Friday, March 16, 2012


Philippines Missionary Training Center

Elder Bird Teaching Area Presidency, Elder Haws Poses with Youth, President and Sister Taylor Greet Visitors, Sister Bird with Sister Taylor, Elder Ardern Sits with Visitor, Missionaries

View of New MTC Outside

Masses Visit the New MTC

View Inside New MTC

March 5-10 was the Open House for the new Philippines Missionary Training Center (MTC). It was a wonderful and exhausting week. Missionaries come here from India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines, speaking 7 different languages. They bring with them an interpreter that is fluent in English and, of course, their own language. This is not a language training center...if one of these missionaries was called to a land where they would need to learn a new language, they would be sent to the MTC in Provo, Utah. Besides having the opportunity to go to the temple, they spend 19 days here learning about missionary work. Most of them have never been away from home before. Everything is taught in English, and these missionaries wear head phones while their translator sits in a very high tech booth and translates from English to the native language. Four languages can be done at one time. It is so amazing to see! They then go out to their respective missions on a Wednesday and the following Saturday, a new batch arrives and it starts all over again. This MTC accommodates 144 missionaries at a time. The old MTC is now being remodeled. It will house the cafeteria, the residences for the MTC President & wife, and MTC nurse and spouse, the Missionary Recovery Center (MRC), and the office for the mission doctor. It is on schedule to be completed the first week of July. Then the entire MTC will be dedicated.

The tours were scheduled to begin Monday morning at 10:00 am. This would be for all of the media people in the metro-Manila area. Randy and I had been assigned to take the Area Presidency (Pres.Teh, Elder Nielson, from Twin Falls, and Elder Ardern, from New Zealand) and their wives through the tour at 9:00 am, because they would be leading all of the tours from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. That was very enjoyable...they are all talented and humble men and women. We invited around 50 from the media. After the tours, they were treated to a very nice luncheon set up in the court-yard of the MTC. Monday evening was the VIP tours, which consisted of government officials, business heads, and community leaders....including the Housing Association Presidents in this area.....there are several, very upscale, gated communities right around the area of the MTC, and we wanted to invite all of them to come and see what was built in their midst! Also, invited Monday night were all of the senior missionaries....including those serving temple missions. Around 250 were invited and 200 came. President and Sister Taylor (George and Debra Taylor from Provo), the MTC President and wife, were the hosts for this evening. They welcomed everyone, and the young full time missionaries took them on the tours. This group was also treated to a beautiful and delicious spread of Filipino dishes and drinks. All of Asia is very well known for knowing how to treat their guests well!

Tuesday- Saturday tours were under the direction of the Quezon City Mission President (yes, our President DeLaMare), because the MTC is located within this mission. What a privilege for us and all of these young missionaries, to have this MTC completed during our service here. It is truly like a 5 star hotel (except no room service!) There is a beautiful, huge laundry room on each floor of the residences. Most of the missionaries have never had access to washers and dryers, and must be taught how to use them. Each residence (4 missionaries) has its own bathroom with all modern conveniences. Sister DeLaMare told us that some of the missionaries had come out of the MTC with cuts on the tops of their heads. She finally asked what had happened and found out that they were trying to bath under the faucet in the bathtub, not knowing that you pull that silver knob up and you have a shower!!! Now they make sure the missionaries are instructed on how to work the shower at the MTC!

The schedule for the rest of the week was the general public during the day and youth from the various stakes in the evening. We helped with the youth tours each night....they were the best! Each night we had from 600 to 900 youth come. It was amazing! Each tour lasted about 30 minutes, ending in the Joseph Smith room to hear Elder Tyler Haws (BYU BB Star whose mission is up in about 3 weeks). This started with the youth watching a video, that the Church made, about Elder Haws choosing to serve a mission. It can be seen on Youtube. Also included was a clip on missionary work by Elder Holland and one by President Monson. At the end of that, Elder Haws spoke to them and bore his testimony. The Filipinos love basketball! It was truly a most inspiring meeting. He is such a good and humble young man.....and SO grateful he chose to serve a mission! Everything went perfect like clock work for the tours until it was over and the youth (and leaders) were all to exit to the right out of the Joseph Smith room with the next huge group waiting in the hall on the left to come in and be seated. Well, instead of exiting, everyone headed to the stand and wanted pictures with Elder Haws and his autograph. Oh, Boy, what a challenge!!! Sister DeLaMare and I just couldn't get them to leave....they were so determined to have a picture with him, but there was no time!! Randy described it perfectly.......have you ever tried to herd a bunch of cats or chickens??? Yup, that was how it was going!! We had to try several things before we found one that worked....he was escorted out of the room before releasing everyone. Then when the next group was seated, we brought him in. The other challenge we had was this: Each stake was assigned a time to bring their youth...4 to 5 stakes each that the numbers would be spread out through the evening. Instead of waiting for their time, all of the stakes came early....every single night and Saturday morning!! I think it is a Filipino thing because of the horrible traffic. No one wanted to miss this opportunity, so they all came early. On Saturday the youth tours went from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. We were there by 7:30 and the whole activity center (full sized BB court) was full. By 8:30 a line went clear around the front of the MTC with those just waiting to get into the activity center!! How crazy it was! We had 2100 go through the tour that morning! It really was a wonderful experience.

Before I end, I will share one little experience. On Tuesday I was asked to take a woman and her two children (12 and 10) on the tour. She lives in one of the nice housing areas and is from Maryland.....I think they are Methodists. She was so nice. As she read the Purpose Statement on the wall....she said," I cannot believe how many false things I have heard about your church! They are just ridiculous! I am so happy to learn the truth about what you believe and who you worship!" She loved seeing the many beautiful pictures of the Savior and even the pictures of the Fist Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Her 12 yr. old son kept saying, "Mom, I want to come here." "Can I come when I am 19?" The mom told him they would talk about it. I just had to laugh and put my arm around her, as she laughed also! She was so easy to be friends with. I love this church. Every day I feel that feeling from the Holy Ghost that it is true. By the time mortality is over we will be worn out and it will have been so worth it. I am truly grateful to be able to serve the Lord, whether it is here or at home....there is always much to do.


Native Dances of the Philippines Performed at Opening Ceremonies of Jubilee Exhibit
Sister Bird with Youth of Olongapo, Sister Monette at Opening Ceremony, ElderBird with Mayor Gordon of Olongapo
Enjoying the Sites of Subic Bay

On February 26, we returned from Stake Public Affairs Council/Area Seventy training for two days in Iloilo. On the 27th we were on our way to Olongapo, located on this island of Luzon, and about a 3 hour drive northwest of Quezon City. Olongapo was hosting the Jubilee Exhibit, so we arranged to do Stake Public Affairs Council training while we were there. The drive to Olongapo was very beautiful...more flat with some hills and much less jungle like. We saw mile after mile of rice fields and sugar cane fields. We drove through some small towns and villages. Along the way we noticed markers indicating that we were traveling along the route made famous by the American and Filipino soldiers during WWII called the "Bataan Death March". I mentioned the historical significance of this in an earlier blog. When we arrived, we stayed at a beautiful hotel located on Subic Bay. Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the United States Navy located in the Philippines. It was the largest U.S. Navy installation in the Pacific and was the largest overseas military installation of the United States Armed Forces after Clark Air Base was closed in 1991. Following its closure in 1992, as a U.S. Naval Base, it was transformed into the Subic Bay Freeport Zone by the Philippine government. Each night we ate in a very nice restaurant where we enjoyed beautiful live piano music. The first night the musician kept playing the most beautiful arrangements of songs that we recognized from the LDS Hymn book. I finally walked over to him and asked him how he knew those songs, and he said that a friend had given him a green hymnbook and he really enjoyed arranging those hymns. He was a very gifted musician.

The Jubilee Exhibit opened on Tuesday morning. It was a beautiful but hot day. The public affairs director, Monette, had prepared quite the program. It consisted of a local high school choir singing the Filipino National Anthem, groups from local schools doing native Filipino dances, music from a zone of LDS missionaries along with their Mission President, and talks by local dignitaries (Mayor, Vice Governor) and remarks from my husband. Randy had a good visit with the mayor after the opening ceremonies and he thanked us for the cleanliness and beauty of our churches and for the service the Church renders to his community. We then left the opening ceremony and attended the ribbon cutting to the exhibit. As we entered the cultural hall, primary children were singing the beautiful Jubilee song called "United". The Spirit was so strong as we entered. As the children got to the chorus of the song, this large group of youth stepped in behind the children and sang with was so very touching. We walked through the exhibit with the minister of tourism and a city councilor. We had a great time and were so glad that we were privileged to be there. In the afternoon, we did training for the PA Councils of Olongapo and the Balanga Stake. We had another beautiful drive back to Quezon City.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Senior Missionaries with Dancers at Barbara's Restaurant
Sis. Bird Dancing, Performing Groups at Barbara's, and Elder Bird Being Sung to for His Birthday
Barbara's Restaurant in Intramuros

For Valentines, our Senior Zone went to a place called Barbara’s Restaurant, which is located within the walls of Intramuros...meaning “the walled city”. We planned to spend time wandering around this historic area, but it was pouring outside, so we quickly ran into the restaurant and spent the evening there.

A little bit of information about Intramuros follows: It is located right near Manila Bay, beside the Pasig River. It was built during the Spanish conquest....started in 1590 and added onto by each new governor until 1872. It covers an area of 160 acres. The wall is 22 feet high and wide enough for a foot path. Originally it had an inner moat just inside the wall and an outer moat around the entire outside. There were a number of gates allowing entrance, and Fort Santiago was built to protect the walled city. It became the center of political, military and religious power during the time the Philippines was a colony of Spain. In 1941 with the Japanese take over, Intramuros managed to be mostly preserved, however, in 1945, as the Americans retook the Philippines, it was completely destroyed. Most of it has been rebuilt now. It is a beautiful, historic place to visit.

Barbara’s is one of the many nice restaurants built with the old Spanish influence. We had a nice buffet dinner and then were entertained by a dance group performing dances from both Spanish and Filipino eras. There was a point where the dancers asked for volunteers to come and try one of the dances...I immediately hid myself...that was the last thing I wanted to do!!! Sure enough, I was volunteered and went up! At least my feet managed to do the steps correctly, and soon I was back in my seat with my husband saying, “Good job!”

Everything else about the evening was lots of fun. Next to our table was the Ambassador to the Philippines from South Africa.....they had a group of 10. One of our senior missionaries, Sister Hardick, grew up in South Africa, so she approached their table and introduced herself. To all of our amazement, one of the diplomats had the same last name as Sister Hardicks maiden name...he treated her and her husband like long lost friends. They exchanged business cards and set up a time to get together again! What a fun experience that was to witness. We have such great friends among the missionaries...that makes all of our activities enjoyable.