Wednesday, November 26, 2014

He is the Gift!

     Although the Philippines doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, I feel like I would like to share some of the things I'm especially thankful for:
     Of course, our family--wonderful children, their sweethearts, and beautiful grandchildren; our dear parents and siblings, and extended family. I'm thankful to be married to my best friend and thankful for our love and that we still enjoy being together after 39 years. I'm thankful for fabulous friends, old and new. I'm thankful for things that I often have taken for granted--good food, running water (hot and cold), showers, flushing toilets, toilet paper, nice home, electricity, air conditioning. I'm very thankful for modern technology--Skype, Face Time, cell phones, Vonage, computers. I'm grateful for incredible young adults and senior couples who are willing to leave their homes and families to serve missions and be representatives of Jesus Christ. I'm thankful for the freedoms of the United States of America and the goodness that it represents. Although I miss America, I'm thankful for the beauties of the Philippines and for the kindness of the Filipino people. I'm thankful that they believe in Jesus Christ and God and aren't afraid to share their beliefs. I'm grateful to be in a country where prayers are still said in public places.
      I'm especially thankful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the privilege I have of being a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm thankful for modern day prophets; including Joseph Smith who restored the fullness of the gospel and Thomas S. Monson who leads the Lord's work today. I'm thankful for the Book of Mormon and the Bible and that they teach us of Christ, His life, His love, His atonement, and His example for each of us.
      Above all, I'm thankful to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for each of us so that we can return to His presence. I'm thankful for the precious gift of His son, Jesus Christ and I'm thankful for the atonement of the Savior which not only allows me to repent and be forgiven of my sins but gives me the enabling power to work through life's trials and accomplish all that He asks of me. I'm thankful that the Savior's atonement is for each of us. I'm thankful that families can be together forever.
      I'm thankful for the Christmas season which I love and I'm thankful to be able to share this wonderful message of the true meaning of Christmas with you.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Saying Good-bye

     On November 18, 2014 we said good-bye to our 4th group of missionaries. This group was the hardest yet because I had gotten to know them all and they were a wonderful group of missionaries. I had spent time with each of the 9 sisters; including having the privilege of teaching with some of them.

Saying Good-bye to a Wonderful Group of Missionaries

     The elders were actually excited to put on their suit coats for the first time since they arrived. It was fun to meet the parents and brother of three of the sisters. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A new Batch of 20 for our Anniversary!

     When we were married on October 8, 1975 we would never have guessed that we would be spending our 39th anniversary in the Philippines (as well as our 40th and 41st)!!! Our life has had many unanticipated events and this mission is definitely towards the top of the list.
      It was a nice day but very busy. We got up early to be ready for the missionaries arrival around 7:30 a.m. but it was after 8:30 before they arrived on the bus. They are dropped off at the end of the lane and all of the office staff go down and meet them and help them with all of their luggage. We then had breakfast and the interviews with President Mangum began. Half of them were taken to San Pablo to the lake for their OYM experience and the others stayed for their interviews and filled out a couple of forms, visited, relaxed, and slept. Then after a couple of hours the remainder of the missionaries switched places and activities. It was 1:30 p.m. before they had a lunch/snack. That was followed by Orientation and dinner. They were all tired and happy to be taken to the hotel around 7:00 p.m. 
     Although we didn't have a typical anniversary celebration we had a nice day. Monday we did find a different restaurant in San Pablo and enjoyed a wonderful lunch of grilled salmon, so that was our anniversary celebration.
     I'm so thankful for my sweetheart and for the love and memories we've shared for 39 years. I'm so thankful that we still enjoy being together and that we have the opportunity of sharing this adventure together. I'm especially thankful for the ordinance of temple marriage and the hope of eternal families. 

Happy 39th Anniversary
and Welcome to our Newest Batch--20 plus 1 (returning after health concerns.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Changes

     Although July and August seemed to take their time to pass, September came and went quickly and brought many changes to our mission particularly in the office. We had our wonderful office couple, the Hansens, leave on September 19. They had been lifesavers to us teaching, training, and mentoring us. I had anxiety for weeks as I thought about them leaving. Whenever I needed to know anything I could ask them especially Sister Hansen. They had not only served with President and Sister Peterson for 15 months but had been close friends of their's for years but they were kind, non-judgmental, and supportive of us and really built a strong foundation for us to begin our mission on. Besides all of that they have great and fun personalities and are now eternal friends. We were able to get the mission couples together before the Hansens left for an evening of food and fun. Another sweet couple, ended up flying out with them. This sweet couple were in their 80s and serving their 6th mission! What an incredible example to all of us of faith and faithfulness. We love and miss these great couples!

      We drove the Hansens to Manila during an intense rain storm (the effects of a typhoon north of us). The nice part of the drive was not many people were out on the roads so the traffic wasn't congested like usual. Coming back we did drive on a road that looked like a river and the rain was coming down so hard that the windshield wipers were struggling to keep up with the downpour. But we made it back safe and sound. 

     Although we had two couples leave during September we also had three new couples arrive! They are all wonderful and we are enjoying getting to know them. The Galbraiths are from our stake and its been great to get to know them better. Sister Galbraith is the mission nurse specialist so my daily responsibilities have really changed. I was wondering what I would do without taking all of the health calls. It took a few days to adjust but it's been nice; although she is very busy! She's wonderful because she's not only a nurse but grew up in the Philippines so she can speak Tagalog with the local missionaries. It's been a blessing to the mission. The Morans and Elder Galbraith are doing wonderful with the office duties and the Cranstons are blessing the missionaries on one of the islands. The couples add so much to the mission and we're so grateful for their willingness to serve.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's a Pink Week--Brittney and Mom's favorite color

This week marks five years since our beautiful Brittney passed away and one year since my mom did. As you can imagine this is not my favorite week of the year. (Except for the birthdays of my cute grandsons, Truman and Patrick!)

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since we’ve seen Britt’s face, heard her voice, or held her hand and yet it feels like forever. Time is deceiving in that way. As I’ve reflected on the last years, months, weeks, and days of Brittney’s life my thoughts have been tender and bittersweet. I’ve tried to focus on the positive; her beautiful singing voice; her spontaneous and fun personality; her gift with children, especially her own; her sewing talent; her faith and courage; and so many fun, wonderful and tender memories of nearly 30 years on earth. 

Remembering my sweet mom is the same kind of experience. The last months, weeks, and days were difficult but so sweet at the same time. How I miss my mommy. She was kind, charitable, fun, patient, hardworking, loving, full of faith, and a dear friend.  It’s hard to think of my mom without my dad and now he’s been gone nearly six months. I miss his strong hands, his heartfelt prayers, his wit and wisdom, his integrity and work ethic, his unwavering faith and strong testimony. As much as I miss my dad and mom I’m so thankful that they didn’t have to be separated for long.

I’ve also reflected on both my daughter’s and mother’s last words to people. They both bore their testimonies many times in the last days of their mortal lives. They testified of the plan of salvation and the love of our Heavenly Father and Savior. They both shared their love to everyone they spoke with. I thought a lot about this five years ago after Brittney died. I felt like she taught us what was most important as she drew near to the veil; our testimony of our loving Heavenly Father and our Savior and their restored gospel and our love for our family, friends, and others. Then last year as I witnessed my mom sharing the same things that Brittney had shared I had a confirmation of the importance of these truths. I am so grateful for their valiant examples and will always miss them.

Love you forever!!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mission Tour--September 1-3, 2014

     We had a wonderful experience last week as we had our first Mission Tour. Mission Tour is when a member of the Area Presidency comes to your mission and teaches and counsels the President, wife, and the missionaries. We had Elder Shayne Bowen who is the 1st Counselor in the Philippines Area Presidency and his sweet wife visit. The tour was moved up a couple of weeks so it was right after Transfer Week and we didn't have a lot of time to prepare. I wasn't as nervous as I might have been because we had met them at the MTC in June and we actually sat at the same table with them at a couple of meals. It was nice to have a previous experience so we knew how nice they are. Elder and Sister Bowen arrived on Monday, September 1 around noon. We were able to enjoy a nice lunch and visit with the two of them. We then met with the Office Couple, Assistants and Office Elders and enjoyed the visit and counsel. That night Elder and Sister Hansen joined us with the Bowens for dinner.
     On Tuesday morning we drove to Lipa where half of the mission attended a Mission Tour conference. After the conference we stopped at one of the sisters' apartment, an elder's' apartment, and a couple's apartment to visit as well as check out the apartments. Wednesday morning we met with the other half of the mission for a second conference. After the conference and lunch Elder and Sister Bowen, along with President and me, met with the Mission Leadership and had training from Elder Bowen. As soon as it ended we drove back to the mission home and their driver was here to take them back to Manila. It was a wonderful experience and actually went too fast. Elder and Sister Bowen are so easy to be around and we really enjoyed their visit as well as being taught, encouraged, and strengthened by them.
     The conferences began with the missionaries that were going home in the next two months bearing their testimonies. They were asked to bear pure testimony and take only a minute. It was wonderful to feel the spirit as they bore testimony of our Heavenly Father, the Savior and the restored gospel in their own words. The testimonies both days were tender and heartfelt and the Spirit was strong. They were followed by special musical numbers. The first day it was a Sister playing the violin and an Elder accompanying her on the piano. They are both amazing musicians and played an arrangement of "O, Divine Redeemer". The second day it was a group of sisters accompanied by another sister and they sang, "A Window to His Love". Both of the numbers were beautiful and I had to speak right afterwards. The combination of the missionaries' testimonies and the beautiful musical numbers made me emotional--surprise! Since I spend a lot of my time working with medical concerns and trying to teach health prevention I compared being physically healthy to being spiritually healthy. Bart (President) followed with a talk on building faith in Christ. Then Sister Bowen gave a talk on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Both of their talks were great. We sang a rest hymn and then Elder Bowen taught. He is a wonderful teacher and it was great to listen to him both days. He first taught about some mission concerns including obedience and even had the missionaries raise their hands if they were obeying certain rules out of the white handbook. When there weren't as many as you would hope with their hands raised, he commented "I feel a lack of power." It was a great way for the missionaries to feel the "power" of obedience. 
     Elder Bowen had asked the mission to study the Abrahamic covenant, the House of Israel, the baptism covenant, and the oath and covenant of the Priesthood in preparation for the mission tour. So the second part of his teaching was on these doctrines. He taught it in a way that was very interesting and clarified some principles that I hadn't understood. He taught the importance of who we are as descendants of Abraham and children of God. It was an incredible learning as well as spiritual experience.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014--Lipa Stake Center

Mindoro Zone

Cabuyao Zone

Lipa Zone

Batangas Zone

Wednesday, September 3, 2014--Mabini Stake Center

Lucena Zone

Siniloan Zone

Lucena Zone

Marinduque Zone

San Pablo Zone

Santa Cruz Zone

A nice lunch was served after each meeting. 

Our great Mission Leadership at the training with Elder and Sister Bowen.

With Elder and Sister Bowen

Monday, September 8, 2014

New Missionaries Arrive August 27, 2014

     Around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 our new batch of missionaries arrived. It was so nice to know they were on their way, that they didn't have to come in a typhoon, and that we would be able to meet them at the bus. There were ten missionaries. One of the arriving elders had been postponed because of illness so we actually met him at the Provo MTC in June. They are a great group of missionaries and we really enjoyed the interviews, visits, orientation, and the testimony meeting. The Assistants and Office Elders took them to a lake area in San Pablo where they learned how to OYM (Open Your Mouth) and actually placed Books of Mormons. They all seemed to really enjoy the experience. The five from the Provo MTC had actually arrived in Manila early Saturday morning and spent time in the Manila MTC with the rest of the group and went tracting with the Quezon City missionaries. We hadn't been told they were sent earlier, but because of the new immigration laws they arrived early to get their finger printing done, etc. It was actually nice because they had already adjusted somewhat to the time change. On Thursday morning after the testimony meeting we took them over to the Alaminos Chapel for them to meet their trainers and have training on "The First 12 Weeks". After the training they had lunch and headed to different parts of the mission to start their service.

Our new group of missionaries arriving on August 27, 2014.

Arriving in the San Pablo Mission and orientation.

The great group of new missionaries with their great trainers.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Departing Missionaries

     I posted about the typhoon and our first new arriving batch but I neglected to mention the first batch of departing missionaries. They arrived at the mission home late afternoon on Sunday, July 13. There were only six of them. We had a nice dinner, visit, and Bart interviewed the missionaries. They stayed at a hotel that night and came early the next morning for breakfast before going to some training (ERC/Employment Resource Center) at the stake center. Monday evening they returned for dinner, family home evening, and a testimony meeting. It was a very nice experience and I wondered how difficult it will be when we actually know the missionaries. After another night at the hotel we ate breakfast together, took some photos, and walked them down to catch the bus. It was during the middle of the night that they left that the typhoon hit. A couple of the missionaries had their flights postponed for 5 days!

Departing Missionaries on July 15, 2014

     The weeks went by and all of a sudden it was transfer week once again! The second batch of departing missionaries arrived on Sunday, August 24. There were eleven departing missionaries this time. Eight were Filipinos and three were foreigners. We had an enjoyable time with this group as we ate together, visited, and they had their interviews with President Mangum. It was nice that we had visited with all of them previously and gotten to know them a little. We really enjoyed the Family Home Evening. It's great to hear them share experiences and especially their testimonies. On Tuesday morning, August 26 we had one of the sister's and two elders' parents and families pick them up. It was fun to meet and visit with them. We walked the missionaries down to the road to catch the bus and after waiting for over an hour decided that they needed to be driven to Manila. Apparently there had been a holiday on Monday and the previous Friday so the buses were full. The Assistants and Office Elders loaded them up and had an adventure driving them to Manila.

Departing Missionaries on August 26, 2014


Friday, September 5, 2014

Zone Interviews

     We spent two weeks traveling through the mission so President Mangum could interview each missionary. I would visit with the companion or a group of missionaries during the interviews. I brought cookies and treats and we had "Getting to Know You" sheets that we had them fill out. The two office elders came with us to do reimbursements and teach a workshop on budgeting. Many of the missionaries run out of money each month. I'm sure that's not too big of a surprise since they are young adults and many of them have never paid their own bills before. Although there were lots of early mornings, long days, and late nights we really enjoyed the interviews and visits. It was fun to meet one on one with each of the missionaries in our mission---227. After the first or second day I said how much fun it was. Then a couple of days later the office elders asked if I still thought it was fun and I said "yes" even though I was tired. We would pack a lunch and Bart would never take the time to eat until we were on our way home. I would have to eat my sandwich or something by 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. I finally gave Bart a bag of nuts so he would hopefully eat some protein now and then to give him energy. Each day our schedule got behind because he wanted to get to know the missionaries and he also wanted them to visit and not feel rushed. The first couple of days I kept thinking "you're getting behind" but then I just accepted that it was the way it was going to be. The Assistants added more time to the interviews the 2nd week but we still struggled to stay on schedule. The other thing that caused him to get behind was that at many of the chapels he had baptism and/or missionary interviews to do as well.

      Tuesday, July 22/Siniloan (14 missionaries) and Santa Cruz (18 missionaries) Zones. We had about a 2 1/2 hour drive to Pakil to begin our interviews; we then drove to the Siniloan District Center for more interviews; and finished that night at the Santa Cruz Chapel.

Some scenery along the way. Sisters excited to receive the "Pouch" mail.

      Wednesday, July 23/Batangas Zone (22 missionaries).We drove to the Calaca Chapel which is about 2 hours and then went to the Batangas Chapel for the rest of the zone interviews.

More scenery including a Filipino cow.

       Thursday, July 24/Cabuyao Zone (32 missionaries). We drove to the Cabuyao Chapel which is about an hour drive where we visited with 24 missionaries. Then we drove to the Calamba Chapel in the late afternoon turning to evening. That chapel was still without electricity from the typhoon so we visited briefly with the 8 missionaries there and told them we would see them on Sunday.
Taking some cute sisters home.

        Friday, July 25/Mindoro Zone (20 missionaries). We drove to Batangas (about an 1-1/2 hour drive) so that we could ride a boat to Mindoro. We left early so we could catch the 8:00 a.m. "fast" boat and then found out there was mechanical difficulties so we had to wait for the 9:30 a.m. boat. The interviews had to be pushed back. We enjoyed the one hour boat ride over and got to the island and drove straight to the Chapel and began interviews. We barely made it back to the port in time to board the "slow" boat which left at 8:30 p.m. After 3 hours we arrived at the port and drove the hour and half back to the mission home.

First boat ride on the Super Cat to Mindoro. I guess I didn't take photos on the way home.

        Saturday, July 26/Lipa Zone (34 missionaries). The Lipa Stake Center is only about an hour away but it is a large zone so we were there until late in the evening. Because it was Saturday there were baptisms and many other activities going on in the Church and it was pretty busy and noisy.

        Sunday, July 27 we attended our Church Meetings in Los Banos. Everyone was so friendly and we enjoyed three hours of great meetings. President then interviewed the 8 missionaries that we had had to postpone.

        Monday, July 28 we thought was going to be a relaxing day but Sunday evening it was decided that we needed to change our schedule and leave for the island of Marinduque on Monday afternoon. Since we still didn't have internet and we hadn't been able to visit on Skype with our children and grandchildren we went over to the Mabini Stake Center on Monday morning and Skyped with each family. We left around 1:00 p.m. to drive for 2 hours to Lucena to catch a boat for Marinduque. This time we took the mission van on the boat with us. Although it was a long ride it was a pretty and relaxing ride and it was a beautiful day! We arrived at the island just as the sun was setting and then drove up the mountainside as the sun finished going down. It was a beautiful drive and we decided we may have to buy a second home on this remote island. President decided to interview the two sisters that night. We then went to a quaint hotel in Boac. It was like stepping back into the 1940s. (There were magazines in a basket in the room that were dated 2003 but not any from the 1940s.) The stairs going to the third floor were almost like a ladder. It was pretty tricky carrying the suitcase down (fortunately we had our great office elders who carried it up to the room). If you closed the shower curtain it included the toilet. It was an interesting experience that I'll probably get to have a few more times in the next few years.

Our windy but fun boat ride to Marinduque.

The beautiful ride and sunset.
The quaint Boac Hotel on Marinduque Island.

        Tuesday, July 29/Marinduque Zone (9 missionaries). We went back to the Chapel in Mogpog and finished the Marinduque Zone interviews and then headed to Gaspan for President to do some interviews. We thought we would have time to eat but we were wrong because we didn't want to miss the boat. This time we stayed in the van for the three hour boat ride because it was raining. We all took a nap for part of the time. We arrived in Lucena, checked into the hotel, and then went to the mall and got some dinner and more treats for the interviews the next day.

Driving around Marinduque Island and the boat ride back to Lucena.

The hotel in Lucena was a little more modern--more like the 1960s or 70s, but nice.

       Wednesday, July 30/Lopez Zone (16 missionaries). We drove 3 hours to the Stake Center. There was no electricity here either so it was pretty warm doing the 8 interviews. After the interviews there we drove to the Atimonan Chapel for interviews with 8 more missionaries and then we drove back to Lucena.

Traveling from Lucena to Lopez and back.

        Thursday, July 31/Lucena Zone (34 missionaries)This is another large zone and as the day went on I knew there was no way President was going to get everyone interviewed so we had the office elders call the last 12 and tell them we would have to come back another day.

        Friday, August 1/San Pablo Zone (24 missionaries). This was a nice day because we only had to drive about 30 minutes to the Mabini Stake Center.

        Wednesday, August 6/ We drove back to Lucena and went to the Stake Center and then to the Lucban Chapel to finish the interviews.

        It was a busy 2 weeks!!!!! It took a while but Bart finally interviewed the two Assistants and two office Elders too. We both really enjoyed feeling like we got to know the missionaries a little and look forward to getting to know them better.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Meetings with the Missionaries

   The first meeting with a smaller group of missionaries that we attended was the Train the Trainers meeting. It was on Thursday, July 10. It was a training meeting for the newly called trainers (thus the title). These elders and sisters have been called to train the new missionaries that come in the following week. It was a great experience for me to learn what the trainers are expected to do and about The First 12 Weeks workbook. It's a great program to help the new missionaries start with a solid foundation. The assignment as a trainer is the most important assignment a missionary can receive. Their training and example really makes a difference in how the new missionary adjusts and what kind of missionary he or she will be. I neglected to take a photo of the group--oops!

A few of the missionaries after the Train the Trainers meeting 
as President Mangum visits with them.

   We held our first MLC (Mission Leadership Council) on July 11. It was our second Friday in the mission. We sat down and the Assistants handed me the Agenda which had my remarks entitled Words of Wisdom from Sister Mangum. As if I wasn't already nervous now I was supposed to have my comments be "words of wisdom". I'm still trying to get "President" to change it to "Ramblings from Sister Mangum". I'm sure Sister Peterson's remarks were full of wisdom but I haven't got to that point yet. I really did love the meeting though. The missionaries that attend are the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders and they are an impressive group! When they sang it was amazing as well. The focus of this meeting was a talk by President Eyring called, "Rise to the Call". There were talks by two missionaries, and a lot of training during this meeting and a lunch break midway. I really learned a lot and I was impressed with the training from the Assistants as well as others. It's also great to be able to listen and watch President Mangum teach--he loves to teach and he's great at it. He's also great a getting the group to participate and counsel together.

MLC -- July 11, 2014
   On August 8 we held our second MLC and the day had a crazy start. We were getting ready to leave when we found out that one of the Assistants was ill. Bart and I had just finished discussing what we would do because the Assistants do a significant part of the training,  when I received a call that this sweet elder had just passed out. The elders live above the mission office so we ran up to check on him and it took a few minutes (it seemed even longer) to get him to respond. It was scary! One of the office elders carried him down to the car where the other assistant and the two office elders gave him a blessing and said a prayer before we headed to the ER. It was my first experience in a hospital in the Philippines. I have been in many hospitals with our daughter and other family members and this hospital was not quite what I was used to. The sheets didn't look clean (maybe they were just old and stained), the nurse didn't have gloves on when he took some blood, President had to go to the pharmacy to buy the IV tubing and fluid, etc.; but I have to say everyone was nice to the elder and to us. The Elder with us kept telling me that it was a lot nicer than most of the hospitals in the mission he had been in--that really didn't make me feel better! When we left, I looked at Bart and said "we can't get sick while we're here". He agreed.

   The MLC meeting's schedule had to be adjusted because of the Assistants not being there as well as a few other changes but when the "well" Assistant made it from the hospital (our sick elder had to stay overnight) he did a good job at the training and workshop. We prepared for this meeting by studying a talk by Elder Bednar entitled, "The Spirit of Revelation". Once again there were great talks and training and I really enjoyed listening to all of the comments from the MLC. This  wonderful group of leaders had great insights and it was a great council.

At the hospital after the Elder was feeling better.
We found out you're supposed to bring your own utensils to use to eat, pillow, sheets, change of clothes, 
and even clean water to drink. Very interesting!

MLC -- August 8, 2014

   On August 13 we held our first New Missionary Check-up. This is a meeting where we bring in the missionaries that have been here for about a month and talk with them and the trainers separately and together to evaluate how things are going in their adjustment and training. I went over the Adjusting to Missionary Life resources, the Assistants taught a workshop on preparing lessons and President counseled and taught the group. It was another great meeting and it was especially fun to see the group of missionaries that came in with the typhoon! These missionaries are doing really well.

New Missionary Check Up -- August 14, 2014

   On August 14 we had a District Leaders training that is held quarterly. I have to say I love hearing a group of missionaries sing. This group of elders sounded like a men's choir. It was another training meeting where I once again got to share my wisdom before the Assistants and President did some leadership training.

District Leaders Training -- August 15, 2014

   I attended the Lucena District 1 meeting. The training was done well and I got to practice with a couple of the elders. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the spirit that I felt. I'm still trying to learn to be a missionary.

In case you're wondering why I don't put the names by the photos--at the MTC we were counseled not to use names because of privacy laws.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Our First Typhoon and Our First New Batch!

Our first typhoon (and I hope the last to hit us directly) was quite an adventure!!! The wind and rain were so loud that you could hear and feel the force even though we were in a nice, solid home. l had a hard time sleeping and got up and wandered through the house, flashlight in hand, looking out the windows. As the morning light started peeking through I took photos and videos of the storm but since I didn't go out into it I really didn't capture it very well. Many of the members have told us that it was the worst they had seen or at least the worst for many years. It has caused a lot of damage and some deaths; but nothing like typhoon Yolanda last year in the Tacloban area. Some of our zones were really hit hard and the members lost their humble homes or least roofs and had significant damage. The beautiful jungle area has really taken a hit; trees were torn out by their roots, bent over or stripped of their foliage. It's been sad to see. A few of the missionaries are still camping out without any power. 

Photos taken during and after the storm around the mission home and office--really difficult to capture.

After being here for just over 2 weeks we were unprepared for a typhoon of that intensity. We had been told that last year when Yolanda hit they had extra rain and wind so that's what we thought it would be. Even some of the missionaries that had been here last year didn't think much about the warnings. Well, we all got a big surprise! Our yard and the surrounding area was torn apart with leaves and branches all over, potted plants tipped over, a bigger tree was damaged and limbs fell onto one of the mission cars. The rain was inches deep but after the rain finally stopped the ground soaked up the extra water quickly. We had rain come in through doors in the dining room area and leave a nice shallow pond. Many of our missionaries had rain in their apartments. One of the sisters told me she had read President Uchtdorf's talk on being "Grateful in Any Circumstance" that morning. He said we should not wait for the rainbow to be grateful but be grateful for the rain. She said that as she was bailing water out of their apartment into the rain she told herself, "I'm grateful for the rain." She's a darling sister and it was a lot of water because she went through 4 outfits in the process. There are many stories of what happened to the missionaries and members. Fortunately the missionaries were safe; but without cell phone access, power, and limited traveling it took us about 2 1/2 days to make contact with everyone. That was very difficult for me. Bart kept reassuring me that they were fine but I needed to hear from them. One of our islands wasn't really hit so they were trying to call the mission office and when no one answered they tried calling various missionaries in different areas and when no one was answering they wondered what had happened to the main island. Along with worrying about the missionaries I was concerned about their parents not knowing if and what coverage the typhoon had received in other areas of the world. On Saturday morning we were able to go to a nearby church where they had internet access and send an email to let the parents know the missionaries were safe. That helped me feel better. We had called one of our sons as soon as we had cell phone coverage so he could let our family know we were safe.

These were taken a few days after the typhoon so a lot of the clean up had been done.We got a flat tire when we were out delivering water to missionaries.

We have been amazed by the resiliency of the Filipino people. They immediately started cleaning up and putting their homes back together. There are still piles of wood and fallen trees and power lines in many areas but life just kept going. The Sunday after the typhoon we, along with the office couple and elders, took water out to areas where they didn't have any clean water. It was about a 13 hour day by the time we got home. We stopped at a couple of chapels and visited with people along the way. We were so touched by the members who when asked how they made it through the storm would answer, "Our roof fell in . . ." "Our mango tree fell through the house. . ." "We were holding the walls to keep the wind from blowing over our house while the kids cried and prayed. . ."  and then they would say "but we are okay, it is a new day." "One cute sister said, "My roof blew off so I just put up my umbrella." We have heard stories from the missionaries of some of the members who lost the top of their home or had severe damage and when they checked on them the families were singing in the dark. The active members here have great faith. This experience has taught me a lot about gratitude and not taking things for granted. Fortunately our chapels here are sturdy and although a few had damage it wasn't significant. The church buildings in some of the areas were able to house many of the members during the storm and for a couple of days after as they made repairs. The missionaries that were in areas that were hit the hardest have spent a lot of time doing service to help rebuild the homes and clear the limbs, etc.  The sisters' service has included washing clothes by hand--that's how the missionaries and most members wash their clothes.

Our First Batch of New Missionaries

Part of our adventure was that we were scheduled to receive 13 new missionaries the day of the typhoon (it started late Tuesday night, July 15 and continued through about 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 16). We were up early and dressed and were talking about when they would send our missionaries; rather it would be later in the day or the following day. After the worst of the storm had ended Bart decided to walk around the yard and survey the damage. He heard voices saying "President Mangum" and looked over to see the 13 missionaries standing in the now drizzling rain. He called into the house, "Our missionaries are here." We couldn't believe that they had sent them in the typhoon (still can't)!!! They had ridden a bus through the torrential rains and winds. A few of them were pretty frightened. It had taken them about 4 hours (it's usually 1 1/2 to 2 hours) to get here because they had to stop many times due to the wind and things flying through the air and the rivers of rainfall, etc. 

Our first amazing batch!

They pressed forward through the bus ride in a typhoon, they will accomplish great things.

We felt badly because they were dropped off the bus at the end of a lane with no one to greet them so they started walking trying to find the mission home. We had originally planned a nice breakfast but they enjoyed their cold cereal and fruit before starting interviews and orientation. The office elders got the generator going to give us limited power during our orientation. (They had to use a car battery to get it going but it worked for a while.) We weren't able to fix the dinner we had planned but fortunately the stove top is gas and we were able to light the burners and make some spaghetti. We cooked by candlelight and I felt like I was back at girl's camp as the cook. (President Eyring told me I had experiences that had prepared me to serve this mission, I just hadn't thought about one of them being a camp cook.) Along with no power the water was limited because the water pump is electric so we were on water conservation as well including limited flushing of toilets, using lots of hand sanitizer and only quick sponge baths. The missionaries usually stay the first night in a nearby hotel but it had been damaged so badly that it wasn't open so we had 3 rooms of missionaries mostly sleeping on the floor on mattresses. We found out that in this big home there were only 3 flashlights so we gave each room a flashlight and Bart and I used our cell phones and candles for light. They went to their rooms early and it was sweet to hear them as each room began singing hymns together to pass the time. 

Along with receiving the new missionaries we also had transfers scheduled for the next day and we were unable to contact everyone so the transfers proceeded. It was pretty crazy to say the least but at least we were able to talk in person to many of the missionaries and see how things were in their areas. A couple of the trainers were on the islands so it took them extra time to get here to join their newly arrived companions. We also had a new senior couple arrive that afternoon. Through all the craziness we pressed forward and did the best we knew how with our limited knowledge and experience of typhoons and being a mission president and wife. We knew our first transfers would be memorable but we had no idea how memorable!

 Ironically a couple of days after the typhoon we received a great "Emergency Preparedness" booklet from the Area Presidency. It is a great resource because it was written especially for missionaries in the Philippines and made to fit in their white handbooks so they can have it with them at all times. It talks about typhoons and earthquakes. We have a senior couple here who are Filipino although they lived in the states for 17 years. He told me, "In the Philippines if it's not typhoons, it's earthquakes or possibly volcanos." I'm so excited! We are thankful for what we've learned and are in the process of evaluating what could have been done differently and better. I'm trying not to worry about what could have been but rather plan and implement what needs to be done now to prepare for the future. I have a new and stronger testimony of 72 hour emergency kits and water storage, as they really blessed the lives of some of our missionaries. They would have been very hungry and thirsty without them. I pray that I will always be grateful for the many blessings I have and not take for granted the daily blessings of food, water, and shelter. I need to remember the wise counsel given in Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 ". . . if ye are prepared ye shall not fear." I better get prepared so I can get rid of my fears!