Sunday, December 30, 2012


   We have had the opportunity to give intermediate wheelchairs to many children with disabilities at La Segesse School. Most are Cerebral Palsy victims need the wheelchairs to attend the school.
   To our surprise, 15 families wanted to know more about LDS Charities and the church that sponsors it. We were contacted by Gemma Fonbuena, one of the parents to see if we would be willing to have them come to our office and learn more about who we are and what we do. We welcomed the idea and began to prepare.
The children and families started to arrive at 8:30am for the 9am start on the Saturday we scheduled. But in my planning, I missed one little detail. I should have wheelchairs ready for the children. How could I have forgotten. I grabbed some young elders that I had arraigned to help us and we were able to get enough wheelchairs to accommodate all of them. Averted the first challenge of the day.
Sister Fonbuena (Senior Missionary) and President George Taylor (the MTC President) would oversee the program. After a regular opening of Christmas music and prayer, President Taylor addresses them. He tells about the 50 year history of the church in the Philippines and the reason for the MTC being here. He tells of the dedication of the missionaries that they teach here to spread the gospel and the message that they are prepared to share. He really helps them to feel at ease. By the way, this is the first time we have been able to use the MTC for an event. The Spirit is strong and the families feel it.
This is the first opportunity we have had to see the gospel taught to non-members. Our calling is such that we can not proselyte. But we see the effect of the Spirit at work everyday. Our work is to soften the hearts of those that we work with. We take names and contact information for those that want to know more and forward it to other missionaries that can teach them.
As we were sitting in the meeting, Sister Hadlock said 'Maybe that little girl could use a walker'. She was watching her attempt to walk with her grandmother helping. I quickly ran to our office and got a small walker. Sister Taylor really got into the act as she helped her across the room. I think Sister Taylor really enjoyed herself as she helped this priceless daughter of our Father in Heaven.
Elder Fonbuena (Executive Secretary to the Area Presidency) and the four young Elders joined me in helping with the accommodations for the day. I love the energy and excitement in working with the young elders. They took care of getting all of the children into wheelchairs and helping them transfer back to their vehicles when they had to leave. They also answered a lot of questions that our visitors had.
During our program a group of young missionaries in the MTC from Thailand sang to everyone the hymn "Come, Come Ye Saints". They sang the last verse in Thai. No matter the language, we feel the Spirit and the love of the missionaries. 
It had been 3 hours since they arrived and the children were hungry. We concluded the day with a lunch prepared by the parents in our lunch room at the Area Office. As soon as the children got fed, they perked up again. Or fall asleep, depending on their need.
This is Gemma Fonbuena, the contact we have with the parents. She is a niece to the Fonbuenas in our office but is not a member of the church. She is a wonderful lady with a 15 year old boy with CP that I fitted to a wheelchair about 2 months ago. He couldn't quit smiling.
Of the 15 families that showed interest to come, 5 families filled out referral cards to learn more. It is truly the Christmas season and the time to show care and concern for our fellow man. It was really a great blessing to have been there that day.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012


   North of us about 5 to 6 hours drive in the province of Pangasinan, is the city of Dagupan. It is close to the area called "100 Islands". For those that saw "Bourne Legacy", it is the area where they sailed away at the closing of the show. By the way, the show really captured the flavor of what the area around Metro Manila is like.

   We had been working with Rhyza Ventenilla (public affairs for the church) and Greg Karganilla (Stake President for Dagupan Stake) on helping them supply wheelchairs to members and non-members for a family event in September. Because of every imaginable problem we could encounter, we could only supply 13 wheelchairs for that event. After a new shipment of wheelchairs arrived, we were able to supply the remaining 22 wheelchairs that they had requested. They invited us to the event and asked me to be the keynote speaker. This group has all 22 recipients and their families ready for the program. We were scheduled to start at 4pm, but they were ready to begin 3pm. They were eager and anxious. That gave us ample time to visit and get to know many of the families that came.

This is a great picture of all the wheechairs prepared and ready to be awarded. The man in the picture is Rossel Capuli from the Dagupan area with DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development). He is a wheelchair technician trained by us to do assessing in the Dagupan area. He is not a member of the church but is one of the kindness and most humble men I have ever met. Because we were not able to do a training to supply more technicians in this area, Rossel completed all the necessary assessments to make this event happen. My wholehearted thanks and appreciation go to him for his wonderful service and dedication to this work with the disabled.

President Rollroyce Peralta, a member of the Stake Presidentcy, started off the event. Christmas carols were sung and appreciation given to everyone present.
This beautiful young lady was so anxious to get her wheelchair that all she could do was smile and giggle.

Each person waited their turn until their name was read. Then they were presented the wheelchair that was prepared for them. This dear lady was so grateful.

Each person presented a completed certificate that showed that their 40 hours of community service were completed. No money is charged to the individual for the wheelchair, but we request 40 hours of community service to be done. The service can be done by them, their family, their friends and neighbors. The service gives them true ownership and not just a hand out. You would be amazed at the way that this simple service can change lives.
Oh, it is finally this young ladies turn and a red one to boot. Each family expresses their appreciation and we defer the gratefulness to our Heavenly Father that provides all. We are just a tool to help those in need. We are so grateful we got to witness the true joy of giving during this wonderful Christmas season.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


  Elder Bautista works with us on the assessing and placing of the intermediate wheelchairs. He and his wife are wonderful and dedicated Service Missionaries. He is also a Sealer at the Temple. Working with strong leaders like him makes what we do more enjoyable and meaningful.
  He has been approached by one of our assessors about the need for wheelchairs at an orphanage and school in the City of Rodriquez out in the Rizal Province. It is about an hour and one half drive from the office. It lies in the foothills of the mountains and a beautiful place to visit.
  They have 15 children to be assessed for our specialty type wheelchairs. Children with many disabilities, but mostly Cerebral Palsy.
  The institution is under the Catholic Church and under the direction of a wonderful Priest that is here from Romania. He has many volunteers that help in both the care and schooling of these children and many more that come here daily to learn.


Going with us are students from De Laselle University in the Physical Therapy program. There professors are also with us. The professors are certified technicians for our intermediate program and the students are here for a hands on experience.

These professors have been very dedicated to our program and are very proactive in finding and assessing those that need help. We couldn't get very much accomplished if it weren't for there help.
The man in the blue shirt is Marcos. He comes here from northern Italy close to Milano. He is serving here to see if service to these needy children is his life's work. He is most patient and very thoughtful with the children.
I have never seen Marcos without a smile. I would say he has found something very satisfying to be engaged in. For when you loose yourself in service to others, you find yourself. He is surrounded by two of the children that are healthy, but have been abandoned by their families because they can not afford to raise them. With the assessments completed we head home but we will be back to deliver the wheelchairs
This area of the Philippines is very green and beautiful. Being surrounded by concrete everyday in the city makes this even more special. I am definitely a county boy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


   Even though we already have had one Christmas party, we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving with President DeLaMare. Christmas activities start very early in the Philippines with parties starting the first part of November. Most of the Senior Missionaries in our zone were there for the event. I will introduce you to the couples we work with the most.

This is President DeLaMare and his wife. They are Mission Presidents of the Quezon City Philippines mission to which we are assigned. They are from Taylorsville Utah. He will be released this coming June.
This is Elder Roger Hardick and Sister Johanna Hardick. The are from Alberta Canada and serve as the country directors of Humanitarian Services. We work directly with and under them in our assignment. We will be taking their position starting in January. They head home to the great white north on January 22nd.
Far left is another Canadian, Elder Jensen. He and his wife work in member leadership support in one of the provinces outside the Metro Manila area. Next to him are the Bell's from California. We see them everyday as they work with PEF (Perpetual Education Fund) within the same office area. They are heading home on Tuesday after a very successful time spent here. They also help in organizing and carrying out the repacking projects of food during the calamities.
Elder and Sister Hull are from the Lehi Utah area. He is a retired seminary teacher. They work with PEF also in Manila. I have to mention the great blessing the PEF is to members of the church here and to the building up of leadership that is still quite young.
This is Sister Marcia French (Area Mental Health Director) and her husband Elder Jeffrey French. They have become dear friends. We really have enjoyed their company in several things we have done together.
Elder and Sister Bailey have only been here a few weeks. Their assignment is with Public Affairs. They are from the Highland area of Salt Lake City. He is retired from the Church were he worked in the Real Estate Dept.
The Millers work in the Mission Office doing all the finances. He's the guy that puts money into my account every month. Got to keep a good friendship here.
We had a wonderful time at our Thanksgiving dinner that we shared with so many.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


  Christmas is a hugh event here in the Philippines. Christmas music started playing in the malls in late September and you could start buying your trees and decorations at that same time. I have always thought all that should start after Thanksgiving. But after 2 and 1/2 months, I'm getting used to it.

  Elder Misalucha had invited us to his home for a Welfare Department dinner and program. He is a BYU graduate in business. They have a lovely home and are kind enough to share it with us. He oversees the Area Welfare Department and is a tremendous leader.

I have no idea what I was trying to get here, but with that 2-3 second delay on our digital camera, one can only guess. But it does look like a conspiracy.
These are the three stars for our program that night. On the far left is John Baledos. He comes from Cebu and is in our leadership in that area. He attempted to teach us 'Gangnam Style' dancing. I felt like a new colt that couldn't quite manage his legs. I'm glad no one recorded that.
In the middle is Willie (works in our office with the Fast Offerings) and then Jomel (from Employment Services). They could do a stand up routine and make good money. Willie would sing in Tagalog and Jomel would translate into English. Except he made up things. It was really funny.
Closing out the events for the night was singing, lead by Jib (far right, with Perpetual Education Fund). It was a lot of fun with some great people.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


  Danny Soleta is from the Cavite Province and the city of Rosario. He comes into the Philippine Area Office almost weekly because he is a vendor for items supplied to church houses around the country. He supplies such things as picture frames and the pulpits that rise up and down. He has other items, but those two I could recall. He has recently been released as a Bishop of the Rosario Ward.
  He is now the President of the Rosario Rotary club. He has been trying to schedule a wheelchair training since early August, but due to calamities, the new process we started with Rotary and some 'bad blood' in working with the Rotary club assigned to his District to schedule a training, he kept getting bumped to a new date. Well we said we will train on Nov.15 and 16 and we kept the date.
  He was not discouraged with the set backs and really worked with us to get the location approved and the people invited to attend. Needless to say, his persistence paid off.

Danny is on the back row to my right in the blue shirt.
 We had 17 participants come for the training. Many have to travel quite a distance and with the traffic, we never are able to start on time. We hope to start at 8am, by it is generally closer to 9am.
It usually takes a few hours to get to know the people in the group and get a feel of how well they will do. This allows us to make adjustments when we know the abilities of the participants. When we have professionals the teaching progresses faster.
In the training, we teach how to transfer patients. This is straight forward, but the exercise can sometimes really turn for the worst. It has to do with the men having permission to touch the ladies when we move them. In most cases the ladies prefer to be transferred by other ladies.
This young lady is the daughter of on of the participants and the meeting house custodian. She is very healthy, but I told her we needed a model to demonstrate how the 'little walker' worked for children.
She is 4 years old and she really enjoyed the spotlight.
Even though we were only about 85 to 90 miles away from our office, we spent the night
at Mound Sea, a resort near our training. Elder Notarte , with his wife lower right, is taking a picture of Elder and Sister Bautista. The Resort was right on the ocean and had water slides and 3 swimming pools for guests as well as city patrons. The distance may be short, but it is a 3 hour journey through Manila to get here.
One of our wheelchair recipients was a 14 year old boy that was very excited about his new mode of transportation. Turns out he and his family were also taking the discussions from the missionaries.
He was shy with his chair at first, but within 15 minutes he was spinning it everywhere in the cultural hall of the LDS church that we did our training.
It may have taken effort to get this training completed, but it was well worth the effort. Another 17 assessors and 17 new friends.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


   On an island in the middle of the Pasig River in the heart of Manila lies this sanctuary of love and hope. In 1778 a small hospital was built here. Over the years it was presided over by various groups until in 1866 it was permanently turned over to the Daughters of Charity of St.Vincent de Paul of the Catholic Church. On the island is a church, hospital, rehabilitation services and dormitories for children, battered women and children and HIV patients.
   It is the first social welfare agency in the Philippines. It is home to orphans, abandoned and special needs children and elderly.
  We were invited by the U.S. Embassy to supply needed wheelchairs to the children with special needs. Dustin Bradshaw (from Beaver, UT) is our contact in the embassy with a charitable group made up of embassy volunteers.

Upon our Saturday arrival, we met 15 children aged 4 to 18 that would be assessed for an intermediate wheelchair. Six assessors had volunteered their time that day to help.
The children were wonderful to meet. Loving and kind only begins to describe what they were like. Most of the people that work here are volunteers. The volunteers are doing everything for these children and the others that are housed here. I could really feel the Spirit here as we went about our work. Our Father in Heaven truly loves these wonderful children and all those that assist them.
Meet Angie. She is a treasure. With no arms, she struggled to find things she could do. She discovered that she could paint with her feet. Her paintings are beautiful and have been made into cards that can be purchased. She is so tender and kind. She constantly likes to be hugged and we did our best to accommodate.
Also housed there are elderly with no where else to go. We saw a need to repair and donate more wheelchairs for them. I have scheduled next week to return and collect an inventory of needed parts to get ordered. We will then schedule a day with the embassy to to the necessary work.
They lady with the red purse is 94 years old and still has a great voice. She sang us a song that she loves about Christ. I had never heard it before, but it was beautiful.
Our day was well spent as we collected necessary information to provide help. We will schedule two days here in the near future - one to fit the children to the wheelchairs that are being built for them and one to do the repairs of the wheelchairs and to donate more for the elderly.
I love what we are doing - PRICELESS !!


   I was coming home from church a few weeks ago and got held up by a parade. The challenge with parades here is there is only one road and they are using it. Might as well enjoy it because you're not going anywhere.
  This parade was down the main street of Angono and was in honor of teachers world wide. I have never seen so many marching bands and drill teams than are on display in the parades here. What a great opportunity for these talented kids to show off their skills

Angono is known as the art capital of the Philippines. The above caricatures lead the parade that ended at the city hall. There are many art schools here and they all have a full enrollment.
Nice to see cowboy hats so far from home. It is hard to see from the pictures, but the musical instruments are old and well used. But just like the the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going and going.
The bands and drill teams wear the school colors and they show their school pride by the way they perform.
Pink - Is this really a school color?
The Boy Scouts carry banners for each of the groups that tell who they are and where their group comes from.
Quantities of 100 are not uncommon for these school groups.
But all the groups are here to honor their teachers. Note the umbrellas - they are used here as much for the sun as for the rain.
Well, now we will wait for at least 30 minutes until the traffic begins to move. But the parade was great.