Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Elder and Sister Soderquist's December Adventures

The Public Affairs Department was busy this week. On Monday and Tuesday we held planning meetings in Tagaytay, a picturesque town of about 70,000 about fifty miles south of Manila on a slope at the south end of Taal Lake. Tagaytay is about 2,000 feet above sea level so it is about five degrees cooler than Manila. The night time temperature dropped below seventy degrees. I think that was the first time we experienced outside temperatures below seventy for the past six months. The planning meeting was held at the Nurture Wellness Village, a very interest place. We stayed over-night in a cottage surrounded by in lush vegetation. The village also has a garden that contains various vegetables and fruits high in nutrition content. After the planning session we took a walk through the garden. We also ate dinner and breakfast at the village. I had a kale and pineapple smoothie. It was the first time I’ve eaten kale since we left Utah.

Thursday we drove to Bagong Silangan, a village in Quezon City. It was started by an Italian philanthropist who bought some land and built a housing development and school for poor people. They charge 1000 pesos (about $20) a month for maintenance and the tenants have to pay their own utilities. It gives people in dire economic conditions a chance to get started. When their income reaches a high poverty level they are expected to move out of the village into the mainstream. Public Affairs distributed Christmas Gifts to about 250 children in the village and shared lunch from Jollibee’s (chicken and rice) with them. It was gratifying to see a bunch of little kids smile. For some of them, it may be the only Christmas gift they’ll receive this year.

When I asked Elder Soderquist about his mission he responded quickly, "waiting."  He is in the public affairs with the welfare missionaries and says he is in a car or van going places and waits in traffic for half of his mission. Traffic is a nightmare of vechicles and people getting to places. Manila is one of the worst places in all of the Philippines for bad traffic.
He waxed eloquent about the wonderful people he has met and told me some of their efforts to stop the "blight of poverty."

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