Sunday, June 25, 2017

this is short ...

in looking through pictures for the blog this week, it didn't take me long.  i'm not a big picture taker to start with but this week was apparently the worst!  diane loaded you up last week so that will have to carry you over!  this week was filled with three days of zone conferences and a follow-up training for our newest missionaries.  we got to see every single missionary which does my heart good.  they are so joyful!  this is a picture of an 'instant choir'.  we take a break after lunch and anyone who wants to sing can join in ... always sweet.  the dahle's don't usually join in but i think they chose to because this was their last round of zone conferences.
instant choir
polynesian farewell
the conference with the last three zones on friday was particularly poignant as they were serenaded with tributes from the polynesian missionaries and then aloha'oe by a hawaiian elder that everyone joined in on.  they were clearly moved by the love.  it will be hard to say goodbye to them on saturday.
our final group - olonapo / san antonio / dinalupihan zones
their departure brings the arrival of our new mission president and his wife, ruel and pamela lacanienta.  he grew up here in the philippines, was the 60th person baptized here in 1961 and served his mission here but was educated, married, and worked in the states for the last 40+ years.  they're fellow texans!  we are really looking forward to getting to know them as we work together closely the next few months.  
Ruel and Pamela Lacanienta
and diane just sent me a few photos that i want to include just because the shortness of the people makes me smile. i've always felt a tad 'amazonian' but that feeling is magnified here!  love it!

we have both talked about the speed at which the end of our mission is approaching.  it truly feels like i blinked and here we are.  the next four months will be a flurry of activity which won't help the feeling!  there's not much that compares to this experience and i wouldn't trade it for the world.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Time goes so Quickly!

Time marches on...and sometimes it feels like it is sprinting!  President and Sister Dahle have 2 weeks left.  Then, I realize that we have about 4 months before it is Donna and I that are packing and saying good-bye to this country and people that have a section of our hearts!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we had a senior missionary trip to Manila and the temple.  This doesn't happen near enough, but I am so grateful that it does happen!  Donna missed this trip, but we know she was where she was supposed to be.  Here are some pictures from that day: 1) a trip to the American Cemetery.  There are fields of white crosses each representing an American soldier that died fighting in the Pacific between 1941-1945.  Then there are walls and walls with all the names.  This was a very sobering experience.  I am so grateful for all who serve to preserve our freedoms.  2) These cute Filipino sisters wanted a picture with all of us 'white Americans'.  This happens everywhere we go.  Parents will even ask if their child can get a picture with us.  We are the novelty.  3) I love this sign on the expressway in Manila, "an exciting ride is just ahead".  It is a reminder to wear your seatbelt, but has so much more to its meaning!  4) The senior missionaries on the temple grounds.  Notice the 'fire' tree full of bright orange blossoms.  5) An lastly, a picture of the Manila traffic and a 'vender' selling his goods as he walks through the cars on the expressway!
Manila...June 2017
At the office, we often have 'brown outs' as they call them.  The electricity is off for a period of time...minutes or hours without warning.  This time, we were actually told ahead of time that we would be without power for two 9-hour days while they worked on installing new electric poles on the highway next to the office/apartment.  I was very pleased that I could prepare.  I hate when I am caught off guard in the middle of my computer work!  There is no way I wanted to stick around during this time.  When we don't have electricity, we don't have water because our pump is an electric pump.  That means no water to wash or flush and no power for computer, lights, and air conditioning.  I had to take this picture of the worker on the pole before I left the office.  Notice the ladder at the bottom of the pole and the worker at the top attaching wires.  I didn't see how he climbed up there!

I went for cheesecake with these cute sister missionaries
This cheesecake stop was just one of the things I did during my escape from the office.  Donna and I were introduced to this wonderful Filipino cafe that not only makes great food but also cheesecake and cinnamon rolls like home!  This is Sister Dorosan, me, Sister Secjadas, De Oro, and Cayanan.  I visited their apartment and they had just finished their weekly planning and lunch.  I thought it was time for a treat!  They were very willing to go with me, and I'm grateful that I was able to share some more time with them.  Sister Cayanan is one of our missionaries that went home this week.

These are our delightful Office Elders!...Elders Tupou, Abala, Spring, and Poulsen.  They only work in the office a few hours a week, but we love our time with them!  Transfers happened this week and two new elders took the place of Elder Tupou and Poulsen.  It is always sad to see our elders leave, but they aren't far away this time.

Rainy season is officially here.  I love the hard rains when I don't have to be out in it!  Rain means flooding around here.  We have a reminder of this as we drive on the highway and see the flood gauges I showed in my last post.

Today, I was reminded that "if we aren't working today, we aren't preparing for tomorrow".  When I look at this in the religious sense, I know that I need to work every single day to make it/me better than the day before!  I am grateful for my friends and family that set such great examples for me.  Today is Father's Day.  Donna and I had a wonderful example of faith, hope, charity and unselfishness from our father!  We miss him.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

all is well ...

i had a great three weeks with the jensen's in norway but it felt good to come home to the philippines last night.  i am so happy to report that lauren continues to astound the doctors with her miraculous recovery!  we are so grateful for all the prayers on her behalf ... they were truly answered!  as a result of her stroke, the doctors expected her to have difficulty with language, vision, balance and memory but she did not experience any of that except for the first few days after the stroke.  the only lingering effect is that she gets fatigued easily.  she is doing a great job of trying to comply with doctors orders to rest as much as possible but it's been a real struggle for her as she finds it difficult to sit still!  the time flew by but i am grateful i was able to be there to help with anything she, christian, or the girls needed.  one activity that is always on the agenda when i come to visit is playing 'hair salon' and i am posting proof that the tradition is alive!  while braids were the order of the day, i did madeleine's and madeleine did stella's, when it came time to do mine, madeleine the hairdresser said my hair was too short but she would do what she could!

the mission is always busy, but more activities were crammed into the 3 weeks i was gone than have ever been scheduled in any 3-week period, EVER!  i missed so much i can hardly believe it, but i was where i needed to be, plus, as a bonus, i got to be there for stella's third birthday!  i got home last night and had a restful sabbath attending a special broadcast from salt lake city just for the philippines with talks from sister oscarson, elder robbins, elder bowen, elder ardern and elder bednar.  it centered me and i feel ready to jump back into the work tomorrow.  IT'S TRANSFER WEEK AGAIN!!  my favorite!  and the countdown to our mission presidency changeover rolls on.  there is so much to be done.  while the day to day work is sometimes daunting, there's just an excitement in the air on a mission.  it truly is the Lord's work and i am grateful every day for the love and blessings my Heavenly Father bountifully gives me.

this sight out of the jensen's window the day before i left just reassured me that He was mindful of us and all would be well.  prayer and faith are tangible.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A New Stake...and so much more

At 10:30am on Sunday, June 4, our Olongapo District became the Olongapo Stake!!  Elder Evan Schmutz presided over the two day conference with Elder Merdegia assisting.  Years ago I witnessed this happening in Oklahoma City, but I was too young to remember our Oklahoma City Stake formed.  This was amazing to feel the power and strength of the spirit in the room.  Our new Stake President was sustained along with his counselors.  Then, one by one, each Branch stood as their new Bishop was announced and sustained.  The rest of the Stake and Ward leadership positions will be put into place as quickly as possible in the coming weeks.  A Patriarch will also be named for our new Stake.  Elder Schmutz encouraged those adults and young adults who do not yet have their patriarchal blessing to be ready to receive it.  
Sisters, Sisters, Sisters
Sister Dahle, our Mission President's wife, had the privilege of entertaining the wives of the two visiting seventies on Saturday before our evening session of conference...and she included us senior sister missionaries!  When we have visitors, we go to Ocean Adventure Park for shows and the fish spa and then Camayan Resort to eat on the beach!  We had fun getting to know each other!  
Fun at Ocean Adventure Park!

President and Sister Dahle will be released on July 1 as we receive a new Mission President.  Because the Dahle's are from the USA, they won't have the opportunity to see many of their Philippine missionaries again.  A Mission Reunion was planned and happened last week.  The venue was changed to the church building right by the office.  That made it very convenient for me to run over at different times during the day and still get my work done.  I knew most of the missionaries that came; I was surprised at that.  The missionaries all looked soooo good!
Mission Reunion 2014-2017
The two weeks that Donna has been gone have been very busy and full of activities!!  Donna left on Saturday before our departing missionaries left on Monday and our new ones arrived on Wednesday.  I know she hated missing this week because it is one of our favorites!
Our trainers are on the top row!!
Two weeks ago, I talked about this transfer and how hard it was going to be for us!  The Elders that were serving in the office, and were our Trainers when we arrived last April, finished their missions!!  I jumped in this picture so that I could have one with my trainer!  I love these missionaries!!!  It just gets harder and harder to see missionaries go home because I have had longer to get to know them!  We have another transfer in one week!!!!  It was moved to 3 weeks instead of 6 weeks because of the transfer of mission presidents on July 1.

Auction Loads!!

We had an auction last week.  We are trying to clean up our storage areas and get rid of all our surplus 'junk'.  I loved watching the purchasers load up their goods and drive away...not in trucks.  Take a makes me smile!

Donna missed something else!!!  I sent her this screen-shot from my phone. 

For those of you who don't read Tagalog, this says that an earthquake of 5.4 magnitude is going to hit San Marcelino at 10:27pm...prepare!!!
Also notice that I received this emergency text notice at 1:59am!!
It doesn't matter, thank goodness.  There was no damage to my building.  I was in the middle of texting my other sister when it hit.  Usually, they are so quick that I don't realize what I felt.  This one was much stronger!!  I was in the bedroom and everything was shaking, even the built-in closets.  I knew what was going on this time!

One more great closing picture!!!  These flood gauges are lining the highways through the cities. Summer is over in the Philippines.  School starts back up tomorrow.  AND rainy season is here...the season of floods, mud slides, and accidents.  I had to make the picture large enough for you to be able to read the words!  ;)

Flood gauge!