Sunday, September 29, 2013


This week we began settling in and getting adjusted to our new life. We are very comfortable in our little house, and can walk around the neighborhood to get our exercise, if we need to.  This is the view from the hill just around the corner from our house.  The weather has been cool and mostly sunny, although we get really heavy rain when it comes!  And lightening, and thunder!

Believe it or not, Elder Schlager is becoming accustomed to driving in this kind of mess, and gets us safely where we need to go, along with a lot of other people, too. 

We had transfer week this week, which left us free on Tuesday, so we took the opportunity to go into the city to take care of some business at the Philippines Area Office, (Hereafter to be called the PAO), get some repair work done on our car, (remember, been used by teenagers in the city!) and attend the temple.  We had a very nice day, except that Tuesday is our "coding day".  That means that, according to the last number on your license plate, it is illegal to drive in the city during the heavy traffic hours, which are 7-10 am and 3-7 pm.  Well, needless to say, we tried to find a way to avoid that,  but in the end we got in the car and headed to a very near place to eat, as we were starving after a long day, and got caught at the first stop light.  The office waved at us, and followed us on his motorcycle for about 3 miles until we could figure out where to stop in all that. The fine is P300, or $7,50, but the problem was having to give him the driver's license and show up at the offices to pay it.  By the time we explained that we had no choice, don't know what we are doing, and couldn't find the place, he felt so sorry for us he gave us a warning instead and offered to lead us out of town along roads that were legal!

The temple was beautiful, and we had a very nice day, but we won't get there much.  Our P-day is usually on Mon, with the young missionaries, and of course the temple in closed that day.

Transfer day is a big deal, and happens every six weeks.  This time, our mission got about 30 new missionaries.  We help out by meeting a lot of them at the local stake center, and then waiting with them as their new companions arrive, by van, jeep, trike, and anything else they can get.  Then, we deliver some of them to their areas, wait and play with them while they wait for luggage, make sure they are fed if necessary, and push them along as they get paired up, as they would rather stay and visit.  

We got four new missionaries in our areas, giving us 12 to work with.  None of ours are sisters, but here are some of the sisters from our District
The one on the left is from New Zealand, the one in the middle from Hawaii, and the two smaller ones are native from the Philippines.  Transfer day was fun for us.  We spend the entire day hanging out with the young missionaries, driving them out to their areas, and generally just enjoying them.  We had lunch at McDonalds!  

Speaking of food, everyone asks me what we are eating.  I am not sure what stories the Philippines Elders tell, or how limited their budgets are, but we are doing fine.  I can find most things, if I go to enough different markets. We have to be very careful about parasites, etc. so we bring everything that is fresh home and wash it, usually in chlorine water, before we use it.  It all takes time, of course, but we CAN cook.  We have a crock pot, which I like anyway, but it will be invaluable here as our work days will mostly be about 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.  So, I can put dinner in the pot, leave it all day, and come home tired to a meal all ready.  We did that last night, and it was wonderful..

Here is a pot of skillet of fried rice I did this week, along with Meatball stew, Tuna Macaroni Salad,,and today, Chicken Adobo, with Rice.  We had hamburger steaks with baked potato last Sunday.  
The Mango is fabulous, the bananas are fresh, and not as pretty as at home.  Cereal is good but costly, milk is from a box on the shelf, but tastes fine on cereal.  

Thursday, we had a wonderful day.  We drove out to Sampaloc, about 30 miles from home but the roads are winding and slow and it is in the mountains.  It took us 90 minutes.  Then we took the four elders out there with us, as they had two new ones and wanted to introduce them and us to the families they are working with.  We (all six of us!)  had three teaching appointments, and then a visit to a less active couple, the Besarios.    More about them another time.  
These are the first two families we were able to help teach.  
This couple has 8 children.  These three were gorgeous!  The other 5 were in school.  They live under a banana tree, and we sat outside at their table and had a discussion.  They are not married, and can't  be baptized until they are, usually.  Sometimes, I guess, that is negotiable.  The people here don't marry, as it is very expensive and quite a few don't have any identification to get the necessary paper work.  Isn't she lovely? They are trying to read the Book of Mormon.  Where she gets the time, I can't imagine!  

On Saturday, the district did an annual Family day, all day long, complete with t-shirts.  They have the temple on them, and they say, "Unity across the generation---A strong family, A strong nation"

We only went for a little while, but it was well attended and fun.  This is Vanessa and Dexter, and Yanni.

And here are Marivik, Juhn, Mark, Marjorie, Marianne and Renaldo.  We love this family so much.  

That night, we had the privilege of attending the baptism of two women, one a single adult Sister and one expecting her third child.  Her father joined the church a few months ago, and baptized her last night.

Okay, two funny things from this week.  Elder S. and I were shopping in a large market here in Antipolo.  It is SM, and is sort of a Super Target  kind of place.  Two floors.    Customer service is alive and well in the Philippines, sometimes to the level of annoyance.  Also, there are uniformed guards everywhere, at the gate to all the neighborhoods, on the streets, and at the shopping centers.  Sometimes they check your purse as you go in and out.  So, we went in different directions, looking for things we have trouble finding, and got separated.  I found chicken broth, a real happy moment for me, and picked up three cans.  But no cart.  The guard looked at me, and wanted to know if I needed a basket.  I told him I had just lost my "asawa", or spouse, and that I was fine.   A few moments later, he chased me down about three isles over, and says, "Ma'am, Asawa!!!"   He had located Elder and took me to where he was.  The funny part is, of course, that he had no trouble knowing who my "asawa" was, as nobody else in the whole big place is our size or color!

The second story is about the Besarios.  They are quite elderly, and live in Sampaloc.  The missionaries took us to see them, as they have not been coming to church.  They live in a nice house in the middle of the most beautiful gardens.  He is a "Philippines Pioneer",  in that he joined the church back in 1962, before they really had any organization here.  He can tell you the history of the church in the Philippines from day one, and met Hugh B. Brown, David O. McKay, and many others.  But his wife, a little white haired lady, was a "raging Catholic", according to him and was only baptized in June!  They invited us into their home (all six of us) and welcomed us so warmly.  Brother Besario took to Elder S. like a long-lost brother, and sat down practically on his lap and talked like crazy.  

Now, Elder S. wears size 13 shoes.  We were concerned that he have all he needed, as that is a size we don't expect to find easily over here.  He took 3 pairs of new, good shoes.  But it is muddy here, always, and the first thing President taught us was that you ALWAYS remove your shoes to go inside.  So, we do.  Usually the people tell us not to  bother, but they don't really mean it.  The door to the Rosario home is up a beautiful long tiled stairway.  So, we left our shoes at the bottom of the stairs, and went up.  We had to be dragged out of there, as we were late getting back on the road and we try not to be out on those country roads after dark.  

As we came down the stairs, we realized that the shoes were not where we left them.  The family has a dog.  The young guys ran around and found most of them, but Elder S. was one shoe short.  They were running all over the gardens, and finally found it, with the shoe laces chewed apart, on the far side.  We are still trying to find extra shoe laces.

Two things I love in the Philippines:  The pandesal, (bread)  here is really good, and there is at least one good bakery in every little tiny town.  They all carry different things.  And they have a purple sweet potato here, called Ube, which they use to make (believe it or not) ice cream.  (And other things like sweet rolls.)  Yummy!!!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week Two

Another week with lots to do.  We had several important meetings this week, some fun, and some actual work, too. 
On Monday morning we were supposed to go back to Ondoy for a Zone activity, but the weather was terrible, so they moved it to the Tanay bulding, but we were early, so went shopping at the Tanay market, then took treats to the young ones and came home.,  That evening, we drove into the city to attend FHE with all the seniors from our Mission.  We had a pot luck dinner and a game, and got to know some of them a little bit.  More and more I realize how blessed we are to be out of the city.  But I enjoyed seeing the temple and the PAO and the MTC, and had a little angst as we realized we would have been there sort of in the center of it all.  The office, however, is south of there, at the Aurora chapel. More on that, later.

On Tuesday, Elder Schlager went to build a little house with Elder Jensen, and Sister Jensen and I attended our district meeting.  It was really good, and in the future I think we will both go, as there are two different zones that our missionaries are in, so they attend different meetings.  We shopped on the way home, as the guys were still busy.

Thursday was Mission Tour Day, and we went back into the city to meetings all day with Elder Ardern and his wife from New Zealand.  He is second counselor in the Area Presidency, and the meetings were great.  They live in Manila, and had been touring the mission all week.  We were the third conference, and only a third of the mission attending.  We had a nice, well prepared Filipino lunch, and more meetings. The chapel is lovely, and large, and the Mission office is downstairs.  It is like a really big stake center.

Friday, we went to Maligaya.  That is the neighborhood where many members live, and where Elder Jensen is building houses as fast as he can.  First we had to go into the Antipolo market to buy white shirts for the men and young men who don't have them.  People send money to buy different things for the members here, and I think this was collected in one of the wards in the States. 

So Maligaya. It is really beautiful, as far as the area is concerned.  It is a hard hike down a hill into the neighborhood, muddy and slippery, but there are some concrete paths between the houses.  Here are Marjorie and Angel.  Marjorie is Marivik's daughter.  Her mother speaks virtually no English, but Marjorie is a little magpie.  She held my hand and took care of me all the way, and already knew all about me because she had been grilling Elder Schlager all morning. 
She is 11.  Behind her is Vanessa, with her daughter Yanni.  She is an angel.  Her husband, Dexter was approved today to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood.  They were baptized in March, and plan to be sealed as a family next year.  The same is true of Marivik , Jun, and their children.  We will be here for both of those occasions.  How wonderful for us.
This Is Vanessa's little house, with her and Yanni in the doorway.  She loves it .  It has windows, a hose bringing water down to the pump outside, and electricity.  They have a meter for the water and power.  ( Did I mention that EVERYONE has a cell phone here, but many do not have power to charge it.  They beg and borrow from others. ) She has two trees in her yard, one with mangos and one with payayas.  Just outside her fence is a big green hill, her "backyard", with banana trees, and lots of other lovely things. She is planting flowers, and growing beans on her fence. 
Here is the next little house.  It was finished on Saturday morning.  Then, Elder J went and bought three more lots.  P40000, or about $700, total 
 Here you can see him, with Sister J, making plans for the next family to reside in one.  This is a single mother, quite well spoken and educated, with 4 children, two teens and a married daughter, and then the little one sitting on the wagon,  living on the side of the road picking through the trash to find things she can sell.  Her little wagon takes her to the side of a family member's house, so that they can sleep off the road.  They took her a tarp and talked to her, then took her rubber gloves and talked to her again.  I think she will be the next resident in Maligaya.
 Saturday, there was a district Priesthood meeting in the afternoon, so both Elders went there.  Sister J and I went to support the local economy.  In our neighborhood is a little Maniped business.  Looks pretty dumpy outside, but inside it is lovely, clean, and peaceful.
See my feet soaking?  I got a great pedicure, and a foot massage.  We had a terrific two hours, and it cost P300 with tip. ($7.50)   Boy, these missions can be exhausting!!  
Today was district conference, and they hold the adult session at 8:00 am and the general session following, due to cost and difficulty of travel.  We filled the Morong chapel and the adjoining hall, and they came on jeepneys, trikes, and walking through really heavy rain.  Afterward, Elder Aduru, from the 70's, met with all the investigators and newly baptized members.  The chapel was half full.  Can you imagine that in the States?  After 4 1/2 hours of meetings? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sept 10, 2013

Flight and Arrival

This is going to be a very long post.  Sorry, but there is just so much to share.
Our flight was long, but not as bad as we had anticipated.  We were pretty comfortable, and we flew through the night, so I was able to sleep some and wake up in Hong Kong on Monday morning feeling like it had just been a long night.  Elder Schlager was not able to sleep, and he walked around in a sort of daze for the next week.  Is that jet lag?

We were met at the airport in Manila on Monday morning, by a lovely Filipino brother with a van, who drove us safely to the Mission Home in Quezon City.  Boy, is he a brave man.  The traffic is really difficult to explain, but mostly no one goes very fast.  There are cars and trucks, and jeepneys, sort of a tank for people to jump on and off of as they go from place to place, and motorcycles that zip around between everyone else, and trikes, that are a motorcycle with a side piece people ride on, too.  No one uses laws or lanes, except on the highways, and even then you just fill the empty space or start pushing your nose in until someone has to stop for you. I don't think I will drive much!

At the mission home, they gave us a lovely lunch and introduced us to President and Sister Revillo, Elder and Sister Jensen, from Canada, our trainers, and Elder and Sister Horsely, who are from Utah and work with housing.
After lunch. we met with President Revillo, who has changed our assignment from Office Missionaries to MLS, or member leadership support Missionaries.  We will be working in three branches in the provinces, as far from our Mission Home as you can get.  They are Tanay, Malaya, and Sompalac.  The last doesn't have a building--they meet in a home there.  We will be working with 8-12 missionaries, and with the branch leaders. 
They gave us a car, and sent us "home", to Antipolo. 
Our house has three bedrooms and two baths and a small kitchen. It is at least an hour from any of our areas, so we will be on the roads a lot.  Fortunately, the traffic is just as crazy out here, but not quite as heavy, usually! 

  See, a refrigerator/freezer, a small gas stove with an oven, rare over here, and a living room. It is air conditioned, but needs a new unit in the living room.
The Jensens, (more about them later), had kindly cleaned the house, stocked the refrigerator, and made our bed and left towels, etc. so that we could sleep.  But we were pretty jittery and it was daylight, so we went shopping instead for dishes and trash cans and brooms and a washer and a microwave and a hair dryer and hangars and soap and ....well, you get the picture.  Our home has running water, but no hot water and you can't use it to drink or cook.  The water in the kitchen is filtered, and we buy drinking water 6 gallons at a time from a business in our neighborhood, which is gated and has guards.  It is an interesting place, outside of Antipolo, called Maia Alta.
By the evening, we were pretty done, a little bit scared, and confused.  We said our prayers, turned out the lights, went to bed and held hands until we fell asleep. 

Week One

On Tuesday, we were up early to go to our first District Meeting, held in Morong.  Sister Jensen drove us in our car. 
I Promised to tell you more about them.  They are younger, and took time from his work in Real Estate to serve. They have been here 14 months and they are just amazing. She and Brother Jensen have been working hard to teach us survival skills as fast as they can. so that they can get back to work.  Did I mention that they live in our neighborhood?  They work in three other areas, slightly nearer home.  He drives a big heavy truck, which shows how hard he works.  He did not attend the meeting, as he spends most mornings doing his own "mission", which is building little 10 x 12 or 10 x 14 one room homes for people who don't have one.  They are done with cinder block and cement, for a foundation about 2 feet high, and then with wood and tin roofs.  Most have a cement floor, and a tin roof, and no plumbing.  They cost $1500- 2000 US, depending on whether he can purchase the land or they are "squatters" and are paid for donations from friends and anyone else he can beg from.  He builds them with the help of members who have no work that day and anyone else he can enlist.  He is amazing.  Two of them went to young families in the branch here who have so little.  Brother Jun, a counselor in the branch, works all night and then helps him all the time in the morning. They have four children, and his house was supposed to be bigger, but he insisted that they didn't need more, and that the extra materials should go to build another house for another family.  His wife, Marivic, cleans for me and for Sister Jensen every week, and we pay her P300/day, about $7.50 US.  She does laundry, and ironing, and cleaning.  I wish we could help more. It is so hard to see them struggle so much.  The Jensens are always taking medicine to someone, or giving away an umbrella, or just talking to people.  He gets buckets of referrals for the young missionaries. 

At our meeting, the missionaries planned a service project at Ondoy, which is a government build community for refugees from the 2009 typhoon and floods.  The place is really interesting.  You drive for several miles out of town, and there it is, with the houses all connected in streets, and several water pumps where people get their water.  I think they drink it; I wouldn't.  I know they use it to wash and bath and cook.  Some of the people have started little businesses in their homes, and in fact a member family living there has a small "tindehan", or store, and raise their children there.  The missionary work is just flying, there, but it is very hard for the people to get to church.  It is too far to walk, and the roads are mostly muddy.  The little trikes will pick them up and bring them, but they can't afford it.  They can't be baptized, if they can't get to church.

We took all the elders and sisters from our zone out there, and went to work picking up trash. 
 Our work crew.
 Filled the big truck with garbage, and played with the children.  It poured twice. There is a sort of community center, just a concrete floor with a roof, there, but the rain was so heavy it ran across the road the filled the place with mud.  Didn't keep the children from playing in it, though !  

 And bathing!

We came home so muddy and soaking wet, but we all met at Jollibee's, a sort of local McDonalds chain, but  cheaper, that the missionaries like, to refuel, first.  

 Do you think I can get the missionary department to add this to the website for suggested sister missionary grooming / styles Philippines style?

 Everybody still smiling!!
It was a wonderful day, and we loved it.  My white tennis shoes will never be the same.  Maybe Marivic has a solution. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

September 7, 2013

This has been a busy week, too.  It also contained some fun things, and some sad things.  Most of the people in our class went on to the field by Mon or Tues.  127 new seniors came in on Monday, really too many to get to know anyone well when we only shared meals with them.  They are inspiring, though!  27 of them will follow us into office training next week.

There were only 6 of us this week, and we were pretty able mostly.  We spent the week learning to use the internet mission office system, which is a program through which most of the work of the mission office is conducted.  We were able to access, and work in, the actual mission to which we are assigned.  The other couples are going to Jacksonville, FL and to Dallas/Ft Worth. We took the picture behind the computers, because they were a very big part of the class!
Again, really incredible teachers, all of whom worked in the offices of their own missions, and learned in the field.
We also had some visitors, who sprung us from the MTC cafeteria.  (Food is not bad, but not really planned for those of us 65. Friday night is Papa John's pizza!)  My uncle drove down on Tuesday, and took us to dinner, which we enjoyed very much.
We completed our work on Thursday, and had Friday, our anniversary to enjoy being together, finish up our preparations, attend the temple, and have dinner with Ken and Janene, who kindly took us to dinner to celebrate. 
It has been so beautiful here, all the time.  We have walked all over, enjoying the weather and the area.  The missionaries are wonderful.  We get stopped all the time, as people ask us where we are going, and wish us well.
Tonight, we catch a train to the airport, and then fly all night to Hong Kong, and then on to Manila.  We will be counting on the Travel Office to have worked it all out for us---We don't know what we are doing!!
Next week, our work begins.