Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 10

8 November 2010

Dear Family,
Greetings from the Philippines. We are doing well. This week has gone by very quickly. The weather has changed. It seems that ever since the typhoon hit it hasn’t stopped raining. Some days it is like someone just turned on the shower and forgot to turn it off (the natives said it will stop in February or March). This morning the sun is out and that’s a good thing. We will probably get another rain shower later on this afternoon but as long as I can get a little sunshine every once in a while, I’m ok. Everything is very green and beautiful. The temperature has gone down a little and the nights seem to cool down to around 75. Everyone is wearing jackets so they don’t catch cold and we think it is just now getting comfortable. The daytime temperatures are still around 85. One of the members told us to wait until December because it would get really cold then – I looked at the weather history on the internet and most days in December are between 75 and 85. Bring on the cold! (Picture:Rain bouncing off their car)

We had the blessing of going with the Young Men and Young Women of the branch to the Temple on Tuesday to do baptisms. It was a great experience to be with the youth. We didn’t have enough priesthood brethren to vary who would do baptisms and confirmations so I was blessed with the opportunity to baptize all of our youth. We did about 300 names. We were running out of time since the next group had arrived so the young women only got to do about 10 names each – I told them that I would just hold them under the water a little longer so that it would feel like they were doing more names. They all laughed but I think there were some that thought I was serious. (picture: flowering bush outside of temple. Picture of the youth at the temple found on week 10 post)

We also went to a member family on Wednesday evening for a Family Home Evening. It was fun. We played a lot of games and the full-time missionaries did a great job with the lesson. At the end of the evening the Elder asked the father, who has not been active in the church, to give some closing remarks about his family. The Elder was quite bold but I was so pleased that the father said he would. It was a very touching moment.
Our Branch also had 2 baptisms Saturday. These people are so good and the Elders are doing a great work here. I love the baptisms and I really enjoy that they ask the recently baptized members to stand and express the feelings that they have felt and to bear their testimony. On Sunday morning I spoke to the brother that was baptized last week. I asked him how he was doing. He replied that he was happy, very happy and “I love this church.” We were also able to visit a Philippine Hospital this past week. Our mission president has a staph infection which required that he be hospitalized. The doctors placed drains in the wound site and have him on IV antibiotics. He is doing well. We hope that he will be out of the hospital sometime this week
(pictures: left: baptism of Brother Alexis Vibas- Right: baptism of Sister Leticia Pangilinian)

The Temple Preparation class is going better. I was somewhat disappointed with our first meeting mainly because I couldn’t communicate with them like I wanted to. We had to rely too much on the translator. Well, this week I was better prepared. I had written down most of what I wanted to say in Tagalog and then felt that the translator could clarify anything that maybe they didn’t understand. Great plan until the translator wasn’t there on Sunday! We struggled through with my broken Tagalog. I felt that it wouldn’t be right to just read my notes so I began to just talk and referred back to the notes when they had a puzzled look on their faces. The strange part was I would ask them some questions and they would respond (so they must have understood) but I had no clue what they said back to me :) The lesson went ok – they said that they understood me. One Sister said, “Elder Morgan can now speak Tagalog.” We’ll do better next week. I have asked a Sister in another Branch if she would help us with our Tagalog. I think that will help a great deal. We don’t know exactly when she can start because they have sick kids right now.

On the lighter side: Mom is experimenting with making cookies. The gas oven has only a high and low mark on the regulator – this should be very interesting trying to figure out the correct setting and temperature to bake the cookies. We continue to experience new things – many things we just smile and wonder how they do what they do. As we were driving down the street last week, we came upon a flat bed truck. The license plate was missing so the owner had painted on “Lost plate” and the plate number. We just smiled - it works for them.

While we were in Manila we drove by some beautiful poinsettias that they have set out to decorate for the Christmas holiday. They are in these giant pots – probably about 6 feet in diameter. They are beautiful. We will send a picture later – but the picture really won’t capture the true beauty of these flowers. I noticed that the Manila Temple also has poinsettias growing in the flower gardens. They are beautiful. I also love to drive down Pasay Road going to the mission home. This road is lined with large trees that are absolutely beautiful. We stopped and took some pictures of these trees – but again the picture won’t capture the real grandeur of these trees.
We are doing well. Thank you for your prayers. We love your letters. Please take care and write if you get the opportunity. Remember to be good, do good and be men and women of Christ. And remember to say your prayers.
Mom & Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Grant and Janene

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 1, 2010
Today is a national holiday in the Philippines. Instead of waking up early this morning to the usual Monday morning hustle our neighborhood is very, very quiet. Today is All Saints Day. This is a holiday similar to Memorial Day. The Philippine people don’t celebrate Halloween but they do celebrate All Saints Day. Today the families will go to the cemeteries and pay tribute to their ancestors then have a big party/picnic (from what I understand the picnic is in the cemetery). They will then have a fireworks display this evening. I hope that the rain will stop long enough for the party!
Last Monday was also a local holiday due to the local elections. The elections were somewhat interesting. There was a complete alcohol ban from Saturday through 3:00 Monday afternoon. I assume the ban was started to maintain order but I somehow think it was started to avoid any unfair influence by any of the candidates. The candidates hire trikes an Jeepneys to carry political ads and they would have parades in the streets with very loud music and lots of balloons. That made traffic even more enjoyable. But my favorite campaign tactic is when the candidates would have cars and jeepneys equipped with big speakers drive through the neighborhoods at all hours and play loud music and campaign ads. So goes a democracy. It has been a fun and enlightening experience.

Last Monday night we had the first monthly Family Home Evening with the missionaries from our zone. It was good to have them in our home. We fixed a lot of sweet pork, Just phil (fruit salad), and rice and by the looks of what was left over they really enjoyed the dinner. Mom taught a great lesson on adversity and then we just sat around and talked. They would have stayed forever. I brought out the ice cream and toppings and they devoured the 5 quart ice cream bucket in minutes. One of our Zone Leaders texted us later that night and told us that he loved us. The missionaries are so fun because almost all of them have asked us very politely, “So what do you do every day?” And, “what do you eat if the members don’t feed you?” We answer that we try to follow the same morning schedule of studying and preparation that they follow and then we work with less active members and recent converts and yes we have to cook for ourselves (but sometimes we don’t feel like cooking and we just have cold cereal). The cold cereal comment usually brings looks of wishful thinking from the American elders. They think we are so lucky to have cold cereal anytime we would like it but of course they don’t realize that cold cereal consists of a choice between Cheerios, Mini-shredded wheat, Sugar frosted flakes or some type of Coco-Puff cereal (Milo). I found some Australian granola when we first arrived – I’m still eating out of that carton (believe me a little goes a long, long way). We have been blessed with some really great missionaries here, particularly in our zone. We were blessed to have had 16 baptisms in the zone in October. (Picture names; back: Elders Stirland,Spiva,Shiver,Montierth,Harris,Buzbee, Webb
front; DelaCruz, Condeza, Bergonia, Santillan, Popoy)
On Sunday morning the Branch Mission Leader came into the baptismal service and began passing out the programs. When he came to me he paused and said, “Elder can I talk to you for a minute?” My name was on the program as the speaker. He forgot to ask me earlier – such is life in the Philippines. The same thing happened the night before – we walked into the baptism and one of the elders asked if I knew that I would be speaking at the baptism (they had seen my name on the program). Well I was taught as a member of a High Council that I should always have 2 or 3 talks prepared to give at any moment. So far it has worked.

The Philippines is a great land. When I think that this island is probably the only Christian nation in the Asia area, I can’t help but think that the Lord has some great plans for this people. I am surprised almost daily at the faith of this people. I often see buses with big signs on them about God and most jeepneys have some quote on them from the Bible or a large sign on the rear bumper that says ‘God is good’. You would never see this in the US. That type of advertising has been banned as unconstitutional. Here it is so very common. Elder Cook said that this land would be a beacon for the Asia areas and I believe him. We are very fortunate to have 3 sister missionaries in our mission from Afghanistan and 2 from India. Never thought I’d see that but the church is definitely a worldwide church. Sunday we taught our first Temple Preparation class. We have 7 people attending. I think all of them will make it to the temple. They are good people.

Tomorrow we will be going into the Temple with the youth to do baptisms. That will be a fun experience – we have some really great youth in the branch. Ever since we started taking pictures at the activities and then putting the pictures on a poster board so everyone can see them, (they love to have their pictures taken) the youth love to come up to shake our hands. And I always hold onto their hand until they look me in the eye and smile at me. I really love to go to the primary children shake their hands. These kids are so cute.
(youth at the temple for baptisms)

We are doing well. We are happy and healthy. The work is going well. Maybe the Tagalog language will kick in pretty quick! The weather has cooled a bit – temperatures have been consistently around 85 and it has rained almost every day for the past 2 weeks. The locals are wearing jackets because it is cold and they don’t want to get sick. I think it feels wonderful. We found out that there will be another 2 senior couples coming to our mission.
(picture; rain outside their window)
We hope that this letter finds all of you healthy and happy. Remember that the promised land is where each of us are – the promises of God are yours no matter where you are. Thank you Zelma, for teaching us to ‘bloom wherever we are planted’. We love you all. Please take care and write soon. Be good, Do good, and be men and women of Christ.