Monthly Archives: January 2014

Lapok January 11, 2014

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Look! He is American!

He is a cross between American and native.

He is so big! The others will not dare to fight him.

He won’t fight.

No? Then he is like a girl.

After that comment, the big Rhode Island Red rooster hopped off the rock and disappeared between the buildings.

We continued climbing over rocks and climbing up the trail, amazed at how the mud (lapok) could stick so well to our shoes, but be so slippery to step on. We left our shoes outside the door and stepped inside to teach the two women there.

The women wiped away tears as they told of their difficulties; then wiped away tears again as the elders shared the miracles of the gospel.

Mud is just a minor difficulty.

When we got home, we went down by the waterfront to eat a pizza while sitting outside at a sidewalk table. There were a number of people sitting at tables or walking around.

They are passengers for the ferry. See, the ferry has not gone yet. The sea is too rough.

When will the ferry be able to go?

I don’t know. Maybe in the morning.

We drove by the seawall on our way home. The waves were splashing over the wall and onto the pavement.

The bucket outside our back door has collected 5 or 6 inches of water in the last two days. We are hearing of another typhoon coming across the ocean. The rain is probably all we will see of the storm.

A Cold Day in January January 10. 2014

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It is sooo cold!

The young mother rubbed her arms and went to get a wrap for her and her three-year-old son. The other young mother also left to get a wrap for herself and her daughter.

The cat jumped up onto the cooking platform to sit by the rocks which were warm from the cooking fire. The chickens foraging by the river took cover as a light rain pattered on our sheltering metal roof.

A long-legged white water bird continued to wade happily in the shallows along the riverbank. Coconut trees in straight rows grew next to the river and the misty green mountains towered behind.

A cluster of newly hatched chicks came into the open-sided kitchen-family room where we were sitting and scurried across the hard packed dirt floor. The lady of the house scattered some cracked corn on the ground and counted the chicks as they pecked.

…eight, nine, ten. They are all here.

We heard the deep-throated bellow of a carabao (water buffalo) before the man leading the animal came around the bend in the road and walked past the house. Three young boys passed going the opposite direction. One of them was leading a large white sow.

In this homey setting, the young Philippina teacher announced a miracle.

The prophecy of the Prophet Malachi, recorded in Malachi 4:5, was fulfilled on April 3, 1836, when the Prophet Elijah appeared in the Kirtland temple and restored the sealing power of the Priesthood.

When you go to the temple in Cebu, you will be sealed together as husband and wife. Your children will all be sealed to you. You will be sealed to your parents and grandparents throughout all generations. And that sealing will be recorded in heaven throughout all time and all eternity.

The power of the temple has reached the farthest mountains of the Philippines as the Lord hastens the gathering and hastens the fulfilling of all His prophecies to His children.

As we walked to the pick-up, our Philippino friend rubbed his arms.

It feels like the air con is on.

When we got home, we checked the weather. The high for the day was 84 degrees F. and the predicted low was 78 degrees. It was a wonderful January day.



January 1, 2014

2013-11-20 17.25.12  Toads are  very common on the island of Cebu

Are you going to stay for the party?

No, we are going home.

But the party isn’t over.

I am tired. I’m going to bed. Tomorrow and the next day will be long days. We are doing transfers again.

Okay. Happy New Year, Elder.

It seemed like we had only been in bed for a short time when the phone rang. It was a text saying happy New Year. I noticed firecrackers going off and checked the time. It was 11:50. I went back to bed.

The phone rang again. Another text. 11:59 PM. The fireworks accelerated. I decided to stay up for a while when the phone rang again.

The local church stopped broadcasting mass at midnight, and the fireworks took over.  Literally thousands of firecrackers popped. Bottle rockets, canons, and large aerial displays were showing up in all directions from our house. The noise was amazing. I walked from window to window to see the displays. After about an hour, the noise tapered off and I went back to bed. Elder Hall was still sleeping soundly and hadn’t heard a thing. The toad on the back porch wasn’t bothered either.

Dear Grandchildren December 25, 2013

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Dear Grandchildren,


I just want to tell you about your Christmas gifts for this Christmas. You know how Grandpa just can’t resist buying Christmas gifts. So we went shopping on Christmas eve afternoon at the Giasano Grand Mall. The parking lot was filled with cars and motorcycles.


Cars in a parking lot? What’s so unusual about cars in a parking lot? Isn’t that why they call it a parking lot?


Well, here there is usually just a few cars and lots of motorcycles. (You should call them “motors”). Everyone else walks or rides on a tricycle.


No, not like the tricycle you rode before you were old enough to go to school. These tricycles are a motor (remember that means a motorcycle) attached to a side car with seats for people to sit on. One of the sister missionaries here wants to make a tricycle to drive around BYU Idaho after her mission.


We walked into the mall and rode the escalator upstairs. There were all the usual displays and racks, but squeezed in between were about a half dozen large discount tables piled high with clothes. People were looking through the clothes, clothes were scattered around on the floor, and exhausted clerks were trying to keep order in the chaos.


We picked out some cute blouses and skirts and dresses. As we started to the checkout stand, a clerk stopped us. It was her job to write down the bar code of each item anyone took from the tables. When she finished, we stood in the line to checkout. As the clerk there checked the clothes, she found that two of the items didn’t have a bar code. She took the items and disappeared in the crowd. Finally she returned.


There is no bar code, sir.


So what do we do?


You can’t buy these, sir.


Can’t you just put a price on them and let us buy them?


No, sir.


We can’t buy these?


No, sir. You can buy something else.

So we found some other things, and joined the long checkout line again. After we finally made our purchases, we went downstairs, went to the package deposit booth, where we took a number and left our package so that we could go into another store. There we put some food and candy in a tiny basket and joined a longer checkout line.


You knew Grandpa couldn’t get through Christmas without candy, didn’t you?

Then we went to the waterfront market to buy fresh fruit and gift bags.


Were the gift bags for your gifts? Well, of course. But you see, we met a mother in the market a couple of days ago. She works there. She has to be at work by 6:00 AM every day of the week, and usually gets home at 9:00 PM. She has three girls, ages five to sixteen. Her husband died about a year ago. Her seventeen year old son is in prison in Cebu City because he and some friends tried to steal a computer from the high school.


We knew that you would like to help this family, so we put your gifts in the bags…


Yes, of course, we put the candy, too.


…and we took the gifts to their home. It’s way out on a narrow road, where we turned onto a dirt road and passed three basketball courts…


No, the courts are not in buildings. They are patches of hard packed dirt with one hoop attached to a pole.


So we passed three basketball courts, and passed a big mango tree, and parked by a carabao.


No, a carabao is not another word for a place to park a car. It’s the name for a water buffalo. The man squatting beside his carabao stood up when he thought Grandpa was getting too close. It was quite dark then.


Then we walked up a narrow path and tried not to step in the mud puddles, until we came to the little house where the family lives. The mother wasn’t home yet, of course, so we gave your gifts to the girls. They saved the presents to open with their mother later.


We tried to sing Christmas carols for them. We really needed you to be there and sing with us. Can you all sing a carol now and we’ll pretend we are all standing outside the tiny home? The girls will try to hide their tears and smile and tell you thank you again and again.


Christmas breakfast? Of course we didn’t forget Christmas breakfast. We served orange juice and eggs and ham and unlimited pancakes with syrup and real butter and fruit. And Skippy’s peanut butter. Chunky, of course.


|You are right, you weren‘t here to eat it. But the twenty hungry missionaries who ate your share were really happy that you shared with them. I gave each of them a Christmas hug for you.


But Grandpa and Grandma, why couldn’t you just stay home and give us gifts and breakfast and hugs?


Now don’t say you didn’t say that. I heard you, even if you did say it really quietly.


It is a good question. We’ve asked that question ourselves. I guess the best answer is something a young missionary said. He said:


I left my family for a short time so that families here could be together forever.


December Doings –December 15, 2013

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You can’t just be a church attending Mormon.


The speaker at the conference turned to the scriptures.


“Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come.” (D&C 25:15)


The ultimate prize, eternal life, which is the greatest of the gifts of God, does not come without ultimate obedience. Nowhere in the scriptures does it say keep part of the commandments.


Senior Missionary Conference on December 12 – 14 was followed on December 15 by the Toldeo District conference. As the congregation raised their hands to sustain the new Toledo District presidency, Elder Hall thought of a conversation with President Schmutz in the hall of the mission home.


Elder Hall, I need to interview you. This is probably as good a time as any. I am going to put you as first counselor in the Toledo District presidency.


President, I thought that you had repented of that evil against me.


The mission president smiled, and continued.


It is just part of your missionary calling.


He put his arm around Elder Hall’s shoulders.


Elder Hall, I appreciate all that you are doing.


We went back to Cebu Monday December 16 for the Missionary Christmas Conference and Talent Show. Tuesday included meetings with President Bautista, Wednesday a Zone Activity with the Pinamungajan Zone missionaries, Thursday an afternoon of visits with the sister missionaries, Friday the Toledo 1 Christmas party, Saturday District Family History Training, and then it was Christmas week.


Obedience sure keeps us busy.

The Waters of Mormon –December 13, 2013

Nice place in December A place of rest We're there Baranggay of Lamac Valley of Lamac We lost the trail The falls Cliffs near Lamac On the way

Elder and Sister, would you like to go with us on our Zone Activity? We are going to hike to the falls in Lamac.


Could you bring your truck? We don’t want the sisters to ride habal-habal (two sisters behind the driver of the motorcycle.) The road to Lamac is really rough.

Sure. We could probably fit all of you in the pickup–four sisters in the back seat and eight of you elders in the bed.

Okay. Hey, thanks so much!

Later that evening we received a text.

Hey, Elder and Sister, we just wanted to let you know that apparently the hike to the falls is bit strenuous and tough– not a super long one but not easy; it takes some good hiking. So,

 you are very welcome to come up anyways and give it a go, but we just found that out and figured we’d let you know. Just text and let us know if you’d still like to come.

Elder Hall replied.

We will come.

The hike on somewhat less than a trail around and over rocks and through the jungle on a hot muggy afternoon was a bit of exercise, but the end was worth it. Water pours from an opening in the cliff high above the town of Lamac and falls at least 200 feet into a shaded pool surrounded by tropical foliage. It was cool, with a slight breeze, and the pleasant sound of falling water.

Quite a bit lower and to our right is a smaller pool with easier access. As the branch there is meeting in rented building, the elders use the small pool as a baptismal font. They call it the Waters of Mormon.

Friends –December 11, 2013

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They clasped hands, then hugged each other. They couldn’t understand each other’s language, but they were friends. They understood a certain language of the spirit that recognizes a friend.

I traveled 14,000 miles to your land. I didn’t know that I would meet you. But if that is the only reason I was sent here, it would be worth it.

Elder Hall’s eyes were wet as he looked at his new friend. Tears were mirrored in the eyes of his friend.

The sister missionaries began the lesson with a hymn as usual, and with a prayer.

Brother Tony, there is something that we need to talk to you about. There is a mission rule that you must be interviewed a week before your baptism. That would be today. But you have only gone one day without any cigarettes. You need a little more time.

The man looked at the floor. His body language showed disappointment.

I really wanted to be baptized on my birthday. That is the 17th of December.

But what would you think about getting baptized on December 25th? Would you like to be baptized on the day that we celebrate the birthday of our Savior?

The man sat with his head down. The sisters looked at each other, then looked at their calendar.

We could schedule your baptism for the 25th, the 26th or the 27th. What do you think?

The man looked up. He took a deep breath and seemed to breathe in resolve with the air. He looked the sisters in the eyes.

I will be baptized on the 27th.

Elder Hall let his breath out.

The 27th is our grandson’s birthday. He is serving a mission in New Zealand.

The man looked at Elder Hall and smiled.

Then I will be baptized on your grandson’s birthday.

The man laughed, and the sisters continued the lesson.

As we left, we stopped for a picture. Elder Hall looked at his friend.

I will bring you some more gum. You can chew it when you feel that you need a cigarette.

As we walked through the field to the road, Elder Hall stopped to greet the young bull that belonged to the man in the bamboo home behind us.

Meeting new friends is a wonderful thing.