Saturday, November 29, 2008

Manna - Resolved

By the way, the mystery fruit from last week is called goyabano.

We haven't had it since then because it hasn't been in the market again until today. The one piece we saw today did not look so good.

Friday, November 28, 2008


No hurrying to get those early morning deals at the shopping malls for us. Although like many of our loved ones back home, we were blessed to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch. We almost made it two full days without eating rice or soy sauce! Sure we like rice but we usually have it once to twice a day, so it was good to have a break.

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

Giving Thanks from Afar

This morning we celebrated with Annalise as she completed her initial reading program. She is so excited about reading and writing. In our family reading is a favorite pastime. Congratulations, Butterfly!Thanks to goodies sent by Lisa's mom, we were able to enjoy a real Thanksgiving feast: gravy, cranberries, stuffing, hot apple cider, even pudding! Although Annalise was disappointed; there was no rice on the menu. There was plenty to fill our tummies and we even watched some football before the day was over. There were, of course, a few modifications. Turkey is not readily available - although it was tempting to look further into the one I have seen in the courtyard of a church downtown. But when we roasted the chicken with the same seasonings we use at home, the house still smelled great and the taste, although different, was just as good.

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.
Later we did a craft. You know it is a good craft if it starts off with painting your hand.
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

Bunny Blues

You never can be sure what will prompt a wave of homesickness. It could be a memory or a glimpse of a loved one's photograph, a craving for a food unavailable, the news of beautiful fall colors or the first snowfall, or even more crushing the thoughts of the holidays spent far from family. Yesterday, Annalise came to me and said, "Mommy I miss my bunny. You know the one with the long eyelashes." If that was not sad enough she started sobbing. We had squeezed one of her bunnies in our luggage but not that one. "Can't we just go home and get it and then come back to the Philippines?" Not really nor could I just rush out to Build-A-Bear to get her a new one. All I could do was hug her close. The homesickness has increased as the holiday season gets closer. It is especially hard when one of the girls is suffering to the point of tears.


Special Gift for You

Every Tuesday, Alexie and I walk to Bontoc Central School for Values Education Class. I have taught lessons on creation, Adam and Eve, and sin. Yesterday I reminded them of the consequences of sin and shared the gift Jesus offers.

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

Parents and Pancit

Saturday YWAM Mountain Province hosted a meeting for the parents of the Student Sponsorship Ministry students. They came from various barangays such as Can-eo, Sacasacan, Sadanga, Sagada, and others. It was an opportunity to share with them what is happening with the ministry and to strengthen our partnership in the discipleship of their children.

After we said good morning, Lisa and I had exhausted our Ilocano and had to rely on translators.

Lisa shared with the parents how much our family has been blessed by the students. So many of them have been adopted by our girls as big brothers and big sisters.

After introductions, Gilbert lead us in worship.

What better way to begin a meeting than a little team building? A little rope and some blindfolds and people begin to loosen up and laugh. The parents, students, and YWAM staff did some activities that helped to illustrate my message about following Jesus and working out our discipleship as a community. As stated earlier, I had used up his Ilocano but Patrick was there to translate into Ilocano.

Then the student's performed the song, Walk With Jesus.

After a delicious lunch of rice, pancit, and sardines, we watched a slideshow of pictures of the students since the last parent meeting.

YWAM SSM students and parents
(with a few extras - In case you have a hard time finding 3 of our girls that ended up in the picture, they are toward the front wearing blue jeans.)


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Manna was the term used for the bread-like substance that sustained the Israelites when they left Egypt and took an extended tour of the middle-eastern wilderness. I am no scholar of ancient languages, but I understand that the word manna literally means, "What is it?"

So what is it?

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

500 Pesos and a Gun

This morning I presented the exhortation for the municipal officers of the Philippines National Police. They are the ones who have jurisdiction for the local town.

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.)

What made today different than the other times I have presented, for either the provincial or municipal PNP, occurred later in the day. Lisa, Alayna, Annalise, and I were out marketing. Three of the officers stopped me at different times to introduce themselves. In the meeting, I don't have the opportunity to just chat because I talk after the flag ceremony ends and their staff meeting begins. It was fun to see the girls' reaction as I introduced one of the officers by saying, "This officer held my money for me earlier."

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

Knock, Knock - Who's There?

Before the semester break, several of the boys from the SSM came over to watch the first of the Lord of the Rings movies, The Fellowship of the Ring. We planned to watch the others after semester break.

At church today, I told one of the guys to come over this afternoon and we would watch the next one. So after church we moved some furniture around, popped some popcorn, got ready for a movie. When the guys showed up, we started the show. After a little while, there was a knock on the door. Some of the students from church wanted to watch it, too. They came in and people squeezed together on the chairs and couch to make room. A while later, there was a knock on the door and more students came in. No more chairs, so some sat on the floor - not nice, padded carpeting, just tile. Oh well, nobody was complaining. A couple more times this act was repeated. By the end of the movie, we had about 25 people squeezed into our living room and flowing into the kitchen all intently watching our computer screen. (No wall-to-wall carpeting - No big screen TV - No surround sound)

We have enjoyed building relationships with the SSM students and the students that make up the church we are a part of. Beyond friendship with them, it is our desire to be a part of discipling them so that they can take the message of the Gospel to the people they are around. It has been encouraging that the attendance for the Christian Education class I began last week at church has been so high. We pray the Lord will use it toward their maturity and relationship with Him.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ilocano Proverbs and Sayings

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?"

Tay áso nga taol nga taol saán a makakagát ken makadunor.

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 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

Dee Dah Day

Every Tuesday night YWAM Mountain Province gathers for Discipleship Talk. This meeting is designed to promote the discipleship of the students of the Student Sponsorship Ministry (SSM). I have begun teaching a series on the Christian disciplines based on The Life You Always Wanted, by John Ortberg.

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

Colors of the Season

When we were at home, this season held two things for which we were always looking: the first snow and the first Christmas tree. Well, we still haven't seen snow here. But here is a picture of the first Christmas tree. Christmas music has been playing in the stores here for quite some time (at least since mid-September), but this is the first tree.

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

I Love a Parade...

Today at our weekly glucose/blood pressure clinic, I had to forgo blood pressures for a while. The elementary and high school students were having Districts. While I never got a complete description of that, it seems that it has to do with inter-mural sports. Rather than having basketball or volleyball as an extra-curricular activity as we are familiar with, everyone is included as part of a healthy living program during the school day.

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


Since May, we have been trying to sell our Honda CR-V. We have prayed and asked you to pray with us. This morning, we received word that we now have a check and a lady that lives near my parents has a new vehicle.

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

Love from Home

Today, we enjoyed several of the gifts that Lisa's parents sent in a recent package. The girls wore the new skirts Grammie made. Last night they were very excited as they all planned the outfits they would wear today. There was much twirling throughout the day.

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

Writing on the Chalkboard

Today I was back in the classroom, chalk in hand, introducing myself as "Mrs." It has been a while since I was teacher to a class larger than four but before I began my career of motherhood, I was a kindergarten teacher. This was my first day teaching values education to a classroom of sixth graders, all Filipinos except for a strawberry blonde named Alexie that sat in the back row. The school board and the local government officials have approved this values education program but unless a local pastor or missionary volunteers to come in to teach the class it is not being taught. I really enjoyed being in the classroom. I am excited to have this opportunity to teach the Bible each week to the 29 students.

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

Some Voting Advice

We are far away from our home in the U.S. but we haven't forgotten that tomorrow is the day to vote for a new president. This week, Garden of Grace Girls Academy, is studying a unit on elections. Today each of the girls had to answer the follow question, "In your opinion, what are the most important qualities that a person running for President of the United States should have?" This is what Annalise had to say.

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


One of the things we have enjoyed about our time here is more time spent playing games together as a family. Lately we have not played as often as when we first came. So after dinner last night we learned a new game, Spoons. Lisa had looked up the rules on the internet earlier while the kids played outside. It was a riot - a little bit of thought, a little bit of action, and a lot of laughter.

The SSM students have also enjoyed learning to play different games. It is interesting to see how much you can learn about somebody when you play a few games with them.

Some of our favorites are Skip-Bo, Toss-Up, Uno, Wig-Out, Jenga, sungka (a variation of mancala), spoons (a new favorite).

What games does your family enjoy?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

For the Spirit of the Dead

Today Lisa and I went for a walk around town. It was a beautiful day, quiet too. With the holiday, many of the shops were closed. There was little traffic. Even the basketball court at the plaza only had a few people playing on it.

Along the sidewalk near the bridge is an area with several graves. Bontoc has a cemetery, but in many places in this region, graves are commonly located along (even under) the walkways. Most do not have a headstone, but rather a small shelter. They look like they could be little roosts for 1 or 2 chickens. As we walked by that area on our way back home, there were a few people tending the graves there. They appeared to be cutting back the weeds. Others had already visited many of the other graves. Under the little shelters, a candle was burning and there was a plate of food. We would like to have taken a picture to share with you, but we did not want to be insensitive to the people there.

One need not look too far to see that spiritism is very real here. I recognize that for many people, these are just traditions. They see them as nothing more than that. Much like people in the US look at ghosts, goblins, and haunted houses at Halloween. But the more I look around me and consider what I read in the Bible, the less I see that is truly neutral in this world. I am not on a witch hunt. And I don't think I am as confused as Don Quiote, confusing windmills for dragons. But I am convinced there is a spiritual battle going on around us. The enemy gains a great advantage when we allow him into our camp and think doing so is a harmless tradition.

This blog is not intended to be a place of great theological discussion. Nor do we claim to have any spiritual advantage over those who visit. Indeed, many of you who read about our journey on this blog are mentors to us; people in whom we see qualities we would like to emulate. But I would like to pass along some things of which I am reminded as I consider many of the things I see around me.

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.
Ephesians 6:12
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

1 Thesssalonians 5:21-22

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8