I am so lucky and happy to be able to email you this week. I am not in my area so I don’t know if I will be able to email next week but hopefully we will have power. Life here in the Philippines is great. Things are getting better and the days are full of service in the daytime with studies at night. We study at night because it gets dark by six and no one has power, so it is really dark and we have to go home. My apartment was able to get power this past week with some brown outs from time to time because it is next to the capitol building, but it turns out that we have to move this week to a different apartment so I am not sure if we will have power. I don’t have a lot of time but I want to share a few stories with you of what I have experienced.
For the past two Sundays the benches in the sacrament building are FULL of people. It is such an amazing sight. So many less actives are coming back to church and I have been able to find some more part-member families because of it. In our gospel principle class there have been over 30 people! This past Sunday, we had 5 investigators come. One of them is a husband of a part-member family and he has been working with the priesthood rebuilding member’s houses even though he isn’t a member AND his house is completely gone. He has 3 kids and isn’t able to work because he is a fisherman and there are no fish right now in the waters, so he is out helping others rebuild their homes. It is amazing. His name is Brother Bullos. Hopefully we can get him baptized within the next month.
One of the less active members is Sister Rosie Bacus. We visited her and she shared with us that she came back to church because when she saw Sister Newton and me come to her house after the typhoon to check up on her and hearing that we walked all the way to her house in the rain she decided to come back. She said that she always knew that the church was true but was too shy to come back after being gone for so long. But after she saw our “sacrifice” she decided it was time for her to come back.
It is hard to explain everything that I see because it is very sad but it is getting better. Homes are starting to get rebuilt and we have been delivering a lot of food to families as well. There have been quite a few rainy days that slow some things down and it has been flooding some areas (it even entered our apartment) but everything is well. It is getting better, and it is so humbling to see everything that is happening.
This has been a great part of my mission and I have truly seen the hand of the Lord in my life and in the life of the people here. This typhoon has done a lot of good, so many people have been going to church and it is amazing. I hope they will continue to keep on coming to church and continue to remember Heavenly Father and realize the blessing they have received. I know that the gospel blesses families and as members of the church we truly come together as one and help each other. Many less actives have been richly blessed from the typhoon because the church is helping and giving them so much.
I love you all so much and it was great to read you emails. Sorry for not writing that much but I just want you to know that I love you and that everything is good here. Things are getting so much better. The gospel is true. I know it.
No contact with Rachel this week. That tells me she is staying in her area of Kalibo, and that there is still no electricity. I suppose that if Rachel was given the option of going back to Kalibo, or going to Iloilo or some other location which was not hit a hard by the typhoon, that she would have been anxious to get back to Kalibo, knowing that she would be living without electricity for some time. I am sure that resources are spread thin, but expect that the resources and organization of the church put her in a better situation than most of the Filipino people.
We continue to pray for all of them.
We were able to have a brief telephone conversation with Rachel on Wednesday. She remained in the town of Kalibo during the Typhoon. Her apartment is a concrete structure that survived well with only minor flooding. However, she said that most of the homes in her area are “just gone”. She has been in Iloilo City the last couple of days, which is on the south end of the island of Panay and sustained much less damage. She will be able to return to Kalibo on Thursday, although they do not expect to have electricity for another week or so. That may mean the e-mail contact may not happen for a while. Rachel is a hardy, resilient individual, and is enjoying the experience and the chance to serve.
Thanks for your love, prayers and support.
Not surprisingly, Rachel has not been able to communicate with us this week.
We did receive the following broadcast e-mail from her mission office on Sunday night:
Good Day Brother and Sister,
This is the Office Staff of the Philippines Iloilo Mission. We just wanted to inform you that all of our Missionaries are SAFE.
Typhoon Yolanda has passed but has left power outages in certain areas that will last a week or two.
“My storm may not have been as tempestuous as the storms others face, but it is not the velocity of the storm that makes our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ willing to help us. It is our faith in Christ’s calming power and our hastening to call for His help that allows Him to calm our hearts during life’s storms.” -Whitney Hinckley
PHILIPPINES ILOILO MISSION
We have complete faith and trust in the loving care of our Heavenly Father for Rachel. We do not know if she was evacuated to a different city or any specifics of where she is. Kalibo, the town where she was serving, is on the north coast of Panay Island, and the typhoon went directly over that area. It is about 185 miles west, northwest of Tacloban City.
Please join us in prayer that the suffering of the people in the Philippines will be relieved and that the people will turn to the fullness of the gospel as the healing power for their suffering.