Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Great Start To Our Mission

Our First Week At The Manila Temple

The Temple Gardner
We have just finished our first week at the Manila Temple.

There are more Filipino Temple Ordinance Workers assigned to the Temple on their respective days than Temple Missionaries.  They fill the Coordinator roles and the general leadership positions.  The various assignments are published each day for the two eight-hour shifts.  Though we can generally plan for the day according to the schedule, we use "flexibility" as our motto so we can adjust to accommodate the varied number of Patrons.  We have had the opportunity to participate and officiate in all of the various Temple assignments this week.

Presently we are assigned to the morning shift which starts at six am and ends at two pm.  We retire to bed at nine pm and arise at four forty-five am.  This is a very unusual schedule for us and may be the reason we have not felt any "jet lag".  We are grateful for that, and we feel energized as we begin each day.
MTC to Temple Grounds Tunnel

There are four ordinance rooms, which seat twenty-five, and there is generally one session each hour for a total of twelve sessions most days.  The busiest days are Wednesday and Saturday when there is one session every half-hour.  On Wednesdays the young Asian missionaries from the Manila MTC come to receive their Endowments.  On Saturday many of the Saints are free from work and they come to the Temple in large numbers.  Twenty-seven patrons can be seated in each ordinance room by adding two additional chairs,  and throughout the day each session fills the respective room.

Of interest to our Danish friends that follow our blog:  The Manila Temple has a Temple Presidency, one Recorder, a Secretary, an Engineer and four Assistant Engineers.  Other statistics of interest are:  There are twenty-five stakes in Manila, plus a number of additional Stakes throughout Luzon.  The Temple District also includes many other Asian Island Nations.  When there are only ten to fifteen Patrons in attendance at a session in the Copenhagen Temple, which has three Stakes, it is a higher percent attendance per membership than a Temple with twenty-five plus Stakes.  We love you Denmark!

My Temple service this past Wednesday has given my testimony of the gospel a wonderful boost.  I hope the following descriptive narrative will convey some of the feelings I experienced.  The Manila Missionary Training Center (MTC) is across the street from the Temple.  It houses several hundred missionaries from the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Mongolia and other Asian countries.  Each week over one hundred of these young missionaries receive their Endowments in the Temple.  As an Officiator, facing twenty-five of them, my heart was full and my eyes were filled with tears.  They were slender boyish guys dressed in the white Filipino Barong, with trimmed black hair, dark eyes and almond skin looking back at me in all seriousness.  It was obvious the experience meant something very sincere and special to them.  The Spirit spoke to me of their purity and value.  I had just left the MTC in Provo, but these young men and young ladies were different.  The Church is a World Church and that is significant.
Filipino Barong

Speaking of the MTC, we were given a DVD of a report on the Provo facility done by the KSL TV station.  We enjoyed it very much.  I will attach a link to the report which is in several segments and lasts about forty-five minutes. You will want to watch it in its entirety.  It will give you a comprehensive view of Ben's and Jake's and our time there.

We have been confined to the Temple neighborhood so the photo gallery this week will not give you very much of a spirit of the city and the people.  That will come as we get the time to venture out.

Neighborhood Street
Temple View of High Rise Neighbors
Enlargement Of Above View
Mom's Vegetable Side Dish
Bye for now,

We love you,
Mom and Dad
Elder and Sister

Sunday, February 17, 2013

From Provo To Manila

Manila Philippines Temple

Thorvaldsen's Kristus
Our MTC experience this week was spent in the Provo Temple under the direction of Emeritus Seventy, Rex Pinegar and his wife Bonnie.  They were also our instructors prior to our mission in Denmark.  This transition experience between our Danish Temple Mission and our Manila Temple Mission had an interesting little "tender mercy" embedded in the course of our instructions from the Pinegars.

While talking to them during a brief rest period in the instructions, Sister Pinegar began to talk about one of their experiences in Copenhagen.  She said they were privileged to travel with President Kimball and other General Authorities to an Area General Conference in Denmark in 1976.  While there they visited the Vor Frue Kirke to see the Kristus and the Twelve Apostles statues by Thorvaldsen.  She proceeded to relate a story we had heard many times before with respect to the statue of Peter holding the keys and comments made by President Kimball.
Vor Frue Kirke In Copenhagen

She turned to Elder Pinegar and said, "you tell the story better than I", to which he said, "You mean that while Thorvaldsen was sculpting these dead apostles in Italy, the Lord was choosing His living apostles under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith?"

Elder Pinegar referred us to President Boyd K. Packer's documentation as follows:

" . . . To the front of the church, behind the alter, stands the familiar statue of the Kristus with his arms turned forward and somewhat outstretched, the hands showing the imprint of the nails, and the wound in His side very clearly visible.  Along each side stands the statues of the Apostles, Peter at the front to the right and the other Apostles in order.
Apostle Peter Holding The Keys

"Most of our group was near the rear of the chapel with the custodian.  I stood up front with President Kimball before the statue of Peter with Elder Rex D. Pinegar and Johan Helge Benthin, president of the Copenhagen stake.

"In Peter's hand, depicted in marble, is a set of heavy keys.  President Kimball pointed to those keys and explained what they symbolized.  Then in an act I shall never forget, he turned to President Benthin and with unaccustomed firmness pointed his finger at him and said, 'I want you to tell everyone in Denmark that I hold the keys!  We hold the real keys, and we use them everyday.'
Digitizing The Statues

"I will never forget that declaration, that testimony from the prophet.  The influence was spiritually powerful; the impression was physical in its impact.

"We walked to the back of the chapel where the rest of the group was standing.  Pointing to the statues, President Kimball said to the kind custodian, 'These are the dead Apostles.'  Pointing to me, he said, 'Here we have the living Apostles.  Elder Packer is an Apostle.  Elder Thomas S. Monson and Elder L. Tom Perry are Apostles, and I am an Apostle.  We are the living Apostles.

'You read about the Seventies in the New Testament, and here are two of the living Seventies, Elder Rex D. Pinegar and Elder Robert D. Hales.'
The custodian, who up to that time had shown no emotion, suddenly was in tears.  I felt I had had an experience of a lifetime."
Digitizing The Statues

You might recall one of our blogs from Denmark a year or so ago, dealing with the digitizing of those statues in order to reproduce them in marble from the same Italian quarry used by Thorvaldsen.  Those exact replicas will be exhibited in the Rome Temple Visitor's Center.

I appreciated Elder Pinegar's "first hand account" of this wonderful story.

We said our "good byes" to the Pinegars and the other missionaries and began our travels to the other side of the World.
Preparing To Make Replicas 

We left the MTC at four am on Thursday morning.  After flying to Detroit and then over the Hudson Bay in Canada, North of Alaska, down over Russia we landed in Nagoya, Japan for refueling.  We cleared security again and departed Nagoya for our flight to Manila.  After a thirty-hour trip, we arrived at our apartment at two am on Saturday.  We have a sixteen-hour difference between Portland, Oregon and Manila, Philippines.

Our apartment is in a complex on the Temple grounds.  We ventured out briefly yesterday to cross the street and exchange some money and get acquainted with the local Super Market.  We didn't need to buy anything because the other senior missionaries had pooled together to stock our apartment with a couple of day's food.  We will do some serious shopping on Tuesday.
Manila Philippines Temple

So far the weather has been tolerable.  It's hot and humid, but not so much as I had expected.  I haven't wiped my brow yet, but I am prepared.  We are told the hot summer is March, April and May.

We have been assigned to a Ward and will visit them for their meetings at one pm today.

Our Apartment On Lower Level
View From Our Kitchen Window
Our Apartment Complex
Our Living Room
Our Kitchen
Our Backyard
The Temple
Bye for now,
We love you,
Mom & Dad
Elder and Sister

Sunday, February 10, 2013

We're In The Mission Training Center

View From Our MTC Bedroom Window

So We Will Remember Snow

We have just finished our first week at the MTC.  We arrived on Monday morning at ten am thanks to my brother Kim and Pat who drove us down from Salt Lake where we had gathered at Kelly and Valerie’s for a family reunion on Sunday.  We spent Saturday with Ruthie who met us at the airport and drove us to Norma’s brother Ralph and Donna’s to visit and then to Daryl and Hank Hoole’s for a short stay.

Last week was filled with last minute cleaning, packing, and visiting.  On Friday, we (Norma, me and our children) followed Kitta around the town to various backdrop locations for an ‘immediate family’ photo shoot.  We were all coatless though the breeze was cold.  Kitta is a “pro” and the photos are great.  We had a pizza party with the whole family at Angie’s after the photo shoot.
All Ten Of Us

Saturday morning we all met at the airport to say our “good byes”.  After the tears, the flight was short and sweet.  The snow-decked Utah Mountains were impressive, and the somewhat snow-decked roads and banks didn’t stop Ruthie from being at the pick-up area as we came out of the luggage claim hall of the airport.

Ralph and Donna live in a beautiful retirement apartment a few blocks from the Temple.  Norma, Ralph and Ruthie are the only siblings remaining on Norma’s side of the Family.  On my side of the family, we were fortunate enough to have all of my siblings together at Valeries on Sunday.  This was the first time in seven years that we had all been together.
Our short stay in Salt Lake was very enjoyable.
Small Sampling Of Misionaries

A week at the MTC is an unforgettable experience.  The “moving around the campus” among over three thousand, eighteen and nineteen year-old Elders and Sisters from around the world, is impressive alone, to say nothing about the fact that they are good-looking, well dressed, clean inside and out, and singularly focused.  What an experience!  Our training sessions have been educational and faith building.  The Spirit has continually been testifying to us of the sacred nature of what we are doing.

Our grandson Benjamin is at the MTC now also.  It has been a joy to see him among the sea of worthy young people in training.  In his letter home a few weeks ago he wrote:
Elder Benjamin Scroggs

“To top off my letter today we had a fireside on Tuesday that was so fantastic.  We were privileged to hear from Jeffery R. Holland!  He is so amazing!  He has been the president of all areas of missionary work for quite some time now so he is super invested in this cause and has such a great testimony to share.  I think he is like every missionary’s hero!  In some videos I have watched, he is always very direct and passionate in a wonderful way but also in a way that I thought he was going to come and chastise us for something… which I still would have been fine with.  But I was so wrong.  He had a perfect variety of emotion in his speech that it was captivating!  He always speaks so elegantly and testifies so boldly and sincerely.  He also had jokes and humor and a love for all of us in the room that was overwhelming!  It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity!  I was so grateful to hear from him!  I am so happy to be a missionary!  There is nothing else in my life that I would rather be doing right now than serving my Lord and Savior.”
Elder Scroggs With Grandparents

We attended Sacrament Meeting and our other meetings prior to lunch and now we are awaiting the Devotional which is tailored toward those who will be arriving at their respective mission fields during the week.  I have a few minutes to work on the blog.  The next entry should be from the Philippines.

Tears and Waves At The Airport
View Of Mt Timpanogos from MTC
Stake Center Near The MTC
Missionaries In The Philippines?
See You In A Few Months
Bye for now,

We love you,
Mom & Dad
Elder and Sister