Thursday, June 30, 2016

Looking Back on April, May and June

Months slip by in a blink!  Since this blog will serve as part of our mission journal, I will go through a few random pictures that are part of our journey and mustn't be forgotten.  Here you go - random pictures that make the Angeles Mission history!

Not infrequently roads simply fail here.  Case in point.  The problem is severe soil erosion due to heavy rains and poor construction.  The ground underneath the cement just washes away in a matter of a few days or weeks when typhoons come through.  Not much regulation is placed on vehicles traveling on these roads.  This was a very large and heavy truck that simply tipped over when the road gave way beneath it.  Driver beware.  YIKES!

We enjoyed a senior couples day at the Mission Home in April.  This picture is great because it not only has our full-time senior couples (Pugh's and Whiting's) but also Brother and Sister Williamson.  They saw a need and rushed to our aid for four months.  They ran the whole time!  This picture also has our dear neighbors, Mila and Gus Lacinlale.  Conversation is always lively when they are around.  We love this whole group of fellow servants and great friends!

April means another year of maturity for me.  Our children did some extensive research and found an incredible new camera.  The push is now to get some great pictures.  Besides capturing all of the main events, I will be taking "A picture a day starting June 30".  This will be 365 pictures of our last year in the mission.  Thank you kids for helping us build memories!

These are the missionaries who keep us going!  Our assistants and office elders are the BEST!  
They posted birthday greetings on my car after a long day in the office.  The perfect way to end a day of celebration.  
Tarlac Zone did it again!  SOE (Standard of Excellence) which means that there were 2 baptisms per companionship per month.  Well done dear missionaries!

Rainy season has begun!  I will never forget the Philippines and rain!  It is as if the heavens open and pour endless buckets of water.  I have grown to love the thunder, lightning and rain that waters the area and brings glorious crops of rice and sugarcane.  
Without it, so many of the people here would not survive.

Here is a picture of Sis. Diana Williamson before she left the Philippines.  We not only will share grandchildren but also great memories in the Philippines.

The Kastelers are some of the kindest and most generous people I know.  They served all of the missions in the Philippines for 23 months, departing in May 2016!  They operated the Missionary Recovery Center in Manila to provide critical healthcare to missionaries.  We have had many a missionary who needed more medical care than could be obtained in the field.  These two servants were like angels on earth.  We will miss them!  Before they left, we sent them 10 reasons why we LOVE the Kasteler's.  Some of the reasons are below:
More wisdom than Solomon.
First rate accommodations.  You run a really great youth hostel!
You have hearts the size of a great helping of Filipino rice!
You earn the Mother Theresa of Manila Award!
You are ministers to the sad, sick and inconsolable.
The scriptures describe you both best...For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in!

It has been an overwhelming realization that while on a mission, not only our children love us but so do our missionaries!  Mother's and Father's Day means that not only do our own children send us love and notes but so do our missionaries!  Lots of them!  Those here in the mission AND those who have come and gone have sent kind greetings from all over the world.  Our hearts are brimming over!

We are always getting new leaders.  That is the nature of a mission.  Our Mission Leadership Council is a great group of leaders.  We meet monthly to counsel and instruct.  The council members then teach the other missionaries.  This was our June MLC (on the last day of May).
As I type this,  I see 11 of these great leaders have already departed from our mission!

President Clark has not only responsibility for our missionaries, but he is the priesthood leader for all of our member districts.  We have five districts and eight stakes in our mission.  That means when our districts have conference, he is in charge (unless there is a visiting authority).  This was the end of Camiling East District Conference.  There were many great talks, inspiring music and a wonderful overall spirit during the conference.  

When we get incoming (trainee) missionaries, they each are assigned a trainer.  These companionships are almost always treasured relationships that lasts a lifetime.  The training period lasts 12 weeks.  Half way through the training process, we have a meeting to touch base with them.  During part of this meeting, President Clark and I take the trainees out to talk to them.  This is a tender time for the new missionary because they can still be overwhelmed with language, new environment, homesick, etc.  It is a good time for us to share encouragement and love for them.  They truly are our heroes.  They do really, really hard things.  After they get through the training process, the growth we see is simply amazing.
The photos above and below are our June Trainer/Trainee Meetings.
Above is Cabanatuan Side
Below is Tarlac Side 

Since we are training, we have the District Leaders come in and have a meeting with them right after the Trainer/Trainee Meeting.  District Leaders, when trained properly and motivated, can be a huge force for good in a mission.  A great district leader is comparable to a great bishop - very close to his members and working tirelessly to meet their needs.  He can perform miracles!
Above - District Leaders Cabanatuan Side
Below - District Leaders Tarlac Side

Monday is always a welcome day of preparation for our missionaries. We haven't been able to attend many preparation day zone activities but we did attend a very interesting activity with the Angeles Zone.  They decided to have a pig roast, Pacific Islander style.  They didn't plan on the live pig being delivered late.  It took them several hours to wrangle,  kill and prepare the pig.  The following pictures are just a few that show the preparation.  I'm pretty sure I'll never experience an activity like this again.  Once was enough but it was pretty interesting.  The family whose yard they used told me that every part of the pig is utilized and enjoyed - right down to the crunchy tail! 

We had to leave before enjoying the finished product but were told it was delicious! 

During June we went to Paniqui Stake Conference.  Some time ago President Nadado challenged President Clark to give a talk in Tagalog the next time he visited the Stake.  It took over a year but our schedule finally allowed us to attend.  It was a wonderful two days of conferencing.  President Nadado is a real master gospel teacher.  You can tell that his members see him as a great leader.  The picture at the pulpit is President giving his talk in Tagalog!  The picture above on the right is one of our valiant Returned Missionaries.  Sister Ocampo has been gone well over a year but the love is still there!  She was a great missionary and is now a great Returned Missionary.  Once an Angeles Missionary, always an Angeles Missionary.  It was a great reunion!
Paniqui Stake Members!  It was the most reverent stake conference we have ever been to.  
These two lively, adorable prospective missionaries charmed me with roses!

After Paniqui Conference, the Nadado family performed a mini concert for us.  They have six musically talented children.  It was such a treat to hear such beautiful voices singing.  It reminded me of my children when they gather with Mikale at the piano and sing song after song.  Above is President and Sister Nadado with five of their six children.  One son is away at school with his wife.

This is the Garcia Family.  President Garcia is the 1st Counselor in the Tarlac Stake Presidency.  The family is an incredible example of service and faithful membership in the church.  Not only that, they are our favorite caterers.  Whenever we have need of a meal for a group of missionaries, they are on the top of our list.  Not only do they serve delicious food but they also play piano music for us to enjoy during our meal.  They love the missionaries and the missionaries love them!

Missions end up having family trees as well.  This picture has four of our Assistants, past and present.  Pictured are Elder Thacker (current), Bro. Mabalot left, Bro. Coquia, Bro. Amparado (June 21, 2016).  They all have a place in our hearts and on our wall of fame!

I love this picture.  It is a picture of President Clark teaching or explaining something to a missionary sitting in the office.  That is one of the things that I love about President Clark.  He is always ready and willing to come to the aid or teach a missionary, friend or family member.  He was made to serve and assist.  I am lucky to be an active participant and to hold on to the coat tails of this great man!  I can say this because it is Father's Day!  :)

Our Children!  These Letters!
One day an unexpected box showed up with President Clark's name on it.  This one was really special.  Our Office Elder handed it to me and said this is a box of letters.  That's what it said on the box.  That is what was inside.  Two neatly packaged stacks of envelopes.  One was for "Dad" and one "Mom".  Each letter stated a specific reason for it to be opened..."When you become a grandparent again." "When you need a laugh." These letters have brought us such joy as our children and their spouses made time and great effort to share love and memories with us. These letter are proudly displayed in our room where we can read them over and over again.

 I haven't posted pictures of Grandchild Cuteness for awhile!  Here you go!

                                Beckham Boy is One!                                   Kai Guy Colors
Jackson LOVES pizza!
                            Isaac and Sadie just completed another very successful year of school!
       Sisters! They are stuck like glue!               An exciting picture!  One of our RM's visits Mikale!

                                                    Claire and Teagan with their moms.

Our family is growing and we are over the moon about it.  Three more grandchildren will be born before the end of 2016.  Life is sweet!

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