Friday, May 19, 2017

2017-05-15 Batch Dinner and Mission President's Seminar

Twice a year, all the mission presidents of the Philippines Missions meet together to receive instruction from the Area Presidency.  It is an inspiring and strengthening time together.  We feel like we are drinking from a fire hose, but they turn the water on just right so we don't drown.  :)  We just feel so blessed to sit at their feet and be taught our duty and how to better understand and teach our missionaries the doctrine of Christ.

Besides the great spiritual uplift and training, we especially appreciate the blessing of being able to share experiences and ideas with the other mission presidents.  Our "batch", or the group of mission presidents that came to the Philippines the same time we did, has been such a wonderful group of friends.  It's been amazing to share this experience with them.  I think we will be friends for the rest of our lives.  We have truly grown to admire and love every one of them.

Each of these couples has given up three years of their lives, moved away from children, grandchildren and parents...all for one reason.  We know the Church of Jesus Christ is true.  It is as simple as that.  We were asked by the prophet of God to serve, so we all said yes.  It has been an amazing adventure as well as  stretching one.  We have learned sooooo much.  What has impressed us the most is how much Heavenly Father loves each of His Children, and how willing the Savior is to offer the atonement for us to use in our lives.     

 These amazing Presidents' wives trusted me to drive them in Manila traffic in the mission van!

     For one night, we all got to go to a concert performance by the BYU Chamber Orchestra.

                     They were spectacular!  It was a relaxing and enjoyable evening!

 It was a benefit concert to help raise money for a religious group that helps provide education and opportunity for really poor children.
 The extra special part was that our friend, Melissa Fletcher, from Mesa, AZ was playing the oboe!

 It was so fun to see her and talk with her afterwards!

 The hard part was saying good bye to our dear friends after the seminar was over.  The Andradas were serving as Stake President and wife in our mission area when we arrived, then were called to be Mission President and wife and have been serving for a year.  They are incredible examples of dedication and consecration.  They have two sons serving missions, one son with them, and their oldest, returned missionary son was killed in a motorcycle accident about 6 months ago. They came home to take care of the funeral, etc. and went back to serve.   I have never seen such strong faith.  I am humbled to have ever known them. May the Lord pour our blessings on their family.

We took these pictures after our final testimony meeting.  We cried all our makeup off!

Then, we have another incredible, faithful couple, the dear Hiatts.  It makes me cry to even post these pictures.  How can we be so blessed to have such amazing friends.  The Hiatts served as a senior couple in our mission, then President Hiatt served as a counselor to President Ostler before they finished their two year mission.  They came and helped in Manila during a particularly difficult time and were life savers!  They are also pillars of faith.  They were serving on our island, Palawan, when Sister Hiatt had appendicitis.  She had surgery on the island because it was too late to fly her to Manila, but she had complications and miraculously was able to get a flight.  She spent some time very sick in the hospital, yet she always had a smile on her face and was sharing the gospel with everyone that came into her room.  You never have to wonder "which way she faces".  The Hiatts arrived home from their mission, and before they even unpacked their suitcases, they received a call inviting them to be interviewed by an apostle.  That call eventually ended up with them being called to serve as a mission president and wife 9 months later.  They were called to serve two years, then it was extended to 3 years.  Sister Hiatt loves her kids and grandkids SO much it almost hurts to be away from them.  But there is no question where her faith leads her.  She is sharing that love with all the missionaries, members and investigators in their mission.  We are SO blessed to be their friends!
Wouldn't it be awesome to come back and serve as senior missionaries in their mission!!!!

         The Hiatt's daughter is amazingly married to the son of our good friends from Naperville, IL who are also serving here in the Philippines, President and Sister Clark.  They are another incredible couple who have served so amazingly and faithfully.  Each of these couples goes through a refining fire as they serve.  The experience of loving so many wonderful, precious missionaries and seeing them go through trials, struggles, tragedies, triumphs, growth, and the greatest really stretches your heart.

I wish we could have taken pictures of all the couples and shared their stories.  We truly have walked on sacred ground serving with them and serving in this precious land, the Philippines.