Change. I don't particularly love change. I am not saying that I enjoy being in a rut in my life but change is not always comfy...not familiar. I remember when we moved to a new house and a new life when I was eleven years old...that was hard. New surroundings...new neighbors...new friends...new school...I was scared and a little hesitant but after a couple of weeks, that new life seemed ok. My new bedroom became my friend, the neighbors seemed nice enough, I could find my way around the house in the dark, I became accustomed to the new and the change became the norm.
As of this week, our lives have changed drastically in our mission. Last week President Carlos called us into his office for a pow wow and told us of his desire to change our assignment for the remainder of our mission. His concern was the Roxas District and after he counseled with the District President and took his concerns to the Lord, he made his decision. My first reaction was a simple 'NNNNOOOOOOO'....that will be hard...we can't leave the familiar and walk into the dark! But...this week our new life began. Randy will no longer be a member of the District Presidency...we will no longer be bouncing from Branch to Branch, enjoying the association with so many wonderful saints here in this wonderful country but now, we will be serving in ONE branch as their full-time senior couple. Our main focus will be helping train the leaders while building up the core strength of the active people. The young missionaries are on a 'rescue' mission, finding and helping the inactive members return to activity and when that occurs, the church wants strong units for them to integrate back into. We will also be working one-on-one with the young missionaries and the members to reach out and help train, encourage, inspire and love the members in Mallig. That little town is about the size of the town we lived in when we joined the church in 1973...probably 1,500 people. We do not have a meetinghouse in Mallig but instead, we gather in an old transformed home for our meetings and activities. Their goal is to qualify for a meetinghouse and we hope through our efforts the next year, we can help them come closer to achieving that goal.
We spent three days this week meeting and visiting with many of the members in that sweet branch-last night I fell into bed in a state of sheer exhaustion! Never the less, I felt so spiritually fed and rewarded. It was a wonderful week and we know in his wisdom, our precious Mission President has made the correct decision for this branch. Having a senior American couple there to help them understand and grow will be so beneficial.
That said, I took NO pictures of our encounters this week-shame on me! I will try to repent and remember my camera next week..promise!
Aurora is a great branch filled with wonderful people. Imelda was a member in that branch and through her and her insistence that I teach piano to the members in that branch, I have been spending many hours with those saints. While attending that branch, we met one couple who are raising their granddaughter while her parents work abroad, a common occurrence in this country. Young couples will often have a baby or two then leave for 4-5 years to earn money, leaving the children in the care of grandparents. The poverty here is so overwhelming and young couples feel this gives them a 'leg up'. Lots of families have a large age gap between their first and last children, a sure sign they worked abroad for a number of years. It is common for just one parent to go, leaving the other home to work here and care for the children. At any rate, there is this little lady in Aurora who has just stolen my heart. Her name is Julianne and she is 3 years old. The first time I met her, she walked up to me [not a bit shy] and said 'Hi Sister Shaner..how are you today?' in PERFECT English! I was astonished! Most small children don't understand any English, let alone speak it! Her wise grandparents decided to speak only English to her at home and in her outside environment she hears Tagalog. What a wonderful gift they have given her.
|Julianne showing me her new dress|
|Elder Griffin and Elder Shaner at the 'net'|
Elder Griffin and Elder Velez have been our Zone Leaders since the early this spring and do a great job of training this group of elders and sisters. Weekly we have District Meetings [where the district leaders leads the meeting] and monthly we have Zone Meetings [where the zone leaders are in charge] Our young leaders do a great job of teaching and always have an activity to reinforce or introduce their topic for the day. We value their leadership and enjoy those meetings.
|Last week Elder Rocaberte, our disrict leader, taught us about trusting|
our companions and this activity was a great way to introduce that lesson.
I don't know about you but sometimes, I feel very alone in a world full of people! Everywhere I look, I see children, moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, aunts and uncles and still I feel alone. Not alone in the sense that I have nobody to talk to but just empty inside. I think it is because I miss my family so much! Something in my very core is gone. I try not to dwell on that. It is not in my best interest to dwell on the things I cannot have or the snuggles that I am missing but I have found when I get to that point, and I do feel that way often, I can turn to my Savior for comfort. He died so we could all have the opportunity to mess up, fix it and move on. He knows my heart and he knows my aches. He is here to help me work through the earthly trials and He will ensure my success if I just turn to Him in my times of need. Like this carabao in the picture below, we are alone. We are all individuals working through this earthly experience...Stephen R. Covey once said, "We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey." I am hoping to make THIS journey the best in my life and with the help of my Savior and the comforter He sends in the Holy Ghost, I am confident the next year will be the best one yet as I forget myself and focus on His children...the precious Filipino people he has sent me here to serve!!!!!!!!!