Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pagsanjan Falls outing - 6-21-2015

There are three Senior Couples in our mission. Two of these couples are going home in a few weeks. Sister Petersen and I will be the senior Senior Couple. We will also be the junior Senior Couple, at least for a while.
We received permission to travel together to Pagsanjan Falls for a day outing. On May 23, 2015, we drove to the falls and took the guided tour. I was not expecting, nor was I prepared for what we experienced. The following pictures were taken during that excursion. Once again I must say that the pictures we took do not due justice to the beauty of this wonderful land that I have grown to love.

The Pagsanjan outing.

Elder and Sister Richards, Elder and Sister Petersen and Elder and Sister Rigby.

We had to get out and walk around one of the rapids.

These boat men worked themselves almost to death getting the boats up the rapids. They told us that there were about a thousand boat operators waiting in line for their turn to take someone up to the falls. They could only go about once every 7 to 10 days. They had to wait their turn. Many people must work very hard in order to earn enough to live on. 

The Falls. You can just make out one of the bamboo rafts at the base of the falls. We would go out to the falls on one of these rafts.

These kids were in the river and watching us go by. Then they started splashing us with water from the river. We got real wet. It all started when they splashed me back.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Under the Mango a Tree (part 2) 6-4-2015

I posted before about the family that lived in the little shack located under the mango tree. 

This is the Sena family. This photo was taken some time in April. This is the first time we met this family. The father was working this's day. The Elders, Elder Hansen and Elder Matina, did not want to teach a lesson without the father there to hear it also. So we just visited. We were not much help. Our Tagalog is not very good., but we did make friends with them, especially with the kids. I had some candy with me which I gave to them. It worked. They were our friends. From that time on, every time we would meet, the kids would run over to where we were. We could not communicate with words, but we all seemed to know.
Then the Sena family's started to attend church. That was where we first net the father. He seemed a little withdrawn and unsure of it all at first, but that did not last too long. It was wonderful to see how the Ward members excepted them, and made them a part of it all. And again, those cute little kids. Love them all.
I did not take photos at church meetings, of course. The photos below were taken at the Ward's Mother's Day celebration. They were there, and they had fun.

About two weeks ago, we were invited by the Elders to go with them to teach a lesion at the Sena's home. Sister Petersen took these photos with her iPad. They did not turn our very well, but I wanted to show a little bit of the interior  of their house. It is about the size of a walkin closet. There is a raised platform along two walls made from bambo. This is their setting area, sleeping area, eating area, and anything else they need to do area.
 I was surprised at how sturdy the shack was. Brother Sena had built it himself. He was happy with what he had built, however, he shared with us his dreams of building a bigger and better house  as soon as he could. They seemed pleased that we had come to visit them. They were not ashamed of what they had at all. How they live is most likely how they were raised. Many Filipinos live this way. They know how to make it work for themselves.
The lesson was about Lehi's dream found in the Book of Mormon. The scriptures were read in Tagalog. Sister Petersen and I read along from our iPads in English. Sister Petersen showed the family a picture of the tree of life that she had found on her iPad when the reading was done. Brother Sena began to point at this picture and talk. He seemed very excited about what he was talking about. He was speaking Tagalog, so we could not understand, but there was a wonderful feeling there. The Spirit that was in the house was strong and it was good. I then realized that this man had a testimony.
We have learned from attending testimony meetings that even though we could not understand the words, we could feel the Spirit radiate from the speaker. And that the power of that Spirit would change with speakers. That really surprised me at first. Then I thought why would it be any other way.
This was a wonderful experience for me. The teaching Elders are Elder Hansen ans Elder Espiritu. Elder Matina transferred last transfer.

I am afraid that I took up more than my share of the room in their little shack.

This is Brother and Sister Sena and their children, (from right to left) Mary Grace, Marjorie, Josephine and little McCoy. The family was baptized on May 30, 2015. Sister Petersen and I were asked to say a few words at their baptismal service. Many of the ward members were involved. This was a very fun evening for Sister Petersen and me.

We have had the opertunity to be involved with this family from the beginning, however, I think I have learned far more from this family than they have learned from me. They have next to nothing, yet they are happy. Happier than a lot of people I know who have lot and lots of stuff. We all say the stuff does not make us happy, but do we really believe it? We seem to cling to our stuff with all our might. I think they may only have one change of cloths, yet they are clean. I know that Sister Sena washes her family's cloths by hand in a bucket. They come to church in what they have. They are clean. And they are not ashamed to be wearing what they have. They do not expect help. I do not think they think they need help. Yet, they are willing to share with others what little they have. Humble, teachable, happy, giving and loving. I know that God loves this family at least as much as He loves any of His children, and maybe a little more. All the problems I have stressed over through out my life seem very petty right now. I really have never gone without what I need. I think sometimes this family does go without. Maybe more than I know. But I do believe that when this family, and many others like them stand before their Maker when this is all over, they will want for nothing. 
In a few months, we will leave the Philippines abs go back to the U.S. and to the life we had pre mission. But I do not think we will ever be the same again. I know that our interaction with this family has changed me. I will go home when the time comes, but a part of my heart will be left behind with the family that lives in the little shack under the mango tree.