Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Everywhere we go, we get noticed. Our white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair certainly make us stand out. Sunday our family attended a community worship service. Over 200 people were in attendance but there was a personal welcome from the pulpit to the "white man." On Monday a Filipino woman came to our door asking to be hired to do our laundry. She explained that she had worked for years for a German missionary family doing their laundry and caring for their children. Although we declined her services, it was interesting that she must have been watching us to know where we lived. Thomas shared about our warm, friendly mailman that we met that same day. Yesterday when Adriana, Annalise and I walked into the post office Innocencio greeted us by name telling his coworkers about us. As we continued walking in town, two older ladies stopped us desiring to meet Annalise. They were thrilled to have their photo taken with her. Annalise has gotten used to the many people who touch her and ask her name when we are out and about. We pray that while they are watching us they get glimpses of Jesus - in a conversation, a touch, or simply a smile.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Food for the Heart and Mouth

The man in the picture below is Innocencio. He is our mailman. Yesterday is the first day we had mail delivered to our apartment. Most of our mail is delivered to the YWAM post office box. Innocencio introduced himself when he delivered post cards to the girls. Each had to sign for their letters. After the official duties were completed we talked for a few minutes. It was great to hear some of his story.
His name is based on the events of his early life. It seems he was very ill at birth and his parents desired that he be baptized before his expected death. The priest who performed the ceremony was a missionary from Belgium (whose last name is the same as Lisa's maiden name). The priest was expecting this to be a final act of the innocent one's life. Accordingly, he was named Innocencio.
But that was not to be his final act, as you can see by the picture. Innocencio now has 3 children and at least one grandchild, Israel. He lives with his parents in England.
It is amazing, I never knew this much about my own mail carrier at home - and she served us for years. Before leaving, Innocencio hugged me and told me how much he appreciated white people because of what Rev. Bowman had done for him and his community. I felt unworthy of his affection. But it was a reminder to me of how we affect people by our actions and that can produce effects that reveal themselves years and years later. We also attempted to make bread at home. Bread is not very popular here. You can buy loaves of it: white and sometimes wheat, or more commonly as cinnamon rolls or some other sweet roll. But if you want fresh bread of any variety we cannot help you find it here. So we gave it a shot.
Our oven, a toaster oven borrowed from the base, is not too large. Nor does it have the temperature range of a standard oven. But we were able to give it a whirl. We had some flour left over from making play dough and had found yeast so we could make the pizza we mentioned a while back.

Survey says...(long pause for dramatic effect)...yummy

Yes, I realize that the knife pictured is a filet knife. Prior to leaving home, we had put out an appeal for packing suggestions . One tidbit we received was to pack a few good knives - and a worthwhile suggestion I might add. Well, I grabbed a few good knives and my sharpening steel. What I did not grab was a serrated knife.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Let the Little Children Come to Me

Everywhere we go we see the precious children of the Philippines. Often they are out and about without an adult as parents are busy working to put food on the table. One is eleven-year-old Mary Jane. Her parents sell vegetables at the market and is who we buy most of our food from. Last week our girls played with her at the park. When it started to rain, Mary Jane and another girl, Alexee, followed our girls home. We enjoyed a snack and a game of Uno together.

Annalise, Mary Jane, and Alexee at the park.

So often, children are overlooked, ignored, or sent away so they do not disturb the adults. Over and over Jesus words, "Let the little children come to Me," have been in our minds. Our heart is to reach out to the children and introduce them to the One who loves them so. Yesterday afternoon, Lisa introduced an organized children's program. She read stories, played games, and sang songs with the children as she shared the story of creation.

Then she unveiled a great surprise - play dough! We had a great time watching the kids replicate God's handiwork. Only the blonde American girls had ever played with play dough before.

Roses were a popular creation.Even the teenagers who were helping out enjoyed getting their fingers a little messy as they experienced play dough for their first time as well.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Matinee

This afternoon we put together our own theatre of sorts. We popped popcorn and poured some cold Coca-Cola. Then we gathered with the SSM students to watch Evan Almighty. The students have spent the week having exams. After studying so hard all week, we felt they needed to relax and have some fun.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Just a Look Around

A view around our house.
The "grass" is almost all rice.


How work gets done around here.
Our neighbor is working on finishing the second floor of his house. Today the concrete truck came.
Once it is unloaded it needs to be taken to the house.
A bag or two at a time.
This is the house being worked on.
Here is a close up of a real concrete "truck".
This is the "road".

Of course there are domestic tasks also. We are fortunate enough to have a washing machine, but like everyone else, we still hang it to dry.
But laundry can also be decorative.

Note how it adds festive color and design all around the neighborhood...

The animals can even be counted on to help with daily chores. For instance, this dog offered to take our garbage for us.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fresh Chicken

Many Filipinos are shy and reluctant to be photographed. Not this jeepney driver. He proudly posed with his soon-to-be dinner.

We have had some fish and some packaged ham lunchmeat, but usually we eat chicken. Maybe two to three times a week. We have yet to buy any meat from the market, prefering a few shops that have covered coolers to the in the open covered with flies variety. Chicken costs 130 pesos a kilo, a little over $3 for 2.2 pounds. The store owner doesn't understand why we would want to eat the breasts and if Thomas hadn't shared that in the States that is the favorite part (rather than heads and internals) we might have been able to get a better deal!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Municipal PNP

Yesterday I met with the municipal branch of the Philippine National Police as part of the Moral Recovery Program. Prior to the presentation by the MRP to the police officers, all the members of the municipal government met for their flag raising ceremony. This ceremony included, among other things:

  • the mayor awarding gifts to students for an art contest,
  • an update from the local health officer regarding dengue fever,
  • the commissioning of a new ladies' organization that will work with the local government,
  • music,
  • presentation of new cell phones to serve as hotlines for the police and fire departments,
  • demonstration of how to use the fire extinguishers just purchased for the municipal offices,
  • more music, including a number by the municipal chorus

The mayor demonstrating the new fire extinguishers.

After the rather extended but interesting flag ceremony, we followed the police officers to their offices. Because the ceremony went so long many had to leave right away to get to their posts. After a prayer I was introduced to share the teaching for the MRP. I used the opportunity to introduce myself and our purpose in being here.

I look forward to getting to know these men and women. I pray for their safety as they serve and that they will know Jesus better.

Interestingly, I met a couple from Chicago as I left the office. They are here travelling and photographing the Philippines with another couple from the Netherlands. (Her website is and if you look in the Humanities she has some great photos from various places in eastern Asia.)


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Filippino Americans

As of today we have been in Bontoc 6 weeks. So how are we doing making the transition to life in the Philippines?

We are like our beautiful brown-skinned neighbors in many ways:

  • We eat a large quantity of rice
  • Our laundry is hung up outside and inside to dry
  • We walk everywhere in the official footwear, flip-flops
  • We visit the market almost daily to purchase our food
  • We never put toilet paper in the toilet
  • We carry a cellphone and send a text when we need to communicate
  • We use more soy sauce than ketchup
  • Our front door is open most of the time
  • We offer all of our guests something to eat
  • And this week a few of us even had lice
But not to worry we are still Americans.
  • Our skin turns a pretty shade of pink after being outside too long
  • We spend time emailing, blogging, surfing the net, watching movies, and reading
  • We homeschool, which baffles the locals when most school children are seen walking to school in their uniforms
  • We eat cheese (not for too much longer as our $22 supply is almost depleted), baked potatoes, peanut butter sandwiches with Peter Pan peanut butter and pizza (we found yeast after much searching one week ago and have made the most delicious pizza in a borrowed toaster oven twice this week)
  • We prefer chicken breast to feet, necks, and internals
  • We speak in English
  • We expect water when we turn on the tap
  • We like to take warm showers
  • We are relieved when we see western style toilets - not sure we will ever feel at ease with squattie potties
  • We expect meetings and events to start on time
  • We take pictures of things like rice drying
  • We still forget to take our umbrellas everywhere so have often been caught walking in the rain, it is the rainy season, which brings many lectures from the Filipinos

No matter how we adapt, we will still be "Americano" to the children we pass on the street. The blonde hair and blue eyes seems to give us away.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

4th of July

We are still catching up.
Here are the girls in Baguio. Celebrating the 4th of July at America's favorite restaurant!
This is on our way home to Bontoc.
Fresh beef! We chose vegetarian.

Safety first on those mountain roads. Annalise has her airbag at the ready!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

SSM Fun Night

I know - first it seems like we forgot how to update the blog, now we have 3 posts in 2 days! We had some catching up to do and now we have internet at home.

Last night, we went to Fun Night. This is a Friday night youth event coordinated between several area churches and the YWAM SSM. (SSM stands for Student Sponsorship Ministry.)

We have enjoyed getting to know the SSM students. Lisa has presented the lesson at the Tuesday night Discipleship Time. Thursday night I attended the student led, Chapel Talk. They have just changed locations as the YWAM base and the SSM housing combined into the area most of our team occupied when we were here last fall. The students are appreciating the larger area and having more CRs.

With all of their commitment to school, work duties, and times of discipleship, Fun Night provides an opportunity for fun and fellowship. We played several games last night. One, I caught on video. Enjoy...



A Run to Town

While Thomas was busy learning at the DTS workshop, I was learning more about the Filipino culture courtesy of the wonderful family we lived with and the many taxi drivers I met throughout the week. Nolan and Gina have four children about the same age as our four, all girls except the oldest. In Bontoc, we walk everywhere... the post office, market, church, the base, but in Baguio you must catch a taxi or a jeepney to go anywhere. Since there are so many of us, it is more economical for us to travel in a taxi.

The girls and I visited the shops along Session Road and the big SM mall. First on my shopping list was a cell phone. This is the main method of communication here. Hopefully I won't lose this one!

Other items we purchased:

  • Ilocano dictionary
  • Books at the used bookstores (Even though we packed books we quickly realized we didn't bring enough. No library and even the bookstores in Baguio don't have a wide selection. The used bookstores are like shopping garage sales at home. After much searching, sometimes you find a prize.)
  • 2 basketballs for fun at the plaza
  • 10 hula-hoops and a dozen small soft balls for teambuilding activities
  • 2 movies (Annalise was quickly invited behind the counter to sit on the lady's lap and another took her picture with her cell phone adding it to her photos of the other blonde 5-year-old, Abby, our friend from Canada.)
  • 3 pairs of flip-flops (One was an emergency purchase as one of my only pair broke while walking along Session.)
  • Sheets (Most sheet sets here include one fitted sheet and two pillowcases. I was able to find flat sheets though but all sheets are very expensive here, two to three times the price in the States.)
  • Towels
  • Rubbermaid containers and a few dishes with lids to keep our food free of insects
  • Nonstick skillet
  • Butter knives (These you really have to look for so I was happy when I was able to locate 6.)
  • A few kitchen utensils
  • Vegetable steamer/rice cooker (Yes, we have been successful in cooking rice in a pot but our stove has 3 small burners and cooking some meals is quite a juggling act as the burners are close together so you can't use all of them at the same time and if you want to cook with a large pan you can only have one on the stove.)
  • Shampoo
  • Face soap
  • Replacement razor blades
  • Dental floss
  • 3 jars of Peter Pan peanut butter, (We can buy American peanut butter in Bontoc but it is cheaper in Baguio. Even in Baguio it is still expensive so we won't be living on PB&J!)
  • 2 jars of Smuckers strawberry preserves
  • 1 bottle of Hunt's tomato ketchup (Banana ketchup is much easier to find, but it is not the same.)
  • 2 cans of Hunt's spaghetti sauce
  • 3 packages of tortilla chips
  • 1 bag of Baked Lay's (we ate these on our trip back to Bontoc)
  • 3 small packages of cashews
  • 4 kilos of brown rice
  • 2 tubes of Oreos to share with our hosts
  • Mozzerella cheese sticks
  • 2 blocks of REAL CHEDDAR CHEESE

This is a treat because 2 blocks like the one pictured cost us about $22 and the nearest place to buy it is about a 6 hour drive from home.

Besides doing some schooling and shopping I was able to extend our visas. They are now good until September 27. It was a much easier process than in Manila. I arrived early in the morning and got processed right away. I left with our passports stamped and my purse much lighter in less than one hour. We are still looking into the hoops we must jump through for a 2 year missionary visa. Let's just say not as easy as the extensions but there is a limit to how often we can extend and it is very costly to extend every two months, without travel expenses it's about $400 each time.

Friday, July 11, 2008

DTS Workshop

We recently traveled to Baguio to attend a DTS workshop for DTS staff. DTS is an abbreviation for Discipleship Training School. The DTS is the primary course for all who would join YWAM or seek a degree at YWAM's University of the Nations. We attended a version of the DTS last summer and fall as students.

The timing could not have been better for me to attend. Prior to joining YWAM my training career had given me experience in developing, coordinating, and presenting training courses. At church, I had been helping to plan and coordinate our Christian Education. Now that we are officially "YWAMers", it was perfect timing to learn how the DTS is managed and to network with other YWAM bases in the Philippines. A perfect opportunity for our first month in the country.

Not only did the workshop discuss requirements and experiences of DTS, it also was used to roll out vision for YWAM in the Philippines. It was exciting to see how YWAM leadership felt the calling to implement some new ideas and how they handed it off to people on the front lines to develop. Coming from a corporate setting, it was fascinating to see how decentralized YWAM strives to be. New ideas and direction for the 2009 DTS across the Philippines were presented but the DTS staff from the various bases were allowed to strategize. Much of the workshop was given to facilitating a team that would work out the details and implement the vision.

Our team at Mountain Province has not yet had a chance to process how exactly we will fit into all of these plans. Most of the team is travelling in support of the One Story Project, a partnership with Wycliffe.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Back in Bontoc

We have made it to Baguio and back safely. God kept us safe from all the hazards along the way: narrow winding muddy roads, rain, fog, interesting bridges, dogs sleeping in the road, chickens crossing (we still don't know why), drivers who conserve energy by not driving with lights in the dark or fog, and a street brawl. (The street brawl was a new sight along the way. We just had came out from a restaurant where all the Filipinos had gathered to watch boxing on TV, then we had front row seats!)

Later we will share more. Still waiting to get internet at home...