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.