Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

Hello to our Dear Family and Friends,

The trouble with waiting for several weeks to write these updates is that you sit down and don't know where to begin! Actually, the beginning is easy because we owe all of you many thanks for your prayers and numerous other ways you have blessed and supported our efforts here! Countless! Maraming salamat po! 

The two most notable events were the Mission Presidents Seminar in November and a visit from Denise and Dan in December. It goes without saying that there are daily, possibly hourly events that could be shared, but even our journals would cough and die if we tried to include everything. So, to spare you and me:

The Winters had this waiting the first night. 
So thoughtful and fun!!
MP Seminar was in Manila, attended and presided over by Elder Andersen, Elder Renlund and Elder Maynes, along with their wives. We stayed AWAKE!! So much counsel and direction, which we were ready for! We looked at each other grinning, wondering if this is really us having these experiences! Learning from apostles and prophets! So much kindness, wisdom, cutting edge understanding and full of good humor. Teachers! We only get these opportunities so that we can use it to bless the lives of the Filipino people. They are so beloved.

The seminar schedule allows us time with other presidents and wives, which is as valuable as it is fun. Our circle of friends is ever widening, and again, what we gain is for the purpose of strengthening the Philippines for its great role in the church in the years to come. We try to bring everything home to the six districts and one stake in our mission, and to our 180 missionaries!!! Action packed times ahead!

In nearly 18 months we have never felt to play much.  Last June we made efforts to plan a carefree day or two, but the damper pedal was on full force, and we just couldn't feel right about  it. Well, all stops came out two weeks ago when we watched Denise and Dan coming down the escalator at the Manila airport! I don't have the words to describe the joy. Even the four hours in door handle to door handle traffic to make a thirty minute drive to the first destination, then another three hours home, was bliss ... for everyone but the driver. Poor Dennis. 

We had three days with Dan here, (they had already spent four days at Coron having a fun snorkeling getaway, staying in a hut on the beach), then another five days just with Denise. I won't give you the whole list, but let's just say we made the most of it! Hiking into a volcano, Mt. Pinatubo, which now has a beautiful (if poisonous) lake in it, was an all day adventure that we had planned to have since before we came here. We rode in a cage at Zoobic Safari and watched while the guide hand fed a tiger inches from our faces. Nice teeth! Dan and Denise went fishing for crocodiles...about thirty of them! Denise set baby turtles loose on the beach and watched them scurry into the waves. We shopped at length in the open air market, worked with Sisters DelaCruz and Cusile, then caught a trike home at dusk. The last day we hopped a jeepney down into town for one more short shopping trip, then rode home again. Departure day, the Winters drove Denise and me to the Manila temple for a session, then to a gorgeous hotel for a long and luxurious dinner followed by swimming and lounging at poolside. Finished at midnight with saunas and a hot tub. Did I say I wasn't going to give the whole list? :-D. I left out about the lunch and dinner at restaurants in the sand on the beach, ship watching, fish feeding, long conversations over mission projects, walks onto the lahar and shopping at the abalone shell factory. Enough already?!! I really won't tell about the three a.m. shuttle ride to the airport and the excruciating goodbye. Ouch!! So grateful my sweet sister Gaylene (aka Sister Winters) got up in the night and cheerfully rode along for moral support. (Dennis stayed home to be at a District Conference.) Thanks and praises to Dan's mom Lennea, and her sister Laura for staying with their little guys, Liam and Grey, so we could have this time!! 

Driver and guide driving us to the volcano trailhead. Through rivers and streams for an hour! 

Good looking hikers

And ready for a nice rickety ride back down. 
Invading his space

Tiger on the roof!
Lunch after feeding the tigers and crocs

Now, with all of that wild behavior out of our systems, we are ready for the second half!

This is the Lord's work!! Every part of it, including the excruciating parts. We are privileged to be able to be here and try to contribute. The gospel is spreading, his children young and old are learning, growing, and preparing for the future! The Plan of Happiness really is for inner peace and happiness now and through the eternities with our families. With those glad tidings we proclaim joy to the world! He lives!

Merriest of Christmases to you with ALL our love!!
President and Sister Dahle

Cemetery exploration 
Denise finding an interesting photo

Sending off a baby turtle 
A half an hour here enjoying the sights and visiting with another vacationer. 

Out with Sisters inviting everyone to the chapel open house on Friday night. 
Photo op at the Manila temple after our session
Christmas lunch for District and Stake presidents, mission presidency and wives. 
The cool striped entrĂ©e in the middle is a whole fish covered in different minced veggies! Gorgeous!

A Christmas concert by the Olongapo District.
Both Olongapo zones participated! Stunning! Inspiring!