Monthly Archives: November 2013

What Is This Magical Place? –November 19. 2013

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I never dreamed that I would walk through mud, step gingerly over a wobbly narrow bridge, climb up a ladder into a small hut built on stilts, sit on a split bamboo floor around a tiny oil lamp watching lightning through the open eave of the house as the pounding rain leaked through the roof and having FAMILY HOME EVENING. We sang, had prayer, watched a demonstration, ate treats and had FUN with a lovely family of eight.

An article about Sister Amanda Smith, a missionary recently serving in Tacloban, gave a memorable description of the Philippines.

The Philippines wasn’t exactly clean, and some things had taken getting used to — rice for every meal, the choking smell of exhaust on the clogged streets, cold showers from a bucket. But she had also fallen in love with the place — the sweet smell of mangos, the effervescence of the people, the way the language of Waray-Waray had started to roll off the tongue.

One day she sat down on a stool to teach a lesson in a dirt-floor shack and out of nowhere three fuzzy chicks materialized and walked around her legs, the way birds landed on Cinderella’s shoulder, and she thought: What is this magical place?

We are thankful to be in this magical place.

A Week of Miracles –November 17, 2013

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Elder and Sister Hall, how would you two feel about getting an earlier start on the road and leave say 8 or 9?

That would be fine.

Okay, let’s say 8.


We texted Brother Marven and told him we would not be going to look for apartments that morning and asked if he wanted to go with us to Cebu City. He did. People here refer to Cebu City as “the city”. It reminds me of how the people in Eastern Idaho refer to Yellowstone Park as “the park.”

Elder Rose drove and Elder Hall enjoyed seeing the scenery.

I haven’t seen this much of this area in all the times we have driven this road.

We went to the mission office to turn in receipts, fill out an accident report form, pick up mail and supplies for the missionary apartments, and talk with President Schmutz. The Zone Leaders had several things to take care of and did their e mailing from the office. Afterwards we went shopping, then back to the office to load supplies, and then back to Toledo. We stopped for some pictures at a place where we could see Toldeo and Balamban from one side of the road and Cebu City from the other. We also took a shot of a native pig that was staked on the Cebu side of the road.

We stopped in Balamban to deliver a birthday package that had come in the mail to the mission office. As we were driving down a narrow side street to go to the sisters’ apartment, the unthinkable happened. Suddenly a little girl, who looked to be about four years old, darted directly in front of the pickup. As Elder Rose hit the brakes, we saw her frightened face staring up at the pickup. Then she disappeared. The mother began gesturing from the side of the road and to our relief, the little girl ran to her. We each took a deep breath and were grateful for the prayer for safety and protection that we had offered before we began the trip.


Thursday we hunted for apartments in Pinamungajan and Aloguinsan. We found a nice one for sister missionaries that just happened to be coming open this week. The timing was an amazing coincidence, but after all, a coincidence is just a miracle where the Lord prefers to remain anonymous.


Friday we went to Casoy to look for an apartment for some elders. Missionaries have not been assigned to live in the area before, and the people were very excited to have them come.

Elder Rose, will you be one of the missionaries assigned here?

I don’t know. I would sure like to be here.

We will go with you to find a place to live.

Several people piled in the back of the pickup.

Stop and park here.

As we walked down the street, a lady greeted our guide.

What are you doing here?

We are looking for a house to rent for missionaries to live in.

I could move out of my house, and they could live here.

We looked at the house and it seemed to be just what we needed. She promised to make to necessary improvements before the elders moved in. It is amazing to watch the Lord at work.


We drove to Pinamungahan to confirm with the owner that we could get the apartment for the sister missionaries that will be coming next week. All was well there.

We drove back to Toledo and visited one of the sister missionary apartments.

We drove to Balamban to take some honey, cheese, raisin bread, cinnamon, and pineapple chicken to a young sister from Utah who needed a “taste of home.”

We went to check the elders’ apartment.

We drove back to Toledo to attend two baptisms for Toledo 1 branch and two baptisms for Toledo 2 branch. The Lord is pouring out His Spirit onto the people of the Philippines.


After church we drove to Casoy with a group of members who had made the long trip to Toledo to attend church. Elder Hall and I chose to ride in the back of the pickup. We loved bouncing along the mountain roads and smelling the fresh mountain smells. The ride was the nearest we have come to riding an ATV in the mountains this year.

We paid the first month rent and got a signed contract from the lady who offered to rent us her house, then gave the family a ride on past Casoy to their house. Elder Hall spoke to one of the sisters as she got out of the truck.

Sister, could we meet your husband today?

Yes, I think so.

We met his wife about three weeks ago when we went to Casoy to church. Elder Hall asked her where her husband was. She started crying and said that he was home drinking. She wanted so much that her family could be together in church. Elder Hall committed her to pray for her husband each night before she went to sleep and promised that we would do the same.

We walked up the path to her home. Her husband was under a palm tree with one of his sons. They were preparing lead sinkers to use in fishing in the lake. Elder Hall shook his hand and visited with him a few moments.

Brother, we are so glad to meet you. Sister Hall and I have been praying that we could meet you. Did you know that you are an answer to prayer? The Lord knows you and he answered our prayers to meet you.

The man looked at Elder Hall and then nodded his head.

Brother, we will come here for church next Sunday. Will you go to church with us then?

The man hesitated, looked at the elder who was translating for us, appeared ready to refuse, then looked again at Elder Hall.

Yes, I will come.

When we visited Casoy the last time, we talked to three sisters who live there. They said that there were twelve siblings in their family. Six are members and six are not. Their father and mother are not members and are antagonistic toward the church. Elder Hall asked the sisters to talk to their other siblings who are members and ask them to pray together for their parents. They agreed.

Later we met one of the sisters in Toledo.

Are you praying for your parents?

Yes, we live in different places and have different schedules, so we all pray at 4:30 in the morning so that we can all pray at the same time.

Then I will pray with you at the same time.

Elder Hall began getting up at 4:30 AM to pray for their parents with them.

Before we got to the truck, Elder Hall asked if we could talk to their father.

Yes. He has been drinking, but I think he will talk to you. When he is drinking, he speaks in English.

Hello, brother. How are you today?

I don’t know what is happening. When I don’t see you, I feel like something is wrong. Then I see you and my heart is happy. You are in my heart. I am glad to see you.

We are glad to see you, too.

When we said our good-byes, he held our hands as if he didn’t want us to go. We got into the pickup and started back down the road to Toledo.

Well, that was a drunk man talking, but even so, if he was angry with us, he would have been angrier when he was drunk. And he sure didn’t seem angry.

You can never discount the power of the prayers of their faithful children.

The lake in the evening light was even more beautiful than when we had seen it before.

CSP –November 12, 2013

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We received a text from Elder Rose early Tuesday morning.

Elder and Sister Hall, were you wanting to join Elder Woods and me in a companion CSP (Community Service Project) today at 11? We will be replacing the flooring of a hut, kind of like what we did the other day.

Yes if it is not raining then.

You could come pick us up at 10 o’clock so that we can do this as quickly as we can.

We’ll be there.

We picked up the elders and went to the house to measure. It was about 8 feet by 10 feet.

We are going to get material and then we will be back.

We went to one little shop for nails. We went to another for split bamboo. They didn’t have ten foot lengths. We went to another shop. They didn’t have it either. We went to another shop. This one had a fence in front.

This is a high end shop.

We got two bundles of bamboo and some drill bits.

Elder Hall, I am sure glad to see that drill.

It’s necessary to break through the fibers of the hard bamboo before driving the nail. A battery powered drill would reduce the labor required for the project.

The old floor was rotting and there were holes. The elders tore off the matting that was laid over the flooring to cover the holes, and tore off the old flooring.

One elder drilled holes while the young father nailed. Elder Hall cut the flooring to length and the other elder used a bolo to smooth the edges and the joints of the bamboo. The young mother and two small children watched. The family wanted to replace the flooring before the new baby came.

My house is small but it is strong.

The young father was proud to be able to repair the house for his family.

It rained several times while they were replacing the floor.

At 1:30 we received a text.

Elders and Sisters,

The Church has now officially announced that all missionaries are safe and accounted for in the Tacloban Mission. Nothing short of a miracle! Sixty of the missionaries will arrive here later tonight. We are going to feed them, house them, clean them up and give them a lot of love before they fly to Manila in the morning.  Don’t have any details about what will happen to them after that.

 FYI, another typhoon is going to roll through the mission tonight and tomorrow. Expecting most of the impact on Negros. No extra precaution is needed. Should be minor but might be lots of rain.

Love you all.

Sister Schmutz

The elders talked about the damage to other islands by the typhoon. They wondered about friends they had met in the Mission Training Center.

We might be asked to do service projects in Boho.

Will the missionaries from Tacloban be reassigned?

Probably. Maybe we will get some here.

They are going to Manila for a good medical check-up.

The Lord really blessed us here.

Elder Rose straightened his back and wiped his forehead.

Well, Elder Hall, we could start a business doing this. We could call it Rose and Hall Construction.

Maybe we need to start a new super hero series. We could call it Captain Carpenter.

It was after three o’clock. We were all glad that we were able to finish the job “quickly.”

We enjoyed “Aussie burgers” at a café called Caesars. The meat was imported from Australia. The hamburgers featured buns, salad (lettuce), cucumbers, pineapple, tomato, eggs, bacon, onion and beet root. We skipped the bet root.It looked like a “Dagwood” burger, and tasted delightful. There was Heinz catsup on the table. We had mango shakes with real ice cream.

We took the elders to their next appointment. They planned to do missionary work for the next three hours. We went home.

We have an appointment with Brother Marven to go to Pinamungahan and Aloguinsan in the morning to look for missionary apartments. We will be getting two new sets of elders and two sets of sister missionaries in this zone in next week’s transfers. We hope to have apartment-finding success to report when we go to Cebu in the afternoon.

Under the Protection of the Lord –November 12, 2013

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It was Monday afternoon, and the zone Leaders were going with us to Cebu City for the monthly Mission Leaders Conference. Elder Hall generously offered to let Elder Rose drive. We were almost to Balamban when Elder Woods looked at his phone.

They have cancelled the mission leaders conference.

Yeah right.

No, seriously. It is going to be on Thursday.


Elder Rose continued to drive and Elder Woods continued to look at his phone.

We’ll have Zone Training on Monday instead of District Meetings.

You are kidding, right?

No, seriously. There is another typhoon coming, and the ZL’s can’t get across the water.

We just had the typhoon.

Yes, but this is another one called Zoida. It’s smaller but might bring a lot of rain and possible mudslides.

Elder Rose looked at Elder Woods.

This is for real?


I thought you were kidding.

No, I wasn’t.

Wonder why they waited so long to send out the texts.

Elder Rose looked for a place to turn around. Sometimes such places are hard to find, especially if you need to turn a pickup around.

Elder Rose spoke to us.

Elder and Sister Hall, do you want to go to Cebu on Wednesday?


We need to be there Wednesday night to be ready for the conference the next day. But maybe we could leave earlier? I need to get my teeth cleaned, and get my camera fixed, and look for some new shoes.

So do you want to leave at 6:00 AM?

6:00 AM?

Sure. That would get us in Cebu just about the time that the stores open and you could do lots of shopping.

Elder Woods looked shocked, and Elder Hall started laughing.

That comment wasn’t so funny, but the look on Elder Woods face was really funny. What time do you elders want to leave?

Well, tomorrow is Preparation Day, so we could do our morning study and then do our e-mailing. We could leave about 12:30. Would that be alright?


We are starting to get used to sudden changes in plans here. But we are glad for the precautions taken to keep the missionaries safe. Disrupted schedules are a small price to pay for the safety of the precious young men and women on the errand of the Lord.



A Windy Wet Day –November 8, 2013

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“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that windy wet day.” (Dr Seuss)

Elder Hall was up at 5 AM to look at the storm predictions. The Zone Leaders texted at 6:30 AM.

Any news updates?

Elder Hall replied:

Still about the same track, north tip of island, winds 75 to 120 and rain 2 to 3 inches possible in Toledo.

The electricity, internet and water went off about 8 AM. I had started cooking some rice in the rice cooker for our breakfast. When we lost power, I transferred it to a pan and finished cooking it on the gas cook stove.

Brother Marven texted about 8:30. He needed to get fuel for the generator at the church house, but hesitated to ask us for help because he was afraid we would be breaking mission rules. We told him that getting gas for the church was not breaking mission rules, and Elder Hall left to help him.

Brother Marven is the Facilities Manager and had spent the night at the church. He said the wind and rain was severe until 3 AM. Branches were down all over town. Many members who did not feel safe in their own homes were staying in the church building. The cultural hall, stage, and all the classrooms were full. The church in the Philippines is a strong hold of safety in many ways.

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness therof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? (Psalms 24:1-3)

Sister Schmutz texted all senior couples at 9 AM.

Good morning. The rain and the wind have kicked up here in Cebu. The models we are following show that the worst of the storm should hit within the next 6 hours. The eye is expected to pass over northern Cebu Island near Bogo with winds upwards of 190 miles an hour. This looks like it is going to get rough pretty quickly. It is pushing northward and should not directly hit Negros, but expect high winds, high sea surge, and rain. We are expecting loss of power, but will keep in touch as possible. If emergencies arise and communication is not possible, we trust you to do what needs to be done to keep yourselves and the missionaries safe. Love to all.

At 9:30 sister Schmutz texted that they had lost power. The rain was light, and winds light with heavier gusts. Elder Hall parked the pickup by the back door next to the house to give it protection if any trees should go down. He brought the propane tank in and attached it to the stove inside, and tied the gate with a rope to a tree so that it would not flop in the wind and tear loose.

Then we waited. Sometimes the wind and rain would pick up and then settle down. As the wind blew harder, some trees must have gone down across the road. Men started bringing out branches and pieces of wood that they had chopped up with a bolo (machete). They went back and forth during the worst of the rain.

About 2 PM we saw some sparrows out foraging and decided that the worst had passed. We probably got 3 inches of rain and the wind gusted up to 45 mph. There seemed to be more damage in Cebu City. The mountains broke up the storm and sheltered us here. The banana trees were hardest hit. Their fibrous trunks bend and break like giant flower stems.

We read. I did some journaling. We studied some Bisaya, though we aren’t making much progress.  We ate some dinner. By 6:30 it had been dark for a while, and we were so tired that we started getting ready for bed.  Tomorrow we will take the elders back to Lamac. Maybe we will help finish a service project we started last Monday. When the sun comes up, the people will clear away the branches and sweep up the leaves and return to the rhythm of their lives.

Before we went to sleep, we thanked the Lord for His protection to the people in this part of the islands, and asked His blessings on those who are in need because of the storm.

As we went to sleep, we thought we heard a collective sigh of relief from all the missionaries.

This has been such a long, long day

But tomorrow


We can go out all day.

The Experiences of Life –November 4, 2013

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After District Meeting, we went with the elders to have lunch at a place called “Angel’s Hamburgers.” The hamburgers were gone, the hot dogs were gone, so we settled for a “ham and cheese sandwich.” It was a piece of Spam slapped on the grill and topped with processed cheese. Cheap, tasted pretty good, but we eliminated it rather urgently the next day.

After lunch we went with the missionaries for a Community Service Project (CSP). A family the missionaries were teaching had a small dirt-covered platform on the side of the house. It is called a “dirty kitchen” because a cooking fire is built on top of the dirt. The structure was rotting and falling down. The project involved tearing off the old structure and rebuilding it. It rained most of the time we were there, but it didn’t stop the elders from cutting bamboo to length and splitting smaller diameter pieces with a bolo. They got the platform built, and part of the bamboo flooring on, but not the roof.

We left early because we had an appointment to have Family Home Evening with a family. When we got there, they cancelled because the father was working in town, it was raining, and we couldn’t see after dark because they don’t have electricity. We then went to the church for a “Send Me” party for Sister Noreen who was leaving the next day to go on a mission. Before we left the party, the sweet sister asked Elder Hall if we would join them for a session in the Cebu temple the next evening at 7 PM. How could he say no?

We agreed. It would be a good time to buy some food not available in Toledo, and Elder Hall needed to get a red tie, because another sister had persuaded us to join the choir.

We were feeling good because we had just visited a family who are preparing to go to the temple, and they had given us referrals for his brother, her sister and parents.

District Conference will be held next weekend. The area authority and the mission president will be there. The choir will sing, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” The sisters are to wear red blouses and white skirts and the men red ties.

I need to get some money while we are here.

Okay. I’ll wait here.

I sat in the pickup while Elder Hall went across the street to the CitiBank. It costs 200 pesos to make a withdrawal regardless of the amount. CitiBank in Cebu allows a 15,000 peso withdrawal while the bank in Toledo only allows a 10,00 peso withdrawal. In the Philippines, cash is needed for most purchases.

Did you get it done?

No. I was the first one too late. They put up the sign saying they were out of money.

We drove down the street to go to S&R, a Costco knock-off.

It’s getting late. Do you think we have time to go shopping?

No. We had better head back for the temple.

Elder Hall turned left on the next major street, then stopped to make a left hand turn at the next intersection. He turned on the turn signal and edged the front of the pickup a bit into the other lane to wait for a break in traffic. It was almost dark, but the street lights were not yet on. We could see the lights of a car and the light of a motorcycle coming, but there seemed to be room to make a turn. I glanced out the window as we turned and saw a motorcycle with no lights.

Bang! Bump!

What was that?

A motorcycle hit us.

Elder Hall stopped, and got out of the truck. People were already gathered around the motorcycle. Elder Hall came back to the pickup.

Is anybody hurt?

I didn’t see anyone lying there. The handlebars and mirror and broken on the motorcycle. It was knocked down when it hit the bed of the pickup, and I ran over the front tire. They say I need to move the truck.

The back of the pickup was partly in the traffic lane, and traffic was blocked. He drove forward a few feet and pulled to the side of the road, then got out again. I sat there trying to decide whether to stay in the pickup or get out. Finally I rolled up the windows, took the keys out of the ignition, got out, and locked the truck.

What’s going on?

I don’t know. I think that the police are coming.

How long will it be?

I don’t know.

We waited. The crowd milled around. The motorcycle lay in the street. Traffic drove around it.

Do we need to contact the mission office to see what we need to do?

That would be a good idea.

Where are we?

I don’t know. Nobody seems to know. I don’t think there are any street signs in this city.

I texted the Assistants to the President (AP’s).

A motorcycle hit us in downtown Cebu. What is protocol?

An answering text came in.

You need to get all their information and if you can take pictures and wait for the police and try and get a police report for it…where about are you guys?

No one seems to know where this is. There is a MetroBank Mabogo branch across the street and a Petron Station on this side.

Okay, we are coming now to try and find you guys, be about 20 minutes.

We waited. We got a name, address and cell phone number from the driver.

Are you hurt?

I think my elbow is sprained.

Can you move it?

He bent and straightened the arm several times. I looked for abrasions or blood but didn’t see any. The police came. They inspected the motorcycle, talked to the driver, and took measurements. They talked to Elder Hall.

You moved the truck.

It was in traffic.

You are not supposed to move a vehicle. That is leaving the scene of an accident.

I’m sorry, but the people told me I had to move it.

The officer grunted and went about his business. Several people helped move the motorcycle to the side of the road. Our cell phone rang. The text was from the AP’s.

We are on the way, traffic is crazy.

A flat-bed truck labeled “Road Clearance” came and the motorcycle was loaded onto it. The driver of the motorcycle and the passenger rode in the back with the motorcycle. The policeman talked to Elder Hall.

I need the registration for the truck.

Elder Hall goes back to the truck. He can only find a registration for 2007.

You need to come down to the police station.

We don’t know where it is. Some people from the Church are coming to help us. Can we wait for them?

When will they be here?

They are on their way.

The phone rang, a call, not a text. The traffic is very loud and there is a loudspeaker blaring music from the Petron Station.

Where are you guys?

We don’t know. No one seems to know an address. Maybe you can talk to the police officer.

They talked, then the officer gave me back the phone.

We will wait.

The phone rang again. They cannot find us. I handed the phone to the officer again. After two more calls, the officer said:

Your friends are almost here.

Elder Vu and Elder Mejos pulled up in the white mission van. We have never been so happy to see anyone in our lives. They can speak the same language as the officer. They know what to do in a case like this. They are truly friends.

Elder Mejos drove the pickup and Elder Vu followed in the van. We went to the same police station where we got our drivers’ licenses the second day that we were in Cebu, but this time we went into another room. A man sat at a desk at the end of the room. Across from him was another desk with a TV behind it. Several employees were watching the TV.

The elders and I were given chairs to sit on. Elder Hall went to the desk at the end of the room. The driver of the motorcycle was sitting on another chair by the desk. The investigator had the police report. He gave the driver of the motorcycle a paperclip to represent the motorcycle and a small toy car to represent the pickup and asked him to show what happened. He asked questions, then asked Elder Hall to show what happened.

After a few minutes, the investigator determined that the driver of the motorcycle was at fault because he hit the back passenger door on the side of the pickup. If he had hit the front of the truck, the driver of the truck would be at fault.

The AP’s went to the desk and explained about the registration. Elder Hall asked for a copy of the police report. He must pay 350 pesos and the report will be available the next morning.

As we were getting into the truck, the driver of the motorcycle, his mother and father, and the passenger came up to us.

Won’t you please give us some money to help us repair the motorcycle?

Elder Hall looked at Elder Vu. We don’t know what to do and need to rely on his expertise.

Let’s go look at the motorcycle.

The police have impounded the motorcycle, possibly waiting until the towing fee is paid.

How much do you need?

4000 pesos.

Elder Vu is a tall, dignified Samoan from Australia. He draws himself up to his full height.

1000 pesos.

No, we need more than that.

Elder Vu pauses.

1500 pesos.

The people looked at Elder Vu, then agreed. Elder Hall gave them 1500 pesos, about $34 in American money. Elder Vu wrote a receipt, which the driver signed.

Elder Mejos whispered that is usually better to pay them something so they will go away. The money will probably be needed to pay their fees.

It was after 9 PM so after we stopped to visit with the mission president and his wife, we went to the patron house to apologize to Sister Noreen for missing the temple session. We will need to pick up study desks and deliver them to some elders tomorrow, so we drove back to Toledo. We didn’t accomplish much for the day, but at least we contributed to the local economy.

Bagakay –November 2, 2013

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At Sister Marly’s home

Her eyes sparkled and she clasped her hands in excitement when she heard the news. Then, in spite of her age, Nanay Mendosa ran to find some young people to send on an errand.

Quick! Run to the mountain sides and tell all the members to come home. No work today. The missionaries are coming!

The sisters vied to see who would cook for the missionaries. Nanay P took the honor of preparing a noon meal. Nanay Rico planned another meal for later. Nanay Mendosa hurried to start her washing.

Nanay, or “mother” is used as a term of respect for older women. The men are Tatay or father. Children are taught from a very young age to take an older person’s hand and lift it to their small foreheads in a respectful blessing.

We arrived at the barangay of Bagakay with two young elders at about 11 AM. We parked the truck at the end of the road, forded the stream and began walking up the steep rain-slick paths. After several almost-falls and many twists and turns, we met Sister Mendosa. Her speech was rapid and excited. She obviously knew Elder Rose and was overjoyed to see him again.

She says we should go up the hill to see Sister P. Sister Mendosa still has washing to finish.

Up the hill? We have already been literally climbing up hills. Surely it won’t get worse.

Sister Mendosa guided us up the path, then returned to her laundry. Washing clothes is an almost everyday labor where all clothes are washed by hand, rung out by hand, and rinsed before being rung out again. The clothes are hung to dry on every available line, fence and bush. The older sisters often have sores and white spots on their lower legs from the bleach in the detergents.

Sister P greeted us warmly and sent her daughters scurrying to a small building near her house. We realized the building was her kitchen when the daughters returned carrying plates and containers of food. There was a large bowl of cooked ground corn, sweetened rice wrapped in pieces of banana leaves, meat filled pastries, two platters of meat, fresh and cooked bananas, and a large bottle of Coke. She set two chairs and a scrap-wood bench around the table and invited us to sit and eat. The family would not eat with us; they showed their respect by letting us eat the special food first.

After the delicious meal we moved to the small entrance porch.  The mother and another woman with a small baby sat on the bench. The two daughters sat in the doorway to the house, and we sat on the low concrete wall of the porch. We started with prayer to invite the Spirit to testify of the truth of the principles that we had come to share with them.

The lesson was long with many questions, a few tears, and a powerful outpouring of testimony, but the people clung to the words of Elder Rose and did not want to have us leave. We finally pulled ourselves away about 3 PM; Sister Mendosa was waiting. As we walked down the paths, other people were waiting to meet us.

Sister Mendosa was waiting to take us to her house. Her enthusiasm had not waned in spite of the long wait. We walked into the entryway of the house and up narrow steps to a room with a floor of split bamboo. Brother and Sister Mendosa, her son and a friend, and the elders easily sat cross-legged on the floor. We took our seats on the floor with a good deal less grace.

The Spirit guided Elder Rose to talk about understanding and keeping baptism covenants. He taught the importance of repentance and the miracle of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was getting dark as we left the house, but Sister Rico was waiting for us. She took us to meet her family who were gathered in front of several houses. Two little boys were busily playing in a mud puddle until their mother came and encouraged them to leave it.

Elder Rose explained that most of the people in the barangay were related, but the people we had greeted were not members. Sister P’s husband was among the group.

We climbed the steps into the house of Brother and Sister Rico. They turned on the light and gathered up two chairs to set on the dirt floor for us; the others sat on a sill by the window and on the steps leading to the sleeping quarters. As Elder Painchard gave the lesson, several more people slipped into the house. We thought of the words of the prophet Amos (Amos 8:11).

Behold, the days will come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord…

These beautiful people are truly of the House of Israel and have long waited to receive the word of the Lord.

As we left the house, a sister or a brother took each of us by the hand and led us carefully down the mountain and across the water to the pickup. We felt their love and were touched by their service.

We want to come back again.

We want you to come with us. The people feel your testimonies and are honored to have an older couple visit them.

These people need to have the church here. They need to become a branch.

Yes, they do.

Short After Storm Update

 It is getting light now this morning. It is calm and most of the clouds are gone. We have electricity, water and internet back.
The storm, at least here, was not as severe as predicted. We had some winds, about like a good stiff spring wind in Wendell. Elder Hall estimated about 30 mph. The winds and the rain seemed to cycle through. It rained into the evening. There are some branches down and maybe some trees, otherwise we have seen little damage.
A little water leaked in around one window, otherwise no problems for us.
Will send updates later.

Preparing for the Storm –November 7, 2013

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The texts started last night. The first was from Sister Schmutz.

Hello couples,

We have been alerted by the Church of the powerful typhoon heading into our area. Its path brings it over the upper part of Cebu; obviously we will all feel the effects. We have asked all missionaries to have emergency food and water in their apartments, enough to last 3 days. It is expected to come in late Thursday and early Friday, moving out on Sunday. We are asking you to please help us monitor the safety of the missionaries. Encourage them to have their supplies and move valuables to the upper levels of their apartments in case of flooding. We feel most missionaries will be safest waiting out the storm in their own apartments, but if you feel like some areas are vulnerable would you please let us know and we will combine apartments. We want to make sure that we know where all the missionaries are throughout the storm. Thanks for all you do. This is turning out to be a quite an eventful month.

Love you,

 Sister Schmutz

The zone Leaders sent a text to all the missionaries. On Thursday morning we received a test from President Schmutz.

As we have watched the developments of STV Yolanda, we can see that it will make landfall in Samar/Leyte Friday before noon as a category 5 Super Typhoon. It is very wide and a very powerful storm with the potential to be very destructive. The eye will pass north of Cebu but because of its size, we will probably sustain a lot of high winds (200km/hour) and much rain (4 to 8 inches) across Cebu and Negros.

So we need to take precautions. Please contact the Zone Leaders and ask them to notify all missionaries that if anyone did not stock up with 72 hours of food, water, and candles, it is absolutely necessary to do that before 1 PM today.

Also notify the Lamac elders to travel this morning to Pinamungajan and stay with the elders there until the storm has passed. Ask the upper Busay elders to come into the city and stay with the other Busay or Apas elders. We are concerned about mud slides in the higher elevations.

Have all the missionaries who live right near the ocean be prepared for flooding from the ocean storm surge. They should pick up all valuables or books and materials off the bottom floor and move it to the top floor of their apartments.

 I want to have every missionary in their apartment no later than 5 PM today (Thursday) and stay in the apartment until after the storm has passed.

 Missionaries should not use any more load on their phones so that they can save load for communication during or after the storm.

 I want every missionary to notify their district leader to confirm they are safe in their apartments tonight by 6 PM. DL’s report to ZL’s and ZL’s report to AP’s by 7 PM. I want reports given again at 8 AM Friday morning, at noon Friday, and at 6 PM and 10 PM Friday; then again at 8 AM Saturday and noon Saturday.

The storm should be pretty well passed by noon Saturday. We will give further notice as developments occur. Elders, if you can think of any apartments that are right on the ocean, contact me. We might have them relocate to another apartment or to the nearest church.

Let me know if you have any questions.


President Schmutz

We contacted the Zone Leaders. They had texted and tried to call the Lamac elders, but had not received an answer. Cell phone reception in the Lamac area is very spotty. They said that they would contact the Pinamungajan elders and ask if they had heard from the Lamac elders.

We went to the bank, to the market, and to the mall to get more supplies. When we returned, Elder Hall moved everything that might be moved by the wind into our house.

As no one had yet heard from Lamac, Elder Hall and one of the Zone Leaders went to get them. The trip took about 4 hours, but was uneventful. The Lamac elders had not gotten any texts, and were busily going about their work.

I stayed in our house, as there are four elders in Lamac and room in the pickup is limited. It showered on and off all day. The electricity was on and off all day. The water was on and off all day.

We were excited to be able to find some dry beans in the store this morning. They were labeled as “white kidney” beans, but look more like Great Northern beans. It was the first time we have been able to find dry beans. Even canned beans in the store are in tiny cans and very limited in variety.  I put the beans on to cook with some bacon. After all, it is November and there is a storm coming. When Elder Hall and the ZL returned, we had a feast.

The sister missionaries and a member came by this afternoon to use our CR. As we talked about the typhoon coming in, the member said, “I think it will be delayed by the storm.” I love the humor of these people.

We have done our part to prepare and are sure that the Lord will do His part. We feel very safe in our snug dry home.




All Saints Day –November 2, 2013

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Can you go to Aloguinson to look for an apartment for sister missionaries?


We’ll call the elders there and have them meet us. They have been looking for apartments.

The first house looked nice on the outside, but the owner was unavailable to let us see the inside. It was on a hillside by a couple of big cell towers. There was an empty lot next to it. Elder Hall walked around the house and inspected it carefully.

There is a water storage tank, but it is not connected to the inside plumbing.

The gate is low and easy to climb over.

The empty lot does not give much security.

I would rather see elders live here than sisters.

We went to the next house. We had to wait a while for the owner to come and unlock it. It had five bedrooms, two baths (Comfort Rooms), a large open room upstairs and a large living/kitchen area downstairs. Four bedroom were upstairs and one down. Both CR’s were upstairs. It had been rented for a meeting house for the church before the chapel was built in Aloguinson, but had been vacant since then. There were piles of sawdust on the floor from termites.

Three or four sets of elders could spread out in the large area comfortably. But there were too many dark corners and things that go bump in the night for sisters to live there comfortably.

We found a nice upstairs apartment around the corner from the elder’s apartment. The only problem was that it did not have a kitchen. Brother Marven said that he would drive back up on his motorcycle and look some more.

It is traditional to go to the cemetery on All Saints Day so the traffic was blocked several times on the way home. Bright mums and other flowers and mementos to take to the cemeteries were for sale at many small roadside tinehans.

Maybe one reason we celebrate Memorial Day in May because there are few flowers blooming in America in November.


Faith in God Halloween Activity –October 31, 2013

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Will you help me with the Primary activity?

Yes, but I don’t speak the language. The children might not be able to understand me.

It’s okay.

At 3 PM on October 31, we went to a member’s home by the seashore. As we drove by the bank, Elder Hall noticed a crowd of people waiting to get into the bank to use the ATM.

There must be 30 people there. I think I’ll wait until later to go to the bank.

The Primary president had made a poster by cutting out letters from a newspaper advertisement and taping them to a piece of cloth which she hung by the seawall. She gathered the children together to sing and have a prayer.

Sister Hall, will you tell the children a story?

What do you want me to teach?

The theme is Faith in God. Talk about keeping covenants.

I thought a minute, then retold a story that Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone told a number of years ago.

King Louis XVI of France had been taken from his throne and imprisoned. His young son, the prince, was taken by those who dethroned the king. They thought that inasmuch as the king’s son was heir to the throne, if they could destroy him morally, he would never realize the great and grand destiny that life had bestowed upon him.

They took him to a community far away, and there they exposed the lad to every filthy and vile thing that life could offer. They exposed him to foods the richness of which would quickly make him a slave to appetite. They used vile language around him constantly. They exposed him to lewd and lusting women. They exposed him to dishonor and distrust. He was surrounded 24 hours a day by everything that could drag the soul of a man as low as one could slip. For over six months he had this treatment—but not once did the young lad buckle under pressure. Finally, after intensive temptation, they questioned him. Why had he not submitted himself to these things—why had he not partaken? These things would provide pleasure, satisfy his lusts, and were desirable; they were all his. The boy said, “I cannot do what you ask for I was born to be a king.”

I looked into the faces of the children who were watching me carefully.

You are a daughter of a king. You are a princess. You were born to be a queen. You are a son of a king. You are a prince. You were born to be a king. Never forget who you are. Keep your baptismal covenants. Keep the commandments. Always say to yourself: I was born to be a king. I was born to be a queen.

Sister Marz explained what I said. The children played games and collected candy as prizes for the games.

Elder Hall went back to the bank.

When the children finished, Sister Marz served pieces of hot dog alternated with small marshmallow shapes on a wooden skewer and the rest of the candy. Elder Hall finally returned.

Were there lots of people?

Oh yes! More than before.

They tell me this is payday. The line to the bank is always crowded.


And tomorrow is a holiday—All Saints Day. The next day is a holiday too-All Souls Day.

As the sun set over the ocean, we gathered up our things and went home.

Pay days, work days, secular holidays and religious holidays come and go. But the God who created the earth still orders the sunsets and sunrises, and faith in God is of utmost importance.

Chicken Adobo –October 30, 2013

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For those of you who have been salivating for Adobo, here at long last is the recipe.

Wash one whole chicken. Cut into serving size pieces. Put into a large pan. Dice onions (one or two) and garlic (three or four cloves) and add to chicken. Add ¾ c soy sauce and ½ c vinegar, and black pepper. Cook until chicken is done.

Add water to not quite cover the chicken, and pepper. Add carrots (two or three) and potatoes (four to six) cut into chunks. Cook until vegetables are done. Add salt if needed.

Green bell pepper can be added if desired.

Serve with rice.

Bonus recipe (in response to zero requests):

Chicken Pineapple

Saute diced garlic, onions, and green bell pepper in coconut oil. Add chopped cooked chicken, one large can pineapple chunks with juice, and salt and pepper. Heat. Serve with rice.

Chicken broth or chicken bouillon may be added to taste if desired.

And now, the recipe for Buko Juice for those of you with a few green coconuts that need to be used.

Buko Juice

Cut the top off of three or four green coconuts with a bolo and save the milk. Cut the coconut in pieces. Shred the meat from the coconut into a container. Add about 1/3 can sweetened condensed milk, and coconut milk as desired. Best chilled.

If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy buko from the street vendors in a plastic bag (about sandwich size) with drinking straw. It will cost you about 10 pesos. It won’t have as much coconut in it and it won’t be as good as homemade, but as a cooling drink on a hot afternoon it is very popular.

You can set green jello, cut into cubes and add to the buko to make buko pandan. It is also very refreshing. Green jello is available in the supermarket, where you can see Christmas trees and decorations and listen to “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.”

If you don’t want to make your own buko juice, you can just enjoy the pictures and dream of the Philippines.

I think I’m in Love –October 27, 2013

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Strong and bold.

Steadfast and immovable.

Ruggedly handsome.

Pleasant as a gentle summer breeze.

Who could resist loving the mountains of Cebu?

We have seen some wonderful mountains, but the mountains of Casoy have jumped to the top of our list of favorites. (Casoy is the Bisayan pronunciation of cashew. Huge trees that produce cashew nuts give the area its name.) The members there have started meeting as a small group and hope to become a dependent branch.

We traveled with both the seats and bed of the pickup filled with elders and members. One elder said that if we drove on the left side of the road, it would be less bumpy. It wasn’t, but we drove there for a while anyway.

See those far mountains, the highest ones? That’s where we are going.

The concrete had long since turned into a rough gravel road when we began to climb. The road narrowed and big pot holes became common. Steep mountain slopes were on one side of the road and the other fell away into a deep ravine. It was somewhat like the road to Cannonball Creek except a road here, no matter how isolated or steep, means there is room for houses and tinahans on each side. Just dig into the mountainside or put stilts on the ravine side. Nothing is impossible.

The air became cooler as we climbed.

See that lake down there? We traversed it by boat last week.

The blue mountain lake gleamed through a frame of palm trees.

My brother went on a mission to France. He didn’t get to do a third of the things that I have done here already.

Wait ‘til we get to Casoy. You are going to love the people there. Did we tell you that they will serve us lunch before the meetings?

This was the French-speaking elder from Canada who wanted to go home when he arrived.

A little farther on we will get a really great view of the lake.

We stopped and the elder hoped out with my camera to take pictures.

I got a picture of a carabao (water buffalo) too.

We passed through the village of Casoy. It was market day so we drove through with inches to spare. At one point we had to stop and lift up the twine attached to a tarp shading the wares on small tables extending into the street on both sides. We drove past a huge sow tethered to a tree with a piece of twine.

Here is the house where we will meet. You can park on the volleyball court.

The volleyball court was a relatively flat area dug into the slope at the side of the road. We climbed out of the truck and drank in the cool fresh breeze and the amazing vista of river and mountains.

We have time. Let’s walk up the road and I’ll take a picture of you with the water buffalo.

The elder stepped over the rope tethering a huge water buffalo bull lying in the water of the shallow river. We liked the view a ways back from the bull.

Do you want to see the pictures? He was getting a bit mad at me. I crossed his rope into his territory. But I got some great pictures!

The elder took pictures of us with the mountains as a backdrop. On the way back, he stopped to show us a low growing plant. He touched the leaves.

See how they curl up when I touch them? They’re shy I guess.

It was raining lightly as we greeted the people. We were invited to go up to the house where a sister had prepared grilled fish, noodles, mung beans, and rice. The rain increased, and when we finished eating, we slid through the mud and gathered for the meetings. Elder Hall was the first speaker, and taught the Priesthood lesson; I taught Relief Society. We all shared love and tears.

When the meetings were over, we stepped outside into the fresh rain-washed air.

Sister Hall, we will wait in front while Elder Hall brings the pickup to us.

The “volleyball court” had turned to mud. The wheels spun and dug into the wet ground as Elder Hall maneuvered the pickup. It had been clean and white when we started the trip.

Next time I will turn around before I park—and I’ll park on the edge of the road.

The rain had stopped and the elders in the back sang as we drove down out of the mountains. I couldn’t catch the tune or the words, but I am sure they wanted to sing, “I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills…”

Don’t be Afraid—Just Believe! –October 26, 2013



It is a great privilege to have an apostle here today. There are only twelve apostles in the whole world. That means they have a lot of people to minister to.

The speaker was Sister Kathy Clayton, wife of L. Whitney Clayton, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. She had traveled to Cebu City, Philippines, with her husband, and with Elder Neil A. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

It is a blessing to associate with men who have been ordained to the priesthood through proper authority. The light of the priesthood illuminates, brightens, and protects throughout the world.

She stopped to look into the clean and worthy faces of nearly 600 young missionaries of the Cebu and the Cebu East mission. She spoke with emphasis.

We are engaged in a grand eternal work for the souls of men. This is the most marvelous moment in all your mortal existence!

The young missionaries had begun their travel very early in the morning to gather in the temple complex of the Cebu Temple for a picture with Elder Anderson and those who had traveled with him. When it began to rain, they stood cheerfully and began singing hymns. After the picture, they filed reverently into the Stake Center. As the apostle entered, all stood. He thanked them, asked them to sit, then invited all to come up to shake his hand.

Start at the front.

One of the others in his group corrected him.

Okay, start at the back, file up here, and then down the other aisle to your seats.

After his wife finished, Elder Clayton spoke. He quoted Mosiah 3:20

And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

Elder Clayton explained that the prophecy is a window into our time, our callings, as the knowledge of the Savior is spreading throughout the world.

Elder Anderson titled his presentation “The Merits, the Mercy, and the Grace,” as he quoted 2 Nephi 2:8:

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. (Emphasis added)

He started a group discussion as he walked through the audience and invited the missionaries to share their feelings about the Savior as they discussed His merits, His mercy and His grace. They discussed 2 Corinthians 4:18.

While we look not at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are not seen are eternal.

Elder Anderson shared a quote from Elder Bednar:

The enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could not do by ourselves.

Being a missionary is not an easy road to travel. The Church leaders would not expect it of you if they had not traveled that same road themselves.

We drove back to Toledo as Elder Anderson did another presentation to the young single adults, where he told them, “Be not afraid, but believe.”

The road that we drove was winding and rough and difficult. But through the trees we glimpsed bright rectangular cultivated patches of mums in full bloom on the steep mountain sides. It is not the road but the glimpses of joy along the way that make the journey worthwhile.