Thursday, October 30, 2014


Of course, due to the time differences, we don't have general conference available to us until the following week.  (Well, we can 
WATCH it on the internet, a day later.)  All of the wards and branches here go to the building on the following weekend, and see it played on a taped version.  This year, the seniors did not get together to do that.  Instead, we all did our "own thing".  

SO, Elder Schlager and I decided to REST, RELAX, REGROUP, and REFUEL.  We invited one couple, the Johnsons, to come and do "church in jammies" with us, got a lot of snacks together, got a copy of the DVD so we would not be dependent on the Filipino Internet, and spent the day on Saturday marvelously.  
My favorite talk, I think, (still have not read them all again), is the one from Elder J├Ârg Klebingat.  "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence".  
"On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your spiritual confidence before God?" 
Now, I am not going to to tell you my score was high.  But, I really loved the message that you can measure yourself against these 6 things, and get a plan together. 
1.  Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being.
2.  Take responsibility for your own physical well-being.
3.  Embrace voluntary, whole-hearted obedience as part of your life.
4.  Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly.
5.  Become really, really good at forgiving.
6.  Accept trials, setbacks, and "surprises" as part of your mortal experience.

First step, memorize them.  Second step, let them come into my mind to measure my behaviors.  Third step, make necessary changes at the moment they are apparent.  Fourth step, repeat as necessary.  (I should get REALLY REALLY good at it!)

On Sunday, we stayed home (and probably should have been with our branch, but....) until the afternoon, and then met the Mission Presidency at the office for meetings.  It was a great weekend.


We took another senior trip,
 this time to Intramuros, which means "within the walls."  This is the ancient walled city that was the original Manila.  It dates back to the Spanish occupation of the Philippines; construction of the walls began in late 15th century to protect the government, the capital.  It lies along the Pasig river, but also along the edge of the Manila Bay.  It was used by the Japanese in WWII to defend THEIR position, and when the final battles came, the US "bombed the crap out of it".  Even then, the Japanese just would not surrender.  In the end, they murdered 100,000 civilians, women and children, inside the city.  That is the "Manila Massacre." 

So, most of it has had to be rebuilt.  But it is still a wonderful place to visit.  There is much of historical significance there, and it is a beautiful place.  

Here we are in front of the San Agustin Church, which was the only building of stature not to be demolished.
Here is Elder Ferrin, our IFR, showing and teaching me something, as always!  
He is actually pointing out to me the details of this magnificent ceiling.  And telling me a story. The ceiling is NOT all carved and multi-layered.  It is simply a huge, rounded, curved, flat surface, painted to look like this.  WOW!

All of the churches have these icons, which are put onto carriages and dragged around town during the festivals.  Some are actually stored, in the churches, on the carriages.

We traveled around the city by trolley, with a tour guide, but we got off all along the way and saw the sights and heard the stories.  

There were other modes of transportation, too.


Our first stop, however, was at the gates of the Joy Kiddie Center.  This is inside the walled city, and is a school for the homeless children.  They have about 400 attending all the time, about 120 of which are "regular".  The actual total of children benefiting from this school is impossible to calculate.   

This is John Go Hoc, the man who makes it happen.  He invited us to come and arranged a lovely day for us.  We took three wheelchairs from the Humanitarian Dept, and also made donations.  He said it would be helpful to have one gift for each child for Christmas.  So, of course, we all wanted to help.  

Here is the front door of the school.  They were waiting for us. 

They had prepared a program to welcome us.  

This is their playground.  

And the class pet.

And the "kitchen" from which they prepare a small amount of food for them.  

John takes them at 5 years old, and they CAN complete their schooling there through high school.  If they do, they get a scholarship to a college.

This is Jose Rizal.  He is the hero of the Philippines, or "the first Filipino".  He was a brilliant multi-talented man who got caught between the factions of the constantly changing tides of progressiveness and was shot by firing squad on Dec 30, 1896.  Here in the walled city.  He was 35 years old.  He wrote two novels, decrying the injustices of the society he had seen, although he himself grew up very comfortably and was a doctor (ophthalmologist) among many other things.  Our mission encompasses Rizal Province, and every little town has a Rizal Street.  Antipolo, where we lived, is in Rizal.  And our office is on JP Rizal Street in Quezon City.  
When he was arrested and brought to trial, he was housed in this house, which also (sort of) survived the war. 
This building has been restored, and it is where he was tried, and then convicted of rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy.    There is a  new exhibit there now, a sort of "shrine" to him.  It was really amazing.  This man wrote poetry and music, he painted, he sculpted, he chose to be an eye doctor so he could help his mother, who was going blind.  And he operated on her and saved her vision.  He is considered a polymath and a polyglot, and was conversational in 22 languages.  
He traveled all over the world, and he wanted the Philippines to be better, but not necessarily free of Spain.   He never preached rebellion, or revolution.  He did, however,  found the original group that became the Katipunan and they started the revolution in 1896.  So, in the end, his murder caused what they were afraid of.

He was quite a man.  

This is the view from the top of the walls, which are 6 meters high and 4 meters thick.  Looking out at Manila Bay.

Here are the walls, we walked all along them.  You can just see the places where the guns were placed to defend the city.  

And this is the (roofless, now) magazines, below, in the corner of the wall, where the ammunition was stored for the guns.

Sadly, the other thing they used the basements for was for prisoners.  When they became too numerous or troublesome, they just opened the gates and the Pasig River flowed in and drowned them.  Easy to get rid of, too.  Just let them float to the ocean.

Fort Santiago is there, now a market place.  I bought some paintings. 
 And Casa Manila, a lovely home from the Spanish Period.  

We had a wonderful, educational, fun day, and a really delicious lunch at a special restaurant there in the area, with a trio to serenade us.  

It was only when I got home, that I began to wonder "What have I done with my life?"  There are so many truly great people on earth.  So many heroes.  

This is a monument to the civilians who died during the Battle of Manila

And this is a historic photo of the destruction of one of the 5 city gates, destroyed by the US tanks when they liberated the Philippines from the Japanese.

AND, one more hero......

What will you be doing on Halloween?  

We have the amazing opportunity to meet with an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

President Revillo said, "This is very exciting".  I asked him if he had ever shared the stand with an Apostle, before.  
He said ,"I don't think so.'  But then, Sister Revillo reminded him that he has. You should really be here to see the excitement.  FM has been in our office, repainting.  The youth have been practicing a "cultural event".  The caterers are planning the special dinners.  
We had to go find Evian Water.  Our APs said, "where do we find that?  Expensive water? "  I pointed out to them that we did not want to be remembered as "the mission that poisoned the Apostle".  Whatever he needs, he gets!  
Here is your funny story:  Elder Schlager brought one long-sleeved white shirt.  He is told to wear it for things like this.  He hates it--because it is hot.  (Although, our buildings are often cooled so the point of frostbite!)  
So, he said,"  I guess I have to wear a long-sleeved shirt".  
I said, "Oh, the sacrifices we will make to meet an Apostle!"

I promise to tell you all about it next week.

It's always more fun in 

The Philippines  !!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

PLAYING CATCH UP ...........

25 of us got into vans early on Saturday and went out to Clark AFB, which is huge but no longer belongs to the US.  When Mount Pinatubo covered it in ash, 1991, the hangers were destroyed and the US just abandoned it to the Philippines.  Now it is an airport, and also the sight of many new large international businesses.   

But, there is also a cultural center there, Nayong Pilipino, which is still under construction, and which is along the lines of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.  

We drove a couple of hours out of the city and through bright green rice fields and scenery to get up there. OUR first trip north since we arrived. It was lovely.


Elder Schlager in front of the rock "mountain" in the center of the area.  It is a big, empty, cave inside.  And, typical of the Philippines, a good place for them to dump their trash!  But picturesque from the outside, at least.

Here is one of the wood carving businesses.  They sit here all day and carve, and then you go into their little shop and purchase whatever you fall in love with. Note, they live above in the Bahay Kubo.  They really are artists, however.  
Another little house, on stilts to avoid flooding in the rains.
This one was lovely, a show place, designed to show off the artistic talent here.  Again, above the ground because the rains are so heavy.

There are less beautiful places for them to live as well.

Then we went into a big theater, which was restored after the volcano, I guess, because it is original.  Sister Clements, 74, was here with the USO during the Viet Nam War, and she performed in this theater!  She couldn't believe it when she saw it. 

They put on a really fun cultural show for us, with music and dancing.  

Then, we all shopped at the little souvenir stands, bought the handmade gifts, etc, and got back in the vans.

On the way home, we stopped at Blessy's.  Her family has several businesses.  We had a very nice lunch prepared for us at their restaurant, and then toured her quilt shop.  Everyone is having at least one quilt made for them by Blessy while we are here.  Mine will be ready next month!

Helping those in need:

 The house for the Lana Family is nearly finished.  We went out to see it again today.  They need to finish the windows, and paint it,.  But a week or so ago it was still in the construction phase.
This is the view from the (will be) window out the back side.  
There will be a window in this wall, as well.  But it is all done, now.  

Here is the "family pet", who will be, most likely, the Lechon (roast pig) served at the Branch Christmas party in Dec.

Back yard.  Pretty, yes?  And quiet, and all theirs.  Just FYI, when we saw them today they told us the last steps of the house will probably be delayed a little bit.  He told us that there is another lot in Teresa that he owns, but after he decided to use this one in Binangonan for his own family, he they decided to give the second one to the  church for other people to build on.  Well, there is a family in need there, so he has told Jhun to take care of that, first, if he can.  They will all work on it.  Lots of projects for them.  
They are still finishing the one for Sister Josie, in Maligaya, they need to get the Lana's into theirs, and now the new project in Teresa.  
This is JayCee, their youngest. on his "street".  

Another Transfer:

These are the 12 new ones who arrived.  Wide-eyed, exhausted, and ready? They came from the US, from the Islands of Samoa and Tonga, and from the Philippines.

And, here are the 10 we lost this time.  Confident, capable, leaders already.  Of course, they too feel some anxiety.  They have to go home and build their lives, now.  But I think they will find that the Lord will do that for them, as they continue in their faith and service.  He has prepared them well, and He has a work for them to do.  They returned to the US, Canada, and all over this country.  We love them VERY much!

One of my jobs is to arrange for the travel departments (church in Salt Lake and the local one, here) to purchase their tickets to go home.  We begin with asking them how they need to go home, and where.  They tell me where they are flying, busing, etc, to.  Many, many times, that is "Greek to me".  Poor things, they try to make it clear, but I spend a LOT of HOURS on Google, trying to figure out which airport will take them closest, what the international code is for that airport, whether they can get someone to meet them there, or will need additional flights or ground transportation, what it is going to cost them, so we can make sure they have what they need, etc.   We fly them to places I never heard of.  Vanuatu?  Apparently EVERY young person in Kiribati comes here on a mission.Ceylon?  Guam?  
And, the bus riders are even worse!  I have to try to find the right bus line, the right depor, the cost, and the schedule.