Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Elder Brent H. Nielson...what an opportunity

Sister Carlos, President, Elder Nielson, Sister Nielson, Sister Laker, Elder Laker and us
Have you ever had the opportunity to sit and be taught at the feet of someone who just keeps you mezmerized?  That is exactly what happened to us last week as we were visited by Elder Brent H. Nielson of the First Quorum of the Seventy.  He is in the Area Presidency in Manila and came to do some leadership training BUT....President Carlos, ingenious man that he is, with the approval of Elder Nielson planned two missionary training sessions, a member/youth fireside [and SO many came] along with the planned training and then the dedication of the new Gamu chapel.  It made for a packed agenda but he and his wonderful wife didn't miss a beat.   After the dedication, we were invited to the mission home for dessert and a little one-on-one time with a General Authority.  What a sweet experience!  He and his wife are amazing people with so much to share-it is such a blessing to have them in leadership here in the Philippines. 

I have loved watching the children here-they are so industrious and full of energy.  I love the adults but my heart will always turn to the little ones.  In the Philippines, the children have a totally different school schedule than what you all are accustomed to..their day starts at 7 a.m. and is done between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m.   They have an hour for lunch but no recesses.  The kindergartners only go from 7:00-noon but that is still a long day...I figured the kindergartners go the same amount of time as our high school students...almost.  Because the days starts so early here year round, and there are only 12 hours of daylight year round, these people make the most of those 12 hours.  I have told you about the Filipino alarm clock...the roosters...well, we have another, more irritating and disruptive alarm clock-THE STUPID DOG NEXT DOOR!!  Our bedroom window opens out into the neighbor's driveway/front porch area and she owns a little 'dustmop' dog-a yipper!  She walks at 4:30 a.m. every morning with a group of friends and as she leaves, she puts 'Precious' up on this half wall at the edge of her front porch and that dog yips and barks for 45 minutes while she, she has never come back to get her, never let her off the wall...WHY DOES SHE BARK EVERY MORNING FOR 45 MINUTES???  DOES SHE THINK THAT HER MISTRESS WILL, AFTER YEARS OF PATTERNING, ALL OF A SUDDEN HEAR HER BARK AND COME BACK???????????????  Sometimes I think dogs are the dumbest animals on earth!!

It is almost summer here on the other side of the world.  The days are getting much warmer as is the water in the shower...I told Randy last week that it is a shame we can't have this water temp in December, January and February and have the winter water temp now-I shower in the morning and again before bed.  The evening shower refreshes me, relaxes me and helps me to sleep better, especially because I have sweat like a stuck hog all day!  haha!  The one in the morning is just my normal habit.  Summer here means school is out so for the months of April and May, they have their break.  During that time, it is tradition for each Stake/District of our church to hold two youth activities.  Youth Conference [kids ages 14-18] and 3 Day Camp [kids ages 12-18].  It is such a treat and is looked forward to with lots of enthusiasm.  Monday Randy and I went with the District Young Men's President and the District Relief Society President [who also happens to be our branch young women's president] to check out a facility and turn in application paperwork to rent the facility for Youth Conference.  Government here is interesting-for us to be able to rent this park area, we must make application in person [a 2 hour drive south of here] get approval from the Governor, and if approved, then go through the Park Administration Department for a possible match of time and facility.  I think there is still a lot of influence from the time when martial law was enforced.  We see guards at every door, in every building, in every office, and even at the door to the hospital.  They all have these huge weapons that look like rifles and are dressed in uniforms of varying styles and colors.  I still don't know what they think someone is going to steal walking into the bread store!  I am becoming accustomed to seeing it but it still puzzles me.  Anyway, the kids are so excited for Youth Conference.  I have not been in on the planning for this activity but Randy [who serves as the 2nd Counselor in the District Presidency] says they are having lots of fun games, food, and great spiritual activities.  The park is absolutely gorgeous.  We drove through it on our way home and I was so impressed.  It looks like something we would have in the US..except for the presence of palm trees!  They want to hold the conference the end of April, the same week we are planning Faith Factor [patterned after Fear Factor] for the missionaries.  A busy week for sure.
Echo Park

One of the lodges

Recreational area

This could be the road on the way to Thorpe's cabin in the Uintah's..
I know the kids will have fun.  On the way home we also visited 'Water World'.  It is very rustic compared to our water parks but would house the 200 kids and adults for their 3 day camp the first part of April.  Not sure if we are going there or not-if they do, I will include some pictures later.

A week or so ago we were at the mission home and Sister Carlos came running through [not unusual for her-she has MORE energy!!] and was squealing [also not unusual] about something outside!  She grabbed her camera, told me to get mine and I followed her.  In the area between the home and the office is a garden area where she had spotted this beautiful butterfly.  Those of you who have known me all my life know that I have always been fascinated by butterflies..I even caught, mounted and had an exquisite collection during my younger years.  This is a swallowtail but not a variety I recognized.

Some kind of swallowtail-beautiful butterfly.
On Wednesday nights we work with President Munoz, the Branch President of Roxas II.  We let him lead the visits and have met many wonderful and faithful saints in their homes.  Last night we had Brother Amaro [you remember Russell from an earlier post last fall?..his dad] and we tried to visit with less-active members.  The father in this amazing family, the Diaz', has not been active for many years.  His wife is so faithful, has been there with the children and has even supported a son who is now serving a full-time mission here in the Philippines.  Their next son has his papers in and hopes to receive a call within the next month.  We have visited this great family before but last night, the spirit was so strong.  Our goal is to encourage, teach, remind, and help them recognize the presence of the Lord in their lives.  We are in hopes that this family will have the opportunity to attend the temple and have their family sealed for time and all eternity.  That is our goal..

The Diaz family with two very white friends..
The Breese's are going home in May and the Russell's in July so those two couples are 'running away' today for a few days.  They both have Toyota Corolla Altis's so they borrowed our truck to have room for their luggage, the people and all the goodies for their 4 day escape.  I am told they are going to a beach..I know we are living on an island, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by beaches, couldn't prove it by me!  Our particular mission is land-locked so President Carlos got special permission for those two couples to leave the mission and have a last fling weekend.  I hope they can unwind and relax...we [the Russell's and us] have had a very stressful week delivering new mattresses to missionaries in a far off area..two days of hot travel, meals on the run, long days and stiff backs.  I wonder if their resort will have a hot tub????  I could only dream.........


  1. I love your updates. It's so wonderful to hear from you. We love you!

  2. Cyndi Austin commented on your link.
    Cyndi wrote: "awesome article Cheri, glad you are enjoying your time there!! I have been trying to follow your posts :D"

  3. Cheri, I think the butterfly is a Scarlet Swallowtail. Don't get me started about dogs. Really, there are no bad dogs...only bad owners.