|Kayleen at our 'farewell' July 31, 2011|
In the spring of 2004, she experienced a life-changing car accident. At first, it appeared to be just another fender bender but within a couple of years, it was apparent that it was a more serious event than the professionals had earlier thought. Because of a family propensity to Alzheimer's, the sideways impact of the accident brought on 'early onset Alzheimer's Disease' and on the 3rd of May, at the age of 62, it finally took it's toll on her earthly tabernacle. Because of the miracle of modern technology, I was with her and her sweet family at the time of her passing. Both Elder Shaner and I were to be involved in the final celebration of her marvelous life and on the following Friday, May 10th, our Philippine adventure ended as we headed home. A VERY bittersweet day for us.
Now I am here to tell you that having 10 days to finalize two years worth of experiences, friendships, responsibilities and STUFF is a HUGE task! That being said, it was probably a true blessing in disguise. We were so incredibly busy and without the help of the marvelous sisters in the Cabatuan Branch, we would have never gotten ourselves ready. The week was spent packing and shipping boxes then we visited the members, our dear friends, for a final time in their homes to read scriptures, have prayer and to have our final hugs. Being in the Philippines for almost two years and being a 'sentimental saver', we really had the stuff to sort through but one week and seven boxes shipped later, we were ready to rumble.
To try to list the blessings we experienced in the Philippines would take a lifetime. Serving in the most beautiful country with the most amazing culture of people has been such a tremendous blessing for us both personally and spiritually. Many hours were spent during that two years working with members, investigators, inactive members and that was one part of the work that we truly loved. There were three individual families that we worked with, and that you have all heard about in the past, that I would love to tell you about today.
Upon arriving in 2011, President Carlos assigned us to the Roxas District and within our first week in the Philippines, we were introduced to Elders Naylor and Lucernas. They were the Zone Leaders in that district and became our 'training' Elders. We had NO idea what we were doing and they quickly had us involved and busy.
A few weeks earlier they had begun teaching a widow named Sister Nenita Ulep. Her teenage son had been baptized earlier that spring as well as a married son and daughter. We immediately became involved in her discussions. If you are a longtime follower of this blog you will remember my post about breaking her chair and crashing to the floor of her home-one of my finer moments. We have remained close to her, getting hugs whenever we can. That teenage son became Elder Ulep last year and is currently serving in the Davao Mission.
The Diaz Family were also in the Zone Leaders area and we became involved in trying to help them become an eternal family, a goal the mother and children had for many years. We held Family Home Evenings, lessons, dinners, etc. at their home, always trying to touch their father's heart and encourage him to give up his 'issues' and join his family in church activity. Many men have problems with needing to work on the Sabbath Day and he was no exception. Working on the Sabbath is sometimes a necessity but oft times, it is just an excuse. NOT working on the Sabbath is a true act of faith-it has been proven time and time again that if we will just have the faith to follow the Lord and keep his commandments, blessings will pour down on us and we will be eternally blessed. The Diaz family wanted those blessings but the father just didn't have the faith.
The last year of our mission, you all know we were in charge of the apartments for the missionaries. That job was a huge responsibility and we absolutely LOVED it-the interaction with the young missionaries, the shopping and finding the best deals for the supplies that would be needed, meeting and negotiating with the great landlords, and having the opportunity to see all the different parts of this beautiful mission. What a great experience. Anyway...
While hunting for a new and upgraded apartment for the sister missionaries in Roxas, we became acquainted with Sister Gabaldon. She had an apartment that she really wanted us to rent and as we met with her and saw it, we realized that it would be a great blessing for the sisters to live in this awesome home-we rented it on the spot! The Zone Leaders were the ones to tell us about this apartment because they knew Sister Gabaldon by name-she was an inactive member of their branch! We met with her and realized that she was a caring and wonderful woman, just temporarily 'off track'. As we left, Elder Shaner, the bold man that he had become, said..'Sister...we understand you are an inactive member of our church. Why?' She blushed and hesitated. 'Come back, sister. WE need you and YOU need us!!'
Well....she went home and talked to her family. Her husband, her teenage daughter and son and her little guy all agreed to accompany her to church the following Sunday because she was scared and didn't want to go alone. She told them if they didn't like it they would never have to go again. THEY ALL LOVED IT!!! The family started the discussions [which we were involved in again] and about 6 months later they were all baptized. She is now our District Relief Society President and he is a counselor in the Elders Quorum Presidency of their branch.
WWEELLLLLL...........our 'payday' of our mission was on May 9th, the day before we left our mission, when they all went to the Manila Temple and were sealed as families. We wished we could have been there that day but because of previous commitments and the flight schedule of departing flights from Cauayan City, we were not there. However, we did meet them all on the temple grounds the following afternoon and had pictures taken before they started the van ride back to Roxas.
|The Galbaldon Family|
|The Diaz Family|
|Sister Ulep with President Munoz and his daughter Alyssa|
In my almost 65 years I have done many hard things. Growing up in the 50's and 60's was such a different life-I watch my children and their children now and they have their struggles also. They are very different than the struggles we faced but they are struggles none the less. I am grateful that two precious friends, Kathie and Bill, were brave and bold enough to share this beautiful gospel with us. Our lives are forever changed because they loved us enough. This past two years our lives have been forever changed again by the experiences and blessings we have received by serving our Father in Heaven in the most glorious country in the world, with the most clever and humble culture of people that were ever created. Leaving our little Mallig Branch was one of the hardest things we had to do. I read a saying one time that is so apropos here..."Some people come into our lives and quickly go...some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, EVER the same."
We love you, our precious friends, and our lives will never be the same as we cherish the times we spent with you, our brothers and sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
|Our precious Mallig Branch|
and we bid you adieu and God speed...