Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Little Bit of History

We wanted to get this posted before Memorial Day, to help others see what those people who have gone before us sacrificed, so we could enjoy the quality of life we have today.
It is has been a month since we left the Palawan Island and we were transferred to Manila. We miss the people in Palawan Island so much. We had started this blog before we left but we weren’t able to get it sent because we were so busy.  We have been really busy with new assignments along with checking over 40 missionary apartments, and doing orientation for a new missionary couple, the Porteous’ who arrived from Medicine Hat, Alberta two weeks ago.  We have been working very hard to understand the traffic and the road system in Manila and how to manipulate through the traffic Sister Wolcott has also been doing all the medical needs for the missionaries in the mission, with help from Sister Taylor.  SisterTaylor will be returning back to the US soon, so Sister Wolcott has been learning all the ins and outs of the system until our new nurse gets here on June 14th.  To say the least we have been busy, busy, busy.  It is such a fun experience though and every day is a new adventure.  We are loving our mission and serving the people of the Philippines as well as our wonderful, dedicated missionaries.  
The more that we are in the Philippines the more we understand the love and respect the Philippine people have for the American people.  We came to understand it better on one of our trips from the airport, our van driver was talking to us about the great things the Americans did for the Philippine people.  He said that the Americans came here and freed the people.  They were no longer slaves.  They taught them to read and write and the importance of education.  They let us govern ourselves and helped us set up a government so we could govern within the laws and rules that we set forth.  (The Philippines were under Spanish rule from 1521 until 1898, the United States acquired the Philippines as part of the settlement of the Spanish American War. Even more interesting is that Joanne's grandfather, Charles Frederick Campbell fought in the Spanish American War). The van driver said usually if another country conquers a country they become subject to that country, but the Americans did not do that to us.  They let us govern ourselves and helped make our country a great place to live.  This man had nothing but love and respect for the American people and the liberation that was brought to the Philippines.  It is nice place to be and the people are such a friendly, kind and respectful where we are treated daily with love and respect.
On another note we would like to share some of the things we have learned while we have been in Puerto Princesa on the Palawan Island.  We love it here and we love the people.  They are so kind, so gentle, so loving and always so polite.  We have to tell this story because of what the Philippine people did to help the American Prisoners of War that on Palawan Island during the WWII.  We wish this story had a better outcome but it doesn’t.  But, we know many of family and friends have the same names as these men and maybe some of these men were part of your families.  We feel a reverence every time we go to the area where the prisoner of war camp used to be.  It is kind of similar to the reverence one might feel at Arlington or Gettysburg.  We pray that you will feel the same reverence as you read this small bit of history which includes some very brave men. 
The main sources for this information are taken from a narrative history of Puerto Princesa during WWII and also an article from the World War II Magazine Today by V. Dennis Wrynn. We know that some of the information is redundant but it helps piece together a complicated story.
With the stunning defeats by the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands in the early months of the Pacific War, thousands of the Allied military personnel became prisoners of war to the Japanese. In August, 1942, 346 American Prisoners of War were taken from a Prisoner of War camp north of Manila and from the Bilibid Prison in Manila and were sent 350 miles to Puerto Princesa on the Island of Palawan to build an airfield for the Japanese. (Palawan is an island which western side is on the South China Sea and its eastern side is the east edge of the Sulu Sea.)  The Japanese planned that the airfield would be completed within 3 months. The prisoners were equipped with picks, and shovels, one tractor, one roller and a few trucks.  If one could see the coral here on the island one would understand what the prisoners of war were trying to break up with a pick and shovel. It is understandable that the completion of the airfield took years.  Even today the roads that are not paved have big strips of coral sticking up out of them. The coral is relentless even after it is driven on, walked on, and used on a daily basis. The coral still penetrates out the ground and does not wear down. The Americans would take over two years to clear a strip of land over a mile long and 600 feet wide out of the jungle and build an airstrip on it.
The Americans at Puerto Princesa attempted more escapes than any other American camp of comparable size.  The first attempt, soon after their arrival on the island, was the most successful.  Out of the six that escaped five made their escape good.  The other prisoners were punished by being given reduced rations. The next escape happened soon after when two more escaped.  Then two more escape attempts followed which were largely unsuccessful. Four men escaped and two were recaptured and a third killed. The last escape was in late June, 1943 resulted in the recapture of both men making the attempt.  They were led off under guard and never seen again.  After this attempt the Japanese commandant announced that if one man escaped, the men in his ten-man squad would be executed. This announcement caused the men to stay in the compound.   
In the compound the prisoners lived in what was known as Camp 10-A and they were quartered in several unused Filipino constabulary buildings that were dilapidated.  Food was minimal; each day they received a mess kit of wormy Cambodian rice and a canteen cup of soup made from camote vines boiled in water. Camote is a Philippine variant of sweet potatoes. If prisoners could not work their rations were cut by 30%. The prisoners received brutal treatment by their captures.  The men were beaten with pick handles, and being kicked and slapped were regular daily occurrences. Prisoners who attempted to escape were executed. Two prisoners caught taking green papayas from a tree in the compound, were punished by breaking their left arms with an iron bar.  Six POWs who were caught stealing food were tied to coconut trees, beaten, whipped with a wire and beaten again with a wooden club 3 inches in diameter.  They were forced to stand at attention while a guard beat them unconscious, after which the prisoners were revived to undergo further beatings. Medical care was non-existent; One Marine underwent an appendectomy with no anesthesia and no infection-fighting drugs.  The POWs suffered from malaria, scurvy, pellagra, beriberi and tropical ulcers as well as from injuries suffered at their work or from the physical mistreatment perpetuated by their captures. In January 1944, when Red Cross supplies finally were received, the enemy removed the medicines and drugs from the parcels for their own use.

In September 1944, 159 prisoners were returned to Manila. The enemy estimated the remaining 150 men could complete the arduous labor on the airfield, hauling and crushing coral gravel by hand and pouring concrete 7 days a week. The total area to be cleared was approximately 2, 400 yards, by 225 yards, with the actual airstrip measuring 1,530 yards long and 75 yards wide. The men also repaired the trucks and performed a variety of maintenance tasks in addition to logging and other heavy labor.
In late September, the Japanese general ordered that the remaining prisoners be returned to Manila, but the order was never carried out, even though the transportation was available.
In October, 1944 there were daily sightings of American aircraft and there was an attack which sank two ships and damaged several planes on Palawan Island. Also later in the month of October another attack damaged 60 enemy aircraft on the ground. The sightings of the American aircraft   helped the morale soar in the camp but with this the treatment of the prisoners became worse, and their rations were cut. But the Japanese did let the Americans paint Prisoner of War Camp on the roof of the barracks. This gave the prisoners some protection during American air raids. The Japanese then stowed their own supplies under the POW barracks.  Because of the constant presence of Allied aircraft overhead the prisoners constructed three shelters, each 150 feet long and 4 feet high, for their own protection during the air raids. They were made so that entrances at each end of the shelters would be only large enough to admit one man at a time.  The shelters were roofed with logs and dirt and were located on the beach side of the camp.  While not totally bombproof, they did offer a significant level of protection.  There were also several shelter holes that could hold two or three men.
On December 14th it was reported that there was an American convoy, which was headed to Palawan, but it was actually going to Mindoro. All of the prisoners were called into the camp at noon.  Two American aircraft was sighted so all the prisoners were ordered into the air raid shelters.  After a short time the prisoners re-emerged from their shelters, but they were ordered to stay in the area of the barracks. A second alarm was sounded at 2:00 p.m. which sent the prisoners back into the shelters, where they remained closely guarded.
Suddenly, in an orchestrated and obviously planned move, 50 to 60 soldiers under the direction of Japanese leadership doused the wooden shelter with buckets of gasoline and set them on fire with flaming torches, followed by hand grenades.  The screams of the trapped and doomed prisoners mingled with the cheers of the Japanese soldiers and the laughter of their officer.  As men engulfed in flames broke out of their fiery deathtraps, the guard’s machine gunned, bayoneted and clubbed them to death.  Most of the Americans never made it out of the trenches or the compound before they were barbarously murdered, but several clashed with their tormentors in hand to hand combat and succeeded in killing a few of the attackers. Four of the American officers that were held prisoner had their own dugout, which was also torched.  One of them ran towards the Japanese and pleaded with them to use some sense but was soon machine-gunned down to his death.
About 30-40 Americans escaped the massacre area, either through the double woven 6 ½ foot barbed wired fence or under it, where some secret escape routes had been concealed for use in an emergency.  They fell or jumped down the cliff above the beach area, seeking hiding places among the rocks and foliage.  The men attempted to swim across Puerto Princesa’s bay immediately, but were shot in the water.  Marine Sergeant Douglas Bogue said, “I took refuge in a small crack among the rocks, where I remained, all the time hearing the butchery going on above.  They even resorted to using dynamite in forcing some of the men from their shelters.  I knew that as soon as it was over up above they would be down probing among the rocks, spotting us and shooting us.  Shortly after this they were moving in groups among the rocks dragging the Americans out and murdering them as they found them.  By the grace of God I was overlooked.”
Eugene Nielsen observed from his hiding place on the beach a group of Americans trapped at the base of the cliff.  They asked to be shot in the head.  The enemy would just laugh and shoot or bayonet them in the stomach. They just laughed and left them to suffer. Nielsen hid for three hours, when the Japs were kicking American corpses into a hole Nielson’s partially hidden body was uncovered by an enemy soldier, who yelled out to his companions that he had found another dead American. Just then there was a call for dinner and they abandoned their murderous pursuit in favor of hot food. Later, when the enemy soldiers began to close in on his hiding place, Nielson dived into the bay and swam underwater for some distance.  When he surfaced, approximately 20 Japanese were shooting at him.  He was hit in the leg, and his head and ribs were grazed by bullets.  Even though he was pushed out to sea by the current and the changing of the tide, Nielson finally managed to reach the southern shore of the bay.
Joseph Barta said, “At first I did not get into the shelter but a Jap officer drew his saber and forced me to get under cover.  About five minutes later, I heard rifle and machine-gun fire, not knowing what was happening I looked out and saw several men on fire and being shot down by the Japs.  So I along with several others went under the fence through a hole.  Just as I got outside the fence, I looked back and saw a Jap throw a torch in the other end of our hole, and another one threw in a bucket of gasoline.
The slaughter continued until dark.  Some of the wounded Americans were buried alive by the Japanese. Men who tried to swim across the bay were shot by soldiers on shore or by ones on a Japanese landing barge.
The Marine who had survived the appendectomy without anesthesia hid in the camp garbage dump with two other men.  One of them, a military policeman named Charles Street, made a run for the bay as the Japanese closed in and was shot dead.  Another man, Erving Evans stood up and said,
“All right , you Japs, here I am and don’t miss me.”  He was shot and his body set afire. Somehow the enemy missed McDole, who later witnessed a party of five or six Japs with an American who had been wounded, stabbing him with bayonets. Then another of the enemy came with some gasoline and lit the bottom of his pants on fire while others were laughing and still stabbing him with bayonets.
The Japanese ended their search for the Americans but there were still a few undiscovered and alive, several were hid in a sewer outlet. When the Japanese shone lights in the pipe the Americans hid under the water and were not discovered. After nightfall, they attempted to swim across the bay, which was 5 miles across at that point.  Several of them were successful, including Rufus Smith, who was badly bitten on his left arm and shoulder by a shark but managed to reach the opposite shore.
Out of the 150 plus men in the camp 11 of the men survived. Most of those rescued swam across the bay and were helped by the inmates of Palawan’s Iwahig Penal Colony, where several of the officials in charge were involved in the local resistance movement. Filipino civilian prisoners at the colony, who were interned during the Japanese occupation of their homeland, fed and clothed the American POWs and contacted the local guerilla leaders on their behalf.  The guerrillas escorted the Americans down coast of Palawan Island to a community called Brooke’s Point, where they were evacuated by a U.S. Navy seaplane to Leyte.
Barta, wandered in the jungle for 10 days after swimming the bay.  At one point, he came within 3 feet of a Japanese sentry on a jungle path before making his escape. Although wounded in that encounter, he managed to reach the Iwahig Colony, where he was hidden in a well.  A local witch doctor treated his wounds by spreading a solution of boiled guava leaves over them with a gray chicken feather, accompanied by much dancing and hollering.  He was reunited with Bogue and McDole, and they were ultimately evacuated from Brooke’s Point.
One Japanese soldier wrote in his journal on December 15th, which was later left at the camp.  “Due to a sudden change of situation 150 prisoners of war were executed. Although they were prisoners of war they truly died a pitiful death.  The prisoners who worked in the repair shop really worked hard.  From today on I will not hear the familiar greeting, ‘Good morning, sergeant major.’” On January 9 he continued: “After a long absence, I visited the motor vehicle repair shop.  Today, the shop is a lonely place.  The prisoners of war who were assisting in repair work are now just white bones, on the beach washed by the waves.  Furthermore, there are numerous corpses in the nearby garage and the smell is unbearable.  It gives me the creeps.”
After the liberation of Palawan the men of the Army’s 601st Quartermaster Company, excavated the burned and destroyed dugouts to properly bury the dead Americans.  The unit reported 79 individual burials during March 1945 and many more partial burials. The skulls of these skeletons either had bullet holes or had been crushed by blunt trauma. Most of the bodies were found in the shelters huddled together at a spot furthest away from the entrance.  There was an indication that they were trying to get as far away from the fire as far as possible, their bodies were in a prone position with arms extended with small conical holes at the fingertips showing that these men were trying to dig their way to freedom.
Survivors, who swam toward Iwahig, were saved by a couple of inmates or colonists.  They were given food, medicines and were sent to evacuation places to avoid detection.  Later, they were conducted to guerilla camps where they stayed until they finally found their way to freedom. The first six that were picked up were Edwin Petry, William J. Balalus, Rufus Smith, Ernest Colbos, Eugene Neilson, Albert Pacheco, and Thomas Loudon, a civilian.
Later three other servicemen were picked up by the U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat escorted by a B-24. Barta, McDole and Bogue.
The men that made it to freedom were as follows:
Rufus Smith   Hughes Spring, Texas picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U. S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Earnest John Colbos or Koblas (spelled two different ways) Chicago, Illinois picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Edwin Petry  Venice, California  picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Eugene Nielson, Utah picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
William Balchus Martinville, New Jersey  picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S.Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Albert Pacheco  Denning, New Mexico  picked up by at Brooke’s Point by Clarence L. Solander, pilot “Playmate 42”, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
Don T. Schlot, no information about him was found, even after searching the internet. His name is listed on the monument as a survivor.
Fern Joseph Barta  Salt Lake City, Utah  wandered the jungle for 10 days after swimming the bay. At one point, he came within 3 feet of a Japanese sentry on a jungle path before making his escape. Although wounded in that encounter, he managed to reach the Iwahig Colony, where he was hidden in a well. A local witch doctor treated his wounds by spreading a solution of boiled guava leaves over them with a gray chicken feather, accompanied by much dancing and hollering. He was reunited with Bogue and Barta.
Glen Weddal McDole  Des Moines, Iowa, arrived in Brookes Point after the first group was picked up so they were picked up sometime later by a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat.
Douglas Bogue, arrived in Brookes Point after the first group was picked up so they were picked up sometime later by a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat.

Elmo Deal Uba City, California, was badly burned and wounded, made it.  He hid among the debris inside the Catholic Church (this church is across the street from the POW Camp) during a hard rain.  He dodged the Japanese sentry barely 30 meters away and inched his way out of Puerto Princesa into the jungle wandering aimlessly, hungry and in pain, delirious from loss of blood and his infected wounds writhing with maggots.  He was almost at the end of his human endurance-ready to give up when he thought he saw a light, he begged to be helped not knowing, if there was anyone who could help.  Fortunately, he fell into friendly hands that nursed his wounds, gave him food and a place to rest.  (The man that helped this soldier was a Mr. Loudon along with his daughter, Mary who treated and helped the soldiers. Though Mr. Loudon was 73 years old he helped by walking them the 75 miles to Brooks Point. After his sufficient recovery, thanks to able services of the AIB (Allied Intelligence Bureau) he was evacuated by, a PBY, U.S. Navy Catalina flying boat, escorted by a B-24.
The war crimes trial for the Pacific theater was held in Japan.  The Palawan Massacre trial was dismissed because of an introduction of a written order sent to each camp commander in May 1944 stating that during an attack defensive measures must be taken without returning a single POW.  In hindsight, there was very little doubt regarding the true meaning of this order to camp commanders.
In 1952 the remains of 123 of the Palawan victims were transferred to the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri, where they lie in a mass grave. These men are honored today by the few who remember and a park in Puerto Princesa where monuments have been placed to honor a few truly brave men—whose names shall never be forgotten.
The names of those whose remains were sent to National Cemetery near St. Louis Missouri, and the Branch of Service they fought for are as follows:
Carl  Barnes
Darrell Barnes
Wilber Blackburn
Harry Cook
Bill Gillespie
Waldo Hale
John Harris
Henry Knight
Arthur Lamountain
Theodore McNally
James Roe
Henry Aroujo
Heraclio Anspo
Homer Bailey
Herbert Baker
Benjamin Beason
Mason Bouchy
William T. Brown
Fred Bruni
Douglas Burnett
Casey Carter
Roy Childers
James Choate
Earl Crandell
Franklin Cullens
John Czajkowski
John Diaz
Elix Clayton
Erving Evans
George Eyre
Houston Fletcher
Jessie Gee
Mike Giuffred
Samuel Glover
Richard Goodykoontz
Lenton Harbin
Douglas Hawkins
Joseph Henderson
Roy Hickle
Miner Hinkle
Hugh Hubbard
Tom Huston
Fred Hutchinson
Charles Jacobson
Joseph Kazlauskas
Robert Stevenson
James Stidham
Charles Street
Harding Stutts
Leslie Sweany
Homer Swinner
Glen Teel
Jolley Terry
Harold King
Richard Koerner
Leo Lampshire
Kenneth Lewis
Forest Lindsay
John Lyons
Carl Mango
George Manzi
Richard McAnany
Willam McElveen
Joe Mascarenas
Joe Million
Fred Moffatt
Roger Moore
Frank Newell
Harry Noel
Ernest Novak
Trinidad Otero
James Pitts
Homer Rankin
Vernon Rector
Arthur Rhoades
James Rudd
Santiago Saiz
John Sanchez
Henry Scally
Charles Schubert
Gabriel Sierra
Charles Sirfus
Kenneth O. Smith
Cecil Snyder
Carroll Spinder
Dervert Stanley
John Stanley
Delbert Thomas
Glen Turner
Joseph Uballe
Ted Vitatoe
Carl Walker
Horace Whitecotton
Willard Yeast
Jewell Adams
Robert Adkins
Sammy Caldwell
Joseph Glacken
James Grahnert
William Hammock
Kenneth Hanson
Clifford Henderson
John Hughes
Aubrey Johnson
Earl Joyner
Wilfred Kernes
Daniel Ray
Edward Schultz
Jesse Simpson
Owen Skaggs
George Walker
John Warren
Stephen Kozuch
Kenneth Lindsay
Donald Martin (also spelled Martyn)
E.C. Morris
Orlando Morris
Dillard Price

May we never forget the freedoms and liberties we enjoy each and every day were not free but earned with a price.  May we honor the great men who gave their ALL to help others enjoy the same blessings of freedom we enjoy!  The right of choice is a God given freedom that we are blessed to have each day. May we ever be thankful for that great blessing in our lives. 
The legacy of how Americans treated the people in the Philippines after the Spanish American War certainly helped cement this critical ally during WW II. Without this Ally the outcome of the war may have been entirely different. That legacy is alive today as Americans we are treated with utmost respect.
We love being here and love these wonderful people.
We hope this finds all of our family and friends well and happy.  We promise we will be faster at entering information into our blog next time.  Love to all, Elder and Sister Wolcott

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Approaching Christmas in Paradise

Our BLOG is a little more sporadic than we had hoped, but our primary purpose is to serve The Lord, and it has been a busy month.  If any of you are wondering what to do when you retire consider serving a mission. It is a great transition! Not much rocking chair time.
As promised here is a scripture to share. This is a prophecy in the Book of Mormon written almost 600 years before Christ was born.

2 Nephi Chapter 2

6. Wherefore redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

7. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

8. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

This past month we enjoyed many things. On a personal note our son was working in Manila so he came to the island for a few days. We took some time off to spend with him and visited some of the sites. Most notably we took a tour of the Underground River. This is listed as one of the top 7 natural wonders in the world. We enjoyed the day trip and the experience:

Sister Wolcott waiting at Sabang for
the boat ride to the Underground River
The outrigger ride to the cove where the
Underground River is located
Jason, Joanne and Jerry
with the underground river
in the background

This is one of the formations which is known as the stable. Many people see
Mary, Joseph and the wise men in these stalagmites

We also helped host Elder and Sister Bowen. Elder Bowen is a General Authority from the church, he was on a mission tour and spent several days on Palawan. Sister Wolcott and I enjoyed the time with them. It is a great opportunity to learn from a church leader who has sacrificed a great deal to serve the Lord. This is there 9th year away from home and family

Sister Wolcott directed a Christmas nativity program with missionaries playing parts and singing Christmas hymns. It was a great program with beautiful music that helped all of us feel the true spirit of Christmas

Yesterday we took time out for a day with most of the Senior Couples on our mission with a little sightseeing on the Island. We all met in Narra, had lunch with the Elder and Sister Wirthlin then went to Estrella Falls and walked the beach at Crystal Paradise Resort.

Now it is back to work!

We know this will be the last Blog we will be able to write before Christmas. It is hard to believe it is Christmas when it is in the 80s outside. We went wading in the ocean yesterday, and it was lovely and warm. And never complain about people getting in the Christmas spirit too early, in the Philippines they celebrate Christmas in the "ber" months.  September, October, November and December. So Christmas trees and Christmas music filled the malls starting in September.

We love you all and miss everyone so much. Last year we had a lovely Christmas with family, this year we will spend it with over 20 young missionaries.  We are excited about our time with them.We will miss family like crazy, but we are looking forward to another new adventure.

We have been so blessed by the Lord and we are so excited to wear his name on our collars and testify of that HE LIVES. How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness?  He sent his Son, a newborn babe, with peace and holiness,  How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go?  He sent his Son to walk with men on earth, that we may know.  How could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death? He sent his Son to die for us and rise with living breath.  What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say?  Have faith, have hope, live like His Son, help others on their way.  What does he ask? Live like His Son.

 We want to wish one and all A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A WONDERFUL AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.  May the Lord's choicest blessing come your way in New Year 2016.

Elder and Sister Wolcott

Monday, November 16, 2015

Not Having Internet Can Be a Drag

We did’t have internet at home for over two weeks which is a bit of a challenge, especially for working on a BLOG!
We will be making one addition to our BLOG. Each post we will include a scripture we have been studying or thinking about recently. Elder Devin G. Durrant suggested that we “Ponderize” scriptures, a combination of ponder and memorize. The scripture we chose recently is from Mosiah Chapter 3 verses 7 and 8 in the Book of Mormon. For those not familiar, this is part of an address by a prophet / king called Benjamin about 124 years BC.
7. And lo, he shall suffer temptations and pain of body, hunger, thirst and fatigue, even more than man can suffer except it be unto death; for behold blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and abominations of his people.
8. And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of Heaven and Earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning and his mother shall be called Mary.

On Saturday the 31st Sister Wolcott completed the English as a Second Language class Sister Hiatt had started for youth. Knowing English is key for improving individual prosperity here and these children worked hard on their English skills. Most Filipino’s can speak and understand English, particularly the younger generation and it is making a difference in their lives.

We thought we might share a little information about the town we live in. It is on the East side of Palawan Island, about the middle North / South. In the 2010 census Puerto Princesa had 223,000
residents with a growth rate of approximately 3% per year. At that growth rate there are about 250,000 residents now in Puerto, about 25% of the Palawan Island population. It is deceiving as one drives through town as it doesn’t appear to be nearly that size. The population centers are very dense, small homes with local shops to supply daily neighborhood needs. There are two mall type shopping areas, but they are small compared to what one would see in America. About 50% of the population lives in a “soft” house such as a nipa hut, however less than 10% are living on someone else’s land without permission, I expected the percentage to be higher.

The cost of living is very low, unless one buys American food which is expensive, especially if imported from America. Tourists have excellent accommodations available from plush resorts to low cost pension houses. A decent hotel with air conditioning will cost about $30 US for a night.
Health care is ok for minor needs, but surgery is a high risk, even in the best of the hospitals.
The road system on the island is about 1950’s standard compared to America, expect to average about 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph) on road trips and about 10 to 15 kilometers per hour (6 to 10 mph) in town.

There is a lot of building and renovation going on with a major airport expansion underway.
A street in Narra last Wednesday after a rainstorm
The weather has been generally pleasant, this is the cool and rainy season and a great time to come. We haven’t seen much rain, but when rains, it really rains. And cool is relative, the coolest we have seen is 76 degrees. We are acclimating pretty well, Thursday Morning on our walk we talked about how cool it felt with the light breeze, it was 85 degrees.

November 4th through the 7th we spent in Manila. We had training at the Mission Home, went to the Manila Temple, went shopping, had dinner at Gulliver’s with most of the other Senior Couples and came back to Palawan with a Senior Couple that will be replacing the Couple working the South part of the Island. That was our first experience driving in Manila…we are glad to be back in our little bungalow on Palawan Island!
Dinner in Manila with other Senior Couples serving in the Manila mission
This past weekend we went to Tay Tay about 5 hours North of Puerto where we attended Sunday meetings, spent time with the Elders, checked the Bahay (apartment) and met briefly with the group leader. This small group is associated with the Roxas branch.

We came back to Puerto Monday afternoon. We enjoyed the drive seeing rice cultivation in all stages. This is a pretty intensive process with methodology that is a mix of old and modern, labor intensive, but using current agricultural standards to maximize production.

We also saw some local logging with a Carabao. And yes we acted like tourist’s, gawking and taking pictures. The family had a good laugh at our expense, but we have some good photos. We are fascinated with this large draught animal used for so many things in the Philippines.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Over a month on Palawan

Mission experiences

Last week was our first transfer week which was a new experience for Elder and Sister Wolcott. For those not familiar with LDS missions, every six weeks new missionaries come to the mission, missionaries go home and for various reasons missionaries are moved to different companions. This is a complex logistical feat for the mission president, in our case President Ostler, as he considers needs, potential new trainers, personalities, work ethic and so forth, then seeks inspiration to put the right missionary in the right spot. Companionships may last one transfer or several but in any case when the word comes that you or your companion is leaving there is a period of sorrow for it is unlikely you will see each other again. These elders and sisters develop strong bonds because they are in the trenches together in difficult circumstances. It was an interesting experience to see these companionships say goodbye as we came to pick up the departing missionary.

Saying Goodbye on Transfer day
Some are going home, some are moving to another area, but it is goodbye.  This is tempered somewhat by the expectation that in a few hours the missionary will get a new companion and will develop a new relationship. It is overall a growing experience for these extraordinary elders and sisters.

The children of the Puerto Princesa Branch 2, gave their Sacrament Meeting Presentation last Sunday.  It was such a special treat.  Children are children where ever you may be.  It was fun to see all of the girls with white bows in their hair, singing like angels (Filipinos have beautiful voices).  We loved watching them.  They did an incredible job. As a child Sister Wolcott remembers singing short songs about the love Jesus has for us, but read the words of the song they sang.

"I Know That My Savior Loves Me." 
A long time ago in a beautiful place, Children were gathered around Jesus.
He blessed and taught as they felt of His love, each saw the tears on His face.
The love that He felt for His little ones, I know He feels for me.
I did not touch Him or sit on His knee, Yet, Jesus is real to me.
Now I am here in a beautiful place, Learning the teachings of Jesus.
Parents and teachers will help guide the way. Lighting my path every day.
Wrapped in the arms of my Savior's love, I feel His gentle touch.
Living each day, I will follow His way, Home to my Father above.
I know He lives! I will follow faithfully, My Heart I give to Him.
I know that my Savior loves me. I know that my Savior loves me.

The children loved singing this song and they sang it with all their hearts.  It was a joy to watch them.

We went went to the "fish farm" again today with sister missionaries to meet an extraordinary family. They manage a fish farm about 60 Km North of Puerto Princesa. The sister teaches seminary in their little community every day and this opens the door to many missionary opportunities. When we go there with the sisters assigned to the area they always have one or two families for us to visit and teach. Not only that, they usually have lunch for us. Today it was siopao (Chinese dumplings), Dumplings filled with seasoned chicken, it was extraordinary. While there the brother opened up two green coconuts, poured the water into a pitcher, then scooped the soft coconut meat into the drink, nothing else added. This was our first taste of buko, nothing in the store will ever match what we drank today.

Lunch at the fish farm

Life in the Philippines

There is a local mall called Robinson's, as a public service they offer voter registration for the 2016 elections when they are open from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM, Voter registration closes this Friday so there is some urgency to get registered. As we left town at 8:00 this morning we drove past a line of people that was at least a kilometer long. As we talked to those who have registered one needs to be in line by 2:00 AM to get registered. This evening at 8:00 there were still about 50 people in line outside of the store, hoping to get registered today. Memories of this will help me when I have to wait an hour some day at a government office!

To our engineering friends. In an upcoming post we will share some amazing engineering and construction photo's.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Another Week in Paradise

Time goes screaming past, it is unbelievable. Since our last post on our blog we have experienced so many new and wonderful things.  We were able to have our Mission President and his family here for a few days.  President and Sister Ostler are amazing and they have the greatest spirit about them.  We were able to participate in the District Conference here in Puerto Princesea where Elder Wolcott was sustained as Executive Secretary for the Philippines Manila Mission.  It was incredible to be at District Conference to see the devotion and excitement of the members of the church and they love to learn and grow. They participate with their all their hearts.

Filipino children in Tay Tay
 The greatest resource that Philippine has is their people. The people are so kind, so happy, so inviting and loving.  The more we get to know the people the more excited we are that we get to be here to experience the “love of others” in the Philippines.

We had a zone activity on Monday and watched a movie called “17 Miracles", it is very inspirational.  Some of the missionaries are descendants from individuals that were talked about in the movie.  The movie helped the missionaries understand that everyone can do difficult things and they can still go onward to do their very best.  When life gets tough it is still important to go onward and upward.
This is the Puerto Princesa Zone, It's exciting to work with these great Elders and Sisters.
Each of them have amazing stories!

This past weekend we were able to watch the General Conference that was held in Salt Lake City, UT the weekend before.  We are a day ahead here in the Philippines so we watch conference a week late. It was exciting to hear the new apostles talk.  We really liked the talk by Brother Stanfill about the Hiawatha Trail.  The trail is in part of the forest that Elder Wolcott helped manage when we were in St. Maries, Idaho.  We have been to the tunnels and trestles in that area more than once, it is a beautiful area to bike in.  The trail goes for over 70 miles. 

This past weekend we went to TayTay (pronounced TieTie) to watch conference with the members there and to see if we could help out the missionaries in that area.  Here are some pictures of some of the things were saw.  It is a beautiful place with a lot of history.
The Northern sky at Tay Tay
close to Sunset on Saturday.
This is the Sulu Sea

Sunrise on Monday at Tay Tay near the harbor entrance.
A boy from the fishing village collecting clams from the harbor
Fort Santa Isabel constructed by Spain in 1667

Since Monday was our P-Day we used some time to go exploring.  We went to El Nido which is a resort area on the beach.  They have many tours that tourist go on including island hopping. We went to get a feel for what was there so maybe when some people come to visit we can go on a tour. 
Tour boats in El Nido Monday Morning. This is the South China Sea.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Now We Are On our Own

On Saturday morning the 26th we took President and Sister Hiatt to the airport for their flight to Manila where they stayed until Monday, then flew home to Idaho. The week we spent together was filled with training, travel, visits and sharing over twenty years of memories serving together in the Sandpoint Idaho Stake of Zion.  It was a blessing for us to have such great trainers who worked hard to fill our minds with all the necessary things we would need to know for the future. We will be eternally grateful for all their help.  It was fun, spiritual and exciting.

Some of the highlights of last week:

On Sunday after a good day of meeting members in the four local branches we went to Family Home Evening at the Duking family. The evening was filled with family time, a great lesson from the Old Testament and wonderful food. Sister Duking is the District Relief Society President and is a stalwart leader in the area.

Sister Wolcott feeding the carabao
on her morning walk
Within our walled community there is a domestic Carabao. He is always eager to see us everyday because we bring our fruit scraps to him. (The mango's and banana's here are extraordinary)

Filipino Cowboy along the road to Narra
On Monday we drove to Narra which is about 90 Kilometers Southwest of Puerto Princessa, there we met Elder and Sister Wirthlin and took care of some mission business. We all took a short side trip to Estralla Falls, it a beautiful spot to visit.

Elder and Sister Wirthlin,
Elder and Sister Wolcott,
Elder and Sister Hiatt

Tuesday was a special family activity at the Malvar chapel with couples from throughout the district invited. Sister Wolcott and I were invited to answer questions about family relations, it was an interesting hour or so! The questions varied from how to manage finances to how should a husband conduct himself.

On Wednesday we had dinner with the Maraneta family, it was a special time as we were treated with Filipino hospitality. They are a middle class family with a great home, as is a frequent custom they had dinner place settings for their guests and waited until we had eaten before they had dinner.

Thursday evening we visited with the Santos family and heard his incredible story of survival, baptism and bringing his family from poverty and a Nipa Hut to a managerial position and a comfortable situation. One can escape the crushing poverty, but many do not. Sister Santos can prepare a meal for a large group, take it to the church and serve it hot, with a two burner gas stove and a small outside charcoal BBQ, it is amazing.

Sister Hiatt signing the Conch at Tay Tay
On Friday we drove about 90 Km NW to Roxas and then another 90 Km to Tay Tay, in Tay Tay President and Sister Hiatt signed the conch alongside Elder Durfee's name. Elder Durfee was from Sandpoint, Idaho Stake and served part of his mission in Tay Tay.

Of interest this past week was a national celebration of the family in the Philippines, it was a great opportunity for conversation as the church participated in the events and had several activities including showing the movie Meet The Mormons and other family activities.

Our resident gecko is telling us it's bedtime! I've seen him a couple of times, Sister Wolcott hasn't looked for him...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week one is Done

It has been an eventful week for the Elder and Sister Wolcott. We left the MTC at 3:30 AM MDT, Flew from SLC to LA and then cooled our heels from about 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Our flight crew to Hong Kong had crew rotation issues so our flight was delayed five hours. This caused us to miss our Hong Kong to Manila flight so we had to stay overnight in Hong Kong. The accommodations were nice, but the night was short because we had to be at the airport at 5:40 AM for our flight to Manila. We arrived in Manila at 10:30 AM on Wednesday, just 12 hours later than planned.
In SLC we met our traveling companions; Elder and Sister Hansen and Elder and Sister Simon.


After arriving in Manila we stayed at a motel in Quezon City, a few Kilometers from the Manila Temple. Day One was a rest day and trying to adjust to the jet lag. Thursday we processed our immigration paperwork which took 20 minutes of time and about 3 hours of driving.  The traffic is interesting. 

This picture is from the front of our motel, during a relatively quiet period. My observations: Traffic lanes are suggestions only, even the center double striped lines dividing the direction; Blinkers are optional – probably an American; He who hesitates is lost – point your nose the way you want to go and … go; Give way as necessary; Don’t be in a hurry, it may take an hour to go a kilometer; Go with the flow; Don’t get wrapped around the axle when  motorcycles pass on both sides of you, or cut across between your car and the next; Philippines means patience.
On Friday morning, during rush hour (a period of time, no one is ‘rushing” anywhere) our driver pulled into this chaos with barely a pause, drove across three lanes and made a left turn.

Of interest: There are relatively very few accidents and no one gets angry. It works as well as possible in this metropolis. In short we Americans can learn a lot about how things can work differently.
After we finished our immigration processing Elder and Sister Simon and Sister Wolcott and I went to the Manila Temple. It is the same design as the Boise Temple, but is much smaller.

Members getting on a jeepeney at the temple

Friday morning we got our Philippines Driver license.  

For our friends in Libby and Missoula that are disappointed and frustrated spending an hour getting a license:  This is the processing line at the LTO: NO air conditioning, 6 stations, Three hours. And we didn’t have to take a test! But we now have a license! But again the people are incredibly patient, kind and gracious. I'm not sure I want to drive in Manila though.

On Friday afternoon we met with President and Sister Ostler. We reviewed our assignments and a little of what to expect on the Palawan island.  

After dinner in the mission home Sister Wolcott and I went on a teaching assignment with Elder Hadley and Elder Wilson. A young investigator has committed to baptism; we continued teaching her and her two LDS friends about the atonement of Christ and the Restoration. For privacy reasons we will not share the names.  The investigator has the blue top, she is a sweet spirit. We met several ward members and the children were excited to meet us and shake our hands. Just as we were told the Filipino people are warm, somewhat shy, but love Americans. It was a great start!

We spent about an hour Saturday morning at the American Cemetery and Memorial. This was a spiritual experience, very similar to Arlington.  The sacrifice to retake the Philippines in WWII was tremendous!

On Saturday afternoon we flew to Puerto Princessa where we will live for the time being. President and Sister Hiatt met us at the airport and we started our training on the way to our bungalow.

We really appreciated their preparation and the detail. We also really appreciated the full pantry and being able to move into our cozy bungalow. It is very nice.

On Sunday we visited four branches, Puerto Princess 1 and 2 and Santa Monica 1 and 2 after that we came home, spent time reviewing transfer material with the Hiatts then went to a Family Home evening at a members home.