Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Guess There Are Some Perks To Being The Only White Girl In Town!

Hello Family

It was so great to talk to you all!  It went by much too fast though haha.  It sounds like you are all doing so well :).  And had an awesome christmas too it sounds like! LOVE all the pictures :).  Especially the t shirts!!  Hahaha. Ah I'm sooo glad you guys had such a great time this season :).

My christmas was wonderful as well! After I got to talk to you, we got ready and went to catch a bus to go to district meeting/lunch, but there were no buses!  Haha we were not expecting that.  So it got moved to friday, and we studied and went out to work. We tried to visit as many people as we could, but almost everyone we met was too busy with family or friends, so it was always a pretty quick visit.  On the was to visit one less-active, we were riding in a tricycle and my camera fell out of my pocket!  I didn't notice till we were walking up to her house.  I said a quick prayer that I would find it, and then honestly wasn't too worried about it.We walked up to her house to talk to her, but her husband had a bunch of friends over to videoke, so we didnt' get to stay too long.  But we did get to wish her a merry christmas and remind her of the love of Christ for her :).  We'll go back and visit her this week sometime :).  We walked back down to the main road, and caught a tricycle back to visit some investigators.  They weren't home, so we kept walking towards our apartment.  A tricycle pulls over in front of us, and says, "Sisters! Camera!"  and pulls out my camera!  I guess there are some perks to being the only white girl in town.  Haha I stand out on the side of the road.  So that was pretty funny :).

Christmas on the mission has been wonderful :).  I was honestly a little nervous about it, but it has been great, it really has.   Being away from home this season has helped me understand what it really means to have the gospel in my life.  It's made it more real for me I guess.  It's not just something that feels good and sounds right.  It is REAL.  (It's hard to explain.)  Christ was born here on earth.  He came to save us from our sins, so that we can become like Him. That's what this is all about.  Helping people come unto Christ and become like Him.  Because of Him, we can be with our families forever.  Because of Him, we can be happy now and for eternity!  Because of Him, we don't have to continue as our imperfect selves, we can change who we are.  It's amazing!  And it's real, I know it.  I'm so grateful that I know it, and get to share it.  And I'm grateful for that chance to change, because I want to be better :).  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that with His help, we can become like Him someday.  I know this gospel is true!

I love you all so much :).

Sister Mortensen

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Phone Call

On our Christmas Eve we got to talk to Brianne.  It was her Christmas morning. Talking to her was truly the best part of Christmas. She sounded so happy.  She is having amazing experiences on her mission and is really loving it.  On Christmas Eve, she spent time with the Branch President and his family.  The branch president has 4 children, so she was able to spend Christmas Eve with "family." They had a delicious meal and watched the movie about Christ's birth. She gave the family members some of the ties and headbands we sent her.  She said they loved them.  She told us about having showers with a bucket.  She told us of her experience with typhoon Ruby and how it didn't affect them much in Hinunangan.  We asked her what she ate and she said she ate a lot of hot dogs and rice. At a branch activity she said they cooked a whole pig.  She said it was delicious, but the skin was crunchy.  She tried to understand Jax when he spoke Cebuano to her. He said "I'm your favorite brother."  She couldn't understand what he was saying, but quickly rattled off the correct pronunciation. She described her area as very rural, even smaller than her last area, Hinunangan.  She told us her funny/scary experiences of riding the buses and the bikes bikes.   Forty minutes was definitely not along time to talk.  It went by quickly.  Before we ended the phone call, Brad offered a family prayer.  The spirit was super strong in the room.  I'm sure that Bri felt it many miles away as well.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I Am Grateful For This Opportunity To Focus On Him More Than Ever This Christmas

Hello again everyone!

Haha oh goodness you all are hilarious :).  Loved your letter!  Sounds like the cruise was so fun!!  I'm so glad :).  And you ate lots of icecream, and sent me a bunch of pictures, so great job :).  I can't wait to talk to you this week!  It's crazy to think that it's only in 3 days!  Can't wait :)

Ok i've got some questions for you :). Has josh started his papers yet?? Or when?  Also, have you picked a college or major or anything like that yet?  Or waiting till after you mission?  How are my grandparents all doing on their missions? Haha I still think its so cool they are both serving again :).

This week has been a great one! We've been visiting lots of less actives, and a few of them came to church yesterday :).  Our branch has a lot of less actives, so we will probably be spending a lot of time with them.  The members are SO helpful though.  It's a pretty small branch, only about 60 at sacrament each week, but they are amazing.  They help out with our work all the time and are just great examples for everyone there in st bernard :).  

I am actually really excited for christmas this week!  It's gonna be so great.  Family has always been such an important part of christmas for me growing up.  Everyone is out of work and school, and we all get to just hang out together and have fun.  Also, getting to together with both sides of our big family!  And all our traditions we have (and maybe a new one... :) ).  Family really is a big part of christmas, and i thought it would be really hard being away from you guys for it this year.  I do miss you all, of course :).  But I know you'll be okay :).  We have plenty more christmas together!   This year, I get to be over here and spend time with some of my other brothers and sisters.  And i'm loving it.  On christmas day, we are planning to visit as many people as we can, and just share a short message about Jesus Christ and the true meaning of christmas :).  Christmas with all the gifts and craziness is fun, but it really is all about Christ.  I grateful for this opportunity to focus on Him more than ever this Christmas :).  

I hope you all have a very merry christmas :).  I love you all SO much :).  Talk to you soon!

Love, Sister Mortensen :)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Facebook Message from Sister Maurer

On Tuesday we had our first of two Mission Tour Conferences - Ormoc, Biliran, Sogod, Maasin, and Carigara. Elder and Sister Echohawk couldn't make it because of last minute illness. So Elder Peres and his wife (Area Seventy) attended instead. It was a special event for all of us. For lunch, and as a special Christmas focus, we invited each of the Zones to present one Christmas carol from a group of 4-5 missionaries. Highlights of the lunch: President Maurer having them sing the 12 days of Christmas (including actions from each table) and Elder Marlin singing a solo, 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'. As our gift to each missionary I baked over 1,000 cookies and handed them a packet each.  --Sister Maurer

Brianne is wearing a purple shirt near the center row, fourth from the right side.

11 Pipers Piping

9 Ladies Dancing

Sunday, December 14, 2014

This IS The True Church of Jesus Christ And It Is Gonna Spread To All The World

HEY! It's great to hear from you :). I'm so glad that you were able to feel so much peace through this too :).  You really can feel so much comfort and calmness (if thats a word...) through the holy ghost.  It's pretty amazing.

I did get the packages, thank you sooo much!! Tell brother morrison thank you too, and I'm glad he made it out safe :).  That will be so fun to give them out to the members!!! And there is so much! Wow! Thank you :).  And the hot chocolate and pillowcase and videos and chocolate orange and the  You are the best :).  My favorite though i think was the calendar with all of the pictures!!!! Haha me and my comp sat and looked at all of them and loved it!  Thank you soooo much!

Bad news?? Haha that is great news!! The cruise will be soooo fun, I'm so excited for you guys!! Baja mexico, is that the one we went on last time?  That was so fun!! Lots of great memories from last time :).  Don't even worry about going on trips without me, I want you guys to have fun!! We have plenty of time later to do more fun trips together :).  Just take lots of pictures for me :).  And eat lots of ice cream! You guys are out of school already? That seems so early! haha christmas is coming fast.  Oh and for skype/phone calls, we aren't really sure yet... we should find out this week though, and I will let you know :).  I am SO EXCITED though!

 Everything is going great here, and starting to get back to normal. Well, as normal as a mission gets anyways.  We got to go back to Hinunangan on tuesday!  They weren't hit hard at all, I didn't see any damage from the storm.   So that was sooo great to see :).  We heard that only two members were at the chapel.  I'm not sure how much of an effect the storm had on the people there, since it didn't hit too hard.  Even though we were in Hinunangan, we didn't get to visit anybody becuase we only had about an hour to begin packing up then go to bed.  Our apartment was fine, not even a little flooded :). In the morning, we hurried and packed and cleaned and then headed to sogod.  Transfer day was thursday!  Me and Sister KS had to be there to get her companion early, so we caught a van at 3 that morning!  Yeah we were pretty exhausted :).  Sister KS's new companion is.....sister chu!!!! My companion from the mtc!  I was soooo excited for them when I found out :).  Sister chu was in barongan, the area that got hit really hard by ruby.  So she and sister ks were going back to recover her luggage, then would come back to their new area in Palo, near tacloban.  Transfer meeting was soo great!  I got to see all of my batch, it was so fun :).  My new companion is sister Gaono! She is from Samoa, and goes home in february.  She is great!! She only knows waray, but most people here can understand that too.  So we with both be learning cebuano together, just like with sister kalua santiago :).  I am really excited for this transfer.  We got to st bernard thurday night, and have spent our time since then trying to get to know the area and the members and all that good stuff.  Our branch president and his family is AMAZING.  They have been sooo helpful, even just the few days we have been here.  It's gonna be tough to get the area going again, but with his family and a bunch of great branch missionaries, it is gonna be just fine :). I can't wait!!  I thought it would be hard to transfer to another area, but it really hasn't been too bad.  I LOVE our little branch, and am excited to work with them and get to know them.  Ah.  Missions are the best.  I love it.  This IS the true church of Jesus Christ, and it is gonna spread to all the world!  He has a plan for each one of His children here, and for me as well.  We just need to trust Him, and follow Him :).  I'm so so blessed to have this gospel in my life.  And I am so blessed to have YOU all in my life :).  I love you!  I hope you have the best time this week on your cruise!! Be safe :).
Love, Sister Mortensen

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Typhoon Taguput Update - From Sister Maurer

Probably about time to give an update. Things are settling back to some kind of normality. Power is still out for many parts of the mission. So if you didn't get an email from your missionary this week then don't panic. It's just because very few Internet cafes have power. Power should start coming back on in the next couple of days, so hopefully you will hear from them this Monday. But I will keep you posted on that and give you an update on Sunday or Monday. All missionaries are safe, well and accounted for. We finally had transfers yesterday and we had over 120 missionaries here for one of the largest transfers yet. We had to close down Borongan Zone because most of those areas were hardest hit by Ruby. Altho' Borongan City is back on its feet and we have 4 elders back in there to continue contact with investigators and monitor the other areas in preparation for our full return. This coming week we have a Mission Tour with Elder Echohawk and his wife, so I bet your missionaries will have lots to talk about after that. Then of course it's Christmas. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Typhoon Ruby (Haguput)

Hey I'm on!!   I'm doing fine!  we are in sogod right now :).  we spent the last few nights here at the chapel in sogod with all our zone.  We haven't heard for sure  how hinunangan is doing yet though :(  i'm working on a big email, so that will answer alot of your questions:). the storm was not too bad here in sogod.  it hit two other zones in samar really hard though, and the missionaries are taken out of them.  power is on here, but not yet in hinunangan, and no cell there either yet.  so we won't be able to go back till that comes back up, possibly on friday. we might go pack up our stuff tomorrow, and check out the area.  we've heard from our district president that hinunangan is totally fine, but his wife said it was hit HARD and there's lots of damage.  so we have no idea.  Thats been hardest part of all of this, being away from hinunangan during it all. We still have no idea how bad it is.  We will probably get to go back tomorrow and visit people and check out the area with our zl.  also mom, my zone leader said thanks for the letter you sent back to him, he really appreciated it :)

Hello Family,

Alright, this is going to be a very scattered email, since there's a lot to tell, but I'll do my best! Haha you'll just have to read my journal when i get home :).  We survived everything just fine :).  Ever since the very beginning, I have felt so much peace and comfort from the Lord.  We started hearing about the storm from the people we were teaching on wednesday, and thursday morning we got a call from our zone leader that we needed to prepare a weeks survival kit so we could be ready to evacuate to sogod chapel as soon as we got the call, if it came to that.  They are SO much more prepared for typhoons now, and would pull out all the missionaries if there was a chance that they could get stuck like with yolanda.  We headed right away to sogod to get the food and everything we needed, since the soonest he said we could evacuate was the next day.  But on the bus ride, we got the call to come straight to sogod to stay. So....we had nothing with us.  No clothes, no garments, no journals or scriptures or anything!  Haha and since we had just started packing a lot of stuff was on the floor.  oops.  The first thing we did when we heard about the storm, was say a prayer there on the bus.  And I can't even describe how much comfort I felt!  It was amazing.  I just felt so calm, and I knew everything would be fine.  That was the first of many many prayers.  We prayed all the time for the families of the missionaries, that they would be comforted and know that we would be protected, and I hope you guys felt that :).  We were mostly worried about the people in our area.  They wouldn't really know what was coming, and a lot of their homes could get pretty damaged if the storm was strong.  We wouldn't be there to invite them to the church to be safe and to help them be comforted :(. We finally got to sogod and the sisters had bought a weeks worth of food for us :).  They are the sweetest.  Haha sister brereton is hilarious, I've loved spending this time with her.  we picked up a couple last things we needed and then hurried and did a bunch of sister breretons laba so we could have some clothes to wear for the next few days.  she's been letting us wear her clothes since friday haha.  she is the BEST.  that evening we found out the storm had slowed down so we got to go on splits with the sisters and warn people and invite them to stay at the chapel :). The next day we were able to go out again and do that too. There were SO MANY people staying at the church, it was so great.  Lots of non members too.  WE got to talk to alot of them about the gospel a little, and you could really see how this storm softened their hearts.  I really hope that has happened with people everywhere that has been affected.  We also got to play with all the kids!! It was so fun, that was my favorite :).  they help so much with the language haha, since they love to talk to you and will just laugh when you don't understand.  We taught them down by the banks and they LOVED that.  And we played a bunch of other little games and just talked to them.  It was soooo fun :).  I loved it! The storm hit saturday night around midnight.  We were in the chapel, which is a super sturdy building, so were weren't worried about us at all.  It was hard to sleep though knowing how many more people there were out there in the storm.  Sunday we got up and everything was calm.  Everyone left that morning, and then we had sacrament meeting :).  A lot of people still came to church, even though the storm was just that morning.  It was wonderful :).  we were out of power and water until last night, so have just been hanging out at the chapel the last few days since we can't go out and work.  It has been so WEIRD to not be busy but so fun too to be with all these missionaries:). I am so ready to get back to work though!  transfers will be whenever the can get the zones in samar organized again, and all the areas evaluated.  the poor new missionaries that just got here are still just hanging out in tacloban i think.  What a crazy first week for them :(. It will possibly be this friday or next week sometime.  I am transferring to st. bernard!  elders are moving to hinunangan, and sisters to st bernard.  It's close to hinunangan, about an hour and a half, and same district.  I get to stay with sister kalua santiago for a little longer though :). Right now the plan is to go to hinunangan tomorrow and check out everything and pack up all our stuff.  and clean the house if it got flooded :).  then come back here i think? haha we are kinda just going day to day right now.  Its all going to be fine though, don't even worry :).  There have been so many miracles through out all of this, that there is no doubt in my mind that this storm is part of heavenly fathers plan for these people.  I pray for us missionaries that we can go out now and help these people recover.  I pray that this storm will soften their hearts to the gospel, instead of hardening them! The lord has a plan for each and every one of us. prayer is so POWERFUL.  The Lord is so willing to bless us, if we just ask!  

Ah I love you all.  Like I've alwyas said, i pray for you all the time, even more this week :).  Ali, i loved your letter, thank you :).  I/m gonna write you back soon !  Talk to you all next week!

Sister Mortensen

Playing With the Kids at the Church in Sogod

"Our awesome nanay dresses!"

Eating corn for dinner.

Bri with Sister Kalua-Santiago and Sister Brereton

Typhoon Taguput Update #4 - From President Maurer

Tuesday Morning Update 4 for Ruby:

Dear Parents and Friends of Tacloban Missionaries,

The storm has passed and blue skies and radiant sunshine abound here in Tacloban. All missionaries have returned back to their areas, except Borongan Zone and the new arriving missionaries. We are still to effect the transfer to incorporate these new missionaries, but hope to do it this week. Relief efforts are being distributed to Borongan and we will also assess the conditions in that Zone before sending missionaries to return.

There is no power in most of the mission, and so it is unlikely that missionaries will find internet available to email home. We anticipate that power will be restored in a couple of days. Thanks for your willingness to send your sons and daughters as ambassadors of Jesus Christ.

Wayne E Maurer

Mission President

Philippines Tacloban Mission

Update From Elder Burton, Zone Leader

Magandang Gabi.. mga alibangbang... kamustan da man... well buhi pa mi...

This is Elder Burton.. I am with all of your Children.. I just want you to know they are all alive and doing well.. we will be sleeping at the Church again tonight but they are happy to let you know that they are safe and well.. they will be emailing you tomorrow.. thank you for the prayers and the love that you have sent our way..

- Elder Burton

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Typhoon Taguput Update #3 - From President Maurer

Sunday afternoon Update 3 for Typhoon Ruby:

Dear Parents and Friends of Tacloban Missionaries,

Last night was a night of strong howling winds, battering rain and NO power. Needless to say it was a LOONG night. However as day dawned it was obvious  that the worst was over, and people  started to emerge to assess and fix up their homes. As we looked around the Mission Home there were trees down, flooding on the street in front of us (6-9 inches), debris which had been blown, and the lighter winds and rain still happening.

The Mission Home sustained some more damage, water leaking in thru windows as it was driven, and the shattered sliding door downstairs giving rain and glass all over the floor and furniture. We still do not know the extent of damage for missionary apartments, since they are all in Chapels in each Zone (except for Borongan).

We have kept in touch with each Zone of Missionaries ( since they are all together in safe locations) up until 4.00am. At that point 3 Zones appear to have lost communication network. At that point they were ALL fine. We have since travelled to Tolosa Zone to establish they are great, and in fine spirits. Actually loving the experience. We are in the process of confirming Biliran and Carigara Zone.

Please be assured that this typhoon was NOT nearly as bad as the previous one (Yolanda) last year. It is unlikely that there is any major disruption to the work, however we will hold the missionaries in these locations at least until Monday. Thank you for your prayers of faith and hope. We felt them and thank our Heavenly Father for his bounteous mercy.

Warm Regards,

President & Sister Wayne Maurer

Typhoon Taguput Update - From Sister Maurer

Hello all.

I'm sorry for no update till now, but it's been a massive 30 hours or so. As predicted Ruby landed. Tacloban was spared the worst of her, but we still had plenty of devastating winds and rain. I didn't get any sleep as she raged all night till about 5am. I snatched a couple of hours then. Eventful night for us as at about 10pm we heard a mighty crash of splintering glass. The downstairs glass sliding doors were blown in and the elements entered. We cleared the room of furniture and left the room to fend for itself for the night. We are safe and unharmed. That's all that matters.

Enough about us. I'm sure you want to know about our precious cargo. At 8am this morning all Zones, except Tolosa, Carigara, and Biliran, had reported they were safe and unharmed. The other three zones had no cell phone connection as towers must have been down. President and I drove out to Burauen at about 11am where Tolosa was found safe and happy (see photos). After assessing the safety of the roads we dispatched two of our office staff (Elders Oakes and Mata) at about 2pm to head to Carigara and then Biliran to check on the other two zones. They are still on the road and are expected back in about an hour. We think they may have problems getting to Biliran as there is a notorious part of the road there that is known for flooding. They were under strict instructions not to attempt access if there was any flooding. I will report to you once they get back. I spent the rest of the day helping president clean up and prepare food for our 23 new missionaries. It's been an exhausting day, but one full of joy and blessings. I cried when I saw our Tolosa missionaries, not because I feared for them but simply because I love them and it was like seeing my own children after being away from them for a long time. I love my job!

I'll keep you posted on further updates as we get them. Missionaries will stay tonight in the chapels again and return to their apartments tomorrow (unless assessed otherwise). Power is out in most parts of Region 8, so you probably won't get an email from your missionary tomorrow. It's been an exciting day. We look forward with anticipation of moving the work forward.

UPDATE: Elders Oakes and Mata have just messaged us and all missionaries in Carigara and Biliran are safe and accounted for. The elders will stay over night in Biliran and return tomorrow.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Typhoon Haguput Update #2 - From President Maurer

Friday Night Update 2 for Ruby: Dec 5th, 2014

Dear Parents and Friends of Tacloban Missionaries, I think my initial email did not get sent, so you may receive two in a row!!! The wind has a gentle breeze blowing in Tacloban as I write to update you. It is calm and peaceful, and actually a little cooler...quite comfortable! I imagine that thru the night we will find stronger winds, and may even wake up to a little rain. As you may have guessed there is nothing much happening here, but we are preparing for the worst. The latest projection has Typhoon Ruby moving across the coast in Borongan about 24 hours from now. It's path appears to go west north west across Catbalogan. It has been down-graded and no longer a Super Typhoon.

The streets of Tacloban are bare. There is little transport available as early as last night. Most people are either moving to safer locations, or at home preparing for a typhoon that is approaching ( about 415 kms east or south east of Borongan). Our missionaries have each been gathered by their Zone Leaders to be together. We have had them do this to keep them together for morale, safety and ease of contact. They are all in fine spirits, safe and actually sharing the gospel in various locations. The people are actually very interested to talk about a gospel of peace and joy, whilst calamity approaches.

For those of you who know where your missionary is serving we already have them in these locations, before the transport shut down:

Catarman Zone - Elders in the Chapel; Sisters in the Catarman sisters apartment.

Catbalogan Zone - Elders in the Zone Leaders apartment in Calbayog; Sisters in the Calbayog apartment.

Boronogan Zone - All missionaries evacuated and living in Tacloban.

Tacloban Zone - Elders are in the Office apartment; Sisters in the Tacloban Sisters apartment.

Tolosa Zone - Elders in the Burauen Chapel (inland); Sisters in the apartment in Burauen.

Sogod Zone - Elders in the Zone Leader apartment in Sogod, and Sisters in their apartment.

Maasin Zone - Elders in the Maasin ZL apartment. Sisters in Ormoc Zone - Elders in the ZL Apartment in Ormoc, and Sisters in the STL apartment in Ormoc.

Biliran Zone - All missionaries in the Biliran Chapel Carigara Zone - All missionaries in the Carigara Stake Chapel.

The plan is to watch the development over night and move all missionaries into chapels in the morning. We have learnt much from Typhoon Yolanda and feel more prepared to keep them safe and facilitate a rescue should that be necessary. Please be assured that they are safe and our hope and prayer of faith is that there will not be a catastrophe. Thank you for your support, faith and prayers.

Wayne E Maurer

Mission President

Philippines Tacloban Mission

Typhoon Haguput

Facebook Message From A Missionary Dad

This storm just keeps moving north. It looks like about Saturday 5am MT that it will hit. From what I can see on the map it will mostly miss Leyte and may hit land around Catarman, Samar. I have also seen it go from a CAT5 to a CAT3 and back to a CAT4 today so let's keep praying for the safety of all of our missionaries, members, and the Filipino people who may be impacted by the storm. Possibly by this time tomorrow our missionaries will become helping hands once again with whatever is needed.

Brianne is in Hinunangan.  On the map it is near Maasin.  She is in the Sogod Zone.

Typhoon Hagupit Update #1 - From President Maurer

December 5, 2014

To the families of our missionaries!

This is a message of hope and notification about what we are doing to ensure the safety of your missionaries serving in the Philippines Tacloban Mission. As you may be aware there is a tropical typhoon (Ruby) heading towards the Philippines. We are closely watching the developments as the storm approaches from the east. The latest projection is that it will cross the coast at Borongan City Saturday night, and then go further West.

We have removed ALL missionaries from Borongan Zone, and have gathered each Zone's missionaries in their respective Zones in a location that is safe. If it gets worse, then we will move them to the Chapel, but at this stage we have no missionaries in Chapels. The weather is currently calm, with light cloud cover.

Your missionary has been alerted to prepare for a storm.  Their preparations will include but are not limited to preparing for possible flooding, checking their 72 hour kits, having emergency cash in small bills, food and water for 7 days and a reminder to ensure their cell phones are kept charged.

When the storm has passed and all missionaries are accounted for, we will let you know.  Thank you for your prayers.


President Maurer

Philippines Tacloban Mission

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Face Book Posts From Sister Maurer - Mission Presidents Wife

Here we go again. Times listed are PHL. It could hit Friday about noon US time.

Tracy Maine Maurer It's on our radar too

First Predictions of Where the Typhoon Will Go

As promised here's the update: Transfers for this week were cancelled as most missionaries couldn't get transport in yesterday for it, and certainly wouldn't been able to leave again today to return home. We just couldn't have coped with feeding and housing 120 missionaries for more than one or two days.

All missionaries on the eastern coastal areas of Samar have been either evacuated to Tacloban, or to inland areas in safer apartments . Same with missionaries serving in eastern Leyte and Biliran - except for those in Tacloban. All other missionaries are grouped by Zone in safe apartments, close to local meeting houses. They all have at least a weeks worth of food and water and adequate basic medical supplies, fully charged cell phones (with extra batteries) and other survival supplies. They have been instructed to remain where they are unless it becomes too dangerous, so we know where they are if cell phones become inoperable and we have to physically locate them. If they have to move they will leave instructions on where they are heading. Tacloban missionaries (and those evacuated here, as well as the 23 new missionaries) are still in Tacloban. We will further assess the situation this afternoon to determine whether we need to evacuate the missionaries from here. We have adequate cars and fuel to move them an hour further inland if needed.

We are closely watching the developments as the storm approaches from the east. The latest projection is that it will cross the coast at Borongan City Saturday night (our time - it's currently Friday morning), and then go further West. Currently the weather here in Tacloban is calm and at times sunny.

This morning we took our new missionaries down to MacArthur Park and did our regular photo shoot there. A peaceful gentle breeze washed over us as we listened to the story of MaCarthur's return. The missionaries are calm and excited about being here. They are a great batch of missionaries.

President will be sending an email out to all parents today updating the situation. I will try to keep updating here, but at some stage we may lose power, internet and even cell phone connection. Please do not fear. Satan would have us fear in his attempt to derail our purpose. We have hope and a determination to be of service to the people of the Philippines. This is a special opportunity for us to do that.

Tracy Maine Maurer feeling thankful

Promised update: this morning we woke up to beautiful weather and a calm gentle breeze. I've never felt it so cool here. It's now 2 pm and the rain and stiff wind have set in. We've been monitoring things closely (thankful for one assistant who thought to bring a protractor with him on his mission) and pored over the predictions. We feel we have done all we can to ensure that all missionaries will be in the safest places. We have decided to keep all Tacloban missionaries, and evacuated missionaries, in the apartments here. But all other missionaries in the mission are currently staying in chapels now. The eye of the storm will hit the east coast of Northern Samar between 8-10pm tonight. Ruby seems a little reluctant to move along and has taken forever to get here. She's currently moving at a snails pace of around 10-13kms/hr. We have just done a phone check around all the zones and all missionaries are well and safe. In our meeting a 1/2 hour ago we determined to begin a fast (since it's fast Sunday tomorrow). So if you wish to join us we will begin at exactly 6pm tonight (3 hours from now). We love you and thank you for your prayers and love. We feel them.

We will be having a meeting in the next hour to continue to assess the situation. I'll provide an update for you then. But know all missionaries are safe as of this moment, we are in contact with all of them.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It Is Amazing To See The Lord Doing His Work Here


This week has been another great one!  T-- and her family are a referral from the D--, the recent convert family we have been teaching.  We visited them a couple times this week, but haven't given them a baptismal date yet.  They are doing GREAT though. 

This week, we are 99% sure we both will be transferring :( . President says he probably is going to put elders in hinunangan.  I MIGHT be moving to the area right next to ours, St Bernard, which is about an hour and a half away.  But we won't know anything for sure till friday :).  This tuesday and wednesday we are going to go work in st bernard too actually.  So that will be cool! There are some great investigators over there.  Last night after working with some branch missionaries, we had them over to our house to make smores! They can't come inside, so we pulled out our table and gas stove onto the porch for them :).  They loved them!  We made a bunch for our friends across the street too :).  It's gonna be hard to leave everyone.  

Most people do have electricity, there are some people though that don't.  Haha the member that told Jehovahs witnesses to come visit us probably did it for us to teach them!  Or just as a joke.  Haha we are good friends with him and his family, they are hilarious :).  The sister serving in slc is a proselyting missionary :).  she goes in on march 24!

I always love reading your letters! Sounds like its been a great week!  I'm glad soccer is going pretty awesome!! Josh, thats a great way to end your season with your team winning the championship! So cool!! Also. You and Ali look older now. Haha.  Ali, I really hope you get feeling better soon.  That's gotta be tough, since you love soccer so much.  I'm so glad your coaches and team are supportive of you :).

Looks like thanksgiving was so much fun as well! loved the pictures too. And you're decorating for christmas!  Here they have been decorating  for christmas for about a month now...haha! It's kinda weird to think it's actually getting COLD over there :).

We kinda forgot about thanksgiving till our zone leaders texted us that night.  So we really didn't do much BUT I wanted to tell you guys that I am thankful for YOU.  I wanted to share just one memory that I'm thankful for from each of you :).

Dad...doing my mission papers with you!  I loved it :) birthday this year!  Getting my first pedicure, and going to Rumbi, and just spending the day together :)

Brayden...our first snowmobile trip to monroe cabin!  Jumping off the roof into the deep snow, but only sunk to our shins.  And then built the tunnel off the porch, climbed through it once, and then had to leave! 

Josh...when we hiked Timp with dad!  You probably could have ran straight up it, but were very patient with me :).  And the awesome panoramic picture where your neck looks SUPER long.  hahaha.  so fun :)

Ali...our cabin trip right before I left!  That was the best!  Haha our hike when you probably had mono....sorry again about that.  And kinda, but not really, getting lost on our long four wheeler ride :)

Jaxsen...when we were practicing your spelling words and playing soccer.  And then you got 100%!  So cool :)

Time to go :).  I love you all SO MUCH.  I know this church is true and am so grateful to be here.  I love it, I really do.  It's amazing to see the Lord doing His work here.  I can feel His strength and His support every day :).  I know He loves all of his children, no matter what!  I am so lucky and so blessed to be here :)

LOVE, Sister Mortensen

Sister K and Sister Mortensen

Monday, November 24, 2014

We Taught How God Is Our Loving Heavenly Father And The Gospel Blesses Families

Hello family! 

Its great to hear from you! Thank you for writing to me as always :). I love to hear about everything that is going on!  Haha i loved the words of wisdom this week :).  Haha our family is the best.  And ali!! You're driving! careful :).  Jax, you're hilarious :). That's awesome youre getting snow!! Haha have fun skiing, you guys are all gonna be better than me by the end of the season :).  Sounds like evening in excellence was great :).  Of course dad did a great job :) Josh? What is going on? you lost a game??? Haha its ok, it happens to the best of us :) Sounds like the temple was a great experience, I'm glad dad and brayden had a great time.  I miss the temple :).

This past saturday and sunday, we had district conference!  All our branch members that could come all rode the bus to sogod together, and we got to ride with them.  It was so fun!!  Five of our investigators came as well!  T-- and her family :).  I think I told you about them before...but I may have called her C-- :) haha we found out this week her name is actually T--.  Haha oops :).They seemed to really enjoy conference though!  We are planning to give them a baptismal date this week!  They are awesome :).  Our members are great, they were sitting and talking with them and making sure they felt comfortable :).  That's exactly what you have done with Louise, mom, and that's exactly what she needs.  Even if she isn't coming to church right now, you are still blessing her life and helping her feel God's love.  Thank you :). Great members make a huge difference.  Especially during lessons.  Whenever we teach with a member, we wonder how we can ever do it without them. 

The two girls, L-- and L--, are about 14 and 6 I think.  They don't have electricity in their house, so its tough to teach them since they get home from school when its dark already.  We usually only get to teach them saturdays.  They are still doing great though!  We are excited to teach them :). 

We usually only go on splits once a transfer.  Saturday night after district conference though, we got to go on splits with the sogod sisters!  I actually got to go with Sister Samayla, who I was on splits with before :).  After our lesson, she said that my cebuano had really improved from last time!! Haha so i actually have learned a little bit in my last 2 months :).  Thats good to hear haha.  I actually do feel like I am starting to understand a lot more of what people are saying.  It's pretty exciting!

Here's the story of the picture with the little girls :).  We were in toptop, an area that's further inland from where we usually teach.  We only have 2 families, F-- and C--, who we teach there.  We had an appointment with them, but they weren't home, so we walked up the road to just talk to people :).  We stopped to help one lady weed, but she wouldn't let us (which is what usually happens :) haha).  we were talking to her and her husband, and they had us come and sit in the shade since it was SO hot. They were so friendly!  They offered to make some sweet potato for us, so while they were inside cooking, these girls came by and sat and talked with us.  They were so cute!  Haha they thought it was so cool that we spoke cebuano.  We haven't seen them again yet, but we might go look for them sometime :).  The family was willing to listen to us, but said they are catholic and always will be, so we probably won't end up teaching them. Probably just talk to them a little if we walk by again :). 

This week, we had a kinda crazy experience!  We were studying one morning, and heard someone calling at the door.  We went to answer, and it was two jehovah's witness missionaries!  Apparently one of our members referred them to us :).  they asked if they could share with us, so we grabbed a book of mormon and some pamphlets and sat down on our porch with them.  They taught us a little about how the devil is real, and we need to be careful because the world is becoming more and more wicked.  They gave us some of their pamphlets.  Then we asked if we could share a little, and taught our usually first lesson about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and the gospel blesses families.  A little bit of a difference than their message :).  We introduced the book of mormon, and they stood up to leave.  we tried to give them one of our pamphlets, but she would NOT take it.  So I snuck one of ours into the middle of theirs, and gave them back :).  Haha :).  We watched them out the window as they were walking away, and they stopped right outside our gate and found it!  Haha they didn't come back though :).   So hopefully one of them will read it! :)

Another favorite part of this week was the bus ride home from district conference.  I sat next to R--, a sister who has her mission call to SALT LAKE!!! How cool is that! She is gonna be an awesome missionary, and i am so excited for her.  She always wants to practice her english too, so that is fun :).  I told her I'm gonna come find her when I'm back in utah!

Sorry for the scattered email :).  Haha it really has been a great week!  Time is flying though, I can't even believe it.  I am honestly LOVING it though.  So much!  Being a missionary is the best  :).  Thank you all for your examples, keep it up!  Love you :)

Sister Mortensen

Monday, November 17, 2014

She Said Her Goal Was To Get Baptized. I think We Can Help Her With That One!

Hello family!!  

It's been another wonderful week!  This sunday was especially exciting.  We had 6 of our investigators come to church!!  Everyone is pretty shy so its REALLY hard to get them to start coming.  We usually only have one  or two that come.  But this time, nanay B-- came for the first time, after teaching her for about two months!!  She came with a neighbor, and we were SO excited when we saw them walking up :).  She was worried about feeling like an "alien" at our church, since she hasn't been before.  But when she got here, she found out her cousin is a member and some of her friends!  She said she didn't feel out of place at all :). It's the same way I felt my first time going to church here!  Felt right at home.  How cool is our church :).  

We also picked up two sisters that we just began teaching, L-- and L--.  They loved church!  We talked about goals in sunday school, and L-- said her goal was to get baptized!!  Haha I think we can help her with that one. :)  They are super sweet girls though.  We are teaching them and their mom.

This week, we had splits with our stl's!!  We were all in Bato, since it's 4 hours away and it takes up almost 2 whole days if we swap areas.  It was really cool to be back in Bato, since I went there for splits last transfer. I was with Sister Monilar!  She is a great missionary, I really learned a lot from her.  She is very humble! She goes home soon, but was telling me how she still has a lot she needs to work on before she goes home.  Bato seems to be a really tough area, but she is still so optimistic and working so hard!  She is a great example :). We worked in the same area as I did before. Last time, with Sister Samayla, we OYM'd a new family and taught them the beginning of the first lesson.  This time, we went back, and taught them about the plan of salvation!  It was really cool to see and teach them again :).  We also visited with some other people I met before, and it was fun to catch up with them a little bit.  I also got to see sister Kaun, who was in my zone before, but transfered to bato!  We've missed her too :)  

Next week we have district conference in Sogod!  Our branch rents out a bus and everyone travels together saturday morning, and come back together sunday afternoon.  THere is a member there with a big empty apartement close to the church where everyone sleeps.  So everything is free for the members, they just get to come :).  Some of our investigators will hopefully come with us too!  That would be so great.  Ah. I really hope they do! They can get to know the members better and meet the whole district!  I'll be praying all week that they can come!

That is crazy it's been so cold lately! Haha enjoy it for me :).  Mom thats awesome your'e walking still :).  And you get to talk to Jill too!  Thats so fun! Josh! That's awesome you improved your score!! Two points is a lot for the ACT!!  Cool!  Have fun with those applications :).  And I am SO EXCITED for you to go on the tour and then your mission..... holy moly you are getting old!! When do you start your papers?  Special needs mutual sounds like it was a great experience.  I had some friends that did that in high school, and loved it too.  Keep it up :). Jaxsen, do you still dress up every sunday in your scuba gear and knight costume and stuff like that?? I was telling my companion abou that, she thinks you are hilarious :). And also, I still have your picture in my scriptures!  It's in the book of Acts, because it sounds like Jax :).  

Well. .  I love hearing everything thats' going on in your lives!  Sounds like you're all keeping busy :).   I love you all so much!! I pray for you alllll the time.  Have a great week!!!

Love, Sister Mortensen

 Bri with Girls from Bato

Sister Monilar and Sister Mortensen - Going on Splits in Bato

Monday, November 10, 2014

I See Over And Over That The Lord Really Is Preparing People For Us


Ok yes, I love your idea about Christmas for the branch! I think ties is a great idea!! That would be so fun to give ties to our members to go with their new white shirts :). For sisters, if you could maybe find a couple skirts, that would be great :).  Sometimes people don't have church clothes, and are a little nervous about coming to church without a skirt.  Other than that, I can't think of anything right now that we could give sisters and kids, but I will think about it more this week.  Thank you so much!! That is a perfect idea!  I really don't need any more clothes, laba already takes me long enough :). haha thank you though :)  This transfer ends december 4th, and we are guessing that sister kalua-santiago is going to transfer :(. she will have been here 6 months by then.  I could go as well, actually.  They might switch Hinunangan to elders sometime soon.  I kinda wish we both could stay here for christmas though!! I'ts gonna be sad to leave.

Haha yes, my blonde hair definitely makes me stand out.  A lot!  one sunday in relief society my comp was sitting behind me talking to a lady who said she wanted to chop off my hair and make a wig :). Haha! They were cracking up! But usually, people just always are looking at us.  Which is great, since I LOVE being the center of attention, so much :).  Haha.  But it is good, that everyone will talk to us all the time.  And they remember us too.  A lot of the people we talk to say they've seen us around before.  I really look tan? I feel whiter than ever here! Huh :).   yeah I am starting to get used to the weather, kinda.  It's still hot!  But it's not nearly as bad as it was :).  apparently it takes some time, but eventually I'll start feelling COLD at night sometimes :).  Haha or atleast thats what all the missionaries say :).  But it hasn't happened yet haha :)  

I love the primary program!! We had ours here a couple weeks ago, and it was so fun:).  They sang that song too!  And I remember learning it when I was teaching primary back home too :).  wow, that feels like so long ago!  I miss them though, that was so fun! :) 

C-- is doing great still!  We can only teach her on weekends though, so that makes it a little tough.  She is still reading though, and feeling the spirit!  We were REALLY hoping that she would come to church yesterday, but not yet :(.  She is just shy I think.  Her friend F-- is super busy working, so we haven't been able to teach her for a while.  She still is very interested though, so we will find time to teach her!

The greatest miracle this week was the E-- Family!  There is this one road called Tangaad where we have been teaching a lot lately (we decided to rename it "mormon road!").  We walk up and down it most every day, and always say hello to everyone.  When we were walking home one time, a lady named R-- E-- stopped us and wanted to talk to us.  We talked for a while, and she said she wanted us to come and teach her family sometime!! So, of course, we said yes and set up an appointment with her.  The next day, we went to teach M--, an investigator, and R-- was there visiting her!  So we taught her the first lesson there with M-- :).  And M-- was so great during the lesson!  She remembered and helped R-- understand everything.  Which is great, since sometimes it's hard to tell if people are really understanding us.  Haha.  But M-- did, and now R-- does too!  Ah. The spirit was strong, it was great :). 

The next day, we went to teach R--'s family!  Only one of her daughters was there, L--, but she still wanted us to share :).  I'm excited to back and teach them again! They are a great little family.  M-- is awesome, too, I can't believe her!  She is still learning all the lessons, but comes to church every week, and is helping the E-- family, and brought another family we're teaching with her to church yesterday!  It's amazing to see the difference between people that are SO prepared, like M-- and the E-- family, and others who are not quite open to hearing the gospel yet.  I see over and over that the Lord really is preparing people for us.  It's true! This really is the Lord's work :).

This week we have splits, so I get to go to Bato again!  That will be fun :).  Both me and my comp are going there this time, since it takes so long to travel there.  I'm excited though!  We go there tomorrow after zone training, and then will come home wednesday.  Can't wait!

Well, I better go, but it was great to hear from you! Keep up the good stuff :) haha I love you all so much!!! 

Love, Sister Mortensen

ps. I love the words of wisdom and the pictures!!!! haha you guys are crazy :)
Also, I really hope these emails make sense! haha sometimes they're a little all over the place, haha sorry :)

Yeah!!!!  Bri sent pictures!

Sister Kalua-Santiago and Sister Mortensen

PEF Graduation. (Perpetual Education Fund graduation  exercises are held for carpenters who are building shelters following Typhoon Yolanda.  Graduates receive a government certification and a tool box from the LDS Church.)

PEF Graduation

PEF Graduation 

PEF Graduation

Riding on the bus in Hinunganan.  Everyone squishes on.  It is packed.  We had a seat though!

Cooking Dinner

Rambutans from the Delutas


Eating Jack Fruit

Christmas Trees and Smores in November?

Hinunangan Zone