February 28, 2011
Monday’s Family Home Evening was a riot. In the afternoon we receive a text message from one set of Elders asking if they could bring the teaching assistants with them to FHE since they were in the area working with them Monday. We said they were always welcome. Janene decided she would make some Curry Chicken in addition to the turkey we had planned. It was a good thing that we did since we had a final tally of 21 people for FHE all packed in this tiny little apartment. We had fun but it was a little tight. We used a free download of a Jeopardy game from the internet and we played Jeopardy for our activity. We made up questions for 4 categories, Church Trivia, Prophets, Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel. From the comments, we think they had fun. One of the assistants did his best to eat as much of the mashed potatoes as he could (4 helpings). We thought it would be good to teach them about the priesthood and priesthood keys for our lesson. We both thought that since many of the Filipinos would be going back to a small branch they would need this type of information because they will be leaders of their branches. It was a very spiritual time. We have been blessed to have these young men and sisters in our lives.Wednesday morning was quite an experience in the palangke (open market). It was fun and exciting but very crowded. There is a ‘wet’ market (fish and meat) and a ‘dry’ market (fruits, vegetables and other dry goods). There were a lot of rice dealers there. Sister Briones taught us how to pick out the fresh vegetables and the best fruits. She showed us how to find a fresh pineapple. It was a fun learning experience.
We thought it was fun to watch a gentleman make lumpia (egg roll) wrappers. We bought some potatoes, bananas (you have to cook these bananas), lumpia wrappers, petchay (looks like small bok choy), pineapple, carrots and some kalamansi (a small citrus-like fruit about the size of a big marble). This was a neat experience. There were so many people in one little place. It is an entirely different way of life – the people usually buy only that day’s food since they don’t have space to store the food or a refrigerator to keep the food cool, or the money to purchase more. While we were there several people came up to us and asked us for money to buy food.
We had a great Zone Conference on Thursday. We enjoy meeting with the Elders and Sisters and participate in their training. The Assistants to the President showed clips from the movie, Remember the Titans. It was an effective motivational tool for the conference. President Howard begins each Conference by asking the missionaries if they would like to share a spiritual experience with the group. The experiences vary from finding investigators to teaching investigators to just personal experiences. He is trying to teach them to recognize the Lord’s hand in their lives. We love to hear these experiences. Sister Howard wanted to give each of the missionaries a small Valentine treat so she gave each missionary a Valentine cookie and a small Valentine. When we arrived at the mission home on Wednesday evening she gave the senior couples a stack of Valentines and asked if we would finish them for the next day’s zone conference. The sisters made the Valentines and the brethren were to write something in the card. Needless to say the men were creative. My messages were very generic but one of the seniors wrote some funny things such as: Even your pimples are cute, When the UFO’s come to take away all of the ugly people they won’t take you, Look me up in 2 years, Your voice is sweeter than a Philippine bull frog, and many more. We had a good time that evening. The next morning at Zone Conference Sister Howard explained to the missionaries to not take the Valentines seriously it is just for your fun. She did, however, ask if anyone wanted to share their Valentine message – only 2 missionaries wanted to share the message. They all had a good time.
Saturday we attended three separate baptismal services. A total of 12 individuals were baptized in our Zone. The San Gabriel Branch had 9 baptisms. The Branch President said that there were 16 scheduled for baptism but they postponed 7 until March. Our Elder Bugtai (he is the missionary with Cerebral Palsy) performed one of the baptisms. He was so excited. The baptism started late because they filled the font full so he would not have to get the person way down into the water to immerse him. After a little confusion in the font about which arm to raise and which direction to face, he was like a different person as he said the prayer and performed the baptism. As they were coming out of the font Elder Bugtai turned to the congregation and smiled and waved to everyone (back to his old self). He is delightful. We attended the Sacrament meeting on Sunday to witness the confirmation of the 9 new members. The Branch Presidency had everything planned out well. They had the Branch business, the confirmations, the Sacrament and 3 speakers including a rest hymn and they ran over time by 10 minutes. We were impressed – both mom and I said to ourselves that this Branch President is a Stake President in training. He is a great man. Also Sunday evening we were blessed to go to Manila to a member fireside where Elder Teh of the 70 and Brother Gibson 1st Counselor of the General Presidency of the Young Men spoke. The chapel was packed to overflowing. But we were able to ask Elder Teh if we could sit in the Choir seats – soft chairs! The fireside was wonderful and we continue to be so impressed with Elder Teh.
The work continues to go forth at a wonderful pace. The Philippine people are hungry for the gospel. We enjoy being with the saints and listening to their testimonies. They love to sing and we love to listen to them sing the hymns with excitement. We are blessed to be here. We are doing well. No new bites or stings so far. We love you all and pray for each of you. Thank you for love, prayers and support. Thank you for your letters. We miss the grandchildren and wish we could be with them. Please give each of them a big hug and a kiss from us. Hope that you are all doing well. We pray for your happiness and success. And I can’t forget, BE good, DO good and be men and women of Christ. And always remember to say your prayers.
Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Janene and Grant