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. 

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