Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Trouble with a blog is 

you are too busy to write, or you don't have anything to write about!  This week, the first is true.  It is after 8 on Sunday Night, we are beat, transfers start tomorrow, and I have so much to share.  

There were two national holidays this week, and another one tomorrow.  Most of the seniors also have those days off, since they work at the PAO, where they are recognized.  But our missionaries don't of course, so we work.  This week though, they planned a senior activity (field trip) on Thursday, and Elder and I decided to take the day off and go.  We went to Tagaytay, in Cavite Mission, to see the volcano.  This is Taal Volcano, the second most active volcano in the Philippines.  (There are 23!)  

24 of us took three vans and drove very comfortbly south for about 2 hours.  There we got out and walked up a hill to a dilapidated sort of place devised from an incomplete mansion that was built during the Marcos era.  He had a crush on Nancy Reagan, and built it for her, when they visited here.  It is said it had a picture of her on every floor.  But now it is a dump, with small shops and viewing areas for the volcano.

We shopped a little bit, lots of Filipino souvenir type stuff, not really nice stuff, and rested a bit.  

You CAN take a boat out to the volcano, and then climb to the top and see the lake inside, with another island in THAT lake.  Too strenuous for this group. though.  
yes, this is another religious icon.  With his back to the water, interestingly~  Not enjoying the view.  

See the volcano on the right, with the smoke coming from it?  
Our first Jeepney ride!  We all climbed into jeepneys to go back down the hill, mostly for the experience, and they charged us P5 each.
Here are Elder and Sister Clements, newly arrived.  She is the mental health adviser.  A big and sometimes heartbreaking assignment.  She serves the entire Philippines Area, not just our mission.  Here is a funny story about them .  They have one good eye between the two of them, but they came, got her a driver's license, and set out on the roads.  First day, they had a minor accident.  She said, NO WAY, they turned in the car and will use taxis from now on.  This is her second mission--she served in Brazil with her late husband.  

Then, on to Sophia's Garden, a Spa down there with real gardens, and a wonderful lunch, all from the fabulous things they raise there.  

Yes, we really WERE there!
Saturday was a big day for our primary.  District Primary activity, The Roadshows.  
Each Primary prepared a story from the Book of Mormon.  Remember I told you we were doing "Samuel the Lamanite"?  With Arrows?

.  Well, here is Samuel on the wall, and there is my primary, shooting arrows and throwing rocks at him.  

 Elder S kindly got a video of our performance.  
Here is what you need to know:  I did not know that there would be a Mary and Joseph walking back and forth in front of the choir.  The children have to have the words in front of them to sing, as they are singing in English and don't speak it that well. So, when you can hear me, not them, it is because Mary and Joseph are between them and the Sister holding up the words for them.  
And, right in the middle of the second verse,  the little guy on the left, scooting around on his fanny, hit and knocked over a table on the stage.  Big crash.

YEP, that's my Primary!

Teresa Primary :  This is Lehi's family on the ship.

And the Title of Liberty, of course.

It was well attended, a good time was had by all, we were 45 minutes late and didn't miss anything, and we got home late that night.

  We don't have a bit of fun over here, you know!

Sunday, August 17, 2014


We had another FHE with the seniors, and learned about Mental Health.  Guess what?  Serving a mission is stressful!  Do you think???  And that holds true for senior missionaries, as well.  They talked to us about how many things in our life have changed in the past year, and how to recognize the signs of stress-----

Memory Loss       

Yes, we pretty much had them all, and a lot more symptoms.  

Weight Gain

Of course, you could also use this definition to come to another diagnosis

  OLD   (Some of the seniors are not that senior, though.  We are at the top of the ladder)

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

I watch these young people. some of whom do not stay for the "anticipated" 18 or 24 months, and I think of Zion's Camp.  Many felt that was a failure, but from Zion's Camp came the leaders the Lord needed.  
The Prophet later explained: “God did not want you to fight. He could not organize his kingdom with twelve men to open the gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless he took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham.” In February 1835 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Quorum of the Seventy were organized. Nine of the original Apostles, all seven presidents of the Seventy’s quorum, and all sixty-three other members of that quorum had served in the army of Israel that marched to western Missouri in 1834.

For us who are older, and we hope wiser, there is "a time to rest".  As I told one Sister last month, when she said that she needed a break, "When you are about to 'hit a wall', you stop!"

TUESDAY we had two adventures. 

 First, we went to redeem Elder's Driver's License from the Police.  As I was thinking about that in the morning, I knew we should not try to do that on our own.  So, we negotiated a contract with Elders Yourglich and Gonzaga, Office Finance and Housing.  They brought their Tagalog, came with us, and we took them to lunch.  It's all good! 

There was an air conditioner in the little office (OVR  - ordinance violation redemption) but it was broken, of course, so see the big fan beside them?  

And, there is always a guard, (or  more) with a gun, 

and it all takes at least four steps.  Window 10 to tell them why you are there and turn in your ticket.  Window 8 to pick up your fine.  Window 6 to pay your fine.  Window 3 to redeem your license. 

 See the sign that got us into trouble?  Are you thinking, HOW did they miss that?  Especially since they are on ALL the corners there at that intersection.  Well, in defense of Elder S, it was dark, and these are brand new signs.  Only been up a week when he got caught.  There is an officer at each corner, catching everybody.  A great new revenue maker for the city.  When he took his ticket up to the window, to pay his fine, they laughed.  

We celebrated at a Big, New Shakeys. Oh, life in the city!
 Never been there before.  Will go back.  The two Elders loved it, but Elder Gonzaga said, "I want rice."  So, he got it, with Chicken and Mojos and his first Root Beer Float!

The second adventure had to do with a sweet sister in the mission.  She came a few months back, and was sent straight to Mindoro.  (Now THAT is tough!)  She is a Filipina, but was a foundling, and she was adopted by an active family and raised in England.  In Mindoro, the bugs nearly ate her alive.  She came back last transfer covered with bites and scars.  So, on Tuesday, I get an email from her parents, with a picture of a huge boil on her hip, where one of these got infected. She sent the pic to show them. 'As she is coming into zone conference, could we please have it looked at?'  HUH??? Those are calm parents.  
Meantime, I get a text from Sister Johnson, saying they can't reach Sister Revillo and this young woman needs treatment NOW.  So they took her to a clinic, then to the hospital in Antipolo.  They want to do surgery.  But is is not a boil, it is cellulitis. Too dangerous for the doctor there.  I am texting with Sister J, chasing Sister R and trying to find and talk to the Mission Medical Adviser.  
Long story short, we all wound up at the St Luke's hospital in Global City, which is the only Class A hospital in the Philippines.  (Not sure we even have one in US---I never saw one like that.)  Anyway, that is where we are all supposed to be treated, and many of the seniors have spent considerable time there, but we had only driven by.  
Two good things came of this--
She got good care, did not have surgery, at least not yet, and she will take better care of herself.  She was crying, and she said, "Sister Revillo is really mad at me"  Sister Johnson and I hugged her and told her it was Okay.  She said, "She's not mad.  She's worried.  But she should be a little mad.  You have not been taking care of yourself, and you didn't let her do her job."  Her companion said, "Now will you listen to your companion??"  (When we met them there at the hospital, she also said, Boy, the Lord really brought out all the big guns for you!)
{I wish I had a picture of Sister Fewster, but she was not in the mood to pose.} 

And, now we know where the Hospital is and how to get in and get help if we need it.  Our goal was to NEVER be inside the place, but maybe it is better to be prepared.

Pearls of no great price
lf you are a senior missionary in the Philippines, you buy pearls.  
They are cheap, plentiful, and gorgeous.  (They can also be extremely expensive, of course.) So, as I am now counting down to our one-year mark, it is time to begin purchasing souvenirs.  On Friday, we had a date night.   We ate "street food" from the vendors across from our apartment. * actually watched them cook our salmon steaks and put them on rice to take with us. *  Elder and Sister Sheffer took us to the "pearl market" which she had been to with Sister Whittaker.  I had so much fun.  She has 8 children, 6 daughters and 2 daughters in law.  So, she negotiated and bargained, and purchased 8 sets of (yes, REAL) pearls, with matching bracelet and earrings, for P300 a set.  (About $7.50)  They are fresh water, not perfect, but lovely and in all colors.  These pearls come in all kinds, grades, sizes, etc.  I am more attracted to the smaller ones than the larger ones, but some of them are as big as a hazel nut.  They come in white, cream, gold, yellow, pink, purple, black, brown, iridescent blue, grey, peach, etc.  I HAD SO MUCH fun shopping for the people I love.  And for me--the little strand on the right has a Mother of Pearl ornament on it, and it falls just below my collar bone. Can't wait to wear it. I am not finished yet, but I did a fair amount of damage.  
 Nothing I purchased was over $25. 
                                                    Some as low as $5.

Speaking of our one year anniversary, it coincides with our 46th wedding anniversary.  So,


President has given us permission to fly to San Jose, Mindoro, and spend the weekend with our friends the Horsleys.  We go very early on Friday morning, Sept 5,  and come back to Manila very early on Monday morning, in time to work that day. We will stay at the White House resort hotel.  That is where they always stay down there.  We bought the tickets and reserved the room today.  YEAH!

Just FYI, the missionary work is going great down there.  The big problem is that the people can't get to the church easily.  At present, we have 20 missionaries down there, and two couples. They serve in 3 branches, and mostly have to work within easy travel to the three buildings.  They are in the process of starting a "group", which is another unit, not yet a branch, for those who want to attend but live too far from the branch available. We will be happy to share all the fun, when we get back!

I have, recently, made the time to read a little bit to relax.  I just finished one really good read, and I am in the middle of a second.  If you share my love of reading, I can recommend:
We Band of Angels  by Elizabeth M. Norman (interesting to me as it is the story of the American Nurses caught when the Japanese invaded the Philippines. I have been where they were.)
Living in the Eleventh Hour  by Robert L. Millett  (self-explanatory, a spiritual journey through the times that are leading up to the glorious return of Our Savior.)

We had to go one morning and jump the Sheffer's van before we could all go to work.  One good thing about having several couples, is that we REALLY can be "part of the solution" when we are there to help each other and don't have to call on President with our little challenges.

And here is your funny story.  Elder never was sustained to the calling he received, no big deal.  He has, however, been teaching once a month in Elder's Quorum.  At District Conference, he was sustained, and we looked at each other and said, "What was that?" (Tagalog, remember?)  Well, turns out, he was sustained as the first counselor in the Sunday School.  The President told him the next week, "I guess you are my counselor". Neither of them had been talked to.  So, today, President Soriano asked him to come in, and called him to the calling he was sustained to last month.  President Revillo says, "The Gospel is in the Philippines; the Church is coming along."

Very happily, we have made some friends.  This is Shresh, a brilliant man from India, who has decided he likes our company.  He is married to Vidia, and these are their sons, Big Sy and Little Sy (?), 6 and 4.  They live in the adjoining building.  He makes opportunities to talk to us, and we really enjoy the boys.  We hope to be able to get together soon for a social occasion.  They are religious, and he is a consultant and works from home, on the phone, all over the world.  They spent several years in the US, and the world troubles him. (Well, it would.  He has two little boys!)   He likes to talk about what is happening.  FYI, they had an arranged marriage.  When he finished his education, he went home to India to get married.  

Happy Anniversary to our Son---

Happy Birthday to my dear Sister----

I am thinking of you today, and miss you more than I can express.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

We are never bored ............ ..

There is just so much happening all the time. Tired, yes, maybe BORING, but not bored.  I hope you won't be.

During this week, we mostly just tried to keep things running smoothly.  Not always easy, no matter how prepared we try to be, as things happen.  An emergency required the immediate fingerprinting of two missionaries, so that their exit clearances could be arranged. And two others. ill, FINALLY got out of the country, after waiting some weeks.  There always seems to be someone either sick, or in need of extra care.  Two emails this week came from parents, requesting that President "break the news" about a death in the family.

Here are the highlights:

Zone Conference time again.  President decided to do only two sessions this transfer, so we had a big group.  Here we are for the official photo.  When Elder and I got there, they were trying to get it all planned, so that the picture taking would be quick and efficient.  They needed a little help, but the result was good, don't you think?  See how the Sisters are all in the middle, with the Elders all around them?  It is an image that pleases me---Preside, Provide, PROTECT, right?

Since it was the day before school started again, President and Sister invited their children to attend.  They have four, a daughter married in the US, a
daughter on a mission, a daughter 17 (and learning to DRIVE in the Philippines!  Parents of teenagers, you thought you had it rough!).  This is Oliver, he is 7.  As you see, he is a missionary, too.  Well, sort of.  He is Brother, not Elder.  But this is a sacrifice for him, as well.  He is so good, though, and (almost) never complains.   

Elder Schlager had to do some training, but I got to just sit and enjoy the conference.  Some highlights were the testimonies of those leaving soon, and the question and answer time with President.  I learned so much.  

"Obedience brings blessings, and exact obedience brings miracles"  Elder Suarez

"Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work HARD."  Elder Tipene

An Amateur practices until he gets it right.  A Professional practices until he can't get it wrong.'  Elder Tipene

 We swam or walked on the treadmill every day, good for us.  And we got to leave early on Friday and have a night out with the Johnsons.  (More Taco Bell, ha ha) On the way back to pick up their car, Elder Schlager turned left in a bad traffic jam, at a corner we have used MANY times, and there was an officer directing traffic.  New Adventure--Elder got his first moving violation in the Philippines!  As it happens, that corner says, NO LEFT TURN, and we never saw it before. OH well.  He was calm, turned over his driver's license.  That is how they get you in to pay--you have to go pick up your license.  The Johnsons were very admiring--he didn't argue or lose his temper or anything.  He just said, "Well, I did it!"  

Binangonan Branch had a busy Saturday, with rehearsals for the Primary Roadshow, and a Teacher Training Meeting, and a baptism.  We were there for the day, driving home in the dark after 9 and thinking, "what are we DOING out here?"  But they do a good job--that was the best Teacher Training meeting I have ever been in, and I taught it for a while.  
See Elder over there, hiding out in his "group"?  That was funny.

Three baptisms that night.  Sister Syrile, 18, Sister Edlyn, 16, and one of my darling little angels from Primary, Sister Judith Medina, 8.  Elder Lucido arrived a month ago, and this was his first baptism. 

On Monday, President received 3 mission calls for the Binangonan Branch.  That is how it is done, here.  They come to him, and are hand delivered.  We thought it would be wonderful to be able to do that, and President asked us to deliver them on Sunday to the Branch President.  President Soriano had them come to the stand, and open them and read them.  It was so wonderful.  They cried.  Here they are, Elder Escalona, to Cagayan de Oro, Elder Nonato, to Bacolod, and Elder Pacia to Butuan.  All will be serving here, in the Philippines, not unusual.  This branch has 8 out now, and these three going.  Also, more in the chute~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Another day in primary.  Here is our Primary President, expecting a baby, and  finally feeling well enough to be with us, most of the time.  We are preparing for the Sacrament Meeting Presentation, in Sept, and for the roadshow, two weeks.  Lots to do. It was a GOOD day in Primary.   
After church, we were invited to the office for a birthday celebration for Elder Osores, our TA, and for President Jose, the first counselor in the Mission Presidency.  Sister Revillo invited all the "office staffs", and that includes us. She made a mountain of Pancit, and there were two cakes and ice cream and other treats.  I made fruit salad.   Here I am with her and Sister Jose.  
And here she is with the Elder and with the Joses.  They are simply angels.  I wish you could all know them.  See our little office dinner?    

The Rain stopped, so our floors are dry!  That made a definite difference to my mental health.

It's always more fun in the Philippines!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Feeling Better .....

Elder Schlager is feeling much better. WE have been swimming again, and generally things are back to normal. Thank you for your messages of concern.  Although Elder has had a few minor illnesses, I am generally well.  Excepting, of course, a day now and then when I "dance" all day.  I call it the "Filipino Foxtrot".  The people here call it LBM, (you figure it out!)

PS: In listing Elder's "jobs" I missed at least one.

 CAR CZAR: We received a day of training from our legal guy, Elder Olsen. He talked A LOT about cars. (No surprise there!) He said the mission needs a car czar, to keep things in order, educate new drivers, make sure we stay legal, report accidents, etc.. So, the conversation went like this:    

Elder Schlager, would you like to do that?

NO!!  President, would you like to rephrase that?

(Laughing)  Elder Schlager, WILL you do that?

Yes, President.

Elder S and President get along really well.  I think one reason we were assigned to the office was because he enjoys being around my Elder.

He has two big dimples in his cheeks, which we see when he smiles and laughs.  My goal is to see them at least once whenever we see him.  He works SO hard.  He was a very successful businessman before this mission, but Sister Revillo says he NEVER worked this  hard before!

This week we spent a lot of time driving around.  That is because we are not the smartest missionaries on the roster!   We drove over to the Post Office on Tuesday, AFTER being reminded that it was a national holiday.  Closed, of course.  
Then we drove over on Wed, and the gates were down, and it was NOT supposed to be a holiday, but still got no mail.  (I am still not sure if it was closed or we just assumed wrong.)
Anyway, two points for them and none for us. 

 Then, we drove over AGAIN, on Thursday, and finally managed to mail all the letters and packages from our missionaries and pick up the 13 packages that were sent here for them.  The Post Office is not far, in kilometers, but in traffic it can be a really long trip.  I took a few photos this time, so that you can see what I mean about the conditions.  Bear in mind it is open to the air and weather, with no AC or protection from the wind.  It was raining.
See the ceiling?  
There ARE (gray from the pollution) marble floors. (I think.  Maybe tile?)  This is the central Post Office of Quezon City.  They still use ledgers to keep track of the mail and the money, and they use carbon paper.  When did you last use, or even see, carbon paper??

WE also, in the course of these trips, needed to do some shopping for the office, and stopped at a new shopping mall we had not seen before. We had heard a rumor, but did not believe it. Now, this was a red letter week for us.  In all that running around guess what we found?  
Not one, but two   
We didn't want to play favorites, so we ate at both of them.
If you have not been to TACO BELL lately, what are you waiting for???  It tasted exactly like at home, and Yes, they have meals with rice for those who think it isn't a meal without it.  (Any Filipino will tell you, "without rice, it is just a snack.")

One slightly funny story:  As we walked out to go swim this week, there was an unhappy little girl on our floor.  She was (unusually) crying.  She was even less happy when she saw me.  So, as we went down in the elevator,Elder said, I don't think it would be easy to raise kids in a high rise like this. There is no place for them to ...............before he could finish the word, "Play", we went into the garage we walk through, and here came a little boy on a brand new bike with training wheels, really tearing it up!   He was having so much fun, we clapped and cheered for him..  I think children ALWAYS find a way to play!

It is raining every day, now, and the world is much prettier than it has been. (Of course, our floors are wet!)  
We were well trained in the PNW,  If you don't do it in the rain, you don't do it!  We walked one night in the rain, and swam one morning in the rain!  (Heavy rain- not Northwest drizzle!)
THREE stories from this week:

We were driving on the main highway to work, and saw these two young boys running behind this jeepney as it pulled away from the curb.  They jumped on and hid from the driver so as not be charged for the ride.  We see this quite often. many times on trucks on the road.
 And, we had to meet a member from Teresa to take care of some business for the Jensens.  He told us about a newer member family out there who had a new baby this week.  Things went badly, she had to have a cesarean.  That was a problem---no money.  Everyone who could is helping, but here, they don't let you leave the hospital until the bill is paid.  ????? As of today, still not sure if she can go home to her other 7 children!  He said, " they CAN go to the state hospital, but nobody does.  You go in sick, and you come out dead!" 

And I have to share a really happy moment this week.  I went in to the office and found this on my computer:   I didn't even know you can DO electronic sticky notes!

At 66, not many people (including you, sometimes) think you have very much left to offer!  How nice it is to be needed and appreciated!

We get pretty tired.  Yesterday we stayed at home, walked on the treadmill, took a swim, did laundry, cooked, studied, and prepared.  Went to bed at about 8:30. Sound asleep.  
9:30 pm, my phone rings, and it is a missionary wanting to know when he can get his chest X-ray.  (Sister, are you still awake?)  Well, I am NOW!.   

Then it rings again, (We lost the referral you sent.  Will you send it again?)  Goodnight, Elders!

Today, I slept TO church, DURING church, FROM church, and AFTER church.  

Gotta love the Philippines!