Sunday, February 23, 2014

WELL, Thank you for your guesses, but you were all wrong. * 

Beauty is all around you here, in unexpected places. But it has to be strong to survive, so it IS! 

* President okayed our callings, and today I was sustained as the Primary Music Leader. Kind of a funny story. When he called me, Branch President Soriano said, "They have heard you sing." Nearly I laughed, thinking, "And They want me ANYWAY? " But when i was set apart, I was blessed that my voice would be good.   I had a great time this week, taking a break from the  apartments; singing and making words / pictures for the songs, etc.. .. .......... ..  

Maybe you had not thought of this, but It occured to me that I am teaching the songs in English, to children who do not speak it very much. Those who are not yet in school do not really speak it at all. So a music leader in the States could have a few words in the song that he / she needs to define for the children. I could have 20 or 30! Here is my new primary, playing a game of "right or wrong choice".  

We are not sure what happened with Elder's calling. He was PREPARED for today, but was not sustained. From what went on, it Appears that we have have "a failure to communicate" .. Certainly, WE fail to communicate often. But, maybe the people in the know just were not able to talk to the people with a need to know, so we will suppose things will be straightened out next week.  
When we were called on our mission, our son-in-law said, "They have four seasons: hot and hotter and wet and wetter." Well, we think he missed one. Since December, we have been having
cool and dryer. In fact, it is SO dry, weeks and months without rain, that things are beginning to look like Missouri in August. The hills are brown, and things look parched. 
Also, They tell us that the heat is coming. March and April are the REALLY hot months, and then the rains begin again. So, it is just going to get dryer, I guess.  

This week, we missed the beauty of the earlier months, but I have been meaning to share the wonderful landscaping and nursery Businesses here. These are just a few, right in the city, down the street from the Temple. But you also find them, tucked into the hills, as you drive around the provinces.   

Landscaping materials. They deliver. They pretty much have to, with guys in the truck bed to unload and plant, etc ....  

WED we had zone conference, and it was really wonderful. President and Sister Revillo are SO good at this. They are inspiring, and encouraging, but also very aware of THEIR responsibility to teach and train. Actually, I did a bit of training, too. I was asked to begin working on the English Language course the Filipino Missionaries are supposed to be able to pass When They leave. So, I made ​​them laugh, but also worked on Helping them understand that this is a responsibility, but also a real opportunity for them while They are here. So, I spoke three times. Got it pretty good by the last try!

These three missionaries are going home this transfer.  They bore testimonies. The sister just made ​​us cry.  
She joined the church about 3 years ago. Her family has not been supportive, and she had to hide her study materials and study secretly.  When she decided to serve a mission, her parents told her that if she did that, she could not come Home. They would not help her with support, but just before she left, a friend gave her the money she needed. Well, no one has talked to her at all. But she is ready to go home, and her father contacted her and told her how excited they all are to have her home again. She served her entire mission, believing that she would have no home to go back to. Such courage.  

These are the sisters serving in a ward near the Mission Office, in the city. They have been looking for a new apartment. (Nearly everyone is, and we are having such a hard time finding people who will rent to us on our terms. They just think we are crazy to expect them to pay the taxes on the income!)  

Anyway, They found a pretty good place, and the landlord is currently Renting another apt to us, so he understands the advantages and the also the requirements. This place was destroyed, except for the walls, in the last bad storm, so it has been completely redone and is an all new and shiny for them. They really like it. But is is a little small, and laundry will be challenging. The landlord is willing to make some adjustments for us, though. He already knows what a bargain we are! This was an EASY one!

We saw one for the elders in Binangonan this week, would be great, but it has been vacant for Several years. "Fixer Upper" does not begin to describe it. If the owner can be persuaded to be honest, though, he says They are willing to do the work to make it clean and bright again. These elders really need a new place. theirs is subject to all kinds of theft from the neighbors. Not safe at all. 

Weddings: 3 

Baptisms: 6

Well, actually 10. Rizal had 4 as well, are the priority we saw confirmed this morning.  

Maybe the highlight of this week was Saturday. Teresa Branch, where some of the people we love most live, had a very big week. 

Three young couples chose to be baptized. But none of them were married, so that had to be taken care of FIRST. No problem, the branch planned a wedding and the Bishop came from Cogeo and married them.  

 This is Ava and Liza Tajeresas. They have two small children, the baby and the tiny girl in blue. His mother is Sister Mercy, in the wheelchair, and he has a small brother, in blue, and a handicapped sister.  

Here are Patrick and Mary Rose Pajuayan. They have a baby boy. Next to them is the Bishop.  

This couple are Alex and Jennielyn Polborido. They have 3 small children. It was a really fun day.  

Here are the three newly wed couples, enjoying a special lunch after the ceremony.

This one thought the Bishop talked way too long!

And this one was a lot happier after the food showed up. She just kept eating, after everyone else had started to clean up and get ready for the next part of the program!

The baptisms!

All six of them were baptized. Each bore a testimony afterward. I REALLY wish I spoke Tagalog. They had a lot to say, and we only caught small parts of it. But, what a blessing.  
Three new families in the branch. All with fathers ready to be ordained to the Priesthood.  

Of course, it is the Philippines. Just after the last baptism, the power went off. No lights, no fans. No problem. They just shrug, "brown out", and carry on. By the end of the meeting it was too dark to see in the halls and there was still some cleaning up to do. Oh well.
It's more fun in the Philippines! 

On the way out, we were talking to the missionaries. I said what a great day it had been, and complemented them on a terrific job. One said, "I NEVER want to do that again." They all agreed! Too Stressful! Another one said, 'He just never quits! "
They meant guess who? The enemy of all righteousness, of course!

I laughed, and agreed. I said, sometimes I feel like punching him in the nose.

Elder Argyle said, 'If he had a face, I would!'

I can only think that pulling this all together was an exercise in faith and commitment. For the elders and for the investigators.  
But a great quote is:  
The Road to Exaltation will ALWAYS be uphill '
It helps to know when we are going in the right direction!

I found another one I really like this week. It is from CS Lewis.  
He says:
There are only two kinds of people. 
Those who say to God, "Thy will be done." 
And those to whom God says, "Alright, then, have it your way."

A couple of other things from this week:

1. The area presidency had a special devotional for PAO workers and missionaries. Sister Burton, General RS President, and Sister McConkie, General YW Counselor, are touring here this week. They spoke to us on Friday. There were about 150 of us, I guess. Anyway, They both hugged me! Really, though, one of the really wonderful things about serving a mission is the opportunity to "hang out with" (or at least meet!) Really special and incredible people.  

2. And our great Office Secretary, Elder Smith, wrote to the Jackson County Courts and plead my case for excusing me from jury duty. He must have done a good job. We Received this: 

Elder Smith,
The judge has granted a one time of Sister Schlager postponed to March
30, 2015. We will mail her a summons Approximately one month before that

Thank you,

Kyle M. Diederich
Jury Assistant Supervisor - KC
Circuit Court of Jackson County
Phone: (816) 881-1476
Fax: (816) 881-3669

Please note that I have only been given a stay of execution, not a reprieve. The really funny things are that first, I will probably not be needed anyway, when i check in, and second, no one in THEIR right mind would want me to serve on a jury. I am far too opinionated and stubborn.  
Impartial? Not hardly!

Still having trouble with Google.  The errors are NOT MINE!  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Small disclaimer: Google Translate has decided to translate my blog. So, when i type it makes corrections to my wording, grammar, and punctuation. And it is very hard to correct it back. So, I am not responsible for errors.!

WE started our day with a walk and breakfast out. There is a place in the mall that we pass all the time, Called Slappy Cakes. We never went in, and I thought it was another bakery. But on our way to McDonald's we passed it and looked at the menu. Turns out, THEY DO Breakfast all day, and Hot Cakes are THEIR specialty. Every table has a griddle in the middle, and you order a squeeze bottle full of Several choices of batter, and then toppings, etc. . similar to ordering toppings for ice cream. We chose NOT to cook that day, but maybe next time. Looked fun. Elder is a happy camper here, see? He had the best breakfast since leaving the states.  

I had the BEST french toast, with real bacon and hash browns. Yummy. Unfortunately, They were out of Hot Chocolate, and the milk we ordered was made from powdered.  
Gotta love the Philippines!

Squirrels,  and 

Rats, and Bedbugs, OH MY!

This has turned out to be a funny week. We were not as busy as we have been. Things seem to sort of calm down after transfers, When everyone has finally settled into their new assignment and gone to work. But first, we got numerous orders for Permethrin, the poison we use for insects, and also for mouse traps and rat poison. Mouse traps do not seem to be an item that you can buy here.  

FUNNY STORY: After we searched almost everywhere for them, we finally went to an upscale home improvement store. There we found someone who told us that they did  have them. He took me to another department, and showed me a huge RAT TRAP?! ? I tried to explain that the mice would run right through the bars, and anyway, my goal was to KILL the creature, not adopt him!  

But, the rats are not funny, and some areas have quite a few. The Elders tell me that they are as big as cats. So, we give them rat poison, and also some education on how to keep the apartments clean and food properly disposed of and garbage out of the place.  

As for Squirrels, they are all around. At least, the figurative kind. Sister Jensen used to despair over Elder keeping on track in a conversation or, for that matter, on a task. He jumped all over. So, When he was off again, she would shake her head and say, "Squirrel." She meant, like a dog that you are walking, When he sees a squirrel he is going to go chase it. Well, we find that in the Philippines, there is something to catch your attention and distract you nearly every minute! So, we are ALWAYS interrupting each other, or misplacing things, or forgetting things. We just shake our heads, and say "SQUIRREL".  

So, here are some from this week: Squirrels to the right of us, Squirrels to the left of us, squirrels  in front and squirrels behind. Always things to distract us.

All of these are just a few minutes driving in traffic on C5, the major highway that runs E / W in front of our neighborhood. The vendors walk Between the cars,selling everything from cold water and cigarettes to hot roasted peanuts, ice cream snacks, and sweat rags and rugs.  Also brooms, baskets, etc.  
The trikes Deliver boat loads of stuff, the motorcycles and bicycles zip in and out between the cars and run right past you.  

Jollibee and Friends entertaining in the mall to an ocean of excited children.

 School just let out, and an army of high school students is marching up the road with no concern at all for the traffic.  They walk right in front of you.  Just FYI, courtship looks exactly the same!!

EVERYTHING you  I ever  Never want to know about bedbugs!

Before They left, the Horsleys had been dealing with a bedbug infestation in the apartments. They got things settled, but warned us and left us information.  Of course, being an optimist, I expected to never use it.  

This week, we heard from three different apartments that they have bedbugs. This is not an easy fix. First, they go from one apartment to another, every transfer. So, we really need to get it solved before they travel again, and take them along. Second, new mattresses are expensive, and a waste of money if they do not eradicate the bugs. Third, many of them are still learning pretty basic hygiene, since they came from such difficult circumstances.  

Some of them are allergic to the bites, which causes another serious problem of treating the results.  
The literature tells you to "wash everything in Hot Water."  Don't have that.  :"Call a professional exterminator".  Don't have that, either.
They have to make the time to heat water, and wash sheets, towels, and clothing  and hang outside in the sun to dry.  Then spray mattresses with Permethrin, and take them outside in the sun to dry all day.  Then brush the mattress vigorously with a stiff brush.  Respray mattress and spray all their bedding and clothing, and let it dry before they wear or use it.  
My Poor Elder scratched all night, just thinking about it!  

We did have some fun, too! Friday night our new branch had a "Couples Night", for Valentine's Day. The Johnsons and Jardines joined us, since they work with the missionaries in that zone.  It was supposed to start at 7:00, but it really began about 7:45, when they insisted we go ahead and eat.  The others were just late.  So, we did.  First we took some pictures.  This is not a good one of us, but see the ICE SCULPTURE!  Wow!

Things are very different in this branch. They decorated the hall.

And had a food table with tablecloths and treats. 

Music, and dancing, and games, and VIDEO entertainment during dinner.  We didn't win the games.
We had a very nice time, and didn't get home into bed until nearly midnight!  Even then, they thought we were leaving early, and had to jiggle their plans a little bit.

This is not a good picture either, but it is Branch President Soriano and his wife.  On the right are the Jardines.  They are really good dancers.

Here is some happy news. Although this is a very strong branch, like a tiny ward at home, it seems there is still something we can offer. Subject to Pres. Revillo's approval, we have each been given a calling.  We are glad.  And, mine is something I have never done before, and Elder has not had this calling for a very long time.  So, go ahead and guess, and we will reveal it next week if we are sustained!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Called to SERVE?

I HAVE never served on a jury. Elder has.   The only time I was summoned, I Called them to "check in" and They excused me due to the trial being settled out of court. So, of course, now that I am in the Philippines, I have been summoned for jury duty. I had a friend call and explain that I was not available. Too bad, They delayed it until July and said I had to respond myself, in writing, to "explain my circumstances". So, I did that, politely, and asked to be excused. Not good enough. I then Received the following:   

Subject: Re: Jury Summons for JoAnn Schlager

Ms. Schlager,
Please have someone from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
send us a letter, letting us know your situation and When They expect you to

Thank you,

Are you kidding me? So, I hope I do not get dragged back in handcuffs to Obey my summons! You gotta love the government!

Otherwise, this has been a really great week. We had some fun, some work, some successes, some special experiences.

Monday night, we
 met friends for dinner in the neighborhood, and then had ice cream outside and SWENSONS. ' Not like you all at home, in 10 inches of snow and 5 degrees F. !  

Views from the Terrace where we dined. Found some pretty good Chinese Food, too!

WE talked to most of our children on the phone, and I was able to talk to BOTH of my sisters. Have I Mentioned that we can call home Easily through our computer? We use Google Phone, and it costs us $ 0.01 per minute. Our friends, though, are using THEIR Magic Jack, and it costs them nothing, I guess. We brought the Ooma, but have not purchased a phone to use it. Six of one, half dozen of the other, as my Dad used to say.  

We worked a lot. Tues and Wed we shopped, and then played Santa Clause to lots of missionaries. During these visits, we also inspect the apartments, both for safety / maintenance and for cleanliness. So, I leave them treats. And report cards!
Thursday was a really good day. We "organized ourselves, and " PREPARED every needful thing", (like our lunch and dinner) and then left the apartment about 10:00. Ephsians We drove to Apt., And delivered needed items to four sisters, including an old friend, Sister Tingey. They live in a lovely top floor apartment that They will have to leave, as they are all in one Bedroom and Sister Revillo wants that changed.
Then we drove to Provident, two S isters in a huge place that used to be elders. They needed curtains. So, Elder's got to use His power tool again, and climbed ladders and made ​​holes in concrete walls, and had a great time. We left them happy, too.
Then we went to the office, took care of some business, and had our lunch. Cool and comfortable.  

Then we drove out to Angono to see Chris, the member who builds beds, tables, desks, racks, etc.. .. .. for us. We picked up two sets of bunk beds, and ordered new things. We delivered those to the sisters in Humilidad, in Taytay. They have been sleeping on the floor, and helped us carry them up to the second floor of a three story condo THEIR. (They were REALLY glad to get them!) Also, nice, but built like a tower of blocks. High and tight. We let them "shop" in our bins, as They are in a new apartment and it needed a few items.

While there, we also visited the Adam sisters, five of them in two adjoining apartments, and delivered the things They asked for last week when we were there.  

Then we came back to the city and went south, to meet the sisters and Pateros look and new apartments for them. Met the landlady, explained the church policy, and approved two, one a little small, the other a little "high". Sister Revillo will talk to her and make a decision. We were home by 6:00, and had dinner all PREPARED and waiting for us.  
Finally, We spent an hour editing the personal testimony of Elder Osores, 26, a nurse, and now an AP. He was asked to write it for Elder Echo Hawk, and it is beautiful. It was a sensitive thing to do, as we wanted to correct His English for him a little bit, but not change the Spirit of His words.  
All tolled, we managed to love, serve, and delight 15 sisters. And to help and please one Elder. Not a bad day at all!

 It was definitely time to go see Bea again, but we have just been so busy. Finally we were going in that direction, so I insisted on putting a haircut on my agenda. Elder was reluctant. After my last visit, I had to use threats. "If it comes down to YOU ​​ME getting dinner or getting a haircut, I am GETTING a haircut". Well, he left me there and went to the shop for the job and for us. She said,
"Your hair is too long". Well, yeah! Then she said, "Where is your bodyguard?" Anyway, back to looking good for a little while. Also made time to have mani-pedi done. Much more expensive in the shop in my new neighborhood. I will have to find another place! (Still, though, very cheap by U.S. standards. About $ 20.)

We spent Friday as a P-day, with Johnsons, (more play than preparation, I think!) But got some shopping done too.  

SATURDAY we were invited to come back to Sampaloc to a Primary Activity. Sister Eva held it at her in-laws home, and it was great. She "had no budget," are priority always confuses me, But they manage anyway. She had the children come and They had cut down bamboo to make banks for them to save money for THEIR missions in. Bamboo, of course, is free. When cut up into segments, (with a Machete!) It has a solid barrier inside and dmg dmg dmg dmg dmg each segment. So, They cut it so that the barrier is on dmg dmg dmg dmg dmg each end of the piece, making a hollow tube you can not get into. Then, the children smoothed them out and made them nice and pretty, (also with machetes, sigh!) And then cut a slit in them. 
Pretty cool, right? We donated one peso per bank to get them started. They can not be opened (except with a Machete!). When we got there, the Machete work was going on in earnest, with a lot of help from the Jardine's and the 4 full time missionaries. Also, of course, eating. We were given a cup of small balls of dough (below below) to eat. Warm chocolate milk full of pieces of potato, purple, and lots of tapioca. Sort of a pudding.  

Then, everyone played for a little bit. It is a beautiful place. I got to man the hammock swing for the little ones for a while. I had no desire to join the team Machete!

They needed Several motors.

And then piled on more ...........

Sister Jardine, recent Stake Primary President, was having a wonderful time! 

    Then lunch. Stew cooked over the fire, lots of rice, hot dogs, and tang. Over here, the "stone soup" method is alive and well. No one has enough to actually "throw a party", but everyone Brings a little of what They do not have, and it somehow works out. I am always amazed at how the children are hungry. They eat rice with great big spoons, by the plateful. And everyone had a really good day!

    On the way home, we stopped to do more shopping at the Cogeo Wet / Dry market. This is the "Walmart" of the Philippines, sort of. One stop shopping. Here is the donut shop, (the bakery dept), and the clothing aisles, and the plastics shop where we buy tables, chairs, dishes caddys, bottles for cleaning supplies, glasses and plastic cups and scrub boards, and,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Across the street, I buy mangoes, corn on the cob and, and green beans, and bananas, and cucumbers. Radishes, cabbage, tiny broccoli, and cauliflower. You can get meat, too, butchered for you. I DO.  

    Today we went back to church in our new branch. I skipped the adult Sunday School class, done in Tagalog. BORING! Could not stay awake last week,. I am sure it is not boring for those who understand the jokes, but I do not. So, I invited myself to Primary. Very different there, of course, But they welcomed me.  

    And, I made a new friend. This is Rayzel Anne. She looked so cute, and wanted to talk to me and sit by me. So, I bribed her. Sit and be good, and I will take your picture. Her shoes had about 3 inch heels. They REALLY like shoes, and the fancier the better. And, of course, she can manage them fine. They would be a sprained ankle waiting to happen, for me.
    I do have a funny senior missionary story this week. One of the sisters has a brother serving a mission also. When They went out, he took it very seriously, are priority we all do, really. But he felt that They had to do what the young elders and sisters do. Keep the schedule for study, etc.. .. .. Well, we do and we can not. Actually, most of us have more like a 9-5 job, and if we do not we make our own schedule to get our work done. But, he wanted to "get up at 6:30, 7:00 until exercise, get showered and dressed in proselyting clothes, have breakfast, study from 8:30 to 10:00,,,,,,,,,, well you get the picture. She, However, was having trouble with that.  

    In frustration, he counseled with His Mission President. "I do not know what to do. Sister does not want to get up when i do, and I AM THE SENIOR COMPANION. It is my job to get this done. What should I do?"
    His mission president said, "Elder, Sister Sometimes ________________ has the same problem. Do you know what I do?"

    Well, this brother was anxious to know. He really expected to get some magic answer to help him be "the senior companion." 

    President said, "When Sister does not want to get up, I tip toe out of the room, close the door as quietly as I can, stay out of the way and LET HER REST".  

    I love this story. Whether I am not sure he is a better husband, or mission president, but he must be a really good man!