July 22, 2012
Well, it must be time to fly home. We have no more cold cereal and I just used my last packet of Crystal Light. Thanks Kim for keeping me well stocked in drinks. We certainly have many emotions right now. This will be our final letter from the Philippines.
We have had many opportunities to reflect back on the past 23 months. We have been blessed in many ways and we know that our family has been blessed also. We sometimes felt that we left you in times of your need and that we should have been there next to you to help you. Each of you has been through a lot of challenges. We understand that. We hope that you have felt our love and prayers for you. We may not have been with you in person but we hope you felt that we never left you completely alone. We have missed a baptism, two baby blessings, lots of birthdays, many blessings of comfort and health, just talking out problems and many hugs. We are sorry that we could not be a direct part of that but we trust in our Heavenly Father and He will make everything right. Each of you has been made stronger as you have had to face those challenges in your own lives.
In many ways this past week has been a blur. Our Zone Meeting on Tuesday was excellent. Our lunch with the missionaries was memorable. We love our missionaries. We made it to the beach to see the sunrise – this was another tender mercy – to have a clear sky in the middle of many days of rain and clouds. It is always good to see the sun!
We finished off the many things on our checklist. We hope we have not left any loose threads hanging for the new senior couple. We know that Heavenly Father will bless them and we know they will do much more than we ever did here. We hope that we have laid a firm foundation upon which they can build.
We arrived in Manila on Thursday afternoon to allow us to get everything ready for the trip back home. It was difficult to pack since both of us had already sent one suitcase back early to the mission home. We are only allowed one bag on the flight to and from Palawan so we had to send two of our bags over earlier in the month with our Zone Leaders. Then we had the task of packing everything again to make sure that we made the weight limit and to see if everything would fit into the bags. This is the hard part!
It wouldn’t be the Philippines unless we went out like we came in – in a typhoon. The rain has been falling steady here in Manila since Thursday afternoon. Many of the streets here are flooded. On Saturday afternoon we took the Petersons to the airport for their return trip to Palawan. We came back to the mission home by a different route and found ourselves in about 2 feet of water. All we could do was just ‘drive on’ and hope that the car would not stall. There were some moments of high anxiety but we made it and the inside of the car stayed dry.
Friday was a very special day for us. The Temple Session was the best. We love being in the Temple with those that we love. We have always felt that way. It was so reminiscent of those days when all of our family was in the Temple together. We hope to always have that feeling. As President Benson said, “We do not want any empty chairs in heaven.” After our Temple Session, President and Sister Stucki treated the senior couples to dinner and then we went back to the Mission Home for a testimony meeting. This has been a wonderful week.
The Branch President in San Gabriel Branch texted us and invited us to speak in their Branch on Sunday July 22. Somehow we made it back to Bulihan and San Gabriel to attend their meetings and say goodbye once again. This was not an easy thing to do. We spoke in both Bulihan and San Gabriel Branches. The Branch President in San Gabriel, President Lazo, and I have become good friends. He is a very good Branch President and in my opinion, a ‘Stake President in training’. We pray that San Gabriel District will become a Stake in their next District Conference.
So we say goodbye to many people and friends. We have experienced many wonderful things. Heavenly Father has opened our eyes to a new understanding of His great and marvelous plan and to the magnificent beauties of His creations. We have prayed that somehow we have made a difference somewhere but more importantly have the past 23 months made a change in us? Time will be our judge. We may no longer carry the ‘mantle’ of a full-time missionary but that does not mean that we cannot carry the Spirit with us. We hope that we will always have the spirit of missionary work.
So, on the lighter side, here is our ‘Top 10 Things’ that we will not miss in the Philippines:
1. The humidity
2. The sickly dogs
3. The roosters crowing all night
4. The ‘pee trees’
5. The drivers
6. The ‘motors’
7. The smell
8. No brake lights or tail lights on vehicles
9. The bugs
10. Ants everywhere
And of course, here is our “Top 10 Things” that we will miss in the Philippines
1. The beautiful, beautiful Philippine people
2. The smiles of the children
3. Our missionaries
4. The beautiful green vegetation
5. The Senior Couples
6. President and Sister Stucki
7. The members
10. Mangos and pineapple
We love you all. Once again we thank each of you for your love, prayers and support. We could not have done this without you. What a sweet reunion awaits us on Monday. Get ready for the hugs! Remember to BE good, DO good, and BE men and women of Christ. And always remember to say your prayers. O Philippines, O Philippines, we bid thee farewell!
Mom and Dad, Granma and Grandpa, Janene and Grant