Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wow! What a fun couple of weeks it’s been..

We left for Palawan on November 20th. Spent the 20th and 21st in Makati at the Mission home and then flew out early Saturday morning. While we were waiting for our flight we saw Manny Pacquiao with his entourage. He had just whooped a guy for his 7th title the weekend before. He is a certified hero over here. (He’s a boxer, for those who aren’t “in the know”.) He’s short and small and I think I could probably take him out if I could just figure how to sit on him without being killed. He was very friendly and smiling and waving at everyone. We think that the fact we’ve seen him makes us important. Hmm, back to the trip. Upon arrival in Puerto Princessa we went to the hotel and checked in and then relaxed for a couple of hours. The meeting house was across the street so we walked over for an afternoon of training sessions and the evening conference session.

The next day, Sunday, was spent at the District Conference and then just kicking back. It’s a good thing we had a “day of rest” as the next days were crazy. We even had time for a game of Uno somewhere in there. The Senior couples are wonderful and it was so nice to spend time with them. The Taggs will be leaving in April, Goldings in June and Husseys in August. Then it will just be us and Pres. and Sister Howard. Sure hope we get some more couples!

Monday, Nov. 23rd we went by van to the Underground River. It was a 2 hour drive through some beautiful country. The Underground River is located under a limestone mountain. It is on the shoreline so that the fresh water from the inland river and the saltwater from the ocean mix in huge caverns. We ferried over

to the entrance via outrigger boat (Elder Smith took a dramamine). The water was a bit rough but great fun. Once there we stomped through some jungle to the docking area for another boat ride. This one went into the mouth of the cave. It was about 1.2 km long. The caves in total are over 8 km but some areas are impassible except with scuba gear. There were tons of bats, albino snakes, strange formations and according to the guide, fish. The folks on Palawan have nominated it to be one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. If it makes it something else will get bumped.

Tuesday was spent on the water again. We went island hopping! We visited 3 or 4 different islands and played in the sand and water and mainly got sunburned! There were lots of seashells, star fish, clean beaches and other sea life. The water was wonderfully blue and clear and warm! Wednesday was spent visiting a crocodile farm, butterfly farm and other island sights. We went to a memorial for 150 American POW’s who were slaughtered by the Japanese in WWII. The memorial lists all the names and gives details of the incident. Only 11 escaped death that day and 2 of those were LDS. I guess they were instrumental in getting the memorial erected. The Japanese ordered the POW’s into underground bomb shelters and then dumped gasoline in and set it aflame. We were all touched by the story. There were children entertaining in the park there. They were playing mandolins, guitars, drums and singing. Actually, we were entertained by several groups of children during our visit. We flew back to Manila that evening after some serious fresh water pearl shopping.

Thursday morning (Thanksgiving Day) we had District interviews so after arriving home the night before after 11, we were at the chapel at 8 am. It was good to see all the Elders after being gone. They had tons of questions about the trip and a few who have served over there already were excited to hear how things were going. We drove back to Manila that afternoon for a masarap (delicious) Thanksgiving dinner at the Mission home. Afterward there was a Mission Presidency meeting and then we once again headed back to Naic arriving a little bit before 11 pm this time.

Friday was spent doing laundry and going grocery shopping and recovering. Our biggest treat that day was visiting with all of our children via Skype. They were at Ginger’s home for Thanksgiving dinner and we were able to see them all.

Other than making us homesick it was the highlight of a busy, eventful week. Dang it, but we love those kids!

Saturday was a District RS activity/bazaar. Each Branch had a table set up with items for sale. Yes, we supported the local economy!When we get home we’re going to all learn how to play “Bring Me”. The sisters here love it. After the bazaar/selling time each Branch had a special number that they presented. Some sang together and others did a dance. It was entertaining and fun. After the RS activity we had an hour or so break and then the District roadshows began. The youth here are fabulous and very talented. The theme was Church History and each Branch was assigned a different area of focus. We had a reenactment of the First Vision, Martyrdom of the Prophet, Mormom Battalion, Building the Nauvoo and SLC Temples,

Willy and Martin Handcart Company and on and on. The whole thing took over 3 hours. It was so exciting to see the youth become better acquainted with what is now their heritage as members of the Church. There was a snowstorm, guns blasting, square dancing and singing. The cultural hall at the NaicChapel was jammed. We were seated by Pres. Pipit and his wife and we all agreed that we’re going to need a larger building when we become a stake! It was humbling to be in attendance at these activities. No big fancy decorations or pricey costuming or members competing to be the most professional. Just lots of fun, love and friendship.

Today was an amazing day. We visited the Trece Martires Branch for services during the mo rning. After that we drove to Carissa Branch for a baptism.

There were 3 families baptized and confirmed this afternoon for a total of 14!

There were several other baptisms this week in some of our other branches also. We had a bit of a dry spell but things are getting back into gear. At the conference last weekend Pres. Howard told us that the largest number of members of the Church is in the USA, next is Mexico then Brazil. The fourth largest number of members in an individual country is in the Philippines! Now, the plan is underway to stomp on Brazil and Mexico. The US may take awhile.
Elder Smith and the ZL's repairing the light in our front yard

How many missionaries does it take to change a light bulb??


Merrivonne said...

I'm sure the more you get to know the people you serve, the more you love them and vice versa. I appreciate your willingness to serve and share. You are truly loved. Thanks for all the information.

Xackery said...

Fun stuff! Missing you lots!