Monday, August 29, 2011

More Candles than Expected

Alayna is 12 years old!

Since Alayna's birthday occurred on Monday, we planned to celebrate her special day on Saturday. Lisa had some great ideas in mind which were disrupted almost immediately after breakfast. The power went out. So we adjusted and did those things we could, postponing the rest.

Saturday afternoon, the birthday girl helped make S'more cookies.

The cookies were finished by candlelight and although the power outage delayed some of our plans, the loss of power necessitated eating the ice cream which was beginning to melt in the freezer.  The cookies were delicious!

Fortunately, the power came back on later that evening.

Sunday afternoon, the original plan was put into action.  One gift Alayna received for her birthday was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Lisa transformed our apartment into a movie theater; there were even exit signs and a female silhouette to indicate the ladies' room.

Before the showing, the girls each used the 12 dollars of Monopoly money they had been given earlier to purchase tickets and snacks at the concession stand.

Everybody enjoyed a fun afternoon watching a favorite movie, eating yummy snacks, and finishing it off with pizza and of course, S'more cookies (with a little bit of ice cream saved for the birthday girl).


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fang-orao, Finally!

As we mentioned a few posts ago, we had been prevented from making our way to the church in Fang-orao.  At that time, we made plans with Pastor Frederick to visit Fang-orao last weekend.  Even then, we had challenges in order to make it there and minister.  First, we got behind and missed the first jeepney to Maligcong, only to find that on Sunday, there is only one jeepney to Maligcong.  When I contacted Pastor Frederick, even though he was already hiking through the fields for Fang-orao, he said he would drive to Bontoc to get us.
Everywhere in Maligcong were signs of the harvest.  Just outside the church this lady was drying sheaves of rice called palay.

By the time we finally arrived at the end of the road in Maligcong where we could begin the hike to Fang-orao, we were already late. We kept a good pace hiking through the magnificence of the Maligcong rice terraces and once we were on the branch of the mountain with Fang-orao, Pastor Frederick asked if we were up to taking the shortcut.  In Ilocano, as in many cultures, you pronounce the word "shortcut" as "adventure".  At first it seemed pretty simple, the path went from an 18" wide concrete path on the top of a rice terrace wall to a 10" dirt path on the top of a rice terrace wall.  Soon it became a 4-6" muddy, wet, and slippery concrete path on the top of a rice terrace wall.  Good practice for balance.  We only had one person slip so much that their foot found its way into the squishy mud of the rice field.  Fortunately it was in a place where both sides were near the height of the path and not a 5' drop.  Then we came to the place where we needed to climb the "stairs" up toward the church.  In this case, the translation of "stairs" is "steep, moist, red clay embankment with precarious footholds".  No injuries, no ruined clothes (brown pants are key), and no words of complaint.  I am not sure which is the greatest of these.


When we arrived, Sunday School was nearly completed and soon the worship service began.  A guitar, a bass guitar, a few tambourines, and a set of drums accompanied the upbeat mix of English and native worship songs.

A final obstacle that needed to be overcome was that I had been feeling sick.  During much of the worship, I sat bent over praying for strength.  When I began teaching, I asked the congregation to uphold me in prayer because I felt weak.  As I began teaching, my discomfort faded to the background and God gave me the strength I needed to continue.

I presented an overview of the Bible's redemption story and we listened to the crucifixion and resurrection story using the Proclaimer Wendy donated to the church.  This is the teaching that had been planned before when the t-er prevented our coming.

Rita is the name of the lady on the right.  She was apparently listening with her heart, as well as her ears.

I love this picture.  Before closing, I asked if anyone had any questions, observations, or thoughts to share.  This dear lady was more bold than most and willingly shared some great insights.

For a number of reasons, I decided not to have an "altar call". Instead I encouraged people to talk with Pastor, Pastora, me, or another believer afterward if they wanted to follow Jesus.  Before proceeding much further though, I was interrupted when Rita raised her hand to say that she wanted to make Jesus her Lord.
Praying with Rita, Dominga tanslating

Rita proclaiming her new faith to the congregation, accompanied by a friend for encouragement.

The Fang-orao branch of Maligcong Christian Fellowship - with a few Americanos thrown in for the fun of it.

Then it was time to leave.  This time we did not use the shortcut.  There were more stairs, but these were much easier to climb.

A handful of miscellaneous photos of our day in 
Fang-orao, Maligcong
Drying palay

Alayna loves going to villages because she gets to hold babies.

Reviewing the stories that Adriana, Alexie, Alayna, and Annalise taught to the children.

Peeking through the pew 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

6 Plus 3

Our Butterfly is 9!
Although she prefers to refer to her age as "6 plus 3".

This weekend we celebrated her birthday.  Since we couldn't find the bib and the high chair, we decided that we needed a different approach than her first birthday party.

Of course, Lisa made sure it was a very special day.  She is so good at making birthday's special.

A few days before, all four girls received an invitation which said,
Recipe for a Super Culinary Birthday Party
   1 part beautiful birthday girl
   3 parts special sisters
   1 cup laughter
   Large bag of laughter
   Pinch of imagination
Blend well on Saturday, August 16, 2011
Annalise's Cafe, Bontoc, Mountain Province
Please come and make it a delicious day full of sprinkles and memories.

First everyone had to prepare for the day by making hats and aprons. They sewed their own aprons using dish towels.  Annalise chose to wear the special apron she was given with butterflies on it.

While her sisters were finishing their aprons, Annalise began preparing for the Deliciously Decorated Dainty Cakes which would be desert later.

Once the cupcakes were baking, it was time to knead the dough for the Passionately Perfect Personal Pizzas.

Adding the cheese brought all the way from Baguio.

After dinner, we added the final touches to the Deliciously Decorated Dainty Cakes before enjoying the last bit of sparkle that was baked into everything this Super Culinary Birthday had to offer.

Happy 6 plus 3!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Remembering Lazaro

Pastor Steve, our friend who I have sometimes accompanied to Saclit, contacted me yesterday.  Sadly, he shared the news that Lazaro, passed away.  Lazaro was a baby I was honored to have met and prayed for on my first visit to Saclit.

I don't know all of Lazaro's story, but the news reminded Lisa and I of the struggle poverty creates in the most basic issues of life, such as health care.

Continue to pray for the physical and spiritual health of the Igorot people.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

See Ya Later

Finally the time for Wendy's visit was drawing to an end.  We had to make the trip back towards Manila for her flight home.  We left early because we wanted to show her a little of Baguio and you can never be sure of travel conditions. 

Within an hour of leaving Bontoc, we were stopped by a landslide, along with many others.  Fortunately it had occurred the previous day and crews were already working on it.  We were only delayed about 30 minutes by the time it was cleared enough for vehicles to pass through.
Waiting for the road to be cleared
Wendy was a blessing in many ways, but one that Lisa and I especially enjoyed was her watching the girls overnight while we took advantage of a rainy day special at Baguio's Camp John Hay.  It was a refreshing time at a beautiful place, despite the rain.
My Beloved and I celebrating a belated 20th anniversary

View of the gardens from the restaurant

We are so thankful for the blessing of Wendy's physical partnership in our ministry for the past few weeks.  The courage she showed in even making the trip by herself and the smile she wore through the challenges were a great encouragement.
Wendy and the 4A's

"See ya later!" at the airport in Manila