Sunday, April 26, 2015

4th Time is a charm!  The 'ninja' worker runs a new overhead internet line that adds to the 'spaghetti' wiring already hanging over the street, but we're happy, we have internet :-)

Sunday, April 26, 2015 – it is our 42nd wedding anniversary, where has the time gone?  We're still in love!  :-)

Today has been warm and humid along with a brownout that started early this morning at 7:30 am.  It is now 5:30 pm and still no electricity (we got power back after 6 pm).
Elder Winward showing the Philippine flag he had sewn inside the jacket of a new suit he had made
We spent some time talking with an Elder this week.  His batch had just left Wednesday morning to start the long journey home.  His parents had come the previous day and we were taking him to meet his parents.  Every now and then I feel I get a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father might see us.  I had a new found love and appreciation for this young man as he shared his love for a couple of challenging companions.  When I met his parents the next day, I told them I thought he was a saint.  They will spend a few days visiting his areas including going to a baptism, before returning to the U.S.
Departing missionaries we've become so attached to!
Tuesday evening we met with the departing missionaries and made sure they arrived safely at their hosting apartment.  In our truck we had Sister Arviola and Sister Maningas (from the Philippines) and Sister Kumar from Fiji.  We laughed the entire way – good memories and talking about our miscommunications!  George and I wished we had somehow recorded the words of these faithful sisters.  One had given me a gift of a “native” dream catcher and that night I remembered my good dream of holding one of my new grandsons’.  I told her the next morning her kind gift had worked.
Missionaries enjoying ice cream at Mission Home departure fireside
Yes another six weeks have rolled around; a time for saying goodbyes and a time to welcome new missionaries to the Bacolod mission.  This transfer twenty missionaries left for a new chapter in their lives.  We were saying goodbye to the outgoing group and I noticed a line of missionaries walking towards us.  I wondered if these were missionaries returning home from their missions (we were aware of one returning).  But no, it was our new batch of ten missionaries.  They probably wondered where their welcoming group was.  It was all good!  The departing missionaries got to greet the new missionaries in person before leaving.
Elder Manu is a departing missionary from Tonga who has great faith--George traded ties with him
Later in the day we got to get to know the new missionaries a little better!  They were beat, after getting up at 2:00 am for an 8 O’Clock flight, but they have strong testimonies of Jesus Christ.  I hope they can remember the wonderful spirit we experienced in the days ahead when the going gets tougher.

Thursday we enjoyed one of our last lunch dates with President and Sister Deyro who will be leaving to serve in Urdaneta as Mission President.  We are thankful to know them.  I am in awe of Sister Deyro’s Christ like service she has given to the missionaries.  I have been using her less and less (we have a new contact) and she told me she missed my texts. . okay  just a few more!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Friendly children asking for money at a property we visited next to a resort
Today (Sunday, April 19) we traveled to a small branch in San Enrique, about an hour drive south of Bacolod.   Just a couple of days earlier we had greeted Sister Jonalyn Torino at the airport.  She returned from serving in the Salt Lake Temple Square mission.  (This was one of four trips we have made to the airport in the last few days).  We met Jonalyn over a year ago on the temple grounds.  I remember it was brisk day; and Sister Torino’s hands were cold; she only had a thin sweater on to keep her warm but she said she was okay.  I was drawn to her not only for her warm smile, but she was and is truly humble and thankful for her blessings.  We met with her and several other sisters over the next few days from the Bacolod Mission area before our time came to come to Bacolod.  We have kept in contact by e-mail.  After she was released, we watched her tearfully remove her badge.  I cried too.

Sister Torino's arrival in Bacolod

Today we were invited to speak with Sister Torino at Sacrament Meeting.  It was uncomfortably warm as there was a brown out (no electricity) and we are in the hot & dry season here with daily temps in the low to mid 90’s with ~70% humidity.  But in spite of the warm humid air there wasn’t one empty seat.  When I came to the pulpit to speak, someone sat in the chair I had been sitting in!  Sister Torino is the only active member in her family, but her family came today and said they plan on coming to Church every week.  I am sure they have seen a mighty change in their daughter.

Later we received a text from Elder Ehninger and Elder Demetillo who said some of the members had commented on the “super tall white couple” who had visited.   Elder Ehninger has been serving in this area for several months and it is apparent the people love him.  It is also wonderful to see how he has grown in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Earlier this week we were invited to a pristine setting near a resort
New house - living room

New house - dining table
New house - kitchen

New house - living room
New house - Bedroom

Trying to figure out washing machine

I think George and I were “compelled” to be humble in our last apartment.  When we arrived at the house, I barely used any warm water in the shower (the only faucet with warm water).  Every day I turn the water a little warmer. I am getting spoiled.  We have enjoyed walking here among the lush tropical setting.  There are houses being built in this subdivision; next to the new structures being built are hastily put together living quarters where the work crew live.  No worries about someone not showing up for work! 

Note: we are late posting because we have had no internet for 2-weeks now.  It takes time and patience to make things happen here :-).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A sneak peek of our new house (More to come)

Back in January of this year, we were traveling with a member of the area presidency and his wife who asked to see our apartment.  We laughed and didn’t really think he was serious until he stated again he would like to see our living arrangements.  He reminded us that he often visited missionary housing, so George dutifully drove up to our apartment and said, well there it is.  He then asked to see inside and we looked at each other and opened the gate and showed him the main floor which took him into the living room and kitchen area and a small bathroom on the main floor.  We started to leave, when he said he wanted to see upstairs.  So we went up the 14 steps and showed him our bedroom and bathroom.  We were then told, our housing was not acceptable for couple housing and we were asked to find a new place.  We appreciate them taking the time to look out for the needs of the missionaries (including us).

We found a lovely house owned by a Filipino couple who moved to the U.S., and they rented it to us through their niece, a wonderful woman nicknamed Zucen (pronounced Suzanne).  It is modern and in a very nice area.  It had been empty since their couple’s departure a year earlier, so much work had to be done to remove personal items, remove uninvited guests of the insect and gecko variety, and make sure everything worked.  It worked out very nicely so President and Sister Ferrin could move in for a little over a month while the Mission Home was renovated for the new mission president.
Loading up suff for our move
Fast forward to Tuesday, April 7, 2015: the Ferrin’s had moved out on Monday and we moved in!  Although we arrived with only four large suitcases in the Philippines, because we have acquired so much stuff to make life more comfortable including our bed, etc. it took three truck loads.  By the end of the day, everything was put away.
'Old' Apartment
'Old' Apartment
Missionaries moving into our 'old' apartment; Elders Agbuya, Adao, Esponilla, Busselberg, and 'Pinky'
Our former apartment became a home to four excited Elders who called a few times on Tuesday, to see if we had finished moving out yet so they could move in.  I think they liked the idea of having a spinner washer and an air conditioned bedroom (won’t last for long :-(.
Jeepneys parked at the Stake Center waiting to pickup youth
Youth at town square waiting for dance event

Flash mob dance :-)

On Thursday George received a text indicating the South Bacolod Stake was going to have a flash mob dance at the town square with over 200 youth.  They had been involved in a youth conference and as a service project they were cleaning up the very busy park.  President and Sister Ferrin joined us as we traveled to the town square in Bacolod.  Garbage is interesting here if you have a wrapper most people just drop it; garbage cans are hard to find here.

When we arrived the youth were sweeping and cleaning up the square
and then the music started.  The louder the better here for music and the entire group joined in a choreographed dance.  It was fun, and we were so proud of them; dancing with their Mormon helping hands vests on. 
Sister Ferrin and Karen with their flowers
You can’t go to the town square without buying flowers.  I decided to leave mine at work.  The next morning, there were ants everywhere.

Although General Conference was last week in the U.S., because of the time zone differences, Conference is replayed in the Philippines this weekend.  We have enjoyed a quiet few days watching and listening to General Conference!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Carabao and workers in the sugarcane fields


“Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection, all of God’s children will be raised unto life eternal.” —From The First Presidency 2015 Easter Message

It is summer and hot and little rain has fallen.  So when we heard thunder rumbling this afternoon and then the rain poured, it was welcomed even though we are having a brown out (no electricity).  A year ago, we would have never even considered opening a door and the windows; they are open today to get a little breeze.    

We were invited by Father Mendoza and attended the 7:00 a.m. Catholic Mass at the Provincial Hospital.  President and Sister Ferrin attended with us.  There is no falling asleep at Mass as a lot of standing, kneeling, singing and reciting are done.  Of course the sermon is mostly in Ilonggo so I am not sure what was being said, but we enjoyed it. People were very friendly and accepting.
Preparing for a visit to the Pedia Ward
The helpers
The Message
A little later we met up with President and Dr. Deyro (new mission president and wife assigned to the Philippines Urdaneta Mission), President and Sister Ferrin and six return missionaries.  We went to the Pedia ward of the Provincial Hospital (poor) bearing Easter gifts and singing “Christ the Lord is Risen today”.  Although we have visited several times before, I am still unprepared for what we see.  Today space was limited and many beds had two or three patients sharing.  The parents and families were gracious and appreciative of our visit.  We shook many hands and shared a few words.  The missionaries only go to a private hospital and clinics for care—as do any of the well off residents.
Patients and families in the Pedia Gastro Ward
A cute patient
We attended a very crowded meeting for Sacrament meeting today; General Conference will be rebroadcast next week as we are 14 hours ahead of Utah time.  We have already started viewing online and will watch during the week as time permits.

Last night we attended a unique Baptism with one of our favorite missionaries; Elder Busselberg.  He has been assigned to the Bacolod 5th Ward for almost 7 months and has baptized every week—he prepares to go home in a few weeks.  The baptism we attended was an American Minister of the Baptist persuasion who has been a minister for over 30-years.  He said he had viewed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a “fruit inspector”; coming from Matthew 7:20:  by their fruits ye shall know them.  He found the doctrine and the lives of the members to show the true fruit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He said he has been preaching the Mormon doctrine for his entire ministry—and now he has embraced the faith.  He joins the Church at great risk to his economic sustenance and may need to find a new career path since our Church has no paid ministry.
Newly engaged Dylan and Beverlyn--former missionaries in the Bacolod Mission
We had a visit from the former Sister Canimo and Elder Sablan, two great missionaries that served in the Philippines Bacolod Mission.  Bev and Dylan are newly engaged.  They plan on being married in the Salt Lake Temple in late September of this year.  It was fun to hear how this relationship developed.  Sister Canimo has had many suitors!  Dylan followed Elder Ballard’s recent conference counsel in pursuing an eternal companion: persistence.

Our neighbor 'Pinky' who lives across the street and keeps a beautiful flower garden