Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!


A view from the Patio Deck and Pool
Last night was an experience. We had been told when we arrived here that New Year's Eve was a night to remember. In fact one of the employee's at the Philippine Area Office told me last week that "the Philippine people are poor but when New Year's Eve comes they are rich." They weren't kidding.

Not much of a view to see fireworks from the pool
Last night we thought it might be interesting to see the firework displays from the pool. Forty story buildings on all sides of the pool have a tendency to block any view that we may have thought that we would get. At 9 or so we went to Elder and Sister Hadlock's apartment which is on the 28th floor. For the first hour we socialized and ate the last of the bad food that we've sworn off for the new year. During that time a few of us tried to see the fireworks that were going off. Although their apartment is the highest of the missionaries the only room that had a good view was their laundry room. At the most three people would be able to fit in their at a time.

Marcia and Sister Edie Dupaix looking out from the 25th floor
Little after 10 we decided to move the gathering down to the 25th floor which is where Elder and Sister Bailey live. Their apartment faces toward Manila and the show was spectacular. We were able to watch from their living room as well as one of the bedrooms. Everyone was amazed at the amount of fireworks that were being displayed. There didn't seem to be any organization to it all. Fireworks would shoot up from all directions. The variety, the noise, and the smoke simply amazed everyone.
 The display was a crescendo as the fireworks were consistant
at the beginning. The closer we got to midnight the more the air
was filled with lights. It never slowed down until after 12:30 or
Fireworks on the Patio Deck of our Apartment

I will try to upload some video on this post but it appears to be taking a loooong time to upload. So if I can I will post one video with this post and tomorrow I will post the remaining ones. Have a safe and Happy New Year everyone!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year in review- "Food- (Soapbox Warning!)

Seafood counter at Robinson's Market

Goat outside on street next to San Pablo Mission Home
This was originally posted on September 3, 2012. My scientist son informed me that my science was somewhat off kilter. I informed him that as my tongue was firmly in my cheek as I wrote it that of course it was a bit skewed- but I did warn people at the beginning of the post.!

"I suppose at some time it is necessary to eat food. Some of us prefer to eat more often than others. Others have a tough time eating. Anyone who may be reading or watching the media in the United States might get the idea that there is a crisis of 'obesity' occurring. Just as an observational note- although the Philippines is not a wealthy country it does have its share of people who are of a 'stouter' nature.

With all the excess weight that is accumulating does that mean that we are 'weighing' the earth down more? and possibly slowing it down? Although it is not a theory that I advocate I do believe it is one aspect of global warming- if you agree with that theory that has not been addressed. Sure people pick the obvious and say that gas emissions, coal emissions, refrigerants and the like are the cause of old mother earth warming up. Any one can say that- in fact according to the media it's a done deal global warming is not a theory but a fact. I have a tendency not to quite believe what SOME scientists are theorizing and lean towards the facts that the earth is old and there are natural events and cycles that occur. I believe that man shows his arrogant and prideful side when he thinks that by his living his lifestyle the earth will be dramatically changed in a detrimental way. I remember the 1970s when global cooling was the criers voice and the headlines in news magazines.

I did warn all readers that I was on a soap box. If you have gotten this far good for you because now comes the interesting and bold new theory that I am proposing. Is it possible that due to the 'obesity' epidemic that is occurring around the world that the earth is actually slowing down because of the excess weight that people have? What happens when people get over weight? They slow down- everyone has seen this occur. What happens when you put overweight people into cars? The cars slow down. It is a natural law (somewhere). Since I have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt regarding my 'global slowing' theory I will need to demonstrate how it dovetails and is the cause for our planets temperature rise. Naturally, naturally, when things slow down, especially when exposed to sun light, they heat up faster. If an ice cube is exposed for 1 second in the sun it doesn't melt much. If you were  to leave that same ice cube out for 5 minutes it will no longer be an ice cube but, instead, it will be a puddle. Because the earth is slowing down because of our 'obesity' epidemic our exposure to the sun is much longer and thus the earth is temporarily heating up. Temporarily? Of course. Once people recognize that overeating is causing overheating they will naturally, naturally, want to lose weight, close McDonalds, banish soft drinks and junk food from schools, ban transfats from New York City, and demonize movie popcorn around the world (wait- don't they already do that?).

Remember I did issue a soap box warning at the top of the post....."



This post was originally from this blog. Its post date was on October 18, 2012.

"Life is an exciting adventure.

NYC from the Brooklyn Bridge
We have shared moments and we have unique experiences. If you believe in God, and if you have been reading this blog you know I do, our ultimate destination is to return back to Him.

One of our friends in our office described a conversation that he had with one of his young adult sons. He used an analogy of having New York City as a destination for a vacation. Knowing what our destination is part of our growing process. Agreeing with others about that destination might be another struggle we may have to overcome. When this particular parent talked to his son, using New York City as an example, the destination was easily agreed on but the route to travel on was not as easy. The son didn't want to travel with or anywhere near his father. The road the son chose to travel on wasn't smooth nor direct. In fact, at times, it even appeared circuitous. Although my friend tried to show his son a better route, one that he knew would be more direct and less hazardous, his son chose to pick his own way. This wise father realized that it was time to back away and let his son experience and grow from his own choices. He understood that his son would make his own way but also understood that his final destination, if he successfully completed his road, was the same as his.

Each of our roads are different. In this case a comparison to fingerprints is appropriate as no two fingerprints are alike neither are two roads alike. The only two guaranteed shared moments that we have had and will go through is birth and death. These are our thresholds in life.

Why do I refer to them as thresholds? When you ponder those two events the only real experience is the precise moment of birth and the precise moment of death. All experiences prior to those two moments are quite different for each individual. In one of my 'past lifes' (work experiences) I was a director of maintenance for a skilled nursing facility- a nursing home. The last one I worked at had two "memory care" wings for those who had some form of dementia. While their I witnessed the onset of dementia and the sometimes slow debilitating route that it takes as it goes through someones mind and body. In those situations the process of dieing was sometimes long and drawn out. In another situation I had an elderly friend who was in his early to mid 80s. K was a hard working man who still put in a good work week while taking care of his wife who was ill with a myriad of issues. One Sunday, after church, K had a nice steak dinner. Following his steak dinner he sat in his recliner, turned on the TV, and fell asleep... for the last time.

I mention these two examples in pointing out that although the process is different the very moment when they approach and cross that particular threshold- it is the same...."


Year in review- "Handedness?!"

I do have more than one blog. Tonight, as I sit in my 12th floor apartment, I am in the process of reviewing some of my past posts on this blog and my other one. I came across one that I feel like sharing on this eve before New Year's eve in Manila. This particular post also shows how good of a therapist Marcia is as you will notice towards the end of the post. Enjoy!

This was originally published March 18, 2012, in my blog "Lost and Found." It thus is in the running for 'posts in review." Its originally post title was called "Thoughts."

"It has been some time since I have written on this blog. To say that I was busy would, at best, be a lame excuse for not keeping up with the blog. I have feel strongly on a certain issue and I wish to express my opinions on such.

The topic dejour is 'handedness.' For years I have worked in the trades. I was a senior mechanic for the LDS church in the Greater Chicago area. During that time I became aware of doors and how they swing one way or another. This swinging of the door is called left or right handed. If it sounds confusing- it is. So rather then bore my ever wide ranging audience with a detailed description of handedness I will move into the topic of plumbing- which I also did in another lifetime. Unfortunately for me, the easily confused, plumbing required one to know right and left as well. The phrase "righty tighty, lefty loosy" comes to mind. It refers to the direction that something will turn. Without going to a sink do you know which side the hot water and the cold water are on?

While working in Chicago one of our plumbing vendors used a plumber by the name of Pat. Pat was a union plumber and not what one would think of as a stereotypical plumber. Not fat, no rear cleavage, and was sober when he came to the job. He had apprenticed as a plumber with a larger firm in Chicago and one of his journey men that he worked for always would take a card out of his pocket, look at it, and place it back in his pocket. The apprentices had no idea what the card was and curiosity was rampant. Unfortunately this master plumber died and his funeral was attended by a number of the plumbers that he had trained throughout the years. Curiosity won out as following the funeral a number of his former apprentices approached his widow and asked if she might have known what was on the card that he kept referring to as he worked. The widow reached into her purse and said "do you mean this card?" She drew out of her purse the well worn 3 x 5 card that was so familiar to all of the plumbers. They, in unison, nodded their collective heads as the widow handed the card to Pat. As he peered at the card he started to laugh. The other plumbers were very eager at this point to see what pearls of wisdom that the master plumber was passing on to his plumbing posterity. Pat turned to face the other young plumbers and read the back of the card- "Hot left side, cold right side."

I digress though. Nicknames are plenty for those who may be a left hander. Names like 'lefty,' 'southpaw,' or one we used in softball a lot (definitively not PC) 'hooker.' I am sure that there a number of others out there.

So why all this in bringing up handedness? Well my curiosity has gotten to the best of me as I have watched my loyal canine, Harli, over the past few years and the thought came up- 'are dogs right pawed or left pawed?' Should I affectionately call her 'southpaw' because she is a dog and she does have paws? Maybe this is why my dog is receiving counseling from our favorite therapist."


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and Technology

From Manila on Christmas Eve- Marcia and I would like to share with everyone our thanks for the support over the last 6 months while we have served our mission in the Philippines. We have felt your prayers and can witness that our loving Heavenly Father does answer them. We have realized that we have been truly blessed with family and friends. As we work here we realize even more how blessed we are.

Top-Kasi and the Fuller Clan, bottom left to right- Brig;
Marcia and me; Kasi and Fullers; Max, Charma, Bri, William, and
the rest of the Vegas' group
Technology- Google + it is because of that technology we will be able to see and visit family during the course of this holiday!

Why are we here? It is because of the birth of One who we call our elder Brother- Jesus Christ. It is His birthday we remember tomorrow.

So from Metro Manila- Merry Christmas or as we say in Tagalog- Maligayang Pasko!


Elder Jeff and Sister Marcia French

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Latest in Pictures

Ford Mustang 'Ragtop' circ. 1969 
 This post is some of the accumulated pictures over the last 5 months that we have been here. I will try and put some detail to the captions to give you an idea the broad range of things that we are experiencing here. Marcia and I absolutely love it here. The people are friendly and kind. When someone brings out a camera you will have swarms of people surrounding you in anticipation of having their picture taken. That can be seen in some of the pictures in this post.
Marcia with youth and 2 Elders outside the Manila Temple

This is Elder Steven Hadlock in an evacuation center. This is two months
following the end of the typhoons that hit the Manila area in August. A week or two
after this picture all who were in the center had returned to their homes.

Waterfall at Sierra Madre Resort

Waterfall at Sierra Madre Resort

Sunset at the end of White Plains Avenue. This street is
immediately north of our office.
 As you can see in the picture on the left the youth like to have their pictures taken. This is just outside the Manila LDS Temple. Our offices are directly across the street from the temple. It is a beautiful sight to see every morning as we drive into work.

Speaking of driving-as I digress- Marcia and I took a psychiatrist out for dinner this past Thursday evening. We mentioned that we drove. She was rather shocked that I drove in the Manila area and then when we told her that Marcia also drove she was even a little more shocked. Marcia and I really like to drive here. It's just short of driving for NASCAR. We have been blessed that we haven't had any accidents as of this point. And, unlike most of the senior missionaries here, we haven't received a ticket up to this point. That doesn't mean we haven't been stopped. Especially Marcia whose blonde hair sticks out quite a bit.

The picture on the left here is of Elder Hadlock who currently is the countries wheelchair coordinator with his wife, Becky. This year the church is placing about 5,000 wheelchairs to people with disabilities. Their is no cost to the recipient other then asking them or their family, or their community, to perform up to 40 hours of community service. LDS Charities has partnered with Rotary International, The Philippine Marines, and a few other NGO's to distribute these chairs. The partners pay for the shipping to the individuals who need the chairs and the LDS Charities pays for the chairs themselves. Next year they are budgeting in for 7,000 wheelchairs. They love their work and it keeps them quite busy. When there is a calamity they change hats and go quickly into calamity mode. With the typhoon that just reeked havoc in Mindanao the Church is already in action to help supply clothing, food and shelter where they can.

The two waterfall pictures were taken on a senior missionary outing to visit a senior couple who had moved to the far reaches of our particular mission. It was up in the mountains. On the way back one of the couple asked to stop at a resort run by a retired Army General who was their friend. We had the wonderful opportunity to tour that facility and see the beautiful falls. Marcia and I also had a the chance to zipline. It was quite fun!

Birthday celebration- Me, Sister Hadlock, Sister Armstrong

 Birthdays here are remembered. Possibly to the chagrin of some! The above picture is of me, Sister Hadlock and Sister Armstrong as we blow out the candles on our combined cake. Sister Armstrong and I share the same birthday although a few years apart. Sister Hadlock's birthday is one day after ours. Sister Hadlock works with her husband in the wheelchair distribution. Sister Armstrong and Elder Armstrong work at the Manila Mission Training Center. She is the MTC nurse and her husband works their as the executive secretary for the MTC presidency.

If you have been in the Philippines you will know what this sign is about!

Marcia and I on the way to Sierra Madre resort with the Senior
Missionary Zone

Papaya tree on the way to Sierra Madre Resort

Marcia and Sister Hadlock in front of a Jeepney

Marcia has a very busy office. As her responsibility as the Philippine Area Mental Health Adviser she is constantly on the phone communicating with missionaries, Mission Presidents or their wives, or with leadership from other areas regarding their missionaries who are serving here in the Philippines. One of the other responsibilities that she has is to screen those missionaries who have been flagged that might have had some sort of mental health issue in the past. Some of these issues are not necessarily diagnostic in nature but more counseling in nature. An example might be that a missionary who desires to serve has indicated that they may have experienced abuse of some nature in the past as they have grown up. Marcia is tasked to see how well they are doing following such a traumatic experience and determine if the missionary will be able do endure the stress of a mission under those circumstances. It is a very hard task to do and quite the burden for Marcia. She does very well and is a blessing for these missionaries as she counsels with them. As I may have stated previously the mental health care here is not quite up to date as what we may feel the US is up to. Marcia has seen and experienced things here that she hasn't quite seen in the United States. Mind you she has seen the types of abuse and mental health issues here that she counseled for in the US but their are some things regarding PTSD that she hadn't seen before. She is doing a tremendous work in helping these young missionaries. If they weren't on their missions they would not have been able to receive the assistance and counsel from anyone else because the resources are not available. Marcia being here is a tremendous blessing for them. With us only being here for 5 months she has already helped hundreds of people. That is why I say that we are quite busy!!
Marcia busy in her office

Concrete Drainage Pipe Home
 The picture on the left is a concrete drainage pipe section. It is also the home of a lady and a few cats. Marcia and I haven't seen her but Elder and Sister Hadlock have seen her on several occasions. She has a make shift door out of cardboard which she uses to cover the entrance during the day when she is not their. The plastic is used to help keep it dry when it rains.
Thanksgiving dinner at the Taylors

This picture is a gathering at the apartment of the MTC President and his wife, President and Sister Taylor. They are a great couple. This was taken during our Thanksgiving dinner in which we were so graciously invited to. From left to right: Elder and Sister Jackson, Marcia, Sister Taylor and President Taylor, Sister Fleming, Elder and Sister Armstrong.

Can you say Mandaluyoun?

We live on the 12th floor of an apartment/condo complex in the community of Mandaluyong. On the Sunday following Thanksgiving we started hearing loud 'banging' sounds. I looked out the window and was pleasantly surprised to see a firework display going on. I shouted to Marcia, who was in the living room, to look out. After she was able to orient herself and realize she needed to look down from our 12th floor we were both able to watch a 25 minute firework display. As of today we are still not sure as to why it was going on!

Pictured here is Marcia and Gilda. Gilda is our office manager and we were surprised to find out that she spent her mission in the same mission and at the same time as our sister-in-law, Laurel Mount. When Gilda saw a picture of Laurel in Marcia's office she stated that she did remember her even though their paths crossed for a short period of time. It is a small Mormon world after all!!
Gilda and Marcia

Squatter's homes below Seagulls in Tagaytay

We have learned that the sense of community here is strong. If a family grows a garden it is not uncommon for the neighbors to come and harvest the the fruits of the garden for their own families. It is ok as long as the produce isn't used to sell in the market. We found some of that when we were in Tagaytay. Below Seagulls squatters had built several huts/homes in which they live. You can see the smoke coming from one of the huts in one of the pictures. They normally don't have electricity but what they do have is a long extension chord. Every night at 6 p.m. the staff at Seagulls plug in the extension chord giving power to the squatters who live down the hill. Later in the evening or early in the morning they unplug the chord and the squatters have to wait again for the evening to have power...jsf
Squatter's homes

Extension chord to power squatter's homes

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tagaytay-Seagulls Flight Foundation

The cars we see-on the way to Tagaytay
We have been fortunate to meet some very extraordinary people in the short time that we have been here. Two of those individuals has been Ed Castillo and his wife, Chit.

Me, Marcia, Reuben(facility director), and Ed (President)
They are founders of an organization called Seagulls Flight Foundation. It is a treatment community located in the beautiful area of Tagaytay. We were invited by the Castillos to come and give a presentation to the residents their.

Marcia on a table with a resident who is about to be pushed
 Marcia did a fantastic job in what turned out to be a seminar. The morning was spent in teaching trust and setting boundaries. There are about 50 residents and they were very receptive to Marcia's presentation.

It is amazing as one ages how the cumulative skills of past experiences assist in what one is doing currently. Trust is a big issue with just about everyone. Teaching trust is not an easy task but Marcia was able to convey in a manner that was understood by all that were present. The first thing she did was the "trust fall." Those who may be familiar with the theater training may recognize this activity.

The object of this is to not bend and trust those who may be in the line below you. It is not an easy thing to do but it is an excellent object lesson.

Successful 'fall'
After lunch-in which we had the best pineapple we've ever tasted- Marcia picked up and the topic at hand was self-esteem. I was amazed at how well Marcia presented and interacted with the residents at Seagulls. She was able to teach them some basic fundamentals. The residents were very appreciative of the seminar.

Another trust game

Beautiful Lake Taal, Taal Volcano

Marcia and afternoon session
While we were talking with Ed and Reuben we mentioned that the Church does have employment training. They were very interested in that as well as at some point after the resident's recovery they will integrate back into the community. In a discussion with our employment people in Quezon City we found out that they do a day long seminar regarding employment. We will coordinate that with Reuben and that will probably happen sometime in January...


Friday, December 7, 2012

71 years today...Veteran's remember

We are a relatively young country, comparatively speaking. In some European countries you can find houses that are older than what our country is. Naturally as a 'teenage' country our attention span and our memories are short in duration. One could even say that as a nation we have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Unfortunately this type of mentality is fed by individuals and politicians who only have vision through the next election cycle and are not willing to look beyond the next election date. It is sad to say then that decisions are then made based on what will help them in the polls, on sound bites that may glamorize them in front of the evening news, or on decisions that will help them best get reelected and not for the betterment of the country as a whole.

USS Arizona
With that off my chest I have come to realize that the conscience of a nation isn't necessarily the historians who spend hours, days, and years studying the past. They are the chroniclers of time and past. No- the conscience of a nation is its veterans. Those who have made some of the history of a country while defending its principles and freedoms over the years. They watch as those freedoms and principles they have fought for so bravely are eroded away by time and politicians.

71 years today is the anniversary of the entry of the United States into the second world war. It was marked by the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. I state the entry of the United States into the war because on December 7th, 1941 war already had been raging in Asia as well as in Europe. Ask someone from Poland, England, France, or China when WWII started and you will get answers that are much earlier than December 7th, 1941.

Cross memorial on top of Mt. Samat

Yesterday Marcia and I went with a number of other people from our work area and visited a memorial to those who fought on the peninsula of Bataan in the Philippines. We drove to the top of a mountain-17,000 feet. On the top was a cross over forty stories tall erected for those who fought at the onset of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Inside the cross was an elevator that took us to the 'cross' portion of the monument to an observation deck. The observation deck was 36 stories; another 360 feet in the air.

Closer look at base of cross
You can imagine, because of its height overlooking miles and miles of land, why this mountain was fought over during the Japanese invasion. I was amazed of the view that we had from the observation deck.

I am proud to be a veteran of the United States Navy. I have been blessed to have been born in a country that has more freedoms than most other countries around the world. I feel it an obligation to remember and remind others of the price of blood that was paid for our freedoms- from Bunker Hill to Afghanistan. Today we remember what started WWII 71 years ago today.

Our WWII veterans are quickly answering their final muster call. If you know of one, related to one- tell him or her thank-you. It is long overdue...


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blessings- Commandments and Obedience

Our society today can be, and has been, labeled as an "Entitlement" society. The expectation is to get something for nothing. If you can't work, don't worry because someone will be your safety net. Going to school-don't worry about- if your parents can't pay for it Uncle Sam will underwrite your 6+ years of college. Never mind that college students, combined, have in excess of $1 Trillion (that is correct- 1 Trillion) in school loan debts. What ever happened to working your way through college? What ever happened to personal responsibility? As Marcia and I have been in the Philippines for the last four months we have seen that families support each other here. There is some government assistance but not like what is happening in the United States. In order for people to eat here they need to work. (Perhaps a subject for another post)

What does this have to do with blessings? Fortunately our loving Heavenly Father doesn't quite work with entitlements. This isn't a pay as you go system either. There are, essentially, two ingredients required as one seeks Heavenly blessings. One is obedience to God's commandments. The other is faith.

Commandments and Obedience

Commandments are rules handed down through God's prophets for the welfare of His children. As children, we know who we are, growing up it was natural for us to challenge or test what the boundaries of those rules that were given to us. Either from our parents or from our Heavenly Father their is a tendency to bend those rules. Some do not do so and thus don't experience sorrows that come from breaking some of the basic of God's commandments. Examples may be not having to be incarcerated following stealing from someone; or dealing with an unwanted pregnancy or STD. (How often does one get to use STDs in a post about blessings?) There comes freedom when obedience occurs. It may only be recognized when the commandment is broken but there is freedom in obedience.

Some commandments have blessings directly connected to them. In a previous post I mentioned about the "windows of heaven" being opened when one pays tithing and offerings. Did you realize their is also a blessing directly connected to one of the BIG 10 that Moses brought down from the mountain?

     "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12 KJV)

As I have posted I have mentioned that my faith believes in continuing revelation. Their is one specifically that teaches this concept about blessings. This was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. in 1843:

     "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated-- And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." (Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21)

Common among active members of our faith is the adherence to what is referred to as "the Word of Wisdom," part of which is not taking into our bodies tobacco products, alcohol, tea and coffee. There are other aspects to this commandment which I won't detail at this point. What I will mention is that, just as the other blessings connected with the two commandments previously mentioned, this commandment has specific blessings associated with it:

     "And all the saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen." (Doctrine and Covenants 89: 18-21)

Those are some pretty awesome blessings. I have been a direct recipient of blessings from this commandment. As some of you may know 10 years ago I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. Because of my obedience to His commandments and because of faith of myself, Marcia, kids, family and friends I have been blessed to have lived longer than I should have...


Monday, December 3, 2012

Blessings..... Time

Blessings. Time.

On my last post on blessings and piggy banks I quoted a scripture that, since it is our blog, I will repeat here:

  "And secondly, he doth require that you should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you." (Mosiah 2:24 p 149 Book of Mormon)

It's that word  "immediately" that does jump out at you. The commandment obey- blessing bestowed action.

Before I begin to talk about time and timing I want to mention just a few words about faith. What is faith? Paul gives an excellent discourse, in his letter to the Hebrews, on faith.

     "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Things hoped for. Is it a universal hope that when one dies that they are going to be in a better place? Even if one is not a Christian there is a hope of a higher plane of existence or step up from the life that we have been living. This entire chapter in Hebrews is devoted to faith. Paul uses the excellent example of Noah.

     "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." (Hebrews 11:7 KJV) 

Handcart Pioneers
As Marcia and I were reading last night from the Church's General Conference and we came across a very cool (or as it is said in the Philippines-astig!) story about one of the LDS pioneers traveling across the plains in the 1856. At that time the Saints were settling in the Great Salt Lake Basin to escape persecution that followed them during the early years. Their means of transport feet, handcarts, and faith. The following is an excerpt from a conference talk given by Elder Marcus B. Nash of the Quorum of the Seventy about a woman by the name of Ann Rowley. She was a widow from England who joined the Church their and then migrated to the U.S. with her children. From Elder Nash and Sister Rowley's journal:

     A widow from England, Sister Rowley exercised her faith to answer the prophet's call to gather to Zion. She was a member of the Willie handcart company, which encountered deep snowdrifts along the trail in the fall of 1856. They had reached a point in the trek where her seven children were literally starving. She wrote: "It hurt me to see my children go hungry....Night was coming and there was no food for the evening meal. I asked God's help as I always did. I go on my knees, remembering two hard sea biscuit that....had been left over from the sea voyage. They were not large, and were so hard they couldn't be broken. Surely,that was not enough to feed 8 people, but  5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5,000 people either,but through a miracle,Jesus had done it. So, with God's help, nothing is impossible. I found the biscuits and put them in a dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God's blessing. Then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals. When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food. I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness. That night my family had sufficient food."

In this particular situation the need for blessings was immediate. The faith of Ann Rowley was sufficient for a miracle to occur. Was she doubting? I don't believe so. Was her will in alignment with that of Heavenly Father's will? Most assuredly....