Friday, February 17, 2012

Week 74

February 5, 2012

We were also excited this week to return to Manila for Mission Presidency meeting. We woke up especially early on Wednesday morning to drive to Puerto Princesa. We left the car at the Peterson’s apartment and went to the airport with them. When we arrived in Manila we experienced one of those wonderful ‘Manila taxi’ rides out to the Philippines Area Office. Elder Peterson and I were able to meet with Brother Abraham there in the Facilities/Meetinghouse Division to talk about building requirements, space needs and other important matters for the members here in Palawan. We also had an opportunity to talk with the Membership and Records Division about transmitting reports. There is a real problem here in the Narra area because there are many areas where there is no internet service (we have 2 Branches in the Narra District that are affected by this problem) and other areas where the internet service is too slow and it takes hours to send and receive the weekly membership and financial records to Church Headquarters. We are very familiar with this last problem since it is very difficult for us to maintain a connection to SKYPE all of you. It is frustrating. We were very fortunate to have met with the membership people and we believe that we have found a solution to our problems (sorry, the SKYPE solution was not fixed!). The trip to Manila was worth it just for these meetings.

After our meetings in the Area Office we were able to go to the Temple. 

We are so very blessed to have the Manila Temple in our mission and President Stucki lets us go to the temple at least once during the transfer cycle. We love the temple and even though the sessions are in English, it is delightful to have so many Filipino Temple workers there. Sometimes when I stop and ponder about the things we are seeing and have experienced here, our hearts are filled with gratitude to see that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and the gospel message is being spread to every nation, and all people will have every blessing of the gospel offered to them. It is remarkable to stand back and see ‘the hand of the Lord’ in all things. That evening, Sister Stucki grilled hamburgers for us. They were so good! We have come to appreciate the ‘simple pleasures’ in life. 

Thursday was our day to get to the grocery stores and other stores for the things that are not available in Palawan. Of course we were limited in the amount we could buy because of the weight limits of the baggage on the return flight. On our flight over to Manila were brought one suitcase inside a larger suitcase. That way we can fill up the extra suitcase with cereal and all of the other important things (ant killer, chocolate, and cheese). That evening we had dinner at the mission home with all of the senior couples and then had Presidency Meeting. President Stucki extended a call for me to serve as the Mission Clerk and gave me 4 big assignments to complete within the next 3 to 4 weeks. This will keep me busy. One of those assignments is to prepare and submit the Mission Historical Report for 2011. The report is not that difficult but now that we are in Palawan, I don’t have access to the records that I need. This should be a fun assignment.

Friday morning we attended the Zone Leader’s Council at the Mission Home. President Stucki asked me to talk about what the missionaries could do to build trust with their Stake or District President. It was a good experience. We love working with our missionaries. After lunch we were back on the road to the airport for our return to Palawan. This time we had the four Zone Leaders with us on the flight. We were excited to receive a text message on Friday that they had a new vehicle for us. We now have a brand new Hyundai 12 passenger van. It is big and white and it is much better to drive over these roads.

Thursday morning our Narra Zone Leaders received a text from the other Narra missionaries telling them that the palengke (market) in Narra had caught fire and burned down on Wednesday night. While we were waiting in the airport they told us about the fire. We began thinking of how bad things would be in Narra without a market – you know, widespread panic, hunger, looting etc. We began playing out scenarios in our minds about trying to get food to the missionaries and the members and how big a disaster this could be. Once we arrived in Puerto we got into our car and drove home – well, we stopped at Shakey’s and had pizza first (you have to get your priorities in order and we hadn’t had fast food in a very long time!). When we arrived in Narra, we drove by the market to take a look. Even though it was dark, we could still see the shops and things in the market area. They didn’t have any signs of fire damage. We immediately thought it was a practical joke from the other Elders. Very funny you guys! The next morning at a baptism, we teased our Elders. Elder Antonio was serious and said. “It’s true and I have pictures to prove it!” Well……. remember when we said that there is not a real grocery store in Narra and that there is only a market? Well, now there is less than half of the market. The center portion of the market burned and we couldn’t see it from the street as we drove by.

 They think it was caused by an electrical short (that is not a surprise). Two members lost their shops in the fire. There were others that were more fortunate and had no damage. This will have a big impact on many people here. Over here a building fire is called ‘urban renewal’. As soon as the embers cooled, the people began to tear down the remains of the buildings and will begin to rebuild. 

Saturday the Elders in Narra had a wonderful baptism. A family of four (husband, wife and 2 children) was baptized. It was a beautiful baptism. They also had a child of record baptism for a family that they are reactivating. 
Elder Antonio in back in white, Elder Kuntzler back right, Elders Chiong & Peterson
 On Sunday in Fast Meeting the new convert sister and her daughter both shared their testimonies. The family will be a great strength to the branch. 
Again, thank you all for your prayers and support. We love you all and miss each of you. We are doing well and are finding our way around this part of the island. We have had numerous training opportunities presented to us. We are excited to begin working with the reactivation of the members. It will be a real challenge since most of the members do not speak a lot of English (some don’t speak Tagalog – but speak the native Palawan language). It should be interesting to try and teach them. We are excited to try. We hope that all of you are doing well. We have not been able to SKYPE as much as we would like and it seems such a long time since we have been able to talk to you. We continually pray for each of you. Please take care and remember that we love you. 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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