Sunday, October 4, 2015

2015-09 and more

This past month, we've had several sisters in the hospital for surgery.  It is so amazing to see how cheerfully they go through sickness, pain, frustrating situations and "forever waiting" to find out what is wrong or for their body to heal. 

We feel like we have the best job to be witnesses of their incredible determination to serve despite their pain, discomfort and difficulties.  Oh, how we love them for their goodness!

This month, we had to say good bye to two of the most consecrated missionaries ever.  President and Sister Hiatt are truly loved and appreciated by all....especially us!  They served on the island Palawan during the time we have been here.  Their selflessness and untiring efforts to serve and support the missionaries will never be forgotten by those whose lives they have touched.  They served faithfully and diligently for two years, despite challenges with health.  Two memories we will carry with us from our time with them are first, seeing Sister Hiatt walking out from the plane when she flew to Manila for medical help after having surgery for appendicitis on the island.  She had been sick for two weeks and I thought for sure she would be in a wheel chair...but she came out, carrying her own luggage with a big smile on her face.  As we took her to the hospital for a check up and to resolve complications, she never once complained...she just cheerfully tried to share the gospel with every nurse and every person who helped her.  She is a true missionary.  There is nothing pretend about it.  The second memory is being asked to carry an envelope from Palawan to Manila with President Hiatt's kidney stone in it.  ??  You just never know what experiences you are going to have on a mission!  Seriously, it's hard not to cry when I think of these two wonderful, consecrated missionaries.  They had many opportunities to criticize, to judge, to complain.  But their only desire was to support and sustain, to lift and to ease our burdens.  Thank you for your examples!  We love you!  We miss you!

It's one of our favorite times, again!  It's interviews!  We get to spend several weeks interviewing every missionary in the mission.  It is humbling to get to know them and their stories.  These are truly giants in their own ways.  Elder Caspillo, in the center, is brand new.  He came on his mission as the first missionary in his family even though his mother had just lost twins prematurely at 8 months.  Their family had another son die years before.  Yet, here Elder Caspillo is.  His family still let him go, knowing they would miss the love and support he could give them.  We hope he feels the joy of having all these brothers to support him!

In an effort to make sure we are following the counsel given by our Area Presidency, we are checking personally all of the 72 hour packs that each of our missionaries is supposed to have.  They have been "backpacking" their bright blue, Manila Mission 72 Hour Emergency packs from all across Manila to bring them to interviews.  Hopefully it will enable us to be as prepared as we can be for emergencies...and maybe it will give the missionaries the chance to "OYM" (open your mouth) and share why they have them.

I just had to take a picture of how this sister organized her pack!  She is amazing!

Christmas is coming, so we are already wrapping presents for missionaries.  (You have to start early when you have over 200 children! )  :)  (Thank goodness for wonderful Sisters who help me with this project!)

They're all still alive!  This was the "Follow Up Meeting" for new missionaries and their trainers.  It is SO wonderful to see how they are growing already!  They have soooooo much faith.  THIS IS NOT EASY!  Yet they do it with enthusiasm and cheerfulness.  Oh how we love them for it!

We also had the fun of MLC!  Elder Francisco demonstrated what it is like to be bound by chains.
These are our Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders.  What a joy it is to spend the day with them!

                                  What a wonderful group of consecrated missionaries!

      Their mothers would be so proud of them helping in the kitchen without being asked!!!

We left straight from MLC to fly to Palawan for interviews and a district conference.  Imagine being on the plane with this cheerful bunch of missionaries!  How could you NOT want to learn more about the church?

Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on how you look at it), after waiting for three hours and finally being allowed to board the plane, they announced that the flight was being cancelled due to weather and delays.  So all eleven of us got off the airplane, retrieved our luggage, rescheduled our flight for the next morning, then went to the mission home where we ate dinner, helped Caleb with his remote control helicopters and tanks...

    had family scripture study together and went to bed to be ready for an early morning 

Somehow the Elders always seem energetic and cheerful, no matter what they've been through!  We discovered they get special treatment wherever they go.  We decided we should just follow them and we'd get through lines quicker!

One benefit of waiting so long in the airport was that we all had the opportunity to talk with several people about the gospel.  It was SO MUCH FUN!  Most of the people are very open and friendly.  Almost all of them are very religious Christians already, so they love to talk about their beliefs and their families.  This land is so ripe for the gospel message to be shared!

The Elders got tired of waiting, and since it is the "ber" months (September, October, November, December) it is the Christmas months here in the Philippines, they decided to liven up the airport a bit with Christmas carols.  It was fun watching the people react with surprise, smiles and pulling out their cameras to take videos. Where in the world do you have experiences like this?

We arrived in Palawan in time for President to interview Elder Selga before he took a flight home at the completion of his mission.  It was hard to let him go.

But then we got to go interview all the wonderful missionaries serving on Palawan!  We have the most incredible sisters and elders!!!

This was a cute family waiting for their dad in a trike after the district conference.  It was a wonderful District conference.  The leaders were well-prepared and the spirit came in rich abundance.  The people all sing with their hearts and in unison.  It is a soul-stirring experience every time they sing.  The talks were in English and Tagalog.  We're sooooo thankful they understand English pretty well!  They are an amazing and wonderfully prepared people.  You come to church and see everyone dressed in their white shirts and ties, and their Sunday best.  You have no idea that they really come from small huts or shacks built out over the water.  It is truly an amazing thing to witness.  We are so blessed to be here!