Monday, February 14, 2011

Week 20

January 31, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been another great week in the Philippines. There is a lot happening and we are excited to see the work rolling forth. The weather has cooled down again (it probably heard me whimpering) and the nights are delightful. Everything is beginning to ‘green up’ and grow again so summer can’t be far behind now. Sister Lasaca said that it would get warm starting in February. I asked her which month was the hottest and she said: “March, April, May June …” I think I’m going to melt into a little puddle.

We had our monthly Family Home Evening on Monday evening. There was a record 17 people in our little apartment. I think we all had a good time and enjoyed a lot of food. We decided to play Pictionary using words from the scriptures. It was fun and the missionaries were very good at guessing. Our Elder Bugtai (Boog tie) was the hit of the night. He has Cerebral Palsy and his fine motor skills are not as refined as some of the missionaries. This did not stop him. He drew ‘John the Baptist’ from the pool of objects to draw. He got everyone excited as he drew and the finished picture looked like a scribble page. The missionaries were guessing all kinds of things and then one said, “I have no idea what that is.” Another one said, “It’s probably John the Baptist.” The whole room went crazy. We love Elder Bugtai. After a message about listening to the Spirit I packed most of them in the car and took them to the Jeepney station. We have come to love the Family Home Evenings with our missionaries.

We made an unexpected but pleasant trip to Manila Hospital this week. The little baby that we had blessed last Sunday was able to come home from the hospital. The doctors said she would be in the hospital for 7 to 10 days. The blessing brought that stay down to 4 ½ days. There was an additional blessing realized because the shorter stay meant a smaller hospital bill for the family. We were able to take her mother to Manila to get her baby. It’s these little things that bring us reassurance the Heavenly Father is near.

Sunday morning we attended the Carmona Branch. Eight months ago they had an average attendance of 40 at Sacrament meeting. This little branch has caught the spirit and they now average 160 at Sacrament meeting. The missionaries are doing a wonderful work with the members and Br Jun is also teaching Gospel Essentials and Elders Quorum. I have always believed (and now I am convinced that its true) that if you just teach the basic principles of the gospel with the spirit in all of the meetings the Lord will take care of the rest. He has brought people to church.

While sitting in the combined Priesthood and Relief Society meeting in the Carmona Branch Brother Jun passed me a note. The note said: Elder Morgan will give a talk on the third Sunday in February. Topic: Missionary work. There was no indication whom it came from. I thought Br Jun was playing a joke on me. I read the note and looked at him and said, “Talaga (really)” He said, “Talaga”. I again said “Talaga” and he said, “Talaga”. I still didn’t believe him. After the meeting the Branch Mission leader came up to me and asked if I received his note. So, I guess that I will be speaking in Sacrament meeting on the third Sunday. I’ll try to do it in some form of Tagalog. :)

We are doing well. We are busy but I’m sure there is much more that we could be doing. The Lord will give us those opportunities as we are ready. We love you all. Thank you again for your love and prayers. We miss you and pray for each of you every day. We were so excited to see the pictures of Noah’s first Cub Scout Pack Meeting. Oh, that brings back so many fun memories. Wish that we could be there for his baptism. Adam, Ari and Sarah – thank you for your letters. We love to read them. Please take care of yourself and write if you get the opportunity.


Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Janene and Grant

Week 19

January 24, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

It appears that the cooler weather is beginning to wane now. The past two days we have begun to warm up again and the humidity remains high. Last night the cool breeze never came so we’re afraid that we must say goodbye to those few pleasant nights of 70 degree bliss. We will remember them with fondness. :) The Elders tell us to just wait and see how ‘stinkin’ hot it gets here – oh joy, I just can’t wait! That sweat rag will come in handy. The lawn is starting to grow so I finally had to break down and purchase a lawnmower. I am the proud owner of a sleek new pair of hand grass clippers. When I get a little more experience with the lawn mowing techniques here I will venture to upgrade to a bamboo stick and a machete. Right now I’ll stick with the grass clippers to avoid any future trips to the hospital.

Another week has passed. One of these days we will surprise everyone (including ourselves) and just start speaking fluent Tagalog. Sometimes it is so frustrating. Some days I can understand what the people are saying and other days it is as if I have never heard this language before. But, this has been a good week. We were able to get the Family History Center set up in the District Meetinghouse. We made some minor repairs and replaced some parts on the equipment. The computer is working, the microfilm readers are functional and the micro fiche reader is set. We will meet with the District Consultant tomorrow and have another training session with him. Our District President has asked us to conduct a training session on February 13 for the District Council about the Family History Center.

We enjoy meeting with the other Branches on Sundays in addition to our regular Branch meetings. We met with the Binan Branch yesterday. It is so exciting to attend their Gospel Essentials Class. The class is so large that they have to hold it in the overflow area of the chapel. There were about 45 people that attended this class. After the class one of the Elders announced to everyone that 2 of their investigators just decided to be baptized (they had 15 investigators attending). I guess that the class was one powerful Gospel Essentials class!

Yesterday at Church we asked a sister how her family was doing. She had tears in her eyes as she said that her little baby was in the hospital with pneumonia. The daughter is a beautiful little baby that has Down’s syndrome. They were going to name her Angel but when she arrived at birth they decided to name her Precious. I asked the sister if she would be going back to the hospital but she said they didn’t have the budget for her to go back to the hospital. The father would stay at the Hospital because she had to work. Mom and I decided to take off on another one of our wild night adventures and take her to the hospital in Manila. She speaks very little English and, well, you know about our Tagalog! :) We were so happy that we were able to help her. You could just see as she held her baby that they needed each other. The father and I were able to give her a blessing also. The funny thing is – we should not have been able to travel to Manila last night. We never know what or where we will be asked to do something so I make it a habit of always filling the gas tank on Saturday night. Well, I didn’t fill the tank on Saturday evening. It takes us a minimum of 1/4 tank to get to and from Manila. And that is only if there is no traffic, we don’t take a wrong turn somewhere or miss a turn-off. We only had ¼ tank of gas. Heavenly Father would understand if we put gas in the car this one time on Sunday. That wasn’t the answer. We had to go into a part of Manila that we did not know and this good sister in her limited English had only been to the hospital in a Jeepney the night before. Heavenly Father showed us a tender mercy and taught us a wonderful lesson. There was very little traffic on the road and typically the traffic on Sunday evenings going into Manila is difficult since people are returning from the Provinces. We drove directly to the hospital without making any unnecessary turns or adventures. We were on His errand and He provided for us. We got home last night and the gas gauge showed just under ¼ tank. That may seem like a little thing or just a coincidence but we know better. We have had many similar little things show us that this is His work and He is watching out for us. We have been very blessed.

This evening we have our monthly Family Home Evening with the Zone at our house. We have 2 additional Elders now in the Zone and we will likely have Br Jun and the Branch Mission leader from the Carmona Branch. That will be 16 people in our little apartment! Let the fun begin. :) These missionaries are wonderful and we are blessed to have them in our little home. The Zone had 6 baptisms last Saturday – they should be on target for 20 this month. We also have our 6 week interview tomorrow with President Howard. It is always good to be with him.

We have been blessed in our work. We hope and pray that each of you are healthy and happy and are enjoying life. Count your blessings each day. We drove by a factory that had some hiring notices on the entrance gate. I was interested in one particular sign. They needed an electrical engineer but the qualification was that they could not be over 35 years old. In the States 35 years old is when an electrical engineer is valuable because of his or her experience. Thirty-five in the Philippines is too old – there are many workers without a job here partly because they can hire someone out of school for a lot less money.

Thank you all for your love and prayers. We couldn’t be here without your support. Please take good care of yourselves. We love all of you and miss you so much. As always: BE good, DO good and BE men and women of Christ. Oh – and always remember to say your prayers.


Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Janene and Grant

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Week 18

January 17, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

We are very excited that our internet service is working again. We lost service last Monday and the servicemen came on Saturday to fix the problem (sorry, but no letter from last week). Apparently the antennae needed to be lowered – I don’t understand the technical stuff but when they repaired the antennae about four months ago the antennae wasn’t high enough so they had to put an extension on it. Now they needed to lower it. Well, it works and that is a good thing. We are so thankful for the computer and the ability it gives us to see you and speak with you. I don’t know how the earlier senior couples managed without the computer. We are very blessed. The grandchildren are growing up so fast. We love to see them and love when they show us the things they have been doing. We were so delighted to see our little Nara have ice cream for the first time for her first birthday and we are excited that Noah will baptized in a few weeks. We miss you all so much.

We attended Zone Conference in Manila this week. We enjoy the opportunity to be with the Elders and Sisters and to be taught by the mission president. The quality of the missionaries is excellent. I love to watch them as they grow and mature in the gospel. We had several new missionaries attend their first zone conference. I remember being that ‘young’ and that ‘lost’ many years ago. Then I watch the Elders that are on their last transfer and see the growth that they have made. They are remarkable and it makes me want to do better and be better. These young missionaries will be tremendous blessing to their home wards. (Back row - Popoy, Shiver, Tao, Sis. Betts, Buzbee making a face, Richwine, Dad & Mom, Spiva, Duero. Front row - Ms. Tating, Ms ?, Sis. Tating, Sis. CaubalajoBugtai, Cobbley, Arquiola)

This has been a typical week. Nothing really exciting but very rewarding. We are still struggling to learn the language. We had a great meeting with the full-time Elders in our Branch. They have a big challenge. At this last transfer both Elders were transferred out of the area and 2 new Elders were transferred in. They call this ‘shot-gunning” We know exactly how they feel. They don’t know anyone, they don’t know the area or the investigators. So it is like opening a new area for the first time. We met with them and told them what little we knew about the area and the members. Elder Arquiola (R key o la) has shot-gunned three different areas. That should give you an idea of the quality of this young man. He is a remarkable Elder. So we coordinated our visits with them and hope that we can help them out somehow.

We had some excellent visits this week. On one visit, we met a family where the father is widowed with 4 children. His mother passed away about 2 years ago and within a month after that his wife passed away from cancer leaving him with 4 children. He was happy to see us. He had just lost his job also and was struggling with life. The positive thing is that 3 of the 4 children are eligible for baptism. So we hope that as the children are taught he will remember the feelings he had about the gospel when he was baptized and this will help him with the challenges of life. We also met with another Sister. It was an adventure to get to her house as we went down into a ravine-like area. It was raining and we were wondering if there would be a way back out. We survived just fine. This sister also has a daughter that has not been baptized and her husband is a good potential investigator. So maybe we have 5 new investigators for the Elders.

We have also started to work on a Family History project with the members of the Branch. Since 2011 is the 50th Anniversary of the Church in the Philippines, we wanted each of the members to record their conversion story. We will type the stories and attach a family picture to the story and give one copy to the family and we will keep one copy to present to the Branch President. This will be a big project but we feel that it will have a big impact on the spirituality of the Branch. We told the Branch President about the idea and asked for his approval to do it. He was excited and started telling us right then about his conversion to the church. It is always good to remember and reflect on those types of events.

We were also pleased to find out that 8 of the 9 individuals that attended the Temple Preparation class will have their interview with President Howard Wednesday evening. We are excited. The Branch President also asked if I would be able to do some training for him and his counselors. I was delighted with his request. I reviewed the duties and responsibilities of a Bishop/Branch President and divided it into 4 separate discussions (Presiding High Priest, President of the Aaronic Priesthood, Common Judge and Welfare/Unit Finances) and have made a Power-point presentation for each topic. I have been able to give the first 2 training sessions on the past 2 Sundays and the training has gone extremely well. If this works well, I will approach the District President and see if he would like me to present this training to all of the Branch Presidents. I have been somewhat surprised at what they don’t know due to their lack of experience. We take a lot for granted because we have ‘grown up’ in the church. It reminded me of the challenge Elder Porter gave me when he set me apart as a Stake President – he counseled me to just keep teaching the basics.

Our Branch now meets at 1:30 in the afternoon, so in addition to our regular meetings with our Branch, we have been visiting the other 4 branches and attending their block meetings in the morning. This has been a fun experience. They are so excited to see us and they always ask us if we have been assigned to their branch. They all want senior couples in their branch. Sometimes I ask myself ‘why’ but then it becomes clear as we attend the branches. Yesterday I attended one of the most ‘spirited’ priesthood meetings ever. We were discussing the Sacrament and everyone seemed to have something to share. With each comment the members would stand up and say his opinion and they would get louder and louder as they went on. They would then turn to me and ask me what I thought and would I please comment. Fortunately I was able to understand most of what they were talking about so I could give my response. They were so respectful, eager to learn and willing to be taught. I would love to have Priesthood meetings like that at home. I asked mom if she could hear us (we were downstairs and the RS was upstairs) and she said that the Relief Society sisters were so loud that she wondered if we could hear them in our meeting. These people are wonderful.

We also attended the Saturday session of District Conference in Naic this past Saturday. Elder Teh (Tay) from the Second Quorum of the Seventy was the visiting authority. President Howard likes to have all of the senior couples attend the Saturday evening session of the District Conferences. He likes to use the senior couples to train the members so he asks us to be ready to speak at any time. They are good training sessions. Elder Teh gave the members some excellent counsel about scripture study. It was a good reminder and excellent counsel for everyone. After the meeting he came and talked with us for about 10 minutes. He thanked us for what we are doing for the members and the Church. Sometimes I don’t feel that we are doing enough.

The weather is delightfully cool. The wind has been very strong over the past 3 days. I understand that a bad storm has hit the southern part of the Island and many have lost their life and many more have lost their homes. We have rain and wind but not much else. The temperature is cool enough at night that we have not used the air conditioner for almost a month. This is nice. The humidity is still very high but the temperature is nice.

Well, that about sums up the week. Nothing terribly exciting but it has been a rewarding week. The pace of the work of the gospel here is incredible. President Howard shared with us some statistics about all of the missions in the Philippines and South East Asia area. The Manila mission leads in every category and sometimes the work is 4 times what other missions are doing. The mission had 229 baptisms in the month of December. It is incredible and breath-taking to be a part of this work. It reminds me of the last verse of DC Section 123. The Lord tells the Brethren to cheerfully do the work that is within their power and then stand back and watch the arm of the Lord. It is truly happening here. The missionaries are happy and we can see the arm of the Lord. We hope that all is going well with you. We hope that the Lord is blessing you with health, prosperity and gratitude. We love you all. So, as always, remember to DO good, BE good and BE men and women of Christ. Always remember to say your prayers. It is ture!


Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Grant and Janene