Saturday, April 27, 2013


   Many challenges occur here in the Philippines due to the marriage vows or lack of them. This is the only country in the world (according to our legal department) that still does not allow for divorce. At first impression that sounds great. But then you realize that many couples here live together and have families together because they can't get divorced from a prior marriage or they do want to find themselves in such a circumstance.
   The Catholic Church is very dominant here and does not believe in divorce. Therefore it does not exist. However, this puts many of our members in a situation that does not allow them to hold callings or to be eligible to attend the Temple. We pray often that the National Senate, Congress and Presidency will eventually pass such a bill to allow divorce.

 Well it was an exciting day for Dexter & Vanessa and Jun & Marivic. They were about to be married and fulfill a desire they have had for a long time.
We had met Dexter & Vanessa prior to this day and really enjoy them. They have one child and are thrilled to finally get married. Another challenge to getting married here is the money. They need to pay to file papers, pay clergy, have clothes to wear, food for the celebration and other items. That is hard because most can barely provide food for their families. With much support from friends and branch members, they have been able to put it all together.
Jun & Marivic have been waiting even longer for this day to arrive. You may remember Jun from an earlier blog that talked about Elder Jensen helping them to build a house. They have 4 children and have been together for many years. When Jun was asked 'Will you take this women to be your lawfully wedded wife?', he jumped up and down and yelled 'Yes, Yes, Yes!'.
Elder & Sister Jensen have been a strong support for both of these families, The Jensens had done all the decoration, flowers, clothing, etc in preparing them for that special occasion.
Sisters French and Hadlock also got involved and spent the whole day in making a wedding cake. I think they made it with rice crispy treats for the 2-layer base and then 4 layers of carrot cake. They had more fun than should be allowed for Senior Missionaries.
Immediately following the wedding, Dexter & Venessa were baptized. The following week Jun (made an Elder) was able to baptize Marivic and their children that were old enough.
This has now given each family the opportunity to progress toward the Temple. They have each planned to go one year from now. I know they will receive all the support they will need.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


  We have been wanting to visit the Jose Fabella Hospital for some time. Located in the heart of Manila, it is the busiest birthing hospital in the world.
   Right now is a slow time but still between 60 and 80 births happen here daily. In peak season (September and October) they will deliver between 100 to 120 babies per day. There is no room for those that are waiting to deliver that don't have a major problem. They just wait outside until they are dilated to the right centimeters. And outside means hot and humid. An inside most areas just have fans.

The building is over 100 years old, but still somewhat usable. Plans of building a new hospital are underway. It will be 9 stories instead of their present location of 3 stories. But it won't be completed for 3 years.
The NICU currently has 100 babies at various stages of growth and development. It consists of several rooms with little room to work around each child. The new hospital will have an entire floor to accommodate so many newborns with problems.
The staff is not as big as needed, but all that can be afforded. For proper care, they would need to greatly enlarge the medical team. Hopefully they can find the money.
No such thing as a private room unless you end up in isolation. Then you only have to share with 11 others. Most of the time 2 to 3 women will share these beds with their newborns with them.
As many as 4 mothers and 4 newborns will bunk on each of these double size accommodations. I took other photos also of a kangaroo unit where mothers are used to incubate their newborns with a tube sock kind of thing that keeps the babies snug against their chest to maintain temperature. Most common care is done by mothers and families with the medical staff there to help with major problems. Many of these mothers with uncomplicated births could go home just 6 hours after giving birth. Many stay for 24 hours to avoid post delivery problems. Very little follow up occurs with these newborns. Only the complicated cases get follow up at home.


  Just outside the city limits of Cagayan De Oro is the location for Freedom Technology Foundation.
They were started several years ago by Humanity International to help with the suffering of many on the island of Mindanao. Due to fighting and land minds many have been left disabled and in need of wheelchairs. They build most of the wheelchairs needed for our program in Mindanao.
  They do not have a large capacity as far as numbers, but they build a quality product.

The wheelchairs start with a basic frame for this All Terrain wheelchair being built. They use a jig to hold the small parts in place for welding the frame together.
Many of the workers here are disabled but are very skillful. Mona oversees the construction and assembly. Next to her is a stack of push rings to be attached to the large back wheel.
When all parts are prepared, they are assembled on this large table that 4 persons can work on at the same time.
These are the foot rests to be installed at the time of assembly.
They have the frames complete with the back wheel attached and are ready to go to the final assembly and packing for shipment. This is a small by efficient manufacturing company that supplies a much needed service.  

This is what the final product looks like when ready to be shipped. It works especially well on rough terrain and dirt roads. Many are used in this area where good roads are rare outside the city proper.


  The southern most large island in the Philippines is Mindanao. Caucasian missionaries can't go there without the permission of the Area Presidency. There has been battles there for many years between the Muslim Radicals, the New People's Army and the Philippine Armed Forces.
  One of our mission presidents was kidnapped and held hostage there several years ago. Needless to say there are security issues there. However there are also several LDS Charities projects there.
  A few weeks ago, Elder Benson Misalucha came into our office and said we need to go there to close out one of our projects in Cagayan De Oro. We looked surprised as he said Sister Hadlock would also go. It has been many years since a white sister has been allowed to travel to that island. He looked directly at Sister Hadlock when he said "It is because of your great faith that you are going".
  One of our dreams was to go to that island. It is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines.

Our project was to build temporary shelters for those displaced by Typhoon Sendong. Thousands needed shelter from this 2011 typhoon. Most of the families have relocated to a permanent shelter, but a few families are waiting for that opportunity.
The shelters are made to accommodate a family of five, but can be enlarged to accommodate more when needed. When they leave, they can take the materials with them and enlarge their permanent home.
This project was done in conjunction with CRS (Catholic Relief Services), USAID and Single Drop. We like to partner with other organizations. This allows more to be done if we pool our resources.
This project was also well organized and overseen by the families living there. Committees were formed and responsibilities divided up. An exact count was also maintained of those remaining and still needing permanent shelter.
Not far away were permanent shelters being built by 'Habitat for Humanity'. The families were really enjoying these new accommodations that were being completed. Another big plus is they are on high ground and away from dangerous areas prone to flooding.

 Sister Hadlock is being taught in the art of mud pie making by the local professionals. She loves the encounters with the wonderful children.
We feel so fortunate to be able to visit this special place with great hardships and hope to return as we may be allowed. We are truly being watched over.


   I met Danny last year in conjunction with a wheelchair training in the area of Cavite. This province is Southwest of Manila. Little did I know of the connections of this man. He owns a business in downtown Manila and sells items to the church to augment things in our distribution center. He supplies such things as picture frames for use with pictures shipped in for use in our chapels. He also is helpful in ordering specialty items such as big stickers that have the LDS Charities logo to place on items we donate or use.
  Well, I was trying to find used or rebuilt generators to supply to the devastated areas of Davao Oriental. We were working with "Save the Children Foundation" and needed four generators to supply power for areas that would not have power for 8 or more months. Danny overheard me in the office making phone calls and said "I can get those". He made some calls and we have an appointment to see some generators near his business the next day. He escorted me to the area we needed to look. This is not an area that we would normally go unless we had a reason and a personal escort.

We are in the heart of downtown Manila where the old financial district was located prior to WWII.
You can go for blocks and find almost anything you could want. At this point even Danny looks lost.
This area is one of just RTW (ready to wear) clothing. Another block would be just cameras and lenses. Other large sections were shoes, electronics and bags.
These guys just wanted their pictures taken as they were calling me to buy something.
Two full blocks where just optical shops that will supply most of the Philippines with frames and lenses.
We finally find the location and see the generators. The price seems right. Now it is time to negotiate.
Danny again shows his worth when it comes to items we may need. He has become a personal friend and a great family man. He is a former Bishop and has 2 daughters attending BYU. We have a lot of common interests and enjoy working together. Again, we find that one of  the best things we do is  develop relationships that are mutually beneficial. As we would say, Win/Win.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


   I got a call from Pete Manio. He is one of the most proactive individuals I know.
  He tells me we have an appointment to be interviewed at the radio station DZRH in downtown Manila. We are suppose to give them information of the LDS Charities Wheelchair Initiative.
  It's 12 noon and we are scheduled to be in Manila in one hour for our appointment. That is not going to happen on a Friday. Traffic in Manila on Friday is impossible. It will take us 2 hours to make that 12 to 15 mile drive.
  OK, he called back and they will meet us at 2 pm. Even that is going to be tough.
  I head for his office in Mandaluyong City Hall and hope traffic at least moves. He is ready to go.
I put his tricycle wheelchair in the trunk of our Toyota Altus and away we go.
  We had a great conversation on the way in. He is a great guy with a great family.
  We arrive at 2:10 pm and are lucky to do so. A member of the DZRH staff meets us and begins to interview us about the work we do at LDS Charities and how our partnerships help us. He gets called away and another "TYPE A" starts down the same road. I sit back as I see this guy go 100 miles an hour in every direction possible.
  Then some staff member hands him a mic and we are on the air 'LIVE'. I was not prepared for this, but we go with it. It is an all Tagalog Radio Station, so I get lost in that conversation. Then the 'TYPE A' starts giving out all this info I gave him earlier and actually gets it mostly right. I didn't even think he was listening.
  They must like what they hear, so they move us into the main studio. We meet the 'MAN' on the air that everybody in the Philippines knows but me. He is very good and gets the points across as far as I know. Pete assures me he is right on for the details.

The announcer then goes to English and I get interviewed on most of our projects. I feel pretty relaxed until he gives out all my information 'ON THE AIR'. There they are - my cell phone, e-mail and office phone - out to the public for all to know. Now, we always tell any group, have people call you and you can refer them to us.
NO GO. On the way home, I have 24 text messages all wanting a wheelchair and the next day I had 18 e-mails. Talk about a barrage. I sent everyone of them to Pete so at least he could interpret and get assessors assigned to them.
Now that the initial shock is over, it didn't turn out to bad. I still get requests now and again and I send them to Pete. He's the MAN.


  We have had the opportunity to help at this Catholic Institution before, but this is a cause of helping those elderly residents with wheelchairs that need help. Most are old and are missing a part or two or more. The wheelchairs that is.
  We made a prior visit to arrange for all the parts we needed and returned for a day of repair using the volunteers from the US Embassy. The volunteers from the embassy not only help us but are doing many things to help around the country.

The new wheelchair missionaries are Elder Thomas and Sister Joan Staton. They are here from the Portland Oregon area. He was really hoping to go somewhere cooler but the Lord wants them here.
We had help from volunteers from both the Hospicio and the US Embassy. We went through about 50 wheelchairs total and repaired breaks and foot rests. We also gave them new seat cushions and calf straps to make them more comfortable. The ones in the worst condition were given a replacement wheelchair to make life easier.
We finished in about 3 hours and they all returned to there normal activities. It's nap time. Don't wake them up. They have had a hard day.


   We had inquiries about the Benson Food Initiative and went North to teach a Stake and 2 Districts on the benefits of using the program in their areas. The program is named after President Ezra Taft Benson who was Secretary of Agriculture during the Eisenhower administration.
   We had three items on the agenda while we are there. The first was to teach Priesthood and Relief Society leaders on the organization and implementation of this program for families, both member and non-member, to raise gardens and small animals (Pigs, chickens and ducks) in providing for themselves. This has been successful in other areas and has the benefit of teaching leadership and working side by side with non-members.
   We had a total turnout of 45 church leaders come to the trainings including Stake and District Presidents for the 3 areas. There was a lot of enthusiasm and desire to develop a project that would work for them. We do not go to them and tell them what to do, only what we can help them do if they would like us to. We expect proposals very soon on their plans.
   The second item was to visit an orphanage to see if we could be of service.

This is an independent orphanage and receives no money other than donations. They struggle to offer everything the children may need.
They have 35 children presently at this location that have been rescued from living on the street.
They all have duties to perform and are expected to take care of their own cleanliness. These children are doing their own laundry as part of their daily chores. 
The older children are a great strength to the younger ones and help them in school and work. We see several needs here, non more important than a better supply of water. With more water they could grow more of their own food with the abundance of ground they have there. Small animals are also a possibility. No matter how poor or challenged these young people are, they are always smiling and happy. They set a great example for us.
Our third item was to see a beautiful area at Alaminos City. It was about an hour and a half drive from Dagupan City. One Hundred Islands National Park is the setting of the closing of the movie "Bourne Legacy". There are 124 islands at low tide and 1 less at high tide in this beautiful setting.
We signed up for a small boat that would seat 10, but we ended up being the only passengers. I took a lot of photos and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and ocean breezes.
One of the islands was of special interest. I was asked if I knew what was hanging from the trees on the island. I couldn't tell at first, but as we got closer it became evident. This island is called 'Bat Island' for obvious reasons. These are very large bats and the only occupants on this small island. The bats are a Nocturnal Fruit Bat or Flying Fox. They can have bodies up to 16 inches and a wing span up to 5 feet. They can also see during the day. They hunt for fruit and flowers at night beginning at sunset, but do fly somewhat during the daylight hours.
The sea is eroding these islands and over time they will reduce in number. There is evidence of erosion on many of the islands as you see parts of them have fallen into the West Philippine Sea.
Nothing remains unchanged with Mother Earth or ourselves as time moves forward. The advantage we have is that we can determine wither that is for good or not. 

Friday, April 19, 2013


   Not long ago, the new Philippine MTC building was completed. This left the old building to be remodeled. In the remodel a new Physician's Office was included. The old doctor's office is in our PAO building. In the old office was an older x-ray machine that was not moved to the new building because it was replaced by a new x-ray machine. This left us with a opportunity to place the old x-ray machine with a hospital in great need. Wow, did everyone follow that?
  We investigated several locations where the need was great, but settled on the QMMC for many reasons. Most importantly was the great number of poor people they see every day. Also the coincidence that their x-ray machine was just condemned - too old for parts and service.

Our visit to their hospital to survey their needs lead to a tour of the facility. They asked if we wanted to see anything in particular and Sister Hadlock said "Babies". This photo is in the Pediatric ward. There are generally 2 to 3 children in each bed. Mothers and Fathers do much of the care for basic needs with the Staff to do the more important stuff. This is a 350 bed hospital that usually has 750 admitted patients.
This hospital had about 50 newborns in their NICU that was divided into 2 sections, one more critical than the other. Those that could be nursed on one side and those that couldn't on the other.
The staff is well trained and very committed, but there is a lot for each to do because they have too few to do all the work.
At the end of our tour we had seen enough to know of the great needs this hospital had. On the left side of the photo are the directors of the x-ray department and on the right side of the photo are the administrators of the hospital. They are all wonderful and caring and have a great interest in helping those that can't afford the necessary medical help.
All legal documents were completed to prepare a "Deed of Donation and Acceptance". We then all got together in our conference room for the official signing. I am truly happy that this hospital has received our donation. They will put it to great use.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


   We have worked with TWH for many years. They build wheelchairs for us and employ many PWDs (Persons With Disabilities).
  They had their start 40 years ago under the direction of a Catholic Sister that had high hopes for people that couldn't get employment otherwise. It started first as a shelter and then moved toward a place to educate and give opportunity.
  We have always felt they have made a great difference here in the Philippines.

We arrived early with the Dupaixs and the Baileys. They represent Public Affairs and do a great job in getting wonderful stories written and placed with National Papers and online at
We have worked with Joy Garcia, the COO of TWH, for many years. She is an inspiration to any that work with her. She was the presenter of awards for many groups that work with them, LDS Charities being one of those.
This building is on the grounds of TWH and is used for many activities, including today's grand event.
This wonderful group was from the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital. These children live there and were organized by a wonderful Catholic Sister. They played these 14-string instruments and had percussion in the group. They played a kind of folk music. The blue wheelchair is one of the wheelchairs we had placed in the hospital. Another one of the young men in the group had requested a wheelchair. He will be visited soon.
Many dignitaries were there. These men are ambassadors from Japan and Belgium.
Shortly after a break for lunch, we had an important visitor. President Benigno Aquino (The president of the Philippines) joined us. He presented several awards and greeted many people.

     He gave a wonderful speech about the great facility and the great people that work there. He speaks only in Tagalog, but we picked out several things he mentioned. That was a great opportunity for us to be there and see their President up close and personal.