Saturday, March 12, 2016

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. 



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