Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hello Again

Yesterday Adriana and Thomas returned with several from our group to the Baguio City Jail. Adriana was looking forward to seeing a lady she had befriended in a previous visit. She was so excited when Marianne walked in. They sat and talked through the whole service. Adriana is such an encouragement to her but Adriana struggled with wanting to do more for her but not being able to.

We were treated to Pizza Hut and Pepsi for supper. Such comfort food for us Americans (and Canadians too.) Our girls are looking forward to eating macaroni and cheese when we return to the States. Cheese, and milk for that matter, is scarce in this part of the world.

This morning Thomas was sick in bed again. There seems to be a cycle of fever, nausea and diarrhea that continues to plague him. While he rested, the rest of us returned to Grandma Perry's Children's Home. It was fun to be able to play with the children at this small orphanage again. Little Sandra spent almost the whole time in my arms. She even fell asleep on my lap.

We were hoping to include pictures from the orphanage, but didn't have time to compress them first. Now we need to run to catch our ride to dinner and they haven't uploaded yet. Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back to Baguio!

Today we packed up and headed back to Baguio where we will spend several days before beginning the journey to the USA. Everybody made many friends in Bontoc. We enjoyed the Bontoc YWAM staff, the students in the Student Sponsorship Ministry, and the Tribal DTS students. My family was blessed by the care we received. More than once the young ladies associated with the base have taken our girls to the local playground for some fun and the market where quite often they enjoyed a pancake snack together.

The trip was joyfully uneventful and we made it to Baguio before dinner time.
p.s. We are sorry for the delay. We were very busy in Bontoc. When we got to Baguio yesterday, we were just logging onto the computer at the internet cafe when our part of the city lost power.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lisa was blessed by the opportunity to meet with her friends from Caneo, Susan and Cheryl, after lunch. They had come into town to deliver woven goods, some which people from our group had ordered while in the village. She enjoyed seeing them again, but wished that she was not so dependent on a translator.

In the afternoon, Lisa and I facilitated team building training to the Bontoc YWAM staff and students. It was a fun time as we watched them work out the challenges presented to them. They did a good job, but once again, we wished we were fluent in Ilokano so we could understand what they were saying as they worked through each activity. We talked about it afterward in English, but during the activity the discussion was all in Ilokano. Rufina, the base director’s wife, wanted the team to go through the training. In this way they could grow as a team and learn to use the activities for future presentations.

In the evening we hosted a presentation on the steps of the Municipal Hall. A divine appointment made it possible for us to obtain the necessary permit. It was great to be able to have an evangelistic outreach to the people of the community. I was able to pray with a boy as he accepted Jesus as his Savior. It was wonderful. I also spent time with a group of boys as we talked about God’s love for each of them. It was a good way to close our time in Bontoc.



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Today most of our group took an excursion to Sagada. Sagada is famous for three things: weaving, caves, and hanging coffins. We will explain the three in reverse order. First, the hanging coffins. We did not spent too much time investigating this, but the burial rites in this area include suspending the coffin of the deceased from the face of a cliff. From the place our guide pointed them out, we did not have a great view of the coffins. Later in the day, we were taken to the entrance of a cave where coffins were stacked. Enough discussion of the morbid; although Adriana and I did talk about how a culture’s death and burial customs shed a lot of insight into their religious beliefs.
Most of our time in Sagada was spent in the caverns; at least for Adriana, Alayna, and Thomas. This was not the tourist enabled trip that one would expect in the USA. There were no handrails, installed lighting, or signs. The only way we could have done it was with the help of our guides. For the initial descent, stairs had been formed into the rock. But once we got beyond site of the opening, the surface changed and we were told to take our shoes off. It was not just our shoes that would end up getting wet. We walked through waist deep water. We descended and ascended over rock with water flowing across the surface. At 2 different points, ropes had been fixed to make access possible. The first, a rope allowed you to cross over a deep pool by holding the rope and finding your way along the rock surfaces above the pool and then down into another pool on the other side that was only waist deep. The other was dropped down to us from a very steep incline so we could walk pulling ourselves up along the way.
The cavern was a fantastic experience. I got to see my girls overcome fears and inhibitions. At one point, we came to a pool at the base of a waterfall. Many of us were jumping in and swimming. (Yes, it was cold. But it isn’t like you get to do this every day.) Adriana decided that she wanted to jump in as well. I was proud of her. Alayna, too, needed to overcome her fears in order to complete the journey.

(Sorry the pictures are grainy, but the lighting wasn't so great. But you are seeing some of the last pictures taken on Kevin's camera/phone. The ziplock bag must have had a hole and the phone wasn't interested in swimming.)
Lisa, Alexie, and Annalise spent their time strolling around town with Becky and Abby. They had fun looking at the various shops but the real treat was eating in a quaint restaurant surrounded by flower gardens.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This morning some of the men from our group returned to the Provincial Police as part of their Moral Recovery Program. It amazes me how openly we can share the Gospel in a governmental service. (No Toto, this isn’t Kansas anymore.) We did a team building exercise with the group. (Nuclear Blast Exercise for those of you who have been a part of it before.) It went really well and segued perfectly into a discussion of the body of Christ as discussed in I Corinthians 12. We shared that many of the values of the police force originated with God, Himself. We talked about what it means to be part of the body of Christ. We also invited any who wanted to discuss this further to meet with us. May God bless and protect the officers as they do their work.

Pork take-out! Fresh!

This afternoon, we had a prayer walk. Thomas and Adriana joined some others and went one way while Howard, Jesse, and I went another. We went up to the village Thomas and I had visited earlier. I enjoyed seeing the weaver, Elizabeth, again. I was able to learn more about this amazing art, taste their delicious native coffee, and pray too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sacasacan and Saganda

We took another perilous journey on a jeepney to the village about an hour and a half away. Sometimes it’s best not to look. That way you don’t know how close you are to the edge. But, as every other time, we made it safely to our destination. Our family was escorted to our accommodations, a pink home both inside and out. Just the place for a family of four daughters. The CR was located outside down the steep cement steps. Annalise fell down the last half on her second decent adding more bumps and bruises to her already marred body. But God builds children really resilient. More than adults. Thomas was once again very ill and needed to go to bed. There seems to be a heavy spirit over this place. It is much in need of the Light of the World. We needed to make our way around a man who was passed out on our way to our home for the night.

Many prayers were said for Thomas and, although not completely well, he was able to make the journey to the nearby village of Sadanga were he was scheduled to preach. While he gave a message on the fruit of the Spirit, Adriana and Annalise taught the children gathered at a nearby building some songs. Alexie and Alayna had stayed in Sacasacan due to limited transportation space. Annalise decided to join the adults at church much to an elderly man’s delight. He was especially taken with her. He played with her hair and asked to have his picture taken with her. Annalise was reluctant at first probably thinking she had already been patient enough with him. We had a little private conversation about how much it meant to him, what a blessing that would be and a way to show love to him. “It would be a blessing to him?” she asked. Then she was ready to pose with him. After church, the man invited Annalise to his home. I quickly got a TDTS student to join us so we had a translator available. We climbed and climbed up many steps to get to his home. There his wife was sitting smoking a pipe. He invited us to eat with him but we needed to get back as someone else had already prepared a meal for us. After a delicious meal, we stopped at the hot springs. The women’s was just a shallow trough of warm water. No photos as there were women of various ages and we were the only ones wearing clothes. According to Thomas the men’s was a larger area but with just about 5 inches of water.

Back in the van after a quick game of ping-pong then back to Sacasacan to join up with the rest of the team to return to Bontoc.

Last week

Monday-Thomas was sick in bed all day. Alexie came down with a fever so was unable to join me for the prayer walk.

Tuesday-Family field trip to the Bontoc Museum

Wednesday-Ministry at a local elementary school, many noisy children in small space but the puppets are always a hit

Thursday-went to minister to a special education class, songs, puppets and play including Mot and the ever popular balloon animals. 4 teachers, 30 students with various disabilities but few resources, not even basic school supplies like paper and pencils.

In the afternoon, Thomas and I visited the pediatric ward of Bontoc’s only hospital. Conditions are shockingly poor. Dirty and run-down, with a strong smell of urine but we were able to bring some smiles to the place through our prayers, songs, Mot and balloon animals.

Friday-All of the girls were off with either a team member or Filipino students, so we decided to explore the other side of town. Wandering through the village we were invited to see the weaver. She begins weaving about 6 a.m. each day. It takes her a month to weave 14 yards of cloth which she sells for 250P/yd (about $5). Traditionally girls begin weaving the narrow edge of the tapis at age 8, then progress to the larger parts of the skirt. They design their own patterns. Now that girls go to school, not many are learning the art. Happy they have a chance for formal education but wish they would continue the artistry of their mothers and grandmothers.

Thomas went back to the jail. Adriana spoke regarding peace. Then the 2 of them joined us at the hospital. They went to Peds while I went to visit the new mothers. One of the babies was 2 months premature. Little Ashley does not have the advantages of all the PICU back home but we are trusting in the Great Physician.

Fun Night with the youth, some games, music and dancing, and food. You know typical youth group stuff.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

We are trying to catch up!

As you can see, we are almost a week behind on our blog. But we are in the process of catching up. In about an hour we travel to Sagasacan and Sadanga for the weekend. Once again we will not have internet available.

Please keep us in your prayers as we travel. We continue to battle various illnesses among the group.

But God is doing some great work despite our weakness.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The TDTS students, Tribal Discipleship Training School students who have been cooking for us, were up very early preparing for the celebration dinner. Besides the boiled pork, there were potatoes, pancit, and rice. So where do you get plates to serve a village of people? Banana tree bark of course!
But I am getting ahead of myself. First, there was the church service. The older women did a dance along with a chant. All were dressed in the traditional tapis. Some had beaded “necklaces” in their hair. Others had snake vertebrae. My friend, Susan, was among the dancers. One woman’s feet were so flat and toes twisted, it was a wonder she could walk, let alone dance.

The high school girls did some songs. I loved their interpretive dance, very beautiful.

Then it was time for the younger girls. They were all in their tapis and white blouses. I was surprised to see their faces with make-up on as I have not seen anyone here with make-up on. The girls’ lips and cheeks were bright pink. They sang a beautiful song. I wonder how long it took them to learn it. It was quite lengthy but they had memorized it.
Testimonies were shared by Kindle, TDTS student, and Kevin. Leon gave the message and then Natalie spoke. But all paled in comparison to Adriana’s message. Leon had invited anyone who had something on their heart to come up and share. Adriana came up after Natalie finished. Adriana shared how fear is a choice as is the peace Jesus offers. Tears streamed down my face as I heard my 12 year old boldly proclaiming the word God clearly given her to the village of Caneo. I am in great anticipation of what He will do through her. Many mentioned how touched they were by her words.
Pastor Rudy spoke, summarizing the Word spoken and then had the elders of the church come forward so we could pray for them. All women, Susan’s daughter, Cheryl, was among them. It was a blessing for me to be able to pray for her. She gave me a hug and said she would be talking to me by-and-by.

Time for the feast. An assembly line was in place to dish up pork, pancit, and rice on the banana tree bark plates. So much food…so many sitting and eating together. Sadly, Annalise was sick so she slept through not only the meal but the music and dancing that followed. It is hard to believe she could sleep through the beating of the drums directly beneath her.

The men with the beating of the drums (actually, brass gongs) provided the music while a couple danced. It was great fun to watch, yet Thomas and I were not allowed to remain spectators. Soon we were in the center surrounded by the watchful eyes of virtually everyone in the village. It is good they have such grace for westerners. They just smiled as we stumbled around. We quickly passed the honor to Kevin and Becky.

Soon it was time to pack up and say good-bye to our dear new friends.

I must say there were moments I said a little prayer as the jeepney was leaning a wee bit much for my comfort on our way back to Bontoc. But our soft beds sure looked great!