Monday, May 4, 2015


We just finished 13 wonderful days of interviews!  What a humbling experience it was for us to listen to such faithful elders and sisters express their love and commitment to their Savior.

It is getting very hot now that it is summer in the Philippines.  It is not easy for the elders and sisters to be out in the heat and humidity all day, then return to hot apartments at night.  Many of them experience all sorts of uncomfortable things despite our best efforts to help them.  "Brown-outs" are a frequent occurrence on Palawan this time of year, so many times during the day, they lose all electricity.  Sometimes they have no fans at night.  The water is also unreliable there at times.  Lately, the missionaries have been filling up buckets of water at night when the water comes on so that they will have water for bathing and cooking/washing the next day when there is no water. They have plenty of drinking water, but it is quite the process to get water for other needs.

Yet, not one of them complained to us.  They all take it as a challenge to work around.  One of the sisters shared how she felt that her discomfort is nothing compared to the suffering the Savior did for her.  That is the kind of perspective and faithful attitude of these missionaries!  Now you can see why it is so humbling to serve with them.

While President Ostler interviews each missionary, Sister Ostler interviews their companion.  This time, she interviewed them regarding their progress learning their language and to find out what their plans are after their mission.  We have been finding that many missionaries return home without significant planning or preparation for their futures.  They are such faithful and wonderful missionaries, we want them to continue to be successful.  So we are looking at ways we can help them prepare for their futures while focusing on the present...their missions.

While those interviews are going on, the rest of the missionaries rotate through classes taught by our wonderful Senior Missionaries.  What a blessing it is to have their wisdom and expertise!  Our classes this interview cycle were : Budgeting, Getting People to Keep Their Commitments, Saying No to ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts), and Building Our Testimonies.

Every morning, the Office Elders, Assistants or Zone Leaders cleaned the church building so it would be pleasant for the missionaries.  They cleaned it up again every evening after interviews.

Elder Rydalch is very helpful with the mop!

Elder and Sister Newson have been serving faithfully in the Santa Monica area of Palawan.  They return home to their families this week.  They will be dearly missed by all the members and missionaries.

 Elder Sabado ready to be interviewed by Sister Ostler.

 Sister Muller came ready to take notes.

 This is an amazing tree across the street from the mission home.  The leaves on the end of the branches turn almost white so they look like flowers.

 Elder and Sister Lemmon (who serve as Area Legal Counsel and our mission nurse) were able to visit Palawan this week.  Because it is touring season, they were greeted by music and dancing.

Most of the island, Palawan, uses trikes for transportation.  They are just barely starting to add jeepneys.  It is amazing what they carry on the trikes!

 While in Palawan, we got to see a restaurant built out over the water in the middle of a mangrove tree forest.

 Our last night there, we enjoyed a wonderful meal with the Newsons, Hiatts and President Angoy.

 President Angoy and President Hiatt are President Ostler's Counselors.  President Angoy has just been transferred to another job with the seminaries and institutes of the church.  He and his wonderful wife have made such a difference in the lives of the single adults on Palawan.  They will be dearly missed....along with their children.

 Elder and Sister Wirthlin are incredible missionaries who work on the island of Palawan as well.  However, they are centered in Narra which is about two hours away from everyone else.  They truly make a difference in every life they touch.  When we go to their home, all the children in the neighborhood run to see them.  They have started teaching the members how to plant a garden.  They teach English, and they do everything they can to build the branches there.  They taught some classes for us during interviews, and did a wonderful job.

President Hiatt is an extremely talented and energetic missionary.  Because he is a convert, this is his 2 year mission.  He is making the most of every minute of it.  He is always ready to do whatever he is asked to do, without complaint or doubt.  What a blessing it is to have such faithful missionaries to support us.

 Sister Hiatt is a great teacher, an enthusiastic leader and a sensitive servant of all.  She quietly goes about doing good everywhere she can.  We are so grateful she is healing well.  Ask your missionary to tell you about "the miracle of the jumbo jet."

 President Hiatt did a great job teaching the missionaries how to budget their money.  The mission previously gave the missionaries their support money twice a month.  However, in order to avoid losing money in ATM withdrawl fees, and in an effort to help missionaries learn to be more self sufficient, the mission now gives all the money at once.  The first month was a bit difficult for some during the last week or so.  But the missionaries are quick learners, and everyone seems to be doing better budgeting their money now.

 These elders are great examples of missionaries who have Christ in their countenances.  

Elder and Sister Newson are experienced teachers with so much to teach and share.  They had to go home last year for health reasons, but they came back against all odds and have finished their mission strongly.

 A special thank to Sister Hiatt for taking all these great pictures!

 Sister Hiatt, Sister Newson, Elder Newson, President Hiatt
The Newsons leave one final time from Puerto Princesa Airport headed to Manila, then home this Wednesday.

Sister Teo, Sister Almazan and SisterVaka are three dedicated and amazing missionaries!  They are some of the few sisters on Palawan.

 How do they look so beautiful when its so hot and there is no air conditioning?  Sister Quilicot joined us in this picture.

 Elders Pagara, Barret, Beagley, Binhaon, and Coloma
The Church is in good hands with these Elders.

 Riding in a trike to McDo's (McDonalds) for dinner. Caleb is sitting sideways on the motorcycle seat behind the driver.  President is in the covered side car facing forward, while Sister Ostler is in the side car facing backwards.  It's a much more sociable way to travel than a car with windows rolled up.

 A highlight of our trip was seeing a precious 12 year old girl become the first to be baptized in her family.  Sister Mata and Sister Ortea have been teaching the whole family.  They are so golden!  The mom was singing all three verses of "I Am a Child of God" without needing a book!

 Elder Ashton was given the opportunity to baptize her.  It was a precious sight watching him gently immerse her in the water and bring her back up.
You could just feel Heavenly Father's love for her.  Thank you Elder Ashton.
Elder Encinares is a great companion.

Sister Lacsamana, one of our precious, faithful sisters went home this transfer.  We were blessed to have President and Sister Hiatt stay in Manila for the past month while Sister Hiatt recuperated from appendicitis.  She and President Hiatt are truly faithful pioneers...willing to do whatever they are asked and do it with all their heart, might, mind and strength! They have ended up being wonderful assistance to all of us here in Manila.  How we love and appreciate them!