February 29, 2016 – Leap between have and have-not on Leap Year Day
The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all. – Proverbs 22:2
… Yet oft times a secret something Whispered, “You’re a stranger here,” – O My Father, LDS Hymnal #292
Today is a special day that happens once every 4 years. A good time to leap between the haves and have-nots. The wide separation of classes in the Philippines is very visible because the haves and have-nots live next to each other and meet together at the store and at church. In the US we had hot and cold running drinkable water in the kitchen and bathroom. All our neighbors did also. On Marinduque island we have running water with a pump and storage tank, a water heater in the shower, and a bottled water cooler that dispenses hot and cold drinking water. Most of our neighbors don’t have any of these. Many younger missionaries have running water sometimes and bathe with buckets of cold water. Instead of flushing toilets some pour buckets of water down “a bowl”. Even these are luxuries to those who walk to the local well for water. We all live side by side.
Last week we visited the bottom of the island. Everywhere it’s been common to see dogs asleep in the street and goats or Brahmas eating roadside grass. This is the first time we saw pigs roam the streets without restraint. It reminded us that we are just visitors here and the place (i.e. street) belongs to them.
The other photo is a good depiction of two extremes of the separation of classes. Resort rooms on Elephant island in the background go at $500-$2,300/night. Houses there are not affordable by you and me. On the shore in the foreground is a fisherman’s hut made of bamboo and palm thatch surrounded by his chickens and black pigs. The two living quarters are close to each other but are really worlds apart. Both enjoy the same view and beautiful surroundings but one is rich and one is poor financially.
The fisherman rebuilds his hut after each typhoon or tropical storm. Beside the road the power lines (which he doesn’t use) are still down from the last typhoon. He lives hand-to-mouth selling his goods in the local market. But he is happy and content with his life and it’s blessings. He is happy with what he has and what God has given him. Probably more happy than most who visit Elephant island for a romantic get-away or wedding extravaganza. Its great that joy isn’t dependent upon having or having-not. Happiness is a choice not a result.
February 20, 2016 – Celebrate – The Jexes are leaving!
… and men are, that they might have joy. – 2 Ne 2:25
… did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
– Alma 17:2
And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to … paradise [island]… – Moroni 10:34
Yesterday we taught our last Institute class before our transfer to the Island of Marinduque. 17 single young adults attended from 4 wards in the Lucena area. We love our students and will miss them, their strong testimonies, and their impressive knowledge of the scriptures. As with every week, the Spirit was quite strong as we were teaching. Each week we look forward to Institute and it has been a highlight of our mission so far.
After class the students surprised us with a Birthday party complete with balloons, birthday hats, banner flags, spaghetti (gotta have spaghetti, rice, or chicken!), cake, and other desserts. Guess you could say that we were leaving and they were celebrating! Elder Jex’es birthday is on transfer day so it was celebrated early. They organized and prepared everything without our knowledge. It was awesome and quite a special treat. It is hard to leave our young adults.
This is our first transfer during our 3 missions (Guam, WA Employment, and Philippines). The younger missionaries experience this strong love of the people and sadness to leave them at every transfer. But each time there is more happiness and more people waiting for us at the other side. We just don’t know it. It will be similar in our “final” transfer to the next world. Where else but earth could we have such experiences and such joy.
February 14, 2016 – Paete Wood Carvers
But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. – Isaiah 6:48
And to him who overcometh, and keepeth my commandments unto the end, will I give power over many kingdoms; And he shall rule them with the word of God; and they shall be in his hands as the vessels of clay in the hands of a potter; and he shall govern them by faith, with equity and justice, even as I received of my Father. – JST Revelations 2: 26-27
Before two of our 6 couple missionaries return home in a few weeks, we all went together to Paete, a village in our mission known for its wood carvers. It was fascinating watching Bro Francisco, a renowned carver, as he worked with a small statue of Nephi holding a broken bow. We could tell he knew each carving although each was different and handmade. He formed each piece twice – first by plan and template on a block of wood and second with tools in his hand. To us it appeared to be formless piece of wood but he could see the potential and the image as if it was already there. He took his time and used his hand tools to whittle away a wood chip here and there to form the face. He used a hand drill to gouge an eye and hollow Nephi’s hand to hold the bow. You could see his patience and great love for each one in his finished carvings. Each finished piece will be admired and displayed in place of great honor.
We have a Creator too. Our Creator knows us by name. He loves each one of us individually. He created us first spiritually and then physically. He sent us to Earth to learn and grow. He continues forming us and tooling us into something special. He sees our potential as children of God, created in His image. Sometimes we are impatient or feel hurt when a wood chip is flipped out here or an eye is gouged out there. Just remember as finished pieces, as children of God, we will be heirs in His kingdom. You can see His patience and love radiating from his finished pieces.
His woodcarving website: http://www.ldsinternationalart.com/store/c3/Francisco_Cajumban.html
February 6, 2016 – Temptation Island and Paradise Island
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
– 2 Ne 2:25
“… but God … will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able”
– 1 Corinthians 10:13
Yesterday we took a 3-hour ferry ride to Marinduque Island (Mare N Do Key) , where we will be transferred in a few weeks. It is beautiful, peaceful, and rural. We saw dolphins, a sea turtle, and lots of flying fish on the way. One young Elder told us it was known as Temptation Island. When asked why, he said he didn’t know but thought that it was the water (ocean) or the girls. Several Elders who had been there before referred to it as Paradise Island. They were sad when they left and said it was their favorite area on their mission. We were curious about the two conflicting perceptions and while touring the 22 miles diameter island, considered which was right.
We came to a conclusion that both descriptions are correct. It was what you think it is. If you think it will be Temptation Island, it will be. If you think it will be Paradise Island – your favorite place, it will be. We make our own predictions come true. Decide now what you want, Temptation or Paradise.
“Life is what we make it; Always has been, always will be.”
– Grandma Moses
February 2, 2016 – Miracles of Trikes and Temples
“Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: But on the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God…” – Exodus 20: 9-10
Sister Jex enjoyed the trike with San Juan Branch members. Used for pigs during the week and as a church taxi on Sunday.
Last week we taught Institute class about Miracles of Christ on the Roads of Palestine which included a June 2011 conference talk from Elder Oaks.
He told of a miracle of intervention that happened in the Philippines in Dec 1989, 26 years ago. None of the YSA, all under 23 yrs old, heard of the story. A group of rebels were trying to overthrow Philippine President Corazon Aquino. The military coup lasted about a week and many were killed in heavy fighting. The Manila Temple is adjacent to Camp Aquinaldo, where most of the fighting occurred. On Friday night the rebels occupied Temple Drive, between the temple and the Manila MTC. That afternoon the rebels breached the temple gates and occupied the temple grounds. Five employees still at the temple, 3 security and 2 custodians, were instructed not to resist the rebels from occupying the temple grounds or temple annex (building in picture and to the left of the temple) but to secure the temple and take cover there. They convinced the rebels that because of its sacred nature, they should not try to enter the temple. Sunday was a fast Sunday and all Philippine wards and branches were praying and fasting for the temple, the members, and the missionaries. We asked the YSA to ask their parents and older members about the conflict since they would have been the ones praying and fasting during this time.
A government helicopter gunship and air force bombers targeted the temple grounds, destroying the temple residence house and breaking windows in the annex. By evening the last remaining stronghold of rebels at the temple grounds were given one hour to surrender before being attacked at 11:00PM by armored personnel carriers, mortars, and over 150 soldiers. Despite pleas from church leaders, the temple president, and US ambassador, the fierce attach was happening at 11PM and would heavily damage the temple. At the same time, at 8AM in Salt Lake City the first presidency and quorum of twelve were assembled praying that the Lord would intervene and protect His house. The attack never came and the rebels melted away during the night. Elder Oaks said “I consider this a miracle of divine intervention no less impressive than many recorded in holy writ.” None of the annex’s locked rooms were entered. The temple itself hadn’t been entered or damaged. From the trajectory of the 6 mortar and rocket shells which exploded in the temple grounds, it was observed that several passed right between the 6 spires of the temple without damage. “An unseen army of angels assisted faithful temple guards that the temple was not desecrated.”
Do you remember this event? If you stop to consider, you will notice miracles that are happening all around us. Of all the miracles, Christ’s suffering and dying for our sins is the greatest of all.