Sunday, July 31, 2011


Elder Bird Showing Entrance to Jubilee Exhibit

First Four Panels Used in the Exhibit

Second Four Panels Used in the Exhibit

Ancient Israel was commanded to celebrate every 50th year, since their delivery from captivity, as a Jubilee year. Many special things happened in that year as a part of the celebration. 2011 is the 50th year since the restored gospel of Jesus Christ was introduced in the Philippines......thus it is a Jubilee year. Much celebration and much service is being done all over this land. It is significant that Elder Teh ( member of First Quorum of the Seventy and a Filipino) was assigned to be the Area President. We feel so very privileged to serve a mission here during their Jubilee year. Since the Church History Jubilee Exhibit is a large part of what we are now doing in the Philippines, I wanted to show briefly what they entail. Click on each collage of pictures to enlarge them. The order they should be viewed is upper left to upper right and then lower left to lower right. They are numbered 1-8 below so you can read what each panel is about. (Example: #1 would be the first collage picture upper left)

1. This introductory panel briefly traces the history of the Church from the time of Joseph Smith and fast forwards to the arrival of the Church in the Philippines. It starts with the arrival of LDS servicemen in 1944, marks the dedication of the land for the preaching of the gospel by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith at Clark Air Base on August 21, 1955, the special service conducted by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley at Fort McKinley on April 28, 1961 to commence missionary work in the Philippines and the consequent arrival of the first four missionaries from Hong Kong on June 5, 1961.

2. This panel emphasizes the central role that the Savior Jesus Christ plays in Latter-day Saint doctrine. It also shows the link between the New Testament and The Book of Mormon by showing Christ’s visit to the Nephites after He described them in John 10:16 as the “other sheep.”

With this panel, we want our non-LDS friends to realize that we are truly Christian and that we follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. One of the most important aspects of the Latter-day Saint way of life is the importance we place on families and our belief that “families are forever.” All of the programs and other activities in the Church are held in order to prepare individuals and families to enter the temple and participate in sacred ordinances.

The sacred nature of these ordinances requires that only qualified members of the Church (those who have been baptized for more than a year and satisfy strict requirements as determined by the bishop) may enter the temple and take part. Holy covenants are entered into and frequent temple attendance is recommended to help members stay true to these covenants.

4. Latter-day Saints believe that the “family unit is the most important organization” and that all gospel-teaching should aim to improve the quality of life at home.

This panel depicts various activities that families do at home in order to help strengthen individual testimonies and family relationships. When religiously done, these activities will result to a home that serves as a safe haven from the trials and temptations of the world.

5. This panel reveals the answer to the three golden questions about the purpose of life. Where did I come from? Why am I here? What happens to me when I die?

All these questions are answered in the great plan of happiness, God’s plan for our salvation. It emphasizes the importance of knowing that we lived with our Heavenly Father before we were born on earth and that he devised the plan that would give us the opportunity to live on earth and gain physical bodies. Life on this earth is meant to be a test to see if we will develop our faith in Him and keep His commandments. After this life, if we have proven ourselves faithful, we will gain entry to His presence once again.

6. As believers in the concept of the restoration, we affirm that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the exact same Church that the Lord Himself established when He walked the earth.

This is why we have in the Church today a living prophet, apostles and other leaders serving in the various offices of the priesthood.

7. Believing that one of the purposes of life here on earth is to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, one of the most important values fostered among Latter-day Saints is to care for others with charity, which is the pure love of Christ.

Latter-day Saint Charities, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is an application of Jesus Christ’s admonition to help the needy. We have sponsored relief and development projects in 167 countries. This assistance is rendered without regard to race, religious affiliation, or nationality and is based on the core principles of personal responsibility, community support, self–reliance, and sustainability. The assistance we render is made possible by generous donations of cash and in–kind materials from members and friends of the Church.

8. This final panel will be dedicated to the local area where the exhibit is being displayed. The stake or district organizing the exhibit will have to do extensive research on the early days of the Church in their city, municipality, province or region.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Java Inn

Some "Relatives" We Met Here!

Elder Bird at the Java Inn

First Time to Hold an Adorable Filipino Child

Children Playing on a Sunday Afternoon

Beach at Hannah's Resort...South China Sea

First "Trike" Ride

The Java Inn Sights

Sights on Our Way to Kabigan Waterfalls plus Bojeador Lighthouse

Here is our tour around the area of Laoag. Our driver, Alfred (47 years old....yes , we asked.... asking someones age is considered very acceptable here!) said he knew just where to take us in the time we had....we realized we were being very trusting, but we made sure everyone at the front desk at the hotel knew where we were going! We went along the northern coast line of the Philippines. It was so beautiful to see the ocean on one side and the beautiful plush green vegetation on the other. After about an hour and a half of driving we arrived at the oldest lighthouse in all of Asia, the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Alfred stayed with the car and we hiked up to the most beautiful view ever out across the ocean... the South China Sea. It was so beautiful and sooo windy. From there we drove to the famous Kabigan Waterfalls....and yes.....another hike....this time a mile each way. It was such a beautiful hike and would have been perfect if it hadn't been so hot and Elder Bird hadn't been wearing flip flops which wore blisters on his feet. I was so grateful I had my umbrella with me to help against the heat in some of the open areas. We were so glad we made me think what the Waters of Mormon may have looked like. Along the way we saw rice fields (it is the planting season), Carabao, a white Brama cow and calf, and such beautiful scenery. We then drove to Hannah's Beach Resort and sat on the sandy beach in some shade and just relaxed (and tried to cool off from the hike!!) It helped and I felt much better when we left. It was a fun area and since no one was there (it is the rainy season so very few tourists), we had it all to ourselves for the most part. We then rushed back to the airport in time to learn that our flight had been delayed. Much to our surprise, on the same flight were Pres. and Sister Odgers (from New Zealand), Laoag Mission President and wife, headed to Manila for his/her yearly check-ups at St. Luke's Hospital. We had a very enjoyable visit with them while waiting for our flight to arrive. All during this trip we had many opportunities to share the Gospel message...and we did. We left pass along cards or article of faith cards with hotel staff, tour guides, taxi drivers, and our guide on the hike to the falls. He was a very nice man and was grateful we came because it's how he makes money to feed his family. Elder Bird asked him if he was a Christian. He said "No, no, no, he was Catholic"! So we let him know that he was, indeed, a Christian. We had a good laugh with him.

A few "firsts" we had in Laoag:

  • Our first ride on a Trike....this was from the church to our Hotel. Several were lined up wanting our business. I chose this guy because he had braces on his teeth and sunglasses so I thought he might be a little better off and not kidnap us for ransom. We knew the way back, so when suddenly he turned down this dark dirty alley, I looked at Elder Bird with the look of "Oh, great, what are we going to do"?......and sure was a shortcut!!!

  • My first time to hold a little child since leaving my own little ones....they are mostly a little afraid of us....we look when I held out my arms to her, she looked at her dad and he nodded approval, and she reached out to me!! I was so happy.....I wanted to hug her tight and kiss her on the cheek.....but I controlled myself and just talked to her a minute and then gave her a sticker of Jesus. Now I am content.

  • The first Jubilee Exhibit.

  • The first close-up of a Caribou.

  • Our first walk up an unknown street into a barangay.....we could see it behind our on Sunday afternoon we decided to walk up there. Lots of people came out of their homes and looked at us.....we waved to them and they waved back. Then we saw some children playing....soooo cute.....and I held up my camera and they smiled and sat together on a wall for a picture. They were so excited when I showed it to them. These are wonderful, beautiful people.


Pictures of Laoag Jubilee Exhibit

On July 16, we hopped on a plane and flew to Laoag for the very first of the Jubilee Church History Exhibits that will now travel to 32 locations throughout the Philippines. This is Phase 2 of the Jubilee Celebration. Phase 1 was the Jubilee Cultural Celebration held the end of April and middle of May. Our job was to see that the exhibit arrived intact, see that the designated stakes could assemble the panels by following the instructional DVD that was sent, and be there to observe the opening of the exhibit. We arrived safely in Laoag. We were immediately struck by its beauty. Laoag is located on the northern tip of the Philippines just across from China and Taiwan. This area is famous for its beautiful beaches. We checked into our Hotel, the Java Inn. It was a very unique place.....lots of extras in the planning to make this stand out and be a fun place to stay. The shower had hot water, but none in the bathroom sink. We got settled in and headed for the LDS Stake Center. Let me just say that the Jubilee Event in Laoag was done right. The stake public affairs director had everything organized and followed the instructions we sent perfectly and then some. She said they had met as a Stake Public Affairs Council along with the Stake Presidency member over them, and the Stake Relief Society President, a few months ago to plan this event (sounds like a council to me!) Each ward was assigned a day to staff the event and to also assemble one of the panels. The panels were assembled, set up, and then ward members praticed what they would say about the pictures located on each panel. I was touched by their devotion, dedication, and desire to make this a success for their stake and community. The Laoag Mission President, President Odgers from New Zealand, came and assigned two sets of missionaries to be there each day to help make this a success. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Monday where the wife of the mayor came and spoke to those gathered and then cut the ribbon opening the week long open house. She was 41 years of age and did a wonderful job. She spoke of how much she felt the love of those in attendance and was happy she could speak about spiritual things and not political things. We sat with her and after she was presented a picture of the Savior (red robe one) she held it close to her heart. She also graciously went through all 8 panels and was very complimentary. We attended church at two of the wards and felt a great love for these people. They are so kind. Following the Open House opening ceremonies, we went back to the Java Inn, packed up our things, and checked out. We now had six hours until we needed to be at the airport and no place to go and no car of our own.....soooo....we made a plan......we hired a driver/tour guide and said, "Show us the sights for the next 6 hours". And he did!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The Patrick Esmundo Family Demonstrating a Family Home Evening

Our Family Crest (39 is the Number in Our Family)

Elder and Sister Bird Holding Family Crest at Family Enrichment Training

A Collage of Pictures Taken at Family Enrichment Seminar
The Family Enrichment Training Seminar has been in the planning for over a year. Leni (Public Affairs Director of the Philippines) sits on the board of the Department of Social Welfare with emphasis on how to strengthen the Filipino family. She first approached BYU about producing a FHE book that would be non-denominational and could therefore, be used by ANY family in the any country/government. They did it, and sent many copies in Tagalog to the Philippines. Saturday, July 9, was the presentation on how to plan, organize, and carry out a family night. This was presented to the National Committee on the Filipino Family along with the heads of about 8 sub-committees and some volunteers. It was so successful......these people were amazed at what we do in our families one night a week. Leni taught them how to organize it, what you do.....everything....she brought in a family to demonstrate a FHE.....they were perfect.....Mom, Dad, four children....ages 14, 12, 6. and 3. The 14 year old conducted, the 3 year old wandered around getting into everything.....she wanted to play with the screen behind them, then wanted the mic that her brother and parents were using....and was so happy when treats were served! It was so endearing!!! The people in attendance absolutely loved this. After the demonstration, they asked the parents lots of different questions. A few weeks ago, Leni had assigned the Goss's (other missionary couple in PA) and us to make a family crest/shield from the pattern in the FHE book to be shown and explained at this was lots of fun. I also showed a family calendar (ours!) as another idea of something to do to keep a family close. The Goss's shared a FHE experience from years ago that used only little toys that their children already had. Later,the group was divided into small families and they made their own family crests and got to share with the group the meaning of each thing they had put on theirs. My heart was so touched as I watched all of this interested in making the Filipino family strong.....value based.....with strong spiritual bonds. One sister, (not LDS....none of them are), was so excited, because she is the rep from her barangay (like a county) and they are just waiting to be taught the concept of a "family night"! I had such a strong feeling that these people are being prepared for the second coming of the Savior.....they are good and want good things. It is the most wonderful thing to get to know these people. One woman came over to me at the end and said so sincerely with her hand on her heart,"My heart is so touched by this experience today....I can't wait to try it." That's their assignment.......each is to incorporate this into their own families for the next 10 weeks and then they will be meeting to discuss. Their goal is to learn how to do a FHE and then be able to teach it in their own barangays. We have heard back from a few that held their very first Family Night and were so amazed at how much their children loved it.......they can't wait for the next week. It is just so sweet to see this inspired program working and blessing the lives of many of our Father's children.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Lunch at the Manila Hotel

The Douglas MacArthur Suite at the Manila Hotel/The Original Residence of General MacArthur Prior to W.W. II
The Historic Manila Hotel

The Manila Hotel was visited by us and three other senior missionary couples this week and a lovely time was spent there. We had a Filipino tour guide that took us to the Antiquities Room of the Hotel and then on to the MacArthur Suite which was the residence of General Douglas MacArthur prior to W.W. II. This hotel has hosted dignitaries (Presidents, musicians, and actors) from 1935 to present day. We saw pictures of most of them in the antiquities room. We also ate lunch at the hotel... we had an enjoyable clam chowder with a very unusual but tasty club sandwich. We then drove by the Vice President of the Philippines home and on to a place called Dam Good Stuff, Inc. ...yes, that is truly the name. It specializes in fresh water pearls, jewelry, and other attractive "stuff". They are the wholesaler for many countries around the world. Many pesos were spent there.