May 31, 2016 – Series of Fortunate Events
… for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not. But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And this it is. Amen. – 1 Nephi 9:5-6
While on our mission we’ve experience many “coincidences” where things happen to make doors open or several events fit together too nicely to be random, kind of like a series of fortunate events. We know there are no “coincidences” but that most all things that happen in our lives have a purpose and benefit now or for the future. Wanted to mention several here.
Each Sunday after church we teach a Gospel based English class to the different Branches. Last week we drove to Mogpog to teach only to find that everyone had left the church building and gone downtown for the May Festival. We thought that quite odd, the first time no one had shown up for English. This week we attended Mogpog Branch’s Sacrament Meeting and were asked to give talks in Sacrament Meeting. We used the same subject matter we would have used for the English class the week before. Instead of teaching a few we were able to address the whole congregation. Evidently there was someone in the congregation that wouldn’t have attended the English class but needed to hear about the Plan of Salvation and Moral Agency.
Another series of fortunate events occurred Sunday morning as we were getting ready to leave our apartment. We were late leaving for Mogpog and on the way we passed the Boac chapel next to our Apt, and just happened to be at the intersection the same time that Sister Abbey was getting off a trike (local taxi motorbike with side car) and walking across the intersection. She was carrying curtains we’d asked her to hem for the Zone Leader’s apartment bedroom. If we had been 1 minute earlier or 1 minute later we would not have seen her and not received the curtains for the Elders until several days later. This kind of “chance meeting” while traveling happens quite often.
Another example is when we got a set of 3 keys for our new apartment. Two of them were for the front door locks. The first time we tried them we had difficulty opening one of the locks but eventually got it open. We used the two keys many times for the next three days until we went to obtain the other set of keys from the Zone Leaders (ZLs) to make duplicates. One of their keys was double sided so we figured it went to an old lock. After making duplicates we tried the strange double sided key just for fun and found out that it was indeed the right key. Strange thing is that the single sided key we had been using for that lock would no longer work for us no matter how much we wiggled and jiggled it. How we were able to open the door for 3 days is a mystery to us.
And now for the last tale of Series of Fortunate Events. We moved to a different town on Marinduque Island this week. This will be our 2nd “transfer” or move on our mission. So far we’ve been consistent in moving very 3 months. We’ll see if it continues.
Our previous Boac landlady raised the rent 50% and the mission financial Sr missionary asked us to move. About the same time the Gasan Zone Leader (ZL) missionary apartment was being remolded with a new roof and other repairs. To cover the costs their landlady raised their rent above the amount allowed for young missionary apartments. The financial Sr missionary asks us to consider moving to their apartment instead. Well, here we are.
The new apartment is called “Panoramic Beach house” by the landlady. It’s on the ocean which is a dream come true for Sister Jex. From the pictures you can see its on the ocean and has a beautiful view of the sunset. The house was built 13 years ago specifically for the church when the first missionaries arrived on the Island. While visiting the site with Sister Irene, the elders asked her to build a house on the vacant ocean front lot for them and she did. She said it was a dream come true and she hadn’t thought of building the house if not for them. It was used as a chapel for 8 years. After the Branch grew too big the house was used for 5 years as a missionary apartment for Elders or Sisters (not at the same time!) So the house has been used by the church since it was built. We’re the first Sr Couple to live in the Panoramic Beach House.
It isn’t a more convenient location and we didn’t want to move but events feel into place so that we know it was the right thing to do. The series of fortunate events has led us here for a reason. At this time we don’t know why but we will probably find out before we leave. We are happy to be hear and happy to be doing the Lord’s work.
May 24, 2016 – House Built on the Sand
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand – And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. – Matthew 7:26-27, 3 Nephi 14:26-27
We first saw this house, or what was left of it, when we were teaching an investigator with the younger missionaries. We brought wooden benches and set them under the palm trees on the beach to converse while the children played in a nearby river flowing into the ocean.
Used to always think that the problem with building on a sandy foundation was that under-washing would cause the foundation to slip and fall. There is another problem.
This house was beautiful when it was built in 2012, just 4 years ago. As you can see, the foundation and framework are still intact – it’s the only thing besides the CR (i.e, comfort room or bathroom – the walled area with a small window) that is still standing. The walls, floor, ceiling, and even an ornate stone fence around the house are gone.
The builder knew about the biblical warnings of building a house upon the sand. He knew about dangers of under-washing and so he built footings and foundations that could withstand the weather. So why was the house destroyed? Because he built it too close. He wanted to be too close to the beauty and enticing pleasure associated with the ocean beach and sand. Even with a strong base, the house eventually gave way. What the storm beatings didn’t destroy, immersion of flood waters carried away.
Sometimes we want to be too close; Too close to the beauty and enticing pleasures of the world. Which means we are also too close to the winds, rains, floods, and other vices that go with it. We feel that we have a firm foundation which can withstand anything thrown at it. We can handle the storms that are constantly all around us. True – our foundation may be able to hold up. However, even with a strong base, we can be destroyed and ripped apart from the constant immersion and beatings that come from being too close. The house’s foundation and frame on the beach stand as a reminder to all who pass that even those with a strong foundation can fall if too close to the enticing temptations of the adversary.
May 15, 2016 – Lucban Harvest Festival
There is beauty all around, When there’s love at home; There is joy in ev’ry sound, When there’s love at home. Peace and plenty here abide, … – Love At Home, LDS Hymnal # 294
Each area celebrates mid-May with a Fiesta or Harvest Festival. It is said that the Lucban Pahiyas Festival is most spectacular with their colorful decorations and celebration. The Festival occurred today, May 15, on a Sunday, so we visited Lucban yesterday with other mission senior couples to watch them put it together.
The Pahiyas Festival was originally known as the Feast of San Isidor Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. In the early 1600’s the Lucban farmers picked their finest crops and took them to the parish priest to bless them in thanksgiving and assure a bountiful harvest the following season. This evolved to displaying the harvests in front of the house where the parish priest would bless them while passing by during a procession.
Now they designate certain home fronts to be decorated and adorned with items made of crop materials as a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Materials we saw included rice stalks, rice grain, palm leaves, birds of paradise, bananas, peppers, tomatoes, woven hats, coconut shells, bamboo, yard-long beans, and okra. The items were arranged as giant flowers, patterns, scarecrows, chandeliers, booths, and facades.
As we and other visitors went down the streets, families were busy decorating the front of their homes and it was obvious what was their livelihood and pride. They took care that their perishable produce and items were safe from outside harm. It took lots of planning and work for the event but was well worth it as the home fronts looked so beautiful and inviting.
It reminded us that we should spend as much effort on the inside of our home. To visitors it should be obvious that our livelihood and pride is our family. Inside our home we can offer thanksgiving for previous blessings and a prayer for another bountiful year of family prosperity and love. Inside should be a place where our family feels safe from outside harm. It requires lots of planning and work but is well worth it as our family grows.
May 12, 2016 -Water, Water, everywhere
Water, Water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
.. from whence then hast thou that living water? … But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. – John 4:11,14
Like the water, water poem quoted above, it’s ironic to be on an island surrounded by water but not much that is drinkable. It is summer in the Philippines, March – May, and the tap water in our neighborhood is rationed. Typically our water comes twice a day. The last 4 weeks we only received a few gallons every few days. We have a water holding tank but neighbors must leave their faucet on and swap buckets in the middle of the night when they hear the water pouring. Others who use water from bamboo aqueduct pipes, mountain waterfalls or streams (see pictures), river beds, or other sources have more difficulty bathing and washing clothes.
During the dry spell we take trickle showers or bucket showers, use bottled water for brushing teeth, reuse dish water and dripping pipe water for toilet flushing, and wash and rinse several loads of clothes with the same water. It’s quite amazing because after awhile we get used to it and don’t even think about it.
Similar to tap water, when we have plenty of living water available ever day, we enjoy it. If it were suddenly taken away, we are in great pain and despair, working hard to get it back.
Again, like tap water, when we have lived a long time without living water, we become used to not having in. We feel we are doing just fine the way things are. Unless we get a glimpse of what life can be like with living water which provides everlasting life, we don’t know what we are missing. Share your living water with your neighbors.