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.


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