Sunday, September 6, 2015

Missionaries respectfully remove their shoes and bags before entering mission home

When we arrived back in March of 2014, there were approximately 250 missionaries serving in the Philippines Bacolod Mission; now there are 189.  There has been a gradual downsizing to make the mission more manageable; allowing Mission Presidents to focus more on the needs of the missionaries.

Street vendor pushing his wares down a busy downtown street

Working as the nurse specialist I remember the first day I was handed the phone and how frightened I was.  A hospital telemetry nurse is different than being a community nurse.  But it is apparent, this is the Lord’s work and we have been blessed greatly in working with our young missionaries.  He watches over His missionaries with a special interest—as we have seen many miracles come to pass.  Some days have been non-stop and others pretty quiet.  George and I never imagined that we would love and care for the missionaries so greatly.  George has often accused me of blessing each one by name in my private prayers.

A barker trying to line up more business for his jeepney

We have served under President Lopez, a great teacher and tireless worker, President Ferrin, kind, loving and understanding and now President Barredo, a great leader and role model.  We have visited from the top of the mission to the bottom of the mission in inspecting apartments, delivering supplies, and meeting with the missionaries.  Today was our last Sunday in the Philippines.  We were blessed to be able to share our testimonies of our Savior, Jesus Christ and the restoration of the gospel.   We truly feel blessed that the Lord would allow us to come to the Philippines.

A Sister Nanay at Church this week--she still chops her own wood

A funny incident happened this week.  We dropped off the truck for a maintenance service and walked over to a nearby mall.  We saw three young women standing taking ‘selfies’.  As he often does, George offered to take their picture.  Well, you know we have a little language barrier here—the girls lined up to have their picture taken with him!  Haha.  As we walked away, they yelled ‘thank you sir’.

Mobile banana vendor offering his wares

We have compiled this list over the 18-months we have been here:

Things we will miss about the Philippines

1. The people (missionaries, members and people)

2. Salamats (thank you) in prayers

3. Visiting 72 different sacrament meetings; groups, branches, wards

4. Beautiful country sides, fields, trees, plants, flowers

5. Friendliness of people

6. Resourcefulness of people

7. Hardworking people

8. ‘Ready, sing . . . ’

9. Listening to people singing (accents).

10. Rain
Things we won’t miss about the Philippines

1. Driving

2. ‘Out of stock’

3. ‘Sit and wait a while’

4. Brown outs (we are on the 2nd one for today)

They have so little, but thank so much. We have so much, but thank so little.

Among the many missionaries we've come to love so much!
We have been blessed beyond measure by our small service.  This is such a wonderful part of the Lord’s vineyard we have been able to experience.  We are thankful for the wonderful missionaries who serve here and only pray that our grandchildren may have an opportunity to serve here.

We now leave here with mixed emotions.  We have loved our time here, but now move on with grateful hearts to the many people, members, and missionaries we have associated with and learned so much from.  This will be our last blog post, as we are leaving the Philippines this week to be reunited with our children, grandchildren (2 new grandsons we haven't yet seen), parents, and family.

The Victorias Milling Factory--largest sugar cane factory in the world
Inside the Church of the Angry Christ (Catholic Church inside factory property)
Karen thought this mural was a little scary looking

Beautiful grounds outside the church

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cute little girls posed for a picture after Church today 
Busy, busy day at the office (we love seeing the missionaries)
I like Mondays at the mission office, because a lot of missionaries show up for one reason or another.  But this was transfer day and we had missionaries from all over the mission here to accept new assignments and meet new companions before traveling back to their areas.  Some of the missionaries from far away, left at 1:00 am to get to Bacolod in time.
Departing missionaries: all Filipino with President and Sister Barredo
Tuesday:  George and I were invited to be part of the departing missionaries’ farewell activities as we really don’t have a ‘batch’ (a group of missionaries we came out with), and our time here is coming to a close.  We sat with the eight departing Elders during our last meal in the mission home and enjoyed hearing about their missionary experiences and future plans and dreams.  This was a great batch; pioneers from the Philippines with strong testimonies.  We pray for their continued success.
Newest batch with an international flavor
Wednesday eight new missionaries arrived.  They came to Bacolod from Samoa, Tonga, Australia, New Zealand, England, US and a two from the Philippines.  When they were sharing their testimonies I looked around at the Elders and Sisters from all around the world; we have such different back grounds, but share a common thread, The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lunch with some of our favorite missionaries (they're all our favorites)
George picked up the new missionaries Thursday morning to take them to meet their new trainers and go out into their new areas.  On the way to the office with all the missionaries he stopped to let a parade go by.  After considering the importance of this new group of missionaries--he pulled into the middle of the parade and joined them!  It reminded me of the experience Heber C. Kimball had when he first landed in England and saw a parade with the banner “Truth Will Prevail”.
Young boy playing prelude in Sacrament meeting on Sunday
My greatest compliment this week was when an Elder texted me, “You understand my text thank you sister mower”.  We will miss this time in our lives; and the many friends and wonderful experiences we have been blessed with here.
Youngster entertaining himself (and us) at a baptism

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Of course you knew this was coming ;-)
Typhoon Goni is north of the Philippines, and is slowly moving away, but we have felt of her strength.  The dark heavy clouds have dumped buckets of water, the thunder has growled and the palms sway in the winds, but then it is quiet for a short time before the cycle starts over again.  The air is warm and damp.  After leaving the house this morning, George asked, what happened to your hair.  Hmm.  Of course he never has that problem ;-).

This is a Philippines people mover
Stand anywhere you want--and air conditioning!
Since early morning we have had no rain and it is starting to clear.  Our neighbor’s Mom and baby cat have been sunning themselves on the roof and Tom (cat) has been sleeping in front of the house; keeping a wary eye on us as we come and go.  Umbrellas are protecting from the sun today instead of the rain.

Even with the weather, it has been a great week and a spiritual boost to the missionaries; it was the Bacolod Mission Tour.  Elder and Sister Bowen from the area presidency arrived Tuesday morning and left Thursday evening.  The missionaries came from near and far to be taught by President and Sister Barredo and Elder and Sister Bowen in one of two sessions.

Grateful for a visit by Elder & Sister Bowen
We helped with seating on Thursday; we arrived at 7:30 am (the missionaries were to be in their seats by 8:00).  They were already there (for the most part) sitting quietly in the Chapel, waiting for the 8:30 meeting to begin.  Early Thursday we also received a text indicating that Elder and Sister Bowen would be doing a house inspection at our place following the meeting.  When they arrived, Elder Bowen said, I would really like to “inspect you”.   It was a spiritual day indeed as Elder Bowen left a blessing on the “cottage” and George me.
Interesting detour around a run down house
If you can't go through it, you go around it--I'm sure there's a logical reason (huh?)
Little boy pumping water into a bucket
These beautiful flowers outside our window reminded me of my dear Mother

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Children in Silay practicing for Primary program
Monday we enjoyed lunch with Sister Bal-lot and Sister Sagahgay.  We enjoyed hearing their conversion stories and the sacrifices they have made to serve missions.  Wednesday we got to take a new missionary (from the district) to the airport with her mother and Bishop.  She waited several months for her call and was excited to start her journey which included her first airplane ride.  These are always wonderful experiences to be part of.

Wonderful Sisters!

Sister Merwal at the airport with her mother and branch president
Friday we got to be the supply Elders; we traveled north to Sagay.  Along the National Highway we saw men cutting the thick green grass with machetes; back breaking work.  There were people including young children selling fruit and homemade treats along the busy highway.  We love to see the carabao working in the fields and and grazing along the highway.  I watched a boy lying across the mother carabao with her baby nearby enjoying the succulent grass.  We saw a few rickety trucks being loaded with sugar cane.  And if there is a problem with your vehicle; you just stop where you are and change the tire or work on the engine.  We brought the missionaries J.CO donuts.  These are the best donuts around.  Even before the truck was unloaded of the needed supplies, the donuts had vanished.

One of many fruit stands along the highway
Beautiful tubo (sugar cane) field next to Manta-angan chapel

Today we attended church at Manta-angan, a small branch north of where we live.  We started out attending Relief Society and Priesthood meetings.  George sat by an older man.  The lesson was on “The Elderly in the Church”.  The teacher began by asking the question:  ‘who are the elderly?’.  The older man next to George turned towards him, looked at his badge and said: “Elder Mower”.  Hahaha

A Sister meditating before Church in Manta-angan :-)
Traveling home today, we watched men carrying a cumbersome white casket on the National highway to the graveyard.  A sikad followed slowly with a few colorful flowers.  When we passed, they had at least another mile to go before arriving at the graveyard.  We stopped for a big Ceres bus whose reverse gear didn’t work; no worries. . men pushed the big loaded yellow bus backwards across all the lanes of traffic (stopping all traffic) and then the bus went forward on his way.