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."