Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mission Tour/Zone Conference

There were special visitors to our mission this week. Elder and Sister Haynie of the Philippine Area Presidency came for a mission tour and, among other things, participated in Mission Leadership Council (MLC) on Tuesday and held Zone Conferences on Wednesday and Thursday - one on Cebu and the other on Bohol.  Sister McNett was asked to help put together a missionary choir number for the meeting Wednesday on Cebu. They sang 'A Child's Prayer' to open the afternoon meeting and sounded fantastic.

There is a lot of musical talent in the mission. Sister Schroeder was asked to conduct and Sister Osumo to play piano. Sister McMaster helped a lot with choir rehearsals and Elder Cabasag performed a solo part. We also put together a slide presentation to go with the music.
Choir practice.
Sister Schroeder conducting, Sister Osumo on piano.
Prior to the start of Zone Conference Elder and Sister Haynie took the time to meet and briefly speak with everyone in attendance - about 100 of us. They were doing ok with everyone's name until Elder Pagotaisidro.
Shaking hands.
The meetings were instructive and inspirational. We learned about the history of the church in the Philippines going back to the Spanish American War in 1898 when the Utah Volunteer Artillery Unit came. George Seaman was a member of that unit and became the first missionary to serve here. When a church conference was held in Manila in 1945, after the end of World War II, there were about 500 members in attendance, mostly servicemen.

As an apostle Gordon B. Hinkley came in 1961 to request formal recognition of the church from the government and offer a prayer at the American War Memorial in Manila. Shortly after that visit four full time missionaries came to Manila from the Southern Far East Mission in Hong Kong. Eight members were baptized that first year. (Coincidentally - 1961 was also the year Elder McNett was taught by full time missionaries and baptized a member of the church - this event did not take place in the Philippines).

There are now over 700,000 members, 1200 congregations, almost 1000 chapels and over 4000 missionaries (60% Filipino) in the Philippines.  Elder Haynie referred to the Philippines as the Strength of the Church in Asia.
Group picture with the six Cebu zones.
To give an idea of the progress we (Elder and Sister McNett) have made - Thursday evening we drove the mission van to the Port of Cebu, picked up Elder and Sister Haynie and President and Sister Maughan at the ferry terminal, drove to the airport so that Haynie's could catch their flight back to Manila, found a McDonald's in Lapu-Lapu for dinner and returned home - all without hitting a single pedestrian or vehicle with the side mirror of the van or getting a ticket while making a U-turn in Lapu-Lapu. Something not even remotely possible a year ago.

This was also Halloween week. On October 31st there were a lot of families at the local mall with little ones dressed up and trick-or-treating. As far as we have seen, trick-or-treating is only done in the malls here. November 1st and 2nd are actually bigger holidays here. The 1st is All Saint's Day and the 2nd is All Soul's Day. These days are similar to Memorial Day and are set aside for remembering the deceased.  We noticed it most in the afternoon and evening of November 1st as this is a day when a LOT of people are visiting cemeteries and there just happens to be a large cemetery between our home and the office.  To describe the traffic from the office to home on the 1st as a 'major traffic jam' is an understatement.

We also have fun pictures taken by Sister Maughan this week. She went to a department store near the office to pick up back packs for missionary 72 hour kits and gift bags for a Christmas activity she is planning.  She ended up buying 55 packs and 100 bags. The people here are naturally friendly anyway but words cannot describe the level of customer service from sales clerks in department stores when buying large quantities of items. Sister Maughan loves everyone anyway and when you mix that with helpful clerks it is like magic to watch.
and Friendly.

Time marches on...

Thought for the Week

"Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock."
Jeremiah 31:10

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