Thursday, March 24, 2016


     Easter is a wonderful time to reflect on and remember the great love our Heavenly Father has for each and everyone of us, His children. He gave the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ to each of us. Christ came to earth to show us the way to live and to give us the gift of the Atonement so that each of us can return to our Heavenly Father's presence. Jesus Christ not only suffered and died for us but 
He was resurrected and lives and because He lives we will all live again! 
     As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are blessed to have the understanding of the fullness of the Savior's gospel. I am so grateful for the Savior's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane as well as on the cross of Calvary. I am grateful for the resurrection and the hope that it gives me to know that Jesus Christ rose on the third day and that He lives today. I'm thankful that I will live again and have the hope of seeing my dear daughter, parents, sister, brother, friends, and loved ones once again. I'm thankful for the hope of eternal life with my Heavenly Father, the Savior, and my family as I strive to follow the Savior's example and strive to live a Christlike life, keep my covenants, repent, and use the power of the Atonement daily in my life. I love my Savior and know He loves me too. I am thankful for my Heavenly Father and for His love and for the great gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
     If you haven't seen the beautiful video "Hallelujah" on take the time to watch it and feel of the Savior's love. In the video it shares these words: "If I let Him. If I love Him. If I follow Him. He can take away my sins, my sorrows, my pain, my past." "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22). I'm very thankful for this incredible gift. Hallelujah!

     Enjoy the other Easter links as well; they are all wonderful and testify of our Savior and give us reason to rejoice this special time of year.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

February 2016 Departing and New Missionaries

February 22-23--We said good-bye to 19 missionaries; 7 of the 19 were sisters who were great missionaries and so much fun. We greeted the seven sisters as they got off the bus (except for one we picked at the Manila MTC). The elders are great too and we have served with them the majority of their missions. One elder had been a wonderful Assistant for 8 months and two had been great office elders at separate times for several months each. It was a very international group with missionaries from Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Tonga, the United States, and of course the Philippines. Many of them have great musical talents that we will miss as well. We enjoyed spending time with them and loved hearing their memories and heartfelt testimonies. I have such personal memories of each of them for various reasons. It was really hard to say good-bye. I know I always say that, but it's true! We were able to meet one of the elder's family when they picked him up. We always enjoy meeting the families of our missionaries.

February 24-25--We greeted 14 new missionaries including a brother of one of our missionaries that left in October. This group had only 2 sisters but they are both impressive along with the elders. We enjoyed the time with them and were touched by the strength of their testimonies as we had a testimony meeting the morning before they left for their first areas. Several of the missionaries are the only members in their families and they are demonstrating great faith serving without family support. We already love each of them.

February 2016--What a month!

     February was a busy month! It is supposed to be one of our slower months but it certainly didn't work out that way. We had our last zone interviews, Mission Leadership Council, a senior couples activity, a Worldwide Missionary (re)Broadcast, District Leaders Training, Missionary Check-up, Train the Trainers, Transfer Week, district meetings, baptisms, interviews, and the highlight of the month was an amazing visit to our mission from President Russell M. Nelson and his wife!!!!

    February 1-6--We finished our zone interviews during the first week of February as well as had our Mission Leadership Council. After MLC we rode a ferry to Mindoro where the next day we had our last  interviews and Bart did some temple recommend interviews as well. Sunday we attended Church in Naujan which is held in a rented meetinghouse. The Branch has grown so a few months ago they changed the meetinghouse location. This building has been a bank, a restaurant, a clinic, and a resort. In the back are two empty swimming pools--an adult and a children's pool. The classes are held in Nipa Huts. The day we attended it was raining hard and the rain dripped through some of the roofs but the lessons were nice and there was a great spirit. Because it was raining so hard some of the members were unable to get there that Sunday so the missionaries said there are usually more in attendance. A great young man was leaving on his mission a few days later and he started the testimony meeting by sharing his testimony. After he spoke there was never a break in the stream of members sharing their testimonies. It was a sweet experience. This island had a lot of damage from a typhoon in December and many of the people are still recovering. After the block of meetings President Mangum set apart the missionary and did a few more temple recommend interviews before we boarded the boat to return home. The waves were bigger than usual as we traveled back.

A classroom (with the pools in the background), wet rice fields, the outside of the Naujan Branch meetinghouse,
the waves on the ride back, the Branch President and new missionary, the sweet Relief Society sisters. 

    February 7-8--Sunday we returned to the mission home late and missed having dinner with our senior couples. The next day all of the senior couples enjoyed a fun day of visiting and seeing some of the sights in our mission. We went to the home of the Pakil Branch President to see his woodcarvings. It's a quaint little area with a few homes, animals grazing and running around the yard, and an overhang where he and his sons carve their beautiful carvings. He specializes in LDS Artwork: Liahonas, Book of Mormon prophets, Joseph Smith, and the Savior but he also does a carabao, Jeepney, and chess sets. We enjoyed our time there and the Branch President and wife enjoyed all of the orders they received! We then drove to the next little town called Paete that is also known for wood carvings and paper mache' products. It was fun looking in shops as well as watching the artists at work. We visited another woodcarver's home who does wonderful Filipino Nativity sets. He is also a strong member of the Branch there. Our missionaries keep these woodcarvers busy. We then drove to Lumban which is known for their beautiful embroidery crafts. It is amazing to see the women hand or machine embroider their beautiful items. We finished the day by driving to a fun little town called Liluw which is known as the shoe capitol. There are shoe shops lined up along the sides of the main road as well as a giant flip flop mounted on top of a building. Along with shoes they have a very nice restaurant called Arabella's. It serves really good Italian food and delicious cheesecake that is beautifully served. Most of the couples had never been to these towns and the scenery was beautiful and the time together was great. We were also able to discuss mission items throughout the day mixed in with the relaxation and fun.

     February 10--The Worldwide Missionary Broadcast was actually in January but because of the time difference and unreliable internet service in our mission we needed to wait for DVDs from the Area Presidency before we were able to show the training to our missionaries. The missionaries met as Zones on February 10 to watch this historic missionary broadcast. It was a wonderful meeting taught by the members of the Missionary Executive committee. The broadcast was entitled, "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts." Elder Neil. L. Andersen, Elder David A. Bednar, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, Elder Whitney Clayton, Elder Brent Nielsen, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks each taught.  There were a couple of talks and the rest of the training was with a group of missionaries who had the privilege of being taught by these Apostles and Church leaders. The focus was basics from Preach My Gospel and the scriptures. The leaders are all powerful teachers and the missionaries really enjoyed the training. Now we just need to apply what we were taught!

    February 11--Our District Leader Training was an all day meeting with 4 of our District Leaders, our Assistants and President Mangum all doing training and teaching. It was a great meeting.

    February 18--We had the January Batch Missionary Check-up in the morning and Train the Trainers in the afternoon so it was another whole day of meetings. We always enjoy getting together with the newest missionaries to see how they are doing and to teach them. Both President and I teach as well as the Assistants. President Mangum and the Assistants taught the missionaries about the First 12 Week Training program and how to be effective trainers.

Baptisms, after a District Meeting, and a couple we saw baptized on Christmas Day 2015.
They just recently went to the temple. It was great to see them at a Sacrament Meeting we attended. 



Saturday, March 5, 2016

January 2016

Departing Missionaries-January 11 & 12
We spent time with our smallest group of departing missionaries. Although there were only five they were a fabulous group and had all served as leaders in the mission. We enjoyed the normal events as well as a great visit with them after our testimony meeting. The sister was in our first batch of missionaries and had spent her first two nights at the mission home because of the typhoon. She ended her mission the way she started--staying in the same bedroom--but this time she was alone because the other sisters left in December. We miss this group already!

New Missionaries-January 13 & 14
The magic of a mission is you feel sad as you say good-bye to missionaries you love and then the next day your heart opens and you are filled with more love for another group of missionaries. There were eleven in this batch and they are a fun, friendly group and are doing great. 

In January we had a fun visit with two of our beautiful RMs who came back to visit the mission. We also had a surprise visit from one of our wonderful former assistants and his lovely fiancĂ©. Bart had a Coordinating Council Meeting and I attended a training about histories for the mission and Church units. We had our Missionary Check-up for our December Batch and a Train the Trainers meeting. Bart had been really sick and probably should have stayed home but he went to the two meetings. After the second meeting I was giving two of our missionaries their English exams and Bart laid down across some of the chairs in the Relief Society room. A couple of the missionaries saw him and were very concerned asking "Is President okay?" Obviously not. The two Assistants gave him a priesthood blessing before they left. The next morning he felt better and was able to go to MLC. At Mission Leadership Council I taught about charity. The Assistants taught a great workshop on weekly planning that involved all of the council members. Bart taught about mission culture and the purpose of teaching repentance and baptizing converts.  We also had zone interviews in January. Because of the timing of transfers we finished zone interviews the first week of February. We enjoyed visiting with all of our missionaries. During the month we also attended District Meetings, baptisms, Sacrament meetings, and a great Stake Conference. Attending stake conference in Cabuyao is similar to attending in Utah because there are so many members in attendance there are overflow rooms filled. They also have a strong stake presidency and leadership. The talks and music were wonderful.

Top: Mission Leadership Council   Bottom: New Missionaries with the Trainers at the Check-up Meeting

Missionaries, return missionaries, and Coordinating Council members. 

I attended the San Pablo Coconut Festival with some of the seniors. Bart wasn't interested so he stayed at the office and worked but it was fun to see part of the Filipino culture. The photos show some of the decorations, a marching band, and some of the booths where they sell clothes, t-shirts, souvenirs, food, and pretty much any and everything. The little children are looking at "colored" chicks to buy. We left the car at the stake center and walked down to the town but rode a tricycle back--I always take pictures when I ride in the cozy tricycles. They had fresh juice that you could buy 1 kind or mix the flavors. I asked for coconut and pineapple and the sales girl said that those two flavors couldn't be mixed because one is sweet and the other sour. It took our Filipina sister to convince her to make it for me and it was delicious. It was a hot day so the cold drink was extra nice to have. 

We had a fun adventure one weekend in January. We were in Siniloan for zone interviews and afterwards we went with the District President and his wife to their duck farm. We drove out of the town following them as they drove their tricycle, parked the car and walked quite a ways to their farm. It was a beautiful walk and we saw the sunset along with rice fields, mountains, and Laguna Lake. They have nearly 2,000 ducks! It was very interesting to see their farm and hear about the process--as my cute dad would say. They sell fresh duck eggs, as well as salted duck eggs and balut (duck embryo--No, we haven't tried it & we don't plan on it!). The ducks live in a large pen with a cover over the top. They feed them grain and snails (top left photo) for protein. They have a great demand for their product and he transports hundreds of eggs in his tricycle to various areas. They are wonderful people who we love and admire; they are such hard workers and valiant disciples of Christ. The next morning we left Siniloan early and drove about an hour and a half to a remote area where we attended Church at the Infanta Branch. It's a small meetinghouse and Branch but the meetings were great and we were impressed by the faithful members. We no longer have missionaries in the area because it's so remote and with 50 less missionaries there are more effective places for missionary work. The members are understanding about the situation and are doing missionary work without the full-time missionaries. It's a beautiful drive through mountains and along the ocean. We had a great weekend.