Dear Family and Friends,Magandang hapon (good afternoon). This week has gone by so quickly. After the past few weeks of ‘sightseeing’ this week will seem boring. We have spent the week visiting and doing Family History orientations. We had a frustrating moment on Friday evening. We had just come back to the apartment and were waiting to go to our tutoring session when we heard a loud noise in front of the apartment. A lady hit our parked car as she was driving up our street.She only hit the front driver’s panel but broke off the side mirror and scratched the front panel. Luckily there were no dents. She had 2 kids in her car and was apparently distracted. As she turned to see the kids in the back seat she turned the wheel and hit our car. I asked her if she had insurance and she said, “insurance, insurance, oh yeah I have insurance” I made sure that I took plenty of pictures to include a picture of her car with the license plate clearly visible. Her nephew came over to the house Saturday morning to take the car to his friend and have it fixed. I said that since the car was owned by the Church I couldn’t do anything with the car until the church fleet manager authorized the repairs. When some of the members saw the car they thought we had hit someone. When I told them what happened they said they could fix the car with some super glue or Mighty Bond (sold in any hardware store). Of course we are grateful that no one was injured but at the same time it is frustrating that after being so very careful around these drivers, there just isn’t any ‘safe’ time. Even when you are not driving your car you are at risk of being hit.
We had a fun opportunity to meet with the newly called Family History Consultant in our branch. The Leviste family has just recently moved into the branch. Brother Leviste has his own business and has obtained the contract to maintain the church buildings in this area. He has been able to hire church members and that has been a great blessing for the members here. Sister Leviste was so excited to work with her family history and she was just fun to be with. She speaks English really well and because of him owning his business, they have a computer. That made things easier. We are so delighted to see their reactions when we get them registered for Family Search. When they sign in to the program it greets them by name. They are always surprised to know that the Church ‘knows’ who they are by name. They have a wonderful family and we enjoyed being with them. As we finished she said that she had prepared some snacks for us – fresh squid! Mom said that she couldn’t eat that so Sister Leviste said she would make something else. We said that we would come back and meet with them next week and we would have lunch or dinner with them. Sister Leviste said she would not fix squid for us next week.We also have a recent convert that was baptized just before we came to the Philippines. She is a high school teacher and guidance counselor. She has taught high school for 23 years and she is a very talented woman. We have tried to visit her but with her teaching schedule we have not been very successful. Last week she was still at school doing all of the ‘out processing’ things that teachers do, so she invited us to visit her at her school. We visited for over an hour and then she took us on a tour of the school. The high school has over 5 thousand students. She teaches 7 different classes in addition to her counselor duties. Her classes range in size from 75 to 120 students in each class. There are no elective classes – everything is laid out for them as core classes. The students all wear uniforms. The students enter high school after 6 years of elementary school (they are 12-13 years old) and they will study for 4 years in high school. The school itself was sad. The classrooms are open to the air since there is no air conditioning. The school year runs from June through March (the 2 hottest summer months April and May is their summer vacation). With the number of students, they have to have two daily sessions of classes (morning and afternoon/evening). The morning session is from 7 to 3 and evening from 1 to 8. The classroom has very small wooden desks which have a very small writing area. If there are not enough desks the kids just sit on the floor.
Sister Howard is still in the hospital. She has an infection that has caused her to have a fever. President Howard says that they have ruled out the pancreas but they still don’t know what is going on. She has fluid in her lungs and requires the use of a respirator and is still in the ICU. We all continue to pray and fast for her recovery. This is really hard on President Howard. All of the missionaries are great. They keep pressing forward with the work.
We attended a baptism on Saturday evening for 5 kids from a member family (mom and dad were not active). The missionaries said they were walking down the street near the church building one afternoon and the mom stopped them and asked when church was. The missionaries told her the times and then asked why she wanted to know. She said that she was a member and wanted her kids to be baptized – 3 boys and 2 girls from age 12 to 18. It was a fun baptism to attend. There was a little girl about 2 at the baptism. She went up to the glass pane on the font and wouldn’t move because she wanted to watch what was going on. She wasn’t too sure with the first one but on the rest of the baptisms she just laughed out loud when they went under the water and came out of the water. I’m sure she thought they were doing this just for her entertainment. She came over to me twice, looked at my arms and immediately pulled the hair on my arms – and she pulled it hard enough to hurt. I learned after the first two times (I’m a slow learner) so when she would reach for me again, I would make sure that I took her hand to shake it. It’s ok to rub the hair but not to pull it. OW!That’s about all of the excitement this week. Most days are just the same. We continue to fellowship and teach and invite and pray that the members will come back. They really have some difficult challenges in their lives.
The poverty still continues to have a great effect on our lives. One of our church buildings has been without power for 3 weeks now (someone clipped the meter and the wires and took them to either sell or put on their house). The saints continue to be at church with no lights or fans or air conditioning. (To the right, the Dalo boy having fun after church!) By the way, have I told you that it’s hot here? The heat has been turned on again – the last 3 days the temperature has been between 95 and 100. On April 29th the sun will be directly overhead – hottest day of the year! Yup, looking forward to that! The fire department has been going to all of the open fields that have become overgrown and they are burning the fields – there is ash and soot all over the place and the smell of burned grass everywhere. There are already small shoots of green growing up through the burned areas. We were told that they do this every year at this time. The area surrounding our housing complex is now black or burned. What was once lush green is no more but July will bring the rainy season and it will all turn green again.
We continue to enjoy this land and the people. Because of the Palawan trip and General Conference, we had been away from our Branch Sunday meetings for 3 weeks and it was great to be back in our branch on Sunday. We have come to love these members. Brother and Sister Cagas asked if they could go to the temple with us this week so we will try to schedule time to take them to the temple. We are excited that they want to go back to the temple often. Sister Cagas has her little sister and brother staying with them during their summer school break. I was teasing her little sister that we have the same last name (that’s right, her last name is Morgan). I stood next to Sister Cagas and smiled and said to her little sister – this is my daughter, can’t you see the resemblance? Both Sister Cagas and her little sister laughed and even turned a little red. They are a good family. The missionaries are going to teach the sister and brother while they are here for summer break.
Thank you for your love, prayers and support. We love you all and miss you all. Hope that you are all healthy and happy. Keep smiling and write when you have time. As always . . . 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