Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sweet!

Alayna and I went to the market this afternoon. Every time we go, she asks to visit Miss Victoria. Ever since the first time she came to our glucose clinic, Alayna and Miss Victoria have been friends. Alayna always has hugs for her friend and frequently Miss Victoria selects some of her fruit for a gift for Alayna. She has blessed her with papaya several times. She even visited once when Alayna was too sick to go to the clinic. Today, in addition to some oranges and lemons, she had a special treat for Alayna to bring home...

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Easter Who?

We have already talked a little about the struggle to learn another langauge. But we have been looking at it from only one side. Tonight at Fun Night with the SSM, we had an insight into the language and cultural gap from the Filipino side. We played Picture This as a group. Each team took turns trying to guess what their representative was drawing. The artist had a card with 5 terms or items on it. Within the allotted time, they were to try to get their team to say as many of the items as they could. But we found that the students were not familiar with a number of the terms they were asked to illustrate.

They had no idea who the Easter Bunny was. (Imagine growing up thinking that Jesus was the purpose of the holiday?) I grew up with the Easter Bunny and have colored my share of eggs. But it was clear that they did not get it as I tried to describe that cultural tradition.

I had not thought of it until tonight, but I can't recall seeing a Frisbee since we have been here. When I described what it was, they did recognize it by description. But it is obviously not a popular toy here.

There are parking meters in Manila and someone said they have seen them in Baguio, but most of the students here have not traveled much out of Mountain Province. They certainly have never had their own car to park. So it took a little describing with some of them about the purpose of such a thing.

Since there are no Chinese take-out restaurants in the region, it only makes sense that they would have no idea what a fortune cookie is. (I have been told before that fortune cookies are an American invention anyway.)

When I saw the word teepee on the list, I knew I would have a little explaining to do. This one I am not sure if the Australian staff were even familiar with.

We have discovered that some Ilocano words will be a little easier to learn than we thought...kind of. You see, there are some things for which there is no Ilocano word. In our language lessons this week, we discovered that there is no Ilocano word for ballpoint pen, stapler, marker, paint, or eraser. They just use the English words you just read. The same word is used to describe tape, glue, and glue sticks. (Can you tell we studied school/office supplies?) In line with our experience, we also found that they have no word for butter knife. (We also studied kitchen/dining utensils.) I mention this because when we were getting things when we first moved here, we could only find sharp knives. We now treasure the 6 butter knives we found at the bottom of a bin at some store. Since they don't have them, there is no need for a word for them.

So until next time, See ya later alligator! (I guess that might need some explaining, too.)
Tom

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Site

On behalf of YWAM Mountain Province, I would like to introduce a new website. We have just published our new website/blog. The new format allows us to provide more content about who we are and what we are doing.

I have updated the link on this blog, but to save you the effort of moving your mouse way down there, just click here: ywammountainprovince.wordpress.com

Grace,
Tom

Monday, January 26, 2009

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet
Okay, really it was Little Miss Annalise sitting on a couch
Eating her curds and whey,
She wasn't eating yet but rather waiting for Ilocano lesson to end so she could eat some pizza
Along came a spider,
A great, big spider
Who sat down beside her
It did not really sit down beside her but you would think so by her screams
And frightened Miss Muffet away
She was actually too scared to move or say anything - all she could do was scream

The brown strip to the left of the door is 1.25" wide.

Fortunately, when Thomas opened the door for our visitor, she kindly walked out. But she did spend several hours at his sandals. We were hoping she was not considering wearing them home herself.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Told You So...

Earlier this month, we told you of a snake oil salesman in town. It never worked out that we could get a picture of him. Well today, we got a few...


Yes, those are real snake vertebrae. Many of the older women wear them as hair adornments.

If only modern medicine could resolve so many ailments... But aren't the snake skins pretty cool?
By the way, we celebrated at our Glucose Clinic on Friday. Another snake oil was exposed. You may remember our friend who's blood sugar was over 350 and was trusting an herbal bio-enzyme to resolve his diabetes. Well time has passed and his health was not improving. He has decided to give up his franchise to sell the mixture and was earnestly talking with us about how he can control his diabetes.
Grace,
Tom

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chatting with Annalise

The other day as Annalise and I walked on the bridge, she looked down at the river and said, "I wish they didn't throw trash into the water." I nodded in agreement and she continued to say, "I wish men didn't pee in the water. I wish they didn't pee on the street. I wish they only peed in bathrooms. I wish it was like Michigan, but with trikes and jeepneys."

"What about the people?"

"Oh yes, but some white people too. Some white people who were born here."

After coming home from having dinner with the Korean outreach team...
"I like making new friends. The only trouble is we meet them and then we have to say goodbye."

This week, as the two of us were walking to the market...
"I don't like walking down the street because everyone stares at me."

Later on, when she was with Thomas and I, we went to a restaurant for some fried chicken to take home to have with our rice and green beans but the price was too high.
"I wish they would just say, 'If I can touch your daughter's hair 6 times, you can have the chicken for free.'"

Just some glimpses of our life from our 6-year-old,
Lisa

Turning 14 in the Philippines, January 19, 2009

This was the first year Adriana would not be surrounded with family and friends for her birthday or so we thought...The day began with a surprise e-birthday party when we got a call through Skype. Even though we are halfway around the world, through the wonders of technology, she was able to celebrate the day with both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends back home.

The next surprise came when it was announced that Garden of Grace Girls Academy was closed for a "snow day." I know those of you back home dealing with below freezing temperatures are grumbling and thinking we are once again going to be whining about being cold here but the truth is when we returned to Bontoc with our fleeces, it was so warm we no longer needed them. No snow other than the window cling snowflakes sent to us and the paper ones we made, so really it was just a day for fun.

Minutes before we were taking pizza out of the oven (the first item cooked in our new oven), friends arrived to wish Adriana "Happy Birthday!" They all enjoyed a game of Twister and then joined us for an All-American birthday meal of pizza, popcorn, warm, just from the oven brownies topped with cookies and cream ice cream.




A special day for a special young lady!

P.S. Adriana was not the only one celebrating a birthday on Monday but "Turning 39 in the Philippines" did not seem quite as interesting of a post. The truth is since the most labored over and precious gift Thomas received for his 25th birthday, his birthdays have not been quite as exciting. Rather than enjoying the fun of our "snow day" he was responsible and went to minister to the police officers as part of the Moral Recovery Program. He did make it home for a short time between meetings to join in for some of the e-birthday party and enjoyed his favorite treat of ice cream that night. His focus, as it has been for the last 14 years, was that Adriana enjoyed her day so he shared his ice cream when he really would have loved to eat the small tin himself and made the delicious pizza we enjoyed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Christmas in January

When we returned from Baguio, a box was waiting for us! Thomas's family shipped (and I do mean shipped as it came by boat) it a few months ago. In addition to the gifts and goodies inside this box, this month we have been blessed with Christmas cards and letters from family and friends.







It is such a blessing to receive letters and packages. They remind us that we are not here on our own; that people at home are thinking of us and praying for us.

Thanks so much or as our Filipino friends say "Salamat!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another Round of Calvinball

Our long-term visas are complete but there is an ID card (i-card) that we need to obtain yet. So after the team left last Thursday morning, we too, left for Baguio. Our hope was to get to the immigration office before they closed in case we could not complete the process in the same day. But along the way, a brake pad disintegrated as we came up on a curve/cliff. Fortunately, Steve was able to make the turn and bring the van safely to a stop. Brakes certainly are essential for travel along these narrow mountain roads!

We were able to hitch a ride back into Abatan, the nearest village. It is the half-way point between Baguio and Bontoc. The word abatan means meeting place. Fortunately it is large enough to have an auto parts store where we could buy new brake pads. After purchasing the parts, we hitched another ride back to the van where Lisa, the girls, and Mindel were all waiting. Steve replaced the pads while I tried to just block the wind so he could do it without shivering.





So we made it into Baguio safely, but much too late to go to immigration.

We stayed with some of our CDTS staff, Harry and Dee. It was good to spend some time catching up with them as well as learning more about their years of experience ministering in this area with YWAM.

In the morning, we went to immigration. But the Calvinball bounced against us. The fees were 7 times more than we were told before and we needed a document we had left in Bontoc. (How nice it would be to be able to find a location with all of the information we need!) One thing we have learned time and time again is whatever amount of pesos you think you may need to cover any governmental fees, you should plan on having many times that and maybe just maybe you might have enough. Even though we knew we wouldn't be able to complete the application process for the I-card, we thought that after talking to the kind lady behind the counter we would be able to do everything that needed all of our presence. The revised plan was to go ahead and complete the 12 or so forms, let them take our fingerprints and our photos and then later have Thomas return with the other form and the pesos. So the girls waited once again while the two of us went to work on the forms and we all got fingerprinted. (Although the lady was not too particular on how clear the prints were and most were just black smudges.) Anyway, after being there more than an hour we are told she can not take our photos without the one paper we left in Bontoc. Yippee!!! the six of us get to make the six or more hour trip again soon!!!

So the next thing on the agenda was to make some purchases that we cannot in Bontoc. One of the most exciting was an oven! We gave it a good try with the toaster oven, but it just could not handle the demands of a family of 6. It is nice to be able to add some variety to our diet and cook some more familiar foods, like pizza with the precious cheese we purchased.

It was funny though. When I purchased the stove, some of the guys from the store brought it to the entrance for me. There was a miscommunication, so they brought it to a different door, than I had expected. When I found it, one of the guys was standing on the sidewalk with it. The van was very close and I started to grab the stove so I could help carry it to the van. He insisted that I not worry about it, but that he and his partner would get it. Before his partner came down the steps, Steve walked up and started to grab it. The store clerk never said a word of protest and he and Steve carried it to the van. Is it just the kindness to foreigners or do I look that inept? I may not be an auto mechanic, but I thought I could carry a box...Hmmm?

Lisa and the girls were also able to buy some clothes. In the few months we have been here, Adriana and Alexie have really grown. Because they are taller than even most of the men, it is difficult to find clothes for them in Bontoc. Also, there was the need for warmer clothes due to my dear husband's minimilist packing philosophy so we could stop freezing our flip-flops off. But the search for fleeces involved some challenges as well. First, the stores did not have much to chose from. Secondly, the ones we did find were about P3000. At about P47 to the dollar, those were way too cost prohibitive. So after looking through many many stores in the four or more floors of the SM mall, we still didn't have much to keep us warm. Saturday morning, a friend took me to her favorite used clothes shops. Finally, success. I was able to get several fleeces and long sleeve shirts at a much better price, at most P200/each, some as low as P80.

It was good to get home Saturday night. It had been a busy week. I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and spending time at home with my family.


Grace,
Tom and Lisa

Gimpo and SSM, January 14

The team spent the last night of their stay in Bontoc. They slept at the base with the SSM students.
After a yummy dinner of chicken adobo, both groups gave cultural presentations. The SSM students and native YWAM staff played the gongs and performed some of the traditional dances. It was fun to see many of the Koreans jump in and give it a try. Afterwards, the Gimpo team shared their dances and dramas. After they completed the fan dance, the students called for an encore.

Betty cooking chicken adobo for dinner

Mindel and Donna washing vegetables

Cassey and the team having fun while waiting for dinner













video

The fan dance was a favorite








Although I was the one who spent the week with the team, we all had new friends before the night was over.

Grace,

Tom

Monday, January 19, 2009

Caneo, January 13-14

How excited I was that I was finally going to get to return to Caneo. We had been there during our outreach in 2007, but have not yet had the opportunity to return. It was great to see some familiar faces and familiar places. It may seem ridiculous, but seeing the projects we had worked on when our team was here before gave a sense of accomplishment. It really felt good to be back.
I have mentioned Pastor Rudy several times. He is the pastor of the church in Caneo. He and his family live in Bontoc and serve with YWAM. His family goes to Caneo a couple times a week and live there through the weekends.



Just like in Anabel, the Gimpo team had an evening presentation for the people of the village. Below is a picture of the fan dance.


Afterwards, I had the opportuninty to talk with some of the kids. I have some pictures from our outreach on my mp-3 player. So when I was talking to these girls, I said that I probably had pictures of them. As we looked at the pictures, they laughed and called out the names of their friends and neighbors. But what really touched me was when they saw the pictures of my girls with them and they could name each of my girls. I had not said anything about them or even mentioned their names. We have not been in the village since October of 2007, and then only for a few days! I was once again reminded of how God is using our whole family to reach people.



On the left is Pastor Rudy's youngest son. On the right is Mindel. She and Pastor Rudy were a tremendous help to me in coordinating this trip.


You may remember my earlier post about freezing my flip-flops off. Well as you can see, we were pretty cold in Caneo. Jackets, layers, and hats were common. Pastor Rudy's wife, Bridget, even decided to wear a couple blankets.


When we were here in 2007, we made bunk beds and a table for the church. Since we had only one saw to share between several men and projects, I used the down time to carve a new handle to replace the broken one on the church door. Soon after we came back last year, one of the TDTS students who had accompanied us on the trip to Caneo mentioned the handle and said how she remembered me everytime she saw it. It's funny how little things can leave an impression on people.

The door handle is still in good working order.

I did not get to walk around the village much during this visit. My responsibilities kept me close to the church. But I did get to watch some of the weavers at work.

Anabel, January 12-13

Last week a DTS team from the Gimpo Methodist Church in Korea came to Bontoc. They had a packed schedule as they arrived in Manila Sunday night at 11 pm. Monday at 3 pm they arrived in Bontoc and transferred their bags from the bus to Pastor Rudy's jeepney for the trip to Anabel.

Before the team arrived, Lisa and I had spent the morning marketing for groceries. We were actually still in town at the market when the team arrived.

Soon we were on our way. But we did need to make a short stop in order to discuss the top load with the police. I guess you are not allowed to ride on top of the jeepney while still in town. Although we often see people doing so, it probably drew more attention with my white skin and the fact that we drove right in front of the police check point at the main intersection.


Anabel is located in a river valley. The road is steep and only goes so far. From where the road ends, it is 20 minute hike to the village. The first part of the hike is down a steep stairway.



Then there is the bridge. A couple of the young ladies on the team froze in fear part way across it. But they were helped by their compassionate teammates who bounced and swayed to help the bridge more than normal. In the end everyone made it across.

I tried to capture a little of the feel of the bridge in the video below. The decking is landing strip decking left over from the war. You can hear the noise of the bridge as it squeaks. You can see the water running below. What you cannot see too well is the motion of the bridge as I walk across.

video


That's me in the middle of the bridge.

A sampling of what is supporting the bridge.
Anabel is a mound in the middle of a river valley. From the road above, it reminds me of a bell with houses on it.

In the picture below you can see the elementary school and the church. The church is on the right. In the evening, everyone gathered for a special service.



Gimpo team performing a drama

Kids watching the service through the windows

On Tuesday, the team had a time of worship and intercession then went around the village praying. One of the sites they stopped at was the high place. It is here that many from the village still hold pig sacrifices before planting and again before harvesting the rice.




As I looked at the tree, I was reminded of the hollow promises the enemy offers. I also thought about how his kingdom is rotten and little more than a facade that will one day topple.


As I walked through the village, I learned about sugar cane farming. Like most villages, the walkways are narrow. Here, many of the walkways are lined with sugar cane.


Some of the men were harvesting the sugar cane. I tried to help by binding the tops which they cut from the cane. They laughed a little and one of them tried to show me something about the stalks, but I could not understand what he was trying to say. I have become accustomed to being laughed at for doing anything. Sometimes it seems the people here are amazed that we can do anything other than teach. "You can cook?" Laughter "You can say something in Ilocano?" Laughter But this time the laughter was because they had an important bit of information I did not. It seems that sugar cane has small, irritating little fibers that imbed themselves in your skin. They are almost impossible to see, but you can feel them. That is probably what he was trying to show me. Oh well, it was worth the little bit of pain to try lending a hand.




I did not get to see it in action, but that contraption in the middle of the picture is the sugar cane press. Later they were going to hook up the carabao to operate it. (The carabao is the one on the left, not the cutie on the right, and not the chicken in the foreground.)


Here they are boiling the sugar cane juice down into molasses. The boy in front is enjoying just chewing on the sugar cane. (Stripped of all of those annoying little fibers, of course.)



The finished product - delicious, er...naimus

Who needs a milk mustache when you can have a molasses goatee?

A wonderfully sticky spoon

Another sticky, molasses spoon (I just used my fingers with my goateed host.)

Who wants oatmeal when everyone else is eating molasses?

Below is Domingo. I sat and watched him for quite a while. He was preparing rattan for weaving. I had never before considered the work that went into each strip of a basket or chair. Well, Domingo let me give it a try. Although he was gracious with his (few) words, it was clear that my work did not meet the expectations of the master. He had to do more work on nearly the whole length of the piece I worked on.



A couple of Anabel school girls.



Rice fields awaiting a crop

Rice terraces between the bridge and the village

This last picture has nothing to do with anything other than Pastor Rudy pointed out the phenomenon to me. There was a place in the river where the winds whipped up this little whirlpool. I wondered if the local people ever thought it to be the result of the spirits. But I also thought it would be a great start for a science fiction story about portals into other worlds.

Grace,
Tom