Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lisa!

Today, my lovely wife celebrates another year.
I love you, Lisa!
(The picture was taken on our balcony.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

To Baguio We Go

Sunday morning we will be traveling to Baguio for YWAM staff development training. This is specifically for Discipleship Training School staff. The training will last all week and we will be back next Saturday. The base is planning on having a Family Discipleship Training School in January.

I am going to attend the training with some of the other Bontoc staff while Lisa and the girls continue with homeschooling and do a little shopping for things you cannot get in Bontoc, like cheese.

While there, we are excited that we will be able to see our friends Kevin, Becky, and the gang off as they return home after being here for the past 10 months.

Please pray for us as we travel the 6 hours of winding mountain roads.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In the Dust of the Rabbi

Last night I led the SSM discipleship time. I told them it would all need to be in English. Having only two Ilocano language lessons, even with studying, it would have made for a very brief study. They all know English but some are shy to speak it, preferring their local dialect.

The topic was "In the Dust of the Rabbi...When the Rabbi Says Come." The lesson centered on what it means to be a disciple. The way you become like the rabbi is by living with him. If we are going to be like Jesus, we have to spend time with Him. We need to study His Word and talk and, more importantly, listen to Him. Hopefully they were challenged, as I was, to spend more time getting to know the Rabbi.

I really enjoy spending time with the students. They are starting to drop by our home to visit. The girls are always excited to be with them, also. The students don't feel as shy around them. Yet another way the girls open doors. Hugs are generously shared with all who enter.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New - 2 Eat & 2 Do

We have added a couple of new things to our repertoire; one in the menu and one in recreation.

First, food. (One of my favorite subjects.) Today we experimented with a new food. Flor, our landlady, helped us make banana lumpia. (You can go back into the archives to see a video of how to roll lumpia.) You slice a cooking banana (we don't know their name, just where to get them. So when you come we will show you where.) in half lengthwise. Then put half of the banana and some brown sugar on a lumpia wrap. Roll it up tightly and fry it. Delicious - too bad you weren't here to share with us.
One of the things that made it into our luggage during the packing frenzy was games. This has been a HUGE blessing. Rainy afternoons go much better when there is something to do. It is also good for family connection and making new friends. One of the games we brought was chess. Until now, I was the only one who knew how to play. Now Adriana, Alexie, and Alayna all love it. Whenever there is lag time out come the royal players and an intense game ensues. Annalise likes to play with the pieces that have been captured. (Does that make her the jailer?) Lisa has not been desperate enough to try yet. Perhaps the girls will overcome my lack of skill and still become proficient players.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Typhoon News

Since we do not have cable or internet at our house, we have fallen behind on the news. (Not an altogether bad situation.) However, I heard that Manila is suffering from a typhoon right now. Just so everyone knows, we are safe and sound.

Here in Bontoc, we haven’t even had a storm. It rains nearly every day, generally in the afternoon. (What can one expect living in a tropical country entering the rainy season?) Sometimes the wind is impressive, but not damaging.

SSM Fun Night

Friday night we joined the rest of the YWAM staff, the students of the Student Sponsorship Ministry, and youth from the community for Fun Night. The students did a number of presentations – some sincere, some silly, some scriptural, and some a combination of the three. Although we have a long way to go on our Ilokano lessons, we were able to understand the comical presentation of the parable of the sower.

We also facilitated a couple of team building games. Everyone had a good time.

I really wish I would have had the camcorder going to show some of the antics, but since I didn’t and the time machine is broken, you will just have to make do with the picture.

Most events here involve food, we are often told, “Eat, eat.” Fun Night was no exception and sticky rice was served. Annalise excitedly exclaimed, “It tastes like oatmeal.” Everyone seems to have a different recipe for this popular dessert as we have sampled many different varieties.



Friday I joined several regional pastors to discuss plans for the Moral Recovery Program. During our time here last fall, several members of our team went every Monday morning to facilitate this teaching time for the local and national police force here in Bontoc. Beyond the morality and integrity which the program espouses for community leaders, I am excited about this ministry because of the potential it has for forging relationships with the officers in the community.

This is a great opportunity to reach out to the men who serve this community. While there are a number of women who serve as well, my heart is to connect with these men and help them overcome the common sentiment that faith is a concept reserved for women and children.

Please pray that men will embrace Christ and His church.

Since we are behind in posting, I will add this morning’s adventure to this post as well.

It had been my intention to sit in on the presentation and see what people are doing during this time. I had not prepared anything to speak. I had no teambuilding activity in mind. I was going just to watch. It appears that either God or man had different plans. The person I was expecting to meet at the Philippine National Police barracks this morning never arrived. After the flag ceremony was completed, we went into the meeting room and I was introduced as this morning’s speaker. Passages such as, “Lean not on your own understanding,” “Be prepared in season and out of season to give an answer for the hope that is in you,” and “Do not worry about what to say or how to say it…” were going through my mind as I prayed before, during, and after my introduction.

In the end, the Lord gave me 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” This may be an odd passage for the Moral Recovery Program perhaps, but ideal as an introduction and exhortation. I was prompted to share how the truth of Jesus’ resurrection is why my family has traveled to Bontoc. If the resurrection is just something we pretend, it is a meaningless conversation. If however, it is real, then it becomes the cornerstone upon which our lives must be built.

I would have been more comfortable learning how others present during the program or if I had prepared, but sometimes God stretches us for His purposes. May He be glorified in our weakness.


(The picture is from last year when we were here.)

Madaydayaw ti Apo (Praise the Lord!)

Thursday we began our Ilokano lessons. One of the SSM students, Rengie, will be coming over a couple times each week to tutor us. Fortunately we are generally able to get along in English, but we have already sat through a couple meetings without understanding more than a few words.

Language is an interesting thing here. Most people speak some English. Everybody understands Ilokano. But there are also the numerous dialects, even within this region. Several of the YWAM staff are working closely with Wycliffe on the One Story Project which translates New Testament stories into local dialects which are designed for oral presentation. People are involved from various communities to create a version of the story for their local dialect. As far as I know, most of these communities are within 2 hours of our home. Each community has its own way of handling different words, sounds, and concepts.

In addition to spoken language are the differences in body language. One day we may be able to master the subtle eyebrow communications around us.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Settling in

Still no internet at our place so we must go to an internet cafe which is why we haven't updated much. Here's some highlights of our last several days, maybe later we'll get around to posting some photos...
On Thursday, we watched the Independence Day parade. Ironic to be standing there as it celebrates their independence from the U.S. Who knows what they said about us ...

Thursday evening I joined in the meeting with the Student Sponsorship Ministry (SSM) students. I am looking forward to my role in discipling four of the young ladies. The five of us will gather each week and I will be meeting one-on-one with each of the girls. Two of the girls I already knew from last year and are favorites with our girls.

Friday we finally made it to the park. The rain had kept us away before. The rainy season has begun. It rains most afternoons. Unfortunately the gate was locked and a sign posted says it will be closed for a month because they planted grass.

Saturday was home improvement project day. Thomas helped Frank, our landlord, and two of his students build kitchen cabinets for our kitchen. No power tools, just hand tools with Filipino muscle. They did most of the work, Thomas was ready to help but wasn't permitted to do much. They are still needing painted before they can be hung. We don't want any unfinished wood as they had to remove our kitchen table as it was infested with termites.

Later Thomas helped/watched Frank install a shower head water heater. It is nice to have warm showers again.

Sunday we attended our first (entire) church service since arriving in the Philippines. The pastor is one of our fellow YWAMers. It was a gathering of about 25 young people and then there was Thomas and me. Of course everyone here thinks I'm much younger than I am but don't seem to make the same mistake with him. We enjoyed the service and the fellowship that followed as we ate lunch together. They eat together every Sunday. We were told it is the only service in English in Bontoc. We are hoping to start our language studies soon.

Experienced our first brown-out, as yesterday Bontoc was without power for about 8 hours. No power, no water for us as we need a pump to bring water from the ground level to our place on the second floor.

Yesterday, Rufina helped me make my first successful pot of rice!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pictures from Earlier Posts

First Day of School

Back in the States, everyone is celebrating the end of the school year but since we have arrived the shops have been bustling with those gathering school supplies. We had packed some school supplies and had the rest shipped ahead of us. All we had shipped was ready and waiting in our apartment when we arrived. So yesterday when all the beautiful brown children had their first day of school here in Bontoc, we did too. We started our day a little later than they did as we had been up late the night before having dinner with 40 Korean students but the girls worked hard and we were able to complete our schooling before lunch. The Filipinos start school at 7:30 and have from 11:30 to 1:30 to go home for lunch, finishing the school day at 4:30.

Of course school is more than books…I had a lesson in cooking rice from our kind landlady. She had given me some instruction before but evidently something got lost either in the translation or implementation. She escorted me to the market to get the right pot as she insisted the one I had previously purchased was not the right size. Under her guidance I was much more successful. Somewhere back on Center Drive packed away is my handy rice cooker. As they tell me here “Little by little,” we’re learning the Filipino way.

No worries of us starving as our landlady, Ata Flor, brought us up freshly baked chiffon cake in the afternoon. This was in addition to the piece she had previously given Annalise. The day before Annalise and Alayna went to market with her and came back eating ice cream cones. Serious spoiling going on!


Monday, June 9, 2008

To Market, to Market


We did not buy a fat pig, but we did spend some time at the market today. With our friends Esther and Rengie, we went to the market to buy some food and some pots and pans. Bontoc doesn’t have a Wal-Mart or even a grocery store. But you can get pretty much anything you need (as long as it really is a need). I enjoy going if for no other reason than the experience.

Of course, I can’t even go many places at home with all of my beautiful daughters without comments. But when our family walks around a small, Philippine town like Bontoc, it draws attention. Many of the comments are in Ilokano, so I can only guess what they are. But the kids are fun. I made friends with a couple of little boys in the market. I couldn’t help but to think of our friend, Chuck, who always has kids hanging from him at church.

We are all settling in to our new home. Much to my dismay, yet to the delight of my long-term health, the bakery is specific to cakes and such. Therefore my dreams of walking down a flight of stairs every morning to hot cinnamon rolls, fresh baked bread, and chocolate chip cookies with the chips still melted will remain dreams. They also run a diner in the bakery, so that is convenient (but not as good as cookies).

Our landlords are great. The kids have already adopted them into the family. Florma has returned the favor. Today the girls spent time downstairs with her. When Lisa went to check on them, she found them all eating as Florma brought them more and more. We were also invited to have lunch with the family as we celebrated their daughter’s birthday. Of course, the cake looked and tasted fabulous.

We are learning how to manage the water system in our apartment. The first day here was somewhat frustrating as we would have running water and later there would be none. We would talk to the landlord and water would come back on for a while and then disappear again. It is not that it is difficult, we just didn’t understand at first. As Americans we sometimes assume things about plumbing systems that aren’t always true – even when they might appear the same. Additionally, because they have made some changes to the plumbing and the apartment has been vacant for a year, water pressure has identified some leaks. Frank and Florma have been very helpful in fixing any problems. I suppose it is all just part of settling in.

We really are very happy with our new home and our landlords. Thank you to all who prayed for our housing. Your prayers have been answered.


Good to be Home


We really enjoyed visiting with Kevin, Becky, Josh, Xander, Jesse, Ben, Matthew, and Abby in Baguio. They attended CDTS with us and their family stayed in Baguio when we all returned to Salem in November. Beyond just enjoying conversation and catching up with them, it was good to hear their insights about how to better live and serve in the Philippines. You can see more of their adventures by visiting their blog at

Yesterday we made our final move; from Baguio to Bontoc. Before we encountered any bumps on the road, we had a few at Kevin and Becky’s house. First, Lisa couldn’t find the cell phone we had just bought. We believe the taxi driver from the night before may have gotten an unusually large tip. Then, after we were all loaded up, the jeepney wouldn’t start. We had a short postponement while the battery was exchanged. Then we were on our way. It was a long journey, about 6 hours. The road is much better than it was when we made the trip last year. Much more of it is paved. The last 2 hours however, remain unpaved, dusty, and bumpy. Everyone traveled well, though. I don’t know if the Dramamine was needed, but I am sure it did not hurt either.

Nolan and Kevin helped load the jeepney Friday night. Between what we had brought from home and what we purchased in Baguio to establish our home, it was really loaded. Nolan even loaned us a refrigerator that we loaded up. Fortunately, there was still enough room for all of us and a few other friends who were also traveling to Bontoc. It seemed like a lot of stuff. But I suppose when you move a large family from the USA and you can fit all of your stuff into a jeepney and 9 people besides, you are doing pretty well.

When we arrived we were greeted by the YWAM staff and several of the students from the Student Sponsorship Ministry. Once again, we were glad to be with friends. They helped us unload our things. In the evening, they hosted a welcoming dinner in our honor.

I was really blessed when we were unloading the jeepney and Alayna asked, “Isn’t it good to be home?” I suppose that is the feeling we all share. When we traveled during our CDTS in the fall, that was what we did: travel. We visited a lot of places in the two months we were here. Even when we were in places longer, there was always the expectation we would be moving on soon. It is good to be here. It is good to know we will be here for a while. Our house is quite comfortable and we know we will be able to settle in. Additionally, I am glad to know we are where God has called us.


p.s. I have some pictures, but I am having problems uploading them.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hanging Out

We have been really enjoying our time in Baguio. It has been great visiting with our friends from CDTS and the family we met here during our outreach in September. Yesterday we left the kids here to play while we went to purchase some things we will need to set up our home in Bontoc.

While it will be sad to tell Kevin, Becky, and the kids goodbye (they will be returning to Canada next month), we are eager to begin settling in to our home in Bontoc. I am hoping that we can leave early enough tomorrow to break our recent trend of arriving everywhere well after midnight. It would be nice to have a few hours of daylight to unpack our things and look around.

Today, we will spend a bit more time shopping and, hopefully, a lot of time just hanging out with our friends here.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Visa 3

Fyi… I am writing this at around 8:40 p.m. Tuesday evening regardless of what time the post says.

Oh, what a day. We worked hard. We visited the YWAM office. (It is at a different location than the base.) We visited the Bureau of Immigration Visa Extension Office. We visited the Bureau of Immigration main office. We visited the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. We visited the United States Embassy. We had high hopes. We are now on a bus to Baguio. I wish I could say that we have submitted our paperwork for our long-term visas. Instead I we have extended our temporary visas and now have much more work to do on our long-term visas.

But in all things we are to give thanks. Without getting all philosophical, spiritual, and otherwise deep, I recognize my need to recognize that God is often more interested in our growth through the process and our obedience than what we think the end result should be.

We are excited to be on our way to Baguio. But the bus process was much like the visa process. I won’t say more.

In all of the traveling until the bus, Annalise sat with me. I am not sure I can explain that conversation, but I will give you a little story that might give you a flavor. While driving to the first bus station, we heard a rooster crow. This was the first we heard while in the country this time. She commented on the rooster crowing then, “Daddy, why do them cocka-doodle-doo?”

My lame answer, “I don’t know.” When I saw that this was not good enough, “It’s just what they do. It is kind of like asking why 5 year olds talk so much.” (She really had been a chatter-box, going non-stop especially in the van.)

“But I like to talk.”

“I suppose roosters like to crow.” And with that, we were on to another subject.

P.S. It is now Wednesday morning. We arrived in Baguio at 1 a.m. and spent the night at the home of our friends. We are all glad to be here right now. (And it is much cooler.)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Visas Take 2

Well, we were not successful in applying for our long-term visas. It was a frustrating day. But we were able to submit the paperwork to extend our tourist visas. We hope to get the long-term visa paperwork submitted in time to catch the 1:15 p.m. bus to Baguio. We are eager to visit our friends from CDTS that we left behind. We are also excited about moving closer to the place we will minister and call home for the next two years.
Please keep us in your prayers as we work through this process.


Today our goal is to successfully submit all required paperwork for our missionary visa. The process seems a little daunting to us. We were told it might take months to secure one. There is a long list of fees involved including several "express" fees. Upon submission, we will be told our hearing date. It looks like we will be making the 12 hour return trip to Manila for that. While we await our missionary visa, we will have to travel the 6 hours to Baguio every 59 days to extend our tourist visa. Please pray for wisdom for us and favor with the officials.

P.S. At least we now know the proper dress code!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

17 years

Today we are blessed to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. Last year we celebrated it with Thomas's last day of work at the nuclear plant. This year we are halfway around the world in the Philippines. I am so thankful for the man I get to share this life with. No matter what or where, we're walking the path together...