Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Apparently we hadn't quite reached the 'rainy season' yet. Today Sister Mercy informed me that the real rainy season is August and September! And yes, it has been torrential the last few days. But, starting in mid to late October and through February it is cool and beautiful with the occasional shower! We can also look forward to the -ber months, which is the Christmas season! Yes, that's September on! What could Hobby Lobby do with this?! For all of us who tend to jump the gun anyway, this is livin'! And finally, true hot and blazing summer is March through May. So when do you want to stop by?

Two miracles just for me: a caterer who does the shopping, cooking and shows up with a gorgeous meal for however many starving missionaries there might be- he is fearless. I no longer have to try to buy the right unfamiliar veggies and fish and bring them home to a
patient but appalled Sister Mercy who then has to make do. She can assist 'Brother Caterer', which I know he appreciates more than she appreciated me as her helper. I appreciate not having to think about any of it. I will be in charge of vats of spaghetti and gallons of sauce for the bi-monthly or so FHE.

Miracle two is Sister Mercy herself. She is a cleaning and organizing wizard...she too is fearless. She scrubbed collars and cuffs today with a special scrubby thing on a board in a tub while sitting on the floor of the laundry room. Those shirts were begging for...ha. Sorry, that was unplanned I promise! And when her work time is over she sits down for a rest and we visit. Her husband is listening to the missionaries and she is so thrilled. When she gets home today she will read the Book of Mormon with her kids. She appreciates this job, and I really appreciate her!

Last night after returning from three sacrament meetings in a row (that's what happens when you arrive at a church building at 8:45 am and just stick around) President Dahle had a grand adventure! But first you have to hear what happened in one of those sacrament meetings. The mail system is a little problematic so mission calls, the actual big white wonderful envelopes, come here to the mission office and we get to deliver them to the appropriate branch president if we are going that way. President Dahle had three in his case. One of the young men knew about his and planned to open it at the pulpit (how's that for branch business that puts the branch on the edge of its seat). Apparently this happens from time to time, and seems to pique the spirit of the youth. Then, the bp stood to announce there was another envelope ...for his own son...a surprise for the whole family including the mom. A thrilled and humble young man opened his call and read it through tears: Hong Kong, China. The third was for their friend in the next branch who decided to open his at home so his less active brother could take part. A fourth friend still awaits his call. They will be power houses in the mission field!

So, President Dahle went out teaching with his Assistants last night. There was a bamboo foot bridge to cross and flood waters to wade through using partially submerged sand bags as stepping stones and all in the dark. They were up in it nearly to their knees! This stuff doesn't even slow our missionaries down. Including the sisters! After looking at his shoes this morning I understand the condition of the footwear that piles up on our front porch every time our missionaries gather here. But the real point is the family that awaits at the end of the path! The teaching and the spirit that bears witness in the dim light of one hanging bulb. One of those families will be baptized this Saturday! He came home exhilarated!

Tomorrow our first zone conferences begin. I will introduce a little workout they can do in the three square feet of their apartments and tell them to take their vitamins and drink more water. Rainy season is also sickness season, and we need to come out with our dukes up! I usually get assigned a spiritual teaching too, but maybe not this time since it's in about 13 hours and I haven't received a topic.

President Dahle will teach and train with vigor and warmth. He knows what to say and how to say it. The assistants will give their famous last words since two of the three go home next week. And another miracle caterer in the south part of the mission will put out a meal. Then there will be an activity planned by the AP's to celebrate the breaking of the mission record for baptisms in July. I am looking forward to every minute of this week.  We will repeat tomorrow two more times in the north and central parts of the mission. Sunday our 19 departing missionaries come into the mission home for preparatory activities and leave us on Tuesday morning. New missionaries and their trainers come in on Wednesday, and after short start-up trainings the cycle begins again! We live in six week increments I think.

Thanks for listening! We love you!
President and Sister Dahle

The sights and sounds as we travel....
Let's hope we never need one of these!
Rice planting

Rush hour!!!

Picturesque isn't it?

Dear Family and Friends,

Has this month gone by as quickly for all of you? It has been the slowest at times, but when we look again it's hard to imagine that we only have 35 months left! :-D

The mission home
One of our guards - we have three
The mission office, AP Apartment and Office Couple Apt

There is a church inbetween
Highlights: Since Dennis also acts as the President with Keys for the five Districts in our mission, we have had the privilege of traveling up and down and all around to sign temple recommends and do some of the baptism interviewing as well. We have met and visited with many members, and the District and Branch leaders. While Dennis does the interviews I sit outside the door and enjoy conversing with the families that come along. The churches are great social centers, and no one minds waiting, even for hours. We continue to be educated.

There are certain questions that come up in every first meeting, starting with 'how old are you?', followed by exclamations of beauty or youthfulness. Then it's how many children, grandchildren, where are you from, even favorite color. Yesterday, someone commented that they had exhausted their English repertoire and didn't know what else to say. The light bulb came on! These are the questions they practice in their English classes. They aren't really dying to know how old we are, or our favorite color, or are they? :) In all cases, or whatever the motives, there is genuine kindness and even interest I think.

In one of these stops we met a medium sized brown dog, Buddy, who is a most faithful attender at church ... Stays the whole three hours. He belongs to the Branch President in Tautog, and never misses a meeting. What an example! There is no air conditioning in their building so the door stands open; he comes in every time and is an accepted and welcomed member! Why does this not even seem strange to us?

Saturday night we were so lucky to be available to attend a baptism, finally! It was for some of the same group that had been at the mission home for FHE last Monday, so that was especially fun. There were four. Three stood to bear testimony after. These are the times we miss knowing the language the most, and hope that we will at least learn enough Tagalog to understand more than just the sweet spirit with which they testify.

I was in the middle of working on a missionary medical issue and had to slip out of the baptism for a few minutes. While I sat just outside the open doors, I observed a cat and a frog enter the church in pursuit of the plentiful array of flying insects that were attracted by the bright lights inside. Paws and tongues flew in a great hunting expedition. The frog seemed surprised and uncomfortable when he found himself on the white tile floor, however, and turned around to exit but made a wrong turn and ended up trapped behind the door. I wondered about helping him out, but then he squeezed his fat self through the crack between the opened door and the jam. Resourceful, just like his human counterparts.

We hope you all enjoyed celebrating Pioneer Day! One branch chose Come, Come Ye Saints on Sunday, and I wondered if that was planned or coincidental. It wasn't mentioned otherwise, but Dennis and remark regularly about the pioneers we live amongst. So many of them are still in their teens, sometimes the only members in their family, sometimes shunned. One family is living in a home supplied by their church, and when the matriarch was baptized, that church cut off their electricity. They carry on, carry on, carry on.

We love you, and thank you for your prayers! I know their power has stood me up and carried me along countless times this first month of adjustment. We have both needed that help.

With love,
President and Sister Dahle