Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
If home is where the heart is, then I was home for Christmas. I was with my family - in the place God has called us. In that way, I was home for Christmas. But this year, Christmas was different than any other.
On the sad side, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are on the other side of the world instead of across town. But the girls did enjoy opening the gifts their grandparents had sent as well as reading the Christmas cards and letters we received from friends and family.
Although away from our family, we were not alone today. We spent the afternoon eating (and eating) with our landlords and their family. Then later we joined the YWAM staff and an outreach team from Baguio for dinner (yes, more eating).
This is the first year I have ever worn shorts and sandals for Christmas. (We even had lunch as a picnic outside in the new nepa hut.) However some of our friends here had coats and even stocking caps on in the chilly 70 degree F weather.
Last night after the girls were tucked into bed, Lisa and I decorated a potted bamboo plant with lights and a string of popcorn. We even had a star on top. Though not quite the same as the familiar scotch pine, it was fun to surprise the girls.
Our meals looked a little different, too. Here in the Philippines, no meal is ever complete without rice. I am not sure I have ever had rice outside of a casserole for a Christmas meal - now I have. We did manage to bring some of our family traditions with us in the food department, though. We made wassail and rice pudding. Who would have thought that we could make a rice dish nobody here had ever had? Both seemed to be enjoyed by our friends.
Nobody shouted, "Ho! Ho! Ho!" I never even saw anyone dressed like Santa. Instead, we heard firecrackers popping.
p.s. Although there was plenty of food and eating, I don't know of a parade. Just when we thought we were beginning to understand some holiday culture here in Bontoc!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We don't expect to make any posts while we are away. This should give all of you time to review our blog so that you can let us know which post you have found the most interesting. You have 400 to choose from... Now you have 401.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Sometimes it is a challenge to come up with how to communicate in a few sentences what our family is experiencing...but we'll keep on trying.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
I was standing at one end of the plaza near a stage watching the presentations. A little girl in worn out clothes came and perched on the wall a few feet away from me. I say perched because she stood on the wall and then squatted down and covered her legs with her shirt. She reminded me of a little bird perched on a branch. She did not say anything, just sat there. I often noticed that she was staring at me. Since the plaza is just around the corner from where Lisa has Kids Club, I was trying to remember if she was one of the kids from there. She wasn't. It just seemed odd to me that such a little thing would hang out at the flag ceremony. It seemed even more odd that she would come an sit next to the only Americano in the plaza. There were certainly better places to see what was going on.
Considering that it is Monday, I was not sure why she was not in school. She looked old enough. Later, I found out that today is a school holiday in observance of the immaculate conception. It still seems odd though that she would choose to hang out there. There is no playground and I saw no other children in the area. Who knows?
Sometimes she would stand and I could see the various scratches and marks on her bare feet and legs. The toenails on her bare feet had once been coated with sparkly purple nail polish. There was still some polish on most of her toes. Her clothes were worn and had many holes in them. Her face was precious and she had the prettiest eyes.
At one point, she moved so close to me that we were almost touching. When I said hello to her she just looked at me. Her expression never seemed to change during all of the time I had been next to her.
Then I used the little bit of Ilocano that I know, "Anya nagan mu?" (What is your name?) It was amazing to see the transformation. Suddenly she had the biggest smile. She told me her name is La-loy. (I am not sure about the spelling, of course.) She also let me know that she is 5 years old. That was about the extent of what we could communicate.
I still don't know why she chose to hang out at the Municipal plaza. Nor do I understand why she chose to be so close to me. But I do know her presence and her smile was a blessing to me today.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I was asked to speak on the topic, Love of God. I am still amazed at the openness to Christian teaching at public and governmental institutions in this country. What an opportunity to talk with these students and help them understand the source of their authority and the accountability that comes with it!
During the introduction, the MRP regional director talked about how the countries of the world are perceived in relation to corruption. According to his source, the Philippines is second in corruption only to Laos. What a terrible position to hold. Aside from the PR for the nation, the impact that has on communities and families is incredible. As businesses shy away from investment in a community, jobs remain scarce. As crime is overlooked, people are mistreated. As bribes and extortion are normalized, sensitivity to righteousness and integrity is eroded.
While I have not seen any overt corruption in Bontoc, we experienced attempts for bribery while in Manila. How much this could change if people in authority truly recognized that they are under God's authority. If they recognized that the people they misuse are made in God's very image.
I have little hope for a society which expects improvement because of the people caring about humanity. Man does not have that much compassion on our own. But what great hope there is for a society that basks in the love God has for us and then shares that love in honor and integrity with others.
It was a full day seminar. I was up late putting the finishing touches on my power point. I just finished my lesson for Sunday School tomorrow morning. It is 10:15 p.m. now. I am tired. Forgive any typos or pitiful grammar. Good night.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
The other highlight of the day was finding packages at the post office addressed to us. The girls are looking forward to Christmas when they can discover what surprises are in those boxes.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
We also improvised a bit on football. We don't have a TV here and I am not sure if we would have even been able to watch it. (The Thanksgiving Day game would not have been on anyway - we are getting ready to go to bed and it's only 8:30 am in Michigan.) So we watched the movie, We Are Marshall. We all enjoyed it. The girls probably enjoyed it more than a regular game, anyway.
One last blessing from home that was unique. Lisa's mom sent leaves she and Dad had collected from their yard and pressed. We used them to decorate our table. Since we have no changing colors and autumn leaves to enjoy here, they were a nice touch.
Although we could not be with family personally, I had the computer set up with slideshows of pictures throughout the years. I think we all appreciated having familiar foods, reminders of home, and the faces of those we love around us today. We have so much to be thankful for...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Please pray for the students as they think about this lesson. I am so very thankful for this opportunity to share each week with this class of sixth graders. I am amazed that I have this freedom to teach the Word of God in the public school and I am loving it!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
After we said good morning, Lisa and I had exhausted our Ilocano and had to rely on translators.
After introductions, Gilbert lead us in worship.
After a delicious lunch of rice, pancit, and sardines, we watched a slideshow of pictures of the students since the last parent meeting.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Often when we see a new fruit we will ask the vendor what it tastes like. It is funny because the person you are talking to will inevitably have a different answer than the people sitting around them. It seems the vendor will say the fruit is sweet. Her companions will laugh and say that really it is sour. Somewhere along the way it gets decided that the fruit is sweet and sour. I don't know why we still ask; it just seems to be the thing to do. At least then if we find our eyes watering and mouth doing the funny little contortions that follow eating something unexpectedly sour, we can say that we asked.
I suppose that could be part of the fun on their side too. Perhaps they want to convince us the new fruit is sweet and that we should try some. Then when we do the puckered, cross-eyed thing they can have a new cultural experience - they may have never seen an Americano do that before. Or maybe they have and that is why the response is so consistent...
Well anyway, this fruit was sweet; no crossed, watery eyes or puckered cheeks. Of all things, it reminded me somewhat of saltwater taffy.
Let us know if you have any guesses.
Monday, November 17, 2008
My topic was stewardship. So to start off, I asked one of the officers to hold a 500 peso bill for me. After reading a few passages about debt and generosity, I asked them whose money it was that the officer was holding. I was relieved when the room full of armed strangers all agreed that it was my money. As such, the officer was accountable to me for how the money was used. In the same way, we are accountable to God for everything He has given us - which is everything we are and everything we have. He has told us how we are to use it. Therefore, stewardship is using what He has given us as He has told us. (I did get the money back.)
There are times I feel like what I am doing isn't making much difference, then something like this happens. God reminds me that relationships take time and often grow when you aren't watching.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Although English is spoken by many here, we feel we need to learn Ilocano to better communicate the message we came to give. Here is just a sampling to help you understand the task before us. It is not just the words but the meaning that makes you go "What did you say?"
Barking dogs seldom bite.
Notice the number of words needed to communicate this. If this is true, we have no need to worry about dog bites here. A good night sleep yes, dog bites no.
Ti táo a manákem, dína makíta ti panagdissó ti sakána ití dagá.
Kitáenna ketdi ti sumarunó a baddekánna.
A wise man doesn't see his foot on the ground, he watches his next step.
At home, there are all these signs to clean up after your pet. Not so here, there are numerous stray dogs and we have yet to see someone clean up after their carabou (water buffalo) that get walked on the streets to the different rice fields.
Naim-imbág ti matáy ta malipátanen ngem ti agbiág a maibabaín.
It's better to be dead and forgotten than to live in shame.
This says a lot about the culture especially when you become familiar with all that is done to honor the dead. Seriously shame is a big fear. When teaching it is difficult to get much participation because everyone is worried they might not have the "right" answer. Being seen crying is also shameful.
No awán ti ánus, awán ti lámot.
If there is no patience, there will be no food.
Meal preparation takes time. No fast food restaurants or microwavable meals...no microwaves either.
No sáan nga makaammó nga nangtaliáw ti naggapuánna, saán a makadánon ti papanánna.
He who does not look back to his origins will not reach his destination.
The village you come from is often part of your introduction. When we first came here it seemed where someone was from was emphasized more than even their names.
Di pay nalúto ti pariá simmagpáw ti karabása.
The bittermelon is not yet cooked and the squash jumped in.
Even after learning some Ilocano, we might need a translator! This supposedly means "Who asked you to join in?"
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Last week we talked about the difference between training and trying. That is where the disciplines come in. By considering the areas in our lives that need to be transformed, we can apply disciplines to help us train ourselves to change our behaviors and attitudes,
This week we talked about the discipline of joy. The author talks about his young daughter's expression of joy, the Dee Dah Day dance. When joy overflows in her, time for a Dee Dah Day dance.
If God is joyful, I want to be joyful. If the joy of the Lord is my strength, I am weak when I am without joy. If I am to rejoice in the Lord, then being without joy is a sin.
-----I have written, and deleted, something that was beginning to look like a thesis rather than a blog post. So I will leave you with a reminder to celebrate and fill your life with joy - have a Dee Dah Day.
Or as Uncle Remus would say, a Zippity Do Dah day...
Monday, November 10, 2008
Completely unrelated, other than it was experienced on the same walk into town, was an offer made to me today. While walking to the market, there is an area where people seem to gather and just hang out. I think a jeepney to another village loads there. During the day, there are always people sitting on the steps to a couple of stores. The people are of all ages and just seem to be hanging out. Whenever we pass, some are talking, some smoking, some chewing moma, (and if I am with Lisa, Adriana, or Alexie, some are staring/gawking).
One of the stores in front of which this collection of people gather sells packaged ice cream cones, popsicles, and such. Today, I was debating indulging in such a treat. There are other places I have found the same treats, but this store is ideal because it is on the way to the market and I am finished with the ice cream by the time we make it to the market - so my hands are available for eating then empty for carrying our purchases. A perfect arrangement in my opinion.
So today, I am walking along, thinking about ice cream and the rain falling. I am with Lisa, so I would really rather be on the other side of the street - but there is the thought of ice cream. As we approach the group, I see a man who reminds me of a pastor I have been trying to contact. Now my mind is bouncing around between ice cream, gawkers, the need to go to the ATM across the street, is that the Pastor Angelo?, ice cream sounds good, is wearing a raincoat on a warm day really keeping me dry?, that is not Pastor Angelo, time to decide about the ice cream before we pass, etc. Suddenly a man I do not recognize at all stands up from in the steps right in front of the ice cream cooler and approaches me with a clear plastic bag and invites me to join him in a chew. "Moma, moma, you chew with me." He was quite insistent. My mind was not there. I declined as we passed by. No ice cream today, I guess.
Then it hits me. What kind of missionary am I? Here I was invited to join in what seems to be a major pastime - hanging out, spitting on the sidewalk, and staining my teeth and lips red - and I absentmindedly dismissed my opportunity. I have never tried moma, but it is very popular here. It seems to be the chewing tobacco of the mountain people.
Perhaps next time...
Friday, November 7, 2008
A couple things we have noticed in our time here are the apparent lack of long-term planning and the low threshold for celebrations. We knew before coming that timeliness was of little importance here. It does not surprise me that I never hear the term "5-year plan". But it is almost comical to me how impromptu things can be. Last Thursday, the local government decided to make Friday a holiday so people could travel home for All Saints Day. It isn't like the holiday suddenly changed days. Earlier, we had been trying to coordinate our staff outing to the hot springs with the semester break at the school. Nobody knew when that would be, not even the students. Today, one of the SSM students who helped us at the clinic put it the best I have heard it. "In America, time is like gold. Here, time is like bronze."
As for celebrations, parades are popular here. Of course some are planned and communicated such as the Independence Day, Am-Among, and Lang-Ay. But there are several that just seem to happen that nobody knows about unless they happen to be in it or on the street when it happens. I cannot explain the basis for a couple I have heard about. They were over and nobody I talked to could really say why there had been a parade. As I understand it, one parade consisted of employees of various governmental offices - I don't know why.
Well today, we did not know about the parade until the police officers were positioning themselves to reroute traffic while we waited for the Municipal Health Office to be unlocked for our clinic. But we did find out that it was related to the Districts. Now back to my original statement - I had to forgo blood pressures for a while. While it would have been fun to watch the kids in their parade, we had a lot of patients. Many of them were teachers from the schools who are normally busy at the time of our clinic. So as the parade marched by on the street below, we continued on with our work - with one modification. It is nearly impossible to take blood pressures with a marching band outside your window. The faint thump noise made by blood squirting through an artery is no match for the drum corps. Once the parade was over, we were able to resume taking blood pressures. In the meantime, we just focused on testing glucose levels.
It did get pretty busy today. Fortunately, Alexie and Alayna were there to help. We also had two of the Student Sponsorship Ministry students volunteer to help today as well. One is a 1st year nursing student. The other is studying education with a major in science. She would like to be in nursing, but can't afford the additional expense. Jil, the nursing student, was supposed to have class today, but the college is still working through issues with registration so most classes have been postponed until next week. (Refer to the second paragraph.)
p.s. If you would be interested in sponsoring a student that is a part of our Student Sponsorship Ministry, please let us know and we would be glad to share more details.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
This is a real blessing in answer to our prayers!
While I do feel a twinge of sadness about the CR-V (I really liked it), I will not miss the insurance payments.
Thanks for your prayers.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
It was funny that we received an email after dinner this evening from Grammie warning us that the soup mix she sent was rather spicy. The email was a few hours too late. We all enjoyed the flavor of the soup, but we did need to work to take out some of the heat. In doing so, we realized that we have certainly adopted some of the practices here - to help cool it, we served the soup over rice.
Later, the girls danced around the table, literally, during an evening snack of dried apples that came in the package, too.
Thanks, Grammie and Papa!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I always think it is best to start a story at the beginning, so the lesson was on creation. The students actively participated which was so encouraging as Filipinos often act shy and remain quiet when asked a question. This is not to say it was like an American classroom. All the students remove their shoes before entering the classroom. They waited in their seats until I dismissed them and then stood to in chorus say "Thank you, madam. Good-bye, madam. Goodbye, classmates." before going home for lunch.
I am looking forward to returning each week and helping the students get to know the Creator of the beautiful mountains that surround them.
Monday, November 3, 2008
I think the President needs to obey God and the Bible. This would tell him what to do.
He has to be American so he doesn't kill us. He should be like us but a little bit higher.
He should be strong so he could fight. So if his guards didn't see the bad guys he could be saving himself so he could live.
He should be a good leader. A good leader shows us how to be good.
Just some wisdom from our 6-year-old to guide you when you step into the voting booth tomorrow.
Seriously, we encourage all in the U.S. to get out and vote. Ask God for guidance as to who should be the next leader of our country and vote accordingly.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Now that does NOT mean the next time I go shopping I will be able to get this again even if I go to the exact place I got this. But the girls said, "This tastes like real milk." Imagine that!
Life is school, school is life...today we had some language study while eating our corn flakes.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
In fairness, it did not taste bad, at least that is what the rest of the family said. Thomas tells me I should stop reading the labels here but some habits are hard to break and it was too late for me. Even chilled in our little fridge didn't cause me to forget what it really was. Thanks, Mom, for the calcium supplements!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Annalise especially enjoyed being with her friend, Jordan. He is amazingly patient with her. When we went to Mainit, he gave her rides on his back in the pool all afternoon. Today he played with her and her Fancy Nancy sticker book. She insisted on sitting next to him for the movie. Not many young men would take such time with a 6-year-old.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Wednesday, we headed back to Kakabay for the actual funeral service. I was asked to speak again. Pastor Francis translated for me and performed the graveside rites. After I spoke, several eulogized, again in Tagalog. It was easy to see the grief that they felt. After the closing prayer, the somber, quiet tone changed. People went back to where the casket still sat. There they began wailing. I have never experienced such a show of emotions. Men, women, and children were all crying, sobbing really, and wailing. It was really loud! There were even a couple of gunshots fired. One man was so overcome with emotion that had to be helped as he staggered from the room.
As soon as this began to calm down, the casket was taken out to a truck that had been brought all of the way to the village. We all then walked about an hour and a half to the cemetery. When we reached the road, the casket was moved to a hearse.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thanks for all your prayers...
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Another Filipino tradition is pasalubong, bringing home a gift when you have been away. Honestly, Thomas was quite busy with the purpose of his visit (that and being very sick) to even think about it. But my good friend, Lita, was thinking of his girls. Knowing that mangoes are my very favorite she sent some home with Thomas along with three pineapple and a bunch of bananas. It is a huge blessing as mangoes and pineapple are no longer available here in Bontoc.
We are all hoping to enjoy a peaceful night sleep in the comfort of our own beds.
P.S. Thomas is still processing his experiences of the last few days. He is thinking about how he can possibly put it into words.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Alexie getting up and right away starting on her schoolwork while her sisters were still sleeping.
The peace and quiet of the morning.
Alexie mixing up pancakes by herself and helping to cook them.
Being able to fold and put away the laundry I had hung up to dry yesterday and washing and hanging another load before breakfast.
Smucker's strawberry preserves to spread on my pancakes.
Getting to taste a new fruit.
Alexie helping by doing some school with Annalise while I was away this morning.
Talking with a new mother and the memories her precious one-month old baby girl brought to mind.
Getting some extra exercise in the sunshine as I walked to town and back twice to attend ONE meeting.
Meeting with the local elementary principal today and the opportunity to start teaching value education to a class of 6th graders next week. Alexie's excitement to join this class.
The provision of a Bible-based curriculum guide for me along with a pamphlet and Bible for each student.
The times I turned on the faucet and water appeared.
Adriana's science experiment turning out like the book said it should.
Hearing "I am sorry." and "Thank you." from some of my girls.
Emails from friends, family and some blog comments too.
Keeping up with friends through their blogs.
A funny book to read, as I am rereading Cheaper by the Dozen
A text from Thomas letting me know he arrived safely.
Having Annalise read to me.
A reminder that all my girls are unique, no gingerbread girl cut-outs here.
Getting to chat with him tonight via the internet and hearing he was able to share with the village of Kakaby today and that he was invited to speak at Robuan's funeral tomorrow.
Thinking about how God ordered our steps and allowed us to visit Robuan a few weeks ago and present him with a photo album containing photos of his baptism.
Word that just last week Robuan had looked through the album with his wife and talked about his faith and how this is helping her now.
Annalise happily playing with magnetic letters as Adriana, Alexie and I prepared supper.
Leftover cake and brownies for dessert.
There's more but I better get some sleep. Being tired doesn't help me "think on such things."
Monday, October 20, 2008
With Thomas away it can be easy to think about what I am missing but with this verse in mind, I've given some thought to my day and this is what I choose to think about:
we had running water for most of the day
we have two new tubs of water ready if we do not have running water
there is plenty of drinking water in the apartment
most of what I had planned for the school day was completed
Thomas was able to share God's Word with the Philippine National Police and the Jehovah Witness's that came to our door
I turned leftover oatmeal from breakfast into a delicious cake that we got to enjoy before he left.
Some of the girls quickly worked to fill Daddy's suitcase with love notes for him to find when he was away. Something they have learned from me.
We had a gigantic salad for lunch. The first salad in a long time as lettuce is a very rare sight at our market.
Our kind mailman gave me a ride home on his motorcycle concerned it was "too hot to walk."
Alexie and Annalise worked together and prepared tonight's supper. They worked so well together. Alexie was patient and Annalise was eager to do anything to help her big sister. The only thing I did was cut up some onion as the job was causing Alexie to shed so many tears.
a note of encouragement from my mother
an exchange of love texts with my Dear Hubby
a quiet house with all my girls tucked in bed
The truth is I think I could keep going with this list. It is amazing what you can find to think about in just a regular day on the calendar, if you're looking with this focus.
I highly recommend it.
Thomas is just left to travel about 14 hours so he can attend Robuan's funeral. There are many traditions surrounding death in the Philippines and we believe it is important for the family of Robuan and the rest of the village to remind them of the proclamation Robuan made in front of them all when he accepted Christ as his forgiver and leader and was baptized. Robuan struggled against old habits as he grew in his new-found faith. But he was a child of God because our salvation is based on the work Jesus has done for us, not the rules we obey.
This will be the first time we will be separated since moving here. It is never easy to do without him but add to it still adjusting to life in another culture and it becomes a bit more overwhelming. He'll be gone until Thursday morning. Please pray for safe travels and effective witness to the village of Kakaby and pray for the five of us staying home. I can't just slip a frozen dinner in the oven or take the girls to their grandparents or a friend's house for a distraction. To add to the adventure, for the last three days, we have often been without water. Thomas drew me a diagram of the different ways to adjust the valves in hopes that one out of the three will provide water while he is away. Hoping that we will not only survive while he is gone but will enjoy some special girl time together...