Friday, February 27, 2009

And Back Again

We made it back to Bontoc late Thursday night and another round of Calvinball is behind us. We made our required annual report to Immigration and submitted our applications for our i-cards, an Immigration ID card. We had enough pesos to cover all the fees and even had all the paperwork necessary. The only thing we needed to do was copy the receipts. Everything else went well and only took a couple hours. Copying the receipts was only a minor hassle, as the copy machine at Immigration was out of order, as usual, and we needed to walk around searching for another. The next one we found was also out of order, but the third was working. We hurried back and were able to hand in the receipts even though officially the office was closed for lunch. Everything we need should be mailed to us, so we should not need to visit our friends at Immigration until the beginning of 2010 when once again we need to make the annual report required of all foreigners and pay the corresponding fee, of course.

While in Baguio we made our compulsory stop at McDonald's. It is very convenient that the bus line we generally use drops off at Baguio's Center Mall - which, has a McDonald's. By the time we are done with the bouncing and twisting roads between Bontoc and Baguio, we are ready for a little time in a chair that isn't moving and something to eat. A Big Mac, McNuggets, fries, or a Coke may not be part of a healthy diet, but any of the above is a welcome taste of home when we make the trip. Bontoc is growing, but so far the only franchise that has reached us here is Mr. Donut.

Usually while in Bagiuo, we stay with friends. We have been so blessed by their hospitality, but this time we weren't able to stay with them and instead stayed at the Baguio YWAM base. As always, the girls made friends quickly with people of all ages. One of the staff children, Princess Joy, was the object of much attention and affection. The girls are now torn as to where we should stay when we travel to Baguio in the future. What a blessing to have friends in so many places!

After completing our Immigration requirements, we did some shopping for a number of things that are either very expensive or not available in Bontoc. Knowing the rainy season is fast approaching, we stocked up on more books, some movies, and craft supplies. While in one shop looking through movies, the saleslady remembered us even though we had not been in since October. She excitedly showed us the photo she had taken of Annalise on her cell phone. While waiting in line in the bathroom at the mall, another lady said to Annalise, "Do you remember me?" She didn't and neither did Lisa, she went on to explain she was the saleslady that sold us our stove. That was in January. Just another reminder that wherever we go, people are watching us! Cheese is always at the top of our grocery list, but we picked up some other food as well, including whole wheat flour and brown rice. It was a long day of going from place to place. We got back to the base late. Thursday we ran more errands, pushing it to the last minute to catch our bus back to Bontoc.

Actually, we missed the bus we usually ride. We thought the last bus left at 4 pm, but we found it left at 12:30. So we had the taxi take us to the other bus line. We made it just before 4, moved our baggage from the taxi to the bus, and took our seats. We did not even wait 10 minutes before they were backing the bus out of the lot. That would have been the last bus.

We wanted to be sure to be back in Bontoc for our Health Clinic. Because we did not know about the March 1 registration requirement until Saturday, we had not been able to let our patients know we might not be able to be in Bontoc today. Some of our regular patients travel from other villages to have us monitor their blood sugar and blood pressure. So it was important to us that we make it back. Although, we let our girls sleep in while Lisa and I went to the clinic alone.


p.s. We thought when we arrived home in Bontoc, that we would not need to return to Baguio for a while. But today, our ATM card would not work in the machine. Since the only place in Bontoc that will take a card is the ATM, this is a problem. (Bontoc is a completely cash-based community.) We have emailed our credit union in Michigan about the problem, but may end up making a quick trip back to Baguio just so we can get cash to use in Bontoc. Pray that the ATM issue will be resolved, soon!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On the Road Again

In a few minutes we will be leaving for Baguio. We had planned on going within the next month to take the next step in the Immigration system. There is an identification card that we need to get. But Saturday, we found out that Immigration requires all foreigners report to their office before March 1.

So here we go.

Please pray for our safety during our travels and success in this round of Calvinball.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Lesson Learned

Today, Alexie found out that playing basketball in flip-flops can be hazardous.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Loss for Words

Okay, I don't really have any cute kid quotes or exciting cross-cultural experiences to share. So to make up for my failure as a reporter, I thought I would instead follow the common practice of sharing a random collection of things about me. So here goes...
  1. I asked Jesus to become my Lord at age 4. I have been blessed by His faithfulness as I have grown to know Him more through the years.
  2. My left index finger does not bend due to a childhood injury.
  3. I don't have a favorite season, but i love the coming of each new season in the Midwest. - I miss the seasons.
  4. I married my high school sweetheart.
  5. I played softball in 2nd grade. We had an undefeated season and i have never been interested in softball or baseball since.
  6. Someday I hope to learn to play the piano.
  7. I always feel anxious and lost in a city, but enjoy being lost in the woods.
  8. I never played soccer until my senior year in high school.
  9. I have enjoyed learning to make and edit videos, many of which you have seen on this blog.
  10. My first mission trip was tri-generational; my dad and Adriana went with me to Tecate, Mexico.
  11. I normally print in all capital letters. But I write in cursive in my prayer journal. (This drives my homeschooling wife nuts.)
  12. I really enjoy creating and improving things.
  13. My proposal to Lisa belongs in the Lame Hall of Fame. I proposed to her in my little Ford Festiva in her parents' driveway when I picked her up for church. I had not talked to her dad, no eloquent proposal, lousy atmosphere, not down on one knee - but she said yes and her parents have forgiven me...I think.
  14. I was 4th in my high school class, but did not make the top 10%.
  15. Breyers vanilla ice cream is my favorite treat.
  16. I lied to Lisa so she would sit with me at a basketball game before we started dating. She was (and is) really cute and i was 17 and couldn't think of anything else to do at the moment.
  17. I once threw a fishing rod and reel into the lake while trying to cast. (Since we couldn't retrieve it, Dad bought me a new one. But for a long time afterward it had a tether rope that clipped to my belt loop.)
  18. I spent one wedding anniversary in the hospital having knee surgery.
  19. I learned left and right by remembering that my broken finger was on my left hand.
  20. I was once on the Bozo the Clown TV show. I played a game and won a candy bar.
  21. I once considered going to school to become a medical doctor.
  22. My girls claim I make the best pancakes. (They don't get out much.)
  23. In high school, our church youth choir went on tour to the east coast.
  24. I am the sole proprietor of a business. I draw commissioned pencil portraits.
  25. Random jobs: babysitter, church custodian, hardware store clerk, UPS truck unloader, exterior painting, lawn care, radiation protection technician, commissioned artist, instructor, basement remodeler...


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

The next day was Sunday, and Sunday at the farmhouse was a thing of stern repression and solemn silence....
It was a distinct shock to him, therefore, on this Sunday morning to be awakened by a peal of music such as the little house had never known before. All the while he was thrusting his indignant self into his clothing, the runs and turns and crashing chords whirled about him until it seemed that a whole orchestra must be imprisoned in the little room over the kitchen, so skillful was the boy's double stopping. Simeon Holly was white with anger when he finally hurried down the hall and threw open David's bedroom door.

"Boy, what do you mean by this?" he demanded.

David laughed gleefully.

"And didn't you know?" he asked. "Why, I thought my music would tell you. I was so happy, so glad! The birds in the trees woke me up singing, 'You're wanted-you're wanted'; and the sun came over the hill there and said, 'You're wanted-you're wanted'; and the little tree-branch tapped on my window pane and said, 'You're wanted-you're wanted!' And I just had to take up my violin and tell you about it!"

But it's Sunday-the Lord's Day," remonstrated the man sternly.

David stood motionless, his eyes questioning.

"Are you quite a heathen, then?" catechised the man sharply. "Have they never told you anything about God, boy?"

"Oh, 'God'?-of course," smiled David, in open relief. "God wraps up the buds in their little brown blankets, and covers the roots with-"

"I am not talking about brown blankets nor roots," interrupted the man severely. "This is God's day, and as such should be kept holy."


"Yes. You should not fiddle nor laugh nor sing."

"But those are good things, and beautiful things," defended David, his eyes wide and puzzled.

"In their place, perhaps," conceded the man stiffly; "but not on God's day."

"You mean-He wouldn't like them?"


"Oh!"-and David's face cleared. "That's all right, then. Your God isn't the same one, sir, for mine loves all beautiful things every day in the year."

There was a moment's silence. For the first time in his life Simeon Holly found himself without words.

-from Just David by Eleanor H. Porter

We just finished reading Pollyanna together and I decided to reread this book, Just David, by the same author. This passage really got me thinking. Is my God the same as yours? My guess is it depends on what you are basing your view of God on. Is it based on church tradition? What your earthly father is like? Is it based on what you have heard others say... neighbors, teachers, pastors, celebrities...? It can happen, without us even realizing it, that our God is like when you look in those mirrors in a fun know the ones that make you tall and skinny or short and fat or all squiggily. I do not want my God to be distorted. My desire is to know Him as He really is. I am continually having to clear away the barriers that keep me from the one true God.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ilocano Gospel

Here are some of our friends from our Student Sponsorship Ministry reciting John 3:16 in Ilocano. I thought you might enjoy it.

If you would like, you can compare it to the Korean version I posted during our CDTS at YWAM Salem.


Monday, February 16, 2009

If You Give a Neighbor a Cupcake...

you get a smile and a chance to tell them "Jesus loves you!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Love Letter

This week I was able to hand out a Bible to each of the sixth graders in my Values Education class. Together we read the passage in Luke about the Good Samaritan. We discussed it and then some of the students acted the story out (minus the beating and robbing). They seemed to understand when I shared that the way Jews and Samaritans felt about each other were like two tribes engaged in a tribal war or the discrimination that occurs between Highlanders and Lowlanders here in the Philippines. I told them that Jesus did not just talk about love but clearly demonstrated His love. Not just to His friends, but all people. Together we read more Bible verses to reinforce this important point. I walked around helping any who needed assistance finding the verses.

Never had the class been so eager to participate. I was so excited to share this love letter from God with them. And I believe they were just as excited to receive it. It is difficult to imagine not having a Bible, yet many here, do not. Makes me feel bad for the times I have let mine collect dust. I am challenged to keep reading my precious love letter and share it with all around.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Good Samaritan

Every Monday morning, the Municipal Government has a flag ceremony. Mixed in with the national anthem, announcements, departmental reports, and the Bontoc theme song are a few presentations by the week's sponsoring department. I attend these gatherings regularly as they precede the time I have with the Philippine National Police for the Moral Recovery Program. This weekend, YWAM was asked to present as a part of the meeting as well. So this morning our whole family was able to participate in sharing the love of Christ.

We did a presentation of the parable of the good Samaritan. Annalise played the injured victim. (Although we needed to remind her that she needed to stop raising her head and smiling at the audience - people beaten and left for dead don't usually smile.) Adriana walked by reading a romance novel. Alayna walked by listening to music and singing about love. (Okay, so it wasn't exactly like Luke records it.) Then Alexie, stopped and helped Annalise even though their shirts made it clear that they were from rival villages. Lisa and I commented on what was happening. (A peanut gallery, if you will.)

Afterwards, I was able to share about the meaning of love and went on to share about how Jesus demonstrated His love for us on the cross. (Yes, this was on the steps of the Municipal Government buildings.)

Annalise smiling her way through being left for dead and Alexie comparing shirt colors

Introducing ourselves to the employees of the Bontoc Municipal Government

I have stopped by the fire department several times to talk and pray for the firefighters. While talking with them, I was disheartened to see the lack of equipment they are forced to work with(out). A while ago I told some of my colleagues from the fire brigade I volunteered with. When they heard about it, they began collecting things and shipped a box of turn-out gear. So after the skit, I was honored to represent my former coworkers in a another practical demonstration of love.

The mayor of Bontoc and a representative from the fire department receiving the gifts from my fire fighting friends at home

Looks a lot like Christmas

"Thank you!" to all who prayed. Alexie had to overcome being really sick last night and another one of our girls had to overcome an acute case of stage fright in order to present the skit. Thanks to your prayers, we were able to present the love of Christ to all of the Bontoc Municipal Government employees.

"Thank you!" also to my friends who worked so hard to bless the people of Bontoc with the protective gear which may prevent a good deal of suffering and maybe even save a life.

While I am at it, "Thank you!" to those who have partnered with us and make it possible for us to be here and serve the people of Mountain Province.

Tom - for all of us

p.s. Lisa and I enjoyed the opportunity to build relationships with the people of Bontoc. After the cermony, we were invited to join the members of the Municipal Office of Agriculture for coffee.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dogs Are Friends Not Food

Sign posted beside Municipal Police Station in Bontoc

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Game

Our current family read aloud is Pollyanna. Towards the beginning of the story, Pollyanna explains to Nancy the "just being glad" game.

"Oh, yes; the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about - no matter what twas," rejoined Pollyanna earnestly.

Nancy is not so sure about this game. So Pollyanna continues...

"Oh, but it isn't queer - its lovely," maintained Pollyanna enthusiastically. "And we've played it ever since. And the harder tis, the more fun tis to get em out; only - only - sometimes its almost too hard - like when your father goes to heaven, and there isn't anybody but a Ladies Aid left."

Earlier this week I was thinking about how easy it is to start to grumble and complain. I had been thinking of how I am tired of eating the same foods every week. Two words quickly came to mind, "manna and quail." The Israelites were wandering in the dessert far from any 7-11 or sari-sari and were hungry. The Lord, who showed His power and delivered them from bondage in Egypt, was faithful once again to care for them. He rained food down from heaven. That was great for the first few days, but their thankfulness for the manna did not last long. "Wheres the beef?" they soon were whining.

I do not want to continue in the same pattern as the Israelites, so I am going to try to join Pollyanna in her "just being glad" game. I think I might struggle a bit as Nancy does to play the game, but hopefully it will get easier as I go.


P.S. Just typing this I struggled some as blogger wouldn't let me use any apostrophes. The only ones that made it in are those that spellcheck caught. But the "glad" part is now I have a lesson in proofreading for The Garden of Grace Girls Academy next week!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl I

Who needs the Super Bowl to have a Super Bowl party? We already had ours and although it is Sunday night and after 9 pm, the game has not even played. (An amazing thing about time zones.) The people here do not even know what the Super Bowl is or, of course, how significant an event it is in the US.

We were planning on having some typical Super Bowl party foods. Pizza, chips, salsa, etc. and playing games as a family tonight. As we were putting the pizza in the oven (we love having an oven) we got a text from someone saying she was on her way over. While we waited for her to show up, we were discussing who it may be since we did not recognize her name. It turns out she is one of the students from our church. What the text did not say was that 6 others from church were coming with her.

Honestly, I was a little overwhelmed at first. But Lisa and I took a minute and asked God to make the food we had multiply and help us all to really enjoy our time together. He was once again faithful. There was plenty to eat and leftovers, besides. More than that, I really enjoyed having them here and getting to know them better.

I did get to share American football with them, in a way. Besides having Super Bowl snacks, we watched Facing the Giants. Perhaps I will be able to get my hands on a copy of the Super Bowl and we will have a real Super Bowl party and watch a full football game. Then maybe they will better understand why some people watch the game for the hype and the commercials alone. (Then again, maybe they still won't.)