Friday, July 8, 2011

Week 35

May 23, 2011

Magandang hapon (good afternoon),

We need to ‘catch up’ on letters since we were without internet service for 3 weeks. It has been a fun experience for everyone involved. We would like to change to another internet provider but we are required to sign an 18 month agreement with a new provider and if our calculations are correct, we won’t be here that long. So we are stuck with this provider and their service. We were able to restore the service last week and then after one day the internet server went down again for about 36 hours. The new connection seems even slower than before the repairs. What can we do but just smile?

The weather has been rather warm here lately. One of our missionaries told us a few months ago to just wait until it gets ‘stinking hot’ and we are pretty sure we understand now what he meant. The temperature is around 35 to 38 degrees Centigrade (95 to 100 Fahrenheit) most days. We were doing ok until we found a weather site on the web that gave the actual temperature and the ‘feels like’ temperature. The feels like temperature is always around 105.

This is what we woke up to.



Feels Like: 99°

Humidity: 79%

We came home one afternoon and I took my shirt off and sat on the couch under the ceiling fan. I thought that if I could just sit there and not move at all I would stop sweating. Well, it didn’t work! The members just tell us to take a bath at night and you will feel cooler. There probably isn’t enough water here for that. All joking aside, we are adjusting to the heat pretty well. It is still warm but we can cope with it. We had to laugh this morning on our way back from District Meeting. We watched a tryke hauling ice to his vendors – his profits were literally melting away. We hoped that he didn’t have too much further to go because if he did, there wasn’t going to be any ice!

We are amazed that most of the plants and trees that were either burned or dried up no less than two weeks ago and now everything is green and the flowers are in bloom again. The fields that had been burned are now green. This is a remarkable and beautiful country. We were driving from our apartment last week and a farmer was in his field plowing and planting. He was using a carabao (water buffalo) to pull the plow and someone followed behind him planting the seeds. We stopped to watch and take pictures.

We see these contrasts in such a modern society and it reminds us of how simple life can (and maybe should) be to survive. Rest assured that teenagers are alike all over the world – they can all text messages at blinding speed on their cell phones – even in church!

Our San Gabriel District had their Jubilee Celebration last Saturday evening in an outdoor plaza (basketball court) in Carmona. Mom and I were the distinguished guests We were given a flower necklace (a sign of respect) made from the national flower of the Philippines (Sampaguita flower).

The young men and young women did so well with their dances. We took a lot of pictures and it is so fun in our visits to the different branches on Sundays to thank the youth for their hard work. We visited the GMA Branch yesterday and I went into the youth Sunday School Class and asked how many of them danced in the Jubilee Celebration. Most raised their hands and I thanked them for what they did. I told them what good dancers they were and how talented they were. They loved it (and so did I). They giggled and laughed but you could tell that they appreciated the recognition. The Binan Branch did a Muslin dance that was very difficult. We wished that we could have video-taped their performance because it was so intricate and remarkable. We found out today at our District Meeting that the young woman who choreographed their dance is not a member of the Church. She will be baptized on June 4th. That was part of the power of the Jubilee. The kids in our little branch did great. We were visiting a part-member family on Friday and one of their girls came out to greet us. We both mentioned how much we enjoyed the celebration and this young woman just beamed from ear to ear. They all have such beautiful smiles. The celebration will continue to be a blessing for this area for a long time to come.

Last Sunday we had another Missionary Musical Fireside. We have lost a lot of the musical talent (or so we thought) since so many missionaries have gone home over the past 2 transfers. This time the Senior Couples were invited to sing with the missionaries. It was really fun and provided a great spiritual boost to the missionaries. The theme of the fireside was Miracles and was dedicated to President and Sister Howard. We have a missionary in the mission that gave up a scholarship to the Juliard Academy in order to come on a mission. He is talented!

We are beginning to see some success with our visits. In our Correlation meeting on Sunday we again volunteered to go Visiting Teaching and Home Teaching with the members. This time we had a good response and we have 9 appointments set for this week to visit less active members. Next week we will have assignments with Home Teachers. We are challenging all the members to read every day from the Book of Mormon. This will really be the key to our reactivation efforts. We are giving them Triple Combinations if they don’t have scriptures and we also give them Book of Mormon readers if they have kids in the home. We just feel a deep need to get them to read to revitalize their testimonies and strengthen this branch. We are having some excellent visits with the members. Recently, we visited a family that are recent converts. We gave them a triple, a Book of Mormon reader and a copy of a Liahona Magazine. We returned about a week later to take their picture and ask them if they would write down their feelings about the church and how they came to believe in the gospel. The father brought out the Liahona and began to show us all of the articles that he had read. The magazine looked really well used. He continued to tell us how much he loved this magazine and the member stories. “They are just like me”, he said. That one experience was worth all we had been through and the expense of the books. The Lord has really prepared this people for the gospel.

(The Encinas Family)

Next Monday we will have our monthly Family Home Evening with our Zone missionaries. We will be losing 2 more missionaries this transfer. Sister Mejia and Elder Bugtay will be going home. Our Zone leaders like how we teach lessons at our Family Home Evening. We had asked them that if they ever wanted to have us address a topic at FHE that they felt was important and needed to be addressed that we would be glad to do so. Well, we have our assignment for next week. It will be fun but we need to find a place where we can be outside around a tree to make this idea work. We will see how it turns out. We plan on doing Mexican food. As luck would have it, Sister Briones (our tutor) received a package from her aunt in Las Vegas. Her aunt sends her packages with baking supplies on a regular basis. On Friday evening Sister Briones asked if we like beans. We said yes. She gave us 2 bags of black beans that her aunt had sent her. She didn’t know what to do with these beans. We gladly accepted them and thought this was another of those tender mercies of the Lord. Umm! Black beans and rice! Sweet pork! Umm!

Sister Howard is doing well. She is weak but that is expected. She is on room oxygen. Her fever is gone. Her tracheotomy is healed over. She is talking and eating on her own. After 6 weeks in the hospital this is truly a miracle. We hope that she will be coming home soon. President Howard wants to finish off very strong but this has been difficult for the whole mission. All of us had to shift our focus for a little while but the missionaries will be back in stride in no time at all.

We are doing well. We apologize that we have not been able to get a letter out for a long time. (Actually, we figured that if the world was going to end on May 21st, why write – we would fill everyone in on the details on the other side. J) This is a great work. We are excited to be here and we are learning a lot. That is really the fun part of all of this. We love to study the gospel and look forward to the things that Heavenly Father has in store for us to learn. We hope that you are all doing well. We hope that the kids are all happy and healthy. We really wish we could somehow just reach through the computer screen and give everyone a big hug. That may not do you any good but it seems that would just make everything better or us. We are praying for each of you every day. We know that you will do well. Write when you have time ‘cause we love to hear from you. 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