Wednesday, May 29, 2013


   Following the Vision Project trip, we went with Manny to see how all the children are doing at Mabuhay Deseret. Many have graduated from their care and others are new and awaiting their opportunity for a better life.
    Mabuhay is a partner that does more than Vision in helping the poor and needy in the Philippines. We refer 1 to 2 children weekly to be screened with the hope that they can receive help to improve their life.

We met this young man several months ago prior to his surgery for club feet. The surgeries were successful and now he is getting ready to go home with his fitted braces. He can't run yet, but he gets around wonderfully.
This young man had brain surgery that helped to correct his eyes and other issues he was having. He has a four inch scare on the back of his head. And me being me, I rubbed his head not thinking I could have hurt him. Fortunately, he just laughed at me.
This your lady came in with a large part of her body being burnt. She has had over 30 surgeries and is only weeks from going home. She is in one of my early blogs that shows how bad the burns were.
This little guy is too young to have the surgery done for clef lip and pallet, but it won't be long until he will get a remake.
This little guy is getting all the x-rays done as he prepares for his club feet to be corrected. His is now walking and running on the sides of his feet. What a funny guy. Boy is he going to be mad when he wakes up one day and won't be able to walk. But for the long haul, he will be better off after the correction is done.
This young lady is another candidate for clef lip and pallet surgery and will need to be a little older also before the correction is done.
As a treat to us, the children had prepared many songs for us. We all joined in as the feeling of love and concern for each other filled us to the top.
Sister Hadlock got the question, "Do you know how to make bread?". She said she did. "Would you come over and teach the children to make it?' Yip, we get to go back real soon.
Being around these wonderful children help keep us grounded as to what we really need in life. So often we want so many things, but all we really need is "To Love" and "To Be Loved".

Sunday, May 26, 2013


On our trip to Tacloban City with Dr. Call, we had the opportunity to see one of the top sites in that region. Connecting two islands over the San Juanico Straight is the San Juanico Bridge. This bridge was built as a gift from President Ferdinand Marcos to his wife Imelda Marcos. She grew up in the area of Tacloban City on the island of Leyte. This bridge helps to connect the country on the Pan-American Highway.

The bridge was constructed between 1969 to 1973 and used extensive Filipino labor for the Japanese engineered bridge.  

The center of the bride rises 41 meters above the sea to allow seafaring ships the ability to pass easily.

 It is a two lane road with pedestrian paths on each side and spans 2.16 Kilometes (1.34 Miles). It is the largest bride in the Philippines and one of the largest in the world.
 After we passed the top point of the bridge, we could see the road turn to the left and 'kind of ' form an 'L'. This is the Leyte side of the bridge. It then makes some turns that resemble an 'S' as we proceeded to the Samar Island side of the bridge.
We arrived on the Island of Samar for the first time. We didn't stay long, but we were there. I don't think we will make it to all 7,107 islands in the chain, but we love our opportunity to see many beautiful places as we are able to help others in wonderful ways.
We came back and get a return welcome to Tacloban City, Leyte area where we would stay for one more day before we departed for Manila. Our stay had been very productive as we worked with Stake President Aban and others to plan for more opportunities to help here. This is one of those areas that we can confidently say, 'We Will Return'.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


  We flew north to the Island of Leyte. Our visit was to the principle city of Tacloban. This is one of the larger cities in the Vasayas region of the Philippines and has a population 220,000.


The Oriental Hotel was our home for the next 4 nights. It is a beautiful place located on the beach just a few hundred yards from the Memorial of General MacArthur's Leyte landing. This is the beach that allied forces landed on as they began the liberation of the Philippine Islands during WWII.
It was also the location where I was able to read the Eagle Charge for Christian Hadlock's Eagle Court of Honor. We were able to participate via Face Time. What a great opportunity.
We were able to meet the Mayor's representative prior to our engagement at the hospital. From left to right, Member of the Stake Presidency, Dr. Call, Stake President Aban, Tacloban Mayor's Chief of Staff, Sister and I, Dr. Mae Singson and Manny Hernandez from Mabuhay Deseret.
Our next visit was to the Eastern Visayan Regional Medical Center. We had a presentation ceremony that allowed us to give equipment to this facility for furthering their work in Ophthalmology. After the presentation and lunch, we were able to visit the wards and see some of the patients.
As with other hospitals in the country the hospital is old, understaffed, with little or no equipment and generally more than one patient to a bed.
It is here that we met John Rae. He is a two year old little boy with Retinal Blastoma. He was brought to the hospital only a few days prior and was in a lot of pain. His family lives on a small island quit a distance away and could not afford to come to the hospital until now. Unfortunately, the tumor is very large and has engulfed the eye completely. The ophthalmologists had no idea on how to proceed on such a complicated case. His other eye also has a tumor that is still contained in the eye itself. He is certainly blind and has no possibility for sight. It was by no coincidence that Dr. Call and Dr. Singson showed up when they did.
I took time to rub his abdomen and talk quietly to him and felt the Spirit take control and calm this little boy. As I would begin to move away, he began to cry again, so I spent much more time comforting him as I felt the need to do so. This was an amazing spiritually experience as I felt my work was be an agent of our Father In Heaven. This precious little boy is being watched over by angels. I know it, I felt it. 
They asked if we would like to go into the surgery.  We were excited to say 'Yes'. We gowned up with Dr. Singson and prepared for what we were about to see. We were going to see a surgery performed by two of the best Ocular Plastic surgeons in the world.
The tumor was exposed to see how to proceed. The Doctor's had gone over the MRI in great detail looking for anything that could be a problem. Satisfied that they were prepared, they began to isolate the tumor for removal.
Dr. Singson holds the tumor back as Dr. Call isolates the optic nerve to be severed. They have worked together before as Dr. Singson worked with Dr. Call in Salt Lake City to gain her skills.
The tumor has been removed and leaves a large cavity. How is this going to be filled?
The skin around the eye socket is separated from the tissue beneath and pulled to allow it to line the optic cavity. Within two weeks it will adhere to the cavity and begin to protect that area. A piece of gauze will hold the tissue in place as it begins to adhere. Dr. Singson finishes up to the procedure by sewing up the incision on the temple.
John Rae has a long way to go. After a pathology report, they will know the future for this little guy. The tumor in the other eye will probably lead to the other eye being removed. My prayers are with little John Rae that the pain he was experiencing will leave. No matter what happens I know it is in the hands of our Father in Heaven. He knows John Rae personally.
By the way, Sister Hadlock took all of these pictures and more as we observed a miracle.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


  Dr. Call spent time collaborating with Ophthalmologists at Philippines South Medical Center. He also gave a lecture on ptosis surgery. That is the lifting of the eyelids that droop over time and interfere with sight. He ended up seeing several patients with their doctors during the course of our visit.
It is not easy to see on this patient, but she has a tumor behind one eye and can't move the eye very far in any direction. This causes double vision unless she is looking straight forward. There is also the possibility of a malignancy.
 This young lady has a large growth protruding from her face. Even though the eye is functional, the eyelid only slightly opens. Dr. Call thinks the growth is entirely outside the orbit and can be repaired.
This young man had trauma from a motorcycle accident and received only emergency treatment. The eye can't close and the sight is very blurry. Surgery can help with the lid closing, but the blurriness will need to be seen by another specialist.
It is hard to see from this angle of the photo but the eye on the right is extended out from the face about an inch and a half. It looks like one of those aliens in Star Wars. His eye moves very well, but it looks strange being a distance from the face. His biggest complaint is pain and it is getting worse.
Upon birth this young man's eyelids did not close together as they should. Dr. Call said this is very common and can be corrected by a simple surgery. He will joint the flaps together and repair the lid.
This young man has a tumor behind his left eye that might be malignant. A surgery can remove the growth and realign the eye. If the tumor proves to be cancerous, chemo will need to be started.
Unfortunately, Dr. Call was not able to perform surgery in Davao. With early submissions of his credentials, we are hopeful he can return to do surgeries next time.
    Well after work was done, the Ophthalmology Department surprised us with a wonderful meal. The roasted pig is called Lechon and is very tasteful. All the trimmings were served and we really had a feast. Wow, we get fed a lot here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


   We had a great opportunity to take Dr. N. Branson Call to two separate locations in the Philippines to consult, teach and do surgery. He is from Salt Lake City and just recently sold his practice. He has been doing charity work through Mabuhay Deseret and LDS Charities for many years, but now can do it more frequently. His specialty is Ocular Plastic surgery that typically does removal of tumors and repair of the eye from various forms of trauma or birth defects.

We had many things to do while in Davao with Dr. Call, the first being a presentation ceremony to give many items to the local hospitals for vision help. From specialty microscopes to eyeglasses, it was included. We held it at the Stake Center in Davao and had over 50 people attend, including the press. We use the local church public affairs to aid us wherever we go to set up accommodations, lunch when needed and inviting all the local dignitaries and local leaders of the church. Whenever possible, we have the local leaders give or accept anything we are involved with. This gives the church a Filipino face to be associated with it.
Dr. Call is the tallest in the photo followed by Sister and I. Next is a local Ophthalmologist and then Emily from Mabuhay Deseret. This is the Doctor's office that contains all diagnostic equipment, eyeglasses and an area to do minor surgery all in a 10 foot by 12 foot space. Fortunately, she is receiving a new office next door that is currently being remodeled and is 8 times larger. Incorporated in the new office is a branch of Charity Vision that is part of Mabuhay Deseret and will help with the poor and needy that will come there. Charity Vision will screen the patients and those that qualify will receive free exams, glasses and surgery. The local Dr. will donate her time and equipment (that will come from Mabuhay Deseret) to aid in the cause.
Our son Jeff was in an accident at the Sand Dunes several years ago and had damage done to his eye and face. Dr. Call is the physician that helped do the repairs but was unsuccessful in correcting the ugly. That comes naturally and can't be corrected.
Not far from one of the other hospitals we visited is a small store front being remodeled for another Charity Vision outlet. They will work will the hospitals to refer the poor and needy for work by other Dr's willing to give of their time and means.
Outside the store front is a scene we see everyday. This young mother and her two children are begging for money. Money that will feed her and her kids for the day. It is hard to attack the other issues facing this country (such as education) when the only thing on their minds is "How do I feed my children today?". In spite of their hardships they smile. They have a great faith that somehow the Lord will provide, and he does.
One last item is to find a suitable place to store wheelchairs in this area. The man in the middle is Philip Tan. He is an employee of the church and one of our eyes on the ground as we do our work. I couldn't ask for a more able and dedicated leader to help us. This location is ideal and we will begin to get projects written and approved to fit the bill. We hope to find several locations around the Philippines to house wheelchairs for those that need them.
This is our first trip to Davao, but I hope to return. It is a beautiful place to see for the landscape and the people.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


  The southern end of the Island of Luzon is the location for two of our water projects.
  Buhi's water project has been completed for over a year now and is expanding to other barangays by their own means. If there is a project to copy it would be the one in Buhi. More than 20,000 people now benefit from the clean water system that has been installed and maintained by the local water association.

To get to the communities we needed to see, we flew to Lagaspi City. The Mayon Volcano is located very near and is a perfect cone in shape. Unfortunately the clouds stayed the entire time we were there and we weren't able to get the perfect photo. This is also the area of a new mission to be organized July 1, 1013. We are fortunate to have 4 more missions added to the 17 that are currently here, bringing to 21 the total number of missions in the Philippines.
Elder Benson Misalucha, Sister Hadlock and myself, Brother Todd Tapp and his wife and Sister and Elder Staton attended this gathering in Lagaspi City. Todd Tapp is the Area Director of Temporal Affairs and this is the first time we have had him with us on a project. This is a rare but wonderful opportunity to have him with us.
Behind the group is the only remaining ruin of the town of Cagsawa. The bell tower of the church stands as a witness of the great destruction caused by Mayon on February 1, 1814. This volcano remains active even today.

Sister Hadlock stands among the ruins of Cagsawa destroyed by the Volcano many years ago. This is the top of the large church that was once here. The volcano buried everything under almost a hundred feet of ash and lava.

Many people joined us on a tour of their prized water system. Our champion on this project is Doc Batoi. You can barely see him as he looks like he has his head on Elder Misalucha's shoulder. My 'Where's Waldo' for this blog is to find him. This group worked so well together as we partnered to bring clean water to their community.

The next group we visited was in the municipality of Bato. It is not far from Buhi. In fact, the success of Buhi is the reason they have contacted us. Their mayor is from San Francisco and lives here while she remains in office. She is in the pink top. This project is only in the vision stage and has a long way to go. They are thinking big, too big for what we can offer. We left a lot of food for thought about how we can help. Hopefully we can assist them to get clean water for their community.
One area in the Bato city limits has water, but poorly put together. We have many requirements in our projects one of which is the pipes must all be buried to avoid contamination, vandalism and provide a longer length of service.
Elder Staton examines the current system that is a hose with a stick to plug the end. Living in the provinces is a lot like camping every day of the year. No plumbing, no indoor water and cooking on an open fire of wood or charcoal. But they are happy. Truly they teach us that having "things" does not bring happiness. Their happiness revolves around family and friends.