We went to a baptism today with President and Sister Reeder in Pasacao. This is a little branch that
is about an hour West of Naga right on the sea coast.
There is a beautiful little chapel there and the area is quite hilly and very tropical. We didn't see the ocean today but will be going back in the near future and will make sure we get out to the coast which is only minutes from the chapel.
The service today was very special. Two young women were baptized and the service was nice although we couldn't understand much as most of it was in Tagalog. But sitting in front of us were 4 little girls ranging in age from maybe 8 down to 3. They were not all from the same family, although I think 3 of them were sisters.
|This is the girl who kept staring at us/me.|
They were just beautiful little girls and were all fixed up nicely. Two of them kept turning around and looking at us. We had shaken their hands earlier and spoken to them but we must have been a sight they don't see very often, because one of them was always looking back to stare at us. I really enjoyed seeing them and the interaction with them and my heart just opened up and my first thought was, "I can just imagine that the Savior really loves these little children". I remembered in the Book of Mormon in 3rd Nephi when the Savior saw the people and their love for him and he said, "my joy is full". I think His fullness of joy came because of Love. Love for his Children! Love is what makes everything right. It is the forgiveness; the service; the acceptance; and the healer for all the ills that we face with each other and Charity is the true love of Christ. I felt and received a glimpse of that today with these beautiful little Philippino children in Pasacao.
|New Branch President finding out his children are on the unbaptized list.|
We actually had a very busy week this past week. We started out the week on Sunday going to the Iriga 1 and the Iriga 2 Branches. There is a nice chapel in Iriga (about an hour from Naga to the south) and we attended the first Branch and then stayed for the meetings of the 2nd Branch. During Sunday school of each block, we met with the missionaries and the Branch President and councilors. The Iriga 1 Branch President is very new. He had only been in his position for a week. It was quite a shock for him to see that on his "unbaptized" list were two of his own children who had been baptized. This is a common problem that we see every week now. Each Branch has many people who have been baptized but the records were never updated. When the President learned this, he put his hands to his head and said, "How can this be?" It was really kind of sad to see him so anguished. We are learning that our most basic issue in regards to the church records, is seeing that ordinances are recorded when they are done. Going back and fixing issues is easy if we have the information but without information it is virtually impossible. Many of these people will need to be rebaptized and confirmed or have priesthood ordinations redone. It is sad but that is the struggle here. Hopefully now, one can see what we are doing. We are trying to train missionaries, as well, in how to work with the Branch leaders and help them. We are also impressing upon them that when they go home from their missions, they will be leaders, and they need to know how to jump in and help immediately.
We also attended a District meeting in the Pamplona district about one half hour from Naga to the West. We were there to train the missionaries on what we are doing and how they can help. We had a really fun day with them. Sister Hoopes made cookies for them which they just loved. Look close and you can see their cookies in hand or mouth.
The Elder and Sisters invited us to lunch with them and we went thinking it would be fun to have a new experience. This is called an Eatery and the sides are open with tables inside.
Each meal (?) came with a huge plate of rice which we gave one of our to the Elders. The American sister told us to chose the beef which we did. It was a small bowl of beef (?) cubes and then a hot broth poured over the top. The broth was vinegar based and that mingled with the smell of the place helped me to lose my appetite quickly. The cost per meal was about 45 Pesos which is about a dollar. The missionaries said this was the only place to eat in Pamplona. Boy am I glad we are in Naga where there are real restaurants and a mall.
This past week was transfer week and we were involved on Tuesday with a class for missionaries going home called Life Skills. It was taught by Elder and Sister Gardner who are going home in May so we will be teaching it from here on out. It was most of a day and was very good. It focused a lot on how to choose and apply for jobs; write resume's; speak along with some goal setting. It is really designed well for these missionaries going home to 3rd world countries. We look forward to teachings these classes in the future.
|Cotnogan Branch Pres with daugher.|
While at the Life Skills training on Tuesday, we met the Branch President of the Cotnogan Branch where we have not yet been. He had come with his daughter who has a mission call to New York, Rochester. She came to be set apart by President Reeder before entering the MTC in Manila last Friday. She is not going to Provo as she does not yet have her VISA for the US. Her Father has been the branch president in Cotnogan for 23 years.
The transfer day was fun as all the missionaries and their new companions met at the church and Mission offices to head back out to their areas. Some were catching buses and others Jeepnies. This is a tricy loaded with two sisters and luggage. Sister Hoopes saying goodbye.
Final note for the week: One of the office Elders asked me last night if Sister Hoopes really liked to cook. (she almost daily takes them cookies or something to eat) I responded that she did not really like to cook or cleanup. But she loves to feed and take care of the missionaries. His companion chimed in with, "those cookies today were sure good".