Thursday, July 4, 2013

January through June Update

We are so happy that Elizabeth Laura Dover, Lizzie, was born January 16th  to Greg and Natalie.  We are told that she is a happy and good natured baby and looks very much like her sister, Bella.


That Dace (Dot-za) Sommer was born March 9th to Maryl and Travis.  She, also, is a very good natured baby. Her oldest brother, Calum, was concerned that it would take a lot of time to take care of her; however, he told his mom recently that he really, really loves her and that she doesn’t take that much time.  She looks just like her sister, Tate. In fact Tate told her the other day, “Dace, you are cutest little girl that isn’t me.

We are excited to learn the Kylee and Ryan Wayment are expecting a boy in September.  When we return to the States in October, we will have so much fun getting to know these two new grandchildren and 3 new great grandchildren AND catching up on the activities of our other 22 grandchildren.

We are also excited that Shalayne, Mindy and Brandon’s third daughter, married Cody Monson April 27th in the Mount Timpanogos Temple.  They are a perfect and perfectly wonderful young couple. We were represented “flat” style! Congratulations Cody and Shalayne! We love you!

Back left: Elder and Sister Cropper, Negros; Elder and Sister Talbot; Bohol; Elder and Sister John, Employment Resource Center; Elder and Sister Dover, Toledo; Elder and Sister Belland, mission office.
Front left: Elder and SisterJacob, Bohol; Elder and Sister Harris, Bogo; President and Sister Schmutz; Elder and Sister Ernstrom, mission office; Elder and Sister Gale, Family History Center.

In March, we enjoyed a two-and-a-half days couples’ conference in Cebu. President Schmutz, told of a dream an investigator of the church had related to him recently. This man had been hesitant to accept the missionaries’ invitation to be baptized.  He works at the Cebu temple complex and had dreamed that he was working alone one night. He noticed a light coming from the Family History Center. He opened the door to the center and saw a recently deceased member of the ward he had been attending with his family. This deceased member was wearing a white suit and invited him to enter the room telling him that he was needed. He was directed to look toward a wall. As he did so, the wall became transparent and he saw many people in white who appeared to be waiting. This man recognized some of them as deceased family members. The people communicated to him that he was indeed needed – that he had a work to do.

This man is now a first generation convert and is often found doing family research in the family history center. Dreams like these are quite common in the Philippines and the Pacific Islands and play a role in people being receptive to the gospel message.

Early in our mission, we became aware of the problem of incomplete and inaccurate church records. We decided that assisting to update and maintain them would be a positive contribution we could make as member and leader support missionaries.  When Elder Dover was called as a member of the District Presidency, it placed him in a position where he could lead the effort. We have devised a very specific plan as to how this could be accomplished.

The plan has the whole hearted support of President Schmutz and the District leaders and will take until September 29 to complete. Barely time to get it done before we return to the States.  The Branch Presidents have accepted the program and the responsibilities it places on their shoulders.  Our hearts were touched as one branch president vowed, “We will do this before you leave, Elder Dover.”

We loved attending the district youth conference recently. Two highlights for us were the spirit felt in morning scripture study groups and the cheer the youth gave us as we were introduced as part of a panel fielding questions on dating and courtship.

Waiting to Go
And another 'Waiting to Go'
Tutay’s talent group
a scripture study group
an award winning “Cooking Fest” group
Cooking Fest judges awarding one of the prizes

We attended the temple wedding of Mitzi Honoridez and Jonneil Culala, a young couple we have come to love. Both are returned missionaries and amazing, dedicated and inspiring leaders in the church.  They agreed to be on the dating and courtship panel for youth conference also.  We very much enjoyed giving them a ride to and from the conference. 

One of questions Sister Mitzi was asked on that panel concerned what she had looked for in an eternal companion.  Each time she mentioned a quality she had sought, such as someone who would honor his priesthood, Brother Jonneil raised his hand as he looked at her with pure love and gratitude.  It was delightful.

 A few months ago I met a very special sister in one of the branches. She was attending a District YW activity and standing with the branch YW President, her daughters and about ten other beautiful young women from their branch.  They requested a summer group piano class.  How could I not agree? They were so delightful in the earnestness of their request! They all attended faithfully and we ended the classes with a recital! Several of the girls are now taking turns playing in sacrament meeting.

Keyboards from the Harman Music Fund
A surprise presentation by participants
Some after recital photo fun – so photogenic!

We went to Cebu after meetings the first Sunday in June to attend a “Music and the Spoken Word” program Elder Laureano produced with the ward in which he serves in Cebu City.  His two companions have nice musical ability also. The chapel was quite full. President Schmutz and the temple president spoke as did the stake president and bishop of the ward. The choir sang 6 numbers. Elder Laureano had arranged several of them. President Schmutz described the music well when he said that he felt he had been transported to heaven. One choir member said that it was an evening she would never forget. The evening was also a nice way to celebrate our 47th wedding anniversary.

 Music and. . . We are invited to stand in with a part of the “Heavenly Choir.”

The mission will be split in July. The new mission will be called the Philippine Cebu East Mission. It is the result of President Monson’s inspiration to lower the age requirement for missionary service.  The result will be two missions each with around 100 missionaries. The inspiration involved in middle of May and end of June transfers will determine who is in which mission. Our district will remain under the leadership of President Schmutz. 53 new missions around the world have been created.

Sister Gena Garner from our Meadows Ward in Arizona was one of the 11 new missionaries who arrived in Cebu the first part of June. Elder Cunningham from a neighboring ward in Gilbert will be part of the Cebu East mission. A new Area Presidency begins serving on July 1st also. 

We presented a workshop recently to the leaders of the Toledo Second branch on how to hold a successful council meeting.  It is a good opportunity for training.  We also are beginning another round of apartment inspections.  This time, however, we will be looking to get things deep cleaned.

Elder Dover whipped together a big batch of potato salad for last transfers Zone activity.  He had made four layers of chocolate cake for it earlier. Since we aren't doing pancake breakfasts anymore, we had promised the missionaries chocolate cake and potato salad.  After having served 14, those breakfasts just sort of stopped fitting in a busy P-day schedule that included study and additional email time.

Last pancake breakfast

An important aspect of our mission is learning and seeking inspiration through workshops and personal study and, of course, conferences.  Elder Ian S. Ardern of the area presidency has just finished making a mission tour.  Three conferences were held: one for missionaries on the island of Cebu, one for those on Bohol and another for those on Negros. This conference was historic because it was the last before the mission is split on July 1st. President Schmutz observed what a great blessing it was to be gathered together - prepared to feel the Holy Ghost. Indeed, the spirit was strong.  The doctrine was shared in an inspired and uplifting way with many  humorous moments – particularly a demonstration with Elder Ardern and President Schmutz giving each other a “before leaving the apartment” dress code companion check.

Elder Ardern taught the WEETI approach to missionary work as found in D&C 20:59. They are, however, to warn, expound, exhort and teach and invite all to come unto Christ.

The missionaries who were invited to give talks and role play discussions were inspiring.  I know that our Father in Heaven is well pleased with this young army of Helaman serving in the Cebu mission. We are so very grateful to know them and to know of their service.  A quote from the conference, “We are all here because of Jesus Christ.” We have felt his inspiration and tender mercies many times during this mission. I know that this is his church restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

One wonderful sister told me recently that she had begun a search for a different church before she met the missionaries. She had begun going to the churches several of her friends attended, but attended each denomination only a couple of times.  Something seemed missing.

One day, as she worked at home, she heard a quiet voice tell her to go outside. “There is no reason to go outside,” she reasoned, but the feeling persisted and became stronger.  She stepped outside just in time to greet the sisters who were walking down the street. 

The gospel message touched her heart from the first.  She reads regularly in the Book of Mormon and calls it “her treasure.”  What a privilege it is to know her and many others with testimonies gained through similar circumstances. 
Other Pictures
School is out for the day. . .

Beautiful sunsets, orchids and flame trees . . .

Delightful new friends . . .

There’s a youth activity inside . . .

Smoke keeps mosquitoes away. . .

Missionary reunion at mission conference . . .

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12, 2013

We are moving into our last 9 months with new focus.  Elder Dover was recently called as the 2nd councilor in the District Presidency.  This has provided new opportunities to work more closely with Branch Presidencies.

Reinforcing this focus is the new truck we picked up in Cebu just Friday, January 11th. Well, it is not a new truck, but it is new for us. A Senior Couple who had been serving in Bogo, Elder and Sister Stroud, were using it. They were wonderful missionaries and have now completed their service and returned to the States.  They will be missed. We feel blessed to know them.

This truck will allow us to get up into Lamac and other rural, mountainous areas.

 A guy and his truck
McDonalds and a coke from Seven-Eleven
What more could he want?

We will be attending sacrament meetings throughout the district and will be much less involved in Toledo I and II on Sundays.  Having Sisters in Toledo I as well as Zone Leaders there is making a big difference.  There were 30 in Relief Society on Sunday.  They have been instrumental in bringing several less-or-inactive men back to church, also. By July, as the effect of the age change for missionaries is fully felt, there should be Sisters -  as well as Elders – in many branches.  If what has happened in Toledo I happens in other branches, the church will be greatly strengthened.

Last week was transfer week. Losing the last of the group of Elders who have served in Toledo over the last months, have left us feeling  like we are definitely in a new phase of the work.  We had worked closely with Elder Garver, a zone leader who had been here for three transfers, with Elder Laureano who had served in two different branches but been in the zone for 9 months and Elder Rose who had been here 5 months. Elder Rose came into the zone as a new missionary with that “where on earth am I and how will I survive this” look that I understand so very well. He has worked hard though and served well. Elder Mingus, from Missouri, was transferred also.  He has been in Lamac for three transfers and has done much to strengthen the branch.

We drove Elder Garver to Balamban on Wednesday evening where he would spend the night and then head to Cebu to complete his transfer the next day.  He had to go late.  Transportation would have been hard to find at that hour. We enjoyed one last visit with him.

Elder Laureano requested a ride to Balamban the next evening for himself and Elder Mingus.  We were happy for one last visit with them also.  We actually enjoyed a back seat concert on the way as Elder Laureano began singing some of his favorite songs in his rich, clear tenor.  Then Elder Mingus joined in with an amazing rendition of vocal jazz percussion. The King Singers would have given him a contract on the spot! Fun memory indeed!

So now we look forward to introducing many new Elders to The Toledo Couple’s Mission Famous All You Can Eat Pancake Brunch. The name had to change from “Breakfast” to “Brunch” because President Schmutz asked all missionaries to complete their regular morning study program before beginning P-Day activities.

Tuesday of last week, January 8th, we attended the temple sealing of the TeƱado family. It was a great and glorious opportunity to be there. They are a great strength to the Pinamungajan Branch and a joy to know.

Brother John Kline from California was baptized on January 2nd. He came to the Philippines from California. It has been a marvelous experience to assist in teaching him the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He said several times of his baptism day that it was the happiest day of his life. We have every confidence that it is only the beginning.

Brother John Kline with his wife, Pilar, and daughter, Claire.

Brother John Kline and family with missionaries and a number of the wonderful members from Toledo.

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

Wherefore, he is the first fruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved. II Nephi 2:8-9

We humbly express our gratitude to daily testify of this truth as authorized representatives of Jesus Christ.