August 8, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
We have ‘settled’ into our new area and it is much different than our last area. We didn’t realize how much we are out in the ‘country’ until we were able to drive around in the area. There are not a lot of jeepneys but there are a lot of trikes and small buses that transport people throughout the area. Most evenings when we come home we are greeted by our little flock of sheep and goats or our herd of cows that just seem to wander wherever they want. One evening the cows decided to camp out in front of our gate so we had to shoo them away so we could get the gate open and drive the car into our apartment compound. They just kind of give that ‘hey, we were here first so what’s the big deal’ look and then slowly move on. The sheep and the goats are another story. The sheep are not sheared and their wool is really long, shaggy and awfully dirty. With all of this rain it is hard to believe that they aren’t cleaner but maybe they just like to play in the mud.
We travelled to Manila on Thursday for Mission Presidency meeting with President Stucki. They had prepared a wonderful dinner for us and we had an enjoyable evening. President and Sister Stucki have a picture of the Manila Temple on the wall of the Mission Home and they have each of the ‘going home missionaries’ sign their name on the matting of the picture. They had contacted Chad Hawkins who has done drawings of many Temples (his drawings include a picture of the Savior in the clouds or on the Temple grounds) to see if he had drawn a picture of the Manila Temple. He said that he had not done one, but would love to do it. They were able to obtain an original of the Manila Temple for the Mission Home and it will be a priceless treasure with the signatures of all of the missionaries in the Manila Mission. The reason I mention this is while the brethren were in Presidency meeting the Sisters were assembling new member packets that include a small 5X7 picture of this drawing of the Manila Temple that the missionaries can give to their new converts. Those new members will love that picture. We had a very late night because we encountered one of those Philippine traffic jams and we spent almost three hours in traffic.Sunday we attended one of our assigned branches (we are assigned to assist with 2 separate branches). This was such a wonderful experience. Most of the people in this area are very poor. They farm or fish or work odd jobs in the town. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of big business
here. We do not have a chapel but we meet in a large home that has been converted into a meetinghouse. The chapel area is comprised of two rooms and the rooms are aligned in such a way that you can only see part of one room while sitting in the other room. I hope that makes sense to you. One of these rooms is then used for Sunday school and Relief Society. The upstairs has 4 rooms for all of the remaining classes. I haven’t figured out where all of the kids go for primary. It reminded me of many of the meetinghouse we had in Germany. There were over 100 in attendance –that was very good. The Branch has great leadership and is really doing well in so many things. We met with the Branch President and he asked us if we would be willing to teach a Temple Preparation class and he also was very excited to know that Mom did a lot of Family History. He invited us to the Branch Council Meeting scheduled for that afternoon and asked that we talk to the council about Family History. We had a good time but were very surprised to find out in the meeting that they wanted to start the Temple Preparation class this coming Saturday. Looks like we will be busy this week getting things ready for Saturday’s class.
We really enjoyed the Fast and Testimony Meeting. Both of us shared our testimonies. I did most of mine in Tagalog and they seemed to understand me. I began with one of my jokes – some of them laughed so they must have understood me. The others probably thought the joke was really lame – you know my sense of humor and my jokes. We will enjoy working with this branch. I asked the Branch President if we could have one of the member reports from the computer. He tried to print one for us and I kind of showed him how to use the MIS (membership record/information system) system and he then asked me if I could help train his clerk on how to use the system. Then he asked if I could help do some training also. One of our first priorities is to get the building request completed and submitted so they can start building them a chapel.
The rainy season is still upon us. We get a short break for a few hours and then the heavens open again and it pours. I know that I have said this before, but I still can’t believe how much it rains here. The humidity remains very high and it seems that everything we have is wet. One morning last week I woke up and noticed a small dusting of a blue-gray substance on one of our cabinets – the mold and mildew has begun. We brought out the Clorox spray and wiped everything down. This too will pass.
It looks like school is getting ready to start back up for the kids next week. Don‘t forget the father’s blessing for school. As parents we always hoped that they did you kids some good. They helped me because I felt better about sending you all out into the world with a blessing. Noah, Adam, Isabel, and Ari, we hope that you have fun in school and learn lots of new things. You too, Ben and Sarah. Remember to be good and to listen to your teacher. School is always so exciting (right Noah?J)
Well, we are doing well. We are happy but we miss all of you so very much. We miss giving the grandkids hugs and kisses. We hope that all of you are doing well and that you are enjoying good health and that you are happy. Enjoy life! Keep smiling and doing good. 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