Thursday, June 21, 2012

Week 91

June 4, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

How is everyone back home? Are the kids glad to be out of school? How about Moms – are you also glad the kids are out of school? The kids here are sad because the school year begins next week for them. They only get a two month break. We hope that you are all doing well. 

It is hard to believe that another week has gone by so quickly. We began our week on Monday with a tremendous Zone Conference in Puerto Princesa. It was so good to have President and Sister Stucki here. They taught us some wonderful things and it is always so good to get all of the missionaries together from both Puerto and Narra Zones. We love our missionaries and are so grateful for our mission president. 

Tuesday we were off to Brookes Point to have District Meeting and to conduct a District Leader Training for a new District Leader. Mom was not feeling well enough to travel so I traveled to Brookes Point with the Zone Leaders. It was a good trip. One of the Zone Leaders was pretty happy that Mom didn’t go with us because he gets car sick and now he could sit in the front seat. He kept saying how bad the roads were. I made sure that he kept talking most of the way and I also said that if he felt sick he needed to say STOP! Don’t just say I’m not feeling well. I have learned that you stop and get out of the car! We had a good trip and some good conversation about missions, life and of course the gospel. We love our missionaries. 

After the District Leader training I asked if I could take everyone to lunch. That was probably a silly question because I am sure they were expecting it. There is only one restaurant in the city and luckily it is a pretty decent eatery. I decided to have the ‘pig face’ without the pig. They made mine with tuna. It was really good but a little too greasy. It is served on a hot plate like they serve fajitas in the States. Just before they serve it they crack a raw egg on the top of the hot food. As you stir it all together the egg cooks. It was surprising that the dish was so spicy. I found that they put little tiny peppers in the food and believe me – they were very hot. When I learned that they had put the peppers in the food and after my lips and tongue settled down I picked out the remaining peppers. I don’t like to sweat from the food while I am already sweating from the temperature. I’m just strange that way! 

We spent the remainder of the week working with Family History and trying to recuperate from all of the travel. We did have to travel back to Puerto to do some grocery shopping. We were delighted to find that a portion of the new mall had opened. Wow! It was nice to be in a large, new grocery store. It is funny how simple things make us so happy now. 

Well, we are preparing for the Senior Coupes Retreat next week. We are excited to have all of the senior couples come to Palawan. It will be good to see them all again. 

We hope that this letter finds each of you in good health and enjoying life as it is. Remember, it just doesn’t get any better than this!  We love you all and pray for you every day. Thank you again for your love and prayers. We have been so blessed to be here in this beautiful land with these wonderful people. Please take care of yourselves and give the kids lots of hugs 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

Week 90

May 28, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

duck keeper
 Greetings, once again from the Philippines. We have finished another very busy week. The internet still does not want to cooperate so we have not been able to SKYPE anyone for more that 2 to 3 minutes at a time. They are telling us that it is a problem over the entire island of Palawan and they will have it fixed by Friday June 1st. We have great hopes that it will be fixed then.

Tuesday morning we flew to Manila to attend a missionary fireside with Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 

Elder Russell M. Nelson

The flight to Manila was another treat – I am beginning to think that they wait for me to fly so they can have their flight problems when I fly.  This time it was an impatient pilot who couldn’t wait for the tractor to push the plane out onto the runway so between 2 other planes he decided to do a 180 degree turn. The ground crew finally stopped him just before he would have hit the wings of the plane next to him.

 Well, things were delayed again because there wasn’t a place to land another plane and there was probably an investigation into the why this all happened (I hope someone will investigate this). Well, we did arrive in time to hear Elder Nelson. He is such a great teacher and he is so kind in his mannerisms. What a gentle and loving man – truly an apostle of Christ. 

We had some extra free time in Manila so the Spencer’s were very gracious to take us shopping all day on Wednesday. Sister Spencer is from the Philippines and was able to show us some great stores to find stuff for the grandchildren. It still amazes me how many people there are in Manila and especially in the malls! They love to shop! We had a good time but it was exhausting. I had the opportunity to speak with some of the sales girls about the church. It was a good experience. They were grateful for the purchases we made but then I asked them if they were happy. I asked them to take those things that made them happy in their religion (they were ‘born again’) and to bring that to the LDS church and see if it will make them even happier. They were interested and sincere. We hope that something will come from our conversation. I asked them to give us a discount because we were such ‘good’ customers. They did. As we left, I spoke to them in Tagalog and told them that they were very kind and friendly to us and we were thankful that they treated us so well. I will never forget the look on their faces when I gave them a small tip for being so good to us. They smiled like only a Filipino can smile. I am certain that they don’t earn much as salary so I wanted to make sure that they had something for themselves. 

Thursday we spent most of the day at the Area Office and the Family History Center to gather some information for some of the members we had been helping with their Family History.  We are excited that there is such an interest in the Branch for genealogy. Friday was the trip to the Post Office and then waiting for the wood carver to come to the Mission Home. They finally arrived but had not finished our order. Don’t know how we will get it shipped home since we probably won’t be going back to Manila until we leave for home. Oh well! 

Elder Teh
Saturday we had Presidency Meeting with President Stucki and then attended the Area Cluster Meeting. The Cluster Meeting was great. Our Area President, Elder Teh, and one of the Area 70’s conducted training for the stake presidents and district presidents. It was good training and I was fortunate to be there.  Right after the meeting we were off to the airport to fly back hope. Can you guess what happened at the airport – yep, another delay but this one was for only 1 hour so we were stuck in the airport for only three hours. It gave me time to put together a slide presentation for Sunday’s Branch Fireside. While we were in Manila, our Zone Leaders had texted us on Wednesday evening and asked if we would be part of the Branch Fireside on that Sunday. 

Sunday we traveled to Aborlan to the Branch Conference. Both Mom and I were asked to speak. We have been doing a lot of speaking recently – more than we have our entire mission. It has been good for us. We enjoy meeting with the Saints and learning from them. After the Conference we hurried back to Narra to have the Branch Fireside. I talked about strengthening the Church by strengthening our families. After the fireside we went home and packed a few things and we were off to Puerto for Monday’s Zone Conference. We had reserved a hotel room so that we wouldn’t have to wake up at 3:30 am to make it to Zone Conference on time. What a busy week. But it was fun and inspirational. We learned a lot from Elder Nelson. 

Elder Kunzler, Elder Duero, Liboy, and Elder Declaro

gathering for the fireside
Elder & Sister Paddock, Elder & Sister Spencer
The weather is still hot but the afternoon showers are getting more frequent. We are moving into the rainy season next month. This should be interesting to see how much rain comes down over here on the island. In my reasoning, I somehow expect more rain over here. We will see. 

We are doing well. We are healthy and happy. We miss you all very much and are excited to see everyone soon. The time is going by quickly. We hope that you are all doing well. We pray for you every day and know that Heavenly Father is watching over you. We hope to be able to SKYPE this next week. 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

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 89

May 21, 2012

Another week has slipped by so quickly. Transfer weeks are like that however. We had an interesting experience this week that just adds those ‘quiet assurances’ to strengthen our faith and deepen our testimony. We were asked to speak at the District Youth Conference on Friday. We had the feeling that we needed to ‘drop by’ the youth conference on Thursday just to see where it was so we wouldn’t get lost on Friday morning. The Relief Society President was very glad to see us. There was a Sister Welcome that has lived in Italy for the past 25 years. She came home to the Philippines to visit her family and passed away. According to her daughter she wanted to have a Mormon funeral. We sat down with the Relief Society President to help her know what needed to be done. They wanted to have a Memorial Service at the home and a funeral service later. Our biggest problem was trying to find out if she had been endowed because we knew nothing about her. Her children are not members of the church and they did not know about the Temple. Well, we thought it would be best to have just a Funeral Service and that we would visit the family instead of having a Memorial Service. We suggested that we take the full-time missionaries with us along with a few members and visit the family to explain a little about what happens at a Mormon funeral. 

The missionaries were able to teach the plan of salvation to the family and to answer any questions they had. While talking with the family we discovered that Sister Welcome had been endowed and she went to the Swiss Temple. She had told her children about going to Switzerland. She was also a branch missionary and was instrumental in helping bring many (the daughter said about 20) Filipinos that live in Italy into the Church. As we learned more about her we found that she was a remarkable woman. We explained to her daughter that we needed to do some preparation of the body before burial and she said that would be okay. Mom and several of the Relief Society Sisters went over on Saturday afternoon and dressed Sister Welcome in the Temple clothing. It was a wonderful experience. The family was very appreciative. The daughter commented to me that she liked what the Mormons believe and that she wants to learn more and come to church. Heavenly Father touches hearts in different ways to help His children recognize the truth. Death is one of those ways that He touches their hearts. 
We have been trying to help one of the members with his family history but it has been difficult to get him signed into the New Family Search program. He has come to the church three or four times but we have not been able to get him registered. We finally signed him in under mom’s name with mom as the ‘helper’. Well, we had him come over to our house because he needed to check his e mail and confirm his registration. The church computer won’t allow any personal e mail accounts other than and he had an account with yahoo. So, we brought him over to the house and signed into yahoo only to find that he has not used his yahoo account in a long time so his user name was given to someone else. Now we couldn’t confirm his registration – then the power went off. Well, we took him back home since we didn’t know how long the brownout would last. About 2 hours later he walked back to our house because he noticed that the power was back on. Mom got on a chat line with the Family Search in Salt Lake to see if they could help. We gave them our cell number and they called us back. They were great and said that they had fixed his registration. The only problem is that it wouldn’t work on our end.  They had us try numerous things to fix it then decided to use remote access – just as he got into the computer we had another brownout – argh! This brownout  lasted much longer so we took this good brother back home and said we would try again on Thursday when we would be back from transfers in Puerto. It just seems that there is opposition in almost everything that is good. I don’t know why we have had so much difficulty with getting this brother into the Family History – it seems that everything we did was thwarted.  But, Thursday – it worked and he was able to sign in. He is so excited to work on his Family History. 

Well, transfer week was a busy one. Our Zone had changes in 4 of the 6 companionships and we also had the Narra B area reopened. We are sad to see some of our missionaries get transferred but also excited to work with our new missionaries that have been assigned here. They are all such wonderful young men and we enjoy being with them. On our way back to Narra on Wednesday afternoon we realized that we will be a part of only one more transfer week and then we will be coming home. In a way that is sad. 

half of these are leaving
Our new missionaries for Palawan
We did find out that there is another couple that is coming over here. They leave the US on July 23rd – the same day we fly out. Unfortunately there won’t be any overlap so we can show them around. Maybe that is for the best. We will just make sure that we have a good area book for them to use.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was the Narra District Youth Conference. The Petersons and we were asked to speak at the Friday devotional after their testimony meeting. The conference went well. Every youth shared their testimony. We enjoy working with the youth of the church. It is a blessing in our lives. 

 We are doing well. It is truly a wonderful opportunity to serve here in the Philippines. We so love this country and most especially these wonderful and delightful people. They make us smile and appreciate life. President Stucki told us that 94% of the Philippine people have a belief in God. That is remarkable! We are so blessed to be here. We hope that we have done some good for them but it seems more and more that they have blessed our lives much more than we have blessed theirs. 

We love being missionaries and doing His work. We hope that all of you are healthy and happy. We continue to pray for each of you every day. Thank you again for your love, prayers and thoughts. We do miss you and are excited to see you again. Please give all of the kids lots and lots of hugs from us so they will be well prepared when we get home and smother them with lots and lots of hugs! We love you all! 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

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week 87

May 7, 2012

Dear Family and Friends, 

net fishing
 Hello everyone! How has your week been? We hope that you are doing well. Looks like school is just about finished. We are certain that everyone is excited for the summer vacation. Our internet service is acting up again so the SKYPE option is a real challenge.  We are praying that it will get better.

This past week has been a busy week of travel and waiting. We spent a couple of days in the Family History Center again in helping the members with their work. We have a family of 4 and another sister that are going to the Temple this week for their endowments and sealings. That is exciting!

We had the opportunity to fly to Manila on Wednesday for Presidency meeting and Zone Leaders Council. We decided to rent a car so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting to the different places. It was rather expensive but also a very interesting experience. I asked them if we could have a new car and they said it would not be a problem. The car was a small mini-van with 60K miles and had a standard transmission. It has been a long time since I have driven a stick shift but it came back quickly. The van also had roll up windows – I never realized how much I rely on those little conveniences of a new car and believe me, power windows are a necessary item in a car. It did have air con so I guess that was the biggest blessing. Also, the van happened to have a license number that was ‘bawal’ or prohibited from driving on Thursday. In Manila they have a coding system that takes 1/5 of the cars out of the traffic every day to help control pollution and congestion. If your license plate number ends in 1 or 2 you are 'bawal' on Monday. If 3 or 4 then you can’t drive on Tuesday and so forth. It has some merit but I don’t know that it really works. Well, we paid for a car that we couldn’t drive on one of the 3 days we were here so I told them that this won’t happen.  Later that evening, they came to the Mission Home with a replacement vehicle. I had hopes that it would be a more modern van – but it was the same color, make, model and year. On the bright side, we had our own set of wheels to drive through Manila.

The airport saga was frustrating. We were scheduled to leave Puerto Airport at 10:00 am which means we had to leave our home in Narra at 5:30 am to make sure that we could arrive on time in Puerto. There were some difficulties with the flight coming from Manila so that plane didn’t arrive in Puerto until 12:00. We spent 4 hours in that little un-air conditioned airport! 

On Saturday we had a similar experience in the airport in Manila for our return flight. This time all flights were halted because some high-up authority in government was in Manila and no one could land or take off until his plane was in the sky. We spend another 4 hours in the airport in Manila. We look back now and laugh at the comedy of it all but at the time it was so frustrating. 

While in Manila we were told that Deliah had passed away. She had been the cook, maid, friend and mother or nanay to many missionaries and mission presidents at the Philippine Manila Mission for over 20 years. She was a grand lady and was a delight to us in the Mission Home. She had been ill over the past year and had recently decided it was time to quit. We will all miss her. We visited her home and family to pay our respects on Friday evening. Our prayers are with her and her family. 

Well, we had a great week. But we thought that this week we should lighten things up a bit. Here is the song we told you about. Hopefully you can smile a lot as we do when we think of the Philippines. The tune is “Oh What Do You Do In The Summertime?”

Oh what do you do in the summertime when school is out on break?
Do you find a small pool, to keep yourself cool?
And watch as the shuttles drive by?
Is that what you do? So would I!

Oh what do you do in the summertime when school is out on break?
Do you take a pig for a ride, to cool down his hide?
Before he turns into Lechon?
Is that what you do? So would I!

Oh what do you do in the summertime when school is out on break?
Do you spin a tire down the road, watching out for the toads?
And run till your tongue hangs low?
Is that what you do? Go man go!

Oh what do you do in the summertime when school is out on break?
Do you play games in the street, throwing shoes from your feet?
And hope that you don’t lose your shoe?
Is that what you do? Good luck to you!

Oh what do you do in the summertime when school is out on break?
Do you make your own kite, and dream of flying to heights?
But the wires just get in your way?
Is that what you do? Hip-hip-hurray!

Oh what do you do in the summertime when school is out on break?
Do you lie in the shade and from a bag, drink lemonade? (or rootbeer)
And wait for the sun to go down?
Is that what you do? I’m with you!

Sister Pineda & friends

We love you all. We are so blessed to be here. As we have said many times, we love this beautiful land and the people. We have been so fortunate to learn from them and watch them grow in the gospel. We love the missionaries. They are wonderful, amazing young men and women. What a blessing they are to this country. We hope that you are all healthy and happy. We continue to always pray for your success and well-being. Thank you for your love and prayers. We couldn’t do this without you. Give everyone hugs and kisses for 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