Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Me and the kids from Noah's Ark Orphanage
Grayzel and I

Batad Rice Terraces
Batad Rice Terraces

Noah's Ark Orphanage

Last week our team led a group of 10 Filipino youth on a 5-day mission trip to an orphanage in Banaue, Philippines. Banaue is famous for its beautiful 2,000 year-old rice terraces. Banaue is located in the mountains of Northern Philippines, about a 10 hour drive North of Manila. We held a vacation bible school (VBS) program and a daily feeding for the children of the orphanage and surrounding towns, totaling 75 children in all. We held the VBS at one of the local churches of Banaue, which is located on top of a small rice terrace in the town, overlooking the beautiful valley of rice terraces. The VBS was the idea of Mary and she was the main force in organizing and promoting the event, traveling to countless churches in the Manila area to stir interest. Mary was able to get 10 Filipino youth and two team leaders inspired to make the commitment to each raise P2,500 ($65) and commit a week to the mission trip, no small task to say the least! Unfortunately Mary wasn’t able to make the trip as she is now home with her Mother for the month of May while her mother starts chemotherapy to treat lung cancer.

It was very inspiring to see the Filipino youth, none of whom had ever served on any sort of mission trip before, take charge of the daily lessons and activities and really pour their hearts into the children. I’m a firm believer that when a person does any sort of service work for someone else, it’s not just the person receiving the service who is affected. I think that the person doing the work grows and receives just as much, if not more, in return for the work done. Our goal going into the trip was that the lives of both the children and the youth would be changed as a result of the work done, and by hearing what the youth had to say at our debriefing each night, I think our goal was accomplished. After the VBS was completed we had a recreational day where we took a jeepney ride to Batad, the next town over, and hiked the rice terraces in that area.

It was so nice to experience a different area in the Philippines and it amazed me how different life is up there. First of all, it’s quite cold (that is, cold for the Philippines). The temperature was about 50 degrees and rainy/foggy. It was such a relief to have some cool weather for a change…it’s summer here right now and Manila has just been sweltering lately. Second, the language spoken in that region is Ifugao, not Tagalog. It’s crazy to drive only 10 hours North of Manila, still in the same country, and have people speak a different language. It was a bit of a challenge for out team because nobody on our team spoke Ifugao, and in fact more people there spoke English than Tagalog. Finally, it’s hard to believe that each rice terrace you see is man made, over 2,000 years ago.

Even with all these rice terraces, the area is still feeling the effects of the rice crisis, as the rice grown on the terraces isn’t enough to support rice needs of the towns. Rice import prices have increased by 50% over the last year and it’s becoming harder and harder for many to feed their families.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Boracay, Philippines

A few weeks ago we took a last minute trip to Boracay, Philippines, a tiny beach island about an hour flight south of Manila. We had a weekend where we weren’t doing much, so we decided to go on a little adventure and see some of the Philippines we know we’d not have the chance to see again. Boracay island is a popular beach destination for local Filipinos as well as other Southeast Asian tourists as it has various water sports available, white sandy beaches, and plentiful restaurants and nightlife. We went all out and spent the weekend kayaking along the beach, snorkeling in the clear reefs off the coast, and jet skiing. Our afternoons were spent laying on the beach before running for cover from the late afternoon thunderstorms that rolled in and absolutely drenched anyone unlucky enough to still be outside. Our pictures are limited because the first evening we were there we dropped the camera into a pool or rainwater and it broke…oops. Sorry, you’ll have to use your imagination…

It was a great getaway and we feel lucky to be able to have had the chance to make it down there.

Prayer Requests!

Most of you know that I (Mary) am in Colorado for the month of May. My mom was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in April and is currently receiving chemotherapy treatments. While visiting home has been nice to see friends and family we’ve missed and warm showers are a bonus, Andy and I are naturally needing prayers. Please pray for:

• Andy’s spirit, safety, and health in the Philippines.
• Andy’s success with quick progression in the purchase and construction of the playground.
• That I would serve Mom in the best way possible for her and our family.
• That I would embrace my time at home, honoring God and those around me.
• Andy's and my relationship as we miss each other terribly and communication is fairly difficult.
• That mom’s body would respond to the chemotherapy shrinking the size of the tumor to allow for surgery and full tumor removal in August!
• That mom’s symptoms during the chemotherapy would vanish. That she would have energy, without aches and nausea, and her spirit would remain positive and strong!

If you’d like to keep up on my mom’s progress, visit:

Blessings, MT