Sunday, May 31, 2015

Good, Gooder and Bestest

Good, Gooder and Bestest

A few days before we left for the Philippines were went around the Salt Lake Valley visiting the cemeteries where our loved ones are buried and placed flowers on their graves.  Our grandson Hayden went with us to Herriman and Riverton cemeteries.  During our travels the subject came up good, better and best.  Always like to tease I started using a lot of words that were not really words and Hayden kept saying things like “Papa, gooder is not a word”, I would reply with something like, “well then, what does gooder mean” and he would give me a definition to which I would reply that it must be a word if he knows what it means.

Well I would like you all to know that the past week has been a collection of things that are Good, Gooder and Bestest!  I will share some of the highlights with you!

Last Sunday was one of the bestest days of my life.  We started by attending our home ward in South Jordan for the last time for quite some time.  Next visit to our ward should be November 2016.  We were given so many hugs and received wishes for safe travel and wonderful missionary experiences by so many friends.  We felt so much love and are so thankful to have so many good friends who really care for and about us.  Thank you all for all the joy!

After church we went to visit Cathy’s Dad and tell him good bye.  We will miss him so much.  We then went to our daughter Rebecca’s home for a family dinner with all our children and grandchildren.  We had a really good dinner, everyone brought something to share and the food and company could not have made us more happy.  This was definitely in the category of ‘bestest’.  After dinner and some good visiting I mentioned that we needed to head home and finish packing to which I was told to sit down and enjoy, we could pack later.  We sang songs together, “I hope they call me on a mission”, “Called to Serve”, Lance got out the Karaoke microphones and we took turns singing favorite songs and making me cry like a baby.  The crying part was good, I have been putting off this part of leaving and it was hard but also good.  D&C 31:3,5&6 is the scripture we choose as our mission scripture.  Verse 6 tells us that our families will blessed by our service.  So yes, this was hard and made me cry buckets full but it is worth it.

D&C 31:3,5-7
Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation.
 Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live.
 Behold, verily I say unto you, go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them.

We finished packing and managed to even get a little bit of sleep before our travels began.  Monday morning Allen’s family and Jessica’s family came and loaded us and all our luggage in the vans and took us to the Airport.  We arrived 3 hours before our departure time so we would have time to get checked in and say our good byes.  I made a rule months ago that we were only saying good bye at the airport… notice the word ‘good’ in there…. Not gooder or bestest but it was still good as we received so many hugs and loves.

Our flight to the Philippines was also in the category of good.  We got a little sleep, watched a couple of movies, had a little food, listen to some soft music and slept a little more.  Finally we arrived in Manila and it was only a day and half later than when we left.  Actual flight time was not as long as the clock implied, you see Manila is 14 hours ahead of Mountain Time. 

A driver picked us up and took us to our hotel and told us he would be back at 7 AM to take us to the travel office to prepare papers for our permanent visas.  So that made a very short night but we managed to be ready for him.  After paper was completed we had the privilege of attending a session in the Manila Temple.  What a wonderful way to spend our first day in the Philippines.  This is definitely in the category of ‘bestest’.

After the Temple we had lunch in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) with our friends the Hilliers who are serving in the Missionary Recovery Center (MRC) adjacent to the MTC.  It was great to visit with them and share travel stories since they came just two days before us.  We then went to the government offices to be finger printed for our visas and then went to the American Cemetery.

This cemetery contains the largest number of graves of US military dead of World War II.  You can learn more at   This is also the place where President Hinckley rededicated the Philippines for the commencement of missionary work in 1961.  You can read more about the church in the Philippines in this article from April 2014. 

This day was definitely one of the bestest days of my life!  I love this beautiful place and the wonderful people of the Philippines, I am so thankful for our mission call to come and serve her.

Thursday morning our driver picked us up again around 7am.  This was shortly after breakfast in the hotel which had more choices than I have ever seen in any hotel in the world.

Here are some of the choices for breakfast:  Sesame Chicken, white sticky rice, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Hotdogs, Spring Rolls, Scrambled eggs, Macaroni Soup with various vegetables you can add, Salad, fruit including watermelon, oranges, pineapple.  I am sure there are a few more things that I have forgotten but you can see the pictures for more.

We spent the next 4 hours getting our drivers licenses.  We started with a medical exam which was very expensive.  It cost 100 pesos each but they gave us a discount because we are missionaries so it cost us 50 pesos each or about $1.25. 
For this they took our blood pressure, weighed and measured us and then gave us an eye test and color blind test.  We also had to pass an agility test, you will have to try this for yourself.  Sit in a chair, raise your left foot about 12 inches off the floor and then flex your ankle like you are pressing on the gas or brake, then repeat with your left leg.  We then went to the driver’s license testing and issue building.  We spent the next 2 hours in this building sweating like a roasting pig.  This was not fun, I thought I might die and Cathy was seriously worried about me and my well-being.  I have to fast forward to the end when they handed me my Filipino Driver’s license so I can move this one into the Good category.

I have few pictures of driving in Manila to share with you.

I cannot explain the driving experience other than with these few points:
1                     I am thankful I was not driving and that we had a driver provided for us
2                     I would describe driving in Manila as a giant game of chicken.
3                     If you want to get anywhere, fill the gap.  That means if you leave a few inches between you and the vehicle in front of you, it will promptly be filled with anything from a large truck, bus, jeepney, tricycle or motorcycle.
4                     If you are in a hurry, don’t be – it will only frustrate you
5                     Lines painted in road do not mean anything, you fit as many vehicles side by side as you physically can
6                     Look out for people because they will walk right in front of moving vehicles

We had lunch at the MTC after our driver’s license experience and stopped by the MRC to see one of our Urdaneta missionaries who is there and then left for Urdaneta.

We stopped in Tarlac to see Elder Jacob McCarthy.  Elder McCarthy is serving the Angles Philippines mission which is just south of our mission.  I baptized his grandfather Theron Woodward in England 45 years ago.  What a wonderful blessing it was to sit and visit with him and to see how the gospel grows from just one baptism.   Elder McCarthy’s family lives in Australia. 

We arrived at the mission office and Self-Reliance center (SRC) at about 6pm.  We were greeted by the volunteers who work at the SRC.

They made this sign and baked a cake for us.  People in the Philippines do not bake but several of them are taking a course in Bread, pastry and cake baking for self-reliance.   What a wonderful welcome we received.

We then went to the mission office and met with President & Sister Monahan.  This was also a wonderful and warm welcome.  We are so blessed to be here with all these wonderful people.
We went to dinner at Shakey’s Pizza with President & Sister Monahan and then they took us to our apartment which is about 30 minutes away from Urdaneta in Rosales. 

This whole day (after the driver’s license sweat shop) is definitely in the BESTEST category.  What a wonderful place to be.  The people are so kind and gracious and the Philippines is a very beautiful country.  

Friday morning we went to the SRC early, we were schedule to assist Bishop Pacapac teach a career workshop class to 4 Elders and 4 Sister missionaries who will be going home next week.  This was a lot of fun and another wonderful time to feel the spirit testify of the principals of self-reliance.  This also goes in the Bestest Bucket.  Today was my first day driving in the Philippines and not only did we not get lost but we didn’t have any mishaps.  I am sure my guardian angel was working overtime.

Saturday morning we had a Self-Reliance conference to attend in Dagupan.  This conference was for the self-reliance committee members in the 15 stakes and districts in the Urdaneta and Baguio Missions.  There was a lot of very good instruction given as well as many success stories of members who have completed Starting and Growing my Business Group and are successfully running their own business which has made them self-reliant.  Again, this day has to go in the Bestest group.

Sunday was another Bestest day.   We went to church in the Rosales 1st Ward and were welcome warmly.  We were asked to introduce ourselves and bear our testimonies.  The meeting was a mixture of English and Tagalog.  Sister Anderson spoke a few words of Tagalog in her testimony… I have the most awesome wife!  She makes every day the bestest day of my life!  I am so thankful for her and the love she gives to me.  What a wonderful blessing it is to be here in the Philippines sharing our testimonies and working with these wonderful people.  We are blessed!


  1. Sounds wonderful. Don't enjoy it too much or you might not ever want to come home.

  2. What a great experience you are having. I loved your description of driving :) both frightening and funny. Totally awesome that you got to see Jacob McCarthy. What a buzz to be serving and see the grandson of someone you baptized serving too. We just don't see the ripple effect do we.
    Love you both and thank you for the blog.

  3. What a great start to your adventures as missionaries! So glad you are keeping us in the loop. Love you both!