December 26, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
|Mission Home tree|
Merry Christmas to one and all! It was so fun to talk with each of you on Christmas Eve. The kids were delightful in the Family Home Evening Nativity. We miss you all so very much, especially at Christmas time.
We had a very quiet Christmas. On our Christmas Eve we were invited to the Mission Home with the senior couples. President and Sister Stucki had prepared dinner for us and we then joined them in some of their Christmas family traditions. We acted out the nativity (we were the photographers) and then watched It’s a Wonderful Life.
|President Stucki, Elder & Sister Spencer|
|Elders Hernando and Stirland|
|Elder Dietrich and Sister Stucki|
|Elders Spencer and Belarmino|
|Sister Stucki, Elders Hernando & Dietrich, Sister Dietrich|
|Narrator, angel, shepherd, wisemen, Mary/Joseph & donkey|
Three of our office elders had never seen this movie before. It was fun watching them and hearing them laugh. On Christmas day we enjoyed a very quiet morning. The office elders came over before their church meetings and we had presents for them. It was fun.
We then went to Church and then back to Naic to visit with one of the senior couples that was not able to come to Manila for the Christmas Eve party at the mission home. Except for the 2 hour ride back home in the traffic, it was a restful day. Mom did well in her talk for Sacrament meeting. The branch only held Sacrament meeting at 2:30 but it was after 3:00 when we finally started.
This week has been somewhat disorganized. The move of the office has been on and then off then on again. We don’t know just what or when so we just try to be flexible and work around the changes. The Dietrich’s had to move from their original apartment to another apartment because the landlord did not want to have taxes reported on his rental property. So they ended up moving again. I think they are finally settled now.
Our hearts have been touched this week in so many different ways. There seems to have been a greater number of beggars on the streets this week since they are playing on the sympathies of generous people at Christmas-time. We always feel so bad to turn anyone away but it is clear that some are ‘professional’ beggars. We keep some individually wrapped crackers in the car and will give them to the beggars. Some are happy with the food but sadly many just want money. One evening last week we were on our way to the grocery store. The light was almost ready to change so I thought we wouldn’t get ‘hit’ by the many beggars. Once they see the ‘rich’ Americans in the car they can become very persistent and pound on the car windows. One young lady was holding a toddler in her arms and we pulled up beyond her. I thought we were in the clear but she saw that we were Americans so she came back to our car. We rolled down the window and gave her some crackers. She thanked us and gave them to the little boy. It was nice to have her say thank you. What happened next was sheer delight and gave us reason to believe in humanity again (that sounds harsh but sometimes you don’t even want to go out on the streets because of the beggars). Well, the little boy looked at those crackers and the look in his eyes was one of ‘Hey, these are for me. I get these all to myself!’ He then looked at us and began to wave to us. He would hold up the crackers and then wave at us again with this great big smile on his face. I will never forget his smile and the light coming from his eyes.
It is really difficult seeing so much poverty. I wish that I could just help everyone but money isn’t the answer. It is difficult to see the children growing up in such poor circumstances. It is enough to break one’s heart. Somehow I feel that Heavenly Father never meant things to be like this. Little children need to have a chance to play, be happy (be little children) and not suffer from hunger and disease.
We prepared numerous ‘baskets’ with rice, canned foods and treats for the members of our branch. We knew we were leaving so it didn’t matter this year if we did this in secret or not. We spent most of Friday visiting members and distributing the food baskets. We love to see the look of surprise on their faces. Again, some were so excited and grateful for the food while others were not. In one particular home the father looked in the box and then looked at us and said that he needed money not food. All of the others were so thankful for the gift. In one home, we took a container of rice and a bag of Toblerone Chocolate. I told the sister that there are two staples in life. One is rice – and I gave her the container of rice. She was excited and said that the rice was as white as we were. She wanted to know if it was American rice. I assured her that it was Japanese rice. We all laughed. Then I said that the other staple was chocolate – and I gave her the bag of chocolate. She smiled a very big smile and said, “a million thanks to you.” We love these wonderful people. They will always have a place in our hearts. In another home, I asked them what special things they do for Christmas. They said, ‘Nothing.” Well, do you roast a pig or get together with family to eat. They again said, ‘No.’ That made me sad. We were happy to leave them with a little something in hope that it would brighten their Christmas.
The branch Christmas party on Thursday evening was really wild. The Filipinos love to play games and sing and eat. That is exactly what they did. The party started at 5:00pm. We arrived late (just after 7:00) for the party because of the traffic coming out of Manila. When we left at 10:00 they were still going strong. They have a simpler outlook on life and that is so good in many ways. For many of them, this party was their Christmas. That would be the only celebration for them. Christmas day would be just another normal day. At least there weren’t any fireworks yet. We wonder what the New Year’s celebration will be like here in Manila. Last year’s celebration in the country (province) was so loud because of the many fireworks, we hesitate to think what this year will be like here in the city.
Well, that wraps up this week. It doesn’t sound like we did a lot of missionary work but we did. Sometimes the best work we do is just to visit and encourage people. It makes a big difference in their lives. We are trying to train the new office couple in the midst of the moves and confusion associated with the move. We are excited to be able to get back out into the ‘field’ to teach again. It looks like we will transfer out at the end of this next transfer either the 13 or 14 of January. This will give the Dietrichs an opportunity to see a full transfer and everything associated with the transfer. Then we will have the opportunity to ‘start over’ again in a new area. This transfer we ‘open’ this area for senior couples. That should be fun and we will do all that we can to strengthen this new district and train the leaders. We are enjoying good health. Heavenly Father has blessed us so abundantly. We are very, very blessed. We are blessed to have such wonderful family and friends.
Thank you all for your love and your prayers. We hope that each of you have a wonderful holiday break. We hope that you will feel the Saviors love in your hearts. This gospel is so beautiful and simple. May Heavenly Father’s blessings be poured out upon 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