Friday, December 30, 2011


(pics. l-r) 1. Sister Bird on Big Gun at Corregidor 2. W.W 2 Barracks 3. View of Corregidor Island from Top Side 4. Sister Bird at Welcome Sign 5. Large Lizard 6. Map of Corregidor 7. E/S Bird in Front of Pacific War Memorial 8. E/S Bird in Front of 14" Gun 9. Line of Guns 10. Malinta Tunnel
On Wednesday, December 28, 2011, Elder Bird and I organized a trip for the Senior Missionaries in our Zone to travel to the island of Corregidor. Corregidor is one of the most important historic and tourist sites in the country. It is a lofty island located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Due to this location, Corregidor was fortified with several coastal artillery and ammunition magazines to defend the entrance of Manila Bay and the City of Manila, from attacks by enemy warships in the event of war. Located 48 kilometres (30 mi) inland, Manila has been the largest city and the most important seaport in the Philippines for centuries—from the colonial rule of Spain, the United States, and Japan and after the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946. During World War II, Corregidor played an important role during the invasion and liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces. Heavily bombarded in the latter part of the war, the ruins left on the island serve as a military memorial to many American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers who served or lost their lives on the island.
The island, when viewed from the air, looks like a tadpole, and has been divided into four sections: Topside, Middleside, Bottomside, and Tailside. It has also been nicknamed "the Rock" due to its many fortifications and rocky terrain. Each of the "sides" house a significant part of history. Topside housed barracks, communications center, golf course, etc. The Middleside housed the officers quarters, and included schools and a hospital. The Bottomside connects the middle to the tail by means of the Malinta tunnel. A tunnel that was ten years in the making (1922-1932). It literally became an underground city of its own housing a major hospital, and was used as a bomb shelter for the many air attacks on the island. The Tailside housed a small airfield and navy landing site. Our entire Zone loved this "getaway" to an island of fresh air, lizards, monkeys, and only 200 residents. I actually chose 3 sites for a perfect vacation home!! This place was the most beautiful, peaceful, perfectly clean place I have experienced here in the Philippines....rather ironic when you consider all of the pain and bloodshed that has taken place here. What a privilege for us to visit this piece of history.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


(pics. l-r) 1. Malaya Children on Christmas Day, 2. E/S Bird with Nel's Family 3. Elder Bird with Gifts for Malaya Branch Members 4. E/S Bird with Nel (We Did Christmas Service for His Family)

(pics. l-r) 1. Joel and Irene Javier in Manila Philippines Adm. Office 2. Sister Bird with Joel and Irene in Front of Manila Temple 3. Christmas Nativity on Temple Grounds 4. Christmas Lights on Temple Grounds 5. Christmas Tree in our Apt., we call it the "Infantry"!
The week before Christmas was a wonderful week! Christmas carols were being played everywhere and there were many beautiful decorations.....especially at the temple. Many of the saints and investigators from the Malaya Branch came to see the lights and have a temple tour put on by the full time missionaries. 33 of them rode in one jeepney....24 would be a full load....but so many wanted to come. Joel and Irene Javier came with them. We were so excited because they got to see where we work and meet our friends in the Public Affairs office. Then we walked around the temple with them and the rest of the group and had such a nice time. The evening was beautiful....I was so grateful because it had been raining a lot the past few days.
On Monday evening (Dec. 19th) we had our Senior Zone FHE at the new MTC (Missionary Training Center)....the big remodel and addition had just been completed...and the MTC President, Pres. Taylor invited us to a one man (him!) presentation of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Wow, it was so good and really filled us with the spirit of Christmas. Also, that day we finished getting out about 1000 Christmas cards and new 2012 Calendars, designed for our office....busy, busy!
On Tuesday we and the Goss' had put together a Christmas package for a former employee of the PAO, Nel, and we left work early to go to his home. Yes, even with all of the directions we were given, we had the hardest time finding his place. When we finally did, he was not home, but his mother was and also 3 of their 6 children. We loved meeting them and visiting with them and left our gift with strict instructions they were not to get into it until Nel arrived back home. Well, according to Nel, when he and his wife and their other 3 children arrived home, everything from the box was laid out on the floor of their small cement and cinderblock home just waiting! Then they divided up the minature candy bars and he said the children just ran around the room dancing and singing for joy. We had included some money, and he said his wife took off immediately to buy milk for the children.....they had not had any for weeks!! He had had to quit work because of health problems he was having. They had decided that his wife would go overseas (Taiwan) to work. A very difficult decision. She left the day after Christmas and cannot return for two years. Many of the Filipinos do this very thing to attempt to support their families financially. We went back to see them on Christmas day and took a picture of us with Nel. Also, some additional Christmas items were left for the that we knew the ages of the children.
Wednesday was another favorite day. We have this group of maintenance workers that have helped us so much in public affairs. They move, lift, haul, clean, and just do lots of physical labor. So, we arranged with their boss to call each of them to the public affairs office for a job we needed done. Instead, when they arrived, we pointed them to the Director's office, and upon entry they found a reception of goodies and drinks set up for them. In addition, a gift certificate for one free lunch was presented to each of them. They were so surprised and we had so much fun doing this. Nel used to be one of this maintenance team. He calls us Mom and Dad.
Thursday we took a box of donuts to the Quezon City Post Office thanking them for how helpful they have been in getting our packages delivered to us. They truly love my husband and enjoy his visits there.
Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) was our Zone Christmas Social. It was a pot luck dinner with lots of "yummy" food brought. E/S Bell (Hermosa Beach, Ca.) helped so much with the decorations and games and a gift exchange. We had the conference room set up like a big living room/dining room with couches, Christmas tree, lamps, tables, etc. You would have thought it was a home. It was so fun. Randy got a small nativity and I received some candy which I quickly gave to the Malaya Branch on Christmas.
Christmas morning found us up early preparing to drive to Malaya for Church. No time for gifts. As we were sitting there ready for the meeting to begin, the Branch President got up and walked down to me and said,"Sister Bird, could you do me a favor"? Thinking he wanted me to lead the singing, I said "Sure, what can I do"? He said, "Would you be our speaker along with my wife....our other speaker didn't show up". I went into panic mode with my mind absolutely blank, and said "Sure, I would love to".....okay, a small lie! I did it...and I vow to be more prepared for things like this!! We made little gift bags for all the children (candy, pencils that said "I am a child of God" in Tagalog...thank you Julie, a little tablet to write in, and toothbrushes). The adults received toothbrushes and candy. Many of them were checked for what power of reading glasses they needed. We will then try to meet their needs with glasses sent from home (thanks to Petersons and Hemmings) or here. We had a horrendous drive home with traffic as bad as ever....I was determined to not let it affect the Christmas spirit! I kept pointing out to Randy that they were all FAMILIES that were in our way....what better thing....and then turned the TAB Choir Christmas CD up a little louder!!! We arrived home in time to leave again for Nel's home and then back here for a little time to open gifts. Then quickly off to Christmas dinner at the Bell's apartment. Who says it is more relaxing in the mission field? WHEW!! We loved opening our presents from home and each other. Things we needed were found in each box. It's almost as if our family planned it that way!! Hmmm!
To top our Christmas off, we skyped with each of our children and talked with my Mom. It was Monday here but Christmas there.
A couple of things we learned here: Christmas is celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve with dinner, lots of time for prayer, and then gifts (for those that have them....they are not necessary). Santa does not play a significant role here. We are most grateful to be here and to experience Christmas in the Philippines.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


(l-r) E/S Goss, Deo Divinagracia,E/S Bird,
E/S Bird with Catholic Archbishop and Bayani and Jo Imbong, Sister Bird at Shangri-La Staircase, Area Presidency and Wives

E/S Bird, Sister Bird and Sister Goss w/FVA Helpers, FVA recipients, Marides Fernando and Jo Imbong

The Manila Family Values Awards Dinner and Reception was held on November 29, 2011, at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong. The Area Public Affairs Office is completely responsible for this event....and it is a lot of work....and a very fun event.

The Family Values Awards are presented annually to community leaders in Asia, Europe and the United States. Notable recipients include Australian Prime Minister John Howard MP, anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia policy maker Jack Snelling MP, and Fr. Thomas Rosica, the National Director/CEO of World Youth Day (Canada). Okay, so it is a pretty big deal!

Atty. Jo Imbong, and Mr. and Mrs. Bayani Fernando were the recipients this year. Besides being the lawyer for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Atty. Imbong is an author, educator and a family activist. She is married to Manuel B. Imbong, also a lawyer. They have eight children and three grandchildren.....all were present for the award presentation. She was so proud of each one as she introduced them to the audience....I could truly identify with her.....the heart of a mother! In her acceptance remarks, our hearts were touched as she quoted from The Proclamation on the Family.....and considers it a most amazing document. She also said that being mother to her 8 children is, without a doubt, her greatest accomplishment! The Fernando's are both former city mayors responsible for the establishment of a yearly festival which honors

the family.

We met a number of other important leaders in this country, including the Archbishop of San Fernando, the head of the Catholic Bishops Council, Senators, the former presidential candidate that ran against President Aquino (he invited us to his home for dinner....hmm....still waiting for him to call..., and professors from the University of the Philippines. Also present were many leaders from our church. It was a grand event and I must say, we were quite happy when it was successfully over!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011


(l-r) 1. Tabaco Zone Missionaries 2. Sis. Ballan, Sis. Opeda, Sis. Brizuela 3. Sis. Mayores, Sis. Ejara, and Sis. Bird 4. E/S Bird with Tabaco Sisters

(l-r) 1. Filipino Boys Walking Home from School 2. Families Home in Tabaco 3. Elder Bird at Legazpi Airport 4. Carabao Hauling Lumber

Pili Nut Hills Located Near Legazpi

Mount Mayon Active Volcano Near Legazpi City

All That Remains of Church Buried by Mt. Mayon Eruption.
This is the Bell Tower that was 40 Feet High

Sunday afternoon we flew to Legazpi City, Albay province, in the Bicol area, so we could attend the Church History Jubilee Exhibit on Monday. As our plane descended we noticed these strange looking little hills below us. (see pic above, top) We asked and eventually discovered they were pili nut hills. These harvested nuts are a popular selling item in this province. We arrived safely and settled in for a good nights sleep at the Venezia Hotel. It was a very nice hotel that even had hot water in the showers. Monday morning we were up early and off to Tabaco (about 1 hour away) for an 8:00 am opening of the exhibit. We hired a driver who took us there. We arrived on time and saw everything set up beautifully. We marvel that these small branches are able to do so much with so few people. When we arrived at the exhibit, there was an entire zone of missionaries waiting. They were full of excitement and ready to teach all who came to learn about the history of the Church in the Philippines. This District Presidency had chosen to not hold an opening ceremony and had just announced to the branches the day before, that the week long exhibit would open the next morning at 8:00am....but hardly anyone came during the 2 hours that we were there. A few members of the Branch were there, but more in the capacity of responsibilities. The District President was out of town because he works in Manila during the week, but his wife was there finishing up the pictures on panel 8, which is the history of the church in their particular area. We met a Sister Salve Opeda, age 82, who looked almost 70, and was there looking at the panels. She had plenty of ideas on how she was going to invite more people to attend. She had been involved in public affairs earlier in her Church experience (joined the church in the '70's) and had many interesting experiences to share. I will share a couple. She grew up in a very Catholic environment....many in her family are Priests and Bishops. She had many questions and frustrations as a young adult, because she studied the scriptures faithfully, and felt that the teachings of her church didn't match up with the teaching of the scriptures. She voiced her questions to several in her church leadership and each one told her these were the "mysteries" and not for her to understand,... and to continue wanting answers showed you were a very rebellious spirit. So she left the church and started wondering if there really was a God. One night she had a vision in which she saw the Stick of Judah (Bible) join with the Stick of Joseph (she had no idea what that was) but the two books came together. She could never forget this vision and continued to wonder about it for years. Then one day the missionaries showed up....and she discovered what the "stick of Joseph" was....and it was history from there. Her life has been so blessed. She was the District Relief Society President for several was the Cebu District.....not even on the same island where she lived. It covered half of the islands in the Philippines! She said she went on frequent bus trips to visit sisters all over. She was just the happiest woman and is so willing to serve the Lord until she falls in the grave!! We enjoyed our visit with the members and missionaries who were there. We hope that they will have much success with the exhibit as the week progresses.
On our way back to the hotel, our driver asked if we would like to go to the Mt. Mayon Volcano Planetarium and Look Out. What was I thinking??? I should have known that anytime you hear "look out" it means a long winding road to the top of something!! Sure enough, it was a long trip way up the volcano! As we started the drive up, clouds rolled in and heavy rains came down. By the time we reached the Planetarium, heavy rain and winds wouldn't allow us to walk to the crater, nor could we see the spectacular view..... as clouds covered the valley below. We at least could go in the Planitarium, which was a room where we sat down and a man turned on a video showing the history of volcanic activity of Mt was very interesting to watch, but was all in we mostly watched!!! This volcano last erupted in 2009. Anyway, we had to laugh about this experience of driving all the way up there, trying very hard to not get car sick, only to see nothing but clouds, and watch a movie in Tagalog!
It rained the entire time we were there, so by Tuesday morning, we were ready to catch our flight back to Manila and then to the office. As we were waiting for our flight, it's cancellation was announced!! The miracle was that we got seats on the first flight out that afternoon, even though they told everyone there were no available seats on that flight! We are surely watched over.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Multistake Public Affairs Councils of the Philippines

Our trip to Cebu was two fold: 1. Attend the Family Values Award 2. Train the Multistake Public Affairs Councils. Everything else was extra. Elder Perez, of the 70, asked us to train him, also, since he is over the Cebu area and we would already be here. It is the Area Seventy that is the Priesthood Advisor to the Multistake PAC, whereas, a member of the Stake Presidency is the Priesthood Advisor to the Stake PAC. We spent two hours with him and loved his desire to learn more about his duties. He was so kind and gracious, plus he was scheduled to be our fireside speaker the next night to begin our Multistake Public Affairs Councils training. FYI.... There are eight multistakes in the Philippines. These multistakes are located in more metropolitan areas and each is over the Stake Public Affairs Councils of between 4-7 stakes.....they share many of the same government, community, business, religious, and media leaders.

It was so wonderful on Friday, as the various council members began arriving, to see the faces that went with the names of those with whom we had been communicating for so long. Each one is very talented and accomplished in their own lives and are very much leaders in their own communities. There are also another 80 plus stakes. We will start training those stakes next year. So much work to be done. The fireside went so well and many of the directors knew each other from previous training, and had a happy reunion catching up on news and friendships. One from Manila was the former mission president to Bacolod so all of the people from that island were so happy to see him again. They hung around and visited for some time after the fireside.

The training we gave the multistake councils was divided among the four of us from the area office and also some of the directors that traveled to be with us. I helped with the "working with the Media" classes, while Randy instructed them on "Working with Priesthood Leaders". The Goss's taught about working with Opinion Leaders (VIPs) and doing reports. The group taught each other a lot! It was really a great experience....and ended at 3:00pm and they were all off to the airport (except the Cebu people) to catch their flights home.

There are also another 80 plus stakes that DO NOT fall under the umbrella of a multistake. We will start training those Stake PACs next year. So much work to be done.


(l-r) 1. E/S Outside Cebu Temple 2. Cebu Temple Housing 3. Cebu Temple at Night 4. E/S Bird, Elder Perez, E/S Goss 5. Cebu Temple at Night

Following our tour of the city of Cebu, we hurried back to our hotel, got a quick bite to eat, and took a taxi to the Cebu temple just in time to catch the 3:00 pm session. Wow, this temple was soooo beautiful! The temple complex included a stake center, the homes of the temple presidency, a large temple housing building for the temple missionaries as well as for those who come from distances to do temple work, and a church distribution center. And, of course, the whole place was landscaped to perfection. The Temple President is President Gerald Mortimer, he was one of my doctors when we lived in Idaho (Drs. Robinson, Kindred, and Mortimer)! It is a small world after all! We enjoyed just walking around and breathing the FRESH air.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


(l-r) 1. Magellan's crossing (depicting the history of Cebu) 2. E/S Bird at Dome Housing Magellan's Sword 3. Inside View of Basilica de Santo Ninyo 4. The Basilica 5. Magellan's Sword is Housed Inside this Cross
Haidi Fajardo (PA director of Cebu Multistake) and her husband, took us on a tour of the historic sights around Cebu. Who knew that this was where Magellan stopped on his great voyage and was quite instrumental in bringing Christianity to the Philippines? Not me! This is also where he was killed.....he hoped to convert King Lapulapu to Christianity, like he had some of the neighboring tribal leaders, but it didn't happen! Instead the warriors met Magellan and his few men....a couple made it back to their ship, but most were killed. Places we stopped were: Magellans crossing, the Magellan Shrine, Basilica de Santo Ninyo (interpreted: The Church of Baby Jesus....oldest church in Cebu...1521), and a very old home built by a wealthy family in 1851 that is now a museum. We didn't stop at the beach, but several times we saw the beautiful ocean as we were driving around. What a fun historic place the city of Cebu is.


(l-r) 1. Pres.and Sister Mortimer (Cebu Temple President) w/ E/S Bird 2. Vic and Lagaya Abadesco & children w/Married Priests, 3. Abadesco's Sing Their Feelings 4. E/S Bird 5. Pres. Teh Presents FVA Award to Vic and Ligaya Abadesco
The Family Value Award is given yearly, by the church, to organizations and individuals, not of our faith, who have exemplified strengthening the family through their actions. One is given in Cebu and one in Manila. We traveled with the Goss' ( other senior missionary couple in Public Affairs) and Deo Divinagracia, who works in our office and is over the Family Value Awards. This is a very prestigious award. A couple was chosen in Cebu this year. Both the husband and wife have done amazing things over the past years to rescue children and women from human trafficking. In spite of many life threats and other scary things, they have been fearless in their efforts to rescue. When Deo phoned Ligaya to tell her of the award they had been chosen to receive, she didn't recognize the voice and hung up on him, thinking he was a trafficker and wondering how on earth he got her unlisted number! They were an inspiring couple. Below is an excerpt from a prominent Cebu newspaper that was published the next day.

"VIC AND LIGAYA Abadesco raised wonderful children steeped in such values as love of neighbor, honesty and a deep faith in the Almighty. Ligaya and Vic “take time to teach parents and leaders in the barangay the values of chastity, love, and care for family members, aspiring to do what is right rather than going after get-rich-quick schemes and in being vigilant citizens in the society who protect the sanctity of marriage and families.” In the actual granting of the awards, Vic happily surprised us by giving a response that was a song: “Walk With Faith in Your Heart.” Elder Brent H. Nielson (First Quorum of the Seventy) in his speech reminded us about the parable of the Good Samaritan and said the awardees were the good neighbor who did not walk by and ignore the other folks’ suffering.
We went home with an image (a picture) of Jesus and several pamphlets including one, 3 Simple Ways to Become a Happier Family."
This reporter then went on to explain all of the ways to become a happier was very nice!
Randy and I were seated at the table with the "married priests".....yes, that is what they call themselves. They were all Catholic Priests, who left the priesthood to marry and have families. Randy told them he was a "married priest" also, which brought a great round of laughter. Then one of the former Catholic priests said," But I was a Bishop!" to which my very quick witted husband replied, "I too have been a married Bishop......and I have never regretted it!!" Well, by the end of the evening we had all become great friends and exchanged emails and addresses!! What a great mission this is!

Friday, November 4, 2011


"Camp Believe" Youth Conference
(l-r) 1. Youth Leaders 2. Road tp Phillips Sanctuary 3. Lunch 4. Beautiful Flower 5. E/S Bird
(l-r) 1. Vegetation Along the Way 2. Cemetery with Tents on All Saints Day 3. Elder Bird at Youth Conference 4. Families Celebrate All Saints Day as They Enter Cemetery

Randy and I were invited to speak to the youth and young adults of the Tandang Sora Ward at their Youth Conference called "Camp Believe". We spoke on Tuesday, which was also a national holiday here in the Philippines. It was called "All Saints Day" or we would compare it in the United States to Memorial Day. The youth conference was held in the hills above Antipolo at a resort called "Phillips Sanctuary". This resort has all sorts of games, zip lines, suspension bridges, and water activities to keep the youth involved. Our message began the conference. I introduced Randy who took most of the time speaking about the 13th Article of Faith combined with Paul's counsel to Timothy to be an "example of the believer". The talks lasted for about an hour. The message was well received and then we enjoyed lunch with the youth. We ate a native Filipino meal of rice and a vegetable-meat soup poured over the top. The name of it can't be recalled, but is was good. You will notice a picture of what it looked like above. Following the meal, a drive back home was enjoyed as we witnessed the Filipinos paying respect to their kindred dead. They frequently come the night before and pitch tents near the grave sites of their dead. Meals are eaten, stories told, and then all go to sleep in the cemetery. The next day becomes quite the party atmosphere at the cemetery. Food and flower venders set up all around the cemetery to sell their goods to patrons in attendance. It's quite a site to behold. After driving by several such venues, we noticed that not only flowers were left behind to pay respect, but often food was left as well. We really enjoyed seeing this area that we probably would never have had opportunity to visit. We drove through areas that on a normal work day would have been a traffic nightmare. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed feeling the spirit of the youth that remind us of our youth back home.


(l-r pics) 1. VIP Gifts 2. Mayors, Vice-Mayors, and Barangay Leaders Listen to Jubliee Presentation 3. Mayor and Stake Leaders at Exhibit 4. Lucheon and Missionaries
Goats Along the Drive, View of Malaya from Hills Above, Arches Into Santa Cruz, One Mode of Transportation in the Hills Above Malaya

Hotel in Santa Cruz, Unique Bathroom, E. Bird Helping With the Remodel, Hotel Laundry Facility, Hotel Sign, S. Bird in Hotel Courtyard

The Jubilee Exhibit at Santa Cruz went so very well. On the first day when they opened the exhibit, they had over 50 VIPs, that they had invited, come. The Mayor of Santa Cruz spoke to everyone in the opening ceremonies......the funniest thing was to see a man at the pulpit of one of our chapels, speaking with a pack of Marlboro cigarettes sticking out of his pocket!! We love these people!! Then to watch their faces as they went through the was just so sweet.....many were so surprised to see what we REALLY is truly a wonderful experience. Later that day, a jeepney arrived bringing 12 school principals to see the exhibit. Later in the week, those principals brought many classes from their schools to see the exhibit.....only in the Philippines!! We just love being here during this Jubilee year as the exhibits make their way throughout these islands. The drive from Santa Cruz back to Manila was so beautiful.....lots of green rolling hills close to a huge lake.....there are quite a few resorts in this area plus the traffic is not at all as bad. Several people that work at the MPAO live in this area of Laguna. Hard to believe that they travel this twice every day! It took about 2 and a half hours to get back to Manila.

Because we had a couple of funny experiences on this trip, I will have to relate them. The travel department at the MPAO sets up all of our travel reservations.....they have accommodations that they typically use and they have been just fine. Well, Santa Cruz is more rural and they really didn't have a place they knew of to have us they did find this place that Elder Ko had stayed in some years we said to go for it! I don't want to sound like I am was just a new experience. We call it our "minus 1 Star Hotel"......granted they were in the middle of remodeling a section of it and it is also the off season. Sooo... we pulled into the hotel to find we were the only ones staying there (later we saw one other couple!). They showed us to our room and it was okay. Soon the air conditioning went out and we discovered the toilet didn't flush. So, they said they would move us to the executive suite--Randy said he would go check it out before we moved our things. He thought it would be fine but it was very hot and stuffy so the manager went right over and turned on the air conditioner--cockroaches and other bugs came scattering out from the unit and across the wall, falling onto the bed. The hotel manager started smashing the bugs on the walls trying to convince him that the room would work. Randy said we would have to try a third room. This one was small and no critters came out of the air conditioner and the toilet would work. We discovered a very unique bathroom. The shower came out of the wall in the very same small area that also contained the toilet and the to shower, you showered the whole room!! So, they provided flip flops for you to wear into the bathroom to shower because the whole floor would have water on it. At least this would be a quick way to clean the whole bathroom at once! Anyway, I did feel a little skiddish in this place, but I felt safe on the bed and looked forward to morning!
Well, I went to turn off the light in our room and saw some large thing sitting on the bed post right by Randy's head (my glasses were off) and I thought, "what is that brown thing"?....yes, as soon as I thought it, I realized it was a monster cockroach!!!! Randy said, "Hand me a shoe, quick!" as he kept an eye on it, I handed him a shoe (his, of course!) and I looked the other way. He whacked the bedpost and MISSED the cockroach......that almost cost our marriage!! the thing was loose under the bed. He chased it out and finally got it, and then flushed it down the he thought....after all that drama, I headed for the bathroom and to my horror, it hadn't gone down the toilet....TOO BIG! (Not really, the toilet just didn't flush well!) Anyway, most people wouldn't consider this a big deal, but it was traumatic for me!!!! I was very glad when Monday morning came and it was time to get up and head to the Jubilee Exhibit.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Military Honors and All Grandchildren at Funeral for Herman Aikele
Atha and Herm in St. George, Herm on His 4 Wheeler, and Herm at Their St. George Home
Herm and Atha on Honeymoon, Herm as a Young Man

On October 16, we received word that my father had passed away. I knew when I hugged him the last time that it could be the last. It was. My mom asked me to write the life sketch since I wouldn't be able to be with them. Each of dad's five children gave a tribute to him, so I wrote mine and our daughter, Erika, read it at the funeral. Below is the life sketch and my tribute to my dad.


Just before midnight on March the 10th 1924, a baby boy was born to Andreas and Josephine Partington Aikele. The name they chose for him was Herman….a fine German name. As a young boy, Andreas had emigrated from Germany to the U.S. with his family. Josephine’s family had also emigrated to the U.S. from England. A common bond brought them together….their conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Herman joined 3 sisters; Helen, Agnes, and Lucille. His older brother, Lamont, had died 3 years earlier from a heart disorder caused by rheumatic fever. Later, two more siblings would be added to the family....Don and Juel. Herman described his early childhood as a very happy time. A frequent activity in the summer evenings was a game of croquet with his sisters and mother. They played almost every evening while they waited for their father to return from tending water. Other activities they enjoyed as a family were going to movies on Saturday night, going fishing on Sundays, and singing together while Helen played the piano. He remembered his mother reading to him out of good books and his father reading the comics to him out of the newspaper every week when he was very young. A favorite of his was the “Will Rogers” column in the newspaper. By age 6, he was trusted to ride their gray saddle horse, named Flax. He loved to ride her because he could reach up and pull her head down to the ground and she would allow him to climb on her neck and then she would lift him up to her back. At that same age he was given the responsibility of milking one cow each night. He was quite proud of himself to have strong enough hands to accomplish this task. Herman also had a favorite dog named Scottie that was his constant companion. At age 6, he found one more thing he loved… He really enjoyed going to school and learning through all of his years of education. The “Old Home Place” as Herm referred to their farm in the Lost River Valley, required a lot of hard work to keep up, so he was given many responsibilities at a rather young age. By the time he was 10, his father had taught him how to drive their Model A Ford. He drove all over the farm assisting with the farm work. Also, at that age, his dad bought him a .22 rifle and he was given the assignment to “keep sage hen on the table” and he did. It was his job to skin them and dress them out and then his mother would do the rest.

Herman was very active in the scouting program as he grew up. He also loved sports and played on the varsity teams in both football and basketball during his last 3 years of high school. At the same time he was playing sports and keeping up with school work, he had the full responsibility of running the milking machines morning and night for their 2 dozen milk cows. Each morning on his way to school, he hauled 10 large cans of milk to the cheese factory...then on his way home in the evening, he would pick the empty cans up and then drive around to the back where he would fill 10 old milk cans with whey to take home to feed to their pigs. This was a big job!!

After graduating from high school, World War II was in full swing. He worked for a year with his dad and then in November of 1943 he enlisted in the Navy. Incidentally, this is when he saw that his birth certificate said he was born on March 11 instead of March 10....of course, his mother knew the 10th was correct, but he decided to follow the legal date and celebrated his birthday on the 11th for the rest of his life! Herm scored very high on the eligibility tests the Navy gave and they assigned him to an Electronics School in Chicago. He had very intense classes in electricity, math and science. He was shipped to Hawaii for more training but before he had had any combat experience, the war ended. He made some great friends during this time, and received a top notch education. He also gained a great love for his country and was very patriotic throughout his life. After his service was up with the Navy, he went home to pursue a relationship with a gal he had met during the summer of ’43. Her name was Atha Pearl Murdock. He was pretty much “smitten” from the first time he met her. They dated seriously the summer of ’46 and were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple on Oct. 2, 1946. Herm’s mother had passed away after a long illness the week before their wedding. Herm and Atha took up farming, gradually buying their own land from his father, building a home, and eventually added 5 children to their family....Andra, Eric, Carla, Kurt, and Lin.

The Aikeles were very industrious.....Atha sewed and canned everything, and Herm knew how to build and repair almost everything. They had many enjoyable activities as a family, such as; fishing, camping, swimming, ice skating, 4-H projects, and just working together on the farm. Herm always enjoyed music and he became involved in singing with a barber-shop quartet with Paul King, Burns Beal, and Vernal Jensen......he sang baritone. They sang together in many places for several years. (They could actually be back singing together even as we speak!!) Much of the families’ “schedule” centered around this quartet. It was a very happy time. Herm and Atha held very dear the friendships they had with other couples, beyond those in the quartet. Among some of the closest associations are friends such as Lynn and Gloria Barnes and many members of the Lost River Ward and Johnny and Wanda Palmer, with whom they spent many great vacations together. Palmers and Aikeles went together on a time share house boat at Lake Powell. The Aikele children and grandchildren share many fond memories of the summer vacations at Lake Powell!

Herman was very community minded.....probably influenced by his father who served as a state legislator for several terms. Herm served many years as chairman of the school board and also as a Butte County Commissioner. He also served on the ASCS Board and the Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Fame Board. While on the School Board he took the entire family twice on trips to pick up new school buses. They rode the train to Chicago and then went to Indiana and picked up the bus and saw sites all along the way back home. These trips were pretty big deals!!! make up for NEVER taking the family to Disneyland!!!! Hahaha!

In 1964 they struck out on a new adventure and started a business in Arco called Arco Feed and Fertilizer. That pretty much dictated their life schedule from then on! It was a good business and they really enjoyed the friendships they developed with so many people. In 1973 their son Eric joined them and together they worked hard to serve the people of the Lost River Valleys. Today Eric manages the business Herm built and manages the farms as well.

Herm was always glad Atha had come into his life.......his mother had given him strict counsel when he left home, that he was to “find a good Mormon girl and marry her in the temple”. His family had not been active in the church during much of his youth, so meeting Atha brought with it a desire to go to church and see what it was all about....he is eternally grateful. He held many callings in the church including serving in the bishopric, on the High Council and in the Young Men’s organization, but his favorite was always teaching.....especially the Elder’s Quorum class. These callings helped to increase his testimony and helped to develop in him a testimony of the work of the Prophet Joseph Smith for the restoration of the Gospel in the latter days. The “icing on the cake” of his church service was the opportunity he and Atha had to work as temple ordinance workers in the Idaho Falls temple for 15+ years. In 1994, they were called to serve full time as missionaries in the Wellington, New Zealand Mission.

Dad was always so grateful they had gone on their mission at the time they went, because soon after this, he began having health problems.....first with his eye sight, which ended up being Macular Degeneration..........and later he was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease. Soon he was unable to drive anymore....but that didn’t set him back too much.....he could still tell Atha how to drive....and that he did (he became quite obsessed with the importance of seat belts)!! She was learning much about patience during this time! This also allowed him plenty of time to listen to talk radio....he and Rush Limbaugh became very close friends....soon he added Shawn Hannity and Glenn Beck to his circle. He learned so much valuable information from them and was more than happy to share his knowledge with anyone that would listen. He also loved to watch his favorite movie, Roman Holiday, over and over and over again!!! Atha helped add balance to his days by reading to him; he loved to listen to the scriptures, the Ensign, or great historical novels, he especially enjoyed reading about American History. He really enjoyed this time with her. In his later years he is fondly remembered by his grandchildren for his “patent, award-winning duct-tape shoes” built strictly for comfort.

In his later years he is fondly remembered by his grandchildren for his “patent, award-winning duct-tape shoes” built strictly for comfort.

After several years of pulling a trailer to St. George for the winter, they purchased a small home where they could enjoy the nice weather during the winter months and also be close to Andra and Jim. Their family, which had grown by this time to include 25 grandchildren and 65 great grandchildren, enjoyed so much visiting them there! It became the “stop over point” for those going to or coming from Disneyland!

In his final years Dad’s health challenges progressed but he proved to be a very strong willed man....always determined to stay here in mortality so he could take care of Atha. She was ever his vigilant care giver. One night when he thought he wasn’t going to live to see morning, he awakened Atha to tell her how happy he had been his whole life with her and that marrying her in the temple was the best decision he had ever made. He expressed his deepest love for her and the family they had created together. In early October Atha underwent a knee replacement surgery and it was the one time when she was away for any length of time. Herm’s health was rapidly deteriorating and he must have finally decided it was okay to go; he passed away very peacefully on Sunday evening, October 16, with his Atha Pearl beside him, holding his hand.


It is a privilege for me to pay tribute to my dad. I knew immediately when I was told that he had died, that I was to stay on my mission. This is where he wants me to be. I could write pages of memories, but I will share a few that stand out.

When I was 6 or 7 years old, television had become quite popular (it was the latter 1950’s), and my family loved to sit together in the evenings and watch whatever was on the ONE station! Actually, the rest of the family enjoyed television, while I enjoyed styling my dad’s hair. He had the nicest, thick, dark brown hair and the style of the day for men was wearing it long on top and combing it was perfect. As soon as he sat down in his comfortable chair, I pulled a chair up behind, along with my equipment....a comb, bobby pins, barrets, elastics, rollers, and a glass of was such fun for me.....and he was so nice to me.....turning his head a little this way or that....and even holding things for me until I asked for them. This was typical of his kind nature.

Christmas was always a fun and much anticipated time at our home. By the time Andra, Eric and I were all in grade school, it was just so hard to stay in bed on Christmas morning until the alloted hour when we were allowed to get up.....4:00 am......we just couldn’t go to sleep. Well, one year the 3 of us had a plan....we would sneak out and see if Santa had been there and if he had.....we would all go out and play with our new toys until 4:00 am, and then we would go back to bed and pretend we just woke up!! The door to our bedroom squeaked, but if you jerked it very quickly, it didn’t squeak....sooo...once we could hear that mom and dad had gone to bed, we all creeped to the door and, I am sure it was Andra, jerked open the door very fast, only to hear the biggest crash of pots and pans as they hit into each other and came crashing to the floor! Oh, yes, dad had rigged a booby trap so they would know if we tried to go out early. How do parents know these things!!!! We heard him and mom laughing and dad said “Back to bed!!!” It was the longest night ever!

As another Christmas was approaching, we had a very big secret with our dad.....and we could not tell our mother......he was building her a desk of her own for Christmas. He wouldn’t even let US see it, because he wanted to surprise us also! Every night he went in his work room in our partially finished basement, and locked the door, always winking at us kids because we knew the secret! We were so excited for Christmas morning to we all went to the living our unbelievable surprise...there was not a desk for mom, but three desks for Andra, Eric, and me with drawers and the whole works!!! It was the best surprise ever. To top it off, later that morning I was looking through the drawers and there in the bottom drawer was a bridle of my very own....I didn’t even have a horse....but when I would go to ride one my grandpa’s horses, the bridle would always be gone and I would be sad. This was one of the kindest and most thoughtful gifts I had ever been given.

Dad, I felt so privileged to grow up with you as my dad. You were honest, and kind, and loved our mom. You insisted we use proper English and have good manners.....and did I mention.....respect our mom!!!! Not showing respect to mom was the way to get in trouble really fast!!! You were always so kind to animals (except once you slapped our milk cow on the rump when she stepped right into the bucket full of milk!!) and I never heard you swear (except one time at Lake Powell and we deserved it!!!) You were such a great example of Christ like love.....nice to everyone and always willing to help others. You served faithfully in the Church and had a strong testimony of the restored gospel. Those last years when life could not have been that fun for you, you were ever pleasant and kind and positive. Thank you for your example. I absolutely know that you are now on the other side of the veil continuing in the Lord’s work. I look forward to when we will all be together again......we will have such a great time! I love you, dad....and from the Philippines.....Hanggang sa muli ('til we meet again).


Elder Bell, Elder Holland, E/S Bird, Elder Callister
E/S Bird, Elder Holland, Elder Callister

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, we were privileged to listen to Elder Jeffery R. Holland (Apostle), Elder Tad R. Callister (Presidency of the Seventy), and President Michael J. Teh (First Quorum of Seventy and Area President), speak to us. Most of the time was left to Elder Holland. He taught us about the big picture of running this church. We sometimes feel like we are not that important, like a single dot on a page of dots, but when you step back and look at all the dots together they form a beautiful picture like the old dot matrix printer. He mentioned that most of us don't get to see the big picture---but the Quorum of the Twelve do...and it is an amazing experience. Sometimes small things can seem so insignificant, but later when you see the results of these seemingly insignificant events, it is so humbling to see how the Lord's hand is in all of the details of His church and of our lives, if we will allow him. We must trust him with our lives and don't get discouraged if things sometimes seem unimportant or mundane!! He also shared the story of Gideon from the Old Testament (Judges 7) to show how the Lord just needs the willing, dedicated followers to accomplish his work. Gideon told his little army to just "look on me and do likewise" and they would be successful. Elder Holland then told us to look to the prophets and we also would be successful. We need to follow their example. Our children should be able to "look on us" and follow our good examples. That was pretty much his was very inspiring. He was a very personable and friendly each of us got to shake hands with him and he chatted with Randy and me for a few minutes about the death of my father that had taken place the day before.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Senior Missionaries, younger Missionaries (Elder Tyler Haws) and Volunteers Filling Bags of Rice for Typhoon "Pedring" Victims

(l-r) 1. Wall of Water Coming from Manila Bay to Roxas Blvd. 2. U.S. Embassy Flooded 3. Overview of Manila Bay Water 4. Flooded Streets of Bulacan Province 5.Roxas Blvd. Manila
On our way home from Angeles on Tuesday, September 27, we noticed that the rains had begun to increase in intensity. By the time we reached one of the two good highways in the Philippines (Northern Luzon Expressway or NLEX) we had lots of rain and wind. There was very little traffic....a few large semi trucks were hold up under over passes to wait out the storm. We learned that Typhoon Pedring, a category 3 typhoon, was now moving inland over the area. We felt our car move across the road a few times from the wind, and the trees on the side of the road were bent over by the force. Water poured across the road and often, tree limbs came rolling across the road as well. We were blessed to drive all the way back to our apartment in Mandaluyong without any incident. We later learned that the area we had visited was severely flooded. NLEX was on higher ground and didn't suffer like those in the pictures above. Over 50 people died in this storm and thousands were flooded from their homes. Even many of our missionaries in the Angeles mission were affected by the storm, but all were kept safe and lived on their 72 hours kits that the Mission President had stressed each have. Sister Martino (Mission Presidents wife) told us that her husband had felt very impressed last August that each missionary have a 72 hour kit and their own cell the time, only the zone leaders had cell phones. They promptly responded to that impression and their missionaries were so blessed. Later that week, we had the opportunity of putting on the yellow "Helping Hands" vests...recognized all over the world as the church's humanitarian efforts.....and taking a Saturday to bag rice and clothes for the victims of this flood. It was quite a privilege to take part in this service. We truly feel blessed to be in this land.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


(l-r) E/S Bird and Angeles Missionary, Sister Bird and Lorie Pangan (SPAD), Public Affairs Committee and E/S Bird, E/S Bird and Pres. Briones (Angeles Stk. Pres.) Elder Bird w/ Pres. Briones in Front of 2nd LDS Chapel in the Philippines

President Briones Teaching Mayor's Wife About the History of the Church in the Philippines

E/S Bird with Angeles Stake Jubilee Committee
We had another wonderful experience in the Angeles Stake and Mission. They were very organized and had invited many leaders from their communities. President Briones, prior to the ribbon cutting of the Open House, led a group of reporters through each of the Jubilee Exhibit panels explaining our beliefs. This was aired on television the next day. It was great!! On Sunday we attended church in one of the ten wards/branches in the Tarlac area. The map looked like it was only 40 km. away so we ventured out and lo and behold, it took an hour and a half. The Church directory also said Church started at 9:30 a.m. but when we arrived sacrament meeting was just coming to a close. Church had started at 8:30 a.m. We were still glad we had made the effort because we so enjoyed getting to visit with the members there. They were so friendly and everything was taught in English. Yahoo!! Also, it was on this slow, "curvy" road that we happened upon the "Bataan Death March Memorial". Another highlight of this trip was a lovely dinner and visit with President and Sister Dave Martino (Angeles Mission President). Sister Martino and I grew up in Arco, Idaho and attended the same schools. She was a Baptist at that time and took seminary determined to straighten out her "Mormon" friends. It was fun to hear about her conversion to the Gospel and seeing how the Lord has guided her life. They are from Texas now. Also at the dinner was the office couple, Elder and Sister Jewkes. This was the first Jubilee Exhibit that we were able to drive our car to. That was so much fun....Elder Bird drove and I enjoyed looking around, as usual. What a great life we are having!

Friday, October 7, 2011


Bataan Death March Memorial at Capis

The Bataan Death March was the forcible transfer, by the Imperial Japanese Army, of 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war after the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II, which resulted in the deaths of 11,000 prisoners. The march was 97 km (60 mi) long. They were given no food or water for the first three days. The monument at Capis reminds us of their arrival by rail after the deadly march to Balanga and then on to San Fernando. At San Fernando, they were packed into train cars (100+ per box car) and taken to Capis. From there they faced another march of nine miles to Camp O'Donnell, which had been turned into a holding camp for prisoners, and there they remained until the end of the war.


Holiday Inn Clark--We Stayed Here

(Pics l-r) Gate to Clark Memorial Cemetery, Main Gate to Clark AFB, Clark Cemetery w. Mt. Pinatubo Volcano in background, Sign on cemetery gate, two grave markers with visible signs of arsenal hitting the markers.

Clark Air Base is a former United States Air Force base on Luzon Island in the Philippines located 3 miles west of Angeles City, about 40 miles northwest of Metro Manila. Clark Air Base was an American military facility from 1903 to 1991. The base covered 14.3 square miles (37 km²) with a military reservation extending north that covered another 230 square miles (596 km²).The base was a stronghold of the combined Filipino and American forces until it was overrun by Japanese forces in early January 1942. The base then became a major center for staging Japanese air operations. Japanese aircraft flying out of Clark participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, considered to be the largest naval battle of the Second World War. During the war, the Allied prisoners of the Bataan Death March passed by the main gate of Clark Air Base, as the soldiers followed the direction of the railway tracks north, towards Camp O'Donnell. Clark Air Base was recaptured by Americans in January 1945, after three months of fierce fighting in the Philippines. Clark grew into a major American air base during the Cold War, serving as an important logistics hub during the Vietnam War, and until 1975, it was a backbone of logistical support during the Vietnam War. The base was later closed due to the refusal by the Philippine Government to renew the lease on the base. After extensive damage from the Mount Pinatubo eruption, the Philippine Government attempted to reopen base lease talks, but terms could not be reached and the lease was not extended. In November 1991, the United States Air Force lowered the Stars and Stripes and transferred Clark Air Base to the Philippine government. With the United States military's withdrawal from Clark, the base was systematically looted and was left abandoned for several years. It finally became the Clark Freeport Zone and the site of Clark International Airport (CIA), renamed to Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in 2003. It is also the home of a very nice Holiday Inn.....where we stayed during our visit to Angeles! It was amazing how it felt like being in the U.S. as soon as we passed through the main gate......wide roads, a 36 hole golf course, regularly spaced traffic lights, and well marked street signs, just to mention a few things we noticed right off. It was a great experience being here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Kick Off Celebration...Mayor of Caloocan (center in red)
Filipino Dancers
Sister Goss and Sister Bird with children in Caloocan
Children of Caloocan
National Family Week is a very big deal in the Philippines! Each year a city is designated as the "host" city for the event. They spend a year planning a big opening ceremony to kick off the week. Every community does something to celebrate the family. Our wards and branches combined the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Welfare Program with the family week events. Most did wonderful service projects in their areas. Anyway, for 2011 the host city was Caloocan, located about 15 miles to our North. It took us 2 hours to get there.....we were so lost! Elder Goss drove while Elder Bird sat in the front passenger side and navigated. Sister Goss and I sat in the back and mostly laughed the whole time. It is the Filipino culture to always say "oo" (yes) if you ask if they know how to get to a location, and then they point you the way. We kept stopping and Elder Bird would get out and use his little tagalog and ask someone if they knew where the Holy Rosary church was with the big pavilion in the back. They all knew exactly where it was and directed us....always the opposite way from where the last person directed us. It became so many little crowded side streets that you could barely get through with absolutely no clue where we were! We were just ready to try to find our way out of the maze and head home when suddenly there it was right in front of us!! We were an hour late and the place was packed with standing room only. Well, you would have thought that the four of us were royalty....someone from the organizing committee saw us as we walked up and stood along the side, and immediately several people came to us and escorted the four of us to seats on the second row from the front. We were brought drinks and snacks and shown such heart was so touched that I thought I was going to start sobbing before I got to my seat. I knew it wasn't "us", but the church whose tag we wear.....they love the service this church gives to them, and especially our values and support to strengthening the family. It was a sweet and very humbling experience. They honored several people for their contributions to the family, the mayor spoke, the runner-up to their equivalent to American Idol sang, and some amazing dancers performed. It was wonderful. Afterwards, we saw a group of children that lived close by to where we had parked the car playing a card game. We gave them our water and they were so excited to be in our photo....they love to see themselves! It took us another two hours to get home, but what a memorable experience we had.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


(l-r) Saba, Variety of Fruits, Papaya, Seniorita Wrapped in Banana Leaves
(l-r) Roni and Deo, Yes, it was my birthday!, Deo Serving Turon to Pres. DeLaMare,
Rambutan (spiny reddish outside/white fruit inside)

Ampalaya, Saba, Turon, Latundan, Lacatan, Rambutan, and Atis are just some of the fruits and fruit dishes in the Philippines. For the Senior Missionaries' Zone Family Home Evening, we invited Roni Bertone and Deo Divinagracia (both good friends of Leni's who work at the PAO) to come and teach us about the fruits of the Philippines and what to do with them. This activity was actually thought up by our former Director, Leni Pilobello, before she passed away.....and just as she suspected, it was a favorite for everyone. Who knew there were so many different kinds of bananas...... certainly not me! Or that an avoacado is rarely used in a salad or sandwich and can be round and purple? We were shown a great variety of fruits, how to prepare them, recipes for their use, and given samples of everything to taste. It was an educational and entertaining evening for all.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


President Michael Teh with Catholic Bishop Tobias
Back row l-r (Pres. Ardern, Pres. Nielson, Pres. Teh (Area Pesidency), Elder Goss PA Office, Doug McAllister (Church Legal), Manny Baul (Family History Director)
Front Row l-r (2nd from left Bishop Tobias, others are priests and staff)
Bishop Tobias of the Novaliches Diocese, along with several Catholic priests, visited the Manila Philippines Area Office under the invitation of our Area Presidency. As part of their visit, they toured the MTC, the Manila Temple grounds and foyer, and the Family History Center. Elder Bird had the privilege of walking from the Public Affairs Office over to the temple and back with them. As they took the underground walkway, he explained the pictures that hung on the walls. Many of them depicted events from the life of Christ while the final two were of the First Vision and Christ Visiting the Americas. Elder Bird explained the First Vision and also how we came to be known as Mormons..... none of the visitors had known and all were curious. After hearing the explanation one of the priests said, " Oh, so "Mormon" was a man....a person".....and Elder Bird replied, "Yes, a prophet of God in the Americas". We helped with the luncheon and also prepared some nice gifts for them. They were all very kind and receptive.