Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Decade of Life with our Sugarplum

Yes, our little princess is now ten. It seems her birth was a lifetime and a world away. (I guess she could say it was, on both counts.)

Because we have all been reading books about medieval times, Alayna decided she would like to celebrate her birthday in that theme. So Friday night we celebrated with all of YWAM Mountain Province at Fun Night. For the games, the group was divided and each team made a coat of arms. Then the serious tournament activities began.
Igorots for Christ

SSM Republic

First, each team had to rescue the damsels that were held in the lair of fierce, fire breathing balloon dragons. Afterwards, the teams became living dragons as the chased the other dragon trying to catch their tail. In both, our fair damsel led her team to victory.

Next there was a combined seige against each team's castle. It was a wild contest! Unfortunately, the pictures we took did not capture the mayhem. But when we had to have a rematch to determine a winning team, everybody was eager to prove their team worthy - and have a chance to play again.

Next was a truly knightly challenge, jousting. Each team chose their champions who would ride their fearless chargers into the face of certain danger. Against their challengers, the knights directed their lances to score the surest blow. One of the other guys on staff, Noel, and I were put forth to demonstrate the process. Everyone understood the gravity of the challenge before them.

At the end of all of the challenges, the teams were tied. Something needed to be done to declare one team the victor in the tournament. Honor was at stake. Each team chose a champion who would gain honor or face disgrace for the team. A swordfighting duel between Jordan and Alfie determined that the SSM Republic earned the honors of the tournament. Igorots for Christ will need to seek their fortunes another day.

In the end, all that really mattered was that everyone had a good time - and there was cake! What cake would be more appropriate than a castle cake? It was quite a trick getting it to the base. As we were preparing to leave, it began to rain. Usually we walk to the base, but this time I opted for a trike. I don't fit well in trikes. Getting into a trike while holding a tall cake and an umbrella, in the rain, in the dark - that's a new level of fun. But the castle walls held their ground even if a few stones did slip down a bit by the time we arrived.

Saturday morning, we had pancakes at Alayna's request.

Lunch continued with the medieval theme. We had a feast, medieval style.

It even included a juggling court jester, a dancing princess, a poet, and a troubador. Each provided entertainment in turn between the courses of the meal.

Alayna is an exuberent princess with a beautiful smile. We are so proud of who she is and who she is becoming. She is fun to be with and loves to laugh.

It is a blessing to be able to be a part of her life and mark the milestones of her life with celebration.

Friday, August 28, 2009

YWAM Baguio DTS Mid-Term Outreach Part 3

Friday morning we went to our YWAM Health Clinic. The team was there to help us take blood pressures and test glucose levels. We were quite surprised to find that the office was closed because of a holiday. No matter, several of our regular patients were waiting outside the door for us. So we borrowed chairs from our church (just across the street) and did the clinic on the porch. Thankfully, the weather was beautiful.

Later that morning we met the team at the plaza. After some worship, they performed one of their dramas and then took the opportunity to talk with the people who had gathered. The guys on the team played some games with the young boys who had gathered. The ladies talked with some young ladies who were watching from the steps of the Commercial Center.

It was fun to spend the week with the team. In such a short time, we had made 6 new friends. Friday afternoon, they came to the restaurant downstairs and we all enjoyed a halo-halo treat together. Alexie and Lisa were invited to join them in practicing for the dance routine they would perform for Fun Night later that evening. So they spent some time going through their routines in our courtyard.
Alexie dancing with the team to, I Can Only Imagine.


After the team had shared some of their dances and dramas at Fun Night, the SSM students and the Tribal DTS students taught them how to dance, Igorot style. As you can see from the smiling faces, it was a good evening.
Jordan teaching Jason how to dance and play the gongs

It was a busy week, but a good one. We enjoyed making new friends with the team and it was hard to say good-bye. But we look forward to one day crossing paths with them again soon - either on a trip to Baguio or if they return to Bontoc for their final outreach.

Grace,
Tom

Thursday, August 27, 2009

YWAM Baguio DTS Mid-Term Part 2

Tuesday morning the jeepney came to pick us up. It was time to go to Can-eo.

Not far down the road we had to stop and wait for the road crew. Sunday there had been a mudslide that brought part of the mountain down on the road. They had been working to remove the massive amount of dirt, but when we came, the surface of the road was still 15 feet below the temporary path over the slide. You cannot go around a slide unless you are a goat (on the mountainside) or a bird (on the valley side). So after the dump truck had a full load, the path was smoothed out somewhat and the waiting traffic could pass.

After we arrived, Pastor Rudy gave the team an orientation. Soon afterward they left on a prayer walk around the 3 main sitios of the village. I was not feeling well, so I took the opportunity to rest. As I rested I thanked God for the nice weather, then drifted off to sleep. I woke about 30 minutes later to a downpour outside the window. But the team stayed dry by stopping at people's houses and talking until the rain let up. They would move on until the rain picked up again, then stop at another house. In this way they made it back to the church.

video
Lisa got some video of the rice field we planted on our last visit.

In the evening, there was a church service. After working hard in the fields all day or at their looms, people came to worship. The team led worship, performed dramas, and shared testimonies of what God had done in their lives.
Annalise and her team-friend, Jason.


One of the things we enjoy about our experience with YWAM is the broad exposure to different cultures. Even in Can-eo, we were treated to a little bit of African culture. Bamshak taught us this song, Bambalela, during the evening service.
video

For some time I have been praying about something that I have not shared with you. During our last trip to Can-eo, I found that there is a sitio of Can-eo that does not have a current Christian presence. They have requested to have YWAM come and talk with them. But this process is not as simple as just walking into the village, I guess. (I don't understand it all.) For several months now, I have been praying for Chapyosen and the few believers that may remain there. I have been praying that God would provide an opportunity for us to begin visiting the village.

He answered that prayer with the preparation for the arrival of this team. When we asked if the team could come, we were welcomed. Wednesday morning we had Pastor Rudy (theYWAM pastor of the church in Can-eo) and two guides with family in Chapyosen escort us to the village. The estimates for how long it would take to walk there varied from 30 minutes to 2 hours. With our group, it took 1.5 hours of hiking along some narrow paths. But the scenery, as always, was beautiful.

Annalise was able to hitch a ride some of the way there. At one point, one of our guides was carrying her. She wanted down, but he could not understand her English for a while. So he continued to carry her.
Pastor Rudy giving Annalise a lift.

When we arrived in Chapyosen we found that most of the people were not home, but were out in their fields working. Espirita however, was a gracious host and gave us some coffee and snacks. More than anything, it was nice to sit for a while.
Lisa and Pastor Rudy admiring some Chapyosen weaving.


On the return trip, Bamshak was very concerned about Annalise. Much more concerned than she was about herself. She just trotted along the path like the joyful 7 year old that she is. Sometimes she was walking; other times, skipping. Sometimes she was watching the path and her footing; other times, not. Generally, she was telling stories to her closest companions. She stumbled more than he could bear. He found it much easier to carry her than to worry about her. (I thought about stumbling to see if anyone would give me a ride.)

At the prayer meeting that evening, Adriana enjoyed talking with some of the girls about the weaving projects they were working on. It resembled latch-hook work.

Alayna and Lisa trying to steal the attention of a Can-eo cutie.

Jason praying with one of the men for wisdom in leadership and counsel.

Clarise and Annalise

Alayna and Claudius

Before heading back to Bontoc on Thursday, we visited the house of one the members of the congregation of Can-eo Station Church. We had a time of worship and prayed for the family, especially the father. Due to a brain tumor, he is now blind.

I know the picture below is sideways. Blogger refuses to load it any other way. But it was too good of a picture to leave out.

Once again, we enjoyed our time in Can-eo and look forward to the next opportunity to return.

Grace,
Tom

The week is not over yet...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

YWAM Baguio DTS Mid-Term Part 1

One of our responsibilities here is to coordinate the ministry of outreach teams that visit YWAM Mountain Province. We enjoy the opportunity this gives us to meet people from various places around the globe. Last week a Discipleship Training School (DTS) team from Baguio came to minister in Bontoc. The students were from different places in the Philippines, though none from this region. Two staff accompanied the students, Rachel, originally from Malaysia and Bamshak from Nigeria.

We took a break from our normal school work and spent the week assisting the team and guiding them to the places they were to serve in the community.

The team: Jason, Rachel, Ruth, Jasmine, Gretchen, and Bamshak.

Monday morning they performed a drama for the flag ceremony. The drama highlighted the importance of unity and teamwork. It was very appropriate and well received by the government employees. I heard several comments as I moved around taking pictures. During the mayor's address, he talked about the value of the drama for the community.
After the flag ceremony,they joined me for the Moral Recovery Program with the Philippine National Police. After Gretchen opened the meeting with prayer, Bamshak talked about the love of God and how it affects a community.
Afterwards, they were given the opportunity to pray for Mayor Odsey. It is an honor to have the opportunity to encourage the leaders of our community to consider God as they perform their duties.

It was a busy Monday. After their time in the governmental plaza, they joined Lisa for the Values Education Program at Bontoc Central School. I enjoyed it because it was the first time that I got to tag along and see her teach the kids. She does such a great job.

The kids really enjoyed having the team there, too. The team led a couple of action songs. Then they performed a comical skit with a serious meaning - Jesus needs to be the one "driving the bus".


In the afternoon, we escorted them to the Bontoc Museum (thus the picture at the top of the post). Lisa and I were blessed there. The receptionist at the museum recognized us because each time a team comes, we take them there. Because of this, she waived our entrance fee. Even though the students on the team are Filipinos, the culture here is considerably different than their homes. So it is a valuable experience to learn more about the people of the region.

After their time at the museum, it was back to work. Because we were leaving the next morning to go to Can-eo for a few days, we needed to go marketing for our trip. There is no market in Can-eo, so anything we planned to eat needed to be purchased in Bontoc. The students enjoyed comparing the prices and the size of the market to those in their own home towns.

In the evening, the team led worship and presented a message for our weekly Discipleship Talk with the SSM students. The room was a bit more crowded than usual because several of the students from Bontoc Mission Church attended as well. It was a great time of worship together.

Finally, after a very busy day, the students returned to their rooms for some much needed rest. So did their (much older) host!

Grace,
Tom
More to come...