Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our visit with Ramon's family

One of the purposes for our trip to Manila was to meet Ramon's family (Ramon one of the members of our little congregation on Tinian). Above are Terri, Lucille (Ramon's wife); Joshua (Ramon's son); and Micah (Ramon's youngest daughter). Ramon's oldest daughter, Golda, is living and working in Abu Dabi.

After they made the 2-hour drive to the Temple, we went next door to one of the small cafes to eat together.

Ramon's brother and sister-in-law also came, Shiela and Jay, and in the back is our daughter Liz.

Joshua, 20 years old, is going to college to learn the Hotel industry, and may move to Tinian with his father after he graduates. Micah, just 13, isn't sure what she wants to do when she grows up. amazingly, they all spoke English quite well! I guess they begin to learn English in school as early as 1st grade!

After lunch, we went back to Temple housing to sit and talk some more. We all seemed to get along quite well for being complete strangers just a short time ago!

Everyone was amazed at how tall our daughter Liz is!

All too soon they had to leave, but not before we were able to exchange gifts and lots of hugs. We look forward to visiting them and the Philippines again!

Our trip to the Philipines

Here is a group shot of the members of the Saipan Branch that traveled together to the Manila Temple.

Terri and I traveled to the Philipines to attend the Mormon temple north of Manila. It was a long trip (we had to go through Japan, and had a 5-7 hour wait in the airport), but it turned out to be a great trip.

The purpose for going to the Temple are many:

For individuals, they attend the Temple to receive their own 'endowment', and then to provide ordinances for their dead ancestors.

For families, men and women attend the Temple to be married, or 'sealed', for eternity; and then have their children 'sealed' to them. Once this is done, they also can provide these same ordinances for their dead ancestors.

Mormons beleive that men on earth can make covenants with God. For example, Abraham made a covenant with God: he would live a righteous life (as defined by God), and in return, God blessed Abraham and all his decendents. The 'sign' of this covenant was circumcision.

Another common covenant is baptism. When someone accepts Jesus as their Savior and Lord, they are in fact making a covenant with God. They agree to beleive in and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in return, God will bless them by permitting them to enter heaven after death. People are baptised as a 'sign' or an open accknowledgement of this covenant.

When Mormons go to the Temple, they take upon themselves additional covenants, and in return, are promised additional blessings. We promise to obey God's commanments. We promise to sacrifice our time and talents to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We promise to be faithful to our spouse (if we intend to be bound eternally as husband and wife, this seems like a smart thing to do...). Like Abraham with his son Isaac, we promise to sacrifice anything and everything for God and Christ.

In return, and if we remain faithful, we are promised entrance into the Celestial Kingdom-- the ability to live with God the Father and Jesus Christ.

After a person accepts Jesus as their Savior, they can be baptized in His name. The ordinance of baptism symbolizes the washing away of our sins. Many who have been baptised have expressed how the ordinance made them feel clean, and more spiritual. It is a start of a new life for millions!

As a person grows and matures, they can go to the Temple to make additional covenants, and receive addtional blessings.

Here is a bunch of us waiting to go inside the Temple. Sister Nelson is attempting to take a picture of a couple with the Angel Moroni in the background (he sits atop the steeple).

Here is another group of people who also came to the Temple and gathered for a picture

This is a picture of Brother and Sister Wally (their son is in front). We had the honor of 'bunking' with the Wallys at the Temple Housing. This was their first trip to the Temple. They were going to be sealed together as husband and wife, and then have their children sealed to them.

As usual, our trip to Manila started with a trip to Saipan from Tinian. We took a calculated risk: we decided to fly to Saipan the morning of the trip. If it had been raining, we would have missed our flight to Manila since the small planes don't fly in bad weather. Most times we would have traveled to Saipan the day before, just to make sure. We had good luck...

Here are some of the group as we worked our way through all the airports (Saipan, Tokyo, Manila)

We finally got on a bus from the Manila airport to the Temple, about 30 min. away. We had gotten up about 5am to start this trip, and would arrive at our housing at about 1am the next day!

During the down-time, the children were playing two games I had never seen before. One game had two groups of children, standing about 10' apart. At their feet was a bottle-cap in a circle (you can see the bottle-cap above). Then they would take turns tossing a rock at the other's bottle-cap. If the cap was hit, the children would race to a line about 30' away. Then the team that lost (who had their bottle-cap hit) were required to carry the other team on their backs back to the start!

Anther game was sort of like tag: four children were stationed in a line, each about 10' apart. The other team had to try to race past them without getting tagged. The children who were trying to tag the other team could only move side-to-side, so once a child made it past the first line, they faced the next person, and so on. If even one person on the team was tagged, they had to switch sides.

The Temple sits on a hill above the city, and has some great views.

During our visit to the Temple there were many other groups that came to visit the Temple also... it was a very busy place!

In the Temple housing there are two kitchens, and two dining halls where people can cook and eat. Some people, including our group, had our meals catered-- they would bring our food, and cook it on site for us to eat. There were also three restaurants and cafes right next door that people could visit to eat.

Terri and our Branch President, Brother Nelson, talk while they eat.

This is the Temple Housing building where we stayed. They keep the price to stay here very low, so even the poorest member can afford to attend the Temple (and they can cook their own food, etc.).

This is our friend at the front desk, who helped us with all of our problems while staying at the housing!

After entering the building, and registering at the front desk, you head down the hall and find your assigned room.

Each room had four sets of bunk beds, so a total of 8 people a room. We bunked with the Wallys and their two children. They had a great overhead fan, and a small air conditioner.

The Temple also had a small van that could hold about 8-10 people in the back. It cost 7 pesos to take this little bus, and in ran in a loop from the Temple to an area a couple of miles away where many of the regular busses intersect.

Of course the purpose of the visit was to come to the Temple!

Across the street from the Temple, besides the Temple Housing, there were two other buildings: this is the Church Office building for the Philipines. All church activity in the Philipines is centered here. Downstairs is also a small store where church materials and Temple clothing is sold; and also a Family History Center, where people can reseach their genealogy.

the other building is the Missionary Training Center, where all of the full-time missionaries coming from the Philipines are trained before they are sent on their 2-year missions to anywhere in the world.

To ease the hot days, there was an ice-cream cart that sat outside our gate at all times!

One of the popular modes of travel in the area are the Jeepneys-- small private busses that travel around the city and carry 20+ people. Many are decorated in a unique style, similar to what is done in India.

There always seemed to be waiting periods: waiting to go to the temple, waiting to go eat, waiting to go sightseeing, etc.

And here is Terri and Liz waiting to leave!

Far too soon we had to leave, but we will return again, when we have more time for sightseeing!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Putting ads on Tinian Times?

I have recieved an offer to put an ad from a travel agency on our site.
We would be paid for anyone who clicks on their ad and goes to their site.
We would also be paid a second time if they purchase anything from that site.

IF we decided to do this, any and all money would be given to a Tinian Charity
(we would let you know how much and which charity)

There are lots of pros and cons:

The pros:

1. we can make money to be given back to Tinian
2. we would provide a service to those who desire to visit Tinian
3. this might increase the number of people who visit the site, and therefore, the number who get to know Tinian.

The Cons:

1. ads tend to distract from the content of the blog
2. this might decrease the number of people who visit the site, and therefore, the number who get to know Tinian.

I would be interested to know people's thoughts and comments!
Should we put ads on the site or not?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

First Anual Tinian Moonlight Fun Run

The first annual Tinian Moonlight Fun Run was held last night, organized by Janet King and Joshua Manglona. Since they also invited 'walkers' to join, I decided I would support their efforts and try making the trek from Taga Beach up the steep hill to the Scenic Overlook (about the half-way point) and around to the backside of the island, and back to Taga Beach-- about a 6 mile route.

People began to gather and register. We were given a number to wear, and, since we would be walking/running at night, a glow stick to wear (my shirt got so wet from my sweat, the number I was wearing melted...).

Terri looks a little worried as I prepare to depart-- would she ever see me again?

As the sun set, the time neared when we would be off on the first leg of the run: up the steep hill on the south side of Dynasty Casino.

And here is Janet King giving the 'start' signal with silly string!

Here are a few of the winners:

'Many moons' after most of the entrants had made their way back to the finish line...

I finally made it safely back to a cheering crowd... not cheering my victory, but cheering that I was still alive!

I was given a certificate of completion that said:

"Certificate of Completion: Thank God You finished"

"This certifies that Kevan Clawson has successfully completed, without medical attention, and with a flourish, The first Annual Tinian Moonlight Fun Run"

So there!