Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

For those still living in 2016 waiting for the new year to arrive we can say that it came in with a bang - in fact several of them.  There were a lot of neighborhood fire crackers. Then a horn honking for 20 minutes straight.  After that it was pretty quiet until morning. No karaoke that we could hear.

A new day has dawned in a new year and what we see of the future, so far, looks pretty good.

Looking back through pictures  taken over the course of this last year brought back a flood of memories. It is unbelievable how many changes have taken place and how many new experiences there were in that year.  Here are just a few of the highlights.

All of the missionaries who were with us in the office this time last year are now home.There were 8 batches of missionaries come and go during the year. About half of the mission.

There was a close encounter with balut.

There were many close encounters with a multitude of other vehicles on the highway.

Elder and Sister Haliday returned to their home and are no longer with us.

President and Sister Tanner also left for home and were replaced by President and Sister Maughan.

Our good friend Elerie was married and he and Wilma are expecting their first child.

The Philippine Area Presidency changed as President Bowen took the place of President Ardern.

We had our first jeepnee and tricycle rides.

Our granddaughter was married bringing a new grandson into the family.

Elder and Sister Weatherston joined us in the office.

Our home ward has changed and we have a new stake president.

There have been tender mercies too numerous to count. Looking back we see the Lord's hand in this work. There is absolutely no way it would be moving forward without divine help.

We anticipate many new experiences as we look forward into the coming year. One thing a mission does for 'seniors' is to move us out of our comfort zones. We are placed in an environment where we are constantly challenged and need to adapt. Getting 'set in our ways' will need to come later.

Thought for the Week

"Certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else. "
Elder david A. Bednar  'And Nothing Shall Offend Them', October 2006

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016

Instead of 'Silent Night', our Christmas Eve was filled with Karaoke and fire works. The 'singing' started just after dark and finally ended at 3:30 Christmas Morning. The 'music' continued until well after dawn. All we want for Christmas is a nap.  We are working hard on restoring feelings of 'good will toward men'.
Wilma and Elerie Bugtai
The highlight of this week was a baby shower in the office on Friday for Wilma and Elerie Bugtai. In addition to washing mission vehicles, Elerie does a lot for us and is our go-to guy whenever we need to locate services or products for the office. He is like the office concierge.  To say that Sister Maughan was super excited to give them a baby shower is an understatement.

Wilma has no family close by but Elerie's mother, two sisters, brother-in-law, two nieces and a nephew were able to come and watch as Elerie and Wilma opened their baby gifts. Elerie could hardly contain himself with excitement. After shedding tears of gratitude and joy, Wilma was beaming. Hopefully this will help as they start their family.
Not knowing for sure if it is a boy or girl but based on Elerie's dream of holding his son, most of the gifts leaned toward 'boy'.
Cebu East Mission Presidency
President and Sister Maughan invited the mission presidency and their wives to the mission home for a Christmas Dinner. From left to right is President Maughan, President Saballa (1st Counselor), Sister Maughan, Sister Saballa, President Dela Rama (2nd Counselor), Sister Dela Rama, Sister Responte and Dave Responte (mission executive secretary and suspected to be one of the three Nephites).

By the time this is published the Christmas count down calendar will be at zero although it may be reset to 365 on Monday and remain in the mall. We shall see.
Package shelves.
With the help of the Weatherstons we were able to meet our goal of having as many Christmas packages as possible out to the missionaries before Christmas. This is how the package shelf looked on Friday, the 23rd. Everything received in the office by that day was either already in missionary hands or on its way. The few that come in now will be sent asap.

Although it is hard not being with family during the holidays we are grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord and are also very grateful for the technology that allows us to keep in touch. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thought for the Week

"I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better than I know now that he is God's Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way."
Elder Bruce R. McConkie - "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane"

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It Snowed this Week!

Just to be clear, we should point out that the snow was in the US, not the Philippines. It did rain here though with temperatures in the low 80's and humidity in the high 80's. There were also periods of sunshine and clouds.  For those who wonder what Lehi meant when he said that without opposition "all things must needs be a compound in one" (2 Nephi 2:11), he could have been describing the climate here. Even though we don't miss driving in snow and ice we miss the change of seasons and look forward to seeing snow again.
December departing batch.
Speaking of seeing snow again, we said goodbye to 17 missionaries - several of which are returning to snow. Two of our sisters flew home to Rexburg, Idaho where the temperature was reported as -6 degrees Fahrenheit. That is like going from the frying pan into the freezer. We sure do wish all of our returning missionaries the best as they reunite with family and friends.

Missions change missionaries in many ways. They never return home the same as they come. Elder Mapel left his suit coat in the mission home when he arrived here two years ago and tried it on again this week.
This fit two years ago.
Here are pictures from the batch's final meal together at Army Navy.
Karla, our daughter, sent us a Christmas package last year that didn't actually arrive until February or March of this year so we saved the envelopes with the 12 Days of Christ-mas to open for Christmas this year. Each one contains a special Christmas message. The first one was opened on December 14. This happens to be the shared birthday of our granddaughter, Janica, Sister McNett's brother, Mark, and Elder Head, who was with us in the office and went home last August.
12 Days of Christ-mas
This has been a good way for us to take a moment each day and ponder what Christmas is really about.

We made it to a mall on Saturday which was a HUGE mistake due to traffic congestion but got a nice picture of the Christmas tree there. It felt like every person in Cebu was traveling on Saturday.
We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and hope that all will take time to enjoy the season with family and friends.
(Sorry for the poor quality but this picture was taken quickly from a moving car in the heart of Cebu by 'someone' who was driving and shouldn't have been taking pictures. Look closely at the sign on top of the red jeepnee and remember to #lighttheworld)

Thought for the Week

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given"
Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas Celebrations

There were two mission Christmas Celebrations this year. One was on December 2nd for the missionaries on Bohol and one last Friday, the 9th, for those on Cebu. The format was the same for each so we will talk of them as if they were one event.

For the first half of the day we met in the chapel.  After a song and prayer we had a discussion led by Elder Grimpluma and Elder Clark, the two assistants. Their theme was #lighttheworld. This was followed by zone presentations that alternated with talks from missionaries. Over the two days we heard from Sister Cook, Elder Perez, Sister Gil and Elder Benting who all did very well. The zone presentations were a nice assortment of musical numbers and videos. The mission office even 'chimed in'. Sister Maughan and President Maughan both spoke to end the morning meeting. They talked of their love for the missionaries and for the Savior.

Elder Grimpluma and #lighttheworld
Office on chimes
We then had a catered lunch during which there was a slide show with music showing pictures collected from throughout the mission.

Bohol Christmas Lunch
Cebu Lunch

After lunch the tables were cleared for games and gift exchange. Games included acting out the12 days of Christmas and a favorite game of Sister Maughans called Dipity-Dipity. On Bohol there was an additional game called Pukana introduced by some of our missionaries from the South Pacific.

Dipity Dipity
The item for the gift exchange this year was flip-flops. There were games involved so that the winning zone would have the final pick.
Decorating a District Leader
 We were glad it wasn't up to us to pick the winner.
Danao Zone 'Painting a Picture'

For one of the games in Cebu Elder McNett was asked to be the royal guard for King and Queen Maughan of Planet Pluto. The challenge for the zones was to make the royal guard laugh.
Stern looking Royal Guard
It wasn't easy but he maintained his composure until Consolacion Zone surprised him with Sister McNett hiding in the middle of their group. They won.

Following the gift exchange we sang Christmas carols and ended the day with a prayer. It is always so nice to have the mission come together like this for fun and spiritual uplift. It was especially nice to do it in celebration of Christmas.

Thought for the Week

 Little Stream

Only two weeks now until Christmas. The following is the response to a text our zone leaders received at the first of the month letting them know that their monthly support was available.

Hark the herald elders/sisters sing,
 glory to the finance king!
Support on card and we withdraw,
 missionaries shout hoo-ray!
Joyful missionaries rise,
 join the ATM lines,
And with grateful hosts proclaim,
 Elder McNett has done again.
Hark the missionaries sing,

Elder Santos, Elder Goulding
Calape Zone Leaders

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Another First

 After more than a year in the Philippines we still find opportunities for new experiences.  Last week I took a walk with Elerie and instead of walking home we decided to catch a tricycle back.
Elerie enjoyed riding as much as I did.
View from the passenger seat,
Door to door service.
Having ridden in a jeepnee it is interesting to note the differences between them and the tricycles. Both are widely used in the Philippines, but each serves a slightly different purpose. Jeepnees carry more passengers than a tricycle and run along fixed routes - usually along the main roads. They are not found in every neighboorhood. A jeepnee's route will be indicated on the side of the vehicle. The standard fare for a jeepnee is seven pesos which is paid when getting on.

Tricycles, on the other hand, can be found all over and operate more like a mini-taxi. Theye will generally serve an area but are not on a fixed route. The standard fare for a tricycle is more than a jeepnee but, depending on the distance to the destination, may be negotiated. The fare is paid when the destination is reached.

With the use of a mission vehicle we really haven't had much opportunity to ride jeepnees or tricycles. Then on Thursday we traveled with Maughans and Weatherstons to the island of Bohol to help with the Christmas Party on Friday for the three zones there.  Sister McNett and Sister Maughan took a tricycle from our hotel to the church and then Elder and Sister McNett rode in one with Elder Clark from the church to where we had dinner. We are veteran tricycle riders now.
Sister McNett and Sister Maughan in a tricycle.

Tricycle Driver

Passenger view forward.

Passenger view to the side.
Elder Clark paying the driver.
Here are more pictures from our trip to Bohol.
Passenger getting foot massage while waiting for the ferry. 

View from our hotel room.
Our hotel at night.
Children playing at the Tagbilaran church.
Elder Clark showing a magic trick.
Sister Maughan passing out toys and candy.
One of us was driving when this next picture was taken and it wasn't Sister McNett.
What's wrong with this picture?
Exciting times! We also have pictures from the Christmas Party that we plan to show next week and combine with those from the party scheduled for the zones on Cebu. We end with pictures of two of our favorite missionaries who just happen to be 'batch'.  Sister Cook's first area was Lilo-an (where the Mission Office is) and Sister Osumo was initially on Bohol. Then when Sister Cook was transferred to Bohol Sister Osumo came to Lilo-an. With last transfer Sister Osumo went back to Bohol so they are now at least on the same island and both were with us on Friday. It has been fun for us to watch them develop as missionaries.
Sister Osumo

Thought for the Week