January 15, 2012
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO Nara!!!! WE LOVE YOU !!!!!!!
Good afternoon from the island of Palawan. We arrived safely in Puerto Princesa on Friday morning. The flight was smooth until the landing. They have a shorter runway than most other airports here so the plane has to come down quickly and stop quickly. Mom was sleeping when we landed and she awoke startled when we touched down – it was an unexpected and hard landing.
|Sister Afu, Elders Morales & Villa came in with us.|
The Petersons met us and the other three incoming missionaries at the airport. It was good to see them again. They have done so much for us to help us here. They were able to find a place for us to live and they furnished it with the things we would need to get started. They have been a huge blessing to us. After having a quick Orientation/District Meeting we went to lunch with all of the Puerto Princesa missionaries at a local eating establishment (not too bad but they must have put some ‘sliders’ in the food – they slide right in and slide right out again). Then it was off to the grocery store for some staples for the weekend and then into the vehicles for the 90 minute ride to our house.
The road to Narra was rough and the Peterson’s assured us that these were the best roads that we will see here on Palawan (that’s encouraging). The Church gave us another Toyota Corolla and not the van we were hoping for. We will literally ruin this car out here on these dirt roads. Hopefully it will last for at least 6 months.
Our house is big – much bigger than we really need. It is owned by a member.
The husband was the previous Branch President here in Narra. He had a stroke and they moved him to Canada to be with one of his children hoping that he would have somewhat better medical care. He later had another stroke and then died in Canada. The wife wanted to keep the house so it was fortunate that we came along in order to rent the house. The Petersons had an air conditioner installed and also got us a full size washer and dryer. They spoiled us. The house has been somewhat remodeled to accommodate a wheelchair. The interior walls are made of ¼ inch plywood and do not reach to the ceiling. The room air conditioner has difficulty cooling the living room because it is not a single enclosed room. The kitchen is large but the counters are short (they hit me at about mid thigh level). Mom bought some small plastic stools to use in the sink and on the counters to raise the things to a reasonable height.
I have come to refer to everything here as a hobbit house. The kitchen also is equipped with a resident tuko (large gecko). We haven’t seen him yet but we have heard him (they say their name – tuko, tuko- and it sounds like you are walking on a squeaking wood floor).
The air is very clean over here and there isn’t probably 1/10 the traffic that was in Manila. The island is beautiful and still very primitive in many ways. There are no fast food places in Narra. There isn’t a grocery store or a convenience store to buy bread or milk – that means no cold cereal. There are 2 grocery stores in Puerto about 90 minutes away. We are still looking for an internet place to establish contact with the outside world. The skies have been very clear and blue until around 2 or 3 pm. Then we get a short rainstorm. The humidity is horrible. It didn’t help us to work in the office for 3 months in an air conditioned office – now we have to acclimatize to the heat and humidity again – and the hot season is just around the corner (April, May and June) followed by the rainy season. We aren’t complaining (who am I kidding – of course I’m complaining about the heat and humidity) but I’m just not looking forward to the heat again.
|President & Sister, Elders Palmer, Serrano, Jacinto & Munsod||;||Sisters Raguindin, Martinez,Younas, & Sipe|
|Elders Morgan, Belarmino, Misa & Teo, Sis. Morgan|
Well, last week went well with the transfers. We didn’t leave anyone stranded or forget to get tickets for those going home. We had a few minor things that we can improve for the next transfer but we won’t need to worry about that. We said goodbye to 8 missionaries on Tuesday evening, had transfer day on Wednesday
and welcomed 6 new missionaries on Thursday morning.
|New missionaries, office elders and some companions|
We had only one American elder (Elder Nielson from Syracuse, UT) in this last transfer but we did get a young missionary (Elder Kang) from mainland China! He speaks some English but has had no Tagalog training. President Stucki asked him to say the blessing on the food and he spoke in Mandarin. It was great. We also received another elder from Sri Lanka (Elder Fernando). He is very sharp and will be a good missionary.
It was strange arranging for our own transfer. Transfer week is, by itself, a very exhausting and stressful week but having to pack and clean and prepare for our own transfer made it quite interesting. We thought it will be nice to get to Narra so we could rest. No such thing. We have hit the ground running. Saturday morning we had a three-hour training meeting with the District Presidency and the Branch Presidencies. I did some training about scripture study. Whenever I am asked to speak, I always emphasize that I love to read the scriptures. President Stucki wants each member to have their own copy of the scriptures so they can read and study and develop a love for the scriptures. So, the mission is providing Bibles and Triple Combinations in both Tagalog and English to each of the Branches. The Church subsidizes the cost of the scriptures here (one can purchase all of the standard works for about 80 pesos or $2).
Not having a love of reading sounds somewhat strange to us because of our love to read but the Filipino culture is not prone to reading. Most schools do not provide books. The students are taught by the teacher to memorize. Most students never see a text book and many high school students graduate having read just a few books. The students become very dependent upon the teacher. The lack of reading becomes very apparent when they are asked to read in class. This will be a huge obstacle to overcome – huge but not impossible.
Later Saturday evening we had a satellite broadcast from the Area Presidency. They unfold their vision of what work needs to be done in the Philippines over the next 5 years. It was very inspiring and insightful. All of the missionaries will be working with reactivation and retention of members. We also met with the District President to help him plan his Branch Conferences. He wants us to help him in getting things established that have not been done before. The branches in this district are far away from each other and the roads (or lack of roads) make it difficult to visit the various branches. As a result, they have not held Branch conferences in many of the outlying branches. We will be taking the district leadership to the branches now and then determine how to help them with future transportation concerns and budget matters. This will be a fun and challenging assignment.
Well, we survived another week. We are so thankful for this opportunity to serve. Sometimes we feel that we don’t do very much but the assurance comes that our influence will be felt by many people. We hope to do the best we can to reactivate and train the leadership here. It is fulfilling and rewarding.
We love you all so very much and are always grateful for your love, prayers and support. Thank you for everything that you do for us. Please take care and be safe. We love you and wish we could give each of you a big hug. 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