Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Week

i didn't post last week because we traveled for a district conference over the weekend and i was too tired when we got home.  we were able to spend the night at a quiet little spot in the north part of the mission (about 2 hours from our home) and were only there for a few hours but was able to snap some pictures of this beautiful spot.  it is called potipot (po TEE pote).  if anyone knows what the beautiful hanging flowers are, please let me know! orchids of some kind i'm guessing, an albino peacock and the largest hibiscus blossoms i've ever seen - easily 10 inches across!  beautiful!  we thought it would be nice to go back when we had some free time ... hahahahahaha!  'free time'!  what is that?!!

but this week has been maybe our busiest yet with three zone conferences in three days, seeing every missionary in the philippines olongapo mission!  what a glorious experience that was!  we love the missionaries so much.  the conferences were combined with the Christmas parties so we had beautiful talks about our Saviors birth and life that reminded us how we should be and to whom we look for all we are and hope to be.  afterwards, we were able to enjoy a few hours of fun and games, tininkling (the bamboo rhythm dance we did as kids), acting out 12 days of Christmas song and last but not least, the 'Christmas store' where every missionary got to go select half a dozen items for their companion.  Diana and i were in charge of this and it was so much fun!  we had received two giant boxes of donations from the states but had been expecting much more (as the coordinator had sent us a list of donated items) but had enough to make it a fun experience for them.  filipinos don't put much emphasis on the gift part of Christmas celebrations ... it's more about family and food.  but this beautiful site greeted us when we arrived home the second day!!! The rest of Christmas!!!!!

so the third day we weren't as concerned about rationing!  everything is currently spread out in the Dahle's dining room and will be distributed to the missionaries in the first two zones when we go back for conferences in january!  they will be SOOO excited!  the generosity of those who donated items so that the missionaries could have a nice christmas was completely overwhelming!  it has given me something to think about for how i want to give when i return home for sure.  
you've never seen girls so excited about stickers and deodorant (there was other stuff too); instant choirs: the islanders harmonize so beautifully, our zone, and the unexpected power in the voice of one small Elder; yummy lunches; fun with tininkling and sister sisters here to help with all your shopping needs.
a picture of our humble tree and an unexpected treat of a field of trees made of recyclables across the street from the church on our second conference day (this isn't even all of them!).

what an interesting time it's been here.  we were reminded that without the hustle and bustle that always accompanies the holiday season we've had a unique opportunity to focus all our thoughts on the reason we do all we do.  we are eternally grateful for the gift of our Redeemer, the Light of the World, Almighty God, the Prince of Peace, without whom we would have no hope.  today and always, we hope you feel the joy of the Savior's love, which is the very best gift of all.  

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Every-day Miracles...

The theme in our mission for this year is "12 Months of Miracles", and of course the candy of choice is M&M's.  We are coming to the end of a successful mission year.  There are miracles every day!  Our missionaries write to President Dahle every week and often relate to him some of the miracles that happened in their area.  President Dahle then shares many of those miracles with the rest of us through the weekly newsletter. It is hard to express these miracles in a few words, but I will try...
many baptism miracle stories!

  • Going to a home and being told that they had been praying all day that you would come.
  • Meeting a man that was watching the missionaries for "the one" that would make a difference.
  • At a recent converts home, being introduced to a friend that does not go to church now but was baptized by your neighbor half-way around the world years ago...and he wants to be taught. 

I have had the desire to see/be aware of the miracles in my life.  When I talk about them, they seem like "oh, that's nothing"...circumstance...would have happened anyway...the Lord loves me and blesses me.  I am so thankful for the miracles...tender my daily life.  
Sister Sisters...serving together!

  • One is that Donna and I are companions!  We asked to be companions, but know that in several cases that doesn't happen.
  • We can live in a small one-bedroom apartment together...without intruding on each other's "space".
  • We can sleep in the same bedroom every night!  We have lived alone for many years.  Miracle.
This week has been a hard one for me. I am in charge of the travel for our missionaries...coming and going.  Several things didn't go as they should.  Everyone is safe and happy, but I kept getting prompted to do this or that.
Manila Temple...miracles each day!
  • One example: two departing sisters were met by their parents and left the others after visiting the Manila Temple.  I was prompted to ask the Church Travel Department if these two sisters received their did not!  Before she ever knew there was a problem, her parents were receiving her passport and travel papers.  Little miracles occurred to make this happen.
Miracles are all around us every day.  I want to recognize the miracles for what they are.  We all have "stewardships" and receive promptings related to these stewardships.  I am thankful for my many blessings.  I am grateful for the knowledge that I have a loving Heavenly Father.  
December's new missionaries and their trainers...
miracles await!
And now on a lighter note...
it's a miracle that our large lawn is kept neat by using a "weed wacker"!

it's a miracle that our power doesn't go out more often than it does!

it's a miracle that we still eat rice!

it's a miracle that we don't get sick!

it's a miracle that we still have our toes!
This is the season to celebrate the biggest miracle of all...the birth of Jesus Christ, His life, and His love!  May we all remember Him and recognize the miracles in our daily lives.

Love from the Philippines!!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

another great week!

things just keep getting better here!  maybe i'm just getting used to the unexpected, maybe it's the holiday season ... i don't know; but whatever it is, i'm grateful that i can still experience new things and the things that we experience repeatedly are still fun and exciting!  i have to start with saying that our thanksgiving was one i will not soon forget.  diane told you all about it and it really was THAT memorable!

we were fortunate this week to be able to tag along as sister dahle entertained sister haynie (she is the wife of the area presidency counselor that was visiting our mission).  what a wednesday we had!  we went back to the ocean adventure park where they have a fish spa.  you may have heard about them ... where the "doctor fish" nibble away at the dead skin on your feet!  let me tell you what!  it was the strangest sensation!  i thought i would be too ticklish to stand it but after the initial reaction, it really wasn't so bad!  it almost felt like a light electric current pulsating my feet.  still ... just watching them was freaky!  sister dahle had experienced it before and i love this picture because she is relishing our reactions!  after it was over we, of course had to go to the camayan beach resort for lunch again and i got my favorite drink ... a four-seasons smoothie, with pineapple, mango, banana and papaya.  YUM!
on the way home from lunch we stopped for a photo op because the bats were flying (worlds largest fruit bats) ... in the middle of the day no less!  and some monkeys were out on the road as well.  what a treat!!  WATCH OUT SISTER EPPERSON!  this one snuck across the road while we were snapping pictures and looked interested in her!
on thursday, our errands required us to travel to some new areas of the mission we hadn't visited before.  the road to bagac down south was so beautiful!  winding road through thick tropical forests and beautiful vistas.  we have yet to go to the southernmost point or the northernmost point but will get there eventually!  rumor has it they are both very picturesque as well.  maybe next time we'll remember to take pictures!

last night to cap off our week, we attended a fantastic fiafia night!  that is the pacific islander word for joyful celebration.  it did not disappoint!  you may remember elder ah fun from earlier posts.  he was an office elder a few months ago and he put on a luau in our branch here that was so much fun.  well he got transferred to an area that was struggling and president dahle thought that he could do it again to bring a sense of comaradarie to the community.  well, he outdid himself!  he arranged for the entire san antonio district to be involved, which includes six branches (congregations) in six towns!  after months of practice, each branch performed an island dance, complete with fantastic costumes, food, and a synopsis of the history/culture of the island they were representing.  it was held in the san narciso town plaza and the public was invited.  three of the town mayors and many local dignitaries came and a great time was had by all!  the dancing was spectacular to watch!  their enthusiasm was contagious!  many high points but some stand-outs were the opening solo dance by new zealander, sister kelleher.  she. was. stunning.  honestly, one of the most beautiful dancers i've ever seen.  then there was the haka and the slap dance.  those are always SO much fun to watch!
dignitaries table
we love the people of the philippines.  we love the missionaries.  they bring such joy and happiness to life.  always a positive outlook.  it is an honor and a privilege to serve here in the olongapo mission, side by side with such stellar people.

one last picture from the plaza ... as we enter this holiday season, may we all remember the reason for the season.  the source of all our joy.  we love you!