Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's Christmas Time in Manila

Celebrating Christmas was different for us this year. We missed having our sons, Charles and James with us. We are very thankful that they could celebrate Christmas with loved ones and that God provided for their transportation and work schedule needs.

[James with the Johnson Family]

Charles was able to travel from Boise to Oregon to attend a Christmas gathering with the Bamfords. With James we were wondering if he would be going anywhere right up until the last moment and then his boss gave him 10 days off and we were able to find tickets for him to fly to Michigan and spend Christmas with the Johnson family who very generously opened their home to several missionary kids. Thank you Johnsons!!! Thank you Lord, for allowing the trip to happen!!!

Here in the Philippines, Carrie and Thomas started their vacation by inviting several friends over for a cookie decorating party.

Can you guess which one I did?

Heidi volunteered our family to watch the young children of families who are in the Tagalog language study program so that the parents could have a chance to finish Christmas shopping or spend time together.

Five families generously donated their children and we spent three days reading stories, playing with clay, and getting to know some very sweet children.

On Christmas Eve, our friends the Spicers invited us over for dinner and games. We have known the Spicers ever since we moved to the Philippines 16 years ago, so it is lots of fun to spend time with them.
Thank you Spicer Family!

On Christmas morning I took my post at the front door at 6:30 am and started handing out Christmas candy. On Christmas morning the neighborhood children hit the streets and yell “Mamasko Po!” at every house hoping for a coin or a piece of candy. We prepared 250 small bags of candy and could have used about 100 more.

We are looking forward to 2011. Please pray that in January :
• the NTM helicopter will get its needed paperwork processed so that the flight program can open,
• the book of Mark will get its first check,
• two new families who will be working at Faith Academy find housing.

May God bless you and your family in the new year,
Jonathan and Heidi

Monday, December 13, 2010

Goods To Declare

Besides working on translating the book of Mark we, as a family, have had lots going on over the past few months. First of all, Carrie was asked to be on the girl's varsity soccer team. Good job Carrie! Over the season her team did very well. The season finished up with two tournaments. One was here in the Philippines, and the other was in Thailand. Going to Thailand was a very special treat for Carrie because she got to spend time with a friend of hers who moved there last year.

Carrie plays defense.

While in Thailand the team played soccer, had ministry time, and had tourist time.

It looked like Thomas wouldn't be going anywhere, but on very short notice he was invited
to go to an NTM ministry location in Northern Luzon with some of his friends.
He jumped at the opportunity and spent a week far from the concrete jungle we live in.
Would you believe these boys all have the same birthday?
After the Iwak church service, Thomas entertained some of the people by juggling.
It was something they had never seen before.

Thomas has joined the tennis team and has been making steady improvement. He now beats his dad on a regular basis.
Good job Thomas!

The kids aren't the only ones who have traveled. I made a trip to Bali, Indonesia and another trip to Mindanao, Philippines. The Bali trip was a training seminar put on by NTM. In Bali, I was surprised to find out that although most of Indonesia is Islamic, the island of Bali is mostly Hindu. There were idols and appeasement offerings everywhere.
The traffic drove on the left hand side of the road. I didn't try driving, but I found that crossing the street was dangerous enough for me. I have a lifelong habit of stepping off the curb looking to the left instead of the right.

The NTM meetings were very encouraging. We were trained in people group assessment among other things. My trip to Mindanao was for the Faith Academy School Board. It was good to meet the staff of the school there and hopefully to be an encouragement. Needless to say, I was glad when my travels were over and I could work full time on the translation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The helicopter has arrived

Thank you to all of you who have prayed for the safe arrival of the helicopter. Your prayers have been answered. These pictures were taken during this past week by Helen Johanson.

The truck containing the helicopter crates arrives at the flight center.

Roger, a friend of missionaries in Luzon, owns a tractor and offered to help with the unloading. Thanks, Roger! (Nice job on your tractor re-build.)

I'm not sure what the pilot in the back of the truck is saying but it probably means, "Go slowly! We don't want to drop this."

I guess there is more than one way to fly a helicopter.

Brian, our pilot, has waited months for his helicopter to arrive.

First landing at the new flight center.

Some assembly required
The funny thing is that although the aviation guys are always busy, every time I offer to help them with their work they can't think of anything that needs to be done.
Please keep praying for these guys as they work to get the pilots licensed in this country, get the helicopter registered, and make test flights to our mission stations.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Different paths

During the past two months I worked to get the first half of the book of Mark into rough draft form so that it would be ready to check with my language helper during the first week of October.

Because we don't have any flight service into our village, I had arranged to meet Malana in town. When I arrived, I waited for news that he was also in route, but didn't hear a thing. Our village has no telephone service, so there was no way I could contact him.

Fortunately I had other things to do. Our mission is in the process of setting up a new support center and I arrived in the middle of a major step. A team of Austrailian construction workers were on our center building a house that will serve as a house for the center manager or pilot and also double as a guest house for traveling missionaries. The team was also pouring the concrete landing pad for our helicopter flight program. By the time you read this the landing pad should be finished.

The helicopter has arrived in the Philippines and is working its way through the government paperwork. We are praying that within a very short time it will be in the process of being assembled on our new center.
With no news from my language helper, I looked at my "to do" list and saw that I was long overdue to visit our newest outreach on northern Luzon.

David Johanson generously offered to give me a ride to the trail head which saved me hours of trying to catch jeeps going the right direction.

Our trip took us along those golden streets. A lot of rice and corn was being dried on the roads.

We finally arrived at the drop off point. I was told, "Just follow this trail. Turn right at the top of the ridge. You can't get lost."

So, off I went. I saw very few people as I hiked along. I turned right at the top of the ridge, but 3o minutes later I came to a fork in the trail and wasn't sure which way to go.
Fortunately Christina was on her way to meet me and guide me to the village, so after pondering for a bit she came along. (I had tried asking a three year old for directions, but that hadn't worked.)

When we arrived in the village I visited with some of the locals and then went down to see the Talbots. They were at the end of their first two months living in the village as a family and were in the process of finishing their house.

They were also working on building relationships with their neighbors. In this picture Shannon was weighing a baby. One of the babies there is malnourished and the Talbots have been trying to help her gain weight.
I helped Chuck hang shutters so that he could secure his house and also helped a bit with the homeschooling and some other tasks which needed to be done as they prepared to leave for town. In the evenings and at lunch time I played games with the kids.

One afternoon I went with Chuck an looked at a possible landing spot for the helicopter.

After two days it was time to hike out. Some of the family rode on water buffalo. Going up and down the steep parts of the trail proved a little difficult as it is easy to slide off the wide back of a buffalo. I ended up carrying Sophia for during those difficult times

Most of the trail wasn't too muddy, but some sections were. At one point I was trecking along and all of a sudden my boot stuck and my foot kept going. I stepped right out of the boot and into the mud.The people had started loading the water buffalo sleds at 4:30 am. We left the village at 5:30 and arrived at the waiting shed just before 8 am. We loaded cargo into a small van and made it into a small town just before 10. We were a tired and muddy group, but we found a hotel where we could get showers and a good meal. The Talbots and Christina planned to stay the night, but I went ahead with their cargo to the mission center.

The next morning I found out that my language helper had just arrived in town; only a week late. I met him and made arrangements to work with him in January when, Lord willing, I can fly to the village on the helicopter and check the whole book of Mark. I met with him and his companions and found out that they had been unable to come earlier because they were still harvesting.
The Isnag are praising the Lord for the crop he has given them. Last year's crop was destroyed by a typhoon and many of our friends in the US and Australia gave gifts so that we could buy rice to help them through the year. The year of famine is over and everyone has rice again.
I arrived home late Saturday afternoon. It wasn't the trip I expected to make, but it was good.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Quick Trip to the Village

After we spent a few days getting our house back in order, it was time for me to fulfil some commitments I had made regarding the Isnag work. Among other things, I needed to make sure the clinic was stocked with medicine, pay the clinic workers, distribute some of the new translations, and see if any more could be done regarding rice. Robert Smith, one of the new missionaries here, very kindly volunteered to come along on the trip.

We flew from Manila to a city up north. When we arrived there we found out that my language helper, Malana, was there. His wife had an attack of appendicitis and had to be carried downstream until they got to a place where a vehicle could take her to a hospital. Fortunately they arrived in time and she had a successful operation and was already recovering. We went to visit them and Malana was excited to be one of the first recipients of the newly translated chapters from Genesis and Exodus.

The NTM missionaries up north took good care of us and the next morning they dropped us off in a lot where people catch the bus going into the mountains. The bus didn't arrive for a long time, but several Isnag friends came by to visit us while we waited. These three girls have spent some of their lives in our village. Robert bought a round of ice cream sandwiches. Note the ice cream is served on a hamburger bun. You might want to try that at home some time.
We also spent a lot of time telling sellers of various things that we really couldn't buy what they wanted to sell.

After a couple of hours, the trip began. This section of road was also being used to dry corn.

The bus made several stops. This stop was for those that wanted to buy meat.

We also stopped for lunch. I must say the prices were very reasonable.

When we arrived at our destination, we were invited to stay in a friend's house. Chicken was on the menu and Robert helped with the preparations.

This is Warren. I haven't seen him in four years, so I was thrilled he came by to say hi. As a young teenager he fell from a tree and broke his leg. Heidi and Vicky put him in traction and worked on his leg for more than a month. Praise the Lord! he is a strong construction worker today. He came by to say thank you.

The next day was to be our hike into the village. Fortunately we were able to arrange for a truck to take us part way. It saved us around three hours of hiking.

It was a beautiful morning and it was great to be back in northern Luzon.

We finally got to a place where the truck kept spinning out and couldn't climb any further. That is where our hike began.

Along the trail we came to places where we could re-fill our water bottles.

There were quite a few Isnag who hiked with us. They were pretty thrilled that I had arranged a truck to take all of us part way.

This is the lunch spot. It is about half way from town to our village. On the way back, I opened my can of pork and beans and my can of sardines to go with my rice and when I turned around a dog was eating my beans. That is a very sad story and I hope you are not all depressed for the rest of the day. At least I did have sardines left to go with my rice.

This is the lunch Robert and I shared on the way in.

I also had time for a quick rest before we started the second part of the hike.

When we arrived in the village I didn't take very many pictures because we were so busy. We had to repair part of our roof that had blown down, fix the generator, tie up the radio antenna, stock the clinic, pay workers, and visit with many Isnag friends. It was very nice to be home again. I am really hoping that our family will get to spend some time in the village during the coming year.

We asked the people if anyone would hike with us when we hiked out and they said that there was a guy going on the day we wanted to go, but when the day arrived, the guy changed his mind. Robert and I started out on our own. I know the trail fairly well for the first one and a half hours. Then we ran into a guy that showed us the next section of trail. A few crossings down, we heard some yelling and it was a bunch of my friends who live way upstream. They were on their way to town and when they heard that I was ahead of them they rushed to catch up with us so that they could keep us from getting lost. It was a real blessing and they did help us a lot.
Another blessing was that it didn't rain on us and the river was running low and clear.

The hike out took us more than nine hours and we enjoyed visiting with the Isnag guys the whole way. At rest stops we shared our snacks with them.

About three hours before we reached town again I tripped and fell flat on my face. I sprained my toe and had to limp the rest of the way to town. In town we washed up, had chicken and rice for dinner, and re-packed our bags. We laid down for a short rest, but that didn't last long. The ride out of the mountains left at 2:30 am. We made it to the city just after sunrise and were on the plane back to Manila that afternoon. Just before dark I made it home.
Thank you for praying for me. I was pleased with all that we were able to accomplish. I forgot to mention that we were able to arrange for 120 pounds of rice to be distributed to the elementary school children before we left the village. God is good!