Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Marching into 2016: Mission Odds and Ends

We are concentrating on “March Momentum” in the Angeles Mission.  Our 2016 mission theme is built around ministry (“make thee a minister and a witness” - Acts 26:15) and we are creating energy and enthusiasm as able ministers of Jesus Christ.   The first three months of the year have been remarkable.  We’ve had very powerful and unique experiences in early 2016 which are now propelling us to greater things as a mission.  

Below are some of the additional events that take place and are often unseen but a great mission memory nonetheless.   

Our Mission Presidency is complete again.  After Elder Naegle left, there was a vacancy in the Presidency.  We are pleased to welcome President Cruz as second counselor and Elder Whiting as secretary.  President Zapanta has been called as a Mission President in the Naga Mission.  He will soon leave us but what a great counselor he is and has been.

Angeles Mission Presidency - Pres. Zapanta, 1st Counselor, President Clark, President Cruz, 2nd Counselor, Elder Whiting, Secretary

While in Baler last month, we went to Dipaculau to sacrament meeting.  There are so many things to love about Dipaculau; the members, the building, the feeling of love for the gospel.  The Relief Society choir sang.  They did a beautiful job and wanted a picture with us afterward.  How we love our Baler saints!

Last January our daughter Mikale's in-laws were teaching English in China.  They came to visit us for a few days.  Their assignment in China was completed.  They saw that we were in desperate need of senior couples.  Because of different commitments they were unable to fulfill a full-time mission so they did the next best thing.  They are giving us 4 solid months of 24/7 assistance in so many areas in our mission.   We are grateful to Brother Ron and Sister Diana Williamson for their incredible help.  They found a little motor scooter to get them from their room to the church or wherever they need to be. Pretty darn cute and the stares they get are priceless!                                                                          

Our cute missionaries bought a cake to help us celebrate 35 glorious years of marriage.  How is it that every day gets better than the days, months and years before!  (The poncho was a gift from one of our Returned Missionaries, Bro. Mabalot.)

Here are the Bishops and wives of Cabanatuan!  It was fun meeting them at a local restaurant.  Everyone was well fed then the fun began.  Speaking and introductions in the microphone was a treat.  President Clark then taught them why our mission does what it does.  He asked for questions then answered them in such a way that the Bishop's and Stake leaders had greater appreciation for the need to work together.

Holy Cow....Look who's 60!  Sister Whiting came all the way to the Philippines to celebrate her 60th birthday!  So maybe that's a bit of a stretch but we are so grateful that she and Elder Whiting have come miles and miles to serve the Lord and all of us in the Angeles Mission!  

The big celebration!

Our first senior couple's outing in 2016 was a trip to the 4D Theatre and Clark Museum.  We had fun exploring the area and ended up lunching at the Gas Station Restaurant.  American Cuisine is a featured favorite at the restaurant.  You can even purchase a steak and buy big chunks of cheese.

Tarlac Stake had their Conference a few weeks ago.  Sister Clark was asked to speak with the Sisters Auxiliary leaders during the Priesthood session of Conference.  The high council room was full to the brim with bright and talented sister leaders.  It was great to listen to them and add a portion of the learning and support their training.  Sister Clark's topic was one of her latest favorites; Sabbath Day Observance.   After the Saturday night session, one of the Bishop's and his daughter presented their self portrait of Sister Clark as a Filipina.  Sweet!
On the other side of this posted note "tender mercy wall" sits Sister Whiting.  When the Whiting's arrived they filled the glass jar on top of the desk with candy.  Next to it sits a set of sticky notes.  Whenever one of our missionary's needs a little pick-me-up of chocolate or sugar, they write on the post-it note something that they have gratitude for...a tender mercy in their life.  This fills our office with sweet remembrances on how much, large or small, we are grateful for.  

This is a small glimpse into our mission life.  While our missionaries are our first and foremost loved responsibility, there are many other incredible events that shape us all here in the Philippines.  

Mahal kita!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

We Thank Thee

When President and Sister Nelson visited the mission home for lunch, President Nelson left these breath-taking pictures for us to enjoy.  He said they were, "hot off the press."  We are so excited to be able to hear our Prophet's voice.  One of the things President Nelson asked the missionaries was how long they thought it took for a talk to be written.  The answer was 6 months.  The topic is prayerfully selected, pondered, written, reshaped, rewritten, reviewed and ready to be shared with all of us.  That makes each talk that is given all the more meaningful.  

These two great quotes help us to understand how valuable it is to prepare one's self to hear the words of our loved servants.

“Wherever we are in this world, however we receive these proceedings, I testify that we are gathered in His conference. I also testify that we will hear His word, for He has said, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”  These conferences are always under the direction of the Lord, guided by His Spirit.  Through fasting, praying, studying, and pondering, we learn the message that He wants us to give.”   Elder Robert D. Hales

“In order for the messages of general conference to change our lives, we need to be willing to follow the counsel we hear. The Lord explained in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith “that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know … how to act upon the points of my law and commandment.”   But knowing “how to act” isn’t enough. The Lord in the next verse said, “Ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me.”   This willingness to take action on what we have learned opens the doors for marvelous blessings.”   - Elder Paul V. Johnson

March MLC

Another faith-filled Mission Leadership Council was had during the month of March.  After the World-wide mission broadcast direction, we changed our mission motto.  It is now, "In the Philippines Angeles Mission we teach repentance, baptize converts and rescue members."  It feels so much better when we proclaim this before stating our purpose.

Our Assistants gave a marvelous workshop on Pipeline of Conversion.  Our Council was so responsive to their training.  They talked about being a Shepherd versus being a Sheep Herder.  There is a great quote by President Benson that they used:

Shepherds vs. Sheepherders   (John 10:1-18)
Unlike modern sheepherders, the shepherd always walked ahead of his flock. He led them. The shepherd knew each of the sheep and usually had a name for each. The sheep knew his voice and trusted him and would not follow a stranger. Thus, when called, the sheep would come to him.
Sometimes, however, a wild animal driven by hunger would leap over the walls into the midst of the sheep, frightening them. Such a situation separated the true shepherd—one who loved his sheep—from the hireling—one who worked only for pay and duty.
The true shepherd was willing to give his life for the sheep. He would go in amongst the sheep and fight for their welfare. The hireling, on the other hand, valued his own personal safety above the sheep and would usually flee from the danger.”
                                                                                          -President Ezra Taft Benson 

As a mission, we asked ourselves, "Are we 'Shepherd-ing' Missionaries OR 'Sheepherder-ing' Missionaries.  Our goal is definitely to be Shepherds.  As the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders took that out to the mission, the response was great.  The missionaries understood and are trying to be good shepherds!

We had break-out sessions where the Elders went with President and the Sisters met with me.  We had a great time talking and counciling about ways to be a "force for good!"  

We ended our MLC with a great question and answer session.   Our missionaries are our heroes!  They go and do great things!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Zone Conference - "Repentance" The most encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary!

Another Zone Conference is filed away in the Angeles Mission history books.  Our main goal was to teach the 8 Fundamentals that we've been asked to teach and reteach.  Although we had large groups of missionaries together, we split into 4 different workshops and they moved around every 40 minutes.  The workshops included:
Getting people to Church
Revelation through the Book of Mormon
Teach People Not Lessons

After lunch President Clark taught about teaching repentance.  We must understand it and teach it accurately.  More than that we need to teach is a path to peace and joy!  We love the quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
"Most people have come to fear, dread and avoid the word repentance.  They have been taught and now understand repentance to mean repeated or never ending punishment.  
Repentance is a kind and merciful law.
Repentance is the path to peace and joy.
Repentance is...following faith, the most encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary."
                                                                                        Elder Jeffrey R. Holland 

Another topic taught was "Teaching the Apostasy."  This was done with an object lesson of The Arsonist and The Fireman.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING:  We aren't used to seeing the Elders as the last missionary's standing after questions are posed from, "Did you write a letter to President this week?" to "Did you go to bed on time every night this week?"  When we had 3 Elders left standing, there was a large cheering section from all of the Elders.  Elders and make us proud.

It was glorious to meet again with our missionaries.  They are full of a desire to do better and be better.  Our missionaries live everyday to follow the important instruction of the Missionary Handbook.  They "strive to understand and live the principles and standards it teaches.  They are learning and living the higher law as taught by Jesus Christ.  They strive to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and follow His directions in all they do."  They are our heroes!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Sentimental Sabbath

Since arriving on our mission, there are days that I awake, arise and go straight into focus "get the list done" mode.  That is a very good mode to be in at times.  Today is the Sabbath.  It is a day that I love.  Sabbath Day Observance means so much more today than ever before.  We have learned much from our Church leaders in the past year about how to get more than could be imagined on the Sabbath Day. Although the upcoming week presents our mission with Mission Leadership Council on Tuesday and large Zone Conferences on Wednesday and Thursday, I pause to collect my thoughts and realize so many blessings!

The couple above is my youngest son and his wife, Brian and Shelby.  Shelby joined our family three years ago.  This completed our children's search for spouses and it was wonderful for all of our children and their spouses to be joined together in the Salt Lake Temple that day in December.  President Clark and I began our journey 35 years ago in the Salt Lake Temple so it seemed fitting for our youngest to complete the circle in the Salt Lake Temple.

This January we had a wonderful opportunity for all of our family to join together at the Philippines Angeles Mission Home.  Everyone arrived and the fun had begun.  We gathered for the first group picture and just before I was ready to push the button, Brian shouted, "Wait, I think Shelby needs to get out of the picture.  I learned that in Filipino tradition it's bad luck to take a picture of expecting women."  This was news that we knew someday would make all of us delighted.  Tears flowed, cheers and hugs were shared, it made this trip more complete before it even really began.  It was one of those family moments in time that will live forever.

Some family members are out of view.
So on this sentimental morning in the Philippines Angeles Mission, you are wished a wonderful and blessed Sabbath Day.  He lives.  He loves us, all of us!  What comfort this knowledge brings!