Sunday, May 31, 2015

Yeah--another carabao sited on our way back from the school visit

Months ago President Lopez asked us to help coordinate an effort with a former missionary from the Philippines Bacolod Mission in the US.  His effort was to raise money for the benefit of some poor schools in the Mission.  President Lopez recommended the Gawahon School in the Victorias area—up in a ‘bukid’ (remote) area of the Mission.  The school has allowed the Church to hold Special Sacraments Meetings every Sunday for months.

Visit to school supply store
This week we were able to participate in delivering the supplies to the school.  We had previously gone to a school supply store and with Sister Ferrin’s assistance (and experience as a teacher), selected items for each of the over 300 children; paper, pencils, crayons, markers and a carrying bag along with some wish list classroom items including basketballs, maps, teacher supplies, etc.

Friendly Gawahon School children lined up by grade

Monday morning George and I took President Santilan (counselor in the mission presidency and a big wig in local school hierarchy) and the two Elders serving in the area.  President and Sister Ferrin and Elder and Sister Green traveled separately.  We should have figured out something special was planned, as the Bishop of the Victorias ward texted a couple of times, asking where we were.  The delivery truck followed us up, but they had deliveries to make along the way—causing us to be later than expected.

Our caravan brought interested looks as we traveled up the narrow winding road to the community in the mountains.  But when we arrived at the school, it was not a simple drop off as we had thought.   Fathers came out to the truck and helped carry boxes of supplies to the center of the school yard.  All 7 teachers were there along with the PTA and 150 or more school aged children lined up to greet us (along with their families).

We were welcomed as honored guests.  The spectators were delighted as they watched many of the boxes were opened.   The Principal, Gilly Vargas, said over and over, the “Lord loves us”.  Mrs. Vargas picked up the microphone (loud is better here) and said, “We need to pray”.  I folded my arms and bowed my head and closed my eyes and a few seconds later, a recording of ‘How Great Thou Art’ (country western style) blared through the speakers.  I looked up and everyone was singing.  We sang every verse. 

Children expressing their thanks
The children also had prepared a special musical expression of thanks for the occasion.  It was a wonderful experience and a reminder of the kind and grateful people we have the privilege of associating with here.
Elders Carver, Minson, Asuncion, Shumway, Pack & Walters enjoying lots of pizza

Tuesday evening we were invited to the departure dinner for Elder Carver.  He has lost around 60 pounds on his mission and he has been in outlying areas for months of his mission.  He chose to go to Yellow Cab Pizza as he said he has not had any pizza on his mission.  Others going home this week and part of his batch along with their companions joined us.  How many pizzas can 7 Elders eat (along with Strawberry milkshakes)?  A lot!  They laughed and said a meal really wasn’t complete without rice.
New member in his sikad

Saturday, we attended Sister Judd’s last baptism.  She is going home this week.  She was one of the first missionaries we met when we arrived here.  The man that was baptized has been investigating the Church for over 2 years and comes to Church regularly.  We have even seen him before at baptisms.  Sister Judd says he knows the gospel well and helps them in missionary work.
Elders Cabada & Graves standing in front of a monument made of tires

We traveled south and inland today; I never tire of seeing the lush green landscape.  We were told they have been having daily rains and the flora is breathtaking.  We attended Church in La Castellana.  The branch has a beautiful new chapel that will be dedicated in a couple of weeks.  Today was Elder David’s last Sunday before returning home.  He is meeting his family and ward at the Manila Temple on Wednesday.  He bore a powerful testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Today we are not having a brown out (no electricity); but since last evening we have had no running water.  We are assured all will be well by 6:30 pm.  In the Philippines we always keep a minimum of 10 gallons of water on hand for times like this. 

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