April 23, 2012
Once again, greetings to all from the islands of the Philippines.
So, how is everyone? We got word that this April had been one of the hottest months ever recorded in the State of Utah. This should be a hot summer. Are you just trying to make us feel better so we won’t freeze when we come home? It really is okay if the temperature is not as hot there as it is here. We will understand.
We have had another busy and rewarding week. We have begun to do some Family History work with some of the members here. Our Branch Relief Society President asked mom if we could come and help one of the sisters in the branch identify some ancestors so she could go with the youth on their temple trip. We were happy to help out. Two sisters came Tuesday morning and then the Facility Manager worker in the building also came in from his work and sat down to do some Family History. We stayed for about 4 hours. I asked the Relief Society President if she thought there was enough interest in Family History that we could come 2 or 3 times a week and help the members. She thought there would be and said that she would get the sisters to come. We had another similar session on Thursday morning.
We have three new District Leaders in our Zone and President Stucki asked that I provide training for these new leaders. Normally, new leaders attend a training session in Manila prior to their being called as a leader. The Mission President and the Assistants usually provide this training but they can’t do that over here. Well, I sat down with the Zone Leaders and we planned a training session for our new District Leaders. Wednesday morning we had our first-ever District Leader Training in Narra Zone in Quezon. It went well. The comments from the new leaders and their companions were all very good, so we hope to have done what President wanted us to do.
|Elder Kummer and woven backpack|
After the meeting we all went down to the local pizza place and had lunch. It still amazes me that we can buy lunch for 10 people for less that $25 (including drinks) and even have food left over. We love to leave small tips especially when the people don’t expect them. As we paid the bill, we gave them some extra cash and he tried to give it back to us. “Sir, the bill was only this much and you gave me more. This is your change.” Then we try to explain to them that we were grateful for their service and want them to keep it. When they earn about $2 a day that tip is a real blessing to them.
We woke early (04:30) on Friday morning to travel to Puerto for our quarterly interviews with President Stucki. Puerto is so busy right now. School is out for summer and the Underground River has been named as one of the 20 top vacation spots in the world (National Geographic name it as one of the 7 new Wonders of the World) so there are tourists everywhere. What a mad house! We tried to find a hotel room for Thursday evening so we wouldn’t have to travel on Friday but we had no luck – everything in the city was booked. It made for a very long day, but it was well worth it. We have not had an opportunity to interview with President for a long time due to transfers, other problems that just come up with missionaries and then just not enough time – so we were grateful to sit down with him for our interview. There is something about being able to account to someone for your stewardship. We love President and Sister Stucki.
We had another nice experience with a giant spider. Now, if we could design a saddle for them we could charge admission and then . . . On one of our many adventures. Mom had me stop because she could see these ‘things’ hanging from the power lines. As we got up closer, we discovered that those ‘things’ were large spiders hanging from the lines. We took some pictures but then again, the pictures just won’t really show the real story - how many spiders there were and how big they were. Saddles – the image is beginning to take shape now – not such a bad idea!
Speaking of bugs, the other night there was this large (larger than the size of a quarter coin) brown beetle on the floor. It was lying on its back so mom picked it up with a tissue and threw it in the wastebasket in the bedroom. Later that night while we were in bed, we kept hearing this strange, intermittent, ‘buzzing’ sound. We couldn’t figure out what was going on and thought that maybe we had a ‘critter’ in the house with us. After a few minutes we realized it was coming from the wastebasket. The bug was trying to fly out but was stuck around some papers and the wings were vibrating against the papers. A couple of sprays of the ‘Raid” air freshener was all it took to make the beetle stay quiet. Oh, life as we know it in the Philippines.
President and Sister Stucki stayed the weekend in Palawan and we were grateful to have them come to Narra on Saturday morning. Our District President had his monthly training with the Branch Presidents. Mom and Sister Stucki went to our apartment while President and I attended the training meeting. I was able to speak to the leaders for a short period and then President Stucki interviewed each of the Branch Presidents. I don’t know if we will be able to measure the effect this experience had in the lives of our Branch Presidents. I know that it was a great experience for each of them – to know that the Mission President would come this far to talk with them and see how they were doing. Those few minutes will last for a long time in their memories.
We were off to Cabar on Sunday for their Branch Conference. We picked up only 9 District leaders on the way so they could attend. The ride was a little more comfortable this time – not that the roads were better, but it wasn’t so crowded in the van this time. Mom says that she often feels like a ‘bobble head’ doll as we travel down these roads. One would think that as often as we travel the roads that we would become so familiar with the bumps and holes that we could avoid them – no such luck since the frequent rains changes the locations and depth of the holes.
Well, the Conference in Cabar was great. We have come to love this small branch. It is so remote and just so true to what we think of as the ‘Philippine Church house’. The members had prepared for us. They had flowers for each of the guests and beautiful floral arrangements to decorate the chapel. The choir had prepared several musical numbers for us. About midway through Sacrament meeting, the power went out – so we had no fans or keyboard or microphone. Everything went well. They asked mom to share her testimony and she did great. One of the Elders came to me and asked if I was going to speak. I told them that they had not asked me to speak and he sighed a big sigh of relief. He wanted to be somewhat ready to translate for me if needed. He was relieved. After the Sacrament, the Branch President announced the program and said that I would be speaking – I would have given anything for a picture of the Elder’s face – he was nervous. Well, when I got up, I began to speak in Tagalog and thanked the Branch members for their kindness and for the flowers and then said I would try my best to speak in Tagalog. We were blessed with the gift of tongues. Don’t know that I could do that again but it was a wonderful experience. The Philippine missionary told me that I don’t need and interpreter anymore – I told him he was very kind to say that but I still can’t speak fluent Tagalog.
Well, there is so much more that we have experienced but those things will have to wait until another day. We are happy and healthy. We hope that all of you are also enjoying good health and are enjoying life in your ‘wilderness’. We have said this many times before but again and again we thank you for your love, support and prayers. We have been blessed to be in this beautiful land with these wonderful people. We feel that they have blessed our lives much more than we have blessed their lives. Please take care of yourselves and remember to BE good, DO good and BE men and women of Christ. And as always, always remember to say your prayers.
Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Janene and Grant