Courtyard at Iloilo Church
(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 CeremoniesOur 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 testimony...it 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!!!