Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Week 72

January 22, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jon!!!!!   We love you!!!!!!!!!
Sarah and Jon Morgan

Well, we have survived our first week in Palawan. It is much different than anything that I expected or imagined. We are still wondering how such a remote place like this exists in the world today. In many ways it is like stepping back in time. If the chickens don’t wake us up in the morning then the tuko will. It is fun to listen to him say tuko, tuko, tuko early in the mornings. Sometimes later in the day he will start up again. I wish that I could record it for you. There really isn’t anything like that sound. I realize that we wrote on Wednesday January 18th but I am trying to get back to a Sunday evening writing schedule. So, this letter will likely be short.

We traveled to Puerto Princesa on Friday to have a planning meeting with the other senior couple (the Petersons) that are here on Palawan. President Peterson is the second counselor in the Mission Presidency and they have been responsible for both the Puerto District and the Narra District. Now that we have come to Narra we felt it would be good to plan how we can best use our resources to help. It looks like we will be doing a considerable amount of traveling to regularly visit the different branches. We set up a visiting schedule and came up with some good ideas for training.

Today we went to Cabar which is located about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of our residence. The first 20 kilometers were the best road and after that it was very rough going. We traveled with the Peterson’s in their van. I truly don’t know how we will drive these roads in our Toyota sedan without doing some major damage to the underside of the vehicle. We felt so bad for Sister Peterson because she gets motion sickness and vertigo when traveling. Today was really tough on her and the roads were not very forgiving. There were times when even I felt sick. Mom did really well for sitting in the back seat all the way. The trip took us almost 3 hours. We had to stop several times to allow Sister Peterson time to recover a bit from the motion sickness. 

We sent a text message to the Branch President telling him of the situation and that we would be late. He sent the message back to us that, “we will wait for you.”  As we arrived the congregation was singing hymns without piano accompaniment.  It was a very spiritual moment for me as we came into the chapel. Somehow in my own mind I had this idea of what the chapels would be like in the Philippines – well I saw today what was in my mind’s eye. The chapel was located deep in the Philippine countryside. The dirt road was just big enough to allow a car to drive on. 
road to Cabar
The building was built on a cement slab and it had concrete walls about three feet high. The rest of the walls were made of woven bamboo and the roof was ‘thatched’. A frame roof made of bamboo leaves. There was no drop-down ceiling and there was an open area between the walls and the roof to allow for air circulation. There were a few fans but there was no electricity today. The inside was very simple. There were 3 small classrooms on each side of the hallway. The hall opened up into the chapel which had wood ‘park-like’ benches. There was a small pulpit in the front with a piano and a small table used for the sacrament. The chapel was filled with 87 smiling faces. It was wonderful. 

After the sacrament, both President Peterson and I were asked to speak.  I asked the congregation I they could understand if I spoke in English – I just saw blank stares. I then asked one of the missionaries to translate for me. It was a good experience for both of us. Later the missionary told me that Tagalog is not their native language but they speak one of the dialects of Palawan. This was a wonderful experience and I felt the spirit strongly as I spoke to them. That is one language that all of us can speak and understand.

Elder Kummer
 Elder Kummer translated for me.
Elder Morales
 Elder Morales translated for President Peterson.

During Sunday School and Priesthood, many of the children would come into the chapel and go over to the Sacrament table and take some of the remaining bread and also drink out of the excess water bottle. It was a little disturbing at first then I began to think that there was no water fountain in the building and they were probably very hungry. My heart softened considerably when the missionaries told me that how difficult it was for them to work in this area. They live in a neighboring city and they travel 45 minutes one way to get to their area. They have to eat a big breakfast and tank up on water because in the little village of Cabar, there are no stores or vendors where they can buy food and there is no water station where they can get drinkable water until they get back to their apartment that evening. I thought we had it bad here in Narra where there are no grocery stores or fast food places. They have it worse. Yes, this is really a remote area.

We should have internet connected on Tuesday. We are crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. We also have our quarterly interviews with President Stucki on Friday. There are many things that we miss that we had in Manila but probably the thing we miss most is the association we had with President and Sister Stucki as we worked in the office. It was an honor to get to know them and learn from them. 

We love you all. We miss you and pray that everyone is doing well. We look forward to checking our e- mail this week since we have not had access to the internet for about 10 days now. We hope that you are all ok. Again, thank you for your love and prayers. They do mean a lot to us. We pray that you are all safe and happy. 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

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