Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sandy Christmas

Although sledding, snowball fights, and cross-country skiing are all fun, since they are not available in Bontoc, we decided to come down from the mountains to enjoy the warmer temperatures and beauty of the beach.  For the past few years Christmas has been spent at the beach in San Juan, La Union.  Once again it was beautiful and relaxing.

Much of the time was spent playing in the pool.

Annalise even learned how to swim this year. She has been close to doing it for a while, but our life in the mountains does not provide many opportunities for her to practice and gain confidence.

The beach was lovely too. All of us had fun playing in the waves and digging in the sand.

And of course, the beach is always a great place to go for a walk. It is amazing how few people were on the beach. Whether playing in the South China Sea or strolling the shore, we almost felt as if we had it all to ourselves.

Every year we have been at the beach, we have enjoyed the company of new friends. This year, two of the families from the Family Discipleship Training School in Baguio joined us. We enjoyed the fellowship with the parents while our girls enjoyed having friends to play with.

Johan and Eva, from Sweden, suggested that our three families reenact the Christmas story on the beach. In the shade of the palms, I read from the Bible while others acted out the story. Our family's tradition here has been that we read the story on the beach, but this is the first time we acted it out. It is also the first time it has been accompanied by translations into German and Swedish.
Our angels announcing the birth of Jesus, (with sand in their toes).

As our time at the beach drew to a close, rather than being sad, we were filled with excitement because our travels were not over yet.  We left the beach and traveled to meet with friends at Valley Cathedral Children's Home.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

YWAM Christmas Party

Thursday evening YWAM Mountain Province gathered to celebrate Christmas together before staff and students travel for the holidays. The evening began with a little karoke, worship, and plates of delicious food.
Two lovely ladies: Lisa and Bridget
Then the Christmas games Lisa gathered from the Minute to Win It game show website provided fun and laughter.
Rudy and Patrick playing Jingle in the Trunk
Two teams of students playing Christmas Ball Conveyor

After the games, the SSM students presented a dramatization of the Christmas story.
The holy family

Next, we exchanged, stole, traded gifts and then passed them right, left along with Lisa's narration of Right Left Christmas Game Nativity Story wondering which gift we would end up with and what surprise was inside.
The YWAM family - minus the photographer

Can-eo Anniversary

Alayna, Jil, and Annalise bumping along to Can-eo
Sunday we traveled with the other YWAM Mountain Province staff and the SSM students to Can-eo to join the 7th anniversary celebration of Can-eo Station Church's building.

A light rain was falling intermittently as we traveled the rocky mountain road that ends in Can-eo.  At one point we needed to stop and clear rocks that had fallen onto the road since the jeepney had last passed that way.
Clearing fallen rocks from the path so the jeepney could pass.
The night before, Bridget sent us a text telling us about a mudslide. The mud was about a foot deep and very squishy. Rocks and branches were put into the shallowest part along the edge of the mountain so that there was a path, albeit a tricky one requiring good balance.
Hiking past a recent mudslide as we transferred to a second jeepney.
If you missed a step or slid from one the rocks or branches, there was no way to avoid the slop.
Missing the stones placed in the mud could get you a little bit dirty.
Lisa managed to keep most of her nail polish clean.
We had to hike about 500 meters from the mudslide to the washout where a second jeepney could pick us up and take us the rest of the way to the village. Because only a meter remains of the road, no vehicles can pass. So until the road gets fixed, this jeepney will need to stay on that side of the washout.
This washout was the main reason we needed to transfer.  
As our group approached the church, a group of tapis-clad girls sang a song of greeting.

On the other side of the church, the lunch meal was already being prepared. Several pigs had been butchered in anticipation of the whole village attending the festivities. Bridget, Pastor Rudy's wife, said she had not gotten to bed until 2 am and got up at 4 am to resume preparations for the day.

Adriana and Bridget
The church building was packed and at every window and the doorway people were outside looking in.
The church building overflowed.
Several groups sang songs or danced at the beginning of the service.

Harry Smith, YWAM staff during our CDTS and a long-time servant in the Philippines, stood in for the guest speakers as they could not make it due to the road conditions.  After his sermon, he officiated the ordination ceremony of  Pastor Rudy.

As offering was being collected several women brought baskets of rice palay (sheaves) to the altar. Others brought flowers and even bananas. Everybody laughed when a toddler gave into temptation and went up and grabbed a banana.
Bringing in their first fruits, literally.

After the service was over everyone was welcome to stay and enjoy lunch together. This transition gave my girls the opportunity to love on little ones - something they love to do.

As much as I would love to include photos of all the beautiful children from Can-eo, there just isn't room here. So I put together this collage to share a sampling.
Language is not a barrier to people who want to be friends. When we first visited Can-eo in 2007 during our CDTS, Lisa made friends with Susan (pronounced Oosan). Since that time, whenever the two ladies see each other, it is clear they are friends even though they don't share enough language to talk to each other.
Susan and Lisa
Lunch was served on sections of banana tree trunk - an Igorot paper plate. Fingers replace silverware.

Annalise was not sure she could eat all that was served to her: pancit, rice, and pork.
While some had begun eating outside, inside the church an assembly line was busily serving up "plates" of food and sending them out to those waiting. As each was filled, it was passed outside and down the stairs in a bucket brigade style line.

These are going to take some serious scrubbing
More plates ready for use during the evening meal
After lunch was over, Lisa and I went to visit Ochawan. Our newest staff member, Harry, accompanied us and served as translator and guide. She wept with joy as she told us how much she appreciated us coming. We were blessed to feel so welcomed. We gave her copies of the photos taken two months ago when she accepted Jesus as her Savior.  She smiled as she remembered how when she prayed she was filled with joy.  When she asked me to share something from the Bible, I read the passages from 1 John 4 about love that had been used as the text during the sermon.

As we talked, she shared that back pain has kept her from sleeping well.  She longs to be strong enough to join the other believers at church services.  After praying for her, she opened up to struggling with great fear.  So much that she insists her niece leave the light on at night.  I shared with her Psalm 139, reassuring her that God is always with her even amidst the darkest night. Lisa told her perfect love casts out fear and that the spirit of fear does not come from the Lord.  Ochawan happily replied, "I believe it.  I claim it.  Fear must go away!"
Harry, Ochawan, and Lisa
Ochawan's great smile
Modeling the hats Harry Smith gave out
No Igorot party is complete without gongs and dancing
As much as we would have loved to stay longer, we needed to leave so we could catch the jeepney back to Bontoc.
Some crazy Americano who would prefer to hang off the back or ride on top of a jeepney than be inside of it

Monday, December 12, 2011

Science Experiments

As a homeschooling parent, I have the privilege of repeating many lessons I have forgotten over the years. Generally, I get to help the girls with their science experiments so my scientific smarts are regularly dusted off and kept fit with regular exercise. It seems lately, we have been doing a lot of hands-on science - which is cool. All four of the girls have kept me busy.

Alayna has been doing physical science. Our most recent experiments had to do with fire.

Add a candle and some vinegar to a bowl...all is well.
Add baking soda to the mix and you get a cool way to snuff out a candle.
Alexie and Adriana have been busy with the microscope and the some dissections. I will spare our weak-stomached readers the most interesting photos.
I asked Alexie, "Have you ever read, How to Eat Fried Worms?"
Our girls don't get to defer to their lab partner; I may help, but they get their hands in the mix.
Adriana studying and drawing the heart she dissected.
Annalise is studying plants. I am no gardener, but these pots have been sitting empty on our porch for a while so we decided to give it a try. We now have a few peppers, tomatoes, and a pineapple planted. Who knows what will happen, but if all goes well, we will have a few veggies and a home-grown pineapple.