Sunday, June 29, 2014

This has been a

THERE is so much to write about, I could not wait to get started.  After the past entry to my "journal", I really wanted to record all the great things that have been happening.  
Another really terrific FHE with the seniors. We lost two couples we have loved, Woods and Jacksons, and got two more, the Kastelers, and the Morrisons. 
The Kastelers are both nurses, and are now taking over the care of our ailing missionaries (from ALL the missions here in the Philippines) at the MRC (Missionary Recovery Center.)  They are just fabulous.  I have been over there three times this week, and it feels like a home over there.

The Morrisons replaced the Jacksons, and he is the new Medical Adviser for the mission.  Warm and wonderful.  What does a medical adviser do?  Well, when we got here, Elder Schlager had a bad bout with his back.  We texted to Elder Jackson, and he texted back what to get at the pharmacy (pain pills and muscle relaxer.)  We went to Mercury Drug and got it.  No more back problem.  And, I had a lump in my arm our second week.  I dropped by, asked him if it was the dreaded "arterial thrombosis" (blood clot) from the long flight over here.  He said, "no, it's fat!"  I said, "if it isn't going to kill me, I am going back to work!"
They also order tests for the missionaries at the Hospital when necessary, and counsel Mission Presidents on ailing missionaries.  THEY do not write prescriptions, but you don't need them here, anyway.

At FHE, we played "family feud".  What a riot!  Here are the Johnsons, master(s) of ceremonies and generally hilarious couple. They are so crazy, but the parties are just great fun!

Elder Nielson has been released as Area President, and he and Sister Nielson are returning to Salt Lake to serve in the Missionary Department.  Elder Ardern will become Area President, Elder Bowen comes to replace him as First Counselor, and Elder EchoHawk remains as Second Counselor.  So, we were invited to a devotional and reception for the Nielsons. 

Elder EchoHawk, Elder Ardern, Sister Nielsen, Elder Nielsen, Brother Tapp, Director of Temporal Affairs.
Elder Ardern wrote an ODE to the Nielsens.

An Ode to Elder and Sister Nielson
Ian S. Ardern
The Nielson's came from Idaho
And now...oh no! It is time for them to go
They arrived in 2011
Looked, smiled and said, "Hey, we're in heaven"

For three short years they've been here
And they have traveled everywhere
Giving their Magandang Umaga
But sadly it's now time for their Sayonara

They're from Idaho and love potato
But now...they're Filipino...and love adobo
He likes it most with cold rice
And not just once a day nor twice but thrice

A counselor he was to Michael Teh
And when he left he got to stay
The Area President he then became
And the pace he set was insane

A counselor I was again
And right now a counselor I wish I could remain
Away to far flung places we would fly
And we always wished it was to Boracay.

The delayed flights were on PAL
And occasionally he would growl
But Elder Nielson, you will miss all that
And will soon wish that you were back

And lest you think I have forgotten
Sister Nielson has also done a lot of 'trottin'
She has been everywhere
But be assured...on leaving here there will be tears

The Filipino economy will soon be in decline
 As Sister Nielson won't be in the shopping lines
Oysters are sighing with relief
The pearls she has purchased are beyond belief
It is true...the pearl ladies at Greenhills
Now won't be able to pay their bills

With Sister Ardern, La Isla was their project
It made poor Ed almost sick
Get rid of this and bring us that
Move that here and bring that back

But look what we have got...
We pause to thank you both a lot
La Isla does not look the same
And now for you to leave is such a shame

But back to America you both must go
Yet there are two more things you should know
One, you have helped us to grow
And two, all here gathered love you so.

And, we had a beautiful reception afterward, held downstairs in the PAO fleet garage!  
Just one of three tables of food.
standing tables, to eat at and hear the choir sing.

SEE, it really is MORE FUN (and a little bit funny) in the PHILIPPINES!  

We actually got home at a resonable hour on Wed night, and had some dinner, and were resting.  I was in the bedroom, and the bed began to shake.  Finally, I got up and went down the hall to the living room.  Elder S said, "Are you feeling that? "  Well, yes, and things were shaking a little bit, and swinging.   No big deal--been there before, twice!  
But sure enough, it was a 5.6, centered between us and Mindoro.  Not sure I like the idea of an earthquake when I am on the 15th floor.  
Just FYI, Sheffers live on the 28th floor of their building , and had a fire this week.  No elevators for a couple of days, then only to the 22nd floor for a couple of more days.  THAT's an exercise plan!

Marivic and Jhun went to the temple!  
As you see, they were well attended.  The Johnsons brought them down early, with their kids, and took care of all the details, including a small miracle.  Jhun had asked us to be proxy for his parents at the sealing, but we were not able to to get him on to Family Tree on Monday.  So, we could not tell if they were ready to have their work done.  Well, the Johnson's went with them to the Family History Center  across the street, and they could not find the parents.  But, they left it with them, and a little while later they called over the temple to see if the Johnsons could do the work.  YEAH!  
We went, with Whittakers, to the temple for the sealing.  And we were able to represent his parents when Jhun was sealed to them.  It was POURING rain when we came out, so the pictures were a little bit difficult, but here they are with Jhun Mark, 14, Marjorie, 12, Maria Jane, 9, and Rolando III, (Tiguro) 7. The Peraltas.  Another Eternal Family.

One of our challenges has been clothing. We came with enough, but we still have a high fatality rate!  I can shop here pretty well, but Elder just can't.  We had several pairs of his pants altered, but they still are SO loose on him.  Finally, we were walking in a new mall and found:
A great little tailor shop.  So, I sort of dragged Elder S inside, and we learned and ordered a pair of pants for him.  (The missionaries do it all the time, at the public markets, but I have seen the results and we needed a slightly different look and shape!) We chose the fabric, the tailor did a lot of measuring and listened when we said a little narrower in the leg and adjustable waistband.
On Friday, we picked them up, and immediately ordered another pair just like them.  
THIS was a win for our side!  He looks great, the price is comparable to what we pay at home on sale, and it was really easy.  
Also, on Friday, I was finally able to get Elder S to take me swimming.  It has been a battle, but we have GOT to find more time to exercise.  It was a lovely morning, no one down there but us, and we enjoyed it so much.  

So, we went again on :

Which was the beginning of another day.  We started out slow, and had our swim and a nice breakfast.  Then, we went out to Maligaya to the Peraltas.  They were having a party to celebrate their day at the temple.  It began an hour late, as they had a baptism in their branch first, and THEY always begin an hour late.
But, here we are,   and the Jardines
And the decorations, 

Some of the guests, (there was a crowd),   and a game of marbles going on,
Here I am with Marjorie, my girl. a little taller than the picture of us together back in September!  She is a Young Woman now.  Her dad tells me that she says to him, "Papa, I have to go to Young Women tonight",  and he says, "Okay!!"
 Not as easy as putting her in the car or walking her over, but he gets it done!  

There was a ton of food, and I think Marivic cooked all day.  Johnsons also brought food (Filipino spaghetti and hot dogs and fruit Salad) and I brought two cakes and drinks, but we could not stay to eat.  WE had to leave to go to a Baptism in OUR branch.  (Because that is what we do.

PQCM--we baptize!

This is Carlo Elporlas, with our missionaries and his family.  The happiest person there was his mom, red hair.   This was the last of her children to join, except of course, the little one in her arms.   

 Here is Carlo bearing his testimony.  I included it to show what the dress code is for baptisms here.

Just another day at Primary.  Not really.  We had a very large group today, and I had a big balloon bouquet, and had them burst balloons to find the name of the next song.  They loved it, of course. They sang GREAT.  But after I went into Relief Society, the Primary President came into the joint meeting to make an announcement.  
This branch is almost ALL in Tagalog, but I am understanding more and more.  (Side note: When they send seniors here, they call it 'English Speaking', meaning, I am sure, that that is what we are.  And, you CAN get along alright and survive, but you can't honestly contribute very much.  When I get home, I am sure my answer to "what was the hardest part of your mission? " will be, "not being able to talk to the people".)
So, today Sister Domingo comes in to make this announcement.  When she left, I said to Elder Ganal, 
"Did she just say that the Primary is doing a roadshow?"
"Yes, she did".
And did she say it will be the story of Samuel the Lamanite?"
"Yes, she did."
"And did she say that the children will need costumes, including a bow and arrow, so that they can shoot arrows at Samuel?"
"Yes, that is what she said."  
Watch this space to see how THAT goes!

Driving back to the office from the Temple on Thurs, it was still raining hard, but I took this picture of a beggar child in the traffic, trying to sell
flowers for some pesos.  I could not help comparing him to the Peralta children, above, recently in the temple with their parents.  What a different future these children are going to have.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014



SORRY about no blog last week.  I did start one, and in fact, it was accidentally published before it was finished.  I never do that, and always have Elder S read it first, so that he can correct errors and things that are badly worded or shouldn't be shared!
 So, I went to work on it again, and found it already up, and it was a full paragraph of complaining!  Not sure where it came from, but it came DOWN, fast!  

Yes, I had a couple of stressful weeks, and yes, I let them get to me more than they should, and yes, I was tired.  Even had a full-blown migraine, which I have not done for decades!! But, we focus on the light, right?  So, here are some of the best things in the last two weeks!


The Whittakers called us to see if we wanted to go to dinner Saturday night for Father's Day, so we did.  We ate at a very nice, noisy, Italian place in our mall, that we had not tried.  A little bit spendy.  But the food was good, and they treated us to dessert, A  Fabulous Italian Custard.  Don't know what they call it, and it is probably 2000 calories per serving! , but as you see, Elder Schlager was not complaining>

Mother's Day and Father's Day were both a little different than in the states.  We also prepared a song for the father's, and that was performed in Sacrament Meeting.  Then, all the children came off the stand with these:  Yes, it's a backscratcher.  It has a poem attached about "what is a Dad".  Elder's was delivered specially to him, and it has a picture on the back of me, with the primary.  I guess they feel like, by association, they are ALL his children!

In actual fact, though, OUR children are in the States, and we were very happy on OUR Monday, to see/speak with all of them.  Plus Grandchildren, of course.  A happy weekend.

ONE of the stressful things that got me down, was a discontinuation of most of  the flights to/from Mindoro.  We now can only travel back and forth on Fri, Sun, and Mon morning.  I had about three days of trying to find flights for District conference, MLC, Cluster meetings, fingerprinting, etc, before they quit telling us "sorry, flight is fully booked" and we got the truth.  Poor President has to do a lot of rescheduling and planning.  We had to bring Elder Peck up for his exit clearance fingerprinting, and he had to stay from Mon to Friday.  Over his birthday, so we had a party.
The office Elders ordered Pizza for lunch, and suggested WE get the cake.  So, we did.  At Purple Oven, by the temple.  The decorations on top are candy, what we call seafoam, dipped in dark chocolate.  They gave us a whole bag with the cake---just what this over-stressed woman needed!

Another happy thing for Elder S!  He got to take two lovely young women to lunch!  The office has been full of busy missionaries, and the STL's, Sister Cutia and Sister Sanders, were practically living there, preparing workshops, handouts, etc.  They said, "Elder and Sister Schlager, we would really like to have lunch together some day and get to talk to you."  So, the next day we took them out to BANAPPLE, a popular (due to cheap) eating place with all of them.  We had not been there.  They appreciated it, and we enjoyed it.  

This is the Philippines Missionary Training Center.  It is in the same block as the PAO, across from the Temple.  A very lovely place, where many of our missionaries are trained.  Last transfer, NO ONE came from Provo.  All 13 were from here.  (11 Filipino, 1 Samoan Sister and 1 Pakistani Sister)

I had not been inside before, but we went, due to ANOTHER small trial.  
I have mentioned our problems with immigration before, stemming simply from the way their government does business,  and the desire to get the church to pay bribes to get and keep our Missionaries in the Country.  We cannot do that, of course.  They have required us to reapply for our visas every two months, a huge headache for about 4000 foreign missionaries and the travel office.  
On Wed night, I got an email from Travel, big red flags all over it, attached to the immigration forms for 24 of our missionaries, all needing to be filled out, signed, and pictures attached BEFORE Tuesday morning.  ALL of them had been done at least 3 times previously.  They just refused to extend the visas for them.  These missionaries were all over the mission.  5 seniors, two on Mindoro, some I had photos for and some not.  
We ran all over, sent them with Barlows, Jardines, Whittakers, even went to the MTC to deliver the ones for the Nurse and her husband.  By Sunday night I was a wreck.  One couple had been out of town.  We took theirs to them on Sunday at 10:00 pm, and they promised to get new pictures done and deliver them on time (their office is next door from Travel.)  

Well, I am getting the last of them collected, and I get a text from her.  When they turned them in, Travel told them, "You don't have to do this.  Your permanent extension is already applied for."  When they explained they were only doing what they had been told, she said ,"Well, they are out of the loop."   THIS is the office that sent me the forms 4 days earlier!   I went by their office, apologized for causing the trouble, and said, " JUST SHOOT ME NOW!"

Here is the good news, I think.  We are told that the immigration office kept telling us, "You have too many missionaries.  We don't have the manpower to handle all the volume".  (Their own fault, as they insist on doing them over and over again!.   But the church listened, and offered to hire two full-time people and put them in the immigration office, to be trained and help carry the load.  That has been done.  

Street Band.  (Sometimes they follow the hearse!)
They gave me an idea, and I decided to make a rhythm band for the primary.  
As you can see, I used what I had, and made the instruments, mostly.  An Oatmeal drum, shakers from Elder Schlagers M&M pots, Wooden spoons to beat the rhythm with, even a (less successful) bell made from a tin can.  I am open to suggestions on that one.  The children LOVED it!  We had a very good time in Primary today, and we didn't even use it all, yet.  I know they are looking forward to what comes out of the bag next time.
Dinner with our friends at the Sheffers' after our meeting Friday afternoon.
Elder and Sister Johnson hamming it up in the Mall park.  We went to Johnny Rockets for ice cream and he got up and danced with the young ones.  So many happy moments.  All of the seniors work SO HARD.  In fact, we often laugh that "this is retirement?"  Most of us never worked so hard before, ever!  (And in reading this, it sounds like we never ate so much, either!)

AND, it's (usually)


Sunday, June 8, 2014


Today at Primary, I was tickled by the shoes the little girls were wearing.  They LOVE shoes, here, and in fact, Marikina is "the shoe capitol of the Philippines".  You can have a pair made here, any way you like.  There is a shoe museum there, too, and we may take a little time and go see it, just for the fun of it.  But, when you know where and how they live, this is just kind of amazing to me.   BTW: Our primary was 35 today.  It is growing!  Many of them are either investigators or brand new, so it is not surprising, perhaps, that teaching reverence is an ongoing effort.  

So, here is a collage of the shoes I saw today:  

But on the way home, we always go under this bridge, and there are always these people working on the steep rock wall that holds up the bridge.  This man is always there, working on shoes, and there is always a line of shoes there to purchase.  I think, don't know for sure, that this is his "shoe repair" business.  He fixes up old shoes and sells them to passersby.  There is a small "wet/dry" market on the other side of the street, along the river.  

SHORTLY after we came last fall, we went to church in Tanay.  The branch president there introduced us to Nanay Milan, 76 years old and a widow.  He told us that she made her "living" by collecting and reselling recyclable items, and that it would benefit her if we would bring whatever we had to her.  So we did that, until we were assigned to the city.  She was there every week, all alone, and dressed up.  She always walked all by herself.     One day,  we had a fairly large bag for her, and I was worried about how she would get it home.  So, we drove her home, and got as close as we could.  Then, I carried it (or tried, she kept taking it away from me!) down a narrow city street, too narrow for the car, and then down a really narrow little path between walls to a back area with an old falling down shack on it.  Next to it was a small lean-to full of bags of trash.  She told me,"This is my house".  I was just in shock.  THIS was where she lived?  But she did, under a frail roof. Her son and family lived in the actual shack, but from what I could see , she was sleeping on a pile of trash.  

Well, to shorten this story, we arranged with the Jensen's to "remodel" for her, before they left for Canada.  They tried, but the owner of the property resisted any "permanent" repairs.  
Months later, Juhn and the branch president tried again, and got approval.  So, we ordered materials, the elders and sisters went to help, Juhn got the floor and foundation in, and the owner balked again.  It seems that her son, jealous that the "church" was helping her and not him, got it stopped.   (You can all decide for yourself which kingdom such a son might be awarded!)

Well, we felt so badly, and they were trying to get things worked out.  Then, another son, who owned a small shack of his own in the other direction from the chapel, (His is the one on the left) said he had a small (very, about 7' x 10') area next to his place.  We could build on that for her, if we wanted to.  He owns it.

So, Juhn took what materials were not already used, moved them, and built her a "house" next to them.  It is basically just a small bedroom of her own, next to their house,but it is a shorter, easier walk to church, she has a place to sleep that she can lock and be safe, and there are 4 grandchildren there to love her and look after her.  It has a concrete floor, hollow block foundation, and a tin roof.  

Here she is with Juhn, her hero.  (And ours!) They are sitting on her bed, (a wooden platform with no cushion or pads or bedding,) and she has a small book shelf beside him, and small table in there, and a shelf above the bed for her things.  There is some extra plywood left, to be used to finish up the project.
 We drove out yesterday to see her, and to see how things were progressing.  She is so happy, and we told Juhn we don't want anyone to know who gave him the money.  But we gave him some more to finish what she needs.  They are now adding a small cooking area and a CR for her out the side door of her house.         Her granddaughter was washing her hair when we got there.                                                                                                                                                                   This is her grandson, at the only water they have, and their "washing area".  

See how tiny she is?    But very happy.   
Two more granddaughters.  The window can be closed and locked, and also the doors.  What color should she paint it?

How many miracles do you think happened this week?  We are living in a time of miracles, and we are so blessed to be able to share in some of them.  This one, though, was experienced by two of our Elders.  They shared it with President, who allowed it to be used in our news letter.  So, I am going to offer it to you just as they reported it.

"We had an awesome experience while I was on exchanges with another Elder in my area this week, when our companions went to English training.  We went to see Brother Hannibal, an investigator.  They are very poor, and have a really hard time getting the necessities they need, like water, food, and money.  They do have a nice cement house that was given to them, that is roomy.  As we were teaching them, he talked about how little they have, and about how the only thing they have to put on their rice is salt  We taught them about treasures in heaven.  They have not come to church for the past few weeks.  He said it was because of their hard situation, which I absolutely believe.  They do live pretty close to the church, though, so we encouraged him there in seeking for treasures in heaven.  We bore testimony that no matter how hard our life is here, that if we keep the commandments and do what the Lord wants us to, we will be rich in heaven.  His children were complaining of hunger the whole lesson, and the youngest was crying.  He was cooking rice and was waiting for it to get done and for us to leave so they could eat it with the salt that they had left to put on top.  During the lesson I felt that I should make him a promise.  A promise that if he went to church every week, the Lord would take care of his needs and that he would have enough for his and his family's needs.  We promised that in the Name of Jesus Christ.  We promised that if he kept the commandments, he would receive blessings of the Lord, both temporal and spiritual.  At first he didn't believe us too much, and had some doubts, but we told him the importance and truthfulness of promises that the Lord makes, and he said, "Okay, we will try it.  Even though I have been tempted to steal for food I never have and I never will. I could never do that and break that commandment."  right after he said that we heard a knock on the door.  He went to see who it was.  We heard him say, "who is this from?" but the people just said, "they told us to give this to you."  He came back in with a big bag of ulam.*  You should have seen the look on his face, and the joy and excitement on his children's faces that they would have more to eat than what they had before.  We then testified of God's love for him, and His reality and knowledge of their situation.  He then testified to us of God's love for them, and how he knows that God loves him, and if anything, that he is who needs to love the Lord more.  The next Sunday, he was on the front row at church with his family.  
*Filipino word for anything that you eat with your rice.  In this case, probably chicken or pork. cooked and seasoned.

Elder S and I had our own miracles this week.  Let me just testify this much to you,   The Priesthood is real.  Those who exercise it worthily can use it to bless the lives of others.  And, when all else fails, PRAY HARDER.   

AND it was transfer week:

We got 12 new missionaries, 5 Sisters and 7 Elders, all from the local MTC.  They are wonderful, of course. We only lost 4.  Good thing.  We got two new wards in the creation of a new stake south of us, coming from the Manila Mission.  So we had two new areas to fill, and needed more missionaries. Two new areas, 8 missionaries needed.  We lost 4 and got 12.  As President always says, "The Lord knows what He is doing!)  We now have 257 missionaries in our mission, 56 of us seniors.  201 young ones, 81 are sisters.  

As of Tuesday evening at 6:00 I was not sure if three of our elders were going to get to go home.  Their flights were the next day, and I picked up the passport and exit papers for Elder Latu, our Australian, that afternoon.  Poor Elder McCardell and Elder Allen, both flying to SLC, were in limbo.  I was a wreck.

 Elder McCardell said, "if we don't fly, I am going over and get a driver's license.  One more souvenir". 

Elder Allen told me, "I just don't know what my mother will do if I am not on that plane tomorrow morning."  I said, "I do.  She will cry.  Trust me!. She will cry."  

We were all at the mission home.  Finally President said, "I just looked at the office email.  I think we are going to be alright, Sister Schlager".   Travel sent a message that the shuttle driver was to pick up their documents at the PAO guardhouse at 9:00 pm.  They were picking the guys up at the hotel at 4:30 am! 
One day, I know, we are just not going to get everyone out.  In fact, there was one from Cavite Mission who did not get cleared this time.  Drat those pesky immigration people!

And one of the hardest things this week was Elder Latu.  His flight to Sydney did not leave until afternoon.  He was the only one left at the hotel at 8:00 when we picked him up.  He said it felt so strange to be all alone, he went back upstairs until we came.  That afternoon, we took him with us to the Memorial, but dropped him off at the mall near there to take a taxi to the airport. He is a big, tough, Australian, 1/2 aborigine.  But he looked so alone when we left him, dragging his suitcase and leaving by himself.  Both he and I did not like it! This was not taken that day, he was wearing his suit and looked gorgeous!  

Here is a funny thing for you.  Working over here with these young people makes us, mostly, feel young, too.  They have so much energy, I think we just float on it.  But this week, Elder Schlager got a note from his niece.  They are planning his class reunion, and the organizers called her.  She explained that we would be out of the country, and they asked her to ask him to send some information for the book they are doing.  Well, when he thought about it, he said, "THIS IS 50 YEARS!"  They are doing an anniversary book, for the 50th anniversary of their graduation.  Now, THAT was sobering!  

*mine is still a little way off.  He is MUCH older.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Public "Comfort Rooms" may or may not be supplied with tissue, towels, soap, flush, even a seat!, But they are often decorated with flowers. These were just too beautiful to forget.  THEY ARE LIVE FLOWERS! 


SO, there  aren't any bad weeks, as far as we can tell, but some are so much better than others. These past two have been fantastic, and rewarding.  

Schools in the Philippines come in many varieties. There are the public schools, of course, and lots of pre-schools and private schools in all the little baranguays. (Sort of a township, with their own government leaders, for good or bad!)

MONDAY night was our senior FHE, and I promised you pictures. I did tell you about the senior zones last week. There are actually 56 senior missionaries in our mission, (a really unusual and big number). The temple missionaries have their own schedule and fun, But they CAN join us on Monday nights if they choose. (Their P-Day)  They loved the service project, and many came to join us.  

Here is Sister Whittaker preparing the buffet table for our pot luck "snacks". Yeah. Right.  I made pulled pork, in the crock pot there.

And, here is Sister Johnson, who organized us and got us all motivated.  

As you can see, she did a good job! A very good turnout, and a lot of happy fun.  

 Final result, several boxes of kits, 210 in all, to take to 6 branch primaries in the Morong District. WE delivered ours today to the Binangonan Branch. They start school tomorrow.

When we came out of the PAO, the temple was just across the street, all lit up.  I took this picture, as it seemed a little symbolic to me.  We are trying so hard to be "a light in the darkness" here, for these wonderful people.  

Then, the next day, was just wonderful!  We had received a message two weeks ago, informing us that Craig C. Christensen, of the Presidency of the Seventy, would be here, and would spend two hours with our mission on Tues. He was inviting all of the missionaries less than two hours away, and all the seniors.   So, we planned, and rescheduled, and were able to get 90 percent of our mission here for the meeting.  (Only Mindoro, of course, could not be here.) Elder and Sister Christensen are in the middle, she is wearing a black jacket, with Elder and Sister Echo Hawk on their right and President and Sister Revillo on their left.  Can you find us? 

This was the first time since Pres. Revillo was called that they have had this many together.  The missionaries loved it.  WE loved it.  When they all filed out of the benches to go up and meet him, I cried.  Which I DON'T do!  I said to Sister Ferrin, "Aren't they beautiful?"   
She said, "Yes.  All that energy".   And I said, "All that LIGHT!".  It truly felt like we could turn off the lights in the chapel and never miss them.  The Spirit was so strong!  
Remember when we were told that the strongest spirits were saved for the last days, for the war before the Savior comes?  I know that is true.  I am working with them.  I know them.  THESE are THEY!  Noble and Great and so strong!

Elder Christensen told them that the change in missionary age was to put more in the field, and it is about THEM.  They need to be prepared, and then go home, get married, start raising families, and be ready to carry the church on their shoulders. The Lord needs more leaders, and he needs them NOW!.

A sort of funny side note:
When they leave the mission, they spend one full day at the Self Reliance Center with the Whittakers, for Career Training and preparation.  

Elder Whittaker told us he uses the 4 P's to explain the need for this for the Elders. t'hey need to be prepared to : 
Preside, Provide, Protect, and Propose!

But he uses the 4 D's to explain the need to the sisters.  Why they should be prepared to support themselves and their families:
Death (of spouse), Divorce, Disability, and Delay! (The guys take a long time to propose!)

Tues was such a high day, that Wed I was sort of in the dumps!  It was like flying, and then hitting the ground with a thud!

One more funny story.  For the past 5 months, our local missionaries have not had the Typhoid Vaccine, as there was a national shortage and they get their vaccines at the Manila MTC.  So, on Monday I get a message that it is in, and I have 29 who need to be vaccinated.  Well, they were all but one coming in on Tuesday for the Conference!  Good timing.  We sent them all a text and told them "Don't go home without it!"  Then, after the picture taking, I stood up and reminded them, and read the list to them, in case anyone did not get their text.

Well, we had 2 nurses waiting downstairs for them.  The obedient 8 came right down.  The other 20 had to be dragged.  (President said, "some of them escaped?")  
Really, though, it was so funny,  An hour earlier they were so impressive.  Then they  came to the office and I had about 25 babies.  I am not kidding.  And the ones who didn't need a shot, were peeking in the door to see the others get it!  I am pulling them away, trying to get the poor kids some privacy.  The guys had all worn long sleeved shirts to meet a General Authority--Most of the sisters were in dresses.  They had to undress.  

On Wed, President, Sister, APs and STLs flew to Mindoro for their zone conference.  On Friday, they returned, bringing Elder Gonzaga with them.  Elder Ballon (on the floor) is going back to Proselyting, and Elder Gonzaga (in the center of the sofa) will take his place as the apartment specialist in the office. Fast training going on.  It began with them showing up at about 10 am from the airport, and carrying McDonald's for breakfast.  I guess survival skills are part of the training for serving in the office.   They work incredible hours, and then do missionary work in the evening.  

And Saturday, we went to Binangonan for a baptism.  Well, actually, 4 baptisms.  Because that is how we roll in the Philippines Quezon City Mission.  We are a Quality Conversion Mission!

Two women, Sister Erlinda and Sister Ferlin, aunt and niece, who have been quite a long time in the process.  

But Elder Kmetzsche and Elder Latu are really great missionaries.  This will be Elder Latu's last baptism.  He goes home to Sydney this week, if we can get him out.  (The immigration mess is indescribable.  I won't try.  But it is a cause of much prayer for me, that everyone can get on a plane this week.)

And, not to be outdone, Elders Culango and Tampac also had two:.  This is Jemman and Mary Joy, the 12 year old son and 11 year old daughter of a member.  She has four children, and her husband went to work abroad.  He is not coming back.  Just abandoned them.  She has been less-active, but the branch is embracing them and I think they will be alright.  After her son is ordained, she will have Priesthood in her home!
Here is their baby sister.  She was sitting quietly, waiting for her mom and the baptism.  I took her picture and spoke to her, and she screamed bloody murder.  I must be even scarier than I think I am    
But, with her mom near, she was not too frightened to sit by me today.  Pretty brave.

Happy Birthday to You.

 Actually, to two of you.  You know who you are.

We love you.