|Arriving 30 minutes earl at the Victoria Ward building|
We met Bishop Avila, who welcomed us with a big smile and introduced his little grandson. I counted 13 ceiling fans blasting in the chapel alone. There is no air conditioning in the building, reportedly for the exception of the bishop’s office. All other rooms have two or three ceiling fans. The windows are kept open in the rooms (and on both sides of the chapel) in order to keep the air flowing. This is not the hot time of the year, and it was still pretty dang hot/humid for us. (Maralea strategically made sure we were always seated right below a briskly spinning fan during our visit.) Bishop Avila asked Jordan to address the ward, which was pretty cool. As sacrament meeting began, they announced that the ward has four missionaries ready to enter the world of full time missionary service. One sister already has her call to the Philippines Naga Mission, entering the MTC in two weeks. That is pretty exciting.
Yes, I know this shouldn't have been taken.
But, I couldn't resist sneaking a picture of
Jordan speaking in Victoria
(from the back of the chapel with my iPhone)
Sacrament meeting was fantastic. While the talks were largely in Tagalog (with some English sprinkled in here and there), we understood that the theme was the value of daily reading/study of the scriptures in nourishing our testimony of Jesus Christ, thereby strengthening our desire to not only follow Him, but to lead others to do the same along the way. One 18 year old sister testified with such power that Maralea and I could feel of her conviction and testimony through the words we could not otherwise understand. (The language of the Spirit is universal.) Jordan addressed the ward in Tagalog. He did a great job. At the conclusion of the meeting, during the postlude, the pianist played: Families Can Be Together Forever. As the congregation began to file out of the chapel for Sunday School, the children spontaneously began softly singing the words to the song. It took me by surprise. It was pretty cool.
We enjoyed watching Jordan interact with the ward members. We were introduced to James, who Jordan taught and baptized and is now serving in the Young Men’s Presidency of the ward, and Mak-Mak, who was also baptized while Jordan served here. Mak-Mak is preparing for a mission.
|Victoria foyer with the full time missionaries, who really know how to pose|
Missionary moms have to stick together
. Here, Maralea and Sister Ragma
(whose son is presently serving in NJ)
share a Missionary Mom hug
We enjoyed meeting the ward members before and after sacrament meeting. Brother and Sister Ragma introduced themselves and advised that they have a son serving in the New Jersey Cherry Hill Mission. They have plans to go to the United States to tour his areas with him when he has completed his service. The Gospel Doctrine instructor announced to the Sunday School class that he would be teaching in English instead of Tagalog for our benefit. (It was a great lesson on the Spirit of Elijah and the commandment to lead all people who have ever walked the earth to the temple of the Lord.) After Sunday School, as we were walking together down the hallway, we were mobbed by the YSA’s and their leaders, then quickly led to a classroom where chairs were arranged for group pictures. The youth were setting up cameras on tables with timers, and everyone was excited. We just kept smiling. (At one point, the message was given for everyone to make a funny face. Since Maralea and I don’t speak the language, and Jordan often forgets to interpret for us (ha), we did not know that wacky means the same in Tagalog as English.) It is really wonderful being around so many young people excited to be together at church.
With the Victoria YSA for a group photo (Normal)
Like I said, Maralea and I did not get the Tagalog memo to act crazy for this picture.
(Although, we are relatively sure you would not be able to figure that out from examination of this photo.)
Jordan and I attended Priesthood meeting together, where we had another great discussion led by a very good gospel instructor, Bro. Mark Cortado. Priesthood meeting went more than 15 minutes past the hour and, since we had people waiting for us outside, Jordan and I had to excuse ourselves “early” as the discussion continued. (Sorry Bro. Cortado. I meant to tell you thanks for a great lesson!) Most of the ward was still present. I somehow got separated from Maralea and Jordan for a few minutes and walked into the foyer alone. As soon as I appeared, I was grabbed by some waiting members and others gathered for more pictures. I learned a new phrase in Tagalog: isa pa (which I heard over and over again). I quickly figured out that it means: “One more” (as in one more picture). (So, I used that phrase the rest of the day and plan to make it part of my permanent Tagalog vocabulary.) Maralea and Jordan soon joined me to pose for pictures in the foyer and in the front of the chapel with ward members. Jordan had some private visits with James and Mak-Mak, along with other members. We really enjoyed our visit to Victoria.
Jordan with James and James, Jr.
(Thank you for waiting on us to get out 15 minutes late James! Ha.)
MORE FROM VICTORIA
|Jordan with Nanay Elsa (who taught us the phrase: "isa pa" (one more)|
(Sister Elsa wanted to make sure she had plenty of photos to choose from.)
|Outside the Victoria building|
Some of the sisters wanted a sisters only shot
James with his son, James, Jr., and A.J. (here setting her camera, is leaving on a mission in two weeks)
|With Bishop Avila and family|
|James, Jr., is officially tired of all the picture taking and is ready to go home!|
We ventured onto Gapan, which was hit pretty hard by the typhoon. In fact, they still do not have power restored there for the residents (including the missionaries). We made a couple of stops to meet with some members after our arrival, but they were not home. However, Jordan introduced us to a little girl who always runs from him like he’s Frankenstein because he is so tall. (Her mother jokingly advised in broken English that her daughter thinks Jordan is “the boogy man.”)
|Jordan, being escorted to the Marcelino home by Ivan, with Nilo closely behind|
We had an extended visit with the Marcelino family, were we met Ariel and Susan Marcelino and their two sons, Ivan and Ian. We also visited with the Rogelio and Jasmine Marcelino, their daughter Deseree, and their granddaughter April Joy. They were likewise without power. However, in very typical Filipino fashion, they welcomed us into their home and provided us with a fantastic meal. The missionaries came near the end of our visit, and we got to meet Jordan’s last companion, Elder Hernandez (Philippines), and Jordan’s replacement, Elder Park (from Tooele, UT). The Marcelino family recently returned to activity in the Church and are excited that a branch will be formed soon with a meeting house near their home. (Jordan had written earlier about the problems associated with Church growth in the area due to the inability of people to afford traveling to Church at the present meeting house.) The Marcelino family seemed to understand English well enough, but most were reluctant to speak it. Rogelio stood behind me as I was seated and commented to Ariel (his brother) that he would like to have a conversation with me but did not want to try speaking English. Still, we communicated pretty well - good enough to enjoy our time together. We thanked the Marcelino family for a wonderful dinner, then left to make one more stop.
|With the Marcelino family in Gapan.|
(Rogelio (left) and Ivan (center) are holding up pictures Jordan delivered to the family)
Dinner with the Marcelino family. (Deseree, left, a chef in Manila, prepared a wonderful meal)
|Jordan and Elder Park catch up by comparing |
cell phones at the Marcelino home
With both Marcelino families and Elders Hernandez & Park. (The elders missed out on some great food.)
|Saying goodbye to the Marcelino family in Gapan. (To Ivan: "Go Pacers!")|
We entered the humble home of the Galang family near dusk. There was no electricity and I knew lighting could be a problem for pictures, so we took some pictures outside their home shortly after our arrival.
|We got a picture with Nanay Vanji, and Melanie, and Jona May just before sundown|
We were mobbed by little neighborhood children outside the home. One girl had a baton and gave Maralea a chance to twirl it. I then tried my hand (and wrist) at it. That had all the kids laughing. They followed us into the front area of the Galang home, where we sat with Nanay Vanji and her daughters Jona May and Melanie to visit. It quickly became dark and so we visited by candlelight. Jordan was provided with a guitar and was asked to serenade the family. By this time, the children who were just outside the front door had come inside. There were six or seven of them, and only one, Janelle (age six), has ever attended primary (her parents are not LDS). They kept calling me “Elder” (I was still wearing a white short sleeved shirt and tie) and asked for my name. One of the little girls got embarrassed when another friend announced (while pointing a finger at her): “She has a crush on Elder Royal.” We tried to get the children to sing and suggested: I Am A Child of God. To our surprise, the children all knew it. I accompanied them on the guitar and they did great. I wish I had thought to videotape that scene. It was wonderful, with Janelle having taught that song to all of her very close cousins and friends. They sang many other songs to us by candlelight. Jordan accompanied the children in a couple of songs in Tagalog, and then they provided us with some other numbers from their repertoire (I think one was a rap or hip hop in Tagalog, complete with all the swagging, clapping, etc. It was great.) Those energetic, fun, sweet voices brought a powerful spirit of love into the home. (Click here for a video of a song with the children in Tagalog)
|Jordan, accompanying the children with a guitar by candlelight|
Maralea got a little too helpful with the candle, here forcing Jordan
to choose between playing or getting burned (ha)
|Our cute little serenading children by candlelight in the Galang home|
|Dinner by candlelight and flashlight in the Galang home|
(We discovered the Filipino spaghetti is very sweet!)
We were joined later in the evening by Elders Hernandez and Park, and also by Elders Armatage (Alpine, UT) and Nocos (Philippines), and we were then served again with dinner. (No wonder the missionaries kept following us around!) I mounted a flashlight on the ceiling over the dinner table, which provided some much needed additional light to the three candles. The missionaries were all very excited to see Jordan one last time before his departure. Jordan passed out candy for the children (although it was difficult to get treats past the elders - ha). (I did discover that Elder Park does not like Almond Joy candy bars, so I offered to take that off his hands. I love them!) Jordan’s mission name tag is prominently displayed in the Galang home as a keepsake, where he joins other missionaries who have done the same. After leaving a few other gifts, a final farewell was given and we drove back to our hotel in Tarlac, where we arrived late, tired, and were ready to get some rest after a day filled with great moments and memories.
|Party Crashers! (Ha) From left: Elders Hernandez, Royal, Armatage, Park & Nocos at the Galang home|