Saturday, July 7, 2012

Misson Zone Conference with Elder Russell Nelson . . .

May 25, 2012

Our mission had the privilege of having Elder Russell M. Nelson come for a Zone Conference.  He was in the Philippines for a Mission President Seminar the weekend before and also dedicated the new Manila Missionary Training Center.

Elder Nelson was scheduled to come to lunch prior to the zone conference, so we wanted everything to look great including the garden area in front of the mission home . . . President Martino and Jose were pulling the weeds to make it look a little nicer.
Getting the courtyard garden ready
President Martino didn't even change his clothes to dig in the dirt . . .
Jose working in the courtyard garden
Even Elder Jewkes got into the cleaning mode in his office . . .
 All of our missionaries attended this conference.  It is the first time since we have been here that ALL of the missionaries have attended one meeting.  So, before the meeting began, the missionaries started arriving and visiting with their previous companions . . . It was a reunion for all to see each other.
Missionaries visiting before the meeting
Missionaries catching up with each other
Everyone was excited to see old companions and friends
Ward members stopped by to say hello to the missionaries too
This lady cried the first Sunday that Elder Pioquinto left the area - She came to visit him before the meeting ~ the members become attached to the missionaries
The Flatter family stopped by to see missionaries who served in their ward
The meeting was wonderful.  The first speaker was Sister Nielsen, wife of the counselor in the Area Presidency.  She told about a bridge in Twin Falls Idaho where people base jump.  They learn to trust that the parachute they are wearing will open and 'catch them'.  Likewise, going on a mission is like this form of base jumping.  The Lord is our parachute and we learn to trust that He will always be there.  "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." (Doctrine & Covenants 123:17)  We need to get up every morning with a big smile and trust that the rest of the day will be wonderful.  What wonderful advice!

President Nielsen spoke about how all of the missionaries are loved and cared about.  He told the following story . . . While serving in the Pacific a tsunami hit Samoa and Tonga.  Within 24 hours all but 2 missionaries were accounted for.  After another 24 hours the mission president was told to charter a plane to go to the island where these 2 missionaries were missing.  When they arrived on the island, they found the 2 missionaries helping the people on the island.  When they were told they needed to return to the mission home, they told the mission president they needed to stay there to help and serve the people.  

He spoke about personal revelation. He also told us how when Joseph Smith left the Sacred Grove, the heavens opened - they are opened to everyone.  He spoke of the sons of Mosiah when they were with Alma and an angel appeared to them.  These men had a strong knowledge of the truth; they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.  "But that was not all; they had given themselves much prayer and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority from God."  Doctrine & Covenants 2 -3  We are all given the opportunity to have revelation in our lives.

Then it was time for Elder Nelson to address us.  All of the senior couples were seated on the front row in the chapel (I think it was so we could all hear clearly).  We were seated at the feet of an Apostle of the Lord, literally!  

He told us to "See beyond what you see and see what they can be."  He was referring to the investigators that the missionaries are teaching, but we can apply this message to all we meet.  He told us the story of a Chinese doctor that he met on a trip to China in 1980 to speak at a medical conference.  He said when he got off of the plane and saw this doctor, in his mind he saw this man dressed in white.  When he met the doctor's wife he also saw her dressed in white.  The doctor asked him about the church.  Of course he was pleased to tell of our beliefs.  Several years later, after he was made an Apostle, the doctor called him.  The doctor was living in Canada at the time.  He asked Elder Nelson if he would baptize him.  Later he sealed this doctor and his family in the temple.  President Nelson saw what this man could be . . .

He asked if anyone had any question they would like him to answer . . . at the end of this question/answer period, Elder Nelson said, "There is someone here that has a question, that hasn't been asked; and I will answer that question now; Your families and loved ones will be blessed as you are here serving your missions."  

He told us to count how many missions and temples that there are in the Philippines at this time.  He told the us to write this in our journals and that someday we can tell our families and grand children that we helped to establish the church in the Philippines.  (Currently there are 17 missions and 2 temples with another temple that has been announced.)

He concluded the meeting by pronouncing an apostolic blessing.  "The authority I have in my calling allows me to give you a special blessing.  I bless you that you will have a deep burning desire to know the Lord and his doctrine, and a desire to share that feeling with Heavenly Father's children, and the message of the restoration.  And that you will apply it in your life.  I bless you with wisdom and obedience.  And when you return home that you will always be a missionary.  To teach and testify, to bless the lives of others.  We are his people, his disciples, and we get to play a part in this great work.  I bless you that if any of your family is sick they will be healed and have health consistent with the Lord's will."  (Written from notes and memory at a couple meeting following the conference by the senior couples.)

To be at the feet of an apostle and to have him look directly into my eyes as he spoke was a very special experience ~ I felt like he was talking just to me.  I know my Savior lives!  I know that we have a living prophet today, Thomas S Monson, and apostles who lead and guide the church.  I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth in 1830.  I am thankful for the opportunity that I have to be a part of this great work.  Amen.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Meeting New Friends . . .

May 21, 2012
Today Sister Martino came in and invited me to go to lunch with her and two friends that she has made here.  

First a little background:  She first met Mary Lou at the Mini Market.  She was waiting to pay for something and Mary Lou stepped up and paid for it.  They chatted for a few moments and then Sister Martino left.  But Sister Martino felt like she needed to offer to give this girl a ride home.  She went back to the Mini Mart ( she had been gone for about 10 minutes) and when she got back, Mary Lou was still there.  She talked to her about the church and invited her to come to their home for dinner.  Mary Lou lives in Angeles and works here.  Her husband and 3 children live in in the southern part of the Philippines.  She had just gotten back from visiting them for her month vacation from work.  She has a baby who just turned 1 who she has not seen for 9 months!  How many of you could do that??  She is such a sweet lady as is Ana!!

We were going to go to Zapatas for Mexican food, but they are closed on Monday so we went to Berettos. Mary Lou and her friend Ana, who is a member of the church, came with us.  Mary Lou and Ana were so gracious.  This was my first time meeting either of them.  We enjoyed a fun lunch.  When we asked for our check, the waitress told us that an American man who had been sitting behind us had already taken care of our bill!  We were so surprised and wanted to thank him.  The waitress said that he goes in there often and she would give him our thanks.

Ana and Mary Lou
Ana, Sister Martino and Mary Lou
Ana, Me, and Mary Lou
Last Monday evening (June 4, 2012) we had Family Home Evening at the mission home.  Mary Lou and Ana joined us.  We were playing a game where you draw a picture of your favorite story from the scriptures an everyone guess what it is.  When we got to Mary Lou, she had a house with trees, flowers and the sky.  She said that she had started to read the Book of Mormon and that she felt a peaceful feeling.  Non of us knew she was reading the book.  Sister Martino was so excited . . . she is such a great missionary!!
Some wonderful new friends . . . . 

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Visit to Nayong Pilipino . . ..

May 19, 2012
We visited Nayong Pilipino again on our P-day.  We are getting close to going home.  I wanted to get some pictures to take home that I knew I could buy there from the artist. The Assistants went with us . . .
They have their own jeepney as you go in the entrance . . .
This lady works at Nayon Pilipino - She is a member of the church.  She does weaving there and sells place mats that are are like her skirt.
This man is repairing this display in his native costume. 

Closer look at the native costume of this worker.
One of the displays with native costumes
The security guard wanted a picture with us . . . Me, the guard, Elder Ilaya, Elder Jewkes and Elder Leedom

May Transfers . . .

May 15 & 16, 2012
Another six weeks have passed since we sent missionaries home and had new missionaries arrive in the mission.  This is always a bittersweet time . . .   We send some great missionaries home . . .

Elder Flor, Sisters, Cabela, Parilla, Espartero & Dorosan and Elder Cabanisan
They are ready to head to Manila for a temple session.  They spend the night in Manila and then fly home the next day. ~ ~ ~ Farewell!
  We welcome arriving missionaries!

Welcoming new missionaries . . . and gathering their bags

Elder and Sister Lutz arrive with the young missionaries ~ Sister Martino welcoming the new missionaries
Retiring the suit coats for two years . . . it is way to hot in the Philippines for a suit coat!

Our May arrivals - foreign and local missionaries with the President and Sister Martino

Lunch with Friends . . .

May 12, 2012
We went to Cabanatuan today.  The stake president is a tailor and I took some fabric to him to have some skirts and blouses made.  The only problem was he wasn't there . . . we left the fabric, with instructions, with Sister Bowcutt who took them to the stake president on Monday. 
But this also gave us an opportunity to enjoy lunch with the Bowcutts at Rusticas.  After all, the next day was Mother's Day!  What a better way than to celebrate with friends!
Elder and Sister Bowcutt
Elder and Sister Bowcutt and Elder and Sister Jewkes

May 17, 2012
Elder and Sister Lutz arrive this week.  They are the couple who will be replacing the Bowcutts in Cabanatuan and Bongabon.  The Bowcutts came to the mission  home to pick up this new couple . . . so of course we all had to have a lunch date before they left . . . . Here we are at Zapatas.  This is where we all get our Mexican food fix . . . I think they are the only Mexican restraint in town! 
From left to right:  Sister Lutz, Sister Bowcutt, me, Elder Jewkes, Elder Bowcutt and Elder Lutz
It's always fun to spend time with friends!!

House Checks . . . . .

May 11, 2012
Ever six weeks we do house checks.  We go to each of the missionaries' apartments in our zone to make sure that they are keeping things clean and neat.  "Cleanliness is next to Godliness".  Of course my camera was in my lap and ready to capture some of the sites along the way as well as a few missionaries . . . .
This sign is on many trucks or jeepney type vehicles.  They are for private use . . .
A cute little girl with her dolly
This 'garden' is across the street from where the sisters live.  Provident living . . .
You can see that the 'garden' is over a ditch
Filling in some road work with buckets of concrete . . .
This is a round about in Sta Rosa - in the middle of town . . . .
An interesting home along the roadway
A woman carrying peanuts on her head . . .
These 3 boys love to have their pictures taken.  Each time we go to to San Lucia they ask me to take their picture.
Me, a member in San Lucia and Elder Jewkes
Elder Jewkes, Elder Nunn, Elder Gapor, Elder Cabato and Elder Swapp

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Day In Manila . . .

Since March, we have been to Manila about every two to three weeks for follow up visits from my two cataract surgeries.  I decided I would take some various photos of the things we see on our trips to Manila . . . hope you find it interesting!  I do!  And each time we go, the camera is always in my lap.  As you can see,  most of these pictures are taken as we are driving down the expressway.  (I am glad I have a good camera!)  I apologize for some of the ones that are blurry, but I wanted to share the sites with you!!!!
These large piggies are on their way to the market . . .
I loved the bumper on this jeepney
One of the many walking over passes over the expressway
Skyline of one of the towns on our way into Manila
Construction in Makati - one of the wealthiest cities in Manila
Skyline in Makati
S & R is the Filipino version of Costco . . . actually is it owned by Costco!  This right across the street from the Global St. Luke's in Manila where I had my surgery. 
Office buildings and Apartments in Makati
Street vendors in the busy streets
Beggars walking among the cars on the busy streets
He was able to sell some cold water to a passerby
A billboard in Manila - they are 3-4 times the size of the billboards back home
A view of a walking bridge as we drove under it
One of the many SM Malls around the Philippines
Buses and Jeepneys everywhere
A pink bus with flowers
So many different buses . . . which one do I take??
You just can't get way from the buses . . . and you have to watch out so you don't get run over by one!
Following the taxi through the toll booth
The clerk at the toll booth taking our money
This truck that is 'not for hire'

Another billboard advertising Coca Cola
Another building being built
Trikes waiting for passengers ~ some are pedal trikes and some are motorized
Not much traffic at this point in our journey -  very unusual!
Along the expressway - an apartment building in the distance

7-Eleven stores are everywhere ~ This family is just waiting for the bus

A street worker cleaning up the garbage . . . you see this all over here
Interesting architecture

This building is next door - more apartments

Painted walls along the expressway

Traveling under the train that runs through the city - sort of TRAX at home
This man was watching the traffic from one of the walking bridges across the expressway
One lane of the expressway is designated for 'private vehicles and motorsiklo' (motor bikes)
Motor bikes go where ever they want and just weave through the traffic.  You can see the blue lines that are for the designated lane (see above)
This guy just drives his bike between all the cars . . . you have to be on your toes when changing lanes!!
One of the many different license plates
Another license plate
We pass this each time we go to Manila.  It reminds us that we are getting close to our exit!
This little girl was with her brother who washed our window while we waited at the stop light. They just stand in the medium . . . but this is how they earn their money.
Until we go to Manila again . . .