Sunday, February 1, 2015

Yeah--a lady carabao driver--and the carabao looks happier!

The Philippines Bacolod Mission has had BIG changes.  On Sunday, January 18, President and Sister Lopez left the mission to seek medical attention in the US.  We later learned they would not be able to return to finish the last few months of their mission.  On Monday, January 26, President and Sister Ferrin were set apart as our new mission president and sister.  George and I were grateful and happy to receive this news and looked forward to their arrival on Wednesday, January 28. 

Maskara dancers at airport welcoming new arrivals
Looking back, Elder and Sister Ferrin were the first to meet us late at night when we arrived in Manila many months ago.  They found us among hundreds of arriving passengers and took us to the MTC and showed us around the next day before returning us to the airport to come to Bacolod.  They were busy people; he was serving as advisor to the missions in the Philippines and Asia and Sister Ferrin wore many hats helping in the area.  But they took time to make us feel welcome and comfortable.  They are gracious and humble servants, excited to be here.  In the few days since they have arrived with 20 new missionaries they have worked every day and haven’t had time to even settle in.  I am tired from just trying to keep up with them!

Newly arrived missionaries along with President & Sister Ferrin
This was the week for missionaries to go home (23) and new arrivals.  The area presidency arranged for a special visit of Elder and Sister Echo Hawk to come and help with the departing missionaries activities.  We decided to keep it a surprise!  Although the missionaries were excited to return home, I know they were disappointed that President and Sister Lopez were not here.  Elder and Sister Mower and the counselor in the mission presidency was not what they were hoping for.  On Tuesday morning we picked up Elder and Sister Echo Hawk from the airport and the departing missionaries had a memorable exit interview and evening with a general authority and his wife. 

Departing missionaries with Elder & Sister Echo Hawk--WE LOVE THESE MISSIONARIES!
We had never been to a departing missionary dinner, but George and I attended and will treasure this time being with missionaries we have grown to know and love.  The best part; testimony meeting.
Sister Pattillo leading Sisters into Barangay 39

Sister Echo Hawk asked that we arrange for Sisters to take us to visit new members, investigators and less active members.  We entered Barangay 39 in Bacolod and traveled down a narrow trail into a world I never imagined before coming to the Philippines.  This particular area had experienced an electrical fire that destroyed many homes a few months earlier.  Sister Rose’s home consisted of a plywood floor and walls approximately 6 by 10 feet.  No glass in the windows, no running water, fabric dividing the living area from a bed for their family of 5.  We were welcomed into the humble homes and children followed and entered with us.  The Sisters shared short lessons for the families we visited and we always sang and prayed.  It was a great experience.
Sister Rose and her twins standing in their front doorway

We have seen the hand of the Lord in a marvelous way during the past few weeks.  As one beloved Mission President and his wife quietly departed and another came in their place, the missionaries continued to show forth great faith in expanding this great work.  We have seen a great miracle in the life of our dear President Lopez as his life has been touched by an outpouring of faith and prayers.  And we have been blessed with the addition of another wonderful Mission President and his wife who were prepared to serve here.  We know that this is His great work on the earth.

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