Thursday, March 30, 2017

Umbrellas

     Umbrellas are used as often for shading people from the sun as they are from the rain.

Cute granddaughter with her new Frozen umbrella bought at the palengke.

Welcoming new missionaries. 







Transportation in the Philippines

     Our time in the Philippines is quickly coming to an end and I have folders of photos that I've never posted so I am going to share some of them to give a glimpse into life in the Philippines.

We watched as this man ran and jumped on the truck while it was driving up the road. 


The drivers of the pedicycles have strong legs. 


Traveling up the mountain road from the port we saw this line of tricycles;
it looked like a parade.



You will often see trucks full of pigs, chickens, and some times cattle. 

It's amazing how many people and how many things they can fit on a tricycle.




It's common to see families on motorcycles or scooters.
We've seen as many as five on a scooter and often a toddler in the front of the driver
and a baby in the middle. 


Tricycles and Jeepneys are the transportation for the missionaries and most Filipinos in our mission.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Everyday Life as a Mission President and Wife in the Philippines San Pablo Mission

     I wrote this on my iPad about a year ago and I don't think I ever posted it on the blog so I decided to go ahead and add it now. It is a glimpse into what our schedule has been like for 2 1/2 years. The interesting thing is that the Missionary Department just changed our schedule so keep reading and I'll let you know at the end what has changed now.    

     Every three months we hold 3 separate Zone Conferences with three of our zones at each meeting. We love the Zone Conferences and the chance it gives us to visit, interact with, and teach all of our missionaries. Every three months we have zone interviews where we travel to the different zones and President Mangum interviews each missionary. The Assistants, Zone Leaders, or Office Elders do a workshop and I visit with each of the missionaries and share a thought. We love this one on one time with the missionaries but it takes 3 weeks and we are tired by the time the interviews are over. Most of the time we have day trips but during one week we travel to one of our islands and some other farther locations so we are usually gone 5-7 days. We also travel to another island for a couple of nights on another week. Every six weeks we have Transfer Week where we say a bittersweet goodbye to a group of missionaries that we love and welcome a new group of excited and nervous missionaries. Each time it is amazing to feel the love we immediately have for the new missionaries. Every six weeks we also have a meeting to train the missionaries who will be training incoming missionaries. Four to five weeks after the missionaries arrive we have a meeting with them and their companions called the New Missionary Check up. It's always fun to meet with them and see how they're adjusting to missionary life as well as watch their excitement when they see their "batch". On our "off months" we always think we will have time to catch up but the days seem to fill up quickly with extra interviews, visits, specialized zone trainings, and working with the missionaries. Most weeks we are able to attend a Zone Training or District Meeting, and we also have monthly Mission Leadership Council; quarterly District Leader training; and occasional special Sister Training meetings. Along with the scheduled meetings President Mangum is always on call and so often our plans for the day changes with little notice.  
     On Sundays we attend different wards or branches so we can meet people and support the different areas and missionaries (we have 75 units in our mission). Often our weekends include attending and usually speaking at Stake and District Conferences. Our mission has four Districts that Bart presides over as well as six stakes so occasionally we attend Youth Conferences, Young Single Adult Conferences or other meetings.
     One of Bart's biggest responsibilities is the transfers. He spends many hours in thought and prayer as he seeks revelation to know who the trainers, leaders, and companionships should be. Bart also presides over the four Districts and so he also does some prospective missionary interviews, sometimes sets apart the missionary, and also does temple recommend interviews. Fortunately, he has two wonderful counselors that help him with these responsibilities. He has served with one since we arrived and the 2nd counselor has changed three times. The first time he was reassigned and moved to Manila. Bart went for a while with only one counselor and then called one of our senior missionaries to serve. After he returned home he called another Filipino who is a former mission president. We actually served with he and his wife our first year before they were released. We love the counselors and their wives (past and present).
     I have the responsibility of supervising the missionaries medical needs. This is not my favorite thing. The September after we arrived some friends from our stake came to serve and she was our mission nurse. Not only was she our mission nurse but she is also a Filipina so she could speak Tagalog and it was wonderful! I knew we were blessed to have her but after she left in March 2016 and I had the responsibility again I really knew how blessed I had been. Somedays it's not bad but other days I am on the phone and/or computer a lot trying to help missionaries with their medical concerns. Fortunately we have wonderful Area Medical Advisors who I bother a lot to help with knowing what to do. The healthcare system in the Philippines is a challenge. Often it is difficult to get a hospital or doctor's office to answer the phone. There is no such thing as a real appointment, just a time for the clinic. You go and wait or sometimes you can get a number ahead of time but you still go and wait. The missionaries are covered by insurance but the process to get their LOA (Letter of Authorization) is often time consuming and challenging. Some of the healthcare facilities leave a lot to be desired. Fortunately we do have certain doctors and hospitals that are good to work with. I also have the responsibility to write an annual history. It wouldn't be bad if I kept up with it but I keep up on it about as well as I do the blog. Enough said.
     Once a year a member of the Philippines Area Presidency and his wife come to the mission and stay for a couple of days. They teach at conferences with all of the missionaries, Mission Leadership Council, have a few interviews, and possibly visit apartments. They are all wonderful teachers and the missionaries love Mission Tour and so do we. They stay with us at the Mission Home and teach and train us both formally and informally. Although I thought it would be intimidating to host a General Authority and his wife, it's been an incredible experience to be taught by them and to get to know these wonderful, faithful, and fun people. They have all made us feel comfortable and we have loved the time with them. 
     Twice a year we have the wonderful opportunity to meet with the 21 Philippines Mission Presidents and Wives for a Mission Presidents Seminar. We have three days of inspiring training from the Area Presidency.  It's a wonderful time of renewal and we love the training as well as being able to visit with the other mission presidents and their wives especially the ones we came with. It's reassuring to know that there are others that understand our challenges as well as share our joys. Although we leave the conferences edified we also leave realizing how much more we need to do to teach our missionaries and strengthen our mission.

     Okay, now for the changes for 2017. The schedule for zone conferences and interviews has been changed to once a transfer cycle or every 6 weeks. This is the way it was until a few years ago. During our service we have often said two things: 1) We are glad we don't have to do zone conferences and zone interviews every 6 weeks. 2) We wish we had more opportunity to teach the missionaries. We now have the chance to teach more often and we are grateful for the opportunity. This change began this month so this coming week we will finish our last two zone conferences and our interviews for the first round. We have gone to each zone and so the conferences have been in smaller groups. We love this way of teaching because it's more personalized and you get more interaction and participation. We have also done the interviews before and after the conferences in most of the areas. In larger zones we have taken a second day as well. President Mangum has always spent 20-30 minutes in interviews but this time he has cut it to 10-15 minutes unless there's a special need. It's a change to have shorter interviews but with seeing the missionaries twice as often it balances out. 
     The change is keeping us busy and focused on strengthening the mission. We are grateful for the opportunity to spend more one on one time with the missionaries. 




Saturday, December 3, 2016

LIGHTtheWORLD



     


  I always love the Christmas initiatives from
 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
This year the video really touches my heart each time I watch it
 and I realize that we really can follow 
the example of Jesus Christ in our daily lives. 
Watch the video and feel the true Spirit of Christmas 
and then Light the World 
following the Savior's example--25 ways in 25 days. 
Enjoy this wonderful season of the year!



Light the World










Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving

November 24—Thanksgiving

            When we returned from the seminar the mission home was filled with the couple missionaries including a couple that arrived that day. This is Elder and Sister Sippel’s fourth mission. They are amazing and a great resource to the units as well as the missionaries. All of the couples enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner made by Sister Spencer. We also enjoyed a great time visiting with one another. Having all of these wonderful couples is a great blessing we are very thankful for!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Mission Presidents Seminar

November 21-24—Mission Presidents Seminar in Manila

            As always it was a few days of wonderful training, inspiration, and wonderful visits. President Shayne Bowen began the conference by teaching the importance of Belief and that believing isn’t enough we need action. He shared the story of Roger Bannister and how we need to overcome false limitations. We need to have a greater vision. Elder Schmutz taught about how true doctrine understood helps motivate positive missionary behavior. We need more than an intellectual understanding of the gospel; we need spiritual understanding which is conversion. Elder Haynie taught about improving our efforts to find scattered Israel. A big focus of the conference training was following up with the missionary focus of teaching repentance and baptizing converts. During this conference we had the opportunity to have a Sisters’ breakout where we had the medical advisors teach and answer questions about medical concerns. We were also blessed to hear the wives of the Area Presidency teach and testify to us. The theme was the “Errand of Angels is Given to Women.” President Bowen taught about the importance of the Book of Mormon in conversion. President and Sister Andrada who had recently lost their son in an accident shared their powerful testimonies of the plan of salvation and the love of the Savior. President Bowen reminded us that although the Andrada’s son’s death was tragic it was only temporary. He taught that the “path of covenants” enables us to return to our Heavenly Father.  We are so thankful for the opportunity to be taught by the Area Presidency as well as the other mission presidents and wives. It is always a time of renewal and reminders of what matters most.


Monday, November 21, 2016

November 2016--Departing and Incoming

 November 14 and 15--We had 14 departing missionaries. They began their Monday at the San Pablo Stake Center with a light breakfast and then were taught the Career Workshop.  That evening they came to the Mission Home for a nice dinner and a Family Home Evening. We watched a fun good-bye DVD, shared spiritual memorable experiences, and testimonies. It was a great evening. It’s always a sweet experience to be together and think about their growth over the 18-24 months.                         





November 16 & 17--We had an exciting morning as the missionaries got off the bus at the wrong location. President Mangum always tells the travel leader to call when they get to Santo Tomas so we know that they are about 20 minutes away and we can walk down to the street to wait for them. The office staff and President Mangum and I were waiting and wondering what was taking so long. Finally President called to check and found out that they thought they were supposed to get off in Santo Tomas so all of the missionaries got off the bus with all of their luggage and while we were waiting in Alaminos for them they were in Santo Tomas waiting for us. After finding out that they were at the wrong stop they boarded two Jeepneys and headed our direction. By the time they arrived we were about an hour behind schedule and they were all tired and hungry but in good spirits. We sat down to breakfast and counted and there were only 20 missionaries and we were told there were 21 coming. We then found out that one had not come because of medical reasons. President had to decide which of his trainers would not be training.
            It was an eventful start to the day but it ended well. We were able to get the orientation, interviews, and all of the training done. On Thursday morning President Mangum and I met with them after breakfast. They each introduced themselves, told why they were serving a mission, and bore their testimonies. They each had strong testimonies and we felt like they were one of our strongest groups ever. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve with them.

            After that meeting we walked to the Alaminos Chapel where they met their first companions and had some more training, ate lunch and headed to their new areas.