Monthly Archives: June 2014

In the Arms of His Love — June 15, 2014

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The mission president opened his scriptures.

I would like to read to you the first recorded words of the Savior as He began His formal ministry. He spoke to a gathering in the town where He spent His youth, to people who did not accept Him. But as He spoke, He declared the mission given to Him by his Father:

“…he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”(Luke 4:16-21)

The president paused and looked at the missionaries gathered for the Zone conference. It would be the last time President Schmutz would talk to the missionaries in a Zone Conference, as his three years as a mission president would end on July 1. The missionaries had been announcing it as the “Farewell Zone Conference,” and looked forward to being taught by their beloved president one more time.

I want to say to all of you missionaries: it is a privilege to be called to preach. You—each and every one of you—are so valuable to the Savior’s completion of His mission.

You are the ones to find and teach the poor.

You are the ones sent to heal the broken-hearted through the miracle of the gospel.

You are the ones to bring deliverance to those captured and bruised by sin.

You are the ones to give spiritual sight to those blinded by false doctrine.

You are the ones to prepare the world for the acceptable year of the coming of the Lord.

The president paused again as he looked at the faces that he had come to love so much.

When you made the decision to serve a mission, you entered the great University of Mortality. You are earning your first and most important degree. The Savior is your advisor and mentor.

He is with you every day. He walks with you through the courses He Himself first completed. He will not let you fail, because you are working to complete the work that He began in the obscure town of Nazareth. Your work, like His work, will endure throughout the eternities.

Your textbooks are the scriptures. The books don’t cost you hundreds of dollars. They are easy to obtain. But when you hold them in your hands, think of what you have. You are holding centuries of the revealed word of God. Think of the pain, sorrow and sacrifice of the prophets as they prepared spiritually in their time to receive and give the word of God—and you can receive the words so easily!

Be grateful. Let the scriptures be life to you. Let them be bread and water to your soul. Let them open up your view of eternity.

The president paused again. Then he turned to the 53rd chapter of Isaiah.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Our Heavenly Father will ask you again and again to make sacrifices. We grow by sacrifice. The Savior taught us about sacrifice. He was bruised, put to grief, and bore our iniquities through the travail of His soul, as He poured out His soul unto death. He sacrificed all that He was and all that He had—for us. He sacrificed that He might go before the Father with His soul as an offering for our sins.

When we let Him make His soul an offering for our sins—when He can see in a single person the acceptance of His atonement—then He shall be satisfied. Then His mission shall be successful. Then, He who was cut off out of the land of the living without earthly seed, without a generation to declare, will receive His seed. For all who will make His soul as offering for their sins will become His seed and heirs, joint heirs with Him as He divides with each the portion of the great.

Let Jesus Christ be the “Captain of our Souls”.

Turn the wheel over to Him. He is a good driver.

Let Him encircle you about eternally in the arms of his love. (2 Nephi 1:15)

 

Jobs — June 12, 2014

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woodworking shop

woodworking shop

power saw

power saw

planer

planer

finishing concrete

finishing concrete

scaffolding

scaffolding

When I got home from my mission, the first job that I got was working for the father of one of my friends.”

It was P Day and Elder Hall was wearing jeans and his blue “Building Contractors” tee shirt. He was talking to a branch member who had just finished changing the oil in our pickup.

“He had a big truck and hauled various loads around the country. He told me he was taking a load to Nevada and would hire me to go with him. I got to his house about 10 in the morning.

He had a big pile of Lodge Pole Pine corral poles about 20 feet long. He told me to load them into the truck. I piled them nearly as high as the cab of the truck. It was about 5 in the afternoon when I finished.

My employer came out of the house and asked if I was ready to go. We climbed into the truck and drove to Twin Falls. He pulled up in front of a building and stopped the truck.

‘I’m singing in a Barber Shop Quartet program here tonight. We will go when it is over.’

I sat and waited. The program ended about 11 PM.

We drove south out of Twin Falls to Nevada, through Elko, through Winamucca, and then south to Fallon, Nevada. We got there about 7 the next morning. There was a Forest Service Office there. They were going to buy the corral poles. We sat and waited until the office opened. After we unloaded the poles, my employer bought me breakfast. It was the first meal I had eaten since breakfast at home the day before.

We drove along a railroad track. The railroad workers walk along the track and tap each tie with a metal bar. If the tie does not appear to be solid, they pull out the spikes and pry the tie out so that it can be replaced.

The ties were scattered along the track. My employer drove along the track while I loaded the ties into the truck. It was after dark when we finished loading the truck. We drove all night back to Wendell. We did not stop to eat. My employer dropped me off at my house and gave me thirty dollars.

He said he was taking out another load the next week if I wanted more work. I didn’t go back.”

Elder Hall paused for a moment.

“My brother-in-law offered me a job next. He worked for a company that installed heat ducts and plumbing. They were remodeling a house and needed to put heat ducts under the floor.”

The listener looked puzzled.

“Why do they need heat ducts?

To get heat in the house.

Why do they want that?

It is cold in our country. We need heat in our houses about six months of the year.

Oh.

In new construction there is a two foot foundation wall around the perimeter of the building, so there is plenty of room to work under the floor. This was a remodel and there was only about 12 inches under the floor.

I inched along on my back, putting in the duct as I went. But the house had been added on to. When I reached the end of the older part, there were two concrete foundation walls blocking my way.

I took a shovel and dug under the concrete. When I thought it was deep enough, I edged my head and shoulders into the hole. When I got as far as my chest, I got stuck. I couldn’t move forward or back. My head was stuck in that dark hole.

I panicked, and it seemed like I swelled and was stuck tighter. I finally had to force myself to relax. For about twenty minutes I forced myself to lie still and breathe slowly. At last I was able dig my heels into the dirt and bit by bit drag myself out of the hole.

I finished that house, but I didn’t go back to that job either.

What did you do next?

I went back to Mackay where my parents were living then. Cloy Jones, one of my missionary companions, came to see me and talked me into enrolling in college. I went to Rexburg to Ricks College. It is called BYU Idaho now. I met Sister Hall there.”

                                                              ***

I think we owe Cloy Jones a really big thank you.

Driving — June 11, 2014

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After we came home from Zone Conference in Cebu, we went with the Toledo District President to a meeting in Aloguinsan. There was an Independence Day procession and numerous street activities in Toledo. It took us nearly 15 minutes to move through traffic from one street to the next.

As we drove back from Aloguinsan, the District President sat watching the traffic for a few minutes, then started a conversation.

Elder Hall, you drive very fast.

Well, sometimes maybe.

Elder Hall, how old were you when you learned to drive?

Well, I started driving a farm tractor when I was six years old?

Oh, so it was it your tractor?

Yes, it was my dad’s tractor.

So why did you drive? Did your dad let you drive just for the experience?

No, he needed my help. My father had a farm and a dairy and there was a lot of work to do.

But you were only six years old?

Elder Hall passed several vehicles before he answered.

Yes, I was six years old. My next older brother was five years older than me. None of my other older brothers were living at home then. 

In our country there is a very short window of time between the time when the weather has warmed enough that the ground can be worked, and before the ground is too dry to plant. If the ground is too dry, the seed can’t sprout and we lose the crop.

So my father showed me how to operate the tractor and I worked up one of the fields.

The District President thought a moment. He works at the Carmen Copper mines and knows about big equipment.

Elder Hall, how big were you then? Were you big enough to reach the foot controls?

It was a relatively small tractor, but I had to stand up to reach the pedals. I stood between the seat and the steering wheel. I could hold onto the wheel and use one foot for the clutch. If I needed the brake I needed to use both feet.

So when did you learn to drive a pickup.?

When I was ten years old, I started driving the pickup and truck.

Didn’t you have to show a license to drive?

I just drove around the farm.

So it was alright if you just drove inside your farm?

Yes. At that time in Idaho, I was able to get a drivers’ license when I was fourteen. Then I could drive on the roads.

So …you have been driving for a very long time. It is good that you have a lot of experience driving.

I thought maybe the president looked a bit relieved to know that Elder Hall had a lot of driving experience.

 

McDò is in Toledo — June 4, 2014

Senior missionary conference

Senior missionary conference

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At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Commodore George Dewey sailed from Hong Kong to Manila Bay leading the Asiatic Squadron of the U.S. Navy. On May 1, 1898, the Dewey defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Manila Bay. The Spanish government ceded the Philippine archipelago to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris.

On June 12, 1898, the national hero, Emilio Aguinaldo led the declaration of Philippine independence from Spanish colonial rule. Philippines independence was not recognized either by the United States of America or by Spain.  

The US granted independence to the Philippines on 4 July 1946 through the Treaty of Manila and July 4 was observed as Independence Day until 12 May 1962, when President Diosdado Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28, which declared Tuesday, 12 June a special public Independence Day holiday throughout the Philippines, “… in commemoration of our people’s declaration of their inherent and inalienable right to freedom and independence.

The barangay fiestas of April and May have now accelerated into the Hinulawan Festival and the Philippine National Holiday of Independence Day celebrations. Streets are blocked nightly for parties and markets.

Toledo City came from Old Hinulawan and New Hinulawan.

Old Hinulawan was destroyed on June 3, 1863 when a series of earthquakes shook Hinulawan.

The first tremor toppled the newly built school, leveled several houses to the ground, and caused the church facade to collapse. It caused injuries and death to several residents from falling debris.

The quake that followed brought greater damage: complete destruction of the church and the convent; cracking of the lowlands in all directions; crumbling of the stonewalls along the Hinulawan river bank; and sagging of the ground, causing water from the sea and the river to rush in and flood the settlement to waist level.

A third temblor totally destroyed pueblo Hinulawan.

The survivors were rescued by residents of neighboring highland localities.[6]

The refugees who survived the Hinulawan earthquakes slowly rebuilt their lives in the days that followed. With the help of the people of Barangay Tubod, some of the survivors cleared portions of the virgin forest and plateau in the vicinity of Tubod and constructed houses with roof made of cogon grass. Those who did not want to live in the new clearings built their homes at the foot of the Tubod highlands. They buried their dead in a cemetery in a certain part of the plateau not far from where they lived.

The area occupied by this particular group, a majority of the survivors, subsequently evolved into the New Hinulawan.

A minority of the refugees decided to migrate to other places: the hinterlands of Da-o, Bulok-bulok, Landahan, and Sam-ang as well as the pioneering settlements in the seafronts of Cabito-onan and Batohanon.

In those days pirate attacks against pueblos situated near the shores of Tañon Strait were rampant. To protect themselves against such attacks, the residents of New Hinulawan built a baluarte, or bulwark, made of chopped stone blocks piled along the shoreline. With the passage of time, however, the bulwark became dilapidated and fell apart, its remnants forever buried in the sand during the construction of the first municipio, or Municipal Hall building. The municipio itself was destroyed by Philippine Commonwealth troops and Cebuano guerrillas in World War II.

Many years later, a few among those who resettled in New Hinulawan decided to return to their former homes in Old Hinulawan when the depressed lowlands gradually became habitable. Old Hinulawan is the present-day Barangay Daanglungsod.

We live in a house at the foot of the Tubod highlands. One of the most exciting events of the Toledo 2014 celebration is the opening of the new McDonalds. Construction began in early April, with 24 hour shifts to meet the deadline for opening on June 1.  People here call it McDo, with the accent on the last syllable and a strong long “o” sound. I’d rather have a McDonalds than an earthquake.

Hooray! It’s Time for School! —–May 30, 2014

camp

camp

breaking camp

breaking camp

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fire making

fire making

climbing a coconut tree

climbing a coconut tree

grill

grill

When I taught developmentally delayed three and four-year-old children in Preschool, one of the songs we sang together was titled, “Hooray! It’s Time for School!” It was catchy and lively and the students loved to sing it. One day, as the parents came to get their children, I had the following conversation with a father whose son had significant speech delays.

I just want to tell you that your son is doing really well. He is one of our best singers.

The father grimaced.

Yes, I know. Could you please teach him another song? He sings that “it’s time for school” song from the time he wakes up in the morning until he goes to sleep at night!

In the Philippines, the hottest months of the year are April and May, and school is out for summer vacation. The last two months have been filled with youth activities. April began with planning meetings and all day practices as the youth prepared for Youth conference. After Youth conference, there followed trips to find a suitable venue for youth camp, planning meetings, an all- day athletic activity to prepare for the camp, meetings to practice the skills needed for camp, practices for the youth talent presentations, and meeting to prepare those things needed for the camp.

The youth camp for held last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The activities were great, attendance was good, and the youth and leaders had a memorable time. The weather was sunny and warm. I made the mistake of checking the weather on the internet. The “real feel’ for those days was 112 degrees F. Sometimes my nose randomly starts to drip. I wonder if the inside of my nose sweats, too?

We loaded multiple items on the truck to haul back to Toledo.

This looks like “Sanford and Sons” all over again.

Elder Hall, what is “Sanford and Sons”?

It is a TV show. Have you ever heard of it?

No, Elder.

Oh. Either you are too young or I am too old.

When the loading was finished, the young man who is the District Executive Secretary put his hands on Elder Hall’s shoulders and started to massage his shoulders and neck.

Elder Hall, do you know what this massage is called?

No, but I know how it feels. It feels really good!

It is called a “love massage.” That is the best kind of massage.

We got to our house about 8:30 PM. We left at 5 AM to go to Cebu to have a 7 am breakfast with the Senior Couples and go to a temple session together. It was a great end the week.

We left Cebu in a torrential rainstorm. Geysers of water spurted out of the drain covers. Torrents of water ran down the sides of the streets and split around a parked car or motorcycle like rapids around a rock. The windshield wipers could not handle the water, so we blindly worked our way up the hill. Most vehicles had taken shelter so the traffic was light. As we topped the mountain the rain tapered off.

The next day we went back to the camp east of Pinamungajan to get a load of left over bamboo and fire wood, and then take the tents back to the barangay of Gaas. It began raining on this side of the island. One of our helpers commented on the rain.

I think summer is over now. The south winds are coming in and blowing the east winds north the so we will start the rainy season. It will be cooler then.

School starts on June second. If that means summer is over and cooler weather is coming, I say, “Hooray! It’s time for school!”

How Much Do We Know? —- May 20, 2014

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nice mud bath

nice mud bath

The Sister Trainer Leaders called us. The Sister Trainer Leaders work under the Zone Leaders to train and help the other sister missionaries.

Elder and Sister Hall, we have a situation we would like to talk to you about.

Okay, when would you like to meet?

We will be at the church today at five. It is Sister Veronica’s farewell party. She leaves for her mission on Tuesday.

Okay, we will meet you there then.

We arrived at the church at five. Of course, the party had not started yet. A few young women were there practicing their presentations for the party. We talked to the other sister missionaries.

Have you seen the STL’s?

They are not here yet. They went to a referral with the branch president. They will be here in a while.

Elder Hall went to visit with some of the leaders in the office. A young elder was playing the piano.

Sister Hall, do you have the Primary songs on your Kindle?

Yes, but only the words, not the music. Do you need the music?

Yes. We have a song book at our apartment. We will go and get it.

Elder Hall came back and the STL’s arrived. We left the noise in the cultural hall to go to a classroom.

Elder and Sister, the Area Presidency has asked us to have the missionaries come to the Zone Leaders and STL’s areas to work with us instead of us going to their areas. So we will need to have the Toledo 1 and 2 sisters move in together, and we will take the other apartment. Which one do you think we should take?

We have no authority over apartment changes. That is between you and the Zone Leaders and the Assistants to the President. Our only authority is to tell the missionaries to keep their apartments clean!

Will you help us move the luggage?

Yes, we can do that. Just let us know what you decide and when.

On Monday afternoon, we picked up the luggage and the sisters and the Zone Leaders. The Zone Leaders carried all the luggage up three flights of stairs to the Toledo 1 sister’s apartment. The stairway is divided into four segments with four 90 degree turns.

We took inventory of some things that were needed in the apartment and left to get them. Our last trip of the day was just before the sister’s curfew. The lights were out in the stairway, but we felt our way up and made the delivery.

On the way back down, as we made the last turn, I missed a step, fell face forward—and landed on my back!

Are you alright? Are you alright?

There was a note of panic in Elder Hall’s voice.

Yes, I am alright.

Did you hit your head? Are you alright?

No, I didn’t hit my head, and I am alright. Thanks for catching me.

I got up, dusted off my dignity, and walked out to the pickup.

Later that evening, I saw Elder Hall glance at me, the glance at me again.

Why did you thank me for catching you?

I felt you grab my arm.

I didn’t grab your arm. My back was toward you.

I really don’t know what happened that night when I fell down the steep, tiled stairs and only received a few bruises on my back. But I do know I believe in a God of miracles. And I am thankful for all those who pray for our protection here.