Wednesday, March 26, 2008

welcome to the jungle...

Our concrete jungle... part of Manila
Kuya Andy and Kanawan kids
Esmeralda made it to the top of the mountain!
Ate Mary and Kanawan kiddies

welcome to the jungle...

Kanawan classroom
Kanawan girl carrying a stick to fetch fruit from trees
Rice drying and clothes hanging...
Kanawan kids praying... "Salamat po..."
Len Lyn and the village in the distance

We just got back from a 5 day trip to a small village about 5 hours north of Manila. We traveled there with a team of 7 Canadian students that we’re hosting for a few weeks and we organized a 4-day vacation bible school (VBS) for the children of the village and surrounding areas, totaling about 120 kids ranging from 3-12 years old (it’s summer hear so the kids are on summer break through May). It was definitely one of the coolest experiences we’ve had so far living out here…The village is about a mile hike into the jungle from the nearest road and located on the high point of a dense, lush valley. There’s about 30 families totaling maybe 150 people in the village and some of us stayed in the church while the others stayed in the pastor’s hut (Mary and I and a few other stayed in tents outside the church). We held a session in the morning and one in the afternoon, and we’d serve the kids lunch in between. We had the evenings free to hang out with the kids and people in the village. Very few people in the village spoke English, so it was a challenge to communicate but our Filipino teammates translated some and kids are pretty easy going as long as you have some cool new games to teach them. We arrived on Thursday around noon and while everyone was setting up and getting situated, one of our teammates pulled a few of us aside and showed us a 10-foot Philippine Cobra that a dog found and managed to kill (they weren’t sure if the dog was going to survive because that kind of cobra spits venom, but I think he made it)…The thing was probably three or four inches in diameter at it’s widest point and was easily over 10 feet long! So what do you do with a 10 foot snake in the jungle? You eat it!...they cooked it up and we had it the next day for lunch, it was pretty good actually…tastes like a dense chicken. We held the VBS on Thursday afternoon through Saturday and it went really well. We attended the village’s sunrise Easter service and later that day went on a hike to a small mountain near the village…wow, some of the most amazing natural scenery I’ve ever seen, and quite a contrast from the bustling city of Manila. When we said goodbye on Monday late morning, the Pastor’s wife prayed for us all (in Tagalog) and even though I couldn’t completely understand her, she kept thanking us for our work with their children and how much it meant to them that we came all the way out there. Some of the women cried and thanked us as we left the village. We’re hoping to go back again once more before we leave the Philippines.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Maganda Gabi (Good Night) Update #2

Hope all is well in the states. We’re thinking of you often… We’re adapting and making big strides (forward and backward) everyday. Last Thursday was filled with several lessons. We're really loving our squatter kids! We hate calling them that. They shouldn’t be called “squatter kids” defining them by the place they come from. I think an easy way to describe squatters are people living in attached shacks. Andy describes it as one step above living on the street. We’ve been so blessed to work with these kids on a somewhat of a consistent basis where we’re learning more about them, and them us. Last Thursday our team had the chance to take the kids on a field trip. The trip was overall a success – a messy success! Nearly the entire school attended which put us in charge of taking 60 kids out of their squatter area for probably the first time. The looks on their faces when we left the city, driving by mountains was priceless. However, there was a rather different part of the tip. Every time we would get back on the bus to travel to the next destination, about a quarter of the kids would start throwing up! Or if not throwing up, trying hard not to vomit, holding a barf bag over their face. The motion of the bus was something many for them had never felt before. Most kids walk everywhere, don’t travel far, and if they do they’re on a bicycles, or a trike. The air conditioned bouncing tour bus was something the kids could not handle! It's times like this where we can identify what we've culturally grown accustomed to.

Andy and I have decided that we want to devote a lot of our time here to fundraising, purchasing and building a playground for the school. This is something the facilitators, teachers and even students would never ask for but something they clearly need. The ‘backyard’ of the school in covered in rocks and not a well kept place for playing. We currently play red light green light and duck-duck-goose in the street in front of the school (moving to the sidewalks taking time outs every time a vehicle passes). We’ve been doing a lot of research and have thankfully found some contacts and are encouraged that this may be something we could see through during our stay.

We’re falling into our ministries nicely here. Andy is providing accounting services for the school and organizing their finances. We’re there as often as we can be and are planning feedings so the kids occasionally get healthy meals. I joined a women’s Bible study on Tuesday nights. We help with a youth emerging leader’s ministry whenever we can. We help with hosting teams and are researching playgrounds in our off time. By the end of the week, we’re rather tired – but feeling more and more that we’re making an impact and feeling in the right place.

We are slowly but surely learning the language here. It’s hard to devote enough time to the language as we get fairly spoiled as most Filipinos speak enough English. However, every time we want to go a bit deeper or begin to speak or ask feelings, we're unable to communicate and are reminded of the importance of learning Tagalog.

We have had the chance to take a few quick trips outside of the city while we’ve been here. We ventured to Tagaytay where you hike to the center of a volcano in an island. Then we helped lead at youth retreat in Rizel that was a weekend full of beautiful scenery, WARM WATER AND FRENCH TOAST (the owners were from Connecticut). We also took a trip to a large mountain and hiked through the jungle (and got lost) to see the top. And this Thursday we leave again to run a VBS for the Kanawan tribe for 5 days.

We welcome a team of 7 Canadian college students tomorrow and are preparing for our schedules to change as we’ll need to accustom these missionaries to the lifestyle we still growing accustomed to.

We’re thinking of you and praying for you often.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our kiddies...

"I praise you because you made me." Psalm 139:14

They loved their headbands

Red Light Green Light

Watercolor gifts

Chanting 'Jollibee Jolibee'!!!!


Youth Leader Retreat

Drop In Center Renovation



The "TOP" of the jungle