Friday, October 30, 2009

Going Can-eo"ing"

The Discipleship Training School team from Baguio came this week (see earlier entries 1, 2, and 3). This time the whole team is here and will be in the area for about 3 weeks as part of their final outreach. The girls have been so excited as we looked forward to their arrival. We made friends when the team was here before and during the times we have visited Baguio during the DTS.

So far the team has made a visit to the Bontoc Museum and has been spending time playing with the kids at the plaza. We just came from the YWAM Health Clinic.
After lunch, a jeepney is scheduled to take us to Can-eo. We will spend the weekend there and come back on Monday. We also plan to make the hike to Chapyosen while we are there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Harvest Feast

Sunday morning we went to Maligcong to attend the Thanksgiving Harvest Feast at Maligcong Christian Fellowship. I was invited as the guest speaker.
Maligcong is famous for the terraced mountains that surround its three sitios. You can see more pictures of this beautiful area at our post, Stairways to Heaven.)
At the beginning of the service, they have a Sunday School for all of the children. Alexie read a story from Read-Aloud Bible Stories. It was not something we had planned on, but we brought the book with us in case an opportunity arose. Lisa and I were proud of her willingness to do this in front of the whole church.
During the service, the children moved about. Yet it did not seem a distraction - most of the time. When a little boy crawled onto the stage, one of the guitar players kept an eye on him. When the child got too near the edge, he picked the boy up and took him to his mother. Nobody seemed to be bothered. But when these boys leaned through the window with their frog, some of the girls nearby became a little uncomfortable. I chuckled to myself and Lisa took a couple pictures.

I once had a pastor who put up a large sign. As you were leaving the church, you were reminded that the mission field was all around you - not just on the other side of the world. This idea fit well with my message about an eternal harvest, so I had a similar sign made which we gave to the church.
In so many ways, I have had visual examples of different stories from the Bible since we moved here. Yesterday it was the idea of bringing your first fruits into the house of God. Before we arrived, there were some bananas and palay (sheaves of rice) on the stage. As more people came, the stage became filled with rice, bananas, oranges, peanuts, etc. This was an actual harvest being given to God.

I can only imagine how large it would have been if all could have come. The largest sitio was closed for observation of some of the cultural traditions. Nobody was allowed to enter or leave that part of the village. So they could not attend the service or bring their offerings.
Pastor Agustine and his mother

After a lunch of pancit, chicken, and rice, the offerings were divided. Much of it was loaded into Pastor Agustine's jeepney. As he drove us back to Bontoc, we stopped at several homes. Young men jumped out and dropped off bags of palay, bananas, and oranges before we continued on our way.
When we stopped at our place, I paused to say good-bye and to thank Pastor Agustine for the hospitality we had received. I was so surprised when I walked around the back of the jeepney and saw three young men carrying bundles of goods to our apartment. Their generosity of the people of Maligcong Christian Fellowship was humbling.
After we took these pictures, we divided the gift and took portions of it to our landlords, neighbors, staff families, and those living at the ministry base.

We went to Maligcong hoping to encourage the people there. We left being abundantly blessed.

Grace,
Tom

Bags of Blessing

Yesterday our staff had lunch with the students of the Tribal Discipleship Training school. They have completed their lecture phase and are preparing for their outreach which is scheduled to go to several areas that have been affected by Typhoon Pepeng. In preparation, they have collected donations which they will distribute to families in need.

After lunch we put those donations together into Family Packs. The packs include 5 kilos of rice, a can of sardines, 12 plates, and a blanket.


Okay, this may not be the most efficient way to move bags, but Joshua and I had a good time doing it.

What is the best use for empty rice bags? A sack race of course! Joshua had never heard of it before, but learned quickly.

This week the team will be leaving to go and serve in Lubon and Betwagan. Please keep them in prayer as they apply what they have been learning by serving in places of such great need.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

K-9 Awards

This blog recently received a surprise award. It was recognized by doghealthproblems.org. You can see it in their blog awards listing.

How we came to be recognized is beyond my understanding. Only three posts have anything to do with dogs: Ilocano Proverbs and Sayings and Dogs are Friends, Not Food and The Battle Rages On.

The Dog Health Problems people would certainly be overwhelmed at the myriad health problems that can be seen in the numerous wandering dogs of Bontoc. People here do not have pets in the same way as in the US. Most dogs are left to fend for themselves and look like it: hair falling out, much too thin, and skin disorders. The local government works hard to immunize for rabies, but how do you manage that project in a place where strays are the status quo?

Of course, we probably would not have been given this award if they had known that one of our daughters actually did eat dog in the past month. When we were invited to have lunch at the government offices during the Am-Among Festival last month, she unknowingly served herself some. Not knowing what to do once she found out without offending our hosts, she quietly ate it. Later she said that it tasted like chicken. Okay, not really. But she said it was good. (If you want to know who it was, she has blue eyes and her name starts with an A.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Safe in God's Hands

Many of you have heard the news of the widespread disasters here in the Philippines. The needs are so many but we wanted to assure everyone God has protected our family. We are all fine and the flooding and landslides have not directly affected the municipality of Bontoc. The typhoons have, however, hit the country hard and brought great tragedies. Even as I sit and type this we are under the affects of quite possibly another typhoon.

While many have lost their lives and their homes, we have only small issues to deal with. We went 5 days without any water. Landslides damaged the source and piping. After we had used up our stored water, Thomas was carrying up a daily portion from the water tank in the yard. Fortunately we did not need to refill that tank before water was restored. We had water for 3 days but this morning, water stopped flowing again. We do not know if this is just one of the common outages or whether it will be for another long duration.

We were without electricity for 8 days, just getting power late this morning. Our internet has been in and out since the electricity was restored.

The numerous landslides have made it difficult to impossible to get in or out of Bontoc. One road has been opened, but now the 6 hour trip to Baguio is a 12-15 hour adventure. No mail is going out or coming in. Supplies are few and prices continue to climb.

We thank everyone for their prayers and ask you to continue to pray for everyone in the Philippines.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bontoc Am-Among Festival

video

The rains that accompany the several typhoons we have had have finally given me enough time to make a post on the 2009 Bontoc Am-Among Festival. (Yes, I know it is 3 weeks behind.)

The day began with the parade, or street dancing. High school and college students from the 16 barangays that make up Bontoc danced their way along the parade route wearing traditional outfits: tapis for the ladies and g-strings for the guys. The route ended at the municipal plaza where each group performed a final dance before a well earned rest.
Annalise with a better view than most

After the parade, we enjoyed an hour and half of Ilocano language exposure during the program. Various officials from the barangays gave speeches. We would have passed on this part of the experience, but the day before someone stopped Thomas on the street and told us we needed to be at the program, they had a surprise for us. At the conclusion of the speeches, Bontoc Mayor Odsey presented Lisa (Liza on the certificate - her Filippina name) and me with a certificate of appreciation for the work our family has done in the community. We were surprised.
In grateful appreciation for their outstanding dedicated service to the people of Bontoc, by providing free laboratory services and counseling on healthy lifestyle, and for donating various supplies and materials for the benefit of the people of Bontoc.
Thank you to all who have supported us and made such service and donations possible!
After that part of the program, the cultural competitions began. The groups who had danced in the parade played music and danced at the plaza. Each dance represented some aspect of Igorot culture. Subjects included planting and harvesting rice, courtship and marriage, tribal conflict, and a representation of the spirit god, Lumawig. We enjoyed watching the dancers and learning more about the culture of this place.
Alayna enjoying the cultural dance competition


After lunch, there were the indigenous games. We arrived a little late, but we got to see some of the human tug-o-war. We never figured out the rules of another game that involved a tin can and flip-flops. The last of the games was a team competition involving coordination and rhythmic hopping. Photos are in the video at the top of the page. (A sample of the last game can be seen in an earlier post, click here.)
Lisa with some of the girls from her Values Education class at Bontoc Central School

Here's a mix, tapis and juice packets - a little old, a little new

After the competition was over, we went to the playground at the provincial plaza.
Myjay and Alexie

Adriana and Cassey

The End

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Snow Drifts?

As we listened to the howling winds of Typhoon Parma yesterday, Lisa commented on how bad the snow drifts would be in the morning. No, the typhoon was not generating major climate change for our tropical island. It was just a joke reminiscing the blizzards we sometimes experienced in Michigan. And, for the peace of mind of our mothers, no, the typhoon is not affecting us with anything like what they are experiencing in Isabela or Manila.

So why are we talking about snow drifts again? Like I said, the strong winds were making some noise outside that reminded us of Michigan blizzards. The surprise was the question from our little Butterfly. "What is a snow drift?" How can it be?! A girl that has grown up in Michigan - especially our part of Michigan which is famous for lake effect snow - should know what a snow drift is! I wanted to jump on a plane and get her home and throw her in a snow bank to remind her. The problem is it would be an expensive trip and there are no snow banks, snow drifts, or snow anything for that matter, not yet anyway.

As I thought about it though, it began to make a little more sense. Annalise is now all of 7 years old. Her first few winters she won't remember except for stories and pictures. Last winter we were here and there was no snow. We had an outdoor picnic on Christmas. So that leaves only a few snowy winters as part of her memorable experience. If you consider her age at the time, snow had a different look to her than most of those mid-westerners who are reading this. From her car seat, she did not need to worry about the drifts across the roads. When you are so small, the snow is always waist deep. Plus at that size, getting bundled up to go outside means you can't really move, so you are not going to wander far from the house to see what a drift is anyway.

So I guess her question is reasonable. It still caught me off guard. I wonder what other normal things will be a surprise to her when she visits the USA again.

Grace,
Tom