Monday, August 22, 2011


Anna Lenore H. Pilobello (1959-2011)
Cebu Temple Dedication

Top Left to Right 1. Bro. and Sister Pilobello and E/S Bird 2. Leni's casket at viewing
3. Floral Arrangement from Department of Public Affairs 4. Elder Bird w/ Leni's Father at Leni's casket 5. Internment of Leni (workers filling in the grave) 6. Balloons let fly following burial 7. Casket at funeral

Leni's Last Appearance at the Office

Leni's Casket Prior To The Funeral

Fun Times on Leni's Birthday
On August 19, 2011, Anna Lenore H. Pilobello (Leni) passed on from mortality. She had been the director of Public Affairs for the Philippines for the past 15 years. She fought a tough battle with cancer for 2+ years. Although we only knew her for 4 1/2 months, we learned so much from her and have many wonderful memories. I will share a few:
  • Sense of humor--the first day we walked into the Public Affairs Office, we were shown where our work stations would be, and Leni had left a "welcome" gift in front of Elder Bird's computer. It was a nice wooden box about the length of a pen.....he opened it and was very unexpectedly surprised by a box of very fine cigars!! Everyone had a big laugh...including us. They were a thank you gift to Public Affairs from a mayor in Manilla. Leni said, "I don't think he did his homework on the church before sending those!!" She was always copying to us funny little cartoons or stories she had read....usually from the U.S. At her funeral, many of her friends commented about the times her big smile would suddenly become a "mischievous grin" and they knew she was up to something.
  • Filipino Culture--Leni took every opportunity to teach us of their culture. When it was her birthday and we wanted to have a party for her, she taught us that in Filipino culture, the one with the birthday gives the party...preparing the food and planning all activities and invites all of their family and friends. Hmmm...if only I had known this "birthday tradition" earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of work and money!!!
  • Always Be Prepared--We learned about a day at the Cebu Temple Openhouse, when a very boistrous man wanted to cause a scene out in the parking lot. Leni walked right over to him, and in a kind but firm way, proceeded to defend and set right every false accusation he was charging the church with.....she not only knew correct doctrine but also facts and figures about everything he brought up. He was so shocked that he couldn't say anything. He got on his bike and rode out of the parking lot.
  • Intelligence---I have learned that not All of the most intelligent people are born in the U.S. (not that I ever thought they were!) Leni had a brilliant mind and a photographic memory. When we went through the seating arrangements for 225 VIP guests, she looked through it once and could tell us after that, where every single person would be seated!! It was amazing!
  • How to send Formal Letters--I have never been a secretary, and although I did get an A in Beginning Typing in high school, I did not arrive in the mission field prepared. Leni would say something like, "Sister Bird, I notice Senator So and so had a child die. Would you please prepare a letter of condolence for her from this office "...that meant she would sign it. Then I would say, "Yes! I will do it right now". Then I would walk out of her office and say....."Randy! Help!!....I only know how to create agendas for relief society meetings!" He taught me his way and I learned a few things from another secretary at the MPAO, and now I know the CORRECT way.....and, yes, I do keep a copy of one on file just in case!!
  • Poverty is no Excuse for Failure--Leni told us of growing up in poverty. Her father held a very good position in the Philippine Army and took out early retirement. He had a very good pension that would provide well for their family. An Aunt talked him into investing his money in a "sure" deal. He unwisely invested all of it and lost all of it! They had 5 children and 1peso a day to live on (the Aunt gave them the peso each day). Her father was a very proud man and this was so hard on him. A short time later the missionaries taught the family and all were baptized. Leni said that when things like youth conference and girls camp came up and they needed some money, they would scour the neighborhood for weeks doing odd jobs to earn the money. In school she studied very hard and went through all of her schooling on scholarships. Her mother had such faith. She would tell all of the children to get ready for church on Sunday morning.....they would wonder why, because they knew there was no money for the jeepnie ride. Once they were ready, her mom would say, "now, let's find where the money has been left". They would look through the drawers, furniture, cupboards, and purses and every time someone would find pesos where they knew there had been none before. This happened many times in their family. Leni said she learned at a very young age that she needed to do her part and the Lord would take care of the rest.....and He always has.
  • Rice-- It is not a meal unless rice is served! Anything without rice is "merienda" (a snack)!
  • Endure to the End: Right up until the day before she died, Leni was on her computer emailing us at the office. She was on top of everything and gave it her all until the very end. She loved her job, but she loved the Lord more and was willing to submit to His will.
  • "Ingat"--And finally, the last word she spoke to us as we left her hospital room a week before her death......"Ingat".......the Filipino word you say to your friends when english it means..."Take Care...see you later". Ingat to you dear Leni.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Courtyard at Iloilo Church

Iloilo Provincial Capitol Building

Sign Upon Entering Iloilo

(l-r) Bro. and Sis. Cozzins (PADs) with Pres. Pastor Torres, Opening Ceremonies Entrance,
Elder & Sister Bird with Pres. Ryan and Sister Christine Pagaduan (Mission President of Iloilo), Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo Speaking at Opening Ceremonies
Our director, Leni, called us and said she wanted us to travel with the Jubilee exhibit to every mission in the Philippines. We were originally going to just attend the first exhibit traveling the northern missions and the first exhibit traveling the southern missions. There are seventeen missions in the Philippines, so that means we would travel at least twice a month for the next seven months. Soooo...our next stop was in Iloilo City (pronounced: ee-low ee-low). It is located in the southeastern corner of the island of Panay. It was so beautiful and green with several rivers running through the city. Our hotel was above a small mall, with a supermarket located on the bottom level.....yipee...we bought snacks!! When we arrived it was raining “cats and dogs”. On Sunday we attended the Iloilo City Ward.....a wonderful strong ward. One of the sister missionaries assigned there was from Richfield, Utah. She was so happy to see us....some pale faces like herself. They had five investigators there. It was beautiful weather when we walked into church and then about 15 minutes into the meeting it started pouring. It was so loud that we couldn’t hear the speakers. We thought how peaceful and safe it is inside, when outside the tempest is truly raging!! Very much like how our lives can be with the gospel and yet living in the world. The testimonies born in this meeting were wonderful....many mentioned miracles in their lives and how much they trust and love the Lord. One man told of being in a bad place in his life many years ago....and as he sat pondering how miserable he was the thought came to him of this church that he was a member of, and that at that moment, he had the feeling of great joy go through his whole body, and he knew where he needed to go. It started his road back. He now has a son back from a mission (very handsome!) and one serving in Manila and then his youngest son, about 9 yrs. old went up and bore the sweetest most humble was the first one in the meeting. A young mother walked into the meeting late, with 3 young children. They were all soaked!! She just took a small towel out of her bag and wiped everyones head off. In R.S. the 2 yr. old and 5 yr. old were getting difficult, so from my purse came 2 small childrens books kept just for such an occasion, and that helped alot. The last 15 minutes were getting bad again, so out from my bag came a little bag of Cherrio’s, and.....wala....all was content to the end!! Cherrio’s work in all languages!!! We felt truly uplifted by being there. Many prayers were being offered up on behalf of the weather cooperating for the opening ceremonies of the Jubilee Exhibit. They had it planned for outside the chapel, and then the ribbon would be cut and we would all enter. This is appropriately called the "rainy season" here in the Phippines and we learned that we were getting rain from the outside edge of a typhoon passing by. The mayor was coming along with many other VIP’s and all were hoping for a change in the weather. It had rained straight for 5 days, except that brief moment on Sunday, so how our hearts were filled with gratitude when we awakened to sun filled skies on Monday. Over 150 Saints gathered to sing, view, and support the opening ceremonies. The mayor of Iloilo along with the vice-mayor, and three of their city council attended. The mayor spoke and then cut the ribbon to the exhibit. We had a wonderful time visiting with them...all spoke English and wondered if we knew Larry Bird!! In answer to that question, Elder Bird always says "Yes, he is my brother"! The immediate response is "REALLY"? Then he admits the lie and they have a good laugh and the ice is broken......this has truly happened so many times! Basketball is very big here! Anyway, Mayor Jed Mabilog and the other VIP's attended the exhibit and loved it. I had a sweet little experiencer with one of the city councilmen that I will share. Just before the mayor spoke, President Yparro (pres. of other Iloilo Stake) welcomed everyone and made a few remarks sharing very briefly some of our beliefs......he made a comment about the family being eternal. This councilman leaned over to me and said, "Did he just say that the family is eternal"? I smiled and said, "Yes". He leaned back in his chair and just let out a long sigh, and said, "That is the most amazing concept ever"! He was very attentive to everything.
President Torres was telling us that he sits on a council with government representatives and also several other ministers and the purpose is to strengthen the family in their province. Each has been given a month this year to post a thought on the family that is displayed in all government buildings. His month is coming up and he is displaying the Proclamation on the Family. It will be read by many. It is a privilege to be here at this time!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Sister Bird at Binalbagan Stake Center Where Jubilee Exhibit Was Hosted

Our Hotel Room And A Funeral Procession (next 3 pics)

Elder Bird, Pres. Antonio (stk. president), Old Catholic Church,
Fisherman At Work, and Sister Bird and Stake P.A. Director, Sis. Presas

Bacolod, Unusual Sign, Panel Committee, Children And
Elder Bird, Vice Mayor of Isabella, Grand Opening of Open House,
Sister Bird and VIP's at Opening Ceremony

Saturday morning, July 23, we flew to the city of Bacolod. The travel department had arranged for a car to pick us up and drive us to Binalbagan, about a 2 hour drive south along the northwestern coast. The airport is a ways north of Bacolod and I had just mentioned that I was quite impressed with the roads, when we hit the first pot hole! And that was it......pretty bad roads all the rest of the way. It would not have been such a worry if the van that picked us up hadn't been on its last leg!! Oh, yes, the driver would have to shift down constantly and then many times he had to work and work to get it in gear again. Whenever there was a stretch of open clear road, he would floor it, and we were literally flying.....and no seat belts!!! I did have a constant prayer in my heart and I must admit that I did not feel nervous! It was quite funny......and one more new experience! We were staying at the Southgate Inn in Kabankalan (another 30 minutes south of Binalbagan). We stopped at the Stake Center in Binalbagan for an hour. They had just completed the setting up of the exhibit.....they did it perfect. They were so gracious and welcoming to us. The Stake President was young and so competent. Randy used a couple of Tagalog greetings with the members and they all had a cofused look, then President Antonio told us they speak Ilongo on this island!! Most of them spoke pretty good English....we were very grateful. Anyway, they had things very under control so we visited and then headed for Kabankalan. The Inn where we stayed was quite new and seemed just fine. The only down was that the shower would only give you a dribble of water. It took forever to wash my hair! Randy didn't tell me until we got home that he had killed two cockroaches in our room!!! It was pretty rainy the whole time we were there. On Sunday morning we attended one of 3 wards there. The bishop was 36 years old and had been the bishop for 8 years! He was just the neatest guy.....he spoke very good English and was the final speaker in Sacrament Meeting. He bore such a strong testimony of this church and the gospel of Jesus Christ......the Spirit was so strong in this meeting. We met his wife, who is pregnant and due in Sept. and his 5 yr.old daughter. He then told us that last April, their 7 yr. old daughter had died very suddenly from a brain aneurism. He and his wife were both gone at the time. Their nanny and the 5 year old were there. He was emotional telling us about it. He said their 5 year old keeps asking them when she will get to see her sister. He said that now they look forward to the 2nd coming of our Savior even more....they know she is theirs.In gospel doctrine class, we asked how many had grown up in the church (this was a good sized class) and not one of them had grown up in the church......ALL were first generation converts to the church. The former stake president asked us to share what it was like to grow up in a family that all belonged to the church....that was humbling.
The children were so adorable, as usual. I will tell a little about Sacrament Mtg. a little 4 yr. old girl sat on the end on the pew where we were sitting. She sang the hymns and kept looking at me. After the sacrament, I motioned for her to come sit by me. She did. I had a couple of children's books and some paper and a couple of pencils. Soon a couple of her friends were by us also.....and the children behind us had longing looks on their faces, so I passed them a book, which they started to read out loud all together.....I had to shh them!! Basically, I had to make an effort to not be a disruption to the meeting......OH, those Senior Missionaries!!! Several of the children came into R.S., and were a distraction to their mothers, so, of course, I dipped into my bag and soon they were all sitting by me. I took care of a total of 5 AND tried to listen to the lesson...reminded me of years gone by!! Anyway, they looked at all of the books, drew pictures for me, ate a bag of Cherrios, and had several squirts each of Mango Hand and Body Creme! The little 4 yr. old was named Trixie and her grandparents are raising her because both of her parents work in Manila. She kept looking at me and asking me questions. All I could do was smile because I had no idea what she was saying.....I am sure she wondered why I wouldn't answer her! After the meetings, we were in the halls just visiting with people and this little Trixie came and found me 3 different times to hug me again and say "bye". I felt sad to leave her.
Monday morning was the first blue sky for the official Open House to begin. There were several VIPs from the neighboring towns.....mayors, councilmen, barangay leaders.....and everything went perfect. As I have said before, the exhibit really is beautiful, and prior to going into that, we viewed a short film about the history of the church in the is so good!! Our hearts were so touched by the dedication of the members here.....they are saints! Here was our missionary experience of the weekend: The man that was our driver spoke little english so we didn't talk much, but he was very polite and punctual. We met the owner of the vehicle when she came to the Inn to get half of the money from us. Well, Monday morning when we got in the van, there was this lady and a friend of hers in the back.....they were riding to Bacolod with us. We told them, sorry, but we would be stopping in Binalbagan for awhile on the way. They smiled and said no problem. When we arrived at the church, I told them they were all very welcome to come in....that there were some beautiful displays about the Savior. We were then busy with the people we needed to see and when the meeting started in the chapel.....sure enough, all three of them came in and sat down. Later, I noticed them viewing all of the panels and then they were invited in with the VIPs to have refreshments. They really enjoyed it. We definitely had a language barrier with them, but I saw lots of the members of the ward visiting with them and answering their questions. It was good. We were grateful to arrive back in Manila, because a tropical storm moved in and it has been raining ever since. We feel so blessed all of the time. I am truly inspired by the members here.....their Stake Public Affairs director was 51 years old and has taught early morning Seminary for 25 years.
Below is a copy of the text we received from their Stake President the night after the exhibit was over. It is typical of these wonderful saints.

"To our beloved missionaries: We had great experience and joyful feelings to be remembered ever more that we were part of the 50th JUBILEE EXHIBIT. In spite of the heavy rains of 5 successive days but it didn’t stop the people to visit in the exhibit. There were 730 attended. 430 nonmembers and 300 are active members and few were less active. 44 VIP’s including 2 vice mayors and 5 SB. Everytime when I viewed the 7 mins. video, more tears came out in my eyes as tears of joy for the restored gospel. As we say goodbye to panel board, we say to ourselves, see you in 2061. Truly our faith strengthened, and motivated us to dedicate ourselves in building ZION. We will send our narrative report regarding JUBILEE EXHIBIT. Thanks and good evening."