Sunday, March 30, 2014


Yes, it's true.   During last transfer, President asked to speak to us, and told us that "This is a mission of change".  After seven months, we are going into the office to work full time.  We will actually not begin until the 7th, and then have two weeks to work with the two elders who are returning to proselyting on the 23rd.  Until that time, we are training the Sheffers to manage the apartments.  

Okay, to save you the trouble, we already know:
Apparently, we can’t hold down a job.
Anyone who gets reassigned  3 times in 7 months has a serious HR problem.
Everytime he gets to know us better, President moves us closer to him.  Does he need to keep a closer eye on us? 

Summer time in the city, new display for the mall.   

But actually, we are SO thankful for the months we had outside of the office before beginning the work we will be doing there.  How very blessed we have been, to have the chance to learn so many different things.  Sister Revillo said to me,  "Lots of experience".   And at least, we are getting lots of experiences!   This week, we taught two workshops at the Training Meetings on the English as a Second Language program that we are helping with.  Elder S said, "I have an English Degree, and Sister studied English too, and here we are 45 years later with an English book in our hands!"  Of course, in the middle of the training, he was called downstairs to install a new white board in the office.  He is passing on the power drill to Elder Sheffer.  It was a painful loss for him!  

Here he is, later, sort of trying to keep his head above water in the office, with all the missionaries busy before they return to their areas.  Can you see him?  Where is Elder Schlager? *  He IS in there, I promise.  
 Other things we did this week:

We taught another workshop at zone interviews on apartments maintenance. 

We had a small dinner party with the Johnsons and the Sheffers, as they will be working together in apartments management now.  (It was a riot!)  Funny stories.  One of the BEST blessings of a senior mission is the other couples.  They are so good, so talented, so experienced, and so funny!   We love the Johnsons very much.  They are from Provo, so now when we go to Utah we will have two really good friends down there to see.  

We went to the temple.

We helped arrange for four sets of elders to move on Monday (Tomorrow)!!  That was not easy, and we didn't do the hard parts.  Sister Revillo and Elder Ballon did it, contracts, etc, while she was doing zone interviews and training, and feeding everyone!   She always has food for them, and it always includes her homemade cookies.  I am pretty sure there are five of her, like the Santa Clause at the mall.  
I taught a new song in Primary.  The teacher for the fifth Sunday did not show up, so I had a lot of time.  Okay with me!   Elder was the pinch hitter for the Sunday School class today.  Fortunately, he had a restless night and decided to prepare something "just in case".

At the church, the guard, (yes, we have to have guards or lock the gates.)  was watching television.  The combination of his high tech digital TV and his No Tech antenna tickled me.  So Filipino!

We passed about three funerals on our way home from church.  They are walking behind the hearse, notice the white balloons  on the back of it, and sometimes they hold out their hands to ask for a donation to the cost of the burial.

WE made time for some walks in the mall.  We did NOT join the dance class going on 
 But we DID run into a new couple just arrived to work as Humanitarian Missionaries, and joined them for a chat and a sundae at Dairy Queen.   

I made a couple of new friends at Primary.  
This is Janna.  I cleaned her fingernails for her last week, and she came to show me that she was keeping them clean.  She likes to sit by me and help me in Primary.  She is 10. She doesn't speak much English.
This is Nia.  Her mother came three weeks ago, with this little one and her brother.  I think it is a divorce situation, and they came from the States.  Neither of the children speak Tagalog, so the Primary leaders asked the other children to "be kind, and speak English".  She is 5, and is a very self-possessed little person.  She said to me,   " My mother told me, Look Nia, it is the grandma from America.   ARE YOU from America?"    She also wants to be where I am, mostly.  I seem to be acquiring a fan club over here!   

One week from today, we will be where we were seven months ago, getting ready to take over the responsibilities of the Mission Office.  There must have been some things we needed to learn before we were actually prepared to do that.  We hope we learned them!   
Frankly, I was beginning to wonder if I am just hard to please.  When I came, I had a hard time with the change FROM office couple to MLS,.  Now I am having trouble with the change from MLS TO office couple.  But I know we will settle in and love the new challenges.  Changes are what I fear, I think.  And that our blog will be less interesting!

So, some motivational adages for me:

What e'er thou art, act well thy part.
Take what comes, and love it. 
Bloom where you're planted.
No toil nor labor fear, but with joy, wend your way.
Or as my grandchildren say, 
You take what you git, and you don't throw a fit!

But to help me along the way, Elder Schlager took me shopping last night.  New job, new clothes, right?  Although many women use chocolate, I am a HUGE believer in "retail therapy".  

Monday, March 24, 2014


Guess What?  It turns out there is another season in the Philippines.   Sure enough, the little bloodsuckers are everywhere, including our apartment.  Now we understand the myriad different remedies that were left here by former Senior Missionary Tenants.  

Of course, they can be quite dangerous, as they can carry Dengue fever, and Sister Revillo insists on screens in the apartments.  But the missionaries don't always use them, and some sleep under mosquito nets.  

As it turns out, they don't like me much.  I do get a bite now and then, treat it with a little alcohol, and I am fine.  Poor Elder S , however, is a MOSQUITO MAGNET.  According to him, this was true when we was a child, too.  Now, he seems to be allergic as well.  They buzz around, find him, and then he has a mountain instead of a little bump.     
We are trying several remedies, but still working on it.  We have put patches around the bed, to discourage them.  But they buzz him at night and wake him up!
 Of course, the church buildings that do not have air conditioning use fans and open windows.  After a baptism last night, even I got a fair number of bites.  OH, well, just part of the adventure. 

  I can hardly remember what happened this week. 
We received an assignment to teach a workshop at the Zone Interviews this transfer, and it turns out they are doing them zone by zone, mostly, so we are attending (part of ) all  8 of them to teach on apartment maintenance, cleanliness, etc.  Sister Johnson is back to back with me, teaching them to dress better and wear makeup and "dress for success".  Pretty funny.  The STLs are doing one on "gossip".  So, they make them feel GUILTY, I make them feel DIRTY, and Sister Johnson makes them feel DOWDY.  I am using chocolate to help ease the sting!   

Seriously, though, there are some problems.  On any given day, when we check an apartment, there is going to be cooked rice left out on the counter or table.  It is "the Filipino Way".  But it is not healthy, attracts pests, and sometimes makes them sick.  

They have a daily and weekly cleaning schedule, with time to do it .  It includes things like defrosting the refrigerator.  Many have never had one before in their lives.  They don't even know what it means.  I found this little sign at one of the Sister's apartments:

One of my little signs says  
 "What does CLEAN MEAN?"
Sister Johnson actually drew pictures and taught them how to clean up their eyebrows!  She told them a "unibrow"  is not attractive.  Also, that a little tinted moisturizer is good for Sisters AND Elders, and that if you  "wear boots to the interview, you won't get the job!"  Here we have a few problems too.   
The Filipino Elders want to spike their hair and wear pegged pants and pointed shoes.  YUCK.
The Polynesian Elders are proud of their physique.  Their shirts are too tight!  
Well, you get the picture.  

Between moving 5 apartments, and transfers, we had a lot of orders for things they needed.  So, we have been shopping, of course.  Here I am, thinking that I must need this lovely purple plush lounge for my room at home.  In case you can't read it, it is p4000,  About $100.   And, we were shopping at SM, which is pretty equivalent to a Super Target, or maybe a Kohl's with Food.  There is just something to tickle us every day.

ONE THING we did this week was to take a PDAY.  Friday our van codes, so we have to stay home mostly, anyway, or leave the city very early and come home late.  So, I told Elder, we have to catch up some stuff.  We are going to take a PDAY.  (President tells us to, but ours is usually one hour here and there to shop or clean or call our family.)  
Well, I had to fight for it.  He kept trying to fill the middle hours with work.  "We could run up to, or out to, or..........
I finally said, "If you want to, go do it.  But my hair is a mess, my house is a mess, I AM A MESS, and I AM TAKING A PDAY!"    Well, we had to shop anyway, so we did do some shopping for the missionaries, and we did spend the morning balancing our housing accounts and preparing our reimbursements forms, but I also got to have my hair done, catch up on the laundry, etc.  It was great.

IN CASE you think we were are not missionaries anymore, though, we are still a part of "the hastening of the work".   Sweet Kristine Casinsinan was finally able to be baptized.  She is from Tanay, and we helped to teach her several times, and Elder gave her a blessing once.  Her entire family was baptized when she was seven.  Most are not active now.  She had a lot of problems, including an apostate father who opposed her choice, and a sweet little boy with no father.  But she persevered and made it.  No family there, but 10 missionaries and most of her branch.  When she started coming to church, we were there, and I was really happy for her.  They welcomed her like a long lost daughter.

Here she is , newly baptized and so happy.  I think she will be a blessing in the branch and also to her family.  She needs work.  But the new PEF program is fantastic, and she will be eligible for all of it.  That is the next step for her.  
The weather is beautiful, and we got a little rain yesterday.  The people are good and kind and gentle. The work is interesting and fun.  We are loving our mission. Would we do it again?  
In a Heartbeat!

PS:  It seems that I have mastered the Google Translate problem.  Cross your fingers, but you may not find odd punctuation and spelling and wording anymore.  Well, at least, not that I can blame on anyone else!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

TO HIT THE highlights .........

Whew, the past three weeks have been wonderful and frantic. I had no time to blog and we were almost never at home to eat.  

I gained three pounds!   
  Of course I did!

New Friends. Elder and Sister Sheffer arrived from Panguitch UT, and we had the privilege of meeting them and Helping them get settled. So, lots of driving around, and another trip to the LTO for driver's licenses. They are still in the hotel. They will be serving two stakes here in the city, so they need an apartment.After they saw several, they chose one , but it is not ready yet. They are being very patient. He is a former teacher, she raised their 8 children.  


Elder and Sister Echo Hawk, the second counselor in the Area Presidency, came to tour the mission and so we had a second zone conference this transfer. They are here, having dinner with us, in the Outback Restaurant.  We sat across from them and he and Elder Schlager got on like old friends. They were at BYU when we there, and he played football.  

Have you ever had a General Authority buy your dinner? It felt really odd. But they are so warm and we truly loved them.  

Morong House Project
So the sisters in Morong REALLY needed a new house. They finally found one they liked. But it was cheap and needed a lot of work. We did a service project. AFTER the missionaries came and 8 seniors and ripped up the floor, cleaned like crazy, it looked like this:
Concrete bare floors. No real CR. Good kitchen and lots of room and a big secure patio for laundry.  

The downstairs walls were white.   Upstairs the walls were lime green. The walls on the upper stairway just unpainted concrete. We repaired the floors, and painted them

No flushing toilet, as it has
 no water piped to it. (Pretty common, here.) THE SISTERS WERE OKAY WITH THAT!?
So, we put a shower head in for them and
a toilet seat on the toilet. They use the faucet to fill the bucket, the bucket to flush the toilet.  

 We hired Brother Jhun  to come and install screens for all the windows. He did a Cadillac Job. The sisters are moved in, happy, and safe. Big job.  

Here is the design team. My Sisters Sheffer and Jardine, and that haggard woman standing in 
the back is a total stranger to me! WE  hope the owners do not come by and think the rent should be higher now!       

Relief Society Birthday

SO we were all invited to the RS Birthday Celebration in the Morong District. Saturday 3-5. We were there. They started one hour late. The "Singing Sisters" did a wonderful musical number. Credit to Sister Johnson, who was teaching it to them an hour before and enlisted the Young Sister Missionaries to fill in the blanks.  
Then, They had a "Career Workshop", led by a woman who actually has a career. They loved it and had a lot of fun, but most of them are thinking, "I do not work. I do not want to work. " 

We all finally excused ourselves to drive home, and they came running out with food to take with us. It was a funny day.



The next week, we had 6 missionaries go home, and we had 13 new ones come in. Lots of shifting of apartments, lots of training, lots of fun. We work hard, but we really enjoy this. They are here at the Memorial, excited, exhausted, and ready to go to work.
Two of them spent two nights here and then flew to Mindoro. One from England, three Sisters (and friends) from Samoa. We have two elders and two sisters from Utah and a Sister from California. The dark Elder center front is from Sri Lanka.  His family were virtually the only members they knew!  They joined 3 years ago.  The rest are Filipino. Some of these are the trainers.  

This is not a new missionary. This is my investigator. We bonded while I was shopping in the mall for my Primary Children. I do not speak his language, either!

FHE and birthday party

I do not know if you remember Yanni, Vanessa and Dexter's little girl. She had a birthday, on 
Sunday, so her parents had a FHE instead of a birthday party. Here are some pictures of their house, built last year when Elder Jensen was here. She is a master homemaker, everything clean and orderly and he has built (from scraps given by the people working over at the PAO for recycling) some storage cupboards and even a small extra room. This is the outdoor cooking area, where she prepares meals. Like a camp kitchen! 

Indoor kitchen and bathing area, and really the living space.  

Here is the living room, with the table ready for dinner. See the birthday cake? It was Elder Johnson's birthday, too, so he brought the cake and candles.

Family Bedroom.

Birthday girl!
Here is my touching story for this week: Dexter and Vanessa built a small extra room in their home, which they do not use. She told me that it is for anyone who has no home and needs to come and stay with them. She said, "Because we have been in that situation."  
So, in the U.S. it would be Yanni's room. Here she sleeps with Mom and Dad, and they keep it for guests.


Here is your funny story:
We have been so busy! Eating on the run. One day, as we are running to and fro, Elder S was hungry. He said, "Are there any Peanut Butter crackers back there"? Well, I thought I had some in the door behind me, and reached back to find one for him.  
Got my arm caught between the seat and the side of the car behind me. No crackers. But, I could not get my arm back out.  
I had to ask him to pull over, stop, and extricate me from my seat!
A rose by any other name? Still a rose.   
Yes, I am the same girl, only my name has changed!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


THIS WEEK MARKS THE END OF THE FIRST 6 MONTHS OF OUR MISSION. We can hardly believe it, but our release date is February 28, 2015, so we are less than a year from returning home. The time goes so fast. In fact, it seems to go Faster and faster.  

 I had a little bit of time to cook, so I tried a new recipe. This is Caldereta, or Kalderata. Ignore the broccoli, it is not part of this dish. In fact, just serving it over rice is more an American thing than Filipino. Here, rice is served beside the dish, and Often is shaped into a ball or a cup.  
I have been wanting to try it. It is spicy stew, made ​​with brisket. I cheated and purchased a packet of seasoning / sauce for it. MamaSitas Caldereta, and I followed the recipe on the back of the package.  

But, we liked it very much. It has brisket. Purchase about 1 pound, or 1/2 Kilo. cover with water and add salt and pepper. Simmer until the meat starts to get tender. A bout 1 1/2 hours. Add about 1 1/2 cups of cut-up carrots, and let cook a little longer while you peel the potatoes. Add about 1 1/2 cups of potatoes, cut into bite size. When They are tender, make sure you have about 2 cups of the broth from the cooking. If not, add a little extra water. Stir in the sauce packet, and then add 1/1/2 cups of frozen peas. Bring back to a Boil and serve hot with rice.  
 Sometimes it is made ​​with chicken. But the brisket here is nice. It is not sold whole, like at home, but cut into chunks.  
We are losing the battle with the bedbugs. .. More casualties this week. And trying hard not to become casualties ourselves!   Yuck! And transfers are upon us. We are trying to get them under control, so that the pesky little bug ger s do not stow away to new lodgings with the missionaries. We did not have a lot of work to do delivering this week. Just lots of permethrin.    

We had another FHE with the seniors, and (Nearly) everyone brought pictures from their  time here. Some of them were fabulous. Many had great stories to go with them, my favorite part.,  

Manila Temple is closed for cleaning for the first two weeks of March, WE DO NOT get that time off to go sightseeing, etc.. as the temple missionaries do . But to prepare, we took our exiting missionaries, with Pres and Sister Revillo, on Wed to the temple, instead of two weeks later on the final day of their mission.   It was wonderful, as always.  

The Jensens are continuing the work caring for families who need a little boost to get going. So, They are building a house for an active family, the Andreas family. They have five children, and were evicted. So, His brother lives in a small house in the middle of Cardona. His parents live attached to his house. His home has two levels, theirs only one. So, Jun and Dexter and the family are adding another level to the parents "house". First, They had to dig a hole for the CR. They did that in the little space the parents occupied.  They will move back in after the project, with the CR in THEIR little area. This is the little alley you walk through from the street to reach the house. No place else to leave the building materials.

Here are the Johnsons and Elder S, and Elder Anderson. Making Business Decisions!

These are pictures of the service project to help get the house built. Missionaries came from Teresa, Morong, and Binangonan. When we got there, Sisters Franks and Medina from Morong were digging the hole for the septic tank.  It was already over heads to throw the mud out. They dug it out, and then the elders loaded it into buckets and carried it out to the vacant lot across the street. Later, When it needed a pickax, Elder Abel took over for them.

Here are the two sisters, with the brother who owns the adjoining house, and his sister in the middle. All nine of the family moved in down the street with her ​​while the project is completed. Notice behind them, the wall of the next house. And against it, the only nice piece of furniture this woman owns. A wooden cupboard, with a picture of Christ on it.

This is Jun, the foreman, on top with power tools, making the framework for the new house upstairs.
And this is the adjoining house, and Elder Anderson up stairs in the window, preparing to change the wall so that it can hold another house.  

Just FYI, this family will have a house for about $ 1,000. They can not be evicted from it.  Also, three families have a working wage for a couple of weeks, and the missionaries had plenty of happy service hours! The home is almost done. Next, a remodeling for a widow in Tanay. After that, a new apartment for the sisters in Morong. It is a "fixer-upper". We are going to make some renovations before They can move in.  
Again, Sisters  Franks and Medina. They were covered  with mud  on Thursday and working like chain gang prisoners. On Friday, They were at the temple. They took a van full of people to the temple, to do baptisms for the dead and also to tour the temple grounds.  They both cooked a full meal for about 35 people, and brought it with them. Their companions helped them.  Then, those who could, went inside. Those who could not, were taught about the temple outside.  
Here is Sister Franks. This is a "part-member" family. She is a member. Her husband is studying with the missionaries. They came to learn about "eternal families". They have another little boy.

Sister Johnson and I were outside with the tour. Our Elders were inside, assisting with the baptisms. The older girls here had already done theirs. Next to Sister Johnson is the Andreas grandma, 72, an investigator. She is the grandma who was displaced from her little house to build another one on top for her son's family. Next to her are two of her granddaughters.

T he family here are next door neighbors to another member. They are studying with the missionaries, too.  

The Andreas family, while waiting for the new home to be built, all made ​​time to come to do baptisms. And they brought Grandma!

WE did not plan to be at the temple again that day, but we got an SOS from the Johnsons, that there were not enough priesthood holders to do the work. So, as soon as we could we ran up and jumped in there.  
One of the most wonderful things about our mission is that we never really know what will come. Every minute of every day belongs to the Lord. I can not tell you how freeing that is. We plan, we work hard, we do what we need to, but finally, we just follow the Spirit and do what comes next. And there is an adventure every day.

Of course, some things we still do not really want to do! This week, we each got an "invitation".  One funny thing, this nice form they use is in English.  And it says that the meeting begins promptly at 9:00 am in the afternoon.  
Needless to say, it is not easier to prepare a talk When you know that you can not speak the language. Although some of the speakers use some English, our meetings are held mostly in Tagalog. Since we moved to the city, our Tagalog has not improved at all. We never get to hear it, or use it, as we did when we taught with the missionaries. But, we will do our best. I am sure the Branch President had some kind of goal, when we asked us!

Lunch at the work site! Just like home, pot luck for the labor. WE have so much fun!