March 26, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
Friday, March 23 marked our 4 months remaining in the Philippines. The time has gone by so quickly and there is still so much to do. We have been blessed this week – we have only had 2 ‘brown outs’. This past week was Narra’s Festival or what we would call the county fair (minus the animals since they are always on parade wherever one goes). The nice thing about festival was the set up of a temporary Chow King (one of the fast food chains in the Philippines). The missionaries ate there every day. And of course there were fewer brown outs (no one likes to ride carnival rides and have a power outage).
Sunday I was asked to speak at a Branch Fireside about the Family Proclamation. I had prepared some slides and was hopeful that the members could read English better than I could speak Tagalog – and they do read English better than I speak Tagalog! This was a good experience. One of the recent converts was there and she seemed to follow every word. Sometimes it felt that I was talking just to her and her family and I knew they were able to understand what I was saying. For the intermission activity, the Elders played the ‘Froggy Dance’ and this time I recorded it on the camera. It is so delightful to watch the members. We love how they enjoy singing and dancing. They just have fun.
We were off to Quezon again this week for District Meeting with the missionaries there. We were able to bring some supplies to them and inspect their apartment. Even though they are only about 50km (30 miles) from us the roads make this short trip into a 90 minute adventure. What great adventures we enjoy!
Our branch has about 425 members on record but we consistently have only about 100 that attend Sunday meetings. In our efforts to reactivate, we were told of a small town about 15km (9 miles) north of Narra called Bagong Sikat. This was the first or original center of the church in this area. Many years ago the Gattud family moved into the area (they have since moved back to the mainland). They were members of the church and they set out to find other members. They found 1 other member in Narra. They traveled each week to Puerto Princesa to attend church (90km or 55miles). So they began to establish the church in Bagong Sikat. Brother Gattud pleaded with the mission president then to send missionaries into the area and soon missionaries were assigned in Bagong Sikat. After a few years the church was large enough to request a permanent building. The church decided to build the new chapel in Narra since it was a larger city, more centrally located, and had a larger potential for growth. Bagong Sikat was and still is a small farming village.
The members could not afford the trike fare to Narra so they were no longer able to attend church in Narra. There are very few members that have their own transportation so now there are about 7 members that come from Bagong Sikat to attend church in Narra every Sunday.
From the records we found about 25 families that live in Bagong Sikat. We spoke with the Branch President and the District President about these members and Friday we took our Zone Leaders with us to make some visits. As we began our trip the skies were threatening rain. I had a really ‘unsettled’ feeling because of the possibility of rain and my previous experiences with getting stuck in rice fields. We reached the home of the previous Branch President. It has been almost 6 years since they have had church services. As we began our meeting with him, the sky became really dark and the rain began it come down hard. The rain was so heavy that we could not hear ourselves talk. It seemed to me that there was something or someone trying to prevent this meeting from taking place. The rain would not stop and we were almost at the point of calling off our meeting and going back home before that roads would all be flooded or washed out. After almost 45 minutes of ‘small talk’ and with no indication that the rain would stop, one of the Zone leaders just jumped in and started talking about bringing the church back to Bagong Sikat. No sooner had that happened than the rain stopped and the sun came out over this little home. We had a wonderful experience and they were able to give names of members in the area that we could visit. We were able to visit with another family while we were there. They also voiced their desire to have the church come back to Bagong Sikat. Well, this may seem like a simple coincidence but it was more than a coincidence to me. There is something good that is going to take place in this area. If we can bring the church to them there are about 100 people that could be brought back into activity. We would start by conducting a weekly Sacrament meeting and as they continue faithful I think that one day a separate branch could be established there. For now, we will work on getting the approvals, obtaining a meeting place and finding people. This could be a remarkable ‘rescue effort’.
|Sister Alma Laureo and Sister Morgan|
Sunday we were off again to Branch Conference in Brookes Point. Late Saturday evening, President Peterson became sick with a stomach flu and called to inform us that he would not attend the conference. We (PetersonsAborlan, picked up a few more in Narra and by the time we were at Abo Abo we had 14 people in our van. It was packed but we all had a good time. We took along some tuna, bread, chips and cookies and hoped that would be enough – we didn’t plan on having that many come with us. The members are so cordial and so kind. We love them all.
|The group we brought to Branch Conference|
I am keeping my record intact – this is 2 conferences in a row where I have 'tenderized' the chicken for someone’s Sunday dinner. I used to think that turkeys were the dumbest bird around but the chickens here have to be even dumber than the turkeys. I swear that they see the van and fly directly into the van. Maybe it’s a suicide thing? Maybe they are kamikaze (SP?) chickens. I hope someone enjoyed the dinner.
We are so blessed to serve in the Philippines. This has been another life-changing experience. We are so fortunate to learn from these wonderful saints. They are a wonderful example of faith and self-reliance. The poverty continues to sink deep into our souls but then it is so wonderful to see how happy the people are with the little that they have.
Thank you all, once again for your love and prayers. We love you and are so grateful for each of you. We love being missionaries and love serving Heavenly Father. We miss you tons. We again pray that you are all doing well. We hope that you are all healthy and happy. We do look forward to seeing everyone again. Please give all of the grandkids lots of hugs and kisses from us. 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