Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017-04-26 Narra Saints Continue to Flock to the Temple

After returning from Narra on Monday, we got to see the Narra Saints again as they attended the Manila temple for their own endowments and sealings.  On Tuesday, they came to the mission home for dinner and to share their experiences.

 One miraculous happening was that Elder Macanlalay's mother (plaid shirt) was in the temple serving and met the first person her son ever baptized!  It was a sweet experience for both of them, and Sister Macanlalay joined them on their trip to the mission home.  I wish all moms could have this experience.

 The ladies were so cute...everyone wanted a picture with President, so they kept running into the picture....this picture began with two.  :)  We love the way they love and include each other.

 This is the complete group that came this time.  All these members were endowed or sealed to their families.  What tears were shed as they expressed the trials and heartaches they had passed through to get to this point.

 Afterwards, they wanted to know all about our family.

 And they got really excited to see the transfer board with the pictures of all the missionaries!  The missionaries have no idea how much they are loved!

We found out that on the way to the mission home (which ended up taking TWO hours----it is 15 minutes without traffic) one of the vans they had rented broke down, so all 26 of them loaded into one van! That was when they still had at least an hour ahead of them.  Not one of them even mentioned it!

When we found out, we wanted to get them another van, but they insisted they would be fine. I cry as I remember their cheerful spirits, even when they were squished like this.  One older sister had to go near the back, and I don't know how she did it with her sore leg.  But they just laughed and enjoyed the experience.  They were so thankful, so grateful, so happy and so loving.  They are a wonderful example for all of us!

Branch President Bunquin got everyone else into the van, then squeezed into the last space.  I sure pray their ride back to the temple housing was shorter!

After another interview, we went to the airport to pick up Caleb who had just returned from the US where he had participated with his school's robotics team in the VEX World Robotics Competition.
We were SO glad to have him home!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017-04 Easter in Manila

Attending an international ward is a wonderful experience.  On Easter Sunday, we got to meet and have over for Easter dinner three great men from three different countries...France, Mexico and El Salvador.

      The great thing was that they are all good cooks and were very willing to help out in the kitchen!

We had an amazing dinner sharing our conversion stories around the table with the Porteouses and Sister Turner. 

2017-04 Narra Interviews, Zone Conference & District Conference

After interviews and zone conference in Puerto, we traveled to Narra and did interviews down there.  It was great to see these wonderful missionaries who are serving so far away.  They are faithful souls!

It was wonderful to see this board in the Branch President's office.  It is amazing to see how many of the members make it to the temple which is a long distance away.  We are so grateful to those who contribute to the Temple Patron Assistance Fund that allows them to travel to get their temple ordinances.  They all pay a certain amount, but they are so poor they could never do this on their own.  I wish everyone who donates could see them after they have been endowed and sealed and listen to their stories.  It is absolutely humbling.

While in Narra, we stay at Crystal Paradise Resort, which is always such a pleasure.  It is the only place with air conditioning.  They greet you with a lei and fresh coconut juice straight from a coconut.  Because it is several hours away from the main city on Palawan, there aren't as many tourists, so we often feel like we have the place almost to ourselves.  Caleb was in the US for a World Robotics Competition, so we were able to spend the week in Puerto and Narra with our beloved missionaries and members.

Friday, we held zone conference at the resort. It is about the only way we can feed a large group, and the resort treats us like family.  We are hoping the wonderful people there become interested in the gospel and will join some day.  They are such great friends.  They even helped me with my talk for District Conference!

One thing we have started to do is to invite the prospective missionaries to our zone conferences.  Several of these have already received their calls.

 Saturday was temple recommend interviews, District Leadership Meetings and the Adult Meeting. Sunday Morning was a meeting with all the youth in the District.  The District center building was almost full for that early meeting.  President used JR Caduada as his interpreter since many of the saints understand Tagalog better than English.  Most places, President can just speak English.

Sunday morning, when we arrived an hour and a half early for the youth meeting, there were three faithful brethren there to direct the parking.  They probably ended up with 10 cars and 30 motorcycles and a  handful of trikes.  We just had to take a picture because of their cheerful faithfulness to do their calling.
They had the motorcycles all parked to one side, vans in the back, trikes in one area and then the 10 or so parking spaces were full with cars.  The building was full of members in the main hall and several other rooms including the foyer.  Most of them get there by shuttle vans or jeepneys, trikes or sometimes even by renting flatbed trucks where they can all fit standing.....the entire trip several hours.

When we arrived at the front of the building, these happy faces greeted us with necklaces for all of the district leaders and their wives.  They had printed programs waiting on the seats where all the leaders would be sitting.   Their choir filled one side of the chapel almost all the way back.  When they sang, they just stood up and sang from their place.  They did a wonderful job.  The speakers were wonderful.  The Spirit was really there.  Several of the people who spoke were people who have really used the gospel and the atonement in their lives and have felt its amazing power.  The meeting was in Tagalog, except for President and Sister's talk.  Sister Ostler talks simply enough that most everyone understand her.  President used JR to interpret because he had important doctrine to teach.  The highlight was the intermediate song where we sang, "The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning". You could literally see the fulfillment of those words in the lives of the people in the room.  It was a glorious experience to see, to experience and to feel. Truly we all felt like "shouting" Hosanna to God and the Lamb!

                                         This was one of the dear sisters who spoke.

 Saturday night and Sunday after church, President and one of his counselors interviews members for their temple recommends.  They spent three hours on Saturday and about the same on Sunday, but had a wonderful experience with these faithful Saints.  Sister Ostler got to go out with some of the Elders to teach a family.

 This sweet family brought their new baby who was only 1.3 kilos when he was born.

This is the Narra District Presidency.  This was their first District Conference as a new presidency.  They did a marvelous job!

 This is one of the branches who live several hours away.  They ALL fit in this jeepney!  They were getting ready to leave after two days of meetings.  Saturday night, they sleep like sardines on the floor of two members' homes.  Not ONE word of complaint.

Sunday night, we had a few hours to plan, handle texts and prepare for the week.  We were blessed with a most beautiful sunset!

This was an amazing sight.  The sun was setting far to the left in this picture.  We have no idea how the rays of light could be coming like this from an entirely different part of the sky.  It was breathtaking.  If anyone ever wonders if God loves us....they just need to see a sunset like this.