Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weeks 8 through 14

. . .approximately weeks 8 through 14 or more exactly January 5 through Feb 16.

I feel like we are now into the second stage of our mission. We will call Settling In the first stage and this new stage, Expanding our Circle.

We have found a reliable internet server. No more staying at the Marriott just to contact family back home - too bad, because we enjoyed the warm water there. It was a little expensive though.

We bought our own new air-conditioner for the bedroom to replace the mildew filled one that we felt was a health hazard.

We have been to Lamac, a mountain town not accessible by car.

We have been stuck in the mud -  in a truck -  with the zone leaders and Elder Ernstrom from the mission office  - while driving down the mountain from Lamac -   after a rainstorm – just after Elder Dover finished telling the story about our getting stuck – in the mud – on a mountain road in Cody, Wyoming – after a rainstorm.

I have to admit we got stuck because Elder Ernstrom pulled to the side of the road to stop so I could take a picture. That wasn’t why we got stuck in Cody.  Our brother-in-law, Don Jensen, helped us in Cody.  Kind Filipino men living in the mountains near Lamac helped us that day.

We have received several packages from home including ant bait stakes and Uno games. 

We have shared the ant bait stakes with a good friend here who has had a problem with ants by her bed. We were happy to receive the following text: “The ants all gone. Totally!  Amazing!”

Elder Dover has introduced Uno to the Magbago children while I have been teaching piano to the family.  Their seven-year-old son loves coming now that he has fun Elder Dover to play Uno with while he waits.

We look forward to introducing the game to others at Branch gatherings.

We have appreciated the generosity of the Filippino members in wanting to share their traditional foods. Twice we have enjoyed Lechon - roast pig - at special gatherings.

We have enjoyed a Branch Aaronic Priesthood outing on the Rago’s beautiful water front property. I have held a blue starfish and one of a more prickly, squiggly nature.

We have inspected all the Elders apartments and helped upgrade them with necessary household items.

We experienced our first earthquake while living in this area known as “The Ring of Fire.”

I felt a definite calming influence as two young Elders, Elder Dover and I ran from the Elders shaking Aloguinson apartment where we were delivering some requested household items.

We were told by one long time resident that he would not evacuate in fear of a tsunami from the earthquake, but if the restless volcano, Canlaon, just across the Strait on Negros island should erupt, THEN he would evacuate.  We found that thought quite consoling. Our view of Canlaon reminds me of Bali Hi in the movie South Pacific.

Elder Dover has had three pair of great looking pants made for him by a member, Sister Rojas, in Balamban.  We took good but inexpensive material to her. She was going to charge him 200 pesos each, but in the end asked for 250 each because they were “large”. I have some material for her to sew a couple of things for me, but we haven’t been able to get back over there.

We tried the TransCentral highway for getting to Cebu.  It is not traveled by the buses and trucks because it is so steep.  It is beautiful and reminds us of a tropical Big Horn Mountain drive. We love going that way. It enters Cebu very close to the Temple Complex. We see very little traffic on the drive.

We now have Philippine driver licenses.  That was an interesting experience and a bit of an ordeal. One of my goals is to never need mine for personal driving.  Elder Dover does great and safety driving continues to be part of daily prayers.  I still think a great video game could be created called “Driving in the Philippines.” Levels could move up from walking, to a bike, to a trisikad, to a tricycle, to a jeepny, to a bigger jeepny, to a car to a truck, to a dump truck, to a bus and at that point - based on the way bus drivers drive - all advancement would end. 

Mark is serving as a counselor to President Rago in the Toledo Branch II Presidency. I have been called as a counselor in the Toledo Branch II Primary Presidency.  There are two classes.  President Joanne Rago, President Rago’s wife, teaches the younger ones.  I teach the older ones. They understand English fairly well. There is also a Sunbeam class. Sister Rago wanted help to make Primary function as it does in the States with singing and gospel instruction time during sharing time.  She is a wonderful teacher.  Reverence greatly improved last week.

I am teaching two single adults how to teach children Primary songs.  They do great and the children love singing for them.

We have two Philippine missionary piano students reading notes and playing simplified hymns from books provided through the church by the Harman Music Fund. Elder Dover helps teach the missionaries.

I have two single adult piano students beginning to read notes and two reading melody lines in both clefs.  

Toledo Branch I and Toledo Branch II each received a grant of two keyboards from the Harman Music Fund.  They were delivered to the Temple Complex in Cebu just today.  Can’t wait to get them into students hands.

The last Sunday in January, we attended the first Couples Conference at the mission home under the direction of President Schmutz.  It was fun to meet the other three Member and Leader Support couple missionaries. It was refreshing and inspiring. President and Sister Schmutz are inspired and inspiring leaders.

We spent the night before the conference with the Mission Office Couple, Brother and Sister Ernstrom in their home.  They were wonderful and gracious.  We enjoy their friendship. They went out of their way to make us comfortable, but Sister Ernstrom was winning Phase 10 when we had to quit and head to bed.

In consultation with President Schmutz and later with a couple serving in Bogo on the north end of the island, we have completed updating and enhancing of a Power Point Presentation Training District Presidents.  The  PPP was given to us by a missionary couple who completed a Philippine mission about six years ago.

 Our District President is very happy to have the presentation as a tool to use in his monthly Branch President Training meeting.  We were very pleased that he has trusted us with our own remote control to the air-conditioners in the Toledo LDS Chapel Meeting House. I have wished to have one of those on several occasions.  He said he wanted us to be comfortable as we worked in the chapel.

We have had our fourth all you can eat pancake breakfast for the missionaries in our Zone.  It is really fun to do this for them.  They let us know that they appreciate it.  In a very short time it has become a tradition. These are missionaries from the third transfer since we have been here.  They are serious about their work.  We love association with them.

We have placed 10 Mga Sugilanon  sa ang Basahon mi Mormon (Illustrated Books of Mormon for Children) with less active member families. We gave a copy to a branch mission leader to take to a recently activated family with a little girl. They live far out and on rocky roads so we can't take the car to their home. It is a rough ride in a jeepny. This little girl has been so excited to come to church. The mission leader, Brother John Bornea, asked little Saira if she liked the Book of Mormon. She said that she didn't understand it when it was read. He then gave her the illustrated children's book we had sent. She looked at some of the pages and then said, "I think this will be an important book in helping me understand the Book of Mormon.” We hope to get one of these books into the home of every Primary child.

We hope the books will be a tool renewing families interest in reading the Book of Mormon together. Which in turn will strengthen their testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ’s atoning mission and sacrifice.

We have attended a temple sealing and a civil wedding where me met the Mayor of Toledo. How marvelous that the beauty of a temple wedding is available as close as Cebu.  The Cebu temple was dedicated June 13, 2010 by President Thomas S. Monson.

We have attended two baptisms in Toledo.  There will be seven this Saturday in Toledo and another 12 next Saturday in Lamac.  We are going to help with a branch all you can eat pancake dinner after the baptisms in Lamac.

We are participating with the missionaries and Branch leaders in an area mission wide effort to bring the less active and inactive members back to the church and firmly establish the gospel here in these islands.  We especially enjoyed a recent Single Adults Search and Rescue Activity.  Several single adults have returned to church activity because of the visits made that day.  It was fun that as I was sharing my testimony in one home, a light hanging in the middle of the ceiling suddenly came on.  The young man we were visiting exclaimed that that light had been broken for three months.  He joked that it was a miracle and must be a sign that he must come back to church.  He did and continues to come.

Well, we had been promised by people who have served here earlier that we would see miracles in the Philippines.

The Lacang2x family has been coming to church and built steps to their porch just for us.

Oh, yes, we missed a nearly-all-the-family Disney Cruise.  Great timing on our family’s part! There were other family members besides ourselves, however, who couldn’t make it. Except for a flu epidemic that hit toward the last of the week, they had a great time.

1 comment:

Jaxomatic said...

I love reading your blog and seeing the photos. You make me laugh. What a great experience. Keep on keepin' on.

Saw Meghan at the store, she talked about the cruise, but I didn't realize when she said "family" that she meant WHOLE family, not just hers. Everyone looks great. What an awesome family.

Rock on Elder and Sister Dover. You are the best.