Thursday, September 22, 2016

February 2016

An UPDATE on the Pagtambayayong Foundation hog farming project in conjunction with the PEF-ABEL program we have been introducing through our areas.  We got wind that the foundation was not fulfilling their obligations to provide piglets, feeds and purchasing of the piglets.  Mary Ann has been investigating this along with Elder Bock to see if we can get to the bottom of the rumors.  Sadly everything we have heard has been confirmed so we have put a HOLD on this program until Mary Ann and Tony can meet with the foundation to get some assurances. We just will not put the members in harms way with loans when the foundation cannot assure them of all that was agreed upon.

This will disappoint the members in Bogo but in hindsight it may be a blessing as our members are not quite ready to move forward as yet.  After seeing other options for hog farming I think the Self-Reliance Managers are rethinking their approach.

This has put a damper on the entire "Contract Growing" concept of the PEF-ABEL program.  Mary Ann or Manager has asked us to discontinue introducing or pushing this program until further notice.  If someone ask about it we can give them the bare concepts but we are not to endorse any program or encourage the members one way of the other.  SAD since a lot of time and effort was put forth with no success.  I have on several occasions tried to relay to the powers to be that they had the cart before the horse.  They needed to go back and really review the 5 year hog farming proposal I presented to them in the very beginning.  In that proposal I recommended that we develop crop feed plots first so that we could reduce if not eliminate commercial feeds for the hog farmers.  From what I am hearing in the wind they are thinking in that direction and are beginning to see the error of their ways by rushing into this program with no clear due diligence having be done.

Sadly we will most likely not see anything develop or any benefits from all the months of time and efforts we have put into this project.  Will it ever happen, right now I give it a 40/60 chance that it will but certainly not while we are still serving.

I spoke of the new Priesthood Driven Initiative launched last month by Salt Lake and Manila. We have been in the midst of developing our presentation before we reintroduce the Self-Reliance Initiate with its several changes to the program to our units.  As I mentioned we will be training this Priesthood Driven Initiative through Self-Reliance/PEF Firesides and we will be  training the Stakes/District Self-Reliance Committees who will in turn will train their Wards/ Branches.  We are presenting three phases; Self-Reliance as Priesthood Driven, The Three Self-Reliance Commitments and 2016 PEF.

This training will most likely take all of February and some of March before it is completed since we have been told that we are not to INITIATE these firesides but are to suggest to the Priesthood that they do so then and sit back and wait and see who responds and who does not.

During our first staff meeting for February held on February 2nd we spent the majority of the time reviewing the Fireside Presentation Mary Ann had developed.  Together all of us made good recommendations, suggestions and presented ideas for consideration where with we added and deleted from her presentation coming up with one everybody could agree upon and felt good about.  May Ann will check with Salt Lake about some of the figures on one slide before we put it to print as they say.  All in all we are moving forward hoping to meet with as many Stake/District Self-Reliance Committees to make our presentation so they can train their Bishops/Branch Presidents.  We are turning a majority of the training over to the Priesthood as directed by the Area Presidency and will stand ready to assist them in any way possible.  Our Stakes/Districts are still moving forward with Devotionals and Graduations so our days are beginning to fill up for February.  GREAT!!!!!!!

Today is Monday February 8th and it is the celebration of the Chinese New Year here in the Philippines.  We got up early took our regular 3 mile walk and then at 8 AM went to the Marco Polo Hotel for a  Chinese New Year celebration with dragon dancing and firecrackers.  Here are just a few of the pictures we took.






After that we went home to dig into our self-reliance labors for the day. 

HAPPY VANENTINES DAY. Jenee had made arrangements for us to attend a Valentines program for our festival celebration.  We joined up with Elder & Sister Manning, temple missionaries from Duchene Utah.  After picking them up we drove to the Lakwatsa Resto Lounge where the event want being held.

The evening was titled "Music Filled with Love" which had four vocalist singing.  The main attraction for the evening was Windey Prado-Avendano who is one of the top ten renowned female vocalist in the Philippines. She sang songs from the opera, the 50'-60, classical numbers and a meadley of Broadway productions that was out of this world. Two of the other vocalist were Lila Alora (11) and Ralph Mallapre (19) along with Zennith Rivery a well know male tenor here in the Philippines a dear friend and singing partner of Wendy. Every body but Zennith are members of the Mandaue Stake here on Cebu.

Lila Alora as a 11 year old  had a voice of an trained adult.  Ralph a young upcoming tenor is leaving on his mission on February 26 so this was his swansong evening.  Windey Prado-Avendano had the voice of an angle, so exact, so clear and angelic throughout.

Here are some pictures of these wonderful performers.

Windey Prado-Avemdano
Lala Aloba

Ralph Mallapre

Windey & Zennith

After almost two hours of wonderful and delightful musical renditions they ended with Windey and Zenneth inviting someone from the audience to ome on stage and dance with them to the music of the night.

You guesses it. With Jenee pointing her figure at me and calling out my name Wendey came down from the stage and invited me to join her.  It was fun to say the least.  After the evening was over we gathered for a group photo opportunity.

Our much anticipated weekend in Tagbilaran has finally arrived.  Friday the 19th Mary Ann Balen, Sister Hargraves, Jenee and I boarded Oceanjet for Tagbilarian at 2 PM.  We arrived at 4 PM and checked in at the Metrocentre Hotel for a little rest before our first meeting at 7 PM.

On our way to our meeting we stopped at Shakeys Pizza to pick up 4 pizzas to take to the meeting for those who would attend.  We waved down two tricycles and with two in each we headed out for the Stake Center. It took us about 10 minutes to get there and when we arrived the parking lot was all lighten up with tables and chairs filled with YSA youth from both Calape and Tagbilaran.  We were informed that they we having their YSA Valentines Get together.

We were greeted by the Stake President who informed us as to what was happening and cordially invited to his office where our meeting was going to be held. We discovered that those who were to join us for pizza were already having dinner with the YSA which was much nicer than pizza.  So we sat back and enjoyed our pizza while waiting for the others to finish with their meals and show up.

At about 7:30PM Sister Carolina Belarmino the Stake SR Specialists and her son Marben the Chairman of the SR Committee arrived. We spent the next hour and a half going over the events coming up on Saturday as well as covered some additional self-reliance matters. The excitement is becoming contagious so we are really looking forward to Saturday.

Saturday the 20th we were up for breakfast at 8:15 AM and then on to the chapel by 9:30 for the Grand Opening of the Tagbilaran Stake Self-Reliance Center ceremony which was to start at 10 AM.  We have been encouraging the Stake ever since we arrived to open a Self-Reliance Center but with other events interfering we were just excited and happy that it is finally happening.  Hurray for Everybody!!!

We were actually quite surprised at what the Stake SR Committee had planned. Their efforts for this Grand Opening event were beyond our expectations in fact extraordinarily arranged and we could not have been more proud of everybody's efforts.



After the Graduation ceremony and the ribbon cutting was completed they served lunch to all the visitors and dignitaries who attended. A tour of the SR Center was given to all the visitors which became a very nice missionary tool.

After lunch it was planned to hold a Training session for the Self-Reliance Committee members, Ward Specialists, Facilitators and Stake Presidency. We were ahead of schedule so at 12:30 PM we started the training meeting which lasted until approximately 3:30PM.  Mary Ann the SR Manager conducted the entire training as they had requested that it be done in Cebauno.  Sister Hargraves, Jenee and I just sat in the back listening but only understand 10% of what was said.

Mary Ann did an outstanding job presenting the SR training materials which included the new 2016 SRS/PEF "Priesthood Driven" concept.  There was a lot of interaction between those in attendance and Mary Ann.  We just wished that we could have understood what was being asked and the answers given my Mary Ann. It was our intention this go around to let the leaders ask questions so as to clarify any matters or concerns rather than us just making a presentation. However both was accomplished. Mary Ann's presentation along with a lot of questions and answers throughout the meeting was just what the SR leaders asked for and we felt they went away understand much better their roles and responsibilities.  We are now looking forward to great things in the Self-Reliance Initiative to take place in the Tagbilaran Stake going forward.

We came away with a deep sense of accomplishment on our efforts to reach this important moment in the Self-Reliance work in this Stake. It may have taken longer than we had desired, but we could not have been more thrilled for what they had accomplished this weekend.  Kudos to everybody involved who put forth much time and efforts to make this weekend such a success.

The end of the month is here and is going out like a lamb.  Not much happening with Self-Reliance but we are enjoying our time serving the Cebu temple. This Thursday and Friday every sessions was filled to capacity with members from the Davao Stake located on the island of Mindanao.
Earlier this months we contacted each of our Stakes/Districts asking for the opportunity to come to their areas and present the 2016 SRS/PEF Fireside to their Self-Reliance Committee and Stake/District Presidencies. We have completed three of our six and are still waiting for the remaining to notify us.  

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