Sunday, July 27, 2014

ABOUT Elder SCHLAGER ........

We got pretty tired, and some of the missionaries were not well, and Elder picked it up. He felt crummy on Monday, and Tuesday he was just miserable. So, being a good companion, he drove me in to work and came home to sleep. Boy, was he missed!   

I think I have neglected to mention some of the responsibilities that are his, and so I decided to correct that. 

 All day long, I heard, "Where is Elder Schlager?"  "Is Elder Schlager here?"   
And my favorite, when I mentioned that he is grumpy when he is sick, and better off at home, "ELDER SCHLAGER????"

So, what is Elder Schlager doing in the mission, besides all the driving?

He is the Referral Manager. We get hundreds of referrals, from Salt Lake, from our missionaries, from members, and from other missions.  They are supposed to be acted on in 24 hours.  When we came to the office, they were about 1000 behind!  He uses Google Earth, tries to locate them, (not easy here, addresses are a myth!) and sends them to the appropriate place.  (Again, our missionaries in that area, other missions here, around the world.)

He is the Mission Recorder.  1.  When any convert baptism happens, the BR (baptismal record) comes to our office.  (Well, it is supposed to!)  Elder S puts it in the system and creates a membership record.  There has been a lot of trouble with this in the Philippines.  He has had our missionaries searching the apartments, the clerk's offices, and the homes of the members to find them and get everyone accounted for.  He has trained our missionaries, the leaders, etc.  Now, they send them by email every Monday, and then bring them to him in hard copy. When they come in, they actually realize they are carrying something precious, and they want to put it right in HIS hands! 
 2. All of the "Key Indicators", or missionary statistics, are sent to him every week from the zone leaders.  They text them to him,. he enters them and creates reports for the President, the Area Presidency, and the Church. (His phone begins chirping at us on Sunday night about 9:30 pm, and keeps it up until about noon on Monday!)

He is the Mission Clerk.  That happened as a result of the need for clerk training in all the wards and branches.  In order to give him access to the different MLS systems, he needed a log in.  President said, "Let's just make you the Mission Clerk."  He and Elder Johnson are now working together to offer training throughout the mission.  Sister Johnson and I are really hoping that will result in some "splits" so we can go shopping!  Many of the clerks are brand new members, or 18 years old waiting for mission calls!  

He does all the mail.  This is VERY important to our missionaries.  He sends and picks up all the pouch mail at the PAO.  He receives all the delivered mail and sorts it and either delivers it or hands it to them, or sends it with other couples.   We go to the Post Office about every 6 days, to mail outgoing letters, etc, and pick up packages.  They cost p50 unless they are held in customs and taxed.  Not sure why that happens, but when it does it is an expensive mess for the young missionaries.  This is the woman at the post office, figuring out how much to charge us.  We then take the cost of mailing off of the Elder/Sisters support card. 

 She looks pretty normal, right?  But you should SEE the post office.  I promise you, NO government employee in our country would work under such conditions. 

 In addition to their mail, Elder also receives the supplies orders from the zone leaders, packs them up, and delivers them to them at MLC, leaves them for pickup in the office, or sends them out to distant areas with the Johnsons.  WE take the ones to Taytay and Binangonan.  

He is the mission procurement officer.  (Order Clerk?)  Not really sure if this one has a title, but it is a lot of work.  We receive many orders of materials, and they are often incomplete, and we run out of things we need, like pamphlets and books and such.  Also, there seems to be a lot of confusion on how the orders are done.  (OH, THIS LANGUAGE THING!!)

He is helping President with Missionary Applications.  In the two districts, where there is no Stake President, President Revillo is the Ecclesiastical Leader, and has to submit applications.  Often, the ability to upload the attachments is not there, so it all comes to the office, Elder does that part, President sends them in, and they come back to us with what is still missing!  (We ARE working on that, and may have it perfect next time.)  Today, we ran around the district, found four applicants, their parents, and the Branch President, and got signatures that were missing.  We don't have a bit of fun, over here, you know.  How would you like to go meet 4 young people today, all excited,  ready to go and serve??  And all from One Branch!  
Our Branch has 8 out right now.  Apparently, the naughtier the Primary the better the missionary percentage!

ONE thing we have learned in this job.  WE were the worst Missionary Parents!  When we see how much the missionaries look for, love, and need packages from home, we realize that we did not send nearly enough to ours.   Please forgive us, our darling children.  WE DO love you!

SO, because Elder was ill, Whittakers brought me home on Tuesday night, but she had to make a stop first.  She has had several pair of shoes made for her here, and this is her shoemaker, in his shop.  He takes a pair she likes, or a picture!, measures her feet, and goes to town.  They are not cheap, but they are less than a REALLY good pair at home, and made to order.  The leather is just wonderful.  We don't need shoes, but maybe before we come home; when will we ever get another chance??

 Another top reason to go on a Senior Mission:  They need you so much!  
This is Elder Ardern, or President Ardern, anyway, he is our Area President.  We had to run into the PAO this week to take care of several things, and in looking for one of the Sisters there, we went into the Area Office.  While we waited, Elder Ardern came by, sat down, and chatted with us for about 20 minutes.  He and his wife are New Zealanders, and I love listening to him talk.  He asked us two questions about our mission:
1. What has been your greatest joy in your mission?  Well, that changes from day to day. At that moment we felt like it has been working with the young missionaries and watching who they are.  Noble and Great is the Lord's definition.  We second it .

2.  What has been your greatest disappointment?   We simply could not answer that one.  Frustration? easy! the traffic.  our weaknesses.  the language barriers. 
But we could not relate to disappointment.  It was only later that it occurred to me that perhaps we have had no disappointment because we did not set high enough goals for our mission.  I hope we were not a disappointment to him!

He told us that one thing he is doing now, is working with the Mission Presidents and trying to get them to "reduce their expectations."  They want all the senior couples they can get, but at least 6 (what we have, but tell no one!)  He tells them to be really glad if they get any!

Because our life is so normal here in the city, we forget sometimes how much different it is for most of the members we know and work with.  As we drove, through traffic, to the office one morning, I took a number of pictures of the houses near there, from the highway.  Note that the ones with concrete block walls are the GOOD houses--they stand in the storms, mostly.  

As we go around the corner, we are at the bottom of the hill these homes stand on.  There are always lots of people there, dressed for work, and getting into vans, jeeps, and trikes to travel. It is just an amazing thing to me, that they come out of that!  See the clothes hanging here and there to dry?  If you double click on the pictures, you should get them larger, and easier to see.  Look for the little narrow paths between the houses, muddy and wet and trash filled.  There is always a pile of garbage at the bottom of the street, and people pick through it for things they can sell, before the street cleaners come by.  These are people in work clothes with a t-shirt that identifies them, a broom, and a dustpan.  Honest!  Who would take THAT job at home?

Apparently, In the church, Pioneer Day is Pioneer Day- even in the Philippines.  The ward where the office is, held an Open House, with movies and a skit.  The movies were in Tagalog--about the Pioneers.  They asked the missionaries serving there to be the pioneers.  Aren't you impressed with the set?  
 Here are Elders Crisanto and Hall, the APs, and Sisters Sanders and Acostan, the STLs.  Here is a funny thing:  They chose just about the only blond in the mission to be Emma Smith.  Sister Oyler.  Don't have a pic of her-she hid from me!
Today was our Branch Conference in Binangonan.  The choirs were impressive--really.  Here is the youth choir.  They opened and closed the meeting.  Then, we all went to the cultural hall for photographs before the went on to classes.  

There is a lot of honor bestowed on those who have any kind of authority here, especially in the church.  (We have none!)   But honor by association is important.  Before the Barlows came, he had been serving as a Stake President for quite a long time.  They told him, "Go on a mission.  Stake Presidents are a dime a dozen, but a good missionary is priceless".  Well, over here, any kind of president is very common.  I frequently find myself writing letters like:

President ________________, 
I am writing in behalf of President _________________________, in regard to your recent discussions with him and President_________________________, President____________________, and President _______________________.  
Have you considered working with President __________________________of the ___________ Stake on this issue?  

That is NOT a joke!  I work with 7 Stake Presidents, 2 District Presidents, 10 Branch Presidents. and all the attending Elders' Quorum, RS, Primary, and YW/YM Presidents.  Also with the Area Presidency and the Mission Presidency.  Those are just the ones I might actually have a conversation or a  correspondence with. Sadly, when released, they sometimes feel that they have been "fired", or disrespected.  They have a way to go to understand that is an honor, too!  



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Monday, July 21, 2014

Be Careful what you complain about:

The result of my (mild) complaint about transfers coming up this week was 

Typhoon Glenda

Been there, Done that, GOT THE T-SHIRT!

There is so much to talk about this week, I don't know where to start.  So, Food is always a good beginning, right?                                         We were feeling  a little homesick, I guess.  So we had a KC dinner:   Barbecued ribs, potato salad and baked beans.  YUMMY!   It turns out that when we buy a pork loin, they REMOVE the ribs.  We said, can we have those, too?  Sure, p50 more (about a dollar)  
We used our Jack Stack rub, and it turned out great.    

We got up very early on Monday morning, picked up a pauwi (departing missionary) and delivered her to the career workshop they attend, and managed to get a swim before going to the office.  Tues we swam at 6:00 AM , before the long exit day.  Took all the Pauwi   to the Memorial.  See these five lovely women?  Sisters Wilson, Jones, Houser, Racaza, and Sabaupan.  
Finally picked up everyone's travel documents at about 3:00 pm, before we went to the temple.  See the sky?

 Pretty, but scary. President and the APs were on the phone all afternoon, making plans for all the missionaries in case of serious flooding or dangerous winds.  Those without a second floor were sent to adjoining areas.  
Typhoon Glenda arrived in the Philippines on Tues night, along with 5 of our nine new arrivals, and by Wed morning it was in Manila and making a mess.  So, NOBODY flew.  Nobody got their immigration process completed for arrival.   Transfer day was cancelled.
In the city, there are huge billboards all along the highways.  But, for typhoons, they just roll up the canvases and tie them down until the wind stops.  All along the roads it looked like this.

Elder S and I were up at 3:00, with no power, mopping up water in our bedroom.  When it rains hard, it runs down between the walls of the building, along the concrete floor, and under the floorboards.  Who knew the missionaries most  likely to be flooded were on the 15th floor!

President called very early and told us he "suggested" that we not go out.  Just stay in and stay safe.  But at about 10:00,  things were calming down, and we had 9 missionaries at the hotel and didn't know what was going to happen.  He asked us to go over there, as there was no way to reach them. I had talked to them at the hotel at 3:00, to tell them not to wake our missionaries, as they were not flying anyway.  By 7:00  all the power was out.  Our cells still worked, though.  
The cleanup in our neighborhood had ALREADY begun!  Sadly, our pools were a mess, and full of debris.  They drained them the next day, and we have not been able to swim.  But, I think we can tomorrow.  (Tues)

 We waited with all 10 of them until it was decided that the 4:00 delayed flight to TOKYO would leave them stranded there, or worse!, and they had to stay.  But, the hotel was fully booked, and could not confirm reservations for them for the night.  
 We told President that we could take the three US bound Sisters home with us.  Little did we know it would be days before they could go home.  (IN fact, It is Sunday AM now, and we sent the last two at 4:00 am, and one of them is having trouble at the airport. GRRRRRR)

They were SO tired.  And upset, and sad.  They just came home with us and Crashed.  Later that day, our power and internet came back, and they called their parents with the sad news.   Sheffers took the two Elders.  (one bedroom, one bath apt.) We went to work (Brown Out at office.  Auxiliary power, no AC, but we COULD work.)  This is Sister Hepworth.  Sound asleep.  
That night, they were somewhat recuperated, and all five went to get dinner, and find a movie to watch or a game to play.  They ended up with Ukulele lessons at Sheffers house.         Sisters Wilson and Jones.

Thursday Transfers were back on!!  Here they all are at the Mission Home, rearranging the Transfer/Organization Board for President.  We welcomed our 9 new ones, got them assigned and oriented, and took them home to their areas.  Almost everyone still had no power.  I have to tell you, Quezon City is ONE VERY DARK PLACE without electricity.  

Thursday night President told the Sisters to go back to the STLs apartment in Cubao.  They were not happy!  We told them they could stay if he would approve it, and THEY told HIM they needed to do laundry, there would be 11 women over there with no electricity, and two bathrooms.  So, he gave in. 


By Friday Morning, we had new flights for everyone, the four Elders flew to Cebu, NZ, and the US. One Sister to Davao.
That left four Sisters.  They begged President to let us take Sister Sabaupan, from Naga,  too, and we had a really good slumber party.
                                      Yes, we had dinner, and then we all went to get pedicures!   Those feet really needed some help.  They kept saying, My feet are so soft!  My feet are so HAPPY!  

And, we should probably admit that Elder Schlager was pretty happy to have us go. That is a lot of women in a small apartment.  
 He very cheerfully stayed home to do the dishes. And paid the bill.  (They tried to entice him to join us.  Shows how well they DON'T know him.)

And, by the time they left, it pretty much looked like any Sister Missionary Apartment.  Stuff everywhere!  
We got up at 3;00 on Saturday Morning to send Sister Wilson and Sister Sabaupan to the airport with the APs.  
We got up at 3;00 on Sunday Morning to send Sister Jones and Sister Hepworth to the airport with the Office Elders.
Those young men work SO hard, and very often get almost no sleep at all.  We are SO grateful to them.
We took these pictures of damage along the street the Temple is on.  One thing we found really interesting was how they just take it all in stride.  As soon as the storm passed, they went to work   Lots and lots of manual labor.  Cutting, cleaning up. I hate to think so, but I suspect that they see it as an opportunity.  All the free fire wood, just sitting there for the taking!  All the things that blew around or are now broken, that they can recycle.  

ON THURSDAY, I am sitting in the office, and the phone rings.  A young man introduces himself, and tells me that he is calling from the US.  "We are desperately trying to get in touch with my in-laws.  They are serving in Quezon City, and they are in Antipolo.  We just need to know that they are alright.  We tried the US Embassy, but they are not answering".  

I said, "Johnsons, or Jardines?"  

I told him, "they are fine.  I expect them here in the office any time now.  They are coming in to pick up their repaired truck. The Embassy wouldn't know where they are, but I do. Shall I have them call you?"

"YES!.  They are alright?"  

"They were fine a little while ago when she texted me."  

So, when the Johnsons came in, I said to her,'CAll HOME, ET!'

I don't know if it was funny or not, that none of our children showed the least bit of concern! One said, "There is a typhoon?"

SO, things are pretty much back to normal.  We have power and AC in the office again, All our missionaries are finally at home, and we put in a 12 hour day today, getting caught up.  

I did make one very slight suggestion to President Revillo this afternoon.  I think it would be a good idea to 



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Just a small deep breath, before the madness of Transfers begins on Monday ............

While we were in church on Sunday, a Fast, Hard, Thunder storm went over.  The rain was loud, and the thnunder deafening, and then I heard a lot of voices and excitement.  I looked out the front door, and I think all the children from the neighborhood had come to enjoy the rain in the church parking lot.  

They had balls, and some of them were actually sliding down the driveway in the rain, on their rears.  Others were sort of swimming in it, and bathing in it.  Finally, they got a little out of hand, and one of the brothers came, and just signaled to them to leave.  Guess what?  They did.  No back talk, no dirty words or hand gestures.  We are definitely not in "Kansas" anymore!

So, while we were swimming early on Friday Morning,

Elder S says to me:,  "We really have it rough, don't we?"  We laughed and laughed, and then decided to make our list of the Top Ten Reasons why You Should go on a  Senior Mission.

#10.  Senior Missions are NOT like Single Missions.  You get to choose your companion, you don't have to be in bed at 10:30 and up at 6:30, you can call home whenever you want to, see movies and watch TV (we don't, though) and SWIM.  In our case that translates to a beautiful crystal clear pool, maintained daily by a dedicated pool man, which we almost always have to ourselves.

#9.  You have a car.  Of course, you pay the church for the expense of it, and buy the gas.  But you don't have to watch the mileage, you go when and where you feel the need.  Again, for us, that is a brand new, bright red, happy car which we enjoy.

#8.  Your housing will be as comfortable as they can manage to find.  We have two bedrooms, two baths, a good kitchen, internet, parking garage, Air Con, hot water in showers and kitchen.  And a beautiful view.

#7.  You leave your worries at home. (No, I don't mean your family! Although I think most of us find that we don't worry about them in the same way.  It just feels like you can trust them to the Lord.)  But most of us left our business concerns, our property, etc. in the hands of people who take care of it.  Our darling daughter took on all our business.  She even did our taxes!

#6.  You are entrusted with interesting, important, challenging work to do, even if the world thinks you are a little bit "past it". Here your knowledge and experience are valued, and drawn upon. .  We work in an air conditioned office all day, with everything we need to get the job done.  (This was a special day. Usually it is me and about 5-10 Elders.  This day, we had two proselyting activities * going on, and I had LOTS of Sisters.)

#5    You get to wear a name tag, proclaiming the Name of Jesus Christ.  Although people may wonder who YOU are, no one seems to wonder who HE is.  They just assume they can trust you, smile at you,  encourage their children to speak to you, and generally think you are OKAY.

#4.    Every day is a gift.  You give it to the Lord, and He gives it back to you to do what you can with it.  We LOVE that every minute of every day is already dedicated--it brings a peace we never knew before.

#3.   You "Go Where You Want Me to G0", as the hymn says.  This resulted, of course, in us working in the Philippines, which expanded our experience WAY beyond what we imagined.   But it also translates to letting the Spirit Guide.   You plan, and work, and then you just pray for the opportunity to be of service to some ONE  that day.  And miracles truly happen.  
                And we get to live in the tropics---balmy air and no snow to shovel.  (I think, even if you are sent to Alaska, YOU won't be shoveling the snow!)

#2.  You meet and work with wonderful people---This is the Quezon City South Zone, on their Temple Day last week.  Because these are the ones who work in the office and in that area.  we see them all the time and know them well.  Just a little idea of who the Lord is preparing to carry his church to meet him.  Aren't they beautiful?

#1.   You will come to know and love Our Father's children as you strive every day to serve them.  We are so grateful for the faith the Filipino People  demonstrate to us.  Yes, they have a lot to learn.  Yes, we don't always understand them.  Yes, there are problems here.  But they are simple, and kind, and joyous, and teachable, and humble.  The Spirit works with them so consistently, because He CAN!.  

* Proselyting Acitivy:  When missionaries from the MTC, or others, come to the mission to work with our msissionaries as a training exercise.  On this day, we had 4 women from TX, (mother and three daughters) and 17 MTC come, 10 of those Sisters as well.  A good time was had by everyone!

Actually, we usually DO have a good time.  This week, we had office lunch twice.  Thursday was Sister Cutia's Birthday.  She is from CA, one of our STLs,  the one holding up two hands to show you she is 22.  Her Kabahays, (housemates) brought her a cake from Purple Oven, the best bakery.  We all shared it, then ordered lunch delivered from Greenwich.  They do Pasta, etc.  I had brought a fresh green salad, and we had Lasagna and Carbonara.  Yummuy.  (See Elder S in the background, working hard while they played!)  

  Maligayang Bati, Sister Cutia❤


Kami Ay Masaya   


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Day
4th of July 

As you see, there is a LITTLE Bit of recognition here.  The store where we mostly shop, sort of a Walmart kind of place, had a display of the (few) American products they carry in honor of the day.  No deals, though!  Things like Ragu Spaghetti sauce, Newman's Own salad dressing, some Campbell's soups, and some Mars Candy.  
In fact, the American Embassy does a fundraiser event, in a huge upscale mall, for families.  That was on Saturday, the 5th.   We considered going, as it would have been fun to feel AMERICAN for a few hours.  In the end, we had to make time to get some shopping done and some errands run, and to attend another baptism. 
Here is a SELFIE of my much much needed haircut! (With the requested smile, girlfriend!)

Before we came, our son-in-law told us, "They have four seasons!.  Hot and hotter, and Wet and wetter".  Well, we are definitely into the Wetter Season.  The rains have begun, and we get some every  day.  Driving home the other night, the highway was running with about 6 inches of water.  It comes down so fast, and there is just no where to go.  The little neighborhoods turn into mud baths.  However, the hills and valleys are green again, and I am glad the rain has come.

So, here is the first story this week.  With the flights to MIndoro so limited, keeping our mission connected to them down there is TOUGH.  Our first counselor in the Mission Presidency (President Heywood) goes home this  week.  Elder Barlow is replacing him.  So. they we went to Mindoro on Monday morning to begin getting adjusted.  I had arranged for President, Sister, the APs, two STLs, and the Mindoro Zone Leaders to fly down early Friday, so they could hold District Conference and Zone Interviews and all come home on Monday, when the Heywoods come.
Good plan.  Bad weather.  They got up at 3:00, drove to the airport, sat in the plane for an hour under torrential rains, and then the flight was cancelled.  They all had to drive back in awful rain, and begin re-planning everything.  
"Sister Schlager, None of us made it to Mindoro.  Please get a plane on Sunday for the ZLs and another missionary, trying to go home from his mission."
Another good plan, except all the passengers on the cancelled Friday flight immediately booked the Sunday Flight.  No way, until Monday, to get them back home.

I cancelled flights, informed Travel of new dates, cancelled hotel reservations, and we started all over again.  

I have officially gained 5 pounds since we came to the city.  ARGHHHHHHH!

Too much food, too much sitting, too little exercise.  But Elder and I are turning over a new leaf, and we have been swimming every day.  
Turns out, we enjoy it very much.  ANY plan that we don't have to drag each other to is a win for us!  We didn't realize what a good workout that is.  We are both feeling it in lots of places we didn't expect.  But we feel better, too.  
One day, we even got on the treadmill first.
So, with two showers every day, and a swim, and all the rain, maybe I haven't gained at all.  Maybe I am just waterlogged???? 
When we go down to swim, there is a dance class going on.  One of these ladies is 90, the one in front is 87.  They keep inviting us to join them.  I played with them a couple of times, just for fun.

We did finally get out and do some food shopping, which was overdo.  We spent a small fortune, but should be well stocked for quite some time, except for fresh things.  I wish we could just do like the Filipinos, and shop daily for each meal.  But no time, and I like to cook early for days at a time.  Here are some things we saw while out:

You put coins in this to make it go, but unlike the horses at the grocery store, it REALLY goes, and the children drive them around.
This is a quartet in the courtyard at the Mall, all blind.  They had a box there for donations.  Good music, too.
And then, it was Saturday Night , and time for another Baptism in our branch.  We got there too late to get them in their white clothes.  Difficult trip down.  What the Filipinos always call
"little bet trapic!"  But this was just touching.  The mother is from a large, active family.  She has been less active for some time.  The missionaries visited, and basically explained that she had a duty to teach her children the gospel and get them to church.  She began teaching them, but she wanted them to join when they were ready.  It has been about a year, but with her helping them.  Her children, Misael, 12, Misaela, 11, and Elias 9.

These two. of course, are in the Primary.  They are delightful children, and SO HAPPY to finally be baptized and confirmed.  They all bore their testimonies at the baptism, and then their mother.  She spoke in Tagalog, of course, but almost exclusively to them, on the front row.  It was so tender, to watch her, teaching her children right there, with all of us looking on.  Really beautiful.                                                                                                              And, just for fun, please note that both boys are wearing ties given by us, and donated by some of you!  Thank you, Salamat!  They loved them.  Also gave them 'The New Era" and The Friend.  They were reading them today in Primary!

.We love you all, and we love our Mission.  How blessed we are.