Monday, July 2, 2012

Almost halfway and we've only just begun..

In a few days we will reach our halfway point in this glorious experience known as 'our mission'.  Mission...a word of many meanings.  Webster has a long list but the one that applies to us and our service is 'a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work, a calling'

We are here by choice.  The Lord called us to this work but it was our choice to answer that call.  It is not required of us to travel across the world, support ourselves financially, work 10-12 hours a day, eat weird food, smell unbelievable smells, see incredible things, walk until our feet fall off, laugh and cry with these people, drive in unimaginable circumstances and actually fall into bed at night, sleep harder than we ever have in our lives only to wake up 7 hours later and do it all over again...but we wouldn't change one second of this marvelous experience for anything!!!  Without a doubt, we will look back on this time in our married lives as one of the most glorious times we spent together and we thank our Heavenly Father every day for trusting US, these two midwestern hicks, with these precious saints in this part of His vineyard.

President Carlos told us a couple of weeks ago that the next year of our service will be totally different than the last...our responsibilities have changed, our congregation has changed, our working location has changed and as I stated last week, I am not big on change will be wonderful.  We have attended our new assigned branch two Sundays and have been so well received.  These saints are so hungry for training and so willing to be guided.  Our work will be cut out for us and it will be a challenge but we are ready and willing to do all we can to facilitate growth in Mallig.  We have spent many afternoons, accompanied by English speaking members, visiting the active members in Mallig in their homes.  They are always so surprised and happy when our brown truck pulls up in front of their home and we get out to spend time with just them.  A humble and sweet group of saints for sure.
This is the little house we call 'home' for the next year-they would like
a building but must meet certain requirements before the
church will allow them to construct their own meetinghouse.

Our sweet branch...

Two weeks ago, the Saturday before our precious Elder Llorin was transferred, he was able to baptize the newest member in the Mallig branch.  She is a college student who is boarding with a members family.  What a wonderful young woman!!  She will be such a great addition to the branch but also to the church in general.  I can see her as a future leader without a doubt.  Some of the other young people who also board at this home have expressed interest in hearing more about our beliefs.  That is always good news!!

Elder Llorin and Elder Nay on baptism day.

A while back I told you about Sister Mina.  If you recall, she was in a typhoon in the 90's and because of a fallen coconut tree, has lost the use of her legs, has no feeling from the waist down and is confined to bed.  [or so I thought!]  She had a brace that had gotten broken and worn out that would allow her to sit up but it was in horrible disrepair.  Elder Shaner suggested we take it and see if we could get it fixed.  Now, here in the Philippines, it is a little challenging to find people with specific talents to do repair work on anything, let alone something as specific as a back brace but lo and behold...we did it!  When we delivered it, I was a little disappointed as she didn't seem to be overly thrilled but, can you imagine my shock to go visit her and find her sitting up in her living room, sporting a darling new haircut!

I taught her how to crochet a few months ago and she is having such fun creating purses.  Up to now, she has completed three and is on her way.  Now, my wonderful neighbor, Sister Russell [who goes home to Oregon next week!! boohoo!!] is the resident specialist in the crocheted purse department and I wanted her to meet Mina.  Last Tuesday we went to Roxas and spent the morning at her home.  Sister Russell brought some of her creations to show and I could almost see the wheels turning in Mina's brain as she absorbed the morning training.  She was taught how to embellish, make flowers, hooks, etc. and in short, broaden her creativity and think more 'out of the box'.  I plan to do some shopping and bring her a bag full of possibilities...beads, rings, stones, etc.  She will have fun.

I think I have said in the past that working with and for Sister Carlos is always an adventure.  She is one, if the THE most creative people I have ever met with more energy than all of the other five senior sisters lumped together!  Recently, she had another brainstorm!!!  And of course, it involved all of us...a music workshop!  She is such a great leader-she plans the plan, delegates our responsibilities, then sits back and drives the bus.  Our first workshop was last Saturday and we did have a grand time.  

We started in the chapel with an opening exercise including a trio [three senior sisters] singing 'If The Savior Stood Beside Me'.  The arrangement she chose was so gorgeous and I actually almost sorta  mastered the accompaniment.  I use the almost sorta to tell you it wasn't great but it worked.  We offered four choices of classes-Primary Music how to's, Basic Chorister how to's, Primary Music Kit [make and takes] and Choirs.  The members could choose two and when finished, we all gathered together for some fun FHE ideas using music to teach.  One thing about Sister Carlos-whatever she does is top notch and this was NO exception. We will be taking this 'on the road' to 7 or 8 different Stake/District centers over the next two months.

Sister Mills showing the children a fun music game.

My choir performing the song they learned in the workshop.
This missionary experience has been so enlightening and spiritually lifting for me.  I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for almost 40 years and you know what I have discovered?  I was in a spiritual rut!!!  I thought I had read it all...had heard it all...had done it all...had seen it all...had felt it all and had learned it all...but OOOOOHHHHH!!!!!  Was I wrong!  The most important thing I have learned in the past year is that I have only just begun...

Our lives are in constant change.  Learning is just a small part of the responsibility we have here to increase our knowledge and skills.  This life is a probation and we have specific instructions from our Father in Heaven-LEARN OF ME.  Knowledge is like the seeds in my garden.  We plant them in fertile soil, feed them, water them, feed them some more...and if we are good stewards of our gardens, we will reap wonderful crops of insight and growth as we strive to learn the lessons this earthly experience can teach us.  

What are you planting in your spiritual gardens???

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