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!”
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. Dover
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
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.
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
We tried the TransCentral highway for getting to
It is not traveled by the buses and trucks because it is so steep. It is beautiful and reminds us of a tropical drive. We love
going that way. It enters Cebu very close to the Big Horn
We see very little traffic on the drive. Temple Complex
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
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 Dover .”
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
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.
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
helps teach the missionaries. Dover
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
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.
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 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
. 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. Toledo
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
The Lacang2x family has been coming to church and built steps to their porch just for us.