Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Senior Couples Seminar

Towards the end of rainy season in the Philippines our mission president scheduled a three day retreat to Puerto del Sol in Bolinao for a Senior Couples Seminar.  Bolinao is the furthest municipality northwest of our mission center Urdaneta in the province of Pangasinan.  We stayed in the resort Hotel Puerto del Sol.  It was beautiful there and the weather was perfect.

We had seminars each day with opportunities to be taught by President and Sister Deyro as well as by Elder and Sister Jensen and Elder and Sister Anderson.  We had wonderful meals together and lots of time to share ideas, teach one another and to be taught by the spirit of the Holy Ghost.

Elder and Sister Jensen are currently assigned to two Districts in our mission and have been given the assignment to help them both qualify to become a stake.  This requires a lot of work on their part, training leaders, looking for less active members of the church and updating records.  They taught us about mapping where they mark on an internet map the location of a family.  Unlike the USA where most people have a physical address that can be found, the Philippines uses landmarks and other descriptors to locate people.

We had a discussion on the progress towards stakehood for these two districts considering the words, "What Lack I Yet?"  Working with the young Elders and Sister Missionaries many people have been found and invited back to church.  Each individual is important and seeking and finding and inviting is one of the sweetest parts of serving a mission.  Some may think that they have not attended for so long that they are forgotten or not members any longer.  This could not be further from the truth and it is wonderful to see the light in their eyes when they are invited to come again and be with us.

Elder and Sister Anderson taught about the correlation of Missionary Work and Self-Reliance.  Many of the members who do not attend church do not have the money to pay fare to get to church.  Some may feel other pressures of money that keep them away.  Through self-reliance training people are taught how to start or grow a business to provide for their family.  Others are taught how to get more education and if needed they can qualify for a PEF (Perpetual Education Loan) from the church to help pay for tuition and books.  Others may want to enroll in a course called My Job Search where they are taught how to use the skills and talents they already have to qualify and receive a better job.

President and Sister Deyro taught us several seminars including Lead like the Savior and Equally Joked Together.  We had one discussion lead by them where we each wrote the name of our spouse and then wrote words that describe them that begin with each letter of the name.  This was fun and was the basis for some great discussion about how blessed we are by the person we chose to many.

You may notice that two of the Elders have the same name.  When President Deryo told me last year that the Jensens were coming to our mission he said, "I think someone is Salt Lake is playing a joke on you" and then proceeded to tell me that Elder Jensen's first name is the same as mine.

We ate all our meals together and they were all wonderful, Good Food and Great Friends to share it all with.  It was off season at the hotel so we almost had it all to ourselves.  Each afternoon they would come from the restaurant with menus to ask what we would like for dinner that night.  We would give them the request and when we entered the restaurant they were ready for us with the table all set and would shortly bring our meals out. The food was really good.

 One day for lunch we went to lunch at the Sungayan Grill - The Taste of Bolinao
This is a floating restaurant with each dining room being a private Nipa Huts on pontoons floating in the river at the inlet to the sea.  After order food and beverages a small boat tows the Nipa hut restaurant up the river and then back down again.  It was so nice and relaxing.  I have no idea how long we were there, probably about 1 hour going upstream and less coming back, simply lost track of time.  The scenery was beautiful, it was so nice and cool on the water, just a wonderful afternoon.  We did not pick our restaurant Nipa Hut but notice the name - Zian (Zion) when they seated us.

We also had a little down time to just enjoy being with our spouse and with each other.

Bolinao is a beautiful place, we took a tour of the area and were able to get some good pictures.  God has created such a beautiful world for us to enjoy with so much diversity.  We are truly blessed to be serving in in the Philippines.  The land and water are so pretty but the Filipino people are kind, generous loving people almost beyond description.  They love the Lord Jesus Christ and reverence God the Father.

We finished the three days together with a testimony meeting and of course more pictures.  The spirit was so strong in our meetings and we all came away refreshed, enlightened and highly motivated to continue our service in the Philippines Urdaneta Mission.

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