Tuesday, March 4, 2014
February 26, 2014
Today we attended Jared Garcia and Guilia Nobleza's temple sealing in Cebu temple and then their reception at the Stake Center on the temple complex. We were so excited to be included in their special day. Jared served his mission in the Bacolod Mission and was the Mission Assistant when we arrived here. We loved him instantly because he was such a fine young man and he helped us get acclimated. Guilia is the daughter of Elder Nobleza who is an area Seventy who lives in Bacolod. Elder Nobleza is also the general manager of BDO Bank. Out of the thirty people invited to the wedding we knew all but 5 of them (who were the young friends of Guilia. The temple president, President Pacaduan conducted the ceremony. We were so happy to meet Jared's parents and be able to tell them what a wonderful son they raised.
When Jared returned home from his mission he was checking out Facebook and he saw Guilia's post of one of his friends pages and sent her a friend request. And... they hit is off instantly.
After the wedding we were escorted to the reception and asked to sit at the presidential table. We tried to politely decline and were asked to sit with the family at the presidential table along with Bishop DI and President Escobar. We felt like we were imposing by sitting at the special table but the leaders told us we needed to sit these so we do not offend. I will never get over the humble feeling of being cherished and treated like angels by the Philippine people. The receptions was so different as they began with a hymn and an opening prayer. The parents of the groom thanked everyone for coming and gave some advice to the young couple. The brides parents had asked several people to also give advice including Dan. The reception also included special soloists, dance productions, and dinner. During dinner they showed videos of the couples lives prior to courtship, during courtship and during their engagement. They also included the flowers being thrown and the cake cutting ceremony as we do in the U.S. Another common tradition is when people hit their glasses with a knife so there is a tinging sound the bride and groom kiss (on the mouth, is how they said it). The couple were embarrassed as the two fathers kept the tinging going constantly. Guilia asked everyone to add that the parents of the couple be required to kiss when the audience clapped as they clap often. Then after a little while they decided since Elder Sinema and I were at the parent's table that we should kiss also. Oh my do they know how to have fun.
Some of the advise given was interesting. Bishop Di said that when coupled disagreed that they had to trade off being the one who explodes and the one who listens with each disagreement. Not sure how that would work. President Escobar said that the couple had to kiss seven times each day and never go to bed without saying "I love you" to each other. Dan said that life was full of opposites: happiness and sadness, light and darkness, good and evil and that if we always endure to the end and help each other through the oppositions, life will be a wonderful experience. A lovely sister who was Guilia's teacher said that if the couple always remember that each of them are a son and daughter of God and that as such they are expected to be worthy of that title by remembering the covenants they had made with each other and their Heavenly Father as they were sealed that would be able to keep in mind the responsibility to keep the promises they had made. After the closing song and prayer, the dancing began: the father and daughter dance, the son and mother dance, the bride and groom dance and then all couples were asked to join in to the dancing. Dan made a valiant effort before saying that I should go and ask Guilia's Grandfather (widowed) to dance. He is probably in his mid-eighties and uses a cane so we carefully made our way to the dance floor and finished the dance. He was so thankful that I would offer to dance with him. His granddaughter kept thanking me over and over for being so kind to her grandfather. The best part of the evening for Dan was the whole reception was over before 7:30 pm. What a lovely experience we had and will always remember
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
Two months until we return to our homeland! I am not excited much! We had our chest x-rays today so that we can get our exit visas. We also have our reservations and tickets ready for our departure. We have made all of our doctors and dentist appointments and I have made appointments for my hair, manicure, and pedicure, so I will be back to normal. We are packing a box to ship home with our Philippine nativity, and some clothes we never used (too heavy for this hot climate).
We have heard from our replacements and they have already served two missions in Africa and England. They are from St. George, Utah. They were hoping to overlap, but we will be leaving on April 7 and they arrive on April 10. They are more intelligent than we are and only signed up for an 18 month mission. Dan has been sending them instructions and other helps to set up their stay here and we spoke on Facetime. They are very nice and will do a great job here. They also have previous experience with the employment services so they will be able to assist in setting up the new Self Reliance Center here in Bacolod.
Dan and I are already making plans for after we come home. We have trips to take to see all the grandchildren and children, one to Hawaii, Sedona and Boston already in the works. Plus, Dan needs to purchase a car and a lap top (his is on it's last legs), we need to finish our back yard with the built in kitchen and some furniture, and then decide what we want to do with the rest of our lives. We do want to work in the temple so we will be looking forward to that in the fall after all the trips are over.
This week I was given the assignment to put together the preferred job and school documents for the Bacolod and Iloilo missions. We thought it would keep me busy for the entire week, but it took about 8 hours total. Dan keeps saying we struggle to cram one day's work into seven days. I guess we are not your normal old people. We have finally heard from those priesthood leaders in charge of the new program and still do not really have any idea how they will proceed or if we can assist in getting things up to speed before we go so we just continue to make things up as we go and try to keep busy. I feel very guilty watching the other senior couples run around crazy while we sit in our office with air conditioning and try to keep busy. It is difficult to be in this transition period and feeling like we can be doing more. We have loved being able to help the young adults here, but know it the new program were in force sooner we could have helped so many more. It will be exciting to keep in touch with the young people as they progress and finish school and become employed. Their lives will be so much better with a more secure future.
Today was Super Bowl Monday in the Philippines and unfortunately it was a sleeper of a game and we did not have any internet to entertain us. At lunch time we went to the mall to eat lunch and buy groceries (yes the markets are in the mall). While we had internet during lunch we found out that many of our Tacloban transfers were being returned to Tacloban so we quickly went to the Stake center in hopes of seeing them and giving them our love before they leave. We are so thankful for the many missionaries that came to Bacolod and infused our mission with enthusiasm and spirituality for the last three months. We were talking to many of the mothers on Facebook as we sat with their daughters waiting for the Mission President. We will miss Sister Hogge, Sister Nelson, and Sister Campbell (Australia) so very much and I am not sure how many others are going back. The only reason I know about these sisters is Sister Hogge's mother sent us the heads up that she was returning so we went to hug her and ran into the other two sisters. Although I sometimes wonder why we were sent here, the young sisters always thank me for the love and support we give not only them, but their mothers. Our Mission President does not understand a mother's love and concern so if it were not for me the mom's back in the US would not know much about their children. One of the Senior elders said the mother's should butt out of the mission business and it is not their business and I just let him have it. The mother's of these young missionaries who were in Tacloban did not know for days if their missionaries were dead or alive during the typhoon. I told him if he had ever lost a child in death he would understand their need to know how their missionaries are doing. I also told him that their children was their business. Oh my trouble making again. No I have not changed much at all. Sorry to those who thought I might mellow out a bit (Bishop Stewart). So after taking photos, exchanging emails, taking belongings to ship home to the US (it is too expensive for the young missionaries to send so we will do it), and giving hugs we came home to spend the rest of our day relaxing. We will be the lucky ones ( not sarcasm) to drive the young sisters to San Carlos tomorrow so we will get to visit more with Sister Smoot who has been here 6 month and is now transferring. We had lunch dates set with her and with Sister Hogge this week and transfers cancelled them. We are thankful for the opportunity to serve the young missionaries. They sometimes keep me going.
Well, that is it for February. I know you all sit with bated breath waiting for these letters so I will get them ready and into the mail. I love you all so very much and am counting the nine Sundays until our return home
Lots of love and hugs.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
December 29, 2013
Thursday we took the ferry to Cebu so that we could go to the temple and prepare for[JS1] taking the ferry to Tagbilaran for a visit and a rest! Friday, we went to the temple. We were of course early and so we were the witness couple again. The amazing thing about that is the temple sits all the new attendees in the front row and as I sat down the woman who was placed next to me is one of our PEF participant's mother, Sister Navarro. It was her first time to attend the temple and she and her husband and children were being sealed for time and all eternity. She is the mother of Dionalee from San Carlos. She is also the grandmother of the baby Dan had blessed our first year here. She was so happy we were there with her family. It was totally random us being there because we had planned on going to the temple at nine in the morning, but because we were very tired we did not get there until the eleven o'clock session. Sister Navarro was so happy and in tears that we were these for her first time. I felt truly blessed that we had gone to the later session so we could be there with the Navarro family. I have grown to love so many of the people here and the Navarro's are a wonderful family who believe we were sent by our Father in Heaven specifically to help her daughter and so many of the members of her ward.
After going to the temple we drove over to the port to buy the tickets and pay for the car to take the ferry to Tagbilaran. We found the right place and so Dan went in to buy the tickets while I waited in the car. I just closed my eyes and rested for a little while and fell asleep for must have We found the right place and so Dan went in to buy the tickets while I waited in the car. I just closed my eyes and rested for a little while and fell asleep for must have been quite a while because when I woke up I played a little Tetris on my phone. After a little while I noticed it was getting dark, so I decided I needed to go find Dan before it was totally dark and we were separated. I asked the workers in the business in the direction Dan walked and was told to go around the back of the building. Then the security guard at the back of the building asked if he could help me. I told him my husband went to buy tickets for the ferry and he showed me where it was but it was closed! I knew Dan was still inside so he asked the security at the door to allow me to enter. Dan had been inside since 2:10 and it was going on 5:30 by the time I found him. That is how long it took him to buy the tickets. It was crazy. At Christmas time in the Philippines everyone travel home to their families so the ferries are packed. We had to travel through a different port also because the port we traveled through last time is still closed due to the earth quake. The ferry ride we were able to take took four and a half hours to reach the island. We are used to the two hour ferries so this was really quite long. By the time we got off the ferry and started to drive to the resort where we were staying it was very dark and our little Toyota doesn't have defrost so it was a long and arduous journey to the resort La Pernella which is quite a way from the city. But it is a beautiful and tranquil place. I do not know how Dan made it since the windshield on the passenger side was totally fogged up and I could not see at all. What a blessing he remembered how to get to the resort and that he could see.
Today is Sunday and we attended church in Tagbilaran 2nd Branch and it was so wonderful. The members just love the missionaries and make us feel so special and welcome. We were even asked to take part in the Sunday School portion of the meeting telling about the PEF changes.
The wonderful changes include no counter payment with the tuition so the young people can borrow 100% of their tuition now. Also, there is an incentive of 40% that students can repay through their performance: grades, having a mentor, graduation and securing a job. So many more will be helped with the new changes. If we were going to be here I bet we would double the 200 applicants we had the first year we were here.
Well, the rest of the week will be quiet and relaxing and I look forward to the rest. We will return to Cebu on Saturday and then on to Bacolod on Monday. We planned to spend New Year's Eve here in the country hoping I will be able to sleep, since last year there was such extreme noise from about 11 pm until 4 or 5 am. The Philippino people believe that the noise will frighten all the bad spirits and events away. After the year they have had with earth quakes and typhoons, I expect the noise to be even more severe in Bacolod to ensure a better calamity free year in 2014