Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Recently we went to the furthest branch from where we live.  We stayed two nights in Candon and visited four different wards and branches in the Baguio mission.  It was an awesome trip and we met some wonderful people who work so hard and give so much to the Lord.  The faith and dedication of these members is simply amazing.  In Candon we met with some members  and made a video recording of the success they have experienced from attending the Self-Reliance Group, Starting and Growing My Business.  This family has an appliance repair business where they repair TV’s, Videoke machines, fans and other small appliances.  We also had the opportunity to do some mentoring and give him some additional suggestions to improve his business.  We also had a mentoring session with a recent graduate in IT Services in Baguio to help him with his new business.  We had a very good training session for leaders of Self-Reliance, Bishops and other stake leaders.

The second day we traveled to Bangued.  We met with leaders there and then went to visit other members who have been successful with Self-reliance groups.  The highlight of the trip for us was going to meet Gina Molina Olman.  She is about 25 years old, a return missionary and is currently serving as Relief Society President in Bangued Branch and their two dependent branches.  She is the seminary teacher in their branch and she teaches seminary every evening.  She also teaches Sunday school and institute.  The family home where is lives is about 1 km from the road, to get to their home, we walked from the road where we parked, through the trees and next to the rice paddies.  

It was beautiful but like walking through a rainforest with slacks, white shirt and tie and dress shoes, and for Sister Anderson, a skirt and blouse and certainly not appropriate shoes for the terrain.  It had rained really hard the night before so the ground was very wet and slippery.  We kept having to cross the little streams, one place It was wider and there were two bamboo poles about 3 or 4 inches in diameter, side by side, used for a bridge.  I thought sure that Sister Anderson was going to quit at that point but not a word, she just stepped out there and went across.  Amazing! 

 And then the stories we learned from the family that lives there.  They have a piggery next to their home and the hike we made is the only way in or out.  Sister Olman’s parents own the farm and she lives there and runs the family business.  She told me that she carries bags of feed, I think she said they are 40 kg (about 90lbs) on her head.  Then when the young pigs are ready for market, I assumed they would walk the pigs out but no, they carry them.  She said they would take all day to walk out so they tie the front legs together and then the back legs together and put a bamboo pole between them, and walk out with the pigs upside down, one person in the front and one in the back.  Can you imagine!

Rain or shine, she walks out every afternoon to go to the church to teach seminary.  It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the road and then the rest of the hour to drive their trike to the church. Then after seminary she has to come back home so she walks through all that in the dark and gets home about 8 or 9 pm.  Sometimes if it is raining hard or has been raining she takes off her flip flops and walks barefoot through mud up to or past her ankles.  I just keep singing “Count your many blessings, name them one by one”.

She was the only member of her family when she went on her mission and she prayed hard every day for some missionaries to find and teach her family.  Then she received a baptism picture of her Mom and Dad.  When she returned home they were ready to go to the temple.  She is now married to a return missionary.  I could go on and on but I will tell you one more thing.  She had been praying for a way to help the families she visits as Relief Society President become self-reliant so they could have enough money for fare to attend church.  Then she was offered a distributorship of some meat products that she buys and distributes to 10 or more families who sell them and now have the money to attend church.

So that is just one example of the stories we see day after day and that is why we have changed our minds, we thought we were coming to the Philippines to teach the people but we quickly found that we are here to learn and be taught by them.

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