Monthly Archives: April 2014

I’ll Be Here When You Come Home — March 30, 2014

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Saying good-bye is hard. Before we left for our mission, we visited family and friends. All of the visits pulled at our heartstrings. One visit was to our ninety-two year old friend. Elder Hall grew up with her family, and enjoyed many musical presentations by her family. She taught piano lessons to his nephews. He has been her home teacher since her husband died nearly thirty years ago.

When I was asked to be Relief Society president, the Spirit whispered that Sarah should be the homemaking leader. The Bishop hesitated, as she was past eighty, but Sarah gladly agreed.  In addition to her duties, she always helped with funeral dinners. I noticed her limping one day.

Sarah, do your feet hurt today?

My feet always hurt.

Why don’t you sit down for a while? We can finish up here.

No, I want to keep going. My greatest fear is that I will get so that I can’t work. I just couldn’t stand not being able to do anything.

Sarah organized a special on-going homemaking project. She contacted the local health and welfare office, and made arrangements to donate stuffed animals for children who needed to be removed from their homes. Of course, each animal had to be made by hand and filled with love and care. She designed the patterns and taught the sisters to make them. At the end of the year, the finished animals were piled high to fit on a large table.

The mother, grandmother and great-grandmother in Sarah could not stand the thought of any child not having something to hold close and to hug.

As we visited with Sarah, we thought of the holiday dinners we had enjoyed, with her house beautifully decorated inside and out, a large sparkling tree, the scent of good things to eat greeting us as we walked in the door, and the elegant table set with fine linen, china, candles, and more Christmas decorations.

Sarah, I can’t believe we will miss your Christmas dinner this year! That is the highlight of the year!

It just won’t be the same without you!

We will look forward to a dinner when we come home.

Sarah straightened her shoulders and looked into our eyes as she answered firmly.

I plan to be here when you come home! That’s a promise, and I always keep my promises.

Last week, we received an e-mail from her daughter. Our friend Sarah had passed from this life. But when we come home from this world to our real home, Sarah will be there waiting for us. Sarah always keeps her promises.

April 8 was the 78th birthday of Elder Hall’s sister, Julia. It was the day she passed through the veil to be reunited with her parents, sisters, and other loved ones who had gone on before.

When Julia was diagnosed with terminal cancer in June 2013, she thoughtfully and carefully wrote the things she most wanted her family and friends to remember. Her family shared what she had written at her funeral. The following is part of what she wrote.

As I approach the next phrase of life, which is called death, I feel to leave a written record of my deep assurance that we have a loving Father in Heaven who is the all-wise author and overseer of this great plan of life, now and forever. I have great peace in knowing His plan for me and all of His children. I do not know what I will yet have to go through, but just as our traumatic birth into this world was a wonderful step in our eternal progression and brought great blessings, so will passing to the next world.

They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he had given—that by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleaned from all their sins, and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power; and who overcame by faith and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true….these shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.




A Worldwide Circle of Sisterhood—March 22, 2014

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On March 17, 1842, twenty women assembled on the upper floor of what was called “the red brick store” to begin what would become the largest organization for women in the world. Their purpose was to increase in faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help those in need. It became known as the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In March 2014, more than six million members in areas throughout the world joined in the annual celebration the birthday of the Relief Society.  Sisters in the eight branches of the Toledo District on the island of Cebu, Philippines joined together to plan, choreograph, and practice original dances to represent their sisterhood with other countries around the world.

They circled each other with love as they learned the dance steps, as they helped each with costumes, as they sacrificed together to have enough money to pay fares to go to the practices and to the program. Before the program, there was a table where the sisters helped each other with make-up and matching fingernail polish.

Each group presented a dance with graceful hand and body movements. They watched out for each other and helped each other stay in the formations and keep up with the steps. The young adults, mothers, and grandmothers combined together to create beauty and joy for each other and for those who watched.

They were safe in the sanctuary of the circle of sisterhood.

This great circle of sisters will be a protection for each of you and for your families. The Relief Society might be likened to a refuge—the place of safety and protection—the sanctuary of ancient times. You will be safe within it. It encircles each sister like a protecting wall.

 Boyd K. Packer

Hot Dog March 19, 2014

Yes, they will all get in

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March 19, 2014

And for the most important announcement: We will have a Zone Activity on Wednesday at 1:00 o’clock.

The missionaries cheered.

It will be at Sister Vineyard’s house. Has anyone been there?

The missionaries looked puzzled and we were the only ones to raise our hands.

You will love it. We will have Sister Tenedo cook for us and Sister Vineyard will make spaghetti with sausage and hot dogs. We will play volleyball.

The missionaries cheered again. It must have been the volleyball announcement.

Elder and Sister Hall, would you like to go with us?

We knew they just wanted us to haul the food and missionaries in the pickup, but we wanted to go back to the Vineyard house, so we said yes. Well, actually, the food did sound good. And it is always great to enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of the young missionaries.

Enthusiasm originally meant “to be inspired or possessed by a god”—meaning to have God within you. That literally happens when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost—we have God inside our hearts. No wonder it is so great to be around these young missionaries.

My father was Chinese. I think that is why the Japanese were especially hard on our family.

Our gracious hostess was telling us about the experiences of her family during World War II.

I was only four or five years old, but I remember hiding from the Japanese.

My father had a little boat. He went up and down the coast, catching fish and finding food. When he came home, we were so excited, because we could eat. The Japanese must have been watching him, because they followed him to the house. They took every bit of the food that he brought. We were so hungry.

We looked at the table laden with delicious food, and at the young missionaries enjoying heaping platefuls. In our sheltered lives, we have never really been hungry.

Our hostess’ two dogs wandered about among the groups of missionaries. One was white with black spots. The other was a back mixture. There was a yellow stripe on the tail that curled over his back. The dogs gobbled up whatever they could get, then looked for more.  Even after the missionaries finished eating, they still wanted to take whatever they could get. The first dog was named “Clinton.” The second was named “Obama.”

President Clinton signed my citizenship papers, so I named that dog after him. Obama said he would help the poor, so I named the other one after him.

Those dogs bother me. They howl at night and I wonder what they are howling about. I wonder what will happen.

The next day we had to make a trip to Pinamungajan. As one of the many dogs that populate the roadways trotted out into the road, Elder Hall slowed. The dog stopped, and turned to go back. As Elder Hall continued, the dog suddenly turned and ran in front of the pickup. There was no way to avoid him.

Do you eat dog?

Elder Hall was telling about hitting the dog.

Not anymore.

You used to eat dog?

If you eat dog, you will feel very hot and the dogs will bark at you.

Once, when I was very young. I was working with a crew that set up sound systems. We worked all night. When I came home one morning, the others had been cooking. It smelled really good.

What is it? 


Where did you get it?

Someone gave it to us. Do you want some?

So I ate the food. It tasted very good. But after I ate, I started feeling different. My body started feeling hot. Then I knew what I had eaten.

They admitted that they had cooked dog meat. They had found a dog that had just been run over. They hid the skin before I got there.

The next day, whenever I got close to dogs, they started barking at me.

Hold the Ground at all Hazards!—March 18, 2014

Never give ground! Never lose that which you have received.

The Zone Conference was ending, and President Schmutz was giving his closing remarks.

For lack of a better title, he had entitled his training to the missionaries, “The Necessity to Work with Members to Establish the Church to Hasten the Work of Salvation.”

He taught the missionaries the necessity of working with members to “retain the fruit” of baptisms. Members who make visits with the missionaries and learn to teach new members will deepen their own testimonies as well as those of the new members.

In the April 2013 General Conference, Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited…When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes…I know this work is God’s very truth, and I know that only at our peril would we allow doubt or devils to sway us from its path.  First and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.

 Last summer we stood with our daughter and grandsons on a hill called “Little Round Top” and looked across the battlefield known as Gettysburg. We read the words on a nearby marker.

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Union General Gouverneur K. Warren found Little Round Top undefended. He quickly sent his staff to find troops to defend this vital position. General George Sykes, commanding the 5th Corps, agreed to send a brigade to occupy the hill. Sykes’ orders were intercepted by Colonel Strong Vincent, commanding the Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps. Without waiting for approval from his commanding officer, Vincent, “took the responsibility of taking my brigade there,” to Little Round Top.

Riding ahead of his troops, Vincent ascended this hill and selected the ground where his brigade would make its defense. Vincent personally placed each of his four regiments. He entrusted his left flank to Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain’s 20th Maine. Vincent’s orders to Chamberlain were to “hold the ground at all hazards.” Within minutes of forming his line, Vincent’s brigade was assaulted by Confederate regiments of Law’s and Robertson’s brigades. A desperate battle ensued across the entire brigade line. The line held, but the cost was high, including Vincent, who was mortally wounded.

We read the words on another marker.

Late on the second day, the 358 men of the 20th Maine Volunteers found themselves anchoring the southern end of the Union line. If they could not stop the Confederate tide here on the southern slopes of Little Round Top, the Federal line might be unhinged.

For more than an hour, waves of Alabamians repeatedly stormed this hillside from below, but were repulsed each time. So deadly was the struggle that “blood stood in puddles on the rocks.” When the New Englanders’ ammunition was nearly spent, Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain ordered a desperate bayonet charge that drove the Alabamians back for good, thus securing the Union left flank.

Historians call the Battle of Gettysburg the “turning point” of the American Civil War. If Vincent’s brigade had not held the line, would the course of history have been changed?

We are all veterans of another war.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (Revelations 12:7-8)

This war did not damage physical bodies. The damage was done to eternal souls. Those who could be persuaded to accept the Plan of Salvation received their assignment to earth life, where through their experiences they could qualify to return to heaven “crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.” Those who would not be persuaded were cast out.

The war continues in mortality. Valiant souls seek to persuade others to accept the Plan of Salvation and receive their eternal blessings. Satan and his minions seek to deceive and destroy.

If we don’t hold the line; if we don’t hold the ground at all hazards; if we don’t hold fast to what we already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes; the course of our own eternal history may be changed forever.


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Do you want to take Manipis Road back to Toledo? It is the oldest road in Cebu.

Is it open now?

Yes, but it is rough.

Is it rougher than the road to Casoy?


Lets try it. We may not pass this way again.

Then you need to take the road on the right side of the overpass.

Elder Hall took the turn. The road wound past houses and tindahans before beginning the climb along the edge of a steep ravine. Within 12 kilometers (7.4 miles), the Manipis Road climbs to 490 meters (1,620 feet) above sea level. So at points, there are 250-meter (830-foot) sheer drops to the level below.

The original road was about 3 meters (10 feet) wide. The construction you see is to widen the road.

This road looks like an Idaho mountain road.

The 46-kilometer Cebu-Toledo Road was one of the most expensive and important public works projects ever carried out by the American colonial government during its first decade in the Philippines. Blasting of the mountains and construction of the road began on June 1, 1905 and was finished in 1909 at the cost of about P2 million (in 1909 prices). It was finished by the future mayor of Baguio, Eusebius James Halsema, consulting engineer of the Bureau of Public Works. It was his first project in the Philippines, a baptism of fire for him. Its construction cost was second only to the Zigzag or Kennon Road in Baguio. Both were started almost at the same time and both often crumbled at certain sections during typhoons and were quickly repaired thereafter.

It was, and still is, one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the country.

In the early days of Toledo City, the only way to Cebu City was passing through the rough mountainous terrain of Manipis Road. Sometime in 1938, a Japanese firm opened a copper mine in Lutopan (Brgy. Don Andres Soriano) known as Lutopan Copper Mines. This was abandoned in the advent of World War II. Its mining rights were purchased by Soriano a Cia in 1953 and since then has been renamed as Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation, once acclaimed as the biggest copper mines in the Far East. A sister corporation was established in 1958 called the Atlas Fertilizer Corporation at Sangi, Toledo City. This was the second fertilizer plant in the Philippines.

In the 1980’s, the South Coastal Road (SCR), which passes through the South Road Properties (SRP)., was completed, The SCR starts at the area near Pier I in Cebu City, follows the eastern line of the SRP, enters Talisay City and ends at the point when it merges with the old highway to the south in Lawaan, Talisay. The Naga-Toledo Road branches from the old highway, providing a southern route from Cebu to Toledo. I

n the 90’s, another governor opened an ambitious third link. Gov. Lito Osmeña caused the construction of an otherwise inconceivable avenue. He practically sculptured roads out of mountain sides. To avoid circuitous ways, he connected lower mountains peaks with massive earth movements. By building the trans-central highway, Gov. Osmeña linked Cebu City and Toledo City via the town of Balamban. Although longer compared to the two earlier road ways, some travelers started using it because first it offered some breath taking views and besides, the concrete pavement was so wide. The road expedited the development of shipyards in Balamban.