Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Diesel, Dust, and Chicken Dung

Lisa and I are keeping busy right now hosting a team that came to us from Taiwan as part of the YWAM school, Titus Project. We are excited to have them here as they will be holding seminars to teach Bible study skills.

Although their school is based in Taiwan, none of the team is Taiwanese. Most are from North America. The team includes the school director's family - which includes four young children. Our girls have been having a great time talking and playing with them. We are also excited because a friend we met during our CDTS in Salem, Victor, is on the team.

Because I needed to make a trip to Baguio anyway, I had the privilege of meeting the team there and escorting them to Bontoc. They arrived in Manila early Monday morning and I left Bontoc to meet them when they arrived in Baguio. Both of us had a trip that generally takes about 6 hours. But I did not know when they would begin their bus trip. Along the way, my bus stopped so rocks from an overnight landslide could be cleared to make a pathway for the bus. We also stopped for a short while so some repairs could be accomplished. When I arrived in Baguio I took care of a few errands and decided to take some lunch to the bus stop to wait for them. I finished lunch, had a short conversation with a man nearby, then their bus pulled up. It was near perfect timing, though I could not have planned it.

The title of this post represents the major aromas one experiences on the bus between Baguio and Bontoc. I suppose each is self-explanatory, so I will leave it to you to consider the situation. But to look at the positive side as well, the sky was clear and the trip through the mountains is always an incredibly beautiful journey. Although the nose may be challenged, the eyes are blessed.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy, Happy Birthday to You Both!

Adriana was Thomas's 25th birthday gift and she is now 15.
That makes my dearest...40.
Celebrating with our YWAM family
Our Filipino friends much prefer this kind of snowman.
No need to shiver to enjoy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Unsanitary Acts

Today I was at the Municipal Government morning flag ceremony. Part of the program includes an opportunity for each department to report to the group at large. The new police chief has been very faithful in reporting the highlights of police activity for the previous week.

I almost laughed out loud when he reported the arrest and subsequent fine of an individual for unsanitary acts. Defined, that meant someone was urinating in public. It is common to see men peeing against a wall, standing on a wall and into a rice field, or nearly anywhere else. The other day Lisa and I were walking home and a man was standing in the middle of the bridge, peeing on the handrail. (He wasn't tall enough to make it over the rail.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Today I experimented with one of the teaching tricks I learned as an instructor at the nuclear plant. Instead of the typical sermon, we read the passage (Luke 17:11-19) then I gave the congregation an assignment.

They divided into groups and created a 9-Grid of icons that represented different aspects of the story.

Each group discussed what were the important elements of the story and the best way to represent those parts through a simple image or symbol.

Afterward, people from each group got up to describe the images of their 9-Grids: why they were chosen and what they represented.
This opened into a discussion of what we learned about the story and what we can learn from the story.

My sermon notes fit on a 4"x6" piece of paper. They were mostly a list of questions to encourage the discussion. I spoke less during this sermon than any other. Yet I think that it is one of the messages they will remember for the longest time.


Warm Showers!

The day I was at Sacasacan, cold temperatures came to Bontoc. We went from pleasant temperatures in the 70's to temperatures in the upper 50's. It still has not been as consistently cold as last year at this time.

To add a bit of chill to the situation though, our shower heater stopped working. This style of water heater forces you to decide between the comfort of warm water or a nice flow of water. When all works right, you can adjust it to have a warm shower. When it stopped working, not so much.

Fortunately, we were able to find a similar item here in Bontoc and I installed it as soon as we came home. The new one even allows you to increase the flow and still have a warm shower! Now we are hoping that it will not blow the circuit breaker too often.

Sometimes we are reminded that we should be thankful for even the simplest pleasures in life.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Un-Medical Medical Mission

Yesterday I was invited to go to Sacasacan, a village about 1.5 hours away from our home in Bontoc. There was a medical outreach that was coordinated through YWAM Mountain Province. As you can see in the next few pictures, Sacasacan is high in the mountains - at the top of the one on which it is located.

Below are two examples of what homes look like in the village: corrugated metal as in the upper left of the photo and the traditional nepa hut in the center. Some houses are made of concrete. Others are interesting in that they are on stilts, with the stilts resting on a rock on the ground, not exactly solid footing.

When we arrived, many people were already gathered at the barangay offices where the clinic would be held.

In the lower level, is the barangay clinic which is normally staffed by a midwife.

Outside, several midwives registered people and took their blood pressure.

Then, as their need dictated, they might go upstairs to see the dentist who was participating in the work. I took this photo early on, but did not stay long, it looked too painful. When I wandered into the room later, one of many teeth that were pulled during the day was on its way out. Once again, I left - too painful to watch. Although I never heard any screams or even moans so the anesthetic must have been sufficient.

Downstairs, the doctora was seeing patients and distributing donated medications to those in need. (The treatment room from the picture above is on the other side of the bookshelves.)

I took the two pictures below because I generally find the kids and old ladies here the most interesting subjects for photography.

...which brings me to the kids. I had thought I may be of some use on the medical side of things. But when we arrived we found that there was plenty of help for all things medical and logistical. So I sat on the steps and was soon an object of curiosity to the younger crowd. Of particular interest was the hair on my arms. I am somewhat hairy even compared to most westerners, but these kids were very interested in the thick covering of blonde hair on my arms. One little guy even pulled the collar on my shirt down when he noticed I had hair on my chest.

Some of the kids were braver than others. Mary Chris for instance, walked up to me and was perfectly content to sit in my lap as the others generally came only close enough to pet my arms.

Then the others began to warm up to me. I tried to get their names using my limited Ilocano. Generally the person I asked would not answer, but one of the other kids would answer for him.

The little girl on my lap in the picture below became my best-good-friend. Keana (pronounced Kyana) climbed into my lap with a big smile and made herself comfortable there.

Very comfortable...

In fact, for the rest of the day she would only be away from me for short periods of time. Then she would come running back and raise her arms for me to carry her wherever I went. When I put her on my shoulders, I did not need to understand the dialect to know that she was now queen and the envy of her peers.

I went to minister to others using my limited medical knowledge. Instead people of limited stature ministered to me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas on the Beach

Christmas morning was a new experience for us. Coming from the land of White Christmas we instead experienced a Wet Christmas, as Alayna liked to say. In the morning we got up and enjoyed our family Christmas present - a beach vacation!

We read through the Christmas story, each of us taking turns. Then we sang a few carols and thanked God for His blessings.

Afterward we collected shells for our next Wet Christmas celebration...

...building a snowman - er... sandman.

Later, we cleaned up and went to visit our friends the Wallace family. Their apartment was just a short tricycle ride into San Juan. She had made a great Christmas dinner! (Thanks Holly!) But even better than the food was the time we spent with each other.

Twas the week before Christmas...

and all through the house girls were happily opening the gifts their grandparents sent.

Annalise and Alayna were delighted with their new dolls. What makes these dolls unique is that they have an Asian look to them. Now you might expect that it would not be too difficult to find dolls like that here but the only ones available in the Philippines are fair with blonde hair and blue eyes!
Besides the gifts wrapped up in bright paper, there was a good selection of food including some familiar holiday dishes.Thanks Grammie and Papa!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wedding Bells - or Gongs

When we first came to Bontoc back in 2007, we met Mindel. Mindel was in a serious relationship with Steve.

When we returned in the middle of 2008, Mindel was in a serious relationship with Steve. Everybody kept wondering when they would finally get married. Well, December 22, 2009, it finally happened in Baguio.

Since we offered to take pictures for their wedding, we wanted to be there a little early to get a few pictures of last minute preparations. We expected that, although it was scheduled to start at 8:30 am, it would probably begin sometime after that. When we showed up at 8:15, neither the bride nor the groom had arrived. The first of the flower girls walked down the aisle about 9:45 am. It was nearly 10 am when the bride came down the aisle.

This was the first wedding we have attended in the Philippines. There were some interesting traditions in the wedding ceremony that we were not familiar with. The most distinct from western weddings is the large number of roles that are part of a wedding here. Not only are there the groomsmen and bridesmaids, there are also a number of sponsors. The Primary Sponsors serve as mentors for the couple and assist with resources for the wedding ceremony. At this wedding, there were 32 Primary Sponsors. Secondary Sponsors have varied responsibilities within the ceremony. Two prominent roles for Secondary Sponsors are the Veil Sponsors and the Cord Sponsors. Additionally, there are the Bible Bearer, Ring Bearer, and Treasure Bearer.

After the groom seated his parents, each of the sponsors was called by name and ushered to their places. The Primary Sponsors were seated in the front pews while the Secondary Sponsors, bridesmaids, and groomsmen all lined the center aisle until just before the entry of the bride with her father and grandmother. (Her mother has already passed away.)

Mindel looked beautiful as she was walked down the aisle by her father and grandmother.

As she came down the aisle, Steve sang a song for her from the stage. Our girls all found this incredibly romantic.

Two traditions that are not normally part of a western wedding are the veil and cord ceremonies. In the veil ceremony, the Veil Sponsors drape a veil (separate from the bride's veil) over the shoulders of the groom and head of the bride. This is meant to symbolize his authority over her and his responsibility to provide for her and protect her. In the cord ceremony, the Cord Sponsors drape a cord over the couples shoulders to symbolize their unity.

One thing I appreciated about the wedding service is that most of the time the couple was seated at a table on stage, facing the audience. It was nice to see their faces and expressions rather than staring at their backs, especially as the service was over 2 hours long.
Veil Ceremony

During the ceremony, the bride and groom sign their marriage license. Later, the Primary Sponsors are all called to the front by the master of ceremonies to sign as witnesses.

Another part of the service was when the pastor called all of the Primary Sponsors forward to pray over Steve and Mindel.
Of course, there were many aspects of the service that were familiar such as the exchange of vows and rings and the lighting of the unity candle.

Esteban "Steve" and Yvonne "Mindel" Ing-inga!

After the wedding service, the MC announced a sequence of photo opportunities that was listed in the wedding program. Different groups of people would be called forward to pose with the couple and whoever wanted to take a picture would come forward and snap away. In order to get photos without a bunch of other cameras or the heads of their operators in them, I ended up standing on a pew off to the side.

Outside, a meal was prepared and served under a canopy. Steve and Mindel sat at a table where family and friends waited in line to wish them well and give them wedding presents. Steve and Mindel greeted people and gave out wooden spoons to all who came through the line.

After lunch there was going to be further celebration with dancing and gongs. But we had already made reservations for the night at a place on the coast and we needed to catch a bus.

A Handmade Dollhouse for Christmas

The exhaustion from many late nights, frustrations with working with Mod Podge, etc., were quickly forgotten when we saw the smile of delight on Annalise's face.

She is having fun pretending with the two peg doll families. Occasionally, we can even hear a bit of Ilocano in her play.