Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adriana's a Godmother

Stevonnie Bless
On October 20, we received a text from our friend Mindel saying her daughter, Stevonnie, was to be dedicated at Saclit Sunday, and they had chosen me to be her godparent!

Daddy and Alayna were already going to Anabel and someone had to take care of the team, so it was my first village trip without a family member. I was very excited. I left Saturday and returned Monday. I enjoyed seeing Stevonnie Bless’s smiles and talking with Steve and Mindel.  For more details, visit our girls’ blog at


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ministering in Bontoc

Besides ministering in many of the area villages, here is a glimpse of some of the ways the visiting team ministered within the central barangays of Bontoc.

Making a presentation to the municipal government employees during the Monday morning flag ceremony

Moral Recovery Program with the Philippine National Police
Kids' Club in the plaza

Teaching students about discipleship 

Visiting children at the hospital
Praying for patients and assisting us at Health Clinic

Teaching Values Education at Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School

Ministering to local congregations

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anabel - October 22-23

On the way to Anabel is a sign which indicates the general religious outlook of the nation. This is a sign along the road, perhaps 12 feet high. It looks very familiar, but if you look closely, you may find something missing.

This road is the same as the one to Sadanga. We are thankful that the road is open, but when you look up, you often see large boulders suspended precariously above you. (Please don't break down here...)
Looking up from the top of the jeepney
From inside the jeepney, most people don't have view of what is above them. Even the people riding on the outside of the jeepney are usually looking the other way - at the often very narrow strip of soil between the wheels of the jeepney and the steep drop down the mountain. The video below gives you an idea of what that sometimes looks like.

Anabel has a very picturesque setting.  The village sits on a hill in the middle of a bowl shaped valley.  On one side, the Chico River runs down from Bontoc and continues winding through the valley and on to Kalinga Province.  Wrapping around the other sides, are the many rice fields and terraces which are so familiar to anyone traveling in this region.

Anabel, a city on a hill

Once you arrive at the end of the road that leads to Anabel, you need to cross the bridge. This, like the road, prompts prayer in the hearts of many.

But Anabel is a beautiful place.  From the bridge, there is a 15 minute hike through the fields.

I enjoyed getting to spend some time with Jerome and Agnes who have always been so kind as to be our hosts when I have come to Anabel.  Their daughter, Hazel, is not shy and it was not long before we were playing together again.

On our walk through the village to Jerome and Agnes's house, we passed by a gathering of people as they were burning the hair off a pig and preparing to butcher it.  When we arrived, we were told that a thanksgiving feast was being prepared because a family from Anabel had just acquired a tricycle.  We were invited to join the community in celebration of this occasion and to bless the tricycle.

Pork, boiled and chopped
Sonny Boy was quick to try to befriend us.
Large meals in the village are not like going to Grandma's and eating off the good china. Rice is served generously on plates. They may be individual or shared by a few people. Some vegetables or a bowl of broth may accompany it. Then the meat is distributed. Some men carry around a winnowing basket and hand out (literally, as in with their hands) pieces of the cooked pig. I noticed that they were careful to try to distribute the meat and the fat fairly as they went around. According to local tastes, the chunks of fat are the prize pieces. Washing the silverware is as easy as licking your fingers.

After lunch, we hiked back to the road to pray for God's blessing on the tricycle. This is a great opportunity for the young family to have an income.

Dinner preparations were a little different than usual.  Sister Agnes was so concerned because they had not had the opportunity to get their LP tank refilled so I had to cook in the "dirty kitchen".  It was no problem at all, just different.

(On a side note, for lunch the next day I made macaroni and cheese. I obtained hero status with the team, even though it was Lisa's idea. Although it was tempting to take all the credit, I did fess-up and let them know that Lisa saved them from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.)

After dinner, we went to someone's home for the evening Bible study. We hoped to use the other Proclaimer the team brought and then present it to the church Sunday morning after service. Unfortunately, it failed. Fortunately, someone was able to read the passage from an Ilocano translation of the Bible and the  study went well.

In the morning before church, Alayna and I led the team on a hike around the hill the village sits upon. It is a pretty hike and all of us wanted to stop and go swimming in the river - perhaps next time. But I did get a great photo of Alayna along the way.

During Sunday School, Alayna helped Amy and Trina with the children outside.

Anabel is an incredible place and we look forward to going there again. Maybe we will even be able to present them with a Proclaimer. But at the same time, we were looking forward to being home in Bontoc once again.
Alayna lovin' that Top Load ride

Quick Trip to Sadanga - October 19-20

Well, it is not really a quick trip to Sadanga.  But one team member's prayer life improved dramatically along the way and she seriously considered changing her permanent address to Sadanga rather than return to Bontoc along that same road.

As I said, it's not a quick trip, but once we were there, we were not able to stay long. Our weekend plans were thwarted by the typhoons so we had to reschedule. After the typhoons had passed, the road was reopened so traffic could pass instead of requiring several transfers across the landslides. Since all of the team's remaining weekends were full, it was decided to make a mid-week overnight trip.

It was a good opportunity for me to spend some time with Alexie and Annalise.  Annalise was especially excited to spend the night at our friend Jonathan's house once again.  He is the son of Pastor Farne, at whose house we have stayed before and would be staying during our visit.

We arrived in the evening and shared our dinner with the rice and chicken that Pastor Farne's family provided. The food was delicious.

Then it was time to hike to the moon church. (When you climb so many stairs to get to one place, it seems a lunar landing is not far beyond.)  We sang worship songs as we awaited people gathering.

It was important for us to make sure we made it to Sadanga, because the team brought a Proclaimer for the village.  As Krista guided the Bible study using the Proclaimer and asked many thought provoking questions, it was great to see the believers discuss what the Bible was saying and how it can be applied in their own lives.

After the message, Pastor Farne and a couple of the church leaders took time to learn how to use the Proclaimer for themselves so that they could continue to use it once we were gone.

Ayla seemed to think it was too late at night for all of this talking.

Claire, Alexie, and Marie
Our gathering went late and everyone was ready to go to sleep when bedtime came.  Alexie and Annalise may look bright eyed in the picture below, but it was only a few minutes before the room was silent.

In the morning, we had breakfast and then packed up to leave on the first jeepney back to Bontoc.
Stairs are part of life in Sadanga - you don't go anywhere without them
UPDATE:  I saw Pastor Farne in the market yesterday. He told me they are using the Proclaimer and finding it helpful in their ministry.


Can-eo - October 8 & 9

The original plan had been that everyone on the team, as well as our family would make the trip to Can-eo. But there were two problems with that:  people were sick and the road was not doing so well either. Many members of the team were still recovering from abdominal issues that kept them from participating in too much physical activity. At the same time, typhoons Pedring, Quiel, and Ramon were wreaking havoc with the mountain sides. The road to Can-eo was impassable to vehicles and the shortcut over the mountain was too steep and slippery for safe passage. This meant that only those who were feeling well would be making the hike. Since none of the children on the team were going, Lisa and the girls stayed to accompany the rest of the group to Sabangan on Sunday.

The traveling team with Pastor Rudy, Bridget, Jesse, and Nigel

We were able to hitch a ride to where the road to Can-eo turns from the main road. From there, we had to hike through the mud in a steady rain. Fortunately, everyone expected this and spirits were high as walked around and sometimes over the many landslides. Finally, we came to the road washout that will keep vehicles from making it all of the way to Can-eo for a while.

The road washout is in the photo on the lower right.
After making it to Can-eo Station Church, we rested for a while and had lunch. The next hike would be even more challenging. Most of our group planned to make the hike to Chapyosen. This is always a long hike and it was sure to be an adventure in the rain. It was!

In fact, there were several places along the way where landslides and washouts made using the trail impossible.

You can see in the picture above where the trail continues. What is no longer in the picture is the portion of the trail and the resting shelter that used to be next to the trail in this place. The rain and the river have washed them away.

The video above shows how we were forced off of the path by an active landslide which had completely covered it. At this point, we are walking on the slippery rocks between the rice fields. We could actually see Chapyosen in the distance, but did not feel it was safe to continue the journey. Instead, we prayed for the people there before beginning the hike back to the church, where we were staying.

On our return to the church, we stopped at a few houses to pray with people. At one house, we prayed for a young man Pastor Rudy and I have prayed for before, Romeo. He does not talk and often physically shuts himself away from others. When we visited, he lay on the floor with a blanket over his head and would not respond to anyone. His family has experienced several tragedies which have left his elderly mother alone to meet their needs.

Once we arrived at the church, everyone was ready for some rest and a chance to dry out. My waterproof hiking shoes did a good job for the first 40% of the trip. The gore-tex probably never failed, but after a while, the water running down my legs had soaked my socks such that every step was a squishy event. It felt good to take them off.

Leigh presented a teaching about Jonah that evening during the Saturday night Bible study. The rain made it so attendance was lower than usual. But it went well.

In the morning, Amy and Marie taught Children's Church. As you can see in the picture below, the kids had a great time.

Then of course, the team presented skits, testimonies, and the sermon during the morning service.
Can-eo Station Church with some of the YWAM Salem CDTS team
After lunch on Sunday, we were invited to visit Ochawan. None of us had met Ochawan before, not even Pastor Rudy or Bridget. We were told of her age and failing health. She was not known to be a Christian.
This bridge spans the river to the sitio in which Ochawan lives.

When we arrived, several ladies were already there waiting for us. Ochawan expressed how happy she was to have us visit her home as she sat on her porch covered with a blanket. The home was simple, like the rest of the homes in the village, but the porch had an incredible view of the valley and the mountains.

When we got there, Pastor Rudy began talking with her. She spoke no English, so besides his position as pastor in the community, it was only natural that he would be the one to talk to her. The rest of us lined up against the wall and listened and prayed as they talked. Pastor would give us a synopsis of the conversation as they went along.
Pastor Rudy and Ochawan
Nobody was sure how old Ochawan was, not even she knew when she was born. She did tell us that she remembered hiding in caves with her grandfather when Japanese planes made bombing runs in the area during World War II. She was a little girl then.

I was blessed to be a part of Ochawan's story of grace. One disappointment I have is that I never got a picture of her incredible smile.
Ochawan - a new child of the King
When we left Ochawan's home, we stopped by to pray again for Romeo. He was still curled up on the floor holding a blanket over himself. His mother wept as we prayed. Please continue to pray for them.

Then it was time to begin the hike back up the road to return to Bontoc. We were past the time that it would be easy to catch a jeepney when we got back to the main road. But the delay of meeting with Ochawan and praying for Romeo were definitely worthwhile. What a blessing it was to find that the landslides were cleared and within 100 meters of passing the washout, we saw a jeepney heading toward us. Of course, riding in any vehicle here comes with the high probability of needing to perform some sort of maintenance along the way. In this instance, a tire change.

10 minutes from Bontoc
Here's another blog post about our weekend in Can-eo, written by Amy, one of the team members. (

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Maligcong - September 18

Now that the team has returned to the USA and we have a little more time, I hope to be able to do some catch-up of what has been happening.

One of our first adventures was to take the team to Maligcong.  This gave most of the members their first opportunity to have a truly Filipino experience - riding a jeepney.  Some even enjoyed the natural beauty of the area by riding on top of the jeepney.

Brothers Zack and Breck taking a moment for a photo-op

Because the team is large they were able to divide, with part of the team staying in the sitio of Favuyan and the other hiking through the wonders of the rice terraces to the sitio of Fang-orao.

In Favuyan...
Michelle and Reuben leading worship

Eric giving testimony of how God saved his life

Ariana reciting Scripture during Michelle's message

Children's church

Taden making friends - people loved to play with the team's youngest member

In Fang-orao...
Photo-op while hiking through the terraced mountains to Fang-orao

The team shared "cardboard testimonies" like Eli is showing here:  one side showing a struggle the person faced and the other side showing how God brought them through it.

Marie expanding on her testimony

Darren and Krista presenting the sermon together
The sermon was followed by a time of prayer.

 As the sermon was presented and prayers were offered, Leigh sat on the stairs outside and colored with the children who were too active to sit through the service.

After service, both teams enjoyed sharing a meal with the congregation they spent the morning with.  It was a good day.