Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 64

December 4, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

            We survived the transfer week! There were a lot of transfers (54) this cycle making for a lot of changes to our paperwork here in the office. We also received 9 new missionaries (6 from the Provo MTC and 3 from the Manila MTC). They will be a good addition to the mission.

In conjunction with the transfer day, President Stucki wanted to train all of the missionaries concerning the items he received at the Mission President’s Seminar, so we had a mission conference along with the transfer day activities. Whew! What busy time. We have received direction from the Area Presidency to have all the missionaries work on retention and reactivation. As we have said before, we seem to retain the new converts for about 6 months, then after that time period, the retention rate dips very low. So, all of us are now on a ‘rescue mission’. I think that baptisms will decrease slightly but will remain constant because the less active and part member families will provide many opportunities to teach investigators. This is exciting. 

The week has been busy but satisfying. Saturday, we had an Area Training meeting from 8 am until 3 pm. A member of the Area Presidency and an Area 70’s attended. It was a good training meeting. President Stucki asked me to attend the training for the Clerks and Executive Secretaries. Since I am in the office now, I am also the Executive Secretary for the Mission. The training reinforced the direction given to the Mission Presidents concerning activation and retention. There is so much to do. I can’t help but think that this concern is not just for the Philippines but is a worldwide concern. Later that evening, President and Sister Vicencio took all of the senior couples out to a very authentic Japanese restaurant as his Christmas present to us. We all had a great time. 

Our new office couple began their training this week at the Provo MTC. It was reassuring to receive the e mail telling us that they were in the MTC. They are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday evening Dec 13th. We also have the Mission Christmas party coming up on that Thursday Dec 15th. It appears that we won’t begin training until Friday. We will just make several additional ‘mail runs’ to get them accustomed to driving in the ‘city’ and so they can get their directions firmly seated in their minds.  Mom and I have introduced all of the current senior couples in the mission to the Philippines. We hope we did it right! That is a scary thought. We have left a mark on this mission hopefully for the good.  We are looking forward to the arrival of our new senior couple.
President & Sister Peterson

Elder & Sister Spencer
Elder & Sister Forinash

I was able to teach the Gospel Essentials Class again in Sunday School on Sunday. The missionaries have 2 investigators that speak English so with the help of chalkboard illustrations and a few Tagalog words I can make myself understood. After I taught last week’s lesson I asked the Elders what they would like me to teach this week – without hesitation, they said “baptism”. So we talked about promises and covenants and then receiving covenants through ordinances. As we began the lesson, one of the investigators ‘tightened up’ when we mentioned baptism. I guess the missionaries had already talked to him about being baptized. His younger sister is going to be baptized on Saturday December 10th but he hasn’t committed yet. As we talked, it was so fun to feel the spirit work on him. You could see a physical change in his countenance and then see him relax as he read and answered questions. He is really a good young man. It is fun to teach and have the both of them respond so well to the questions and the promptings of the spirit. Next lesson will be about the Holy Ghost.

 We love to see the influence that the spirit has on the members and investigators. Three weeks ago a young man (Brother Santos, he is 25) was baptized. The first week after his baptism he was dressed in shorts and a tee shirt for church. Last week he wore a white shirt and jeans. Today he was dressed in a white shirt and slacks and carried a shoulder bag like the full-time missionaries. I watched him in Priesthood meeting as we looked up scriptures during the lesson. He had his scriptures opened and he was marking the scriptures that we read. What a difference ‘having a vision’ of who, where and why can make in people’s lives. We love the gospel and it is so wonderful to be a part of this great work. 

Next week is our District Conference and we have the Area President, Elder Teh as a visiting authority. We are excited to attend conference. Well, that is the good news this week. It is difficult to write about something different since the daily routine of the office is ‘routine’. 
Elder Stirland & Elder Misa

We hope that you are all healthy and happy. Time seems to be going by so quickly. Thank you again for your love and prayers. We are grateful for each of you and can feel of your strength. We are so blessed. 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


  1. Hard to believe you've only got a handful of months left on your mission. Sounds like you are doing well & doing great work. Our stake is also working a lot on retention & reactivation.
    Good luck on the island!

  2. Thanks Holly for your note. It's always good to hear from you!