So what happened during all those months of our mission? Well we spend a lot of our time in the branch we live in, helping to teach the members how the Lord's church works. We do training to help them begin to hold presidency meetings, branch council meetings, pec meetings, byc meetings, and what the purpose of those meetings is. People here are converts of few years and have never seen how a branch or ward functions with everyone working together. The church Handbook is in English because this is considered an English speaking country. In these rural areas however their native language is Ilocano. They speak the national language of Tagalog. And they learn English in the upper grades of school, but it is limited and they are shy to speak it. As a result there is much to learn regarding serving in the Church.
People view callings as a position more than an opportunity to serve, so when they are released many are offended and quit coming. They need to be invited back and made to feel welcome and needed, and members need to be taught to do that.
We also enjoy visiting with members of our branch who need to be strengthened in scripture reading - to learn to love the scriptures and realize the power they have to increase needed faith in the Savior. Many people here suffer from addictions to alcohol etc. and are in need of help overcoming these problems.
We love helping members learn how to have a simple family home evening. Not a big block party, but just a simple evening with their own family!
We are involved with helping our young single adults in the branch get regular activities going. They love to spend time together and are recently joined by 2 young women who have returned from working in Manila.
We are trying to help the Branch presidency increase the quality of our sacrament meetings. We are working to help the auxiliaries raise their vision of what Sunday meetings can be if they prepare.
Here are a couple of baptisms in our Branch that happened this summer. The couple on the left are the Branch President and his wife. Then the Elders, the newly activated father of the little girl in front who he will baptize. President Carlos attended and has his arm around this happy father. The sister on the right is a member of less than 6 months and her son is front and center. The two women in white are to be baptized as well as the little boy on the right who is a in a neighboring branch.
You notice the women in pink in this picture was one baptized in the previous one. This is one of her daughters who will be baptized by the young man in white. The other women being baptized is excited to join her husband and daughter as members of the Church.
Besides training in the branch we have spoken on a few occasions during the summer at Stake Youth Conferences and also at a Stake Aaronic Priesthood fireside. This is a stake where their children have grown up in the church here in Santiago and they understand the Gospel so much more. (It gives us patience that in time our area will also understand)
One of the assignments President and Sister Carlos have given us is to launch and administer the CLS program in this mission. It is a Church sponsored program to help missionaries in certain countries learn English during their Companionship Language Study hour which happens every morning. They can study and pass off modules 1 through 25 and then have an opportunity to take a test that will give them a certificate of proficiency. If they have an English speaking companion, he/she is supposed to assist them with their pronunciation. If not they use a cd to practice.
We had a lot of fun kicking this off in each of the Zones of the mission during June and July. Now we are trying to motivate them monthly to make consistent progress.
Here we are in Ilagan Zone with our presentation.
Part of our job as senior couples is to assist with Zone Conferences and transfer meetings. We do everything from filling orders for pamphlets, Book of Mormons, filters, vitamins, etc. in the commissary, to setting up tables for lunches, providing support with music.
|here is Elder Mills with our Burgos Zone in June's Zone Meeting|
|This is lunch. They are honoring the people who have had birthdays|
We go to our District Meeting every Tuesday morning. We enjoy very much the interaction with the missionaries in our District. We have enjoyed feeling the Spirit each week as we receive training from our District Leader and from the Zone Leaders.
This was supposed to be an object lesson where they are trying to focus the light through a magnifying glass to get the paper to catch on fire. One of the magnifying glasses was very dirty so that the lesson was you needed a clean lens to use the power of the sun. It was too cloudy though and despite a concerted effort no fires ignited, but it was fun.
Here is a more recent picture at District meeting with our missionaries.
We try to support our district in their baptisms when we can. This is a baptism in Cattaban. Two great Elders! One on the right was our district leader and a very humble and wonderful young man. We had some really powerful learning experiences under his leadership.
Here is a good brother's baptism in Caliguian. We were at some of his lessons with the wonderful sister missionaries. After the baptism he had a big birthday party at his house!
These are 2 fine sister missionaries!
Our missionary from Fiji is beloved also!
|Look at this Branch President (red tie) and counselor (blue tie)|
and young man in their Sunday best! That was the first
time we have had men dress appropriately for a baptism
There was some great food at the birthday party. It really was his birthday. We could only stay for a half hour as we had a Missionary Preparation Class we were teaching to get to.
In July we started teaching a 14 week Institute Class for Missionary Preparation. It was a weekly class on Saturday in Burgos and we had 8 to 14 students attending. They, remember, have to pay for transportation or walk, some for more than an hour and a half. We brought our students from Gamu packed in our Toyota Corolla. The other students from Mabini and Caliguian and Burgos had to walk or borrow a motorcycle or pay for a tricee. We enjoyed many spiritual experiences with this fine group of young adults. Two of them are in the process of getting their papers in for a mission. Paying for medical and dental exams is also a challenge. They patiently wait to get everything in order. They will be excellent missionaries! We were so pleased for the young people from Gamu to rub shoulders with some other great young people and share important learning experiences together.
The final day of class I was in Tuguegarao doing a Music Workshop with the Senior Sister Missionaries. It was hard to miss this last time with them.