Monthly Archives: August 2014

Reach Out — August 17, 2014

hotel lobby Cebu

hotel lobby Cebu

Hotel lobby Cebu

another beauty

palm tree

palm tree

The wall mounted fans worked valiantly to move the hot humid air. The noise of motorcycles and trucks on the busy road bounced through the open windows. Loud music poured out of the large speakers of a sound system nearby.

The Relief Society sisters moved their chairs a little closer and continued to take turns reading and discussing the lesson.

I shifted on my seat and coughed again into my handkerchief. I felt a hand reach out and touch my shoulder. I turned to see the smiling face of the sister behind me.

May I massage your back? It will help your cough.

Oh yes!

She cradled her sleeping year old daughter in one arm and used the other to thoroughly massage my neck, shoulders and back.

My cough faded, along with the outside distractions, and the sisters seemed wrapped in a cocoon of caring and love.

After the church services ended, we went with the elders to take the sacrament and a gospel message to a brother confined to a wheelchair, which is so worn that he can no longer leave his house.

As we left the home, Elder Hall spoke.

Elders, what are your plans now?

Elder Hall, how much time to you have?

We have as much of the rest of the day as you need.

Well, we have a referral in the way far part of our area. Could you take us there?

We drove down the pot-holed winding road. In a few places, some of the concrete roadbed remained in the center of the road. After a few kilometers, the elders asked us to stop so that they could speak to some people along the side of the road.

Excuse me. May I ask a question?

They consulted a piece of paper and asked where the people lived. They were told the place was farther along the road.

Elders, where did you get the referral?

From the Zone Leaders.

Where did they get it?

From Elder Stahle and Elder Harris in the City. They had to go to a hospital to give someone a blessing. When they were finished, they decided to reach out to all the people and their families. They each took one side of the large ward room, and took referrals from those who were interested in a gospel message

We stopped for directions a couple more times before taking the right-hand fork of the road. We stopped by a group of people along the side of the road. The men were digging into the side of the hill to prepare a foundation for a house. A number of children and women were there visiting with them and supporting them.

As the elders talked to one person, the others gathered around to take part in the conversation. They talked and gestured. A man sleeping next to a bottle of coconut wine, in a covered waiting area on the other side of the road, got up, crossed the road, and reached out to shake the elders’ hands. Finally the elders came back to the truck.

These two men will show us the way. It is across the valley and behind the next ridge.

We back-tracked and took the left-hand fork. We followed the road, carefully skirting some deep, muddy ruts, and ended at what appeared to be a large sand pit.

You can park here.

I sure hope it doesn’t rain.

Elder Hall had muttered under his breath. I looked at the clouds with some concern.

The man who had been sleeping went ahead as our guide, and the other brought up the rear. On the steepest parts, Elder Hall stopped and held out his hand to help me up. When it was too far to reach, he held out the handle of his umbrella.

We stopped at a house and our guide introduced us. Then he continued up the mountain.

He is going to get the others.

He came back with several other people and left again. The elders asked each of the people if they would like to be taught. They all agreed. When everyone had been gathered in, eighteen people crowded into the small house.

The man who had been our guide listened to part of the lesson.

But the most important thing is money. Without it, my stomach hurts!

He rubbed his midsection graphically.

Without it, I don’t have a house to live in and I get very wet!

The elders smiled, and when the chuckles dies down, they taught an important truth.

Brother, you are literally a son of God. He knows you. He loves you. He has a plan for you.

He has sent us here today to tell you about that plan. He has sent us here today to show you how you can return to your Father.

He has sent here today to tell you that when you return to your Father, you will return crowned with honor, glory, immortality, and eternal life.

You will return as an heir, a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, to receive all that the Father has. (See Romans 8:17)

The man sat back soberly and listened.

When the lesson was over, the elders tried to make an appointment to come back the next Sunday. The people hesitated. Then a sister spoke.

But Elders, can’t we come to church with you on Sunday?

Grins split the elders’ faces. They managed to mumble through their smiles.

Oo. Yes. Oo!

A Horn —- August 7, 2014

Seaside City construction from the highway

Seaside City construction from the highway

Seaside City mall construction ariel view

Seaside City mall construction ariel view

Elder Hall tapped the horn in the middle of the steering wheel. Nothing happened.

When driving in the Philippines, a horn is not just a way of expressing displeasure to another driver. It is used to let people, bicycles and oblivious dogs you will be using the roadway. It is used to let pedicabs, tricycles, and cars know you are sharing the road with them. It is used to let huge trucks and buses know you plan to overtake (pass), with the hope that they do not try to pass another vehicle at the same that you are passing them.

When the traffic cleared, Elder Hall tried the horn again. Nothing happened.

The next day, when we were home, Elder Hall checked the fuses. They were intact. He touched the wire from the horn to the battery wires. The horn blared. A downtown mechanic shop diagnostic indicated that a part in the steering wheel, which allows touch activation of the horn, was broken. They did not have stock and could not order it.

I think after we go to Lamac this morning, we will go from there to Cebu City.

To get the part for the horn?

Yes. They will probably have to order it.

We took the South Highway. When landmark construction of the Seaside City Mall appeared on the skyline, our guide commented:

That mall is being built to look like a ship. The builder is also the owner of the SM Mall. “SM” stands for “Shoe Mart.”. It started as a small company selling shoes. Now SM owns several malls. This one will be the 4th largest mall in the world. The owner is Chinese.

Elder Hall drove on down the South Road Property (SRP) freeway. The area is land reclaimed from the sea. He spoke to our guide.

Do you have anything you need to buy while we are here?


Where do you need to go?

I will show you.

We threaded through the intricate maze of old town Cebu City.

This is called the Carbon Market. It is the oldest and largest farmers market in Cebu. All traders are here—Christian, Muslim, and Chinese. This is where the vegetables grown along the Trans-Central Highway are marketed.

The Carbon Market was named for the depot where coal was unloaded from the Cebu Railroad. Another story is that it was named for the “heaps of waste,” or cinders, dumped here in the 19th Century. You can turn here.

Is there two-way traffic here?

Yes, for now. At night it is one-way. You can stop here.

Is it alright to park here?

Just stay here. Don’t turn off your motor.

He disappeared into the crowd. A short while later he reappeared.

They do not have what I need. They pointed me at another shop around the corner. They did not have what I need either. We will go on for a ways.

We double parked again and waited. He reappeared with a small package.

I found what I need. This is the Chinese market section.

We threaded through more streets. Our guide put his right hand out the window to signal turns. Drivers tend to ignore electronic turn signals. Tricycle drivers signal with a hand or foot.

We pulled into the perfectly manicured grounds of the Temple Complex, and were greeted like old friends in the Mission Office. We turned in papers and picked up supplies. As we were leaving, I stopped to fill my water bottle. Before I finished, Elder Hall came back in the door.

President McCurdy wants to talk to me.

I sat back down on one of the couches to wait and visited with the various missionaries that came through. Those from the city area had gathered in the Temple Complex for Zone training that morning.

We stopped at the Distribution Center, then passed through the gate and back into traffic to find the Ford Dealership. The sky had clouded over and it was threatening rain. We appreciated the storm’s cooling effect.

Did you get the part?

No, they had to order it.

How long will it take?

About ten days. It has to come from Thailand. Hang onto that receipt. They won’t call us. We will have to call them.

We stopped at a stand on the Trans-Central Highway on our way home and bought fresh sweet corn.

Well, I guess you could get a hand held horn to use until the part comes.

I think I should get a big truck horn. I could mount two on top of the cab.

You might consider driving slower.

Why would I want to do that?

SM Seaside City Cebu is a shopping mall owned and developed by SM Prime Holdings located in Cebu CityPhilippines. It is expected to open in 2015. If completed, it will be the 4th largest shopping mall in the world. SM Seaside City Cebu will be SM’s third mall in Cebu and 52nd mall in the Philippines. The mall is designed by Arquitectonica, the same company which designed SM North EDSASM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall.

On April 12, 2011, SM Prime Holdings held a ground-breaking ceremony at the mall’s location.

The SM Seaside City Cebu will be a 4-level circular-shaped retail mall with multiple anchors, including a two-story SM Department Store and SM Hypermart, a five-theater Cineplex and IMAX Theatre, an 18-lane SM Bowling and Amusement Center, and a food court flanking an ice skating rink.]

In addition, the mall will have over 2,000 food and retail shops, including international brands. Retail shops will occupy the outer arc of the mall on the ground floor. This area will include a furniture zone as well as a fashion boulevard.

A 150 meters Iconic Viewing Tower will be an attraction in itself, offering sensational panoramic views of the entire city of Cebu while serving as a new landmark for the City..

Significantly, with the jitters of recent natural calamities, being located at the sea-front could be a concern.A company spokesman assured the public of SM Prime Holding’s President Han Sy’s serious commitment to build a disaster-resilient project.

The company is allocating a capital expenditure (capex) of P60 billion in the next three years in the Philippines for its shopping centers construction projects. Aside from its aggressive expansion move in Cebu, the company is also spending to open up new shopping malls in other provinces.

The Toledo Self-Reliance Center is Open! —August 2, 2014

"Sign-in" area. Special ribbon and  flower garlands for invited dignitaries.

“Sign-in” area. Special ribbon and flower garlands for invited dignitaries.

Ready for the "Ribbon-cutting ceremony
Ready for the “Ribbon-cutting Ceremony”

Reception and refreshment area

Reception and refreshment area

On August 2, 2014, a new Self-reliance Center (SRC) opened in the Toledo District Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Toledo, Cebu, Philippines. The Self-reliance Center (SRC) provides Career Workshops, Self-Employment Workshops, Planning for Success Workshops, and American-Accent English classes for people in the Toledo area.

The Toledo Self Reliance Center (SRC) is operated under the Model SRC in Cebu City, whose staff is assisted by a local Center Coordinators and volunteers. The Model Center Managers develop resources that would benefit members. The District Self-reliance Committee identifies members in need and assists them with one of the three legs of self-reliance namely: Education, Jobs, or Self-employment.

The volunteers in the center contact members who have registered on to help them create a profile that can be viewed by potential employers. Volunteers also help those who are applying for loans from the Perpetual Education Fund (PEF).

The Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) was established in 2001 during general conference when Gordon B. Hinckley, then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced a “bold initiative” to help youth in developing areas “rise out of the poverty they and generations before them have known.” He spoke of returned missionaries and other ambitious young men and women who have great capacity but meager opportunities:

“I believe the Lord does not wish to see His people condemned to live in poverty. I believe He would have the faithful enjoy the good things of the earth. … In an effort to remedy this [lack of opportunity], we propose a plan … which we believe is inspired by the Lord. … We shall call it the Perpetual Education Fund.” President Hinckley further declared, “Education is the key to opportunity” (“The Perpetual Education Fund,” Ensign, May 2001, 52–53).

The PEF program is patterned after the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which helped more than 30,000 early Church members journey to the Salt Lake Valley from Europe in the mid to late 1800s.

The program is funded through contributions of Church members and others who support its mission. It is a revolving resource in which money is loaned to an individual to help pay for training or advanced education. When a student has graduated and is working, he or she then pays back the loan to the fund at a low interest rate.

Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide for the spiritual and temporal well-being of ourselves and of our families. As we learn and apply the principles of self-reliance in our homes and communities, we have opportunities to care for the poor and needy and to help others become self-reliant so they can endure times of adversity.

We have the privilege and duty to use our agency to become self-reliant spiritually and temporally. Speaking of spiritual self-reliance and our dependence on Heavenly Father, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught: “We become converted and spiritually self-reliant as we prayerfully live our covenants–through worthily partaking of the sacrament, being worthy of a temple recommend, and sacrificing to serve others.”

Elder Hales counseled us to become self-reliant temporally, “which includes getting a post-secondary education or vocational training, learning to work, and living within our means. By avoiding debt and saving money now, we are prepared for full-time Church service in the years to come. The purpose of both temporal and spiritual self-reliance is to get ourselves on higher ground so that we can lift others in need.”