Sunday, August 28, 2016

i've been thinking ...

i've been thinking a lot this week about how you measure your progression or growth, and the short answer is, 'i don't know'.  in some areas of life, it's easy ... your bank balance rises or falls, the number on the scale goes up or down, you graduate or get that promotion, you're able to run faster or further (okay, that one i'm only guessing on, but hey!), but when it comes to spiritual progression or personal growth, how do you measure that?  before coming on my mission, i felt like i was 'coasting' and lately, as i've become more comfortable in my surroundings, i've felt that i'm kind of coasting again.  we are learning and fulfilling our responsibilities with more confidence these days, even making what we feel are improvements in how things are done in some areas.  i think diane would agree that for the very most part, it just hasn't been hard.  this might be a good place to contemplate why i think for anything to 'count' it has to be hard, but that is another topic for another day!

i believe every experience we have in life is preparing us for something that lies ahead in God's grand design for us.  maybe the hard things i've done paved the way for this.  i don't know.  i'm grateful i haven't fallen apart here, but it's early yet! i'm coming to really love some of the people who cross my path.  i was concerned about my capacity to love before coming here and have been pleasantly surprised that i can, in fact, love random people!  i'm sure that sounds strange to some of you but it was a real concern of mine!  i deeply love who i love but haven't branched out a whole lot!  maybe that's one tangible way to measure progression.

we have said goodbye to 10-20 missionaries every six weeks here and it's been (mostly) sweet to see them depart but we are saying goodbye Monday night to one of the senior couples here that took us under their wing when we arrived.  although we've only seen them a couple dozen times, each time has been uplifting, inspirational and fun!  Lynne and Brent Gardner from Lehi, Utah, have made an impression on me.  i really hope she's in my life for the long haul.  they said it will get harder and harder to say goodbye to missionaries as we get to know them better and work closely with them and i am beginning to get that.  she said that missions are all about love ... love for the people, the missionaries but mostly love for the Savior.

the other day, i snapped this picture as two of the office elders were leaving to proselyte in the afternoon. they love the Savior.  they love His work.  i love their dedication.

am i doing the things that draw me closer to my Heavenly Father?  am i aware of the things i'm doing that hinder that?  diane said in her last mission, her mission president used to say to the missionaries, "if you weren't happy in your last area, you're not going to be happy in your next area.".  while being happy isn't the issue for me, i don't want to feel the same complacency here that i felt at home.  i don't want to waste this opportunity i've been given of trying to devote myself 24 hours a day for 545 days to knowing Him and understanding what He wants from/for me.  maybe the way to gauge my progression is to simply try to do the things He asks of me and then ask daily if i'm on the right path and wait upon Him for the answer.  i'll keep you posted!  love you.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

through our eyes...

Elders Nelson and year out
This was the view out our window...but it was much more spectacular!  Earlier in the office, Elder Hardy and Nelson told us it was their one year mark!  Our Elders are on their missions for 2 years.  The tradition for the Elders in this mission is to burn a shirt at their one year mark...hump day.  I knew immediately what was happening when I saw the fire and heard the yelling.  They had a pole with a shirt hanging and burning.  
The rain finally stopped in Guagua
With all the rain we have been having, it was a miracle that they had 30 minutes of clear weather.  It started pouring soon after they finished their celebration. 

The picture on the right is the flood waters we experienced in Guagua when we were taking supplies to missionaries.  They had been in their apartment for two days because of the flooding.  Church had been cancelled and everything.

We really can't believe all the rain we have had.  It is amazing to me that there hasn't been more flooding.  The water just disappears quickly.  On the road to the Subic Bay Freeport Area we have seen several mud slides from the mountains onto the roadway.
"trash day"the roadways...including trees in most cases.

It used to concern us when we saw smoke rising.  Now, we chuckle every time we see the smoke...knowing that it is 'trash day'.  Many people just burn their trash.  I should have taken a picture of our trash day.  A big truck drives up and about 4 men hop out.  At least one hops into our trash bin (a big one like at my condo community) and he starts throwing out the trash to the next guy.  We have our trash in bags, but not all the trash in the bin is contained in bags.  They just pick it up and get it onto their truck.  It is interesting to watch.  Then one of them comes to the office door to get paid...100 pesos.  This happens about once a week and never the same day of the week.
dirty or clean...which do you want?

This is a picture of one of our water filters!  We have 3 filters that the water runs through before we use it to wash dishes, drink, wash fruits and vegetable, or brush our teeth.  This is the one we change every 3 months.  The others are changed at 6 months and a year.  In some missionary apartments that we check, they have to switch filters out more often than that because of the quality of their water.  This looked pretty gross, but the bottom of the filter was pretty white when we pulled it out.

We wash every piece of fruit and vegetable that we buy in a bleach solution.  It is washed, rinsed, put into a tub with bleach and water to sit for about 3 minutes, then put into another tub with clean water to rinse again. 

a beautiful sunset over the bay...

And saving the best for last...another beautiful sunset.  We really do have a beautiful world.  The Philippines are beautiful.  That was our first impression as we drove from the busy, crowded city of Manila three hours away to our mission area.  I am grateful every day for the beauty.  May you have a fabulous week!
Love to you,
Sister Sisters Donna and Diane

Sunday, August 14, 2016

it's raining, it' pouring ...

the biggest story here this week continues to be the weather.  it has rained steadily for six days now.  sometimes it's light and sometimes torrential but it's been non-stop ... literally ... NON-STOP!  now THIS is what i expected from rainy season!  there has been some localized flooding here and there but everything eventually runs down to the sea.  it's really amazing that the whole place isn't under water with the amount of rain that has fallen.  we still continue to love hearing it on our rooftop and watching it from the windows, even being out in it is fun occasionally.  still wouldn't want to be one of the young missionaries who is soaked to the skin every single day though.

it's been a typically busy week but, of course, with different challenges (as no two days are the same!) ... two elders in the hospital who have, thankfully, gotten (almost) clean bills of health after some pretty scary diagnoses, and will be back among us soon, leadership training meeting with some pretty spectacular young people, and wearing my finance secretary hat, i completed the 2017 budget analysis for the olongapo mission and submitted our proposal to the area office (i have to give daryl the credit on that one cuz there's no way i did that on my own!).

just a thought in closing ... be extra kind to the missionaries that may cross your path.  they are young men and women called to serve the Lord with all their heart, might, mind and strength.  they love the work but could use a kind face and maybe a cold drink of water (and food every now and again is appreciated!).

and a tender mercy ... today in relief society, i turned to the lesson and this beautiful reminder of home was in the manual!  it's such a comfort to me that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the same all over the world, yesterday, today and forever.

well, i'm going to go watch the rain some more.  come what may, and love it!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Transfer Week...What is it like?

First, I must say that Donna's blog entry last week was right on target!  We are so blessed!  We talk about that all the time.  The Filipinos are such happy people, and they don't have all the 'material' things in their lives.  That is a great lesson to learn!

It was transfer week again, and we had 2 of our office Elders leave for another assignment and we got 2 others.  We are sad for 'our' loss, and yet excited to get to know our new Elders.  We think they are going to be wonderful, and we love them already!  I don't know how that happens, but our love and appreciation grows every time we are around a, all the time!

On Transfer Week, Monday is the day the departing (for home) missionaries arrive at the Mission Home for departing activities.  One of those activities is talking individually with Sister Hays and I.  She talks to them about money, and I talk to them about their travel and mission folder.  

For the departing missionaries there are interviews with President Dahle, dinner and a testimony meeting.  Our hearts are full as we listen to their strong testimonies and mission experiences.  It is getting harder and harder each transfer to see them go...because we are getting to know our missionaries better...and it's only been 3.3 months since we arrived!  What is it going to be like in a year??!!  I am amazed at the strong, valiant, and humble young men and women we are sending home each transfer.  They are going to make a huge difference in their Wards/Branches and families...and world.

Tuesday is the day the departing missionaries have a career workshop, lunch, and then go to Manila by bus.  When the Manila Temple is open, they get to go to the temple for the first time since their mission began 18-24 months before.  They are so excited for that!  They spend the night in Manila and then on Wednesday they head for their homes and families!

On Wednesday when the departing missionaries are flying home, our new missionaries arrive from Manila by bus.  We love being at the bus station to greet them.  They come to the Mission Home for their welcoming activities...lunch, interview, questionnaire, orientation with Donna and I and Sister Dahle, dinner and testimony meeting.  Oh, this is such a long day for these new missionaries!!  After all of this, they are taken to a hotel for the night.  

Note two things in this picture...1) new missionary so tired he can't keep his head up and 2) President Dahle eating with a fork and large spoon!  Yes, that is how we eat.  You cut meat and push things onto your fork with a spoon!

All our new missionaries and their trainers...August 2016

On Thursday morning the new missionaries begin some training by the young assistants to the President (AP's).  The new missionaries are matched up with an experienced missionary as their trainer (for their first 12 weeks).  They are so excited to find out who that is.  In an earlier blog entry we talked about the activity of lining up across from each other and opening an envelope...and the happy chaos the happens.  Then there is lunch, receiving their bedding, and off they go to their new areas!

Those missionaries that are just moving to a new area from where they have been working, find out on Wednesday night.  They pack and are at the bus station early Thursday morning!  This is a fast switch and what transfers are all about.  As you can imagine, the whole mission is in an upheaval every 6 weeks.

We had a birthday this week!  Elder Ancog, our next door neighbor and office Elder, turned 24 on Thursday.  We had all the missionaries in our Branch (6) come over to celebrate at 9:00pm on their way home.  We love our missionaries!  To see them excited and loving the attention is very worth it.  We had brownies and ice cream for them all and a small personal treat for the one having the birthday.

Elders Bray, Ancog, Hardy, Vaoiva, Tui'one, and Nelson

A new senior couple came a week ago to take the place of Elder and Sister Gardner.  The Gardner's have one month left before they go home to Utah.  We aren't the new missionaries any more!  Yippee!  President and Sister Dahle are gaining more confidence in our abilities.  We see that because we keep getting new things assigned for us to do!  

In my studies today, I was reminded from Moroni 7:33 that Jesus Christ said "If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me."  We'll see if I have enough faith in Christ to accomplish anything He wants me to do! 

Enjoy a fabulous new week!  You are loved!
Sister Sisters Donna and Diane  (Diane)  (Donna)