Monday, December 21, 2009

Bits of December

When you are driving and you see red and blue flashing lights, what do you think? Here in the Manila we often see red and blue flashing lights ahead, but we have given up looking for a police car. Here the most common use of red and blue flashing lights is to mark a U-turn slot in the road. These U-turn slots can be very interesting because it is very common to have three lanes u-turning at the same time. Throw in a bus and a dozen motorcycles into the fray and it gets very interesting.

The other day I looked in my mirror and thought a U-turn slot was about to pass me on the left, but I was wrong. It was a police fork lift. If you look closely it has a police car flasher on the top.

One of the things that Thomas has enjoyed at his school is the drama class. At the end of the semester he participated in a few different dramas.

Carrie has been involved in all sorts of things. She and James were involved in a Sunday School ministry for children from a near by squatter village. She also has helped at a nearby orphanage. In this picture she was serving food for a class function.

A couple of weeks ago I sent several chapters to our translation consultant for checking. I received her list of suggestions a couple of days ago and was very happy that there were very few corrections, considering the amount of the material and that the necessary corrections do not look difficult. I am hoping for another trip to the village early in 2010 to do translation checking, Bible teaching, and distribute rice.
When we first came to the Philippines I taught in the school for the children of missionaries and Heidi took on the roll of supply buyer for several missionaries living out in the villages. Now that we are in town, Heidi is doing a bit of her supply buying job. We have one missionary family that is actually closer to Manila than they are to our northern support center, so we have been helping them out a bit. Last week Heidi purchased a food order for them and when school was out for Christmas, we took the order and two of their children who have been studying here in Manila to meet their father and hike into their tribe.
The hike starts at the river. This picture was actually taken the last time we took the kids north to see their parents. This time the river was low enough to wade across, but not low enough for our van to drive across. We are enjoying getting to help people in many different ways.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Have Rice Will Travel

We have received several generous gifts towards purchasing and transporting rice to the Isnag to help with their food shortage this year. We are blessed and encouraged to be able to help our Isnag friends in this way. It is our plan to spread the donations out throughout the year.
During the last week of October, I made a translation checking trip to the village. I took the bus from Manila and when I arrived at the flight center I found the 1,300+ pounds of rice I had ordered waiting for me.

Everything is a learning process and we learned that a bag of rice it too heavy to carry around conveniently. Each sack weighed 110 pounds. So, before the next day's flight, we worked at dividing the bags into smaller sacks. Bob Hall is our supply buyer who arranged for the rice to be ready for me to take and he and Onsat did a lot of the work getting the bags ready.

The airplane can take around 650 pounds per flight, so we arranged for one extra flight the day I flew in and that the rest of the rice would fly in on the day I flew out.

The people were very thankful for the help and I had no problem finding people willing to carry it from the airstrip to the village. The rice we took in will be divided between 100+ families and each family will get around 11 pounds which will feed them for 4 or 5 days.

The translation checking part of the trip went extremely well. I did not think I could accomplish all that I had on my to-do list, but God blessed and I even got more done than I was hoping for. This was partially due to being stranded in the village for two extra day by bad weather. The following is a short video I took on the day I was hoping to fly out.

Around noon on Friday the clouds began to break to the east and we called the airplane. By the time the pilot arrived, the weather had greatly improved. We took a medical patient and her brother out with us and they traveled with me, by bus, all the way to Manila. I arrive home around midnight.

God bless!
Jonathan & Heidi

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Following Typhoon

Last week I was asked to help with a pre-tribal orientation meeting for one of our new missionary teams that is locating among the Gàdang people group. The previous week had been spent working with the typhoon and flood damage in Manila and up until the night before I left, I was still cleaning and repairing a friend’s kitchen appliances which had been damaged by the flood.

It was amazing to leave the brown flood damaged city and, one hour later, to be in the great green north.

As I was waiting in the airport the lady next to me asked where I was going and when I told her I was going north she said, “You can’t go there. There is a typhoon there.” It looked like the storm would be well past where I was going by the time I got there, so I told her that I didn’t think it would be a problem. Little did I know it was to be a following typhoon. You can see from the picture below that this typhoon actually made landfall and passed over northern Luzon three times. That is very unusual.

My trip up went very well. I landed and was able to talk to a small airline owner I needed to contact, then I caught a bus for the town where the Gàdang team is staying. On the last day of the meeting, the team said they would drive me to the town where I was scheduled to fly from the next day. We left early the next morning but didn’t get far before we came to a road block.

It had rained hard in the night and the river was running very high. It had washed out the supports from under the bridge. I asked some soldiers and they said there was a gravel road we could take to get around the bridge. We finally made it to our destination, and I still had plenty of time to catch my flight.

I had hoped to talk to some people in this airport regarding our mission’s future needs for a flight center, so I asked around and was taken up into the control tower. The man on the right was very helpful and I got some of my questions answered. They also told me my flight was likely to be cancelled because visibility was very bad.
This was the beginning of 24 hours of uncertainties. My flight was indeed canceled and the next day’s flight was also in question. I decided to go to the bus station and see if I could get a ride. I bought a ticket for a night bus that would leave in 6 hours and arrive in Manila at dawn. After a few hours of waiting at the terminal, I heard the station employees talking about a problem on the highway. They said that a bridge had failed and that the buses were only getting as far as this side of a mountain pass and everyone headed to Manila would be stranded, halfway to their destination, until it could be repaired.

One hour before my bus was to depart, I was informed that my trip was canceled but I could catch a different bus going that way. It was a hard decision, but I decided not to risk being stranded for a week. Instead, I rode in a motorcycle’s sidecar back to town and booked myself into a motel room.

The next morning I contacted the airline and they said that they were flying but all the seats were full until Sunday. I went back to the bus station thinking the bridge might be fixed. It wasn’t. I went back to the airport and asked to be scheduled for Sunday and put on a standby list for that day. Then I settled down for another day of waiting. I had my laptop so I was able to get some translation work done.

In the afternoon I went back to the counter to ask and they told me to just sit and wait. Some people were praying I would be able to get a flight and after only a few minutes of waiting, the guard came and told me to get in line. So I got in line and I was soon at the counter. They took my papers and I stood there for over an hour. They didn’t say a thing about my ticket the whole time. Other people were being rude to the employees, but I ended up having a good conversation with them and found that one was a Gàdang speaker.

After a long time they gave me a ticket!! I went back to the lobby and sat down very happy. Then the PA system announced that a military exercise was taking place in Manila and that our flight was not being allowed to depart. It seemed like getting a flight was similar to trying to avoid a typhoon. Eventually, the flight departed Manila and arrived an hour later. This is a picture of a very happy Jonathan boarding the flight. (Note the nice blue sky.)

After arriving in Manila I went to the taxi stand and was told they would not let taxis go to where I lived. Funny! I walked out of the airport and was able to catch a taxi on the street. Traffic was bad and the ride took 2 hours. Praise the Lord, I made it home safely and I still had $6 in my pocket.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1st.

Heidi and I celebrated our 21th wedding anniversary on Oct. 1st. We had planned to go out for lunch, but with the flood causing problems for so many people we decided to put postpone our lunch date. The kids all reported to clean up crews and spread out helping clean up. I stayed home and worked on appliances which needed to be taken apart and cleaned.

I had to take this stove completely apart and clean everything. I even had to wash out the insulation. Rust was already setting in so several parts needed to be sanded and painted. The most amazing thing happened! I got it back together again. I wonder if all those extra parts I ended up with are important!

We haven’t had running water for almost a week now. We have been able to get drinking water from the local school and water for bathrooms and laundry from the rain, school, and water truck. Twice trucks have come by and filled up our water barrels.

Last night the water started running so I told Heidi that her anniversary gift could be having running water to wash the dishes. You’ll never guess what I got for my anniversary gift… I guess I should have noticed she was holding a frying pan over her head while I was explaining the joys of washing with running water.

Clean Up Time

We have been spending some of our time in a neighborhood close to us that was hard hit by the flood last weekend. Every house has a pile of ruined household items out front. Everything has been covered in a sticky mud.
We went down to help some an SIL missionary clean up her house. You can see the shelf Heidi was working on. Cleaning it wasn’t simply a matter of wiping off the outside. Mud was inside all the metal tubes.

If you look at the wall behind Carrie you can see that the wall is in the process of being washed. The water was up to around 6 feet. The lower part hasn’t been washed yet. An oil refinery nearby lost a lot of oil and some of the houses are having to deal with oil on top of mud. It is a real mess. Imagine your car covered with mud and oil inside and out.

The boys did a lot of scrubbing and helping move furniture. Wooden furniture can be cleaned, but anything with cushions on it is ruined.

I felt a bit like an archeologist. They kept bringing me mud covered items and I would clean them up and discover what they were. At one point I thought I was cleaning a glass lamp shade only to find it was a kitchen appliance.

After dealing with all that mud it is easier to understand why Noah didn’t jump out of his boat the moment it landed. I didn’t see any rainbows yesterday, but I did see this unusual tree trunk with a equally unusual flower growing in front of it and was reminded of the of our faithful and good Creator.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Manila Flood

It’s been what you call a wet weekend. What this storm lacked in wind, it made up for in rain. Someone said that we got more than 16 inches in 12 hours. The picture below is the entrance to our neighborhood. Fortunately our house is situated on high ground and although we had plenty of leaks in the house, we didn’t experience flooding. Some of our friends did have flood damage, thousands of the poor that live in little huts lost all their worldly possessions, and the news said that 240+ lost their lives.

Driving on streets like this is kind of risky. One of the main reasons is that many man hole covers are missing. People have borrowed them to use as doorstops or to sell as scrap metal. Normally, you just drive around the holes but when the streets are covered by chocolate brown water, you just have to hope you won’t put a tire in one of these or step into it when you are walking.

Lots of folks were caught off guard and the many families had members that were stranded in one place or another. One of Carrie’s friends spent the night with us. Her parents were stuck in the upstairs of their house. The downstairs had five feet of water. Their car parked outside was almost completely under water.

The waters subsided a bit on Monday morning and since we didn’t have a dove to throw out the window we decided to go out and see if we could be of any assistance. Before we got out the door, we got a call saying 20 people were needing a meal and drinking water down in the neighborhood that was badly flooded. This is only a 20 minute drive from our house. Heidi and Carrie started cooking and I took the boys to the grocery store to buy some needed supplies for the flood victims. The picture below is of the lines in the store. I waited in line for almost an hour. We finally got everything in the van and headed for the needy area.

When we arrived a few interesting things happened. First, we were told that a dam was too full and the neighborhood in which we had wormed our way into could be flooded again at any moment. This was not good news. We thought that maybe this was a untrue rumor, but had no way of knowing and were a bit anxious to keep moving. Second, the 20 people who needed the food had been evacuated. Third, there were 50 Filipinos who had been left homeless who were staying with a missionary family and had just run out of food. Fourth, the family that we had come for was ready to be evacuated. So, we gave the buckets of rice Heidi had cooked and all the bottled water and food I had purchased to the folks helping the Filipinos, loaded the couple we had come for in the van and worked our way to high ground without seeing any flood water.

During the storm we lost electricity for 18 hours and stopped getting running water (not including what was running down the walls and through the ceiling). I was able to get a gas lamp going so we had some light in the evening. After three days, we still don’t have running water, but we do have a source of clean drinking water that we can get to, so we are doing fine.
I expect that we will be helping folks with clean up for the next few days. Next time we’ll try to be more prepared. I’m already making a list: flashlight, drinking water, and a dove.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

James plays soccer

One of James's long time goals has been to be on a soccer team.
This year he is on the JV team.

They had a game this afternoon and they won.

It was pretty muddy.

Which made for some great falls.
Actually ths was an attempt to do a trick for the camera.
Dad missed the moment.... but not by much. :-)
Must be the camera's fault, I couldn't be slow, could I?

Bright Children

Heidi and I have always wanted to have bright kids and this was our week to shine. Faith Academy started off their highschool spirit week with neon day.

Of course, if you want your kids to be bright it helps if you can get them to hang out with truly bright students. This is Nathan. Nathan visits us often and is very bright. We're lucky he likes James. Nice tie, Nathan!

Later in the week was cowboy day.

The Jr. High has their spirit week next week. We'll have to see what odd things we can do to Thomas.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Translation Work Trip

Someone recently said, "Don't feel sorry for missionaries. They really have a lot of good friends." I can't argue with that. Here are two of my friends that I really enjoy being around: Bob Hall, a carpenter, and Brian Graham, our pilot.

A little over a week ago I set off on a trip to our village to do some translation checking with our Isnag friends there. I had a "to do" list of maintenance jobs to try to squeeze in while I was there, but Bob volunteered to come along and take care of those things so I could concentrate on the translation work. Now that is a good friend!

We got an "all clear" call from the village and took off around 8 am. It was a beautiful day for flying and I enjoyed catching up on Brian's news. He has just returned from furlough so we hadn't talked for a while.

Vicky stayed in the village to cover the radio and Robbie hiked to the airstrip to put up the wind sock and make sure everything was ready for the airplane to land.

Vicky fed us a nice lunch and in the afternoon Malana came and and started checking over some of my rough draft work.

The guys I had scheduled to help me with the taping check never showed, but Pearly and Sylvia came to my rescue and put in 12 hours helping me complete the tape check for several chapters.

Meanwhile... Bob was trying to fix things. Before he could get on the roof, a ladder had to be made out of bamboo. I had a guy make one, but he put the rungs about 3 and a half miles apart. It looked like Bob was going to have to shinny up one side until I got the worker to go back and add double the rungs.

Bob fixed weed whackers, mowers, plumbing and put gutters on one of the houses. Most of what he did I would not have been able to accomplish if he hadn't come to help. Thanks Bob!!!

For years I made the one and a half hour hike upstream to teach a group there. On Sunday, I was invited to join the two guys that have taken over this ministry. Andy and Greg are great guys and I am very encouraged to see them serving the Lord and serving the people upstream.

The guys did a great job teaching. They were using chapters I have translated. The listeners did a good job at answering the questions they asked at the end and I was reminded that even though I love teaching, what the Isnag really need is a Bible and that I need to stick to the task set before me.

When we got back to the village I heard the Bible being read in the trade language. I came around the corner of a house and found Arsali and other ladies busy pounding rice and listening to the Bible being read on a solar MP3 player which Felida Church in Vancouver, Washington had donated. Thank you! Felida! So far these players have proven to be durable and the people love to sit around listening to the Bible.

On Sunday afternoon and one other time during the week I had opportunity to teach and I really enjoyed that.

It was fun to see the village kids. I took lots of pictures, but will only post a couple.

But, I do need to post the picture of the newest Isnag. She was born while I was in the village. Her Grandpa is Andy, the older of the two guys that teach upstream.

Thursday the airplane came to start me on my homeward journey. This is the view you look at while the pilot is going through his check list prior to take off. The black streaks in the picture are all that the camera can catch of the spinning propeller.
I eventually landed at the support base. Thanks for the nice flights and landings Brian! Bronwyn, Bob's wife fed me, and Bob took me to the highway to wait for a bus. I finally got a ride. It took 1o ten hours, but I made it safely home.