Friday, June 26, 2015

Mission Tour 2015 with Elder and Sister Bowen - June 16-18th

Each year every mission in the church enjoys a "Mission Tour" under the direction of an assigned General Authority.  In 2015 it was our pleasure to host Elder Shayne Bowen and Sister Lynette Bowen.  Elder Bowen is currently 1st Counselor in the Philippines Area Presidency.  The Bowen's live in Manila.  Its been our pleasure to get to know the Bowen's over the last year through various conferences and seminars.  They've stayed in our home two times prior to this Mission Tour.  They are wonderful people and are great servants of the Church.

Our tour started with a meeting with the Mission Leadership Council.  Pictured are the outside and inside of several "jeepneys" used to transport our young mission leaders to and from the mission home.

                        Angeles Zone

Below are pictures taken with each of our 12 Zones.  We met in two large groups over the course of two days.  The east side of the mission met in Cabanatuan and the west side met in Tarlac.  The speakers included President and Sister Clark and Elder and Sister Bowen.  Music was provided by missionary choirs.  The Mission Tour was inspiring and motivating.  The missionaries came prepared and were richly rewarded for their efforts.

Elder and Sister Bowen delivered wonderful counsel to the mission.  For example...
                           Bongbon Zone
1. We Can Feel the Loss of Power…  Every act of disobedience, large or small, results in a loss of power as a missionary.  Preach My Gospel teaches that: “Missionaries are to go ‘in the power of their ordination wherewith [they have] been ordained, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel’ (D&C 79:1)”.  We also learned this is great spiritual power.  But that power is diminished each time we disobey. 

                        Camiling Zone
2. Crabbing Holds Us Back…  “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do.”  said Benjamin Franklin.  We can’t afford to be crabbing fools.  We should be each other’s greatest cheerleaders, celebrating successes and triumphs.  Criticism of those missionaries who are exceling – “the Roger Bannister” missionaries -- who strive to become better is counter to our mission culture and God’s purposes.                                                                                                                                                                                             
                          Guimba Zone
3.  Don’t Be a Flea…  What a great metaphor used by Elder Bowen!!  We learned that we can fall victim to “false limitations” if we are not careful.  We need to be willing to challenge conventional wisdom and not accept values that the world (or other missionaries) might try to impose.   We can’t be willing to accept low goals or standards of excellence because no one has done better before.  Remember, Noah and Nephi had never built boats before the Lord commanded.  Joseph Smith had never written (translated) a book before God asked. We can do more when we focus on our purpose, not problems.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                            Paniqui Zone
4.  The Miracle Formula…  This is a profound piece of knowledge.  OBEDIENCE + WORK (Faith) = Miracles.  We all want more miracles in our lives.  We know that faith must precede the miracle and now we know that faith is manifest through our good works.   Elder Russell M. Nelson teaches that a mission is an exercise in obedience training.  “Obedience brings success; exact obedience brings miracles,” he said.  So there it is again… obedience is an essential part of the Miracle Formula.                                                                                                                                              

5.  We Have Great Missionaries…  The 2015 mission tour reinforced for Sister Clark and I our faith in each of you – our missionaries.  It also increased our love for you.  You were wonderful in your preparation, presentation and participation.  The Bowens again and again complimented you as a mission and as individuals. 
                      Santa Ignacia Zone
                                                               The Bowen's, The Clark's, Elders Dejino & Watkins

Traditionally, a mission tour includes apartment inspections by the visiting General Authority and his wife.  The Bowen's were kind enough to inspect four of our mission apartments - two Elders and two Sisters Apartments.  Having provided ample warning, the apartment inspections went great.  The refrigerators and CR's were even checked.  We were proud of our "clean" missionaries!

President Garcia and his cute family fed us a delicious meal.  The Bowen's were amazed to see how much rice our missionaries could consume.  

The 2015 Mission Tour was a wonderful experience for our missionaries.  They loved associating with the Bowen's and fed themselves fully.....not only on rice but spiritual nourishment.

Clark Museum

We gather with our senior missionary couples about once a month.  We decided to try out an interesting museum in Angeles appropriately named "Clark Museum."  With a name like that, who wouldn't want to go.  No we are not in Oz.  This is a small cultural museum located on the former Clark Air Force Base.  It was delightful being with fellow senior missionaries and learn more about the people and culture of Central Luzon.  

Japanese Kamakazi Air Strip - Pictured is a monument to an abandoned air strip used by the Japanese during World War II for kamakazi attacks on the US Navy.  This monument was created several years ago to honor the fallen soldiers of the Philippines, Japan and the United States.

I Will Be The One....

In a nation-wide Special Conference held in June 2015 we were privileged to receive Philippines specific counsel from several General Authorities and officers of the Church, including Elder Neil L. Anderson. At the conference Elder Brent Nielsen told of an experience Sis. Nielsen had when they were serving in the Philippines.  Someone was at her apartment fixing a light where a ladder was needed.  After the repair, Sis. Nielsen tried putting the ladder away.  The workman quickly took the ladder from her and replied, "I Will Be the One!"  Elder Nielsen went on to say how wonderful the Filipino people are to come to serve others willingly and graciously.  "I Will Be the One!" is now a phrase that is widely and emphatically spoken on our mission.

Where did the months of May and June go?  They passed quickly here in the "Pearl of the Orient". The weather was very hot as the Philippines summer went by.  Pictured below are some of the big events of our mission lives over the past several months.

The Clarks and Woodruffs - End of April 2015
Our first Office Senior Couple - the Woodruff's - completed their 18 month mission and returned home to Canada.  They were huge contributors to our mission and great servants of the Lord.  The Woodruff's got us through our first 10 months of mission service for which we will be forever indebted.

As of the end of April we had four senior couples serving in the Angeles Mission.  These are invaluable and diligent missionaries.  They are extremely effective in their work including mission administration, leadership development, member self-reliance, family history and missionary support.  Oh how we love them.  We pray for more senior couples to come to the Angles Mission (any volunteers?).

In May we were part of District Conference in the Bongabon District.  This is a picture of Elder and Sis. Adduru.  It was a privilege for us to participate with them.  Each of us (Pres. and Sis. Clark), spoke in the Saturday evening and Sunday sessions of Conference.  The meetings were well attended and Elder Adduru of the Seventy was wonderful.  He is a major scriptorian.  His scriptures were well worn and he was a powerful teacher.  

The group of 5 photos above, are from our reactivation visits earlier this month.  We have many administrative duties to keep the mission running.  Those duties keep us in the mission office and in mission conferences for much of our time.  So....we love it when we are able to go out with our missionaries and go into the field.  We enjoyed an afternoon in Cabaluyan near Camiling visiting less active members and their neighbors.  We loved everything about our visit....especially the children!  The homes and surroundings you see in the pictures, are very typical of the rural areas of our mission.  To give some perspective, we made these visits in the late afternoon.  The temperature was in the mid nineties with high humidity.  Houses are not air conditioned so we received a "warm reception" everywhere we went.  

Mid Transfer Changes - There are times when companionships need to be changed mid-transfer.  Another reason why these missionaries are our heroes is that a phone call from the President can mean a big change in location and circumstance.  They are always willing to serve wherever they are assigned!  I'll go where you want me to go....

Our Missionaries - This is the transfer board that keeps us organized as to missionary assignments.  Sometimes we gaze at the pictures and marvel at what we have to work with.  We are grateful for each and every missionary who serves in Angeles.  They come with a vast diversity of cultural, economic and life experience.  The common thread through all of them is an unwavering loyalty to the Savior and this work.

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 2015 - 9 More Enter the Angeles Mission

Here is our 8th batch of incoming missionaries.  They are small in number but mighty in enthusiasm and excitement!  We have four Elders and 2 Sisters that will be ours throughout their mission.  Three of these Sisters are VISA waiters and will eventually be going to Australia, Arizona and Oakland/San Francisco.  We love having them while they await their final destination.  You can see that the number of missionaries coming in is less than the number departing.  We are on a steady decline and will probably level out at about 210 missionaries.  That simply means we will get better at what we do to teach and preach the gospel to others. WELCOME to our newest missionaries!

"You've Been Strengthened!"

Here they are!  Our 8th Batch to Return with Honor.  It was great to have them in the Mission Home to celebrate their final training sessions.  Sister Clark's three words for them were, "You've Been Strengthened!"  Missionary work is never easy...but it is worth it.  Many of these missionaries have definitely felt this through the experiences they have had during their 18 to 24 months serving the Lord.  They are our heroes and we know they will be strengthened in the future because of the challenges they rose above on their missions.  It's not good-bye but see you later! Mahal kayo kita!