Dear Family and Friends,
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! We love you all and pray for your well being and happiness each day. Hope this letter finds you warm, safe and happy. This last week has been a most remarkable week for us. We had 14 missionaries complete their missions this week and on Tuesday, we were able to attend the temple with them and participate in their ‘going home’ testimony meeting. If all the young men and young women could just be at this testimony meeting and see these young missionaries as they have completed their mission, I think every Aaronic Priesthood holder would have no doubts about serving a mission. This mission has been blessed with very good missionaries. It is hard to say goodbye to many of them knowing that we will likely never hear from them again. Our Elder from Fiji stuck like glue to my side during most of the evening and I don’t remember being hugged quite that hard before. We will miss him.
Our branch planned a temple day for Saturday February 12th. We had 7 members that were going to the temple to receive their endowment. I asked one of the families (the Cagas family, pictured below) if they were still planning on going to the Temple and the sister said that there were some problems. My heart sank to my feet as I heard this. Her work would not give her time off so she asked if I could go and speak to her supervisor to obtain permission for her absence from work. Since I was from the Church (and I’m big and white) she hoped that I would have more influence. I agreed to go with her on Thursday morning to meet with her boss. I then asked if her boss understood English. She replied; “I don’t know. She is from Korea.” OK, so now the Cagas family’s ability to go to the Temple depends on my ability to speak Tagalog to a Korean – how will this work out? I went home and prayed for help and I prayed even more that I would know what to say and how to say it. This sister came very close to losing her job because two of their children have been in the hospital over the past 2 weeks – the baby had pneumonia and another child was sick with Dengue fever. They have had a full plate since they decided to go to the Temple. Well, on Thursday morning I asked the Elders in our branch to come with me to visit this family. I wanted to talk with them some more about the Temple experience so they would be a little better prepared. I must admit that I still had doubts about them being able to go on Saturday. We had a very good visit and the Spirit was so sweet in their little home. I asked them if they remembered the time in class that I talked about the opposition they would encounter once they decided to go to the temple. They said they remembered well – I looked at them and said, “You have had your share of opposition haven’t you?” Both began to cry. I told them I wished this would be the end of the opposition but it probably would not be the end. I thanked them for choosing to do what is right and read to them from the Doctrine & Covenants that the Lord chastens those whom He loves. When the opposition came they chose to stay close to the Lord. They are such good people. Of all those who went to the temple with us, this family probably experienced more opposition than anyone, as much as I have ever seen in my lifetime. At the end of our visit, the sister told me that we didn’t need to talk with her boss (I automatically thought that she had been fired because she had taken so many sick days already) because her supervisor changed her to the evening schedule for the next 2 weeks so she could get the kids healthy again. O me of little faith! But, I was ready to talk with her boss. I had memorized some things to say but I’m so glad that the Lord answered our prayers in His way. (Bautista family on temple day- doing family group sheets)
Mom and Sister Peterson helped Sister Howard with the conference. (Pictured above, Sisters making Valentine cards for all the missionaries. Pictured on the left, making valentine cookies) I thought that it was a good idea and I know that the sisters enjoyed the time together. We drove our van to the conference so we could take the 2 sisters from our zone, the 2 from Naic zone and Elder and Sister Peterson (we had 8 people in the van). On the way back home we stopped at KFC (yes that’s Kentucky Fried Chicken Philippine style – served with rice). Some of our sisters had never been to KFC (3 of the sisters are Filipino and 1 is from India). While they were eating I went next door and bought CinnaBons for everyone. We laughed as they ate the Cinnabon. None of them had ever had a Cinnabon before. They loved them. The rest of the ride home was interesting since they were all high on sugar.May I tell you about Saturday’s “Temple trip”? We had to be at the temple by 9:00am. We all met at the local Jollibee (it’s a fast food joint like McDonalds) at 6:00am. We were scheduled for the 11:00pm session and 1:00 sealing session. (PICTURED TO THE RIGHT, SEALING DAY SNACK OF RICE CAKES) I was pleased that they had translation equipment for the members. About 1/3 of the way into the session, Richard turned to me and said that his headphones were not working. I told him we would stop and get another set, but he looked at me and said it was Ok because he understood. I knew we would be alright from then on. I don’t have the words to describe the sealing session. I would have given anything to have recorded the expressions on the faces of Brother and Sister Cagas as the children were brought into the room. Their little boy, Gerard, walked over to the altar and kneeled down and seeing his mom and dad holding hands, he placed his hand on top of their hands. The other two children (Angela pictured on the right) were so good as they performed the ceremony. The little baby, Precious, (she is the one with Down’s syndrome) was just gurgling and was very happy to be in the temple. Normally she is very quiet but today she was singing. As they had the family stand and look in the mirrors the little boy was fascinated with the mirrors. He loved looking at himself and would rub his hand up and down his white outfit. As we arrived home Saturday night we took the Cagas family to their home. I helped the kids out of the car and Richard took my hand and said, “Thank you Elder. If not for you I not be endowed.” We really didn’t do that much for them but I am so very grateful that we could be here for them. I watched them as they walked up the alley to their little home
Here was a family that was truly happy. They don’t have very much at all, but they have each other forever. Isn’t this gospel the greatest thing ever?
Late last night we received a call from the office elders and we were told that a new senior couple will be arriving on Tuesday. Their flight plans had been changed so they are arriving a week earlier. We will be helping them. (Elder and Sister Spencer)
We hope that you are all doing well. We love you all. Thanks for your letters, love and support. We love this work. We miss all of you but we have found great satisfaction in this work. We love to read the Book of Mormon together. This is a great work. We hope that the kids are enjoying their school work. All of you will be awesome missionaries one day. Keep working hard and be good. We love you. Take care and write when you have time. As always, remember to BE good, DO good and BE a man or woman of Christ. And, remember to always say your prayers.
Love,Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Grant and Janene