Sunday, February 14, 2016

Senior Couple Conference/Retreat

This week the four senior couples assigned to the mission met again for a two day conference/retreat. One couple, Elder and Sister Halladay, are returning home next month and this was a chance to be with them one last time before they leave. Halladays have been on the island of Bohol with Elder and Sister Bell and will be sorely missed. We could easily have three or four couples on Bohol to help fill the need there. When Halladays are gone Bells will be left to cover the island by themselves and will be stretched pretty thin.
Elder Bock.
The seniors all arrived at the mission home Wedneday evening. We had dinner together and visited for a bit but there wasn't time for much else. We  returned to our home to sleep since we live not far from the mission home while the others stayed there for the night.  Although we see the Bocks from time to time as they are also on the island of Cebu - about 4 hours north - the last time we were with the couples from Bohol was at the last senior couple retreat last November. It was good to be together again.
Bells fixing breakfast for us.
On Thursday we returned to the mission home, had breakfast together and met for the day to discuss our assignments and be instructed by President and Sister Tanner. Just as we were getting started some special guests arrived.
Debra and Raymond Goodson (middle couple)
It just happened that Raymond and Debra Goodson were visiting Cebu from Salt Lake and President Tanner had invited them to come meet with us and tell us about the work they are doing in the Philippines through a non-profit foundation they started called Rise & Rebuild. Reyson and Judith Pua from Cebu also came with them.  The Puas are helping the Goodsons with the logistics of operating their foundation in the Philippines.
Judith (foreground) and Reyson talking with Bocks.
By way of introduction we learned that Brother Goodson was one of the first four missionaries assigned to the Philippines in 1961. At the time he had already served for three years as a missionary in Hong Kong. He said when he received the call to come to the Philippines that President Hinkley asked him to convert a nation. He has been involved with helping the people here ever since also serving as mission president in Manila in 1974.

To give an example of the service given by Brother and Sister Goodson, after typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines in the fall of 2013 they helped organize a team of returned missionaries and other volunteers who helped build 3,000 homes on Tacloban, an island just east of Cebu that was hit hard by the typhoon. While the rebuilding was going on, at a time when food was hard to come by, Sister Goodson cooked and served meals to the volunteers every day. He said that being his friend is very expensive, that during that time his phone bill alone was around $12,000.  

The foundation they started is dedicated to helping build CRs and other structures for communities here. A CR is a Comfort Room (bathroom). They are built out of compressed earth blocks with about 10% cement mixed in. The blocks are compressed in hand operated presses, are about 20 times stronger than hollow block at half the cost and are shaped something like Legos so are set without mortar. A CR can be completed in 5 days after the foundation and septic tank are finished. The best part is that block presses and CR construction will employee dozens of people who desperately need employment. Some other things the foundation is involved with is hand driven well drilling and providing libraries to schools. They are truly helping people here to help themselves improve
their living conditions and find meaningful employment. They will work with people in local communities so that they have a personal interest in what is done.
Bocks and Tanners

Halladays and Bells
We had dinner Thursday evening at a restaurant North of us about an hour and a half called Borussia that serves German food. We would come to the Philippines to eat German food? Who knew?

Anyway, the first day of our get-together was very inspiring and educational. On Friday we took a day trip to the island of Camotes. It will be covered in our next posting as there are a lot of pictures to share.


  1. Some of your best friends ever are likely to be other seniors with whom you serve the Lord. We still keep in touch with several we came to know in Mongolia.

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