(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 years.....it 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 Mayon.....it was very interesting to watch, but was all in Tagalog...so 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.