, and the road is SO bumpy, and President may just tell them to go every other transfer or something. They have officially taken over that responsibility, but we will be going to Rizal on the 13th of December, which is after the upcoming transfer, so we will offer to take care of the apartment check when we are there. We had another weeding activity at the property but not many showed up. I think we will have to finish the weeding ourselves if we are going to get the garden planted before we leave. People are busy, and it is a lot of work. But, it will be so beneficial if they will just be willing to learn and then do the work. 

The Primary program was great! It is always  good. And it was all done in English! Pretty impressive for all those children. It is so fun to hear them speak English. Our training afterwards was good, but not a very good turn out, which is too bad, especially for Narra, being the biggest branch in the district. And we had so many people there for the Primary program because Sandoval joined with Narra for the program and then some of the less actives came because their kids had parts. We were packed! But, I understand no one wants to stay for another meeting after 3 hours. Oh well, we are half way done with the trainings. 

Just a side note, they are planning to expand the Narra chapel. I’m not sure when they will get started but it has definitely been decided that they will do it, and they really need to. It is too small just for our branch, let along district conference. This year they held District Conference in Aborlan because they expanded their building – finished it shortly after we arrived here, and it is bigger than Narra. So hopefully they will start soon. 

We did not do our TP visits  two Sundays ago because Brother Palo was sick. But we were able to do those, and also the visits with Brother and Sister Corpuz yesterday. They were all good visits! And the last teaching visits before they go to the temple. Brothers Gineza and Lagan were both ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood and it was really interesting when we visited the Lagans. Brother Lagan is a convert but his wife has been a member for a while, mayber her whole life, I am not sure. He has always been kind of shy and very quiet. I have wondered if he was doing this just for his wife or what, but as we visited last night he was just different. He seemed to have more confidence. He answered questions and shared some things. I believe that it was receiving the Melchizedek priesthood. Sister Lagan said how grateful she was that now if they needed a blessing he would be able to do it. And you could tell he felt good about that. They also shared their testimony about tithing. Since they have moved here he has not been able to find work. Before they moved here he had worked but worked on Sundays and so became less active. She has found work that is close by so she doesn’t have to pay fare to get to work and she is close enough that she can come home and nurse their baby. She said that she makes just 4,000php a month for their family of 3, which is about $100.00. She does not know how they get by but they always do with some money left over. He has been able to pick up a few side jobs. Anyway, it was just so good to hear their testimonies and see the changes in Brother Lagan.  We have 1 more visit with 3 more families, which we will do next Saturday and Sunday (hopefully) and we are done with them. We know that they have had many challenges, temporal and spiritual, as they have been preparing to attend the temple. But we know the Lord is blessing them and we just keep praying for them. It is so important. 

At District Conference the Rizal branch was asked to provide a choir. On Saturday as they were singing I looked through the group and saw all but one husband and the handicapped brother singing in the choir. I just felt like you could see it in their faces, the joy they had, as well as the peace and gratitude for being able to receive the blessings of the temple. Afterwards one of the sisters came up and just thanked us for helping them to get to the temple. We really didn’t do much, paperwork and encouragement, but it was just so wonderful to see and feel the joy. We both were crying. Sometimes we take these precious blessing for granted. I wish you could all have seen them, before and after. There was just something about them, in the expressions, their countenance, and even in the way they were standing – with more conviction and dedication. It probably sounds silly but it was powerful to me.

Well, we have transfers on Wednesday, probably a cooking class on Saturday, as well as more work at the garden. Plus trying to get some cleaning etc done around here. Oh, and we also got paperwork for two families in the Quezon branch that are preparing to go to the temple in January, so we are excited about that. Next Sunday we go to Quezon for the home/visiting teaching training.

We hope you are all doing well! The time is passing so quickly! We are so excited to see you all again and be with you! Family is what it is ALL about!!!!

We love and miss you more than words can explain!
Dad and Mom,
Grandpa and Grandma
P.S. You have one more week to make guesses on what we saw a few weeks ago that we have not seen since we have been in the Philippines. So far, no one has guessed it. Love you all!!!