Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Two Years Already!

     As June 29, 2016 arrived we found it hard to believe that we had already completed two years of our mission. When we arrived on our mission, three years felt like forever to be across the world and away from our family, extended family, friends, and home. Now it feels sad to think how quickly the time has passed and will continue to pass. Of course, we will be happy to be home but this experience has been incredible. We will forever be grateful for the amazing experiences we have had. After a year I said to Bart that I wished I had known a year ago what I knew now. He told me I would feel the same way next year. He was right. It's difficult for me to not to stress about what we could have and should have done differently. Bart has the ability to see what we have accomplished and put into perspective what we didn't do as a way to learn and improve in the future.

Our Assistants and Office Elders
At our 2 year mark we had two office couples, a great new couple and our dear friends who left 2 weeks later.

     We have been blessed to serve in a beautiful mission. We are in the car a lot and except when we are in a city there is beautiful scenery all around us. We love the Filipino people. They are so kind, friendly, and loving. We are treated like celebrities by the members and often even by the people at stores, etc. And of course, we love our missionaries!!! It's amazing to think we have already served with about 500 missionaries. It has helped us to better understand how our Heavenly Father can love each of us. We have been blessed with great love for each of them. We have also been able to serve with valiant senior missionaries who have become eternal friends. We love and appreciate each of them.

Just a few of the photos I've taken as we've traveled around our beautiful mission.
A few of the sweet members that we've been with recently.

A sample of times with the missionaries.
     Of course, it has been an adjustment to live across the world from our family and the world as we know it. We are so thankful for modern technology that keeps us connected with our children and grandchildren, Bart's parents, and extended family and friends. It's been interesting to see the similarities and differences in the Filipino lifestyle. We have been saddened to see the poverty that some of the people live in but we are inspired by their grateful and happy natures. It's an interesting country where the native language is not English but most people know at least a little, most billboards and signs are in English, and you can get by with English and do fine. I do wish I had been more diligent in studying Tagalog though. It would have blessed my life and enhanced my experience as well as been helpful as I have given talks and helped with teaching. There have been several times when I'm with the missionaries teaching that I wonder how different our experience would have been if we had served in a real English speaking mission. Then I realize that I would have missed so many life changing experiences by not serving with these sweet people. I have also learned more about being guided by the Spirit because I often only understand a small amount of what is being said, yet many times the missionaries will say that what I shared was just what was needed. I have learned that although I can't understand all of the words of the talks each Sunday or the people we visit the Spirit makes up the difference. I am happy that most of the time the hymns are sung in English so I can enjoy singing them.

     Bart is a wonderful teacher and I enjoy watching him entertain, as well as inspire, and motivate the missionaries and members as he teaches the gospel and bears testimony of our loving Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the restored gospel. I also enjoy the opportunity to teach with him. Of course, it has been an interesting experience to spend so much time together. We probably hadn't spent as much total time together in the previous 38 years as we have in the last 2 years; so it's been an adjustment but a great experience. The good news is we have found that we not only love each other dearly but like each other as well and enjoy the time together. As we have studied the Christlike attributes in Preach My Gospel, Adjusting to Missionary Life, and the scriptures we have learned how to better communicate with each other and express our feelings. Bart especially loves a line from the Adjusting to Missionary Life book that says, "Your companion's behavior makes perfect sense to him or her, even if it doesn't to you." That principle is a wonderful thing to remember in all relationships. It's been a great blessing to serve with my sweetheart.

     We are glad we still have more time to keep learning and hopefully strengthen our missionaries and our mission. We are striving to serve with all our hearts, might, mind, and strength.


Mission Tour with Elder and Sister Haynie

     Our Mission Tour this year was with Elder Allen Haynie and his sweet wife. Once again we had a wonderful experience and loved the time we spent with the two of them as well as being taught by them. They are very personable and he not only took time to shake each of the missionary's hands but speak with each of them. The Mission Leadership Council had the opportunity to be taught by Elder and Sister Haynie in a special council. It was a great meeting and insightful to us as they shared concerns in our mission. 

     Our two conferences were wonderful. We started the meetings with short, powerful testimonies by the next two departing batches. President Mangum and I taught about using Gather the Flock (is a program that our mission uses to help organize each area) as we teach investigators, less actives, and recent converts. We used a clip from the Worldwide Missionary Training from January about finding new investigators and the importance of asking personal and inspired "who do you know questions" that will lead the missionaries to people who are ready to receive the message of the restored gospel.  We had a special musical number in each meeting and both of the groups sang beautifully and invited the Spirit back after our lunch breaks. 
     Elder and Sister Haynie taught us the remaining time. Sister Haynie taught shared a wonderful story about a little boy crying out in the night "mother, are you there?" She said the mom taught the boy as he grew up that he could always call out and ask Heavenly Father if He was there and He would always be. She also taught about the importance of being committed and keeping our eyes on the Savior. We can do hard things and we can become better. She is so sweet and gave great talks.
     Elder Haynie had asked the missionaries to prepare for the Mission Tour conference by reading the Bible Dictionary about Prayer; Preach My Gospel chapter 9 about finding; and Moses 6:26-47 about Enoch. He is a personable and bold teacher and the Spirit was strong as he taught. He taught that we should find "Scattered Israel" to teach. It was very interesting and insightful. He also encouraged us to have a 4-month baptism chart with goals for weekly baptisms. It's been exciting to see the 4-months charts with names of investigators on the charts when we visit the missionaries. He shared a powerful presentation about the Church in the Philippines. I have felt that the Philippines is a special place but after the presentation I better understood why. It truly is a promised land in the Asian area. I talked with most of the missionaries about it at our zone interviews and it was inspiring for all of us, Filipinos and foreigners. 
      One of my favorite parts was the way he taught the story of Enoch. It really touched my heart. For one thing, I have found myself asking the same question Enoch asked, "Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight?" I have no idea why Bart and I have been given this unique opportunity to serve as Mission President and companion at all, but particularly in this beautiful country with the kindest people you could meet. Enoch questioned the Lord because he felt so inadequate, I so relate to that feeling. To me Moses 6:32 says it all, "And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee. . ." and then he gives him great promises that he will be with him to strengthen and protect him. That's really the bottom line. All the Lord asks is that we obey Him and then He promises us He'll help us. I need to always remember that!
       We had two wonderful days of learning and we feel so blessed to have been able to spend the time with these great disciples of Christ.

            The senior couples enjoyed a nice dinner and fun visit with Elder and Sister Haynie.
 I can't believe I neglected to get a group photo!

June Visitors

     In June we had another family visit us. It was so fun to see Harmony, Brynn, Boston, and Cambria as well as Steven and Wendy. We know that we are blessed that Steven and Wendy are willing to be a part of our family. We loved being with them and strengthening our relationships as we enjoyed the Philippines together. It's interesting how natural it feels to be together even after a long separation. With each family we have done basically the same things but because of the different ages and personalities each experience is unique. Everyone, but Cambria, was able to have a missionary experience. She got to stay and play with grandpa. We had fun filled days and nights enjoying the beautiful and fun sights of the Philippines, playing games, laughing, snuggling, and being together. The days went too fast and it was hard to say good-bye, but after being separated for 2 years one more doesn't seem too bad.

Harmony did a memory book about Brittney for a Young Women's project.
 I read it online a few months ago when she completed it. 
They brought a copy with them so we were able to look at with Harmony.
 This book is a treasure and filled with memories and tributes
 about her beautiful mommy and our beautiful daughter. 
The memories and pictures of Brittney capture her personality and are fun, humorous,
 and insightful as well as tender and heart breaking. 
Harmony has included a testimony that Brittney wrote before her battle with cancer began.
 It is a beautiful testimony that only became stronger through her experiences.
 Bart and I love to see glimpses of Brittney in Harmony, Brynn, and Boston.
 Even though their memories, especially Boston's are limited, 
they each have a part of Brittney in them. 
It's very sweet to read what Harmony learned from the experience. The book is priceless!

June 2016 Departing and Incoming Missionaries

    The June Departing actually left the mission on May 31. This was a fun filled group of missionaries. There were three elders that came in our first batch. We enjoyed a sweet testimony meeting with all of them. It is tender to look around at the groups of missionaries as we share memories and testimonies and recall experiences with each of them. It is especially wonderful to look around and see the growth that they’ve all experienced. Because many of the missionaries needed to take the English certification before they left we traveled to a couple of areas during May to give the tests. It was especially fun to see how well one of our Tongan elders did. He arrived just 2 ½ weeks after we did and couldn’t speak Tagalog very well and even less English. He received a great rating and it was exciting to see how much he had accomplished. We appreciate the faithful service of this group and will miss them.

     On June 1 a group of 14 missionaries arrived. I don’t believe we’ve ever had the exact number of missionaries come and go ; at least with the exact number of elders and sisters—7 elders and 7 sisters went home and joined us. Last transfer the missionaries were all foreigners. This time they were all Filipino with the exception of one American elder and sister. Each new group come with their own personalities just like the group leaving have their own. We look forward to serving with this group and getting to know them better. It’s so odd to think that we will only be with the elders for half of their missions.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mission Presidents Seminar in Cebu

      In May for Mission Presidents Seminar we traveled to Cebu. It was weird to be on a plane but this flight was only an hour so it was very different compared to our last flight when we came to the Philippines. We stayed at a lovely resort in the Cebu area. There was nothing scheduled that afternoon as we waited for everyone to arrive so we spent time with the couples we came with. Visiting, sharing ideas, concerns, and laughing. On Tuesday we had the great privilege of attending the Cebu Temple. What a wonderful experience! I pray I will never take the many temples that surround Utah for granted again. Going to the temple twice in not quite two years has taught me to appreciate the temple more than ever. We really had to remind ourselves that charity “envieth not” as we heard about how often the Cebu Mission President and wife attend the temple—with their outgoing and usually incoming missionaries, for personal inspiration, etc. It’s very convenient since they live on the same compound as the temple and see it out their front window and door. As usual the training was inspiring. The Area Presidency are all wonderful teachers. There’s always so many things we need to improve for ourselves and our missionaries so it takes effort to not be overwhelmed but instead seek guidance of what comes next for our mission.

     The first picture is a painting in the Cebu Mission Office that I love. The Nipa Hut is a Church. The scenery is very typical of what we see as we drive around. The hotel we stayed at was beautiful. We had a beach dinner one night and watched fire dancers. The Cebu temple is beautiful inside and out. It was so sweet to be there with dear friends. The staff at the hotel greets you by putting their hand to their chest to express heartfelt welcome and gratitude. On the bottom left we are with President and Sister Tye. He is the son of my parents dear friends so it's been fun to serve together. This was our last Mission Presidents Seminar with the Arderns. They are wonderful teachers and people and we will miss them. Their new assignment is in Salt Lake. We toured a guitar/ukele factory. They handmade all of them. Bart fell in love with a beautiful ukele--he'll need to learn how to play it. The view from the plane was our mission.


A new grandson!

      On April 23 our sweet daughter and son-in-law had their 8th child. He is adorable and is blessed to be part of this great family. Eli is our 23rd grandchild; the fourth grandson to be born while we've been in the Philippines. Once again we were so thankful for Skype so we could see him shortly after his birth. We are thankful for another safe arrival of a beautiful baby!

April 2016---Saying Good-Bye and Welcome

     In April we said good-bye to another group of missionaries. As always we enjoyed the time with them. Now that we have served with the missionaries most of their missions, if not all, it's especially rewarding to recognize their growth. This group had several leaders, a lot of musical talent, and fun personalities that we will miss. We wish them the best always.

     Of course, the day after the departures we welcomed a new group of missionaries. This was a very international group and only one Filipino and he is an American! The missionaries are from Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Samoa, and the United States. They have fun personalities and will bless the mission with their testimonies and talents.