Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hump Day

This was a big week for us.  We have been here for nine months which means half of our mission is over.  This blog contains some photos and stories of interest as we already reminisce about wonderful experiences.  The photo above is showing Elder Diquino being sealed to his family.  He was valedictorian of his school and was given funding by a benefactor to continue his education.  He encountered the missionaries and had a very powerful conversion.  He knew joining would mean losing his education funding and being shunned by his family but he said he couldn't refute the witness he had.   He related to us how his continued prayers and faith helped him heal his relationship with his family and eventually they all joined.  Just last week he was give permission to meet them at the temple to be sealed as a family.

Beautiful Filipinas

Monument to the People, Manila

Young boy flying his homemade kite made from a white plastic shopping bag.  He uses a pop bottle to wrap the string around. 

A common sight of chickens on their roosts

Very stylish young girl at the local market.

Cute Face

A local taste sensation.  We're not brave enough to try it.

A view from our walk.

Neighbor boys with their homing pigeons.  

A photo that didn't get in last week.

This beautiful lady was visiting across the street from our apartment.  She is 85 years old and spent her life as a garbage collector which is very physically taxing work.  

Proud to be a Mormon.

Pola Baptism with President and Sister Mangum

Witnesses had a long walk.

A wonderful new member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The last baptism of Elder Lynn before his departure home.  We love and miss those who serve so faithfully.

Three Colorful Sisters

Here is our wonderful district.  We got word that six of our sixteen missionaries will be transferred this week.   Each time we need to say good-bye we feel so sad, especially since we won't be seeing most of them again.  When the new missionaries come we add them to our quiver of love and give thanks for each one.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holy Week and Centurions at the Gate

Holy Week has been a rich and heart felt experience for us.  It began with Palm Sunday.  There were crowds of people at the churches buying and selling intricately designed palm decorations to place at the church and to take to their homes. VIDEO 

  The palms are blessed by the priest and are thought to bring protection and blessings to the homes that display them.  

Look at this beautiful woman.

We were thrilled to see this procession of worship as we entered Naujan.  These Romans are mild compared to the others we saw.  It looks like Barabbas is taking up the Savior's cross as the Savior is walking behind in chains, a crown of thorns and evidence of wounds on his robe.  The participants were dressed in costume.  As it passed by it was easy to feel the love and reverence these people feel for Christ.

There were probably as many as 500 people following.  They were reverent and  thoughtful as they walked. Many greeted us with a smile and respectful nod.  We heard the word Mormon said by a few who passed us. VIDEO

On the way to Pola we came upon another procession where everyone had gathered. We saw a woman and man carrying the cross.  Carrying the cross is believed to provide power and forgiveness. 

We were driving down the street in the evening in Calapan and came upon this amazing procession of floats with life size statues, lights, flowers and music.  Again, it seemed as the whole city came by the thousands to honor the Savior, walking reverently with candles.  Thursday and Friday most businesses were closed so families could celebrate and participate in the events.  It was difficult to take good photos with the light so here is a VIDEO

During Holy Week these scary looking "Centurions" roam the streets looking for Christ.   Several of the towns had competitions and gave prizes for the best.  We saw them in three of the towns we drove through.  They were very elaborate and reminded us of transformer toys.

This black and white shows the detail a little better...minus the head dress.  He still looks scary but they all were happy and friendly as we took photos.

An additional person of interest was this man walking in the middle of the street with orange hair and a sign of warning.  After I took his photo he shook my hand and told me he loved me.  We aren't exactly sure what the numbers mean but we did learn that DU30 means Philippine President Duterte.

On the main road into Calapan we encountered a procession for the Black Nazarene.

 After the week of pageantry and celebration we came to this small branch in  Naujan to witness the baptism of a new member.   The spirit was strong and sweet.  We thought of the Savior and the twelve who were charged with taking his gospel to all the world.  These few changed the whole world not unlike the few who serve him today preaching the restored gospel and how in a relative short time his message again is reaching and changing the whole earth.  This verse comes to mind:  D&C 6:34 " "Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." 

 We are small but mighty!  VIDEO

Monday, April 3, 2017

Angels Among Us And A Welcome Visit From Family

This is a photo with the Missionary Recovery Center (MRC) angels, Elder and Sister Peel. We travel to Manila for Sister Bellessa to receive treatment for an auto-immune disease in her left eye (which is doing well).  We are welcomed with love and compassion by these good people who feed us, tend to our every need and make sure we are delivered through Manila traffic to our appointments. They work tirelessly to assist all who come.

Elder and Sister Bellessa attending the temple with sweet companions they met while at the MRC.

Our dear friends the Rudy and Brenda Carlos are serving as the MTC president. They hosted us in their apartment and gave us a tour of the soon to be dedicated new buildings. The new facilities will greatly expand the number of missionaries who come from and go to countries all over the world.

Sister Bellessa visited the new Manila chapel in 1968 when it was on the outskirts of town. Today it is surrounded by skyscrapers as the city has grown around it.

We met up with the Brian and Amy Barker Family in Manila.

The mall by our hotel sold religious apparel that would work well in Utah.

Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and courageous; be not afraid: for the Lord thy God is with thee..."

The first few nights were very difficult to get through dinner with jet lag hitting. We admired the way the children adjusted and met each new experience with an attitude of resilience.

A van took us from Manila to the Pier at Batangas just in time for a sunset ferry ride to Calapan.

The Barkers weren't coming just to have fun. They came ready to bless and serve. They worked very hard to raise money so they could help those in need. We had a great day purchasing and preparing typhoon kits for our adopted elementary school.

Happy Grandma!

Presenting the kits and meeting new friends.

Amy is reading the children a book she prepared called "Same Same But Different". It shows their school and her children's school. Little do they know she has a Master's degree from Harvard in International Education which means she is very qualified. She was in her element.  See this VIDEO 

They also visited an orphanage and took games, books, treats and financial aid.

We visited Infinity Farm located thirty minutes from our apartment. VIDEO

We took time to visit Puerto Galera where they snorkeled, swam, explored, and became expert at Karaoke.  We all  relaxed and ate very well. 

We visited a Mangyan village.  We knew it was a "tourist" village  but it was interesting to see the Mangyans making their crafts and seeing how they live.


We are saying good-bye as our beautiful family entered the boat to go across the sea on their way back to the Manila airport.  As we waved and the hotel staff waved, George said he felt like he was being sent off to war.  We're thankful that isn't the case but there were a few tears shed in thanksgiving for their visit.

We're back to the happy job of visiting our wonderful missionaries.  We feel so blessed.