Friday, March 16, 2012

Weeks 15 through 18

. . .approximately weeks 15 through 18 or more exactly February 17 through March 13.

Feb. 26, 2012

A special experience recalled by Elder Dover

We spent the last couple of days at the little town of Lamac ( Lah-mahk).  Lamac is located up in the mountains between Cebu City and Toledo.  Either of two unpaved roads in are too rough for our car.   The missionaries in Lamac are Elder Herbst, an Idaho farm boy, and Elder Basagas, a Filipino , who is the only member of the Church in his family.  They are both very good missionaries – hard workers and dedicated rule keepers.  They had 11 baptisms scheduled Saturday, Feb. 25. Elder Herbst asked us what would be involved in providing a pancake supper for the branch after the baptismal service.  As we got to talking to him about it, what he really wanted was for us to come up to Lamac to the baptismal service and then provide an all you can eat pancake supper for the branch.  Well, needless to say we agreed to do it.  To make a long story short, we ended up with President & Sister Schmutz, Elder & Sister Ernstrom (the mission office couple), Sister Dover and I, the APs and the Zone leaders all going up to Lamac for the baptism and for the pancake supper.  The couples spent the night at a nice little resort called Hidden Valley that is in Lamac.  The APs spend the night with Elders Herbst and Basaga, and the Zone leaders came back to Toledo because they were talking in Sacrament meeting Sunday morning. 

Lamac is pretty high up in a little mountain valley.  It is a very beautiful location centered in a tropical forest.  The chapel is a converted house, and does not have a font.  The baptismal service was held at the chapel, with the normal speakers and such.  I got my first idea of what we were going to see when I noticed on the printed program that the baptisms would be performed at the “Waters of Mormon”.  A chill went down my spine when I read that.  I couldn’t help but wonder where this place was.  When the opening portion of the service was completed, we all left the building and walked up into the mountains.  We probably walked about 25 – 30 minutes.  I’m guessing we went nearly a mile – most of it on level ground, but the last part probably about 100 yards up the mountain.   

We walked by a stream with a pond where people were swimming and playing, and then went up the mountain about 20 or 30 more yards and came to another pool.  There was nobody at this pool.  There were two streams running into the pool, and another stream running out down to the pool below.  It was surrounded by tropical jungle with tall mountains rising up behind it.  It was as beautiful a place as you can imagine.  Elder Basaga waded into the pond, the water came up to a little above his waist.  The baptisms of Belen and Cyril Pangan and their three children, Cesar and Felepa Cavalida and their four children and that of a young man, Bobby Niez, were performed.  Elder Herbst performed the last 6 baptisms.  This was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever encountered, mostly because of the similarity to the baptisms performed in the Waters of Mormon in the Book of Mormon.  Except for being on a different continent, this could have been the very spot where Alma baptized all of the converts among King Limhi’s people.  I was totally amazed at the feelings I had.

We walked back to the chapel.  Those who had been baptized bore their testimonies, President Schmutz offered some remarks, and the Branch President Abarquez did the same.  All 11 were confirmed in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday.  Once again, it was such a special spiritual experience for everybody that was there. 

Saturday evening with the help of Sister Schmutz, Sister Ernstrom and several of the Elders, we served a pancake supper to about 165 people.  Everybody had a lot of fun.  We left to return to Toledo after Sacrament Meeting Sunday morning. The members of the Lamac Branch were so grateful for their “special guests” and had enjoyed the pancake supper.  Everybody had a wonderful and spiritual experience.  We all agreed that we will never forget this wonderful experience.

March 4

Last week began with Zone Conference in Cebu.  We picked up the Sister Missionaries in Balamban around 6:00 am and made the hour and a half drive over  the TransCentral highway to Cebu.  Missionaries needed to be in their seats by 8:00 and our zone had the musical number so we needed to arrive by 7:30 to practice.  The meeting didn’t start until 8:30.  President Schmutz spoke on the atonement.  The spirit was powerful in confirmation that Jesus is our Savior and that it is him whose message we share. As President Schmutz spoke, I decided that I would begin a renewed study of our Savior’s life by reading the Gospels in the New Testament using the Harmony of the Gospels chart in the Bible Dictionary.  I am very much enjoying this approach.  These are sacred records of truth and importance. 

Before dropping the Sisters off at their apartment when we returned to Balamban, we stopped at the sewing shop of Sister Rojas, a seamstress member from one of the Balamban Branches.  She does not speak much English so we needed the Sister missionaries to translate for us.  I left material with her and my favorite skirt for her to use as a pattern to make another skirt like it. Hope it turns out well.  She did an excellent job with the pants she made for Elder Dover.

With the approval of President Schmutz, I sent the following letter to Sister Benson of the Church music committee who approves Keyboard grants through the Harman Music Fund. It may be interesting because it details a few of the things we have been doing.

Letter to Sister Benson:

 We had the great pleasure yesterday of placing two of the four keyboards granted the Toledo Branches  in homes of two very excited students. Using only the paper keyboards for practice both of these students are reading notes and comfortably into Section Three of the Course Material, Playing with Two Hands. One of the remaining two keyboards will be used at our place and the fourth will go to the home of two single adult sisters who serve in leadership positions in their Branch. These keyboards allowed us to place an older keyboard with a missionary District Leader in Lamac, a mountain town on the Island. He has made rapid progress on the paper keyboard and is also playing in section three of the course material.

We are also teaching a missionary in Aloguinson, a branch about a 45 minute drive from Toledo. He is doing very well but using only the paper keyboard for practice. He mentioned his lessons to Aloguinson’s Branch President, President Gallardo. President Gallardo has asked if we could teach piano in their Branch. There is currently no one who plays there.

Thursday night we attended a Home Evening in Aloguinson put together by Elders serving in that Branch. We loved it! They had invited about five families and several single adults from the Branch to meet together with an inactive/non-member couple and their children. The members came and we could not have been more impressed with their love, easy ability to have fun together, capabilities and dedication to the gospel. At the end of the home evening, five people surrounded us and asked when they could begin lessons. We are therefore making a request for three keyboards and instruction materials to be used in the Aloguinson Branch.

We have nineteen months left on our mission. I am confident we can teach these wonderful Filipino members to play well before we leave. We are attaching the letter we give to each student who is entrusted with a keyboard and also a record of Grant resources currently available to us.

By the end of the day, we had gratefully received notice that our request for keyboards for the Aloguinson Branch had been approved.

On Saturday, we attended another Home Evening for a large inactive family in Aloguinson and we were so happy to tell the members that keyboards were coming.  We will have three keyboards and three sets of instructional materials.  There are five or six who want to learn.  We will experiment with a team approach where the students share a keyboard, instructional materials and the paper keyboard during the week.  We will need to think about the best approach for this, but it should work. 

The Aloguinson (Ah-loh-geen-sohn) members had to walk a long way to Saturday’s Home Evening.  It was held outside a small two room house.  We drove to the path leading to the house, walked up and waited while Elder’s Narona and Manlicmot drove the car back to pick up some of the sisters and children who were walking.

It was interesting to try and carry on a conversation with the family’s very limited English and our totally lacking Cebuano.  Elder Dover was trying to explain about Wyoming and its Cowboy tradition.  I could tell they did not understand.

I remembered once watching our oldest granddaughter, Kylee, entertain Meghan and Jeff’s twins, Reese and Bodee, with a great galloping sound made by clapping her hands together and then slapping each knee in rapid succession. Before I knew it, I was off my seat galloping around with appropriate “Yahoos”.  I don’t know if they got the idea of the horses, but they loved the fun and learning how to make the galloping sound themselves.

Alonguinson Home Evening
Home Evening Refreshments
Today we will shop for paper to use in teaching Youth Conference Committee members how to make the accordion scrapbooks Karla Standage was so excited to teach me and Maryl how to make during one of Maryl’s visits to Georgia.  Later we taught Kylee how to make them on her Georgia visit. Whoever would have thought they would become the craft for a District Youth Conference in the Philippines!  

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