Sunday, August 31, 2014


Evening. We went San Jose to church this morning. Brother Beriong taught a great Gospel Doctrine class. Isaiah. . . Standing in Holy Places. Interesting scriptures here. Why "standing in holy places," not sitting, or laying. . . All words are significant when The Lord speaks. Good discussion.

This was the second 5th Sunday where the branch neglected to prepare a combined meeting for Priesthood and Relief Society. Everyone was just milling around wondering what/who. We saw the writing on the wall and left for Sibalom. Turned out Sibalom had prepared a very good lesson on home and visiting teaching. We enjoyed seeing Deolito and many others and are glad we whipped over there. We touched base wit Elder Alforque to test in the morning. We were lucky. San Jose starts a half hour before other branches, so we had plenty of time to make it to Sibalom.

We thought that, perhaps, the plan would have been for Fast Sunday today. Next weekend is District Conference. Looking forward to that. There a good many receiving new callings and advancing in the Priesthood, and the talks will be great, I hope. The Sibalom musical branch will lead the music and I know that will be good. This planning will throw a wrench in Fast Sundays in Sept. with General Conference ripping toward us too.

Busy week coming up. Tomorrow we test two Elders for English proficiency. Tuesday meetings. Wed. and Thursday the Mission is holding a women's conference. Sister Sessions is speaking. She has been preparing for about 10 days straight. I figure it is General Conference caliber. I will try to include it here in a few day.

Friday we may be back in the doldroms . . . But, at least we will be in to September. Man, was August long. I am hoping to find some football on TV? This is basketball heaven and I can't get interested in b-ball til at least Jan. Like to see some college football.

Off to read.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sabado ang 30 Augusto

When will this stinking month come to an end . . .

We (mission and district presidency and branch presidents) have been planning for this day to be a day of interviews for those who can advance in the Priesthood and be presented at next weekend's district conference. President Villoso of the mission presidency, whose responsibility in the presidency is Antique, was to start at nine o'clock this morning. Last night at 8:20 he called and notified me that he couldn't be here.

I hustled and sent texts (the best, and in some cases, the only way to contact branch presidents) to district presidents and branch presidents and counselors, that he was not coming and to notify those who were planning to travel to San Jose for interviews. Man was I bummed out.

The one we cannot notify is Deolito (correct spelling finally). Deolito came to work in the yard for us yesterday and we told him about the interviews. He had not been notified by his branch pres. which bummed me out to start, but he told us he would come. Now there will be nobody to interview him and we have no way of letting him know not to come as he lives in the mountains, across a river, and has no electricity or phone.

I cussed a blue streak, for which I am trying to repent, but I still have cuss words on the tip of my tongue, so I am not doing well.

We will go to the church this morning to sit in the Family History Library and study. Nobody will come.

This afternoon the Bertilano boys, Lorna's sons will be baptized. Yesterday and Thursday we hustled around trying to find baptism clothes. I think enough have been rounded up to baptize 5 youngsters at Hamtic this afternoon.

Lessons with James fell through this week. I truly don't feel like there is a desire within him. But, we shall see. We will keep going with the young Elders as needed and, hopefully, the Lord will be working on James.

I texted President Tandoy, of Bugasong  Branch last night right after hearing nobody was coming to interview. Pres. Tandoy had been in contact with me and was planning to send men here today. Pres. (as the missionaries call him) is a farmer, young, and unmarried. He did not serve a mission, but I thought he had, by his demeanor and actions. What a good man he is. I told him not to send his men today and aplolgized. He wrote back,"Okay elder, welcome." I must mention he is not much on speaking English, but he reads English and understands pretty well. I texted back, "Very sorry."

"don't worry we are understand"

"Wish I did, between you and me."  I was ticked at this time.

"ok elder we strive to sustain our leaders" This return message stopped me in my tracks and I realized there was a lesson here . . .

"Good lesson Pres. Thanks. I am just a little bummed. I will keep my mouth shut and sustain."

Pres. must have figured I got the message, because he didn't text back. I was embarrassed and humbled, but not all the way. I am not angry still, but I am very disappointed. It felt like we were moving forward for a change.  I am trying. I am thinking of ways to sustain this morning.

I expect the mission presidency will still want to interview and try to get things ready for district conference, but it starts a week from today, so I see this all coming to the last minute and we will have to scurry around to get things done. I don't believe that is the Lord's way. It seems to be the Filapino way. Beam us the crap up Scotty.

I have been acing as an intermediary between the mission presidency and district presidency. I shall try to get that remedied soon. They need to work together, and I need to be out of the middle. It will make for better communication and leadership in the district.

Planting rice. There is much planting and harvesting right now. The rainy season has provided water for the rice and continues almost daily. It is a labor intensive crop and workers are usually poor and paid in rice. I am not sold on the nutritional value of rice, but they love it here.
Paulo and I painted in the truck Thursday. This was our subject. These people were planting rice. Those little clumps in the water, between us and them, are little bundles or rice shoots. They plant them one by one in the fields. They were working toward us and it was raining all day. They were bent over for hours and hours.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Huebes ang 28

6:45 a.m.

Up and at them this morning. We have to meet Brother Potato at 8:00 at the church for a few minutes then I may go to the doctor's for labs, or I may wait til in the morning. It is time for the one month check. I have been feeling better. Have lost no more weight.

Yesterday we went to Maasin School to work. I took the i-pad and used Hanx Write to have the children write and read. We wrote to each other, then the children read it all back to me. ("Ano ngalan mo?", I asked them) What name you, actually. I then wrote their name and started with questions for them . . . Where do you live. Where is your house (balay). They usually gave one word responses, unless I could dig more out.


Where do you live?


Where does your father work?


What doe he grow or farm?


Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Ten (can't remember the kinaray-a)

Ten brothers?


Any sisters?


Okay lang

 Where does your mother work?


What does she do? What is her trabaho? . . . .

After each new question and answer, I had them read it back to me. I had them type their answers. At the end they read back to me the whole thing. I gave them an olin for their efforts and they had fun, I believe. Their basil reader is way boring and they can decode and call the words, but they have no idea of the meanings, so there is no comprehension. They comprehended this activity . . . they read, wrote, listened, spoke . . . good language arts activity.

We had the 10:00 break (long recess) and Maam Tubale told me Ariel's father died a few days ago. It turns out he has one brother and one sister. The custom in the Philippines is for the dead person to lie in the home while the families gather and they burn candles and morn and drink coffee and eat. The family of the dead person sponsors all this.

Children from the school were bring pesos and putting them in a jar for Ariel and his brother and sister. He said nothing to me about his father when I asked. Maam Tubale said the man died of lung cancer. He was a smoker and a heavy drinker. I felt pretty lousy. Sister Sessions and I gave Maam Tubale 500 pesos for Ariel. She said she would tell them we donated. I told her no, no, no that can just be from the school or something. We didn't want anyone to know beside her.

She immediately went in and told Maam Solomon (Ariel's teacher) and she trucked the three children out to thank us. How embarrassing. I told them it was no problem, we loved them. We hoped to be anonymous for several reasons, but that didn't happen. Some of the customs here defy common sense, but  . . .

Francis came over at 1:00 and we did a language lesson; the first in about two weeks. I did a little better as I have been studying the workbook the church uses at the MTC and finally understood a little of what was taught. The word order for Kinaray-a and Illonggo is Verb, Actor, Object (of the verb) and location. So,
The missionaries taught the gospel goes like: Taught missionaries the gospel, Nag(indicates past tense)tuod kang(filler?) missionarios sa (the) ebanghelio. Weirrrrd!

We are learning slowly. We may be able bear testimony and pray in Kinaray-a in about a year.

We went to Leo's for ice cream in the evening and I read the BoM and some in 1 Corinthians. I am trying to keep up with the BoM reading with the mission and trying to finish the New Testament as well. It is great. The Lord is revealing many new and wonderful and exciting things, especially now in the BoM. (Second Nephi now).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Domingo ang 24th

We went to Dao this morning. The weather was nice and windy, so we had air moving through the L-shaped room used as a chapel. We understood little of the talks, but Sacrament Meeting was good and we renewed covenants.

The carpenters knocked down a mahogany tree in the yard yesterday and used a chain saw all day to say it up. They use the tip of the saw and sort of eyeball in boards. They will be at this for some time, but they have made a fine mess. We stayed at the church all day yesterday to stay out of the noise. The house we live in has no double pain glass or insulation, so it has the sound proofing of a tent. The blessing is that they are not working today.

I fasted and prayed last night and am still fasting actually. I have prayed to break my fast, but have not eaten anything yet.

I want to list part of a paragraph from the Bible Dictionary. Since many were praying for Jared yesterday, I have been thinking a lot about praying for family members. I often feel that I ought not pray for Porter to be healed and Ashlee's little girl and Stockton to speak and Chance to come back to full activity, and Raimee to have sight in both eyes, and for Jarod Jostes to be healed. I ask the Lord to miraculously heal my children and my grandchildren physically and spiritually and for may other people as well. I always say end with thy will be done, but I really want Him to give me what I want. I fasted to be close to Him today and to thank Him for Jarod and to bless my grand children . . .

I was prompted at Dao in Sacrament Meeting to read in the Bible Dictionary again, about prayer, page 752-3. . .  at the bottom of 752 and the top of 753 it reads, "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. (That's us) The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them"

I had tears in my eyes. This doesn't say don't ask. Rather, it says ask and He is willing to bless. He wants to bless us. We are his children . . .  Clearly, I defer to Him. His thoughts are not my thoughts nor are his ways my ways . . . I get that, but I am going to keep on asking and hoping that he is willing to bless our babies. If  He does not allow what I ask, I believe He has a higher reason, a more important reason for not doing so. But, we better be askers. He has often given me/us, very quickly, what we desire and for that which we beseech Him. He is kind, He is loving, He is merciful. In the last year, I remember instances for my own children and now Jarod. Just sayin'. 

I don't fast an pray enough. This has been a great time for prayer and revelation. Thanks to Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ and God the Holy Ghost. SWEET!

Martes ang 26

By the facebook pages, looks like part of the family started school today. Southeastern Idaho has a few more days to enjoy summer. I hated that the western part of the state began starting school in mid-August.

We went to district meetings this morning. We had a good meeting and a good lesson. Elder Gan, the DL from Hamtic conducted and taught . . . the question was,  ". . . why investigators must attend church to become converted?). Good lesson.

We took Elders Miguel and Phelps with us and zipped up to Culasi to meet the Elders there and add to the mapping of the Bugasong Branch. We did all we can. Now we need to get members and branch presidents and Relief Society presidencies to look at the data and help us locate whom they are able. Then, I suppose it becomes legwork. We did get quite a chunk done. We appreciate Elders Saul and Boggs for being so diligent in assisting Elder Miguel, our mapping expert.

Yesterday we went to Guysano for some groceries and some pizza for Sister Sessions. I couldn't eat anything there, but we saw Alan Tagala and had a good visit with him. Alan is a leader here in Antique. I like him. He shared Sister S's pizza. We saw the Elders there and we had a pretty good day. We walked and that sure helped.

Pics from yesterday and today:

Brother Alan is a vivacious local leader in the church and in the government. He is a great proponent of Antique and church activity. I would love to see him in a leadership position in the district or branch.
Grabbing a cup of ice cream before heading back south to drop these Elders off in Bugasong. It was a productive day. I ate fruit salad and it was dang good.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Biyernes ang 22

We went to Bugasong this morning. We took the wardrobes up to the Elders so they could hang their clothes. We took President Villavert with us and he took marriage licensing materials up to President Tandoy, the Bugasong Branch President.

We picked up the Elders and went to President Tandoy's house and got him. We tried to work on the computer at the church to map Bugasong Branch. But the wi fi was not working. We went to the Internet Cafe, a little hole in the wall place at the market. Their computers worked well and in just a few minutes, Elder Miguel had the mapping site on working and they began placing home sites on the map. I was pretty excited to see it all get going.

President Aquino wants the branch mapped. It is huge, reaching all the way to the northern tip of Panay, including Boracay. We will get with the Culasi and Tibiao Elders and continue to map. Probably we will go up there Monday. There is much to do, but the branch could be divided and Bugasong could possibly get a new branch building started before too long. There is a good deal of teaching/baptisms going on up there, so  . . .

We went with the Hamtic Elders this afternoon and had a fun lesson with James. We tried to commit him to a baptism date, but he would not. He did commit to be baptized when he knows the Gospel and Book of Mormon are true. He committed to two lessons per week though and I think he recognizes the truth when her hears.
 Liked this old guy riding the jeepney. He was pretty salty, but I couldn't catch him looking.
Out near President Tandoy's place. This is a typical electrical service here. The wires are spliced and hanging. I expect there is a good deal of resistance in the lines. Electrical service here is pretty hap-hazard.
Tomorrow we go to the church and hang out in the FH library. Not really looking to that, but perhaps it will be a good reading/study time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Huebes ang 21

We went to school yesterday and worked with the 5-6 graders. We tutored math and reading. Fractions are a killer. It is so difficult to understand that we divide 1 into fractions. They can name the fractions, but they really do not understand the concept. It is similar at home. Reading is a little different.

They are reading English. Yesterday we read about a grandmother baking a cherry pie for her daughter. Her daughter (grandmother) baked a pie for her daughter . . . the mother baked a cherry pie for her daughter and on down to the little girl baking a cherry pie for her teddy bear. They bring no experience to the reading, so it is tough for them. They don't know cherries, pies, bears etc. I am thinking of writing some things for them to read in English, using nouns they know so there might be some comprehension along with the decoding of words. Their phonics is funny sounding, but plenty acceptable. We have come to love the kids and teachers already. I gave olins to the kids that worked with me, so I was a hit. Everyone wanted to read with Sir Sessions. (Sir and Maam Sessions)

We zipped to Iloilo in the afternoon and bought some wardrobes for the Bugasong Elders' apartment. They have nowhere to hang their clothing. We will try to run them up tomorrow, or Saturday. We bought groceries and went to MacDonalds for some decent food. I know . . .

We arrived home about 7:30 and I read the BoM to try and catch up with the mission. More to do this morning. I exercised with my back exercises and am writing this for a few minutes, then shower and study scriptures. We paint today, but it is raining like crazy. We will go anyway. Last night it rain and blew hard all the way to the mountains on the south end of the island.
Valley below the school. Mt. Boras in the background. It was a beautiful morning. Rice paddies shown emerald green in the sun. The carabous were plowing and laying in their mud holes. All was well in Antique.

This guy was just grabbing a bite before work.
Salty old dude in Iloilo. He turned at the moment I shot the pic. Dang. The old guys carry their bolos (machetes) even in town.
Iloilo skyline from the bridge near MacDonalds.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Miyercoles ang 20 Augusto
4:13 am
Couldn't sleep. I went to bed tired, but yesterday I arose at this time to be sure not to be late getting going to the Zone Conferences in Iloilo. I hope this is not going to be a habit to break.

We had a wonderful conference yesterday. President Aquino and Sister Aquino and the AP's taught. They had some zone leaders speak on planning, but the instruction was a little lame. Some was good advice, but . . . The focus was on obedience. Obedience underpins all we do and is key to success. Enjoying the Spirit in teaching and finding, all depends on obedience. Exact obedience, sometimes unquestioning obedience, is necessary to bring the Spirit. So many people want to question the doctrine and direction of leaders. Bad idea . . .

The work of sharing the Gospel depends so totally on God the Holy Ghost. When we are obedient, He loves to be with us, just as He loved to be with the Savior. The Savior is, of course, our exemplar in obedience as well as alll other aspects of living. Patience still escapes me (so do many other Christlike attributes).
President and Sister Aquino focused the conference on scriptures. The scripture that stood out to me because of  our focus on obedience and serving and sharing the Gospel was Helaman 10:5 (4-5 actually). Here the Lord speaks to Nephi regarding his service and unwearyingness in declaring "the word". Sounds like what great missionaries do.

I remember hearing the stake presidency in Caldwell talking about full time missionaries, referring to the lay members of the church who are to be sharing the Gospel each day, all day, wherever and whenever. The young Sisters and Elders are part time, set apart for a season of non-worry, non-responsibility (beside preparing themselves for a life of motherhood, fatherhood, service) and teaching the Gospel to our brothers and sisters. They check out of real life and have no other worries than serving the Lord. Strange that it is difficult for some. This seems a reversal of thought, but it is true. Then comes the promises to Nephi, which are also promises to us, and to young missionaries who are obedient. And, what blessings they are . . .The Lord says,  ". . . I will bless thee for ever; . . ." Whoa!

An instance of the special time young missionaries have is their study time. Here they are to do an hour of individual study, followed by an hour of companion study, then language study. Clearly, this is tough in the real world. Who has time for this,with families, work, church; the actual mission. Anyway, Sister S and I read and study some, but I have not been putting in the time the young missionaries do to study. I am probably studying less now than when at home. I miss it, and I have made the decision to begin again, this morning, to read closely, carefully, the scriptures.

Abby reads the scriptures, according to her facebook page. I am proud of her, and I know it will help her in every aspect of her young life. I hope she is preparing to serve a mission and have that 18 months of life preparation that only a mission can give.
After the conference, we did the Filapino thing and crammed the back seat with Sisters and the back of the Ranger with Elders and drove back to San Jose. They were really cramped, but it saved pesos and we stopped about half way and plied them with ice cream. Elder Watkins is in the back. Left is Elder Swan, in front is Elder Noleal. Middle rear, Elder Dacutan. Elder Gan is front right with the toe sticking out of his sock, and behind him is Elder Marinas.
Anyway, it was a good conference and I am persuaded that I need to repent and start anew to try to serve. I get awfully discouraged that the leaders here don't do more to grow the stake, but I am convinced that it will take a greater number of returned missionaries who have "caught the vision" for the stake to be formed and have leadership to sustain it. In the meantime, we are here to serve and we will put ourselves at the disposal of local and mission leaders. I look forward to doing so.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lunes ang 18

We went to Hamtic yesterday. We were able to hug Sister Lorna and her boys. They are a sweet family and the boys are getting baptized soon.

President Aquino assigned us to go to Hamtic to help President Nabong get his audit done. We were able to do that. Actually, President Nabong and Brother Mark Cabreros did the work. I sat and encouraged them, I guess. We had a great time, and finding Brother Mark was a pleasure.

He is a returned missionary. He is married to a lovely little bride who sat and waited for him all afternoon. They are destined to lead in the Stake (when it is formed). They will be leading sooner, I am sure. The returned missionaries are so valuable to the Lord.

We met with President Aquino and President Villoso and returned missionaries at the church Saturday morning. It was an actual honor to be included. Many did not come, for instance, Mark. We had a good lesson/devotional and lunch. Sister Sessions made cookies (snicker doodles, oatmeal, and chocolate chip). The cookies were a hit. We had ice cream brought in and Sister Amar and Sister Villavert mad a superb soup/stew of chicken, rice, and vegetables. I could eat it and it was very good. Sister Hena supplied bread from her bakery, but I can't report on the taste. I can report that much bread was devoured so I infer that it was great.

The meeting was spiritual. I can see now why President Gingery told us the importance of returned missionaries in building a stake. I can also see that Antique will progress slowly until we have a good many RM's participating and leading. I am going to keep pushing, and likely making members angry (offending them). If I didn't care, I would keep letting things slide along. They won't have to put up with me too long.

President Villoso (left) and Brother Demata (right). Two find men. Brother Demata is a counselor in the San Jose Branch and a tireless worker with the missionaries visiting less active members. He seems to know everyone . . .
 Terrible pictures. I can't get the camera to work well. I am going to start using Sister Sessions' little camera. It takes good pics, if things are still.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sabado ang 16 Augusto

I exercised this morning and I am waiting for my eggs to boil. Eggs and mangoes for breakfast. I love it.

We receive messages on the facebook regarding how much fun we are having. I must set the record straight. This is not fun. I know fun, and this ain't it. The food sucks, the heat and humidity are, almost, intolerable. I have lost half the hair I arrived with in March. The conditions are way low. If I did not love the Lord, I would bail out of here so stinking fast that there would be only a little whirlwind to mark my departure.

Breakfast hit the spot . . . Back to my journal . . . I have lost 50 lbs. Sister Sessions is not herself. There is literally nothing to do here. The ocean is polluted so badly that one can only look at it and think how pretty the water and skies are. But, there is little swimming, unless one has to to bathe, or try to find food. The mountains are beautiful, but they are jungle and people live there who would snatch a white man for ransom in a heartbeat. There are no movies, people fold up their tents about 6:30, at dark, and either hang-out beside the road, or go in and watch TV. TV sucks because it is either Pinoy and we don't understand the language/s, or it is stuff you see at about 3 am at home . . . some guy selling potato peelers.

The scriptures are still exciting to read and I bought a Sherlock Holmes anthology. I read a little a day so it will last longer. We do a little church work, but when something cancels, it may be the only thing planned for a few days. I have asked for a roster of members so we could go visit. Haven't been able to get anybody to move and they won't allow me on the mls. I will go to the church this morning and sit in the family history library. I doubt anybody will come.

President Aquino will be here today to do leadership meeting. I look forward to attending that. Sister Sessions will teach with Sister Aquino regarding Relief Society. I will listen to President. I hope the branch presidents show up with their leadership teams. . . it has not been so. Magnifying callings is simply not done, it appears. I have met one return missionary who stays busy with his callings (4). The philosophy is, according to Filapino people I have talked to, why do today what you can do tomorrow, or next week.

Yesterday morning we went to Bugasong and helped the Elders move to a different apartment. The one they were in was an absolute hole. President told them to find a new place. After about two months, they were able to find a pretty nice, clean little place. We loaded their stuff and moved them, then took them to lunch.
Another fuzzy picture. Can't seem to get the camera adjusted. Elder Miguel (right) our district leader, and Elder Phelps. We went to Island, something, resto. I could eat nothing, so I had two mango shakes for lunch.

I don't put this stuff on facebook. I will write my true feeling in my journal/blog. If anyone is offended, sorry about that. We do have some wonderful, spiritual moments. We do love a good many of the people, particularly the young native missionaries and President/Sister Aquino and President Villoso.

We have come to deeply appreciate home, our government, our laws, our freedoms, our family. America is clearly not perfect and a large number of people don't keep the commandments. But, it is the best, the greatest, country on earth. I am sorry to see it so divided. We long to be there though.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Huebes ang 14th

We got up a little early and went to the Jeepnie Terminal to see Joemar and Sister Viliami and Sister Rapleye off to their new assignments. Joemar is off to Manila to the MTC and his mission. The Sisters had to be in Iloilo at the mission home for transfers. We will miss them.

 After waving goodbye, we went home, changed clothes, and went to the track to walk. It was pretty hot by the time we got there it was already hot. I wore my sun hat and Sister S walked with an umbrella, but the heat got here after a mile. I struggled 2 and headed for the AC. We went home and She started cleaning the house and I worked on a bamboo stool for painting. I took a few hours and finished an oil painting of a lady washing here clothes near the Sibalom River. I took the photo some months ago and just finished the painting today.
Looks better in real life.
  We went to lunch at Guisanno's and then I went painting with Paolo. Rodel couldn't make it because he was too busy again.

Tomorrow we run up to Bugasong to help the Elders move to new digs. They really need to move, so it will be a pleasure to help them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Miyercoles ang 13

We were notified yesterday, I think, that the school in Salvaation was closed today the teachers were doing an in-service. So, we had nothing for the morning. Francis cancelled on us for the afternoon lesson in language. We had nothing.

We went to the bank and to the church. We found Greg, the custodian/technology guy and he let us in to find the toner cartridge for the copy machine. I got the cartridge out and took it to the copy shop that refills cartridges for us. They needed the model number, which we did not have. We thought toner was toner.

Being constantly frustrated in any effort, we packed up and went to Iloilo. We stopped at the mission home/office and picked up a few things and ordered scriptures to give as presents to new baptized members, along with their baptism certificate. 20 new missionaries were in the gym being welcomed by Sister Aquino.

We went to get groceries and on the way back, we needed to use the CR, so we stopped back at the mission office again. President Aquino brought us in and introduced us to the new missionaries. They were mostly foreigners, Tonga, US, ???. It was fun to see their smiling faces, and a few concerned looks. They will be fine.

Tomorrow transfers occur. We are losing some favorites, and wondering who will be coming. It is a fun time. Sister S and I will zip over to the jeepney/bus terminal to see them off in the morning at 6:45.

The cathedral downtown Iloilo sticking up over the roofs. Iloilo has some pretty cool skylines.
Tigbauan cathedral. Sorry about all the poles and wired. I would like to come paint this picture one day.
Truck load of religious idols. I think they were heading for some decorating in town somewhere for some celebration. We thought it was a truck load of people who were all dressed up. Only one live one here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Martes ang 12 sa Augusto

I have no idea if I am writing these dates correctly. Likely not . . . word order in Kinaray-a escapes me.

We went to Zone meetings this morning. The Sisters trained us on baptismal requirements. The Sibalom Elders, Asi and Alforque, taught about the scriptures and they performed an object lesson. The focus of the lesson was on 1 Nephi 8 and the "Tree of Life".

Being the geezer in the group, they made me play Lehi. I was standing at the tree, having partaken of the fruit. Several were blindfolded by missionary ties. The others were divided on each side (The river of filth and the spacious building of jeering people. A cord was used as the iron rod. Elder Alforque held one end I I the other.

The groups, and Lehi, were to snap their fingers only and could not speak or touch the blindfolded. Those in blindfolds were to find their way to the tree and to Lehi. Lehi was also to snap his fingers (one had is crippled enough from arthritis that he only had one snapping hand). I snapped at a constant rhythm to help, but some of the others in the river and building copied to make it tougher on those seeking.

Elders Asi and Alforque spun the blind around to make it difficult to find Lehi and the tree (mist of darkness). They listened, moved carefully, some found the iron rod and followed it to Lehi. Sariah (Sister S) listened and moved carefully closer and closer. I grabbed her when she got close. When others got close to me I grabbed them and pulled them to the tree as well.

Only one never found the tree, but wandered the whole time.

We then took our seats and discussed the lessons/ramifications of the exercise. It was extremely powerful. Relating all the actors, actions, parts of the story, experiences . . . likening the scriptures and lesson to ourselves was mightily instructive. Sister Sessions and I want to do this with our family when we get home. I have read the dream so many times, but never has it been so instructive as playing it out and discussing the play.

Unfortunately, I did not have my camera all day. So, no pics of the meeting. I went to Sibalom and met Djulito after and we walked around the market. I got my pocket knife sharpened, bought some potatoes, and met several members. I tried to practice some language, but it was difficult, and the sun was beating down and my back was killing me. There were some scenes way worth photographing, loaded jeepnies, people selling all sorts of food and items; third world items that most would not believe. No camera . . .Duh!
Sometimes I wonder if we will want to remember much of this anyway.

Talked to Brother Potato regarding a little sick girl. I think things will work out for her. Her brother Axel will likely die soon. I feel so sorry for the family, but Axel will have Eternal life guaranteed and all will work out. Axel will pull.

Sandy and I went to Santiago's for lunch . . . beef and broccoli over white rice and a Coke O. It was just okay. We have been home for a few hours and Sister S. took a nap. We are gearing up to go walk as soon as the sun lets up a bit.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lunes ang doce sa Augusto

Pretty good day at church yesterday. I was able to get help from President Gindap to recreate a baptism certificate for Rodney Damasco. All the information is on the church record site, and luckily President Gindap was the branch president in 2005 and baptized and confirmed Rodney. It was easy. I thought the church only kept ordinance records, but  . . .

We were going to take the record to Rodney this afternoon with the Sisters who teach his wife, but Rodney cancelled due to family guests coming from far to visit. We will get it to the Sisters, or deliver it with them another time.

I read scriptures yesterday afternoon and we had branch leaders and the missionaries over to a cottage meeting last evening. We discussed what is going well, what is needed and we set a date for Branch Family Home Evening on September 26 and November 28.

We did a devotional with the Sisters singing "I Need Thee Every Hour to further invite the Spirit. The "get to know you" question was, "What story does your family always tell about you at family gatherings?" It was pretty fun. Some of the responses were really funny. Some were off subject . . . but it all goes to acquaint us with others and their personalities.

We read 2 Nephi 33:10-15 . . . Nephi closes his writing journals by bearing testimony of his writings as the words of the Lord. He talks about standing before the Lord at the last day. I asked what the Spirit told them as they read; what inspiration they received; what stood out to them most?

Answers were very interesting and spiritual. I then asked, "What will be your response regarding the Book of Mormon when you stand before the "Judgement Bar", perhaps standing next to Nephi as you report to the Lord and Father?" The responses were deeper and the Spirit was definitely present.

We knelt on this stinking hard tile floor and President Gindap prayed for our group in English. It was a good time for all, not just fun, but a time which I would definitely regard as "good".
Elder Ramos is our new Zone Leader. He stands at the rear in the blue tie. He is a medic and veteran of the Army. He is a bit older and seems conservative and very obedient. He will do well. We are pleased to have him here. Sister Hena, front right, is the Relief Society President and we were blessed to have her attend. She has not been able to meet with us til last evening. President Amar is the big grinner next to Sister Winward, RM and a fine man. Sister Viliami must have cracked Sister Sessions up.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Miyercoles and 6 Augusto
Alas Sais pm

We went to Maasin School today again. Sister Sessions had a busy day. A little 5th grade boy that had been working on reading with her came back to the room where I was and told Maam Solomon (pronounced mom) "Maam Sessions cute." She gave him some candy at the end of his lesson, so he was very impressed.

Filapinos are very straight forward and say exactly what they want. They ask you how old you are, how many children, etc. They tell you, "You're Fat", (pronounced fot). We talked to Sister Ortega in Culasi and told her we met her son at the church in San Jose. She said, "He's obese", like she was telling you his middle name. He is a bit overweight, but . . . We thought it strange, but that is common dialogue.

I talked to Maam Solomon to see if I could do more to help. I sit quite a lot. She said I could start working with some of the slower students and she would set me up next week.

I sold 4 olins to one little guy for a peso and lost about 10. I thought they were called olies, but the kids informed me today it was olin. We had a good time. I had them shouting, "Come on baby" when it was my turn to shoot. When I kept missing I tried to get them to say in unison, "Bummer!" They didn't get that. I will get them going next week.

We worked with Francis on kinaray-a this afternoon. We are making slow progress, but it was fun today. We will try for Friday at 9:00 am for another language lesson. Sister Sessions is starting to get some receptive skills going and I am able to generate a little, if given some time to think of vocab.

Few pics from the Maasin School trip today.
Sunny morning on the way up to Maasin School. The road was terrible, but we have had a couple of days a bit drier. Pretty valley.

This fellow was taking advantage of the sun to dry some rice out front of the school. He laughed and laughed at my playing olins with the kids.
These men were net fishing in the clear water of the south fork of the river. The north fork was brown and carrying much silt. The two are only a few hundred kilometers apart at the bridge I was standing on to photograph these guys. The water was very pretty and I thought them enjoying themselves staying cool on a humid, sunny day. I wanted to get in with them.


We went to the Family History Library yesterday at 9:00. Nobody came. Sister Sessions cleaned the church and I worked on trying to get the computer to work and on indexing. I used the laptop for indexing. The computer at the church is about a 1980 model and it is slow as old grannies' plow horse.

We attended the baptism yesterday. It was the weakest we have been to. It was an hour late in starting. The sound had not been turned on so nobody could hear the speakers or the testimony of baptizees. And there were several other things that need to be fine tuned. The services are to be simple and SPIRITUAL. This one was pretty much chaos. The branch president did get down off the stand and talk personally to the sisters, welcoming them. That was definitely the high point. 

We need help. President Aquino is going to train on baptism/baptisms next Saturday, not a moment too soon. The missionaries need to be up on this, as well as missionary leaders and branch/ward leaders. (Handbook 2, pages 23 and 170-172)

Church today was pretty good. Joemar Condes is leaving on his mission Thursday. He spoke and gave a nice talk, but the best was when he read his response letter sent back to the First Presidency after receiving his call. His letter was very spiritual and a testimony. He will do well. He has a fine testimony and is a talented man. The Lord will use him up north. He will be missed here, but it will be a blessing for him and the branch.

I remember my acceptance letter to the First Presidency . . . actually it was not a letter. I didn't know we were actually supposed to write a letter. My letter said, "Okay." The Bishop Hilton thought it was a little bit of an unusual response, but it said all I needed to say. I think Sister Sessions wrote a bit more on her letter, but she can't remember. Maybe we only did the one, very clear, concise, eloquent . . .

I went home after the baptism yesterday and went to bed. I stayed in bed until this morning and I finally felt some better and went to church. President Gindap helped me get a baptism certificate for Rodney Damasco after Sacrament Meeting. I am excited to get the letter to Rodney. Brother Kib and I promised him this about two months ago. Imagine it taking that long in the states. Computers are wonderful, but when they are not working, not so much. I will try to get Brother Kib to go deliver it with me, and the Sisters, on Monday afternoon, or Tuesday eve. The Sisters are teaching Rodney's wife.

We have a cottage meeting here again tonight to thank, plan, and have a little devotional. It will be fun, but is getting pretty big and unwieldy. This will be our last of this sort. We need to plan a branch FHE and set a date for a temple trip to Cebu for adults, and plan to keep visiting the less active.

Sisters Viliami, Villavert, Boni, and Winward, left to right. Boni and I got along swell. We played find on the bench, life savers. Some of you will know the game. Sweet family.
 I am sorry that I didn't get pictures of the other sister, Sister Santiago. She had to take her daughter to the hospital and she was an hour late for the baptism. They were both confirmed this morning in Sacrament.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Biyernes and 8 sa Augusto

We  met with Francis this morning for our language lesson. It was pretty fun. We are getting better, slowwllly.

Djulito came today and cleaned the place. We took him to lunch at the Steak House and practiced our language on him. That was very fun too.

I picked up Brother Kib at China Bank just after his school day closed and we went to Hamtic to meet Elders Latchumanan and Gan for a lesson in the hills above the University of Antique campus. We met Jim, an American man who moved to Panay with his Filapina wife a few years ago. He is very open minded and has begun to read the Book of Mormon.

Sister Sessions was ill, so I went and we had a nice time visiting about the differences in the two countries and the fun and not so fun things for foreigners. We had a good discussion, under the direction of the Spirit. We prayed and shared scripture and Jim agreed that we might come back next Tuesday and begin lessons. He is a good man. I look forward to going next Tuesday and having my companion come too. She had a powerful testimony to share.

Sister Sessions studying. I was checking the camera battery and sort of liked the pic.                    
 I had a great sit-down with President Amar this morning. I tool some papers over to him and we visited in the street for about 20 minutes. When I left I zipped down to the docks to see what was going on. There was, as most usual, a cement cargo ship tied up and unloading. A fishing boat was also moored there.

I picked up the Elders last evening out in San Pedro. They needed to get to a sister's house to give a blessing and get on back to their apartment. It was after hours for trikes to be running, so I went to help them with a ride. When I got home, this fellow was waiting on the front porch (Djulito calls it a balcony, even though it is raised only about 30 cm).
Pretty good size toad. I see him, or one like him in the garage periodically.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Miyercoles ang 5 Augusto

We went to district meetings this morning. Sister Sessions bought cakes yesterday for Sister Dotillos' birthday and we shared them after meetings. Our district was taught by the Bugasong Elders and Elder Miguel specifically. When he teaches, he always starts with apologies for his abilities. Every time he teaches, it is obvious that he prepares by the Spirit. The scriptures he uses are right on and usually point back to investigators with whom the missionaries currently work. They are super . . . so, naturally, I chewed him out in a loving way and told him to stop apologizing for great lessons. It sounds a little strange. Great lesson today about teaching with the Spirit.

I had a great meeting with Presidents Villavert and Amar this morning after districts. We met for nearly two hours and discussed calling people, advancing priesthood holders, planning for the meetings coming in the next weeks, and planning for District Conference. I hope they are as good as their word, that they would get going on callings and the work.

Sister Sessions has hurt herself washing the porch we think. She is getting better amat-amat (little by little). She has problems with taking a deep breath, like she did when she cracked a rib. I am doing fine. I walked tonight and stopped by the church to visit with our language teacher and President Gindap. I stopped and bought some fuel for the truck so we have plenty to go up to the school in the morning. Their card reader was down. I gave them a thousand pesos and just after they started pumping, we had a brown-out. I had to wait while they started a generator. While we waited, but guy tried to help me with some kinaray-a words. We had fun and I told him kita kita ay liwat as I left (See you again, I think). The people always smile and laugh when I speak to them, so I have no idea if I am saying things correctly. They like it anyway.

Craqy Sister Viliami

Hot rod cycle. Yes, that is Bob Marley on the tank.

Elder Ortiz and his cell mates.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lunes and 4 Augusto

We had a good cottage meeting/devotional last evening with the young missionaries. We talked about what we have been doing, needs, and news. We studied the scriptures together and had a good meal of potatoes and chili and cheese etc.

Elder Ortiz and Elder Lundgren sang a capella. The Spirit came about mid-hymn.
We had a long picture taking session and really had a fun time bidding Elder Ortiz very fond farewell. We will be seeing him periodically before he heads home. What a great missionary. We love him. (Sister Sessions hugged him and said, "We love you Elder." He whispered in her ear, "I knew that beforehand." He is pretty much a spiritual giant.

One of the house Gecko last evening outside the dining room. This all we have seen of him, cut we hear him each morning about 5:30. He sings out about 5-6 times, then quits (sort of a 'gah-ko').
We took Elder Ortiz to Iloilo this morning to the mission home. He was a little bummed by having to leave so unexpectedly, but he had an uplifting time when we arrived. There were several missionaries about; some sick, some transferring around, some testing in English. We had a good interview with President Aquino.

We were asked to help President Villavert and President Amor arrange for a meeting with all return missionaries, old and young, male and female on the 16th. The will be enlisted to help get the stake going. He gave me some specific orders to pass on to the presidents. I set up a meeting at 10:30 tomorrow morning after District Meetings. He also told Sister Sessions and me to go visiting (home/visiting teaching) on days when nothing is going on. We will start tomorrow afternoon. We may need to find a volunteer to help us locate some of these folks, but we look forward to the assignment. I have been accompanying the missionaries at times, but we will try to fly on our own a bit. It ought to be a cartoon with the amount of language we have. We can ask where the toilet (CR) is, and what's your name etc. That's pretty much it. Hope they have some English reception skills.

Gave Sister Sessions a blessing last night with Elder Orgiz anointing and Elder Lundgren standing in. She had a pretty good night of sleep and is getting better. I am feeling pert, but stiff without my little anti-inflammatories that were chewing up my gut. Feeling better, happier, hungry for some good food.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Domingo and 3 Augusto

We are home, waiting for the missionaries to come over for dinner. Elder Orgiz, one of our favorite people, is getting shipped out in the morning. We hope to take him to Iloilo, but we don't know where he will end up. We know he will be a spiritual giant wherever he goes. He is in tune with the Spirit and seeks revelation. He loves the people and visits and strengthens them. He will be missed, but the Lord needs him to go to another place and work there. Something/someone is prepared to hear him.

It has been a good Sabbath Day. We went to Hamtic. We are feeling better. I will keep struggling, but I do feel better and stronger.

Sister Sessions bore testimony today and it was great. There was another sister there, a little older sister like us, that bore here testimony in about four sentences. It was dang powerful. We really do not need to do a thankimony, travelog, or recitation on our trials and blessings . . . I have not been so moved by a testimony in a long time.

Porter was baptized early this morning, for Antique (1:15) We were able to see and listen because Chancey used technology to let us be there. We even got a chance to share a little testimony with Port. I am thankful for technology. Wish I could put it to better use.

I did a lot of thinking about baptism and the Holy Ghost. I wrote this and want to save it on the blog:

Baptisms, family baptisms particularly, naturally bring us to ponder God The Holy Ghost and His role in the Godhead. Parley P. Pratt described the “Armor of God” as not an exoskeleton layer that can be discarded when not in use, but as an internal strength which fortifies our faculties and enhances our God given gifts. Clearly, he was speaking of the Holy Ghost.

In that the Armor of God must be internalized, we begin at our baptism (young or old), to prepare ourselves. We prepare to face constant pressure from Lucifer. Preparation requires much time, which stands in total contrast to our desire for a quick fix and instant gratification.

Experience, prayer and study bring knowledge. We are taught that using knowledge to judge correctly is wisdom. The Armor of God (The Holy Spirit) enhances our ability to use our knowledge and wisdom to choose/judge correctly. By choosing and acting well, we do all that we can do to approach Exaltation. Our loving Savior does the rest, but we need to do our part . . . For me it is a long, long, long (maybe there are not enough longs to adequately portray enough time) process.

Alma tells us:

“And now, my beloved brethren, (Likening this to myself, ‘And now my children and grandchildren  and loved ones and friends’) I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear (respect and love) before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ;

That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it (The Heavenly Gift), and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.”  (Alma 34:37-8)

Thirty nine is cool too, but 40 is still a killer. . .

The Prophets, aged and modern, tell us the Holy Ghost is that for which we must constantly seek while here. He refines us and our thoughts and hearts. He loves the Savior, He loves the scriptures, He loves us, and loves to be with us when we are doing well and good and meeting in the name of the Lord, and He is our personal minister from the Godhead. I know this is true and share this written testimony in the name of Jesus Christ . . . Amen.

On the way home from Hamtic I took these photos from the Malandog Bridge. This little bay is filled with the fishing fleet during the monsoons/typhoons. It is too rough out to sea where they normally  anchor. There is a painting here . . .
The Malandog Bay and river inlet is where the natives believe ten (10) Bornean kings (Datus) landed on/discovered Panay Island many hundreds of years ago. The kings eventually traded a gold head dress to the natives for their land. Then the Spaniards came and all kinds of stuff broke loose and they all lost their lands. The Bornean King story is much more interesting.

The rains wash the dirt down the river and deposit silt. Hence the brown water. One can just make out the surf out back of the fleet.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sabado and 2 Augusto

We went to the church this morning and opened the family history lab, but nobody showed up all day. I hope we will get more when word spreads. I worked on some indexing while Sister Sessions cleaned half the church.

We went to Guysano's for lunch so Sister Sessions could have some pizza. I had chicken and rice and some fries. I scraped the breading off the chicken as best I could and had a little of the rice. The fries were cold, but I ate them anyway.

Sister Sessions went visiting teaching this afternoon with a bunch of sisters. They had a great time and Sister Sessions was actually animated when she got home. It did her a world of good to do something to serve others. Home/visiting teaching ought to be like that. When we get home, we ought to be happy we went and happy with the things that were shared.

We went to the baptisms this evening. It was good, but we really need to put more emphasis on baptism in the branches. Hamtic goes a little over the top, but they are memorable for the baptizees. Leaders must put more into presiding. They ought to dress in their Sunday best and be prepared to speak and welcome and lead. We have got to put more emphasis on the ordinance of baptism. The service is to be simple and not dragged out, but it needs to be memorable and we need more respect for something so utterly important.

Porter Sessions will be baptized in a few hours. Michael just face timed us at 9:50 and we await the baptism at about midnight here in the Philippines. Exciting . . .  probably more so for us than for him.

I don't believe it is common knowledge, even among members, how important baptism is in our progression. We must faith in the Savior and his atonement, repentance, baptism by someone holding authority, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost; the gift of having God the Holy Ghost as our care taking companion (Bible Dictionary page 681, end of paragraph 2 under "God"). We will have to work on baptisms in Antique. They are getting better, but we are not there yet.

Talking about God the Holy Ghost brings to mind how the Godhead loves one another, a model for presidencies and bishoprics everywhere. I often tell in talks around here how much the Holy Ghost loves the Savior and how he testifies of the Savior and the Father. When our leaders emulate the Godhead and love one another, they work "as one" to shepherd their flocks. I see the pattern beginning to develop right here in Antique.
Young Sister Fritzee. Not sure of the spelling. Elder Lundgren and Elder Ortiz taught her and she has a great heart. The Young Women welcome her.
Sister Rappleye and Sister Dotillos with Tobias and Chorley. These kids were married last week and now Brother Tobias was able to baptize his new wife. I took three pictures of this group and Brother Tobias never changed his pose.
Cute Kids starting life in the right way. . . 
Sister Sessions made Chorley's dress for her wedding. She dawned the dress after she was baptized and I wanted to record it. Unfortunately, they made me get in the picture.
After baptism treats in the entrance way. Brother Olan holds two little admirers smack in the middle of the group. Fun evening.