Thursday, July 26, 2012

Weeks 25 through... Oh my, we have lost count.

. . .participated in several wonderful baptisms.

 . . . gave many piano lessons to advancing and beginning students.

. . . enjoyed a renewal of spirit and dedication at a wonderful mission conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson

. . . have made it through our first Filipino summer -  the 2012-2013 school year has just begun for Filipino children

. . . attended a session in the Cebu Temple

. . . are prayerfully visiting in homes to support and encourage newly converted members of the church and to bring back inactive and less active members

. . . working with the District clerk and Branch clerks to bring branch membership records up to date

. . . continuing to give English lessons to one youth group and one adult group

. . . have felt the tender mercies of God as we have quite specifically prayed for inspiration in several matters

. . . look forward to our morning hours of scripture and Preach My Gospel study

. . . open email every morning hoping for a message from family and friends.

. . .  celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary! June 3rd!


It has been hard to prepare something to share.  It seems like we have had a routine and just keep trying to move forward praying for inspiration in our work but it’s almost like we are waiting for something to happen before we can really accomplish our purpose here. We also had two weeks where either Elder Dover or Sister Dover didn’t feel really good. Fortunately that has passed. We are feeling good and are back to full energy and grateful for that blessing.

We have completed another round of apartment inspection to see if the younger Elders and Sisters have all that they need. We were asked to share messages at the first conference for return missionaries from the Toledo district.  What a wonderful group of faithful members of the church.  Their dedication is an inspiration to us.

A challenge for men in the Philippines is to find work.  Many faithful Priesthood holders must go abroad for close to a year at a time for employment opportunities. This is understandably hard on families and takes very needed Priesthood out of the Branches.  We have been so grateful for the employment opportunities the opening of a new radio station here in Toledo has offered to several church members including a priesthood holder whose prayers have been that the Lord would open up a way for him to work in Toledo and continue to serve in his District Priesthood calling here.  Several of our English students have been hired as part time DJs at the station. It has been fun to have them thank us for English classes they say helped them speak English well enough to get a job there. We feel the inspiration of the Elder Dallin H. Oaks direction a few years ago saying that it would benefit the people of the church in the Philippians to try and use English with the Couple Missionaries, rather than have the Senior couples try to learn Cebuano.  English is taught in the schools as a second language.

Last general conference, Elder Paul Koelliker of the Seventy described the missionary experience as a “minilife packaged in 18 to 24 month”. It is a fitting description.  One aspect of life are the many hello’s and good-byes it brings.  They seem to happen often in a mission.  We just bid Elder John Bornea good-bye as he left for the Manila MTC to serve in the Philippine Davao Mission.  He has served as a faithful branch mission leader in the Toldedo II Branch.  He also has been a capable and determined piano student.  In just a few months he has gained the keyboard skills to begin playing the easier hymns. His mother has agreed to let us visit her and teach what is so important to her son.  We are excited for this opportunity.


Our mission President, President Evan Schmutz,  asked us to attend the Pinamungajon Branch last Sunday. He and Sister Schmutz with the District Priesthood Leadership were all there for the calling of a new Branch Presidency.  Elder Dover met with President Schmutz and the District President, President Cojocson, briefly before sacrament meeting to talk about the new branch presidency. It was a sacred and memorable experience for Elder Dover as President Schmutz explained that he was doing something that was new to him and a little unusual.  As he had been praying about the new branch presidency, the Spirit kept directing him to a young man who had only been a member of the church for two months and did not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Words came to his mind - Not many of the wise and great are called, but the small and meek.”  These words with  Nephi’s words in 1 Nephi 16:29 . . . “And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things,” confirmed for him the Lord’s will in this calling. As President Schmutz explained his experience in making the decision, Elder Dover testified that he had an almost overwhelming witness of the Spirit that what President Schmutz was explaining was indeed the Lord’s will.

This new branch president will need training, much of which will be offered by the missionaries: the two outstanding younger missionaries who will be serving a 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency and Branch clerk and Elder Dover as the MIS (Member & Leader Support) missionary in the District.  A new assistant branch clerk will be preparing for his future calling as Branch clerk. It is also exciting also to see the reactivation of an older brother from England.  He has been called as executive secretary. 

There were many people at this meeting.  The spirit was very strong.  President Schmutz told the congregation of his inspiration in making this calling and urged their whole hearted support.  He reminded them that whom the Lord calls, “He qualifies”. He said that when called the new branch President had been called, he had humbly stated his lack of experience and ability. President Schmutz said simply, “The Lord has called you.  Will you serve?” The reply was made with humility and great faith.  “I have been called.  I will serve.” 

One sister stood to bear her testimony stating that she had planned to raise her hand in opposition to the call, but as Brother Johnny Kyenko’s name was read and the sustaining vote called for, the spirit bore witness to her that this calling was being made under the Lord’s direction.  She had raised her hand in support.

Our hearts were deeply touched in this meeting and our testimonies strengthened. As the words to the sacrament hymn, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me” were sung, the thought came to me that the Lord has greatly blessed us to bring us here in missionary service at this time. Interestingly the same sacrament hymn was sung in church the last Sunday we attended a sacrament meeting in Augusta, Georgia.  Those same words brought a similar confirmation then that we had been greatly blessed by the Lord to have had the privilege of living and serving there.


Following an English lesson, children from the neighborhood gatherat the Sabroso’s for a “Don’t Eat Pete” game.

Baptisms are always special events. Missionaries and branchmembers at the baptism of Star Montebon, three members of the Mendoza Familyand Johnny Sepata.

We are blessed to be one of two of the fourteen Filipino missions with a temple.  Another temple for the Philippines is planned. I particularly like these shots taken early one morning after spending the night in the mission home. Branches from outlaying areas plan group trips with members spending two or three days at the patron’s house on the temple complex. It is a welcoming place for entire families.  Food can be purchased or prepared on site. This shot shows a group leaving the complex after spending several days doing temple work.

Elder Dover

Ride with me.

Visiting with the Elders.

Open air TV Karaoke is a popular pastime in the Philippines. Elder Dover gets into it with “The Impossible Dream.” Sister Dover joins in for the final bars.

Jessa Mae and Yves Magbago are cousins with very nice voices.  We were at their home to celebrate the 11th birthdayof Yves.

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