Saturday, July 28, 2012

Week 95

July 2, 2012 

Dear Family and Friends, 


Ben, Isabel, and Brady
 and  HAPPY 4th of JULY to EVERYONE! ! ! !  

Adam, Sarah, Isabel, Gma, Ben, Jon
 We hope this letter finds all of you healthy, happy and doing well. We are also doing well. It has been another busy week. It has been a bitter-sweet week. This was transfer week and it turns out to be our last transfer that we will experience with our missionaries. We had a big transfer this cycle since the mission has 20 missionaries going home and only 6 new missionaries arriving. We had 2 areas close here on Palawan. This transfer affected all but one of the companionships within our Zone but fortunately only 3 missionaries from the zone were transferred off of Palawan. The other missionaries were transferred to different areas within the zone.  

Elders Jensen, Halterman, McGowan, Chiong, Christie,Corry, Sister Campoto
We tried something a little different with this transfer. When our newly transferred missionaries arrived at the airport, we quickly took some pictures and then loaded them into the vans and went to the Memorial Park in Puerto Princesa. There, President Peterson spoke to them about the importance of the rescue that started at this World War II prisoner of war camp. He reviewed the terrible events that happened here to the 143 POWs and of the 11 that escaped. This started a rescue effort to save 500 other POWs at Cabanatuan. Bishop Richard Edgley spoke of this rescue effort in the April General Conference. We wanted to give the missionaries a ‘sense or feel’ for the love we should have for the Filipino people because of what they did and also a sense of how Heavenly Father has preserved the land of the Philippines for His purposes. We hope they sensed that something significant happened here. 

Us, Elders Morris, Labinpuno, Domantay, Galagal
 We spent an extra day in Puerto to be escorts to Elder Stirland and his family. 

Elder Stirland and his parents
 We came into the mission field about 2 weeks after Elder Stirland arrived – so we were new missionaries together in San Gabriel District. We have ‘kind of’ followed him around the mission and it was fun as our paths crossed many times during our time here. We were fortunate to have worked with him in the Mission Office – so he has become one of our ‘adopted’ children. We were blessed to show them around Palawan and introduce them to a little part of the Philippines. We took them to the Memorial Gardens, the World War II Museum, to Bakers Hill, the weavers shops and of course to the pearl shops so they could purchase things for their family. It was a fun time. I hope that they enjoyed our quick tour. We are grateful to the Peterson’s who came along with us to help. They know Puerto much better than we do, so their assistance was valuable. They are such a wonderful couple and dear friends. 

Elder Stirland
Mom continues to do Family History training for the Branch several days a week. We spent another day with the Branch Family History consultant on Friday. Sister Nelieta does very well speaking English but sometimes doesn’t understand everything. She would frequently ask if we could understand her. Mom asked her a question about something and she answered something totally different. It was fun. Mom laughed, hugged her and then said how much she loved this good sister. We are so humbled by these good people. Sister Nelieta smiled a big smile then said, “Thank you for loving me.” She was so sincere. It was one of those moments we will never forget. We just love the people here. 

Sister Nelieta Agustin
Saturday, we had the opportunity of meeting with another senior couple that are assigned as Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) Missionaries. I think they have a difficult assignment. They are assigned to cover the whole Philippines, a part at a time, to find those who have been assisted by the fund and make sure that they have found jobs or are using their education to improve their lives. What a monumental task that is! We had to laugh when they first contacted us. They wanted to fly into Puerto and then take a taxi to Narra. I don’t know that they completely understood how remote this place is. We tried to explain to them that there are no taxis on Palawan. We put them in contact with President and Sister Peterson and they brought them to Narra to meet with the District President and the Branch Presidents. I was also asked to conduct some additional training for the Branch Presidents. I was informed of the training as I walked into the meeting. We have learned to be prepared to speak at any time. It is a great experience.

We have just 3 Sundays remaining here in Palawan so we have been praying to know which Branches we need to attend in those last three weeks. This week we visited Aborlan Branch. We had a great visit. It is difficult to say goodbye to many of these people. We love the Philippines and these wonderful people.
Again, we hope that all of you are doing well and we pray that everyone will be safe with the fireworks this year J. We are so thankful for your love and prayers. We are excited to see you in a few weeks. 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 94

June 25, 2012


Dear Family and Friends, 

Hello again! This week has gone by so quickly. It is just amazing how fast time is moving. We have had another wonderful week. We are doing well. There is still so much to do before we leave and we hope that we can accomplish everything that needs to be done. We finished our apartment checks on Tuesday after attending a great District Meeting. Our missionaries are the greatest. They are working so hard and doing a wonderful work here. We were very impressed with the District Meeting and the manner in which the missionaries teach each other in their training meetings. Preach My Gospel has made such a difference in the way missionary work is done. We often look at each other and say that we wish we could have had the Preach My Gospel manual and the associated training when we were young missionaries. 

Wednesday we spent most of the day at the Family History Center. Our Branch Family History Consultant came to mom on Sunday and asked if she would teach her about the computer and Family Search. We had 5 sisters come to be trained and to work on their Family History. It is fun to see their excitement and they love to be together with each other. Mom is so good with them. 

After our meeting, three of the sisters volunteered to show us the place where the Branch Activity was going to be on Saturday. We went off into the rice fields in the van – can you guess what is coming? Well, we got somewhat lost. Of course the dirt roads were rain soaked and muddy. The sisters were certain that the place was just at the end of the road.  Two of the sisters got out in order to ask someone for directions and I followed them up the road (path) in the van. They got directions from a farmer and we then tried to back up – well, yes, we got stuck again. One of the sisters got out of the van and put her hands on her face and said: “We really have a problem now!” The farmer looked at the van and went back into his house to find something to help us. I got out of the van and looked at the situation and with a prayer in my heart I asked mom to get behind the wheel and I would try to lift the wheel out of the rut. Someone was watching over for us. I was able to lift it enough to get it out. We then made a 15 point turn to turn around and head back out. One of the sisters said that I was a professional driver. I replied: “No, a professional driver would have turned around in a 3 point turn. But thank you. You are very kind.”   If the rain keeps up, we probably will rent a tricycle to take us to the activity.  I won’t drive that one again.  Sorry, but we didn’t take any pictures of this adventure except for the scorpion we met while making that 15 point turn.

President and Sister Peterson asked if we could meet them in Brookes Point on Thursday morning. They had arranged to meet President Corneilio of the Cabar Branch at his home. He is a rice farmer and they have been harvesting rice this week. We had the honor of learning about his farm and also riding a carabao. What a treat. We loved it. This is something that I have wanted to do ever since we came to Palawan. The carabao was so gentle and to my surprise, they are really difficult to ride. There is nothing to hold on to and the way they ‘sway’ or plod along from side-to-side with their loose skin makes it difficult to maintain balance. The little Philippino kids make it look so easy! 

President Cornelio has 2 hectares of land. He farms one hectare and rents out the other hectare to another farmer. He told us that Heavenly Father has blessed him so much this year. Normally he is able to plant and harvest two crops in a year, but this year he was able to have three crops. He has such a sweet family. It was so good to be with him for the day. 

Us with the Petersons
Our Branch Activity was great. After our exciting adventure to find the activity site on Tuesday, I think the sisters convinced the Branch President to have the activity back at the beach in their usual site. We thought that this was a better idea. We love the beach. One of the things we will do before we leave Palawan is to watch a sunrise on the beach.  We played games and mom and I just walked the beach. It was a relaxing time. 

Sunday we had our monthly Branch Fireside. This is such a wonderful branch. They are always so excited to see us. They wanted me to talk about ‘Feasting upon the words of Christ’. This time I worked on having the slides in Tagalog. I hope they got something from the fireside. Most importantly, I hope that they felt something there. 

We are under thirty days now. That is exciting and scary all at the same time. We miss everyone so much. Thank you all for the Father’s Day greetings. We hope that you are all doing well. We hope that the summer isn’t going by too fast for you. We hope that you can enjoy some family time together. We love you. 

Thank you once again for your love, prayers and support. We couldn’t do this without you. 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, July 16, 2012

Week 93

June 18, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Tamina Morgan


Greetings once again from the beautiful islands of the Philippines.

The rainy season is upon us and we have the luxury of being wet on both the inside and the outside!  We love the beautiful, lush green foliage here. We were thinking that when we come back to Utah everything will be brown – that will be a shock for us. How is everyone doing this week? Are you kids enjoying summer break? What fun things are you doing? 
We were blessed this week to have a Family Home Evening at our house on Monday. We had 18 people in our home. Sister Jona taught us how to make pancit. It turned out pretty good. She took us to the market to buy all of the ingredients and then came over about 6 pm to teach us how to make it. I told her that if the pancit turned out okay then she would get all of the credit, but if it did not turn out okay, then it would be my fault. We got a good laugh out of that. She assured me that it would be good! Pancit is a noodle dish that the Filipinos usually make for special occasions such as a birthday. The noodles are thin and look like a rice noodle but they are called ‘cornstarch sticks’. 

Mom also made the Filipino fruit salad and brownies. We all had a good time. We had a good time teaching them some of the songs we would sing when we had little kids. They enjoyed our fast version of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and Once There Was a Snowman. Of course we did the actions too. We played a short game of Pictionary and then had a lesson about Covenants. We would like to do this again before we leave for home. I think they enjoyed being in our home. 
Pres & Sis Laureo, Mary Rose,Hdayir Jave, Elders Chiong &Labinpuno, Joshua Quiniones

Elder Labinpuno, Joshua Q, Elder Villa, Mark Perez, Eldon, Ruchie Rivera, Elder Morris
Elder Labinpuno and Hdayir Jave Laureo (his twin)

playing pictionary

Sister Jonna Quinoines, Hdayir Jave Laureo, Jeriko Q., Ruchie Rivera
Tuesday we traveled to Quezon and Rizal for District Meeting and apartment checks. The roads are just not getting any better and the rain doesn’t seem to help. There were a number of ‘washout’ areas on the road this trip. Of course, we can’t travel to Rizal unless it rains on us and this trip was no different.  While in Rizal we took the opportunity to visit with one of the members there. 

We visited with Sister Juan. Her husband was the Branch President in Rizal and he died a few months back at the age of 34. I think we surprised her that we would come all this way to visit her. We wanted to find out how she was doing and we hope that we were able to help her somehow with our visit. She is another remarkable member of this Church. 
Saturday and Sunday was the Narra District Conference. Sister Stucki assigned mom to conduct the 2-hour auxiliary training on Saturday afternoon. Mom put a lot of preparation into this training and it showed.  She did a great job even through the noise of the rain and the brownout made for some inconvenient moments – but we survived. I was asked to introduce the Area Goals in the Priesthood Leadership Meeting. The District has utilized us a great deal in training and teaching while we have been here in Narra. That has been a blessing for us. It has kept us very busy and very involved.  We were also asked to speak in the Saturday Adult Session of Conference. As mom began to speak, the District President asked if we could use and interpreter so the people could understand better. He wanted them to hear and understand what we were going to teach (maybe we should have prepared more since this was the case). Mom asked one of the Zone Leaders to come up and interpret for her. 
Elder Labinpuno

 When I stood I spoke Tagalog for a bit then my mind just went completely blank. I really wanted to try but the words just didn’t come. Well, in Tagalog, I said,” I would like to …” then in English I said … “have a translator”. All of the people just laughed.  I looked in the audience and asked one of our newest Filipino missionaries to translate for me.

Elder Domantay
 He was so embarrassed but I asked him to share his testimony with the members about why he decided to go on a mission. He is a convert to the Church of just over 18 months and the only member of his family. He was told by his parents that if he went on a mission he could not come back to their home. It was a touching story. He then translated for me and he was a very good translator. We have tremendous missionaries here!!!
After the Saturday conference we went home and fixed mac and cheese for the 14 missionaries in our Zone. What a day. We cooked 12 cups of macaroni (we needed to cook more but that was all we could get into our largest pan) because there was not any left over. Who would have figured that this would be such a hit with the elders? We should have discovered this long ago – it would have made our cooking for Family Home Evenings much, much easier. Mom also made the Filipino fruit salad and they loved that. Sunday rolled around and we just wanted to sleep.

Sisters preparing the flowers for the chapel

We came into conference and were treated to a satellite broadcast from Salt Lake with Sister Ann Dibb, Elder Edwards and Elder L. Tom Perry. It was excellent. After meeting we went home and studied, read and slept. This has been a busy week! We like it that way. 
We are grateful to be assigned here. We love serving as missionaries. We hope that you are all doing well and that you are happy and healthy. We love you and pray for you every day. Thank you again for all of your prayers and love. We can feel the strength of your prayers. 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   

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Week 92

June 11, 2012 

Dear Family and Friends,

How are you all doing this week? We have had some of our Elders with a stomach flu that has hit them really hard. We have tried to assure them that they will be alright even though they can’t eat, their stomachs are cramping and they just know they are going to die. We have been fortunate that we didn’t get the bad stuff that they have experienced. Some have been sick for 10 days and many have lost a lot of weight. We hope that you are all healthy. 

This week has been busy but fun. We had a tremendous Zone/District Meeting on Tuesday. Our Zone leaders are hard workers and great teachers and examples to the other missionaries. As we do apartment checks we have found that if the apartment is clean we leave them a jar of peanut butter. That is a good incentive for them. They often text us and ask if we are coming to check their apartments because they need more peanut butter.  Whatever works! We also had the opportunity to make some visits with the Relief Society Presidency on Wednesday of this week. The sisters are always an inspiration to us as they leave a simple message and express their love for each of the sisters. They always ask if I would like to say something. I always try to talk about the Savior and His atonement and invite them to come to Church so they can partake of the Sacrament again. There is a great rescue effort underway here and it is exciting to be a part of this work.  

Thursday through Saturday we were in Puerto Princesa for the Senior Couple Retreat. 

Stucki's, Paddock's, Dietrich's, Spencer's, & Forinash's flew in
 Thursday afternoon we were able to tour the Memorial Gardens and the World War II museum. This is always a touching time for me. One day we will be able to share some of the thoughts and feelings about this place and the people that gave their lives so freedom would allow the gospel to be preached in this beautiful land.  

Elders and President at the World War II Museum
 I asked Petersons if they would include a trip to the Memorial Garden on transfer days so the new arrivals to Palawan could get a feel for what the Filipinos and the Americans have done together to preserve freedom in this land. I think they are going to do this for our missionaries.

President and Sister Stucki asked that the missionaries in Puerto organize an investigator fireside for Thursday evening. President showed ‘The Stonecutter’ video and then asked some of the senior couples to share their testimonies with the congregation. The chapel was full and the missionaries said that they had a lot of investigators that attended. We hope that we did some good. We were impressed with the conversion stories of many of our couples. It was inspiring. President then asked if I would share my testimony. I wondered why he would ask me and then I realized that I was the only one of the group that had come from an inactive family. Someone needed to hear my testimony. We had a great time and it was a great start to the senior retreat.

 Friday morning we were off to the Underground River. Since both the Petersons and we had large vans we became the tour guides and drivers. It was fun. The ocean was so beautiful and we love to just walk on the beach.

President & Sister Stucki

first boat to go

Elder & Sister Morgan - aren't we cute!

headed into the underground river
 We had a fun experience with the monitor lizards. I took lots of pictures and videos. 

Saturday morning we had arranged to visit a small farm that belongs to one of the members. They showed us what they raised in order for their family to subsist. 

Elder Forinash ate a little hot pepper - notice red face and pink eyes!

Cacao Tree - these will grow into large cacao pods

Elder Peterson and mangoes with Sister Ramualdo
guyabano fruit above and below - sweet and good!

 We were delighted to see the ‘tatay’ or father climb up to the top of a coconut tree and cut down some ‘buko’ (green coconut) for each of us. They chopped through the outer covering and we all had a drink of fresh buko juice. As we talked with tatay he told us that he was 65 years old.  Amazing! We all had a delightful time and enjoyed seeing a different part of the Filipino life. 

Adventures continued on next post...