Friday, March 30, 2012

Week 78

March 5, 2012

HUGE black bee that joined us
 Wow, we have done some major traveling this week! We are trying to attend the District Meetings in each of the 3 districts within the zone twice each transfer period. We thought it would be good to go to each District and participate in their meetings and help them in whatever way we can.  All of the District Meetings are held on Tuesdays at 1:00 to 2:30. This also gives us an opportunity to bring the missionaries any supplies and also for us to check their apartments.  Tuesday we went back to Quezon to attend their District Meeting. It was a good experience. They learn new teaching skills and then practice teaching each other. When we attend we get to be the investigators. We have a lot of fun with them as we get into character and see how they handle different situations. 

Early Wednesday morning we traveled to Puerto to catch our flight to Manila for Mission Presidency Meeting. Unfortunately, the Temple is closed for extensive cleaning and maintenance so we were not able to attend the Temple this time.  Presidency meeting is always a good meeting and it is good to get back together with President and Sister Stucki and the other senior couples. It is always a satisfying feeling to report back that we have accomplished our assigned tasks. We are happy to do anything to make President Stucki’s load a little bit lighter and to help move the kingdom forward. 

While in Manila we also attended the Zone Leader’s Conference. As I looked around the room of Zone leaders there were 5 new Zone leaders and they all came from Palawan on this last transfer. That is a pretty good indication of the quality of missionaries that we have on Palawan. We love them all. 

President Stucki asked if I could take a few minutes and talk to the Zone Leaders about working with members. I love teaching the missionaries. I learn a lot from them and their excitement is contagious. It was a wonderful experience for me. Later as we were returning to Narra after our flight back to Palawan, our Zone Leaders thanked us for the instruction we gave and for being able to work with us in Narra. They are very good missionaries and you can’t help but love them.

Palm Oil Grove

Palm berries on tree
Sunday we were off again to Rizal Branch. This is the farthest branch in the Narra District and is located on the west side of the island.  It takes 3 hours to get there and of course the roads are the worst. We took Brother Rivera who is one of the District Auditors with us so he could do the financial audit for the District. 

gathering the palm berries for oil

Brother Rivera is another remarkable Philippine member. He is a rice farmer along with his father. Together they have 1 hectare of land. Of course my first question was whether he had a carabao. He replied: “No, but my father has one.” And then he smiled a big smile. A farmer can’t survive without a carabao. The carabao fascinate me. They are truly something that is Philippine and are a vital part of the economy over here in Palawan. They are everywhere on this island.  Anyway, we had a delightful 3 hour-long conversation about rice, farming, bananas, weather and of course the Church and his family. He was so excited to go with us because he had never been to Rizal before!  We learned that they can only plant 2 crops of rice each year. We had a lot of questions about that since we thought that you could grow anything year-round in the Philippines because the temperature and moisture were just about ideal. He reminded us that one can’t do very much in the rainy season here. Oh boy – what do we have to look forward to over here during the rainy season? We were told that there has never been a typhoon (or bagyo) reported here in Palawan. That is because the residents really don’t track the weather. They will tell you that some days it rains really hard and some days the wind blows with the rain and some days are worse than others but we have never had a typhoon here.  
During the Sacrament meeting Brother Rivera leaned over to me and asked if I would like to bear my testimony. I said: “Maybe”. He was excited and said that he would like to share his testimony. About midway through the testimony meeting he got up and walked to the front of the room and I followed right behind him. When he reached the podium and then saw that I had followed him he smiled this great big smile. I shared my testimony in Tagalog. That’s a miracle in itself. 

As we drove back to Narra, we talked again about his conversion to the church and his family. His parents are strict Catholic and attend mass every Sunday. Four of their six children have joined the Church and they are strong members. He said that his parents were not happy that they joined but they weren’t against it.  I can’t help but think that the children are so strong partly because of the example of their parents. One day I would like to meet them and thank them for raising such good kids.  Well, as we brought him back to his house he thanked us again and again for being able to be with us. We were the ones that learned the most. We love the Philippine people. 

Well, enough of the travelogue. Again, we hope that you are all doing well. We miss you and hope that you are safe, comfortable and warm, and happy. We continue to pray for each of you. We don’t have the words to really thank you for all that you have done to help us. We love you and miss you. Make sure that you give the grandkids lots and lots of hugs and kisses from us. We hope they are all doing well in school and are having fun learning new things.  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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Week 77

February 27, 2012
Well, another transfer week is upon us. Our Zone had only two changes on this transfer cycle. We are glad to keep most of our missionaries together for another transfer and are sad to say goodbye to Elder Gillette and Elder Halterman. 

We love each of our missionaries and they are very diligent and hard working elders. The Narra Zone had 12 baptisms this month. That is so good for Palawan.
This being transfer week, we took our Zone Leaders and our two ‘transferred’ missionaries to Puerto Princesa on Tuesday afternoon. The Petersons hold a Family Home Evening for those missionaries that are being transferred on the Tuesday evening of transfer week. This gives them a chance to say goodbye. We booked a hotel room in Puerto so we would not have to travel back to Narra and then come back again on Wednesday morning for transfers.  Wednesday morning we said goodbye to our missionaries and then waited at the airport for our new arrivals. Once everyone had their bags we loaded them into the 2 vans and went to the chapel in Puerto. There we had a short orientation meeting. The Zone Leaders, the Petersons and anyone else that has been on Palawan for a while give the new arrivals some valuable information about life on Palawan – things that they didn’t have to worry about when they were on the main island. After our meeting we loaded everyone into the vans and went to a local restaurant for lunch. 
There are several members that work at this restaurant and we wanted to bring our business to them. They were so good and they spoil us when we come. One of the Elders sitting across from me had a very interesting dish so I had to ask him what it was. It was served on a sizzling plate and looked like fajitas only with a raw egg on top. We watched as he stirred the egg into the meat and then said: “This is pig face. It is really pretty good.”   Oooooooooo! 

After lunch we loaded everyone into the vans again and took them to the transfer station (terminal) so they could catch a shuttle van to their new areas. This transfer was much quieter and much more relaxed than the last one!  

Mom and I were asked to speak at the Branch Young Single Adult, Young Women and Young Men ‘Post Valentine’s Day Party’ on Saturday evening. They wanted us to speak for 10 minutes about ‘pushing back the world’ (that was kind of different for a Valentine’s Day activity – but that’s okay).  Mom shared her testimony and a quote from President George Albert Smith about choosing the right. She did a great job. I had planned to speak about the Plan of Salvation to give them a reminder about who they are and what responsibilities they have (in 10 minutes – yeah right!). I was prompted to talk about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. I told how on one of our many travels this past week we came upon some very muddy puddles. As we were driving through this area I hit a rather large puddle and the splash was really quite impressive. Unfortunately, there was a motorcycle that turned onto our road from a side street at the same time that I hit the puddle. I was so sorry. If I would have known I would have slowed down more. What made it worse was the passenger on the cycle was wearing a white shirt. I related this experience to show them how we can become ‘spotted’ with the things of this world and that one way that Heavenly Father gives us to help keep us ‘unspotted from the world’ is to keep the Sabbath Day holy. The youth seemed to understand (I think that they have all been splashed by the vehicles as they walk to school – so they could relate to the experience) and I was grateful that I responded to the prompting I had received. There must have been someone there that night that needed to hear that message. 

Sunday we were off to Quezon for another Branch Conference. Quezon is a small town in the mountains about 60km (35miles) south of Narra. The Branch President at Quezon grows and sells flowers (bulaklak in Tagalog) for his business. He even grows roses here in the Philippines – they are not very big but they are beautiful. (They really smell wonderful, too!) He provided flowers to decorate the chapel for the conference and it added a very nice touch to our meetings. After Sacrament Meeting the women came up and began to pull the flowers out of the arrangements to take home. There were two small children that came up by me and they weren’t tall enough to get any flowers. I pulled some out and bent down to give them to these little girls. They were very hesitant to take them since I am this big scary white guy. There are very, very few white people over here in the southern part of the island so to some of these people we are the first white people they have seen. It wasn’t until the past 6 months that we have had American missionaries assigned to the real southern areas of the island. Well, they wanted the flowers badly enough to finally take them from me and as they walked away they turned and smiled at me. The Philippine people are such a beautiful people and their smiles are unforgettable. 
We hope that all of you are doing well. We pray that you are enjoying good health and that you are happy. You are always a big part of our prayers. We love you all. Thank you again for your love, prayers and support. Write when you have the chance. 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