Magandang umaga (good morning). These past 2 weeks have been very busy. Since we were in Puerto Princessa on the island of Palawan last week, we were unable to get a letter out last week. This letter will have to suffice for the past 2 weeks.
We were blessed over the past 2 days to listen to and watch General Conference. We receive all of the sessions of conference one week after the actual conference. What a blessing it was to hear these talks. There is just something different about viewing conference sessions in the mission field instead of listening leisurely at home. There is just a different feel to conference as you meet together with the saints in a far away land.President Howard wanted all of the senior couples to visit the island of Palawan to experience the Philippine culture. Palawan is a large island that is to the south west of Manila (about 350 miles from Manila). Life is not as metropolitan as life in Manila. Palawan has no taxi cabs (what a simple blessing) but most people get around by trikes. The government just completed a large portion of road to the north of Puerto Princessa. Until just recently most roads were dirt roads. This was what we had imagined in our minds what the Philippines was really like. The larger cities have larger buildings made of cement but once you get out of the city you see thatched huts on stilts made mostly from bamboo trees. We took lots of pictures because of the beauty of the area. We had the opportunity to go ‘island hopping’ (in the boat above) to some of the smaller islands and then to go to the underground river on the west side of the island. The underground river is becoming one of the ‘new 7 wonders’ of the world according to National Geographic. It was a fun experience and the jungle was beautiful. We took a lot of pictures of the plants, trees and flowers in the area. The difficult part will be in indentifying each of them. We were also able to go to a butterfly farm and a crocodile farm. Why would they need to have so many crocodiles? There were a lot of crocs there. Mom even gave one a kiss (well almost). What a beautiful land this is.
We came back from Palawan in time to do laundry and then head back to Manila for Zone Conference. The conference was a great spiritual meeting. Sister Howard has been ill with an infection in her pancreas and has been in the hospital. We were able to visit with her in the hospital on Thursday. (Mom and Dad at the airport...notice the sign about the heat!)
In addition to our Family History work we will begin to visit families and teaching them to hold Family Home Evening. We are preparing 5 or 6 lessons that we can teach to the families – our goal is to have 4 weekly Family Home Evenings with each family and then to ask them to continue to have weekly family home evenings on their own. The impressions have been strong to help strengthen the families in this branch and district, especially the recent converts. Someone needs to teach them how so it might as well be us. We will begin by teaching about the family and have the parents share experiences from their youth about their parents and grandparents. We hope that there will be an outpouring of the spirit on the family and they will deepen their love for each other (we hope this will also generate an interest in Family History). We will return and teach the families about family prayer, scripture study and of course the plan of salvation. We want to visit some of the real active members and have them teach us some of the Tagalog songs and traditions to make this a better experience for everyone. We have faith that this will work out to be a blessing to the members here. What better way to strengthen the branch and district than to strengthen the families through Family Home Evening, family prayer and scripture study?
We pray that you are all well and that the ear infections and croup are hopefully over for the season. We are doing well. Our health is good. The weather is warming up but fortunately the wind continues to blow – that is a real blessing. We have yet to turn on the aircon this year and the temperature is hovering around 90 (that does not include the aircon in the car!) J Last Friday was the last day of school over here. The kids are now out for the summer vacation for the next 2 months. We are told that the rainy season begins in July.
Thank you all for your faith, love and prayers. This work is a marvelous work. We love the people and this land. We couldn’t do this without you. Again, we hope that you are all well and that the Lord is blessing you daily. Remember to look for those blessings – it will make life much more enjoyable (I found out that the Tagalog word for enjoy is ‘enjoy’ – OK. I have that one in the memory banks). We love you all. Remember to 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