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Would A Family Like This Entice You To Stay Home For Awhile?

Would A Family Like This Entice You To Stay Home For Awhile?

We have come to the end of “Our Philippines Mission”. This will be the last post of a very eventful eighteen months. We left our cozy apartment on the Manila Philippines Temple grounds early Saturday morning. President and Sister Wong, together with Elder Dial, drove us down the busy EDSA highway in the rain and delivered us at the airport with several hours to spare. Our plane left Manila at eight am. We arrived in Portland at around four-thirty pm the same day (I’ll let you think about the math for awhile).

Who's Who?

Who’s Who?

We were greeted by our fans with screams, shouts, claps, balloons, welcome signs and life-size “norma and gary” cutout fans as the grandkids raced down the ramp with open arms. Our entire family, with the exception of Ben, who is on a mission in Texas, was gathered for the noisy event.

Following dinner at IKEAs we settled in for a few week’s stay at the Scrogg’s home.

We met with President Rigby at eight-thirty Sunday morning and received a Release from the Mission, prior to attending meetings at our Ward. In some ways it felt like we had not been absent for the eighteen months. Driving around on uncrowded roads also seemed natural as did gathering the family to “break the Fast” with a pulled pork dinner later in the afternoon. I guess this all gives us assurance that we are again in the right place at the right time.

Peek-A-Boo

Peek-A-Boo

The most common question we receive is: “Are you here to stay, or are you leaving for another mission?” Our answer is: “We are not planning on leaving for another mission, but we will do what we are called to do.”

That’s all for now.

We love you all.

Where's Waldo?

Where’s Waldo?

Mom and Dad

Good Bye

Another Temple Sunrise

Another Temple Sunrise

Eighteen months ago we entered the MTC in Provo, and were greeted with six inches of snow. Nothing like that has happened over here in the Philippines, though moisture has fallen in other formats – sometimes it just hangs in the air; hot air at that.

The beauty of the Philippines could not exist in a “snow” climate, so for those of you that do, we are sending a few images of what you are missing. These are some of our favorite spots in the Philippines.

We are finishing our wonderful mission in the Manila Philippines Temple this week and look forward to being with our family back in Oregon. As it was when we left Denmark two years ago, we are sad to leave our many friends here, but we are excited to be with the family again. We can’t have both at the same time.

We have worked hard while we were here and were tired at the end of each day, but we were blessed with health and energy to meet each new day with eagerness to serve. If you haven’t tried “adult missionary service”, you should.

That’s all for now.

We love you all,

Mom and Dad

Elder and Sister Larsen

 

Storm Season

Getting Prepared

Getting Prepared – NBC

We are in the monsoon season which also means the typhoon season.

The typhoon season is the same as the hurricane season in the Western Hemisphere; June through November. You may remember my birthday last year when “The largest storm ever recorded in the history of the earth has caused almost total destruction on the Visayas Islands of the Philippines.”  As reported by the RT News, November 8, 2013.

The largest typhoon ever to touch China did so yesterday, after leaving the Philippines, where the “eye” of the typhoon (Rammasun) passed through Manila.

The largest fire, the largest flood, the largest earthquake, the most destructive tornado. Why is the earth being hit by frequent mega storms?

Yes, I know, “global warming”. What about “global warnings” which were given almost two hundred years before “global warming”, to say nothing of the warnings, which were given thousands of years ago.

“For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.

“And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.”  D&C 88:89-90

“. . . and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”  Matthew 24:7

What to do about it?

 

Manila Bay - NBC

Manila Bay – NBC

That’s all for now.

We love you all,

Mom and Dad

Elder and Sister Larsen

 

Life Above Wawa Dam

A Smiling Young Member Of The Village Welcoming Committee

A Smiling Young Member Of The Village Welcoming Committee

Above the Wawa Dam is a bamboo village built along the riverbank path and hugging the slopes of the Sierra Madre Mountains. It follows the river for several kilometers. The bamboo “squatters huts” sit on view property worth thousands of dollars per plot if it were for sale. The government owns the land and the villagers are simply allowed to live there. Last week’s blog included some history of the dam and some photos of what’s below the dam.

Enjoy the views!

That’s all for now.

We love you all,

Mom and Dad

Elder and Sister Larsen

Below Wawa Dam

Water Spilling Over The Dam

Water Spilling Over The Dam

The slightly arched Wawa Dam is flanked by the limestone walls of the 1,180 foot Montalban Gorge. The quiet Marikina River, the huge limestone rocks, the caves, the villages and the vistas are beautiful sites through the lens of my camera. These views of the sometimes-called “Wawa Gorge”, a water gap in the Sierra Madre Mountains, east of Manila, is inspiring.

“Local legend has it that Bernardo Carpio, a figure in Philippine Mythology, was once lured into a trap here by the Spaniards. Employing the powers of a shaman, Bernardo Carpio, being a giant, in one version, was trapped in between two rocks in the Wawa Dam site. As proof of which, it is said that his hands or feet have been imprinted on the rocks. Local lore also says that one of his teeth was found in a cave.”

It was built in 1909 during the American colonial era to provide the water needs for Manila. It became a battlefield during the Japanese occupation. Many Japanese soldiers died here defending this holding point when the Amercans retook the area.

The dam ceased operation in the 1960’s.

That’s all for now (The village above the dam next week).

We love you all,

Mom and Dad

Elder and Sister Larsen

A Tender Mercy

Temple Entrance Gate

Temple Entrance Gate

A Temple Experience on June 26, 2014

We assisted a young East Indian missionary from the MTC to be baptized for some of his ancestors in the Temple today.

A Tender Mercy:

The MTC schedule allows the missionaries to attend the Temple twice while they are in training, once to receive their own endowment and again the next week to experience the Endowment Ceremony a second time. Their MTC schedule is otherwise very full.

It was the “every two week” schedule of Own Endowments for the Asian missionaries.

I was assisting with the first phase of the Endowment. The first scheduled group consisted of seven young missionaries from India.

While the last of the missionaries was waiting on the bench, I asked where he would serve his mission and he said, “In New Delhi”. Then I asked if he was born in the Church. He was eager to respond and said, “No, I am the only member in my family and I have been a member for 18 months.” He said he had received many blessings. Then he said he had brought Family File cards of his ancestors with him so he could be baptized for them, but the MTC had not given him any hope that he would be able to do that in light of the tight schedule of activities. He commented, with sadness, that he probably would not be able to return to the Temple again after returning to India.

I am a “Cryer” and it is becoming more chronic as I age. I frequently shed a tear or two when the young missionaries from the surrounding Asian countries come to receive their Endowments. Today was no different; however, with this young man, it became necessary to turn away to face the corner because my emotions were turning to sobs. Because of the curtains in the room, I don’t believe he was aware of my condition. It was then his turn to begin the ceremonies.

I placed an asterisk by his name so I could distinguish him from the others. When I was finished with my responsibilities, before returning to the apartment, I called the MTC to inquire of the possibility of this missionary returning sometime during this week to have the opportunity of being baptized for his ancestors. The President of the MCT indicated that if the Temple could arrange it for sometime before 4 pm today, they would see to it that he return to the Temple for a brief period of time.

When I came back to the Temple at 1 pm for my service on the afternoon shift I found that his Family Search cards had been processed and he was scheduled to arrive at 1:30.

He brought a friend from his home branch as his companion who acted as the Baptizer and he was baptized for eight of his ancestors. This was followed by he and his companion participating in the first phase of the Endowments for his family members. This will be completed when he returns on Tuesday to personally attend his second Endowment Session. He and seven other young missionaries will be the proxies for his ancestors as they receive the completion of the Endowments. Then he will return to India for his two-year mission in New Delhi.

Yes, a Tender Mercy.

I came back to the apartment and began to relay, to Norma, the emotional experience I had. As I retold the events of my conversation with the young missionary, there didn’t seem to be any reason for emotion and the account seemed to fall “flat”. This caused me to think more deeply about what had happened. Why was I so touched then and not now?

I will back up a bit.

For the past month’s sessions with the young MTC missionaries, I have been assigned as the Initiatory Coordinator. This is definitely a simple, one-man job of keeping order in the process. Today I was asked to train a brother who will fill this position after I finish my mission. I was never trained for the assignment, and the brother who was to be trained could have fulfilled the assignment without my training, so as I turned the job over to him, I was left with time to talk to the young missionary from India.

As with talking to any of the MTC missionaries, it would have been easy to feel emotional about the spiritual experience we were having, so to have tears form in my eyes would have been normal; however, to become so emotional as to begin sobbing, and wetting a complete Kleenex, was out of the ordinary.

What was happening?

I have concluded that this young man’s ancestors were there, helping to move along the process of establishing a time to conduct these important ordinances for them.  1. I was free to talk with the young man. 2. Because of my emotional experience, I felt an urgency to call the MTC.  3. We were able to set in order the Temple schedule for the ordinances.  4. We got permission to have him excused for a short period.  5. I was free to assist with an unscheduled Baptismal Service and coordinate the Initiatory process.

What’s a Tender Mercy?  A blessing of spiritual assistance to accomplish the Lord’s purposes in our lives.

In this example, the spiritual assistance is blessing the life of a faithful young man who is doing the work of the Lord. These are the Lord’s reminders to us that He knows us and loves us.

We love you all.

Mom and Dad

Elder and Sister Larsen

Arts And Crafts

Southern Luzon

Southern Luzon

Quilting, Knitting, Embroidering, Beads, Pearls and Carving are some of the “Arts and Crafts” that are popular here in the Philippines. A “collectors” activity for many of the Senior Missionaries is shopping for these items.

As many of you know, we are not much for collecting, so we shy away from many of those kinds of excursions. At least, I do. Norma has been known to frequent such places, but more for the social activity than for buying anything; however, she has purchased a few pearls.

A while back we took a “Day Trip” to the Laguna area of Luzon. We visited the town of Pila to view the Spanish Colonial remains in the town. The other event on that trip was to drive to the neighboring town of Nagcarlan and visit the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. After a late lunch we traveled back to Manila.

One of the more popular “Day Trips” for the Senior Missionaries over the past years is the canoe ride up the Pagsanjan River and a bamboo raft ride under the Pagsanjan Falls. Because of limited time, we could not take in that activity while we were visiting Pila and Nagcarlan.  We drove the well traveled road back to the Laguna area a few weeks later, even passing by the wood carving Villages of Pakil and Paete without stopping, again because of time.

Some of us experienced climbing the Taal volcano in the Laguna area a few weeks following the Pagsanja Falls trip.

This brings me to this week’s blog. It deals with the Laguna area again. This time the objective was to visit the towns of Lumban, Paete and Pakil, after stopping by the Makiling Botanic Gardens on our way. Lumban is known for its concentration of shops featuring embroider crafts. The towns of Paete and Pakil are home to many wood carvers. One of these is a man who carves “nativities” and other religious objects including Liahonas and other Book of Mormon carvings.

We were not in the market for any of these crafts so you will notice that my blog galleries deal more with nature and the small town streets and structures. Hope you enjoy the four separate galleries.

That’s all for now.

We love you all,

Mom and Dad

Elder and Sister Larsen