Friday, 21 August 2015

Our Filipino Family 08/19/2015

If it seems that our posts are getting further apart, you would be correct!  It is hard to find the time needed to create an update on what we are doing on our mission because we are busy DOING the things on our mission!  We never lack for things to do!

We have met the most wonderful people here, so in this post we thought we would "introduce" you to some of  our friends here.  For starters we will tell you about the people we go visiting less active members of the church, with.

Sister Malig is standing in front of a Sari-Sari
Store.  They are EVERYWHERE.  They
are home businesses to supplement the
family income.  You can buy anything from
candy and food ingredients to personal hygiene
items, like little packets of shampoo.
This is Sister Malig.  She is the Relief Society President (Women's organization in our church), in Guagua as well as a pioneer of the church there.  She knows EVERYONE and is always inspired to take us to people who are prepared to come back to church or who just need a visit.  She is so much fun to visit with.  In the back of the car she talks away with Sister Abella (You'll meet her next), and us, then forgets she is giving us directions.  Sister Abella has lovingly nicknamed her "Sister Balik,"  which means, "Go back."  It is no easy feat to turn around on these streets!  Many of them are the width of our car with a ditch and a house on either side, along with children...many of them!  Mike is a trooper and has become an expert at driving here.  I didn't say he LIKES it, but he hasn't killed us yet, so I say he's an expert.
This is Sister Abella.  As you can see here, she is quite talented at avoiding the mud.  I, on the other hand, decided to put my foot down to see if we could move faster walking on what I thought, might be surface wet dirt.  I lost my shoe and had to fish it out.  Bad idea!  I should have just followed our trusty partner and stayed up on the cement!   I don't want to guess what was in that ditch and luckily none of us fell in there!  Sister Abella has lots of funny stories to tell and keeps us all laughing.  

We love visiting with both of these sisters every Wednesday afternoon for about 4 hours.  They are so generous with their time and efforts and are super missionaries!  We wish we could give them missionary name tags.  Both have become very dear friends and we love them both very much!  There are so many that we feel so close to in the Guagua Branch.

This is one of the families we visited.  We usually visit up to about 6 families when we work together with Sister Abella and Sister Malig.   Edmar is in the center.  He is waiting for his mission call and we can't wait to find out where he will serve.  Most Filipino's stay in the Philippines.  His cousin Heidi, is to the right.  Both Edmar and Heidi love to work with the full time missionaries.  They are great!  They are the only active members of the Church in their families.  Edmar's mother and niece are to the left.  We loved getting to know both their families a little bit better.  They are very kind!
This is the Bansil Family.  What a fun family!  Due to some misunderstandings, it has been a few years since they have been to church.  We were able to teach a lesson and invite them back to church.  We offered to do a Family Home Evening along with the full time sister missionaries.  They were excited about that idea. The whole family was there, along with a couple of boyfriends.  We had a lesson, games and songs.  Of course there was delicious food prepared by the Bansil's.  We brought a birthday cake to celebrate two of the Bansil daughter's birthdays.  The 10 year old in the pink shirt to the left, hopes to be baptized in about 3 weeks!

Now we will introduce you to Brother DeGuzman from the Dinalupihan Branch.  He is the Elder's Quorum President.  His parents were pioneers of the church in Dinalupihan and he grew up as an active member.  He also, knows everyone on the church records, so he is great to visit with.

This is the Miranda Family.  Brother DeGuzman grew up with Brother Miranda.  They are still very close friends, but Brother and Sister Miranda haven't been to church for a while.  Their children come and enjoy Primary and YM. It is time for this family to prepare for the temple to be sealed for eternity.  It was a wonderful experience to extend the invitation to come back to church and to look forward to temple blessings!

Brother Layug is a sculptor.  The work he does with stones is amazing.  Going into their yard is like entering a beautiful resort!  He has made fountains, planters, outdoor dining furniture, a beautiful well, animals and many other creations out of stones.  Brother Layug found every rock used to make the wall behind us in this picture!  When we met this family, Brother Layug and his wife were shaving bamboo poles that are purchased by hotels and resorts to be used as decorations.  They have unusual shapes and would look so pretty in fancy vases.  We loved hearing about when he joined the church many years ago.  The Layug's have taken in 4 nieces whose parents work abroad.  It is a common situation to have kids being raised by other family members so parents can work abroad and make better money.  It's sad, because families are broken apart and marriages rarely survive.  Kids don't know their parents, but it feels like their only way out of poverty.  Brother Layug and the 4 nieces are all members of the Church.  We invited them to return and hope they will take us up on the invitation!
Above, is the Barro Family.  They are investigating the Church, however, Dinalupihan Branch already considers them active members.  They fit right in and are already very involved.  Just waiting for a couple more things and they will be baptized!  We were there with them to share a Family Home Evening.  Seems that wherever we go we are served delicious food, no matter the time.  They served a wonderful dinner and we brought the cookies!  What a great family!

Okay, here is our English class in Dinalupihan.  They are such fast learners that they will all be fluent by the end of our 10 week class.  We wish we could speak Tagalog as well as they can speak English!
Still in Dinalupihan, these are some of the keyboarding students.  Thanks to the Harman Family that provides grants to students learning to play the piano, they were given 5 keyboards to share.  After graduation from the course, the kids will get to apply to keep the keyboards!  They are very excited and are doing very well.  Clarence, the young woman in the blue shirt, has been teaching keyboarding in Dinalupihan.

And now for Lubao 2nd Branch.  This is our "home" branch. We take turns going to each of the 5 branches in our district, but this is our Branch President, President Santos.  His wife is on the right, Sister Fe.  One of the branch young women, Amcelyn, is in the middle.  She wanted to come on visits with us one day and she was great to have along!  The Santos' are so dedicated to the branch and look forward to the day when all the less active members come back to church.  They try to visit everyone and we love when we can go with them!  They also, are so funny and we share lots of laughs with them!  They have a peanut butter business they have started and they make a custom batch for us with less sugar.  It's delicious!  100 peso's per jar.

This visit is with Nanay Austria.  We love her and we're so excited she is preparing to go to the temple.  She is a widow and takes care of mulititudes of grandchildren as well as many others.  We hope to be with her when she goes to the temple.  It will be an exciting day!  Nanay has a grandson, Jerome, that is quite extraordinary and we love spending time with him.  He is a returned missionary and never ceases to amaze us.  We think he will eventually be running the Philippines.
Here, we are on our sandbag pathway through the tall grass to get to Ceesar's family.  Ceesar is a teenage boy who was introduced to the church through his friend at school.  He comes from a very sweet family and we really enjoyed meeting them.  Ceesar was just baptized a couple of days ago!
Past a couple of houses, around the corner and...

We found them!  This is Ceesar's family.  Ceesar is the one
standing.  The whole family is investigating the church now!
We are in the middle of a monsoon right now and our S-L-O-W internet is even slower!  We are going to have to continue this post at another time.

We love you all!  Thanks for reading!

Mike and Caren