Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Although we do not have many of the familiar sights of Christmas, (definitely not going to be a white one) it sounds like Christmas. Frequently in the evening, we can hear the joyous voices of carolers singing in our neighborhood.

Today my grade 5 Values Education class sang for me God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, Do You Hear What I Hear?, and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

I was thinking of my lesson about God fulfilling His promise made long before by His gift of Jesus and the beautiful music of the Christmas carols. I thought of how amazing it will sound when all of us from the east and west and north and south gather to sing in Heaven.

Looking forward to being in that choir. Hope you will be too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rosewood Jesus

This afternoon, Lisa and I went marketing, like usual. But as we were walking past the plaza, we were surprised to find that several booths were set up. Vendors were selling food, baskets, woven items, carvings, and even wooden furniture.

One booth had nativity sets. When we were packing things in the US before coming we left the Christmas decorations behind, but we had thought we might get one of the hand-carved sets here in the Philippines. We had always enjoyed how the girls play with the nativity figurines and act out different parts of the story. Well, we did not get one last year, but we both liked one set at the booth today.

As soon as we brought it home, we were glad we bought it. All of the girls were excited and Annalise and Alayna began playing with it immediately. (The older girls might have also, but we were trying to get supper made so there was a lot of vegetables being chopped at the moment.)

Fortunately, I was able to take a short break and join in the fun.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tis the Season to Shop?

"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;
a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
- Luke 12:15

The older girls and I are studying Luke this term and this verse seemed especially relevant for this time of year. While we miss being with family and friends and the snow, there are several aspects that we do not. We do not have television, sales ads, and store displays telling us all the things we need to have for a happy holiday. It is much easier to communicate to our girls that Christmas is not about shopping at the mall and stuff wrapped in bright paper.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Irritatation Level HIGH!

I am extremely frustrated right now! The other day somehow most of our digital photographs got deleted. "Fortunately," I thought to myself, "I have them all backed up on CD's and another external hard drive." So I put all (well most) of the pictures back in their appropriate folders.

Today I was working with the pictures and found that things were not as good as I had hoped. It seems that the CDs with most of November's pictures are corrupted. The files are there. Thumbnails of the photos show up. But the pictures will not open properly.

One of the disappointments is that the girls had done a dance at church that I was hoping to post. The video I was hoping to post of that is among the items that are cyber-scrambled.

Irritation level VERY HIGH!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

So There I Was... - 2

The trip home from Baguio was a nice change from the normal. We left early so if nothing unusual happened, we would make it home while there was still daylight. Also it was not raining. Often we arrive home after dark and often in the rain. Things were looking good.

So there I was on the bus home from Baguio... As usual, we stopped along the way to drop-off and pick-up passengers. We were about 30 minutes from Bontoc. At the previous stop we had taken on a loud and talkative older man. I had guessed that he was rather drunk. As we stopped again, he got off the bus. Immediately afterward, the man in the seat across from me jumped up and ran out of the bus. When I looked out, I saw the man had fallen. After making the large step down from the bus, it appears he kept on going and went off the edge of the pavement and down to the ground several feet below.

People were trying to get him up. My EMT training screamed, "Don't move him!" But it was too late for that. I got out of the bus in time to help lift him up to the pavement. He had some scrapes on his forehead and some skin on his nose had been scraped off. There were no marks on his hands, so it did not seem he had even tried to catch himself. We put him back on the bus for a trip to the hospital in Bontoc.

On the bus when I tried to assess him for injury, he became somewhat combative. Fortunately, because he was so drunk when he took a couple of swings at me I was able to dodge them. After a while, he settled down. Although the alcohol is probably the cause of his injury, it also kept him from feeling too much pain.

As the bus driver sped over the broken road and around the turns to get the man to the hospital, I sat next to the man. Based on the laughter, everyone on the bus enjoyed the conversation. Once I stopped trying to see how badly he might be hurt, he felt remorse for his earlier attempts to drain a little blood from my nose as well. He began to repeatedly and loudly say, "I'm sorry," and, "I love you!" He let me know he was drunk - painfully obvious at this point. He even wanted to sing a song with me - he sang the first line for me. He said of himself that he was a great drunk and the man across the aisle, his brother, was a great lover. The "brother" did not claim any relation to him. All of the threads of conversation were loud and repeated.

Well, we eventually got him to the hospital. He was not eager to accept any help off the bus. But he eventually let me help him down the steps and into the hands of those down below. I could not hear him anymore, but I could see he kept up the conversation with whoever was pushing his wheelchair into the hospital.


Friday, December 4, 2009

So There I Was - 1

Our whole family made the trip to Baguio this week. We left on Monday and returned on Wednesday. That allowed us to do our banking for November and December all in one trip as well as pick up things unavailable to us in Bontoc. Amidst the shopping, we enjoyed the familiar tastes of McDonald's and Pizza Hut.

So there I was... So there I was browsing in the men's clothing at a department store in the Baguio SM Mall. One of the characteristics of this particular store is the abundance of sales clerks. While in most stores in the US, you need to look for someone to help you, at this store I sometimes begin to understand the struggle famous people have with paparazzi; they are everywhere. So there I was trying to avoid sales clerks when one sneaked up on me to ask if she could help me find something. In an attempt to be friendly but not encourage a fashion show, I continued to flip through the shirts on a rack and asked her questions about herself instead.

So there I was not trying to be a missionary when she suddenly said, "Inglesia ni Cristo." Our discussion to that point had been about how long she had worked at the store and how many hours she had worked that day. This phrase was kind of surprising and got my attention off of t-shirts and into the discussion. (Inglesia ni Cristo is a religious group throughout the Philippines that you could liken to the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormons - appearing Christian until you actually learn about their beliefs.) I asked her whether she was saying she was Ingelsia ni Cristo or if she was asking if I was. English got in the way; the Ilocano language does not use pronouns and most of the Filipinos we talk with struggle to use them properly when speaking English.

To clarify, she asked what religion I was. I told her I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. "But what religion?" Because denominational tags carry so much baggage, I try hard to avoid them and focus on who Jesus is to me.

About that time, another sales clerk entered the conversation. This young lady was shocked when I mentioned that Inglesia ni Cristo was not really Christian because they do not believe Jesus is Lord. It was quickly apparent that she was INC. She invited me to join an INC Bible study so I could learn that Jesus was not God. Unfortunately, our conversation was very short because she had other customers she was helping. We tried to talk a couple more times, but she had to pay attention to her work so we did not get too far.

I never did discover anything about the faith of the first young lady. She watched and listened as her friend and I talked about who the Bible says Jesus is.

Knowing that God uses everything, I pray that He will in some way use the little bits of conversation we had to reveal the truth of the Gospel to both of these young ladies.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Count Your Blessings

Thanksgiving Day...no turkey, no sweet potatoes, no cranberries, no pumpkin pie...But the ingredients we really missed are the loved ones halfway around the world from us. Yet as we looked around at each other and watched a slide show of our phots from the last several years, we are reminded of our many blessings. One, two, three,...104, 105, 106,...

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

School Good Enough to Eat

This is school that really matters beyond second grade.
Annalise reading Daddy's pancake recipe.
Not quite as good as the Filipinos since she still uses her hands but we have only lived her a year and a half.
Learning to read a recipe, fractions,
special time with Daddy.A great team
Not only does Daddy make delicious pancakes...
he often takes the time to design special shapes.
"Mangan tayo"

Rainbow Through Bontoc

November 18,2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UN Helicopter

Since the typhoons, a United Nations helicopter has been seen in the skies over Bontoc on occasion.

It probably means that help of some sort or another has been brought to the province.

And although help is welcome and good, when it lands at the high school athletic field,

it means all of the neighbors will need to rewash the laundry they had hanging out to dry.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baguio DTS Does Some Show N' Tell

The Baguio DTS team came to my Values Education class several times while they were here for their outreach. They brought songs, skits, and stories to communicate Biblical truths.

On their last visit, the team shared God's love with the students with gifts of schoolpacks.

Besides my grade 5 class, they visited one of the high school's Values Education class. This time at the high school was a continuation of their ministry to the youth of Bontoc. Most afternoons, they spent "hanging out" at the Plaza building relationships and sharing with the young people.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Empty Tank

Ever since Typhoon Pepeng a month or so ago, our water has been much more erratic than usual. The typhoon took out access to the source and the piping in a landslide. That was restored, but our pressure has rarely been sufficient to get water up to our 2nd floor apartment. Fortunately, we have a tank and water pump for just such instances.

But for more than a week now, there has once again been no municipal water. Apparently a pipe burst under some of the new concrete for the road construction work. Negotiations are underway, but until it is repaired, Samoki is without water. (Samoki is the part of Bontoc we live in.)

So what do you do when you have a family of 6 (5 of which are females) and water runs out? You call for water delivery. The water delivery guys park the truck as close as they can. Our place is about 50 yards from the road; others are much, much further.

Then they run hose to the tank. A pump on the truck pumps the water to fill the tank.

When it is full, you pay the delivery guy and he rolls up the hose then prepares for the next delivery. Each tankful costs us 420 pesos (about $10). We have just been glad to get water. Remember, nobody has water right now so these guys are busy. Our last delivery did not arrive until 9:30 pm though we had called them about 8 am. That is better than the last time when we needed to wait more than a day before they could make the delivery. I understand that we were fortunate to even contact them because they have been so busy that they are often turning their cell phones off.

Our tank seems to last about 2-3 days if we are really careful with the water use.

Our tank is piped to the pressure tank and our new little blue water pump. Before the new pump was installed, I had to do a little wrenching on it about every 20 minutes when we were using it.

The little guy in the picture below is Ezer. He doesn't really have anything to do with water delivery. He is our neighbor. When I was taking these pictures, he accompanied me. Normally when I see him it is because he is in some way hanging from me. We are good friends. So while he held the door to the pump house open for the above picture, I snapped a photo of him.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

From Pixels to People

Mike, Holly, Lainey, Brady, and Jake

Amidst the busyness of the past weeks, we were given the opportunity to transform some on-line friends into personal friends. Mike and Holly recently moved to the Philippine coast as missionaries. Before their trip across the ocean blue, they had found this blog. So for a quite a while now, we have been getting to know each other's families through the miracle of the internet. When their friend needed to make a trip to Bontoc, it was the perfect opportunity for us to meet each other in person.

Although we were really busy, we were all excited to meet them. After our day at the Mainit Hot Springs, we met them at their hotel (sunburned, dirty, and hair all frizzed - us, not them). We enjoyed talking together and learning more about their transition.

The next day we were a bit more presentable as we met at the restaurant downstairs for a treat of their world famous halo-halo. (Halo-halo is a Filipino desert with shaved ice, ice cream, and a varied mix of other ingredients. Florma's is known for having the best halo-halo in town.)

We really wish we could have had more time to spend together, but look forward to crossing paths in the future. You can read more about their journey at their blog: Strangers and Pilgrims.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Questions Answered

Since only one person even attempted to answer the questions from our 500th blog post, I thought I would go ahead and give you the answers:

Name two caves we have visited since our blog began.
Rushmore Caverns and Sagada Caverns

What was the name of the program the girls participated in while we attended our Crossroads Discipleship Training School at YWAM Salem?

Children of Destiny

Why did Thomas go to the village of Kakaby in October last year?

Robuan’s funeral

What does SSM stand for?

Student Sponsorship Ministry

What is language we are trying to learn?


What village do we now call home?

Samoki, a part of B

What ministry does Thomas often participate in on Monday mornings?

oral Recovery Program with the Philippines National Police

What ministry does our family participate in on Friday mornings?

YWAM Health Clinic

What did we compare to playing Calvinball?

btaining our long-term visas

What are the two big festivals that take place in Bontoc every year?

Lang-ay and Am-among

There are 4 ways that people get around in Mountain Province. Three of them are walking, buses, and trikes. What is the other?


What is the address of our YWAM ministry’s website?


In what village did our family learn to plant rice?


What is the traditional musical instrument of the Igorot people?

Brass gongs

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Left Foot. Right Foot. Feet. Feet. Feet.

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

That must be true because the Bible tells me so. Although more often, rather than describing our feet as beautiful, muddy is the first description that comes to mind!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Splish, Splash, Sizzle

After our hikes through Maligcong several days earlier and to Anabel the day before, we were blessed when the YWAM Baguio DTS team offered to treat our family to a day at the Mainit Hot Springs.

Unfortunately, the place was having problems with the hot water from the springs, but we still had a great time swimming and relaxing in the water. (Which by the way, was still much warmer than Lake Michigan.)

Lunch was also a treat. The team had brought pork chops and fish to grill. They were basted with a salsa that was delicious. There was also rice, fresh papaya, and fruit salad. All of it was good, but my personal favorite was definitely the pork chops.
Gretchen taking care of business at the grill.

Afterwards, Johanna (one of the team members) took us on a hike into the village of Mainit. She grew up there and it was the first time she had been back for 5 years.

Of course, being in the land of slides, our first challenge was to cross a slide that covered the path.

At the spring, hot water boiled up from the ground like in many other places around the village. Behind me as I took the picture below, is a school that was abandoned because the floor was getting hot. People have been seriously injured and killed when hot springs erupted through the floors of homes in the village.

As we returned to the jeepney, we met many children who were transporting rice to their homes. They would carry their bags across the slide to their homes and hurry back for another load.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mission: Anabel, November 11

Loading the jeepney with 50 family packs of relief goods the Baguio DTS team brought.

Not all landslides are village disasters, but even small ones can affect travel.

The village of Anabel sits on a mound in a valley beside the Chico River.

We traveled about an hour to the barangay sub-office located on the mountainside above Anabel. People from 3 area villages were supposed to meet us there so they could receive the family packs that were brought. Unfortunately, a couple of the villages are currently involved in a tribal war. Because of this the police were on hand and many people asked their barangay officials to represent them because of fears for their safety. We were still able to spend some time with those who came.
Alexie and Adriana with Melinda and Tracy from the Baguio DTS team.

YWAM Mountain Province's Tribal DTS (light blue shirts) has been serving in the Anabel area, so they met the YWAM Baguio DTS team (dark blue shirts) and helped with the relief distribution.

This is how women generally carry things, even family packs.

Annalise, Alayna, and Gretchen on the bridge across the Chico River to Anabel.

You feel adventurous just crossing this bridge. (See video.)

Kindel is a friend of ours who helped staff the Tribal DTS. Her home is in Anabel and she has been with the TDTS as they have been serving there. The TDTS has been teaching Bible stories using the OneStory concepts and I received one text from them that they were digging a pit for a CR (outhouse).

When we went to Anabel with the Baguio DTS team, she guided us around the village. We even had a merienda (snack) at Nora's house (one of the TDTS students) where the TDTS team is staying.
Kindle explains the use of the high place in Anabel.

Edison praying to the One True God at the high place.

All of the visitors (and the residents who were nearby) enjoyed watching some of our companions give their hand a try at pounding rice, a daily chore for village women.