Our November has just escaped us, and with only a few days left we want to express our many thoughts of our busy month. First, November 14, we had another Career workshop, but only had 10 out of 30 show up. It doesn't matter how many are there, we always have some that are extremely sharp and eager to learn all we have to offer. We pray that they will all have a chance to get a job and stay in the area. This area has a lot of people go to Manila where it is easier to get a job, and better pay, but the Church needs the priesthood and leadership here in the outer areas of the provinces.
November 15, we had another opportunity to do two more of the Prosperity Firesides, the first in Camalig to about 20+. We don't usually include small children in our count of attendees, but we do include teenagers since they start college at 16 here. The teenagers should hear our fireside because they are the generation that will change the Philippine outlook on a lot of things. The fireside gives them insight to both Spiritual and Temporal blessings, especially the blessings of learning to save money and keep it for their retirement.
The Filipino people on the whole do not save or have a retirement. They think they have to give their money to their children then they live like paupers and have to live with a family member when they get older. What is even worse is that the government is so corrupt that the people don't trust the banks at all because they say the government might just come in and close the bank down and confiscate all the money. They have nothing like Social Security! It is hard to try to get ahead here because the government doesn't want them to advance too much or they, the government, might lose control.
When you go to a bank here there are from three to five guards with loaded guns. Some of these are M16, shotguns or machine guns. Believe me they look around when they see us come to the teller. I watched the other day when Lee was walking to the car, the guard stood at the corner until he got inside the car. The guards are all very friendly and kind. They open your door and check your purse or body, if you are a man, whenever you go into a bank or store. No one is going to cause trouble on their shift.
We also have guards at the stores, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, schools and also every where on the streets. You have gun packing traffic Police everywhere, but no stop signs or stoplights.
On the 15th we visited Guinobatan where 55 of the saints came to hear how to multiply your money. We had some excitement when they wanted Elder Cooley to tell them where to put their money and also some of them wanted to lend money and wanted him to tell what percent was fair. Somehow with the Lord's help he always gets out of the discussion with positive results and the saints all love the attention of us coming to them to do a fireside. They all want to get ahead and receive the blessings for being faithful. They, for the most part, all have a positive attitude about their situation and what the Lord wants of them. We have a quote that gets them thinking, "If you are born poor it isn't your fault, but if you die poor that is your fault."
We had a few meetings during the week and then back to another workshop on Saturday in Guinobatan. In this small quaint town lives a brother that lost his wife to cancer a year ago and hasn't been able to get a job to pay the bills. I talked about him before. We had one of his daughters in our class. She was beautiful, smart and talented only 14, and mature beyond her age.
Saturday night he texted Elder Cooley and told him that he had told his daughters that he was leaving the church, that next day would be his last time in church, the one year anniversary of his wife's death. His daughters were heartbroken. He was also going to take the 9 year old and leave the 14 year old behind while he went to find a job somewhere else. He is so distraught from the death of his wife and the hospital after him all the time to pay the bills for his wife's stay. He fells like the church had told him they would pay the hospital bill, but Lee tried to explain how the church couldn't possibly afford to pay the members medical expenses in the Philippines. I think he just has a complete feeling of hopelessness and needs to blame someone. We hear and see so many heart breaking stories like this.
There are also many families who have one of the parent's overseas working. We had a woman in our Tabaco CWS that has 7 children and her husband is in Dubai and she won't see him for a year. She was also there when she had her twins (#6&7), her other children were here. She then decided to come home to take care of her family.
Our last adventure was a double fireside again in two very small villages. The branch, in Pilar, meets in a church that used to be a large home. We drove up and down the street about 6 times and couldn't find it. We would go to one end of the street and ask someone who couldn't speak English, do you know where the Mormon Church is, pointing to our badge and they would wave back that way. Then we would go to the other end and ask and they would send us back the way we had just come from. Then we would turn and ask again finally right next to a huge Inglesia ni Cristro Church set back off the street behind an iron gate I finally spied the black sign with the Church's name on it. We ended up still being early. Somehow the Lord always watches over us and gets us where we need to be when we need to be there and the experience is wonderful.
Last stop was in Donsol where we had a great group attend the fireside. Then we took off through the mountains on our two hour drive for home and even arrived before dark, which is a miracle for us.
Our Thanksgiving took place on Monday the 23rd at the Naga Mission Home, where we had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings. We even had a 7 layer jell-o salad that made me home sick. Our treat was a singing duo- the AP's. They sang a few songs and even put a little dance in one of them for us. The mission is so blessed to have such amazing missionaries, with such strong testimonies. Our missionaries come from the Philippines (60%), America and New Zealand. We had a wonderful time.
Our blessings come each day with the little kindnesses and the smiles we receive from our friends. Our Father has put us here to touch the hearts of those we come in contact with and I pray we will be led to all those who are waiting for what we can offer.
We love and miss you all and pray that you will remember to count your blessings, your many blessing and name them one by one. I am on 1,987,679,250 and still counting.
We send our LOVE,
Dad and Mom