Please be sure to ask questions in the comments!
As you can imagine, I have been crazy busy with attempting to settle in after so long on the road and overseas. Not to mention, setting up a household takes some time! But I am finally popping in to update y'all on Mission Philippines.
Our trip to the Philippines gave me my first experience on a plane! We boarded in Albuquerque, flew to San Francisco, flew to Hong Kong, then finally flew to Manila. It was exciting to see parts of Russia and other countries from the air!
Our flight to Hong Kong took 15+ hours. Above is the plane we traveled in.
After landing in Manila at around 11:00, it took about two hours to get through all of the security and finally claim our baggage. Our pastor friends picked us up, and it took us another four hours to make our way through the crazy traffic in Manila to our destination in San Narciso (Zambales).
Our hotel was two stories tall with a balcony area on top.
The swimming pool was 7 feet deep, which was awesome for us. We only went swimming a few times (we were too busy most of the time!), but it was nice when we did go!
One of my more laughable experiences happened at the pool. We were swimming and Samuel left for a whopping 2 minutes. The second he left me alone, a group of young men (who had been showing off with their mad swimming skills) came over to me. Apparently, one of the guys "liked" me, they all thought I was "juicy beautiful" (whatever that means?!), and they wanted photos with me. So...we got lots of selfies. It was hilarious, actually. They posted all their photos to Facebook or whatnot...and, the minute Samuel came back, they dispersed like they had never spoken to me. I made sure to give Samuel a big kiss and flash my wedding ring a little bit. ;) It still makes me laugh. They were just nice boys, not weird at all, but it still amuses me that they all vanished the moment Samuel came back...
Our hotel was next to a fighting cock farm. The roosters crowed night and day! I didn't mind myself, since roosters reminded me of home.
I enjoyed the view of the road. We were in the very rural Philippines, and I was able to see all of the things one would expect in a third world country. Jeepneys (Filipino buses), tricycles (a motorcycle with a side car), the occasional car, and water buffalo pulling carts. I even saw a tricycle pulling a full grown hog once!
The beautiful flowers were one of my favorite aspects of the Philippines. We were there during their summer. It was stifling hot (about 100 degrees ever day + an additional 5-10 degrees that the humidity made the weather feel). The heat made me sick at least part of the time. I don't know whether it was the humidity, sweat, bug spray, or sunblock, but all my clothes turned yellow.
Aren't the flowers lovely?!
Samuel and I had fun taking photos of each other.
This was our room and bathroom. There was no hot water, no sinks, and the shower was a cold water faucet on the wall. We used the bucket to wash our clothes in.
We were able to eat in the next room, which had a refrigerator. It died once, and I discovered how unpleasant rotten coconut looks. ;) We ate rice every day, along with a variety of Filipino foods.
Pastor JP took us on an early morning stroll to see the sunrise at Crystal Beach one morning. It was fun to see how the fishermen live and watch their work.
Notice the black sand? It's from all the volcanoes.
Isn't the South China Sea beautiful?! (Also called the Philippine Sea.)
These awesome little crabs were everywhere! It was so fun to watch them skitter across the sand. We even got to catch and hold them!
The Filipino people do their best to protect the baby turtles! We saw where they collect the eggs, label them, and wait for them to hatch. We then saw the baby turtle station! So cute, huh?!
One of the churches was along the beach. We worked with Rivers of Joy Baptist Mission. All in all, we traveled through a network of about 12 churches, most of which were offshoots of the mission.
Yeah. I'm a New Mexican. Give me water and I will photograph it for days!
We visited Subic Bay to pick up supplies, such as rice, vegetables, chicken, and coconut. It was slightly Americanized, but not much. The closest I ever felt to being "home" in America was in Baguio City, but it really was not that Americanized either. I definitely felt that we were in a third world country. We shied away from most of the tourist areas and stayed in the pretty rural Philippines.
I saw the above-ground cemeteries in Subic Bay. The deceased are "buried" in cement boxes and literally stacked onto the hill sides.
We enjoyed a variety of fruit, most of which I cannot pronounce. It was good though!
Here are the church plants under Rivers of Joy Baptist Mission.
Samuel gave the address to the graduates at the Rivers of Joy Baptist School the second night we were in the Philippines. Samuel is not ordained just yet (hopefully soon!), but the Filipinos understand "preacher" as "pastor." Close enough. ;)
Samuel the celebrity...
The kiddos did a great job with their performances!
I think Samuel had fun hanging out the awards! I handed out some also, but it was VERY hot. This was our second day. We had just arrived, were suffering from jet lag, and the heat was really, really getting to me. I didn't pass out, but I was glad I was only on stage for about 20 minutes. I don't know how Samuel stood up there for about two hours.
Did I mention that the graduation ceremony was five hours long?
The kiddos were just too cute!
Proud parents... ;)
For about the next three weeks, our routine was simple, yet very, very busy. Every morning, we went out soul winning. Every afternoon, we went to market, Samuel worked on his sermons, we worked with the children, etc. Every evening, we had church and a meal. Sometimes, there was also a sport's fellowship. On Sundays, there were sometimes more than one service in different churches. Samuel preached a total of about 20+ times.
Traffic and driving in the Philippines was out of this world. There is no way to describe it. There are no rules except that he-who-is-first-fastest-or-biggest rules the road. Lines and lanes mean nothing. Speed limits are a suggestion. Honking is continual. Police don't really care, nor do they come when there is an accident. The above pictures are shortly after 2 (possibly more) people were killed on a bridge. We *finally* saw an ambulance, but it was hours after the fact and two fatalities had already been confirmed.
My photos of the roads do not do it justice. Most of the time, my eyes were closed or I was praying or I was clutching the hand bar for dear life. Thus, I got precious few photos. ;)
We did Bible studies on patios such as the above. This photo represents a very nice cement block house, more or less middle class.
Working with the children and teaching them the Gospel was such a blessing!
This was a typical home: a bamboo hut with a dirt floor. We went to many of these homes during visitation and soul winning.
The above photos are of soul winning. Praise God, souls were saved every day. I was able to lead a woman named Magdalena to the Lord. She had a Catholic background and, after I explained how works do NOT save us, she was very ready and asked what she needed to do to be saved. She was crying and it was a very genuine, exciting conversion. I didn't get a photo with her, but maybe y'all will pray that she grows in the Lord?
Pastor Roman, showing us the inside of his church.
We stopped by one of the rivers. Don't look now, but yeah. They still wash their clothes and bathe in rivers in parts of the Philippines.
Wow. My first ride in a tricycle. We needed to go soul winning where cars couldn't go, so we hopped in the tricycle. Me and one of the pastor's wives went inside and Pastor Roman and Samuel went on the motorcycle! So... Americans were not designed to ride in tricycles. Either that or tricycles were not designed to accommodate Americans. We barely fit! I got used to riding in them, but they are scary on the roads where the bigger vehicles rule and there is no such thing as car insurance... (Yeah, I heard all the horror stories while I was there. I saw the roads clogged with cars where people had just died. I heard my Filipino friends describe being hit by a bigger car and left on the side of the road to die.)
Some samples of Filipino food...
Here is one of the churches we visited.
This guy. He was amazing. He is in his 80's. He was always smiling and he sang so beautifully! Isn't that smile contagious?!
I really enjoyed all of the singing.
And the preaching... Of course. ;)
After church, it was always fun to watch the classic game of how-many-Filipinos-can-we-fit-in-a-tricycle. ;)
Samuel enjoyed visiting with our elderly friend. And, no, Samuel is not a son of Goliath. He's only 6.4. We just so happened to be giants in the land in the Philippines.
How does this compare to YOUR church?
It's very natural to listen to the preaching from a tree. It's also natural for chickens, goats, dogs, cats, and ducks to wander in and out of the homes and, of course, church. :) I rather liked the animals in church (it's a dirt floor, so why not?!). I just didn't care for the flying cockroaches that entangled themselves in my hair while my husband was preaching. Oh the joys of being the preacher's wife and having to be dignified because everyone in church is watching your every move. ;) I survived, but yeah. Bugs are NOT my thing.
I rather enjoyed listening to my favorite preacher once or twice or five times every day!
On a side note, the people are very hungry for the gospel in the Philippines. It was refreshing to go soul winning every day and the people actually listen to us. People were saved every day. The concept of not having to work for their salvation was so new to them. It was a joy to explain to them that JESUS saves, not works of righteousness. (More on this in part two of Mission Philippines.)
I was sick almost the entire time we were there. The heat, the food, the jet lag, and my own auto-immune diseases (which make ANY kind of travel difficult, let alone in a third world country!) made for a lot of rashes, upset stomach, headaches, and extreme weariness. God was good to me, though. I only needed to stay in the hotel twice. For the rest of the time, God gave me the strength to keep going and not pass out or be sick in public. I think my theme verse for this mission was 2 Corinthians 12:9: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
We took about two days off during the month we were there. On one of those days, we took our personal money to take do a little sight seeing and take the pastors on a boat ride. (They had not gone in five years and were very excited to show us the local views!) It was very, very hot, but the day off was super nice.
Our destination points were Capones Island and Anawangin Cove. This was my first time on a boat on the ocean. Are you all sensing that I had a lot of firsts on this trip!?
Capones Island was just beautiful. I loved it. I've never seen such white sand!
Our little boat. It seemed so very flimsy on that wide, deep ocean with all the waves!
I love my man. ;)
Pardon my crazy hat. It was hot, okay? ;)
So, I was picking up shells. I started to put one in my purse...and then it moved. Little pinchers came out. I threw it. And screamed. It was fun. ;) Samuel retrieved the little guy and we ended up having a nice visit with him. Lesson learned though. Those perfect shells are not always empty...
Cute little guy, huh?
Footprints in the sand. Since I was sick so much, I kept thinking of that poem and praying that God was carrying me. :)
Isn't the cove pretty!?
There is a fresh water stream in the cove. Many people come to camp. Personally, I preferred the beach side!
The water is sooooo clear and warm!
More crazy hat selfies!
Our little day trip was a nice break. Our schedule was crazy and just getting to relax for one day and buy gifts for our family and sponsors was fun!
Here is another one of the churches we visited. Again, how does this compare with your church?
Pastor Roman and Pastor Reuben
The pastors,waiting for the congregants to arrive!
I enjoyed the testimony times. It's exciting to hear of the things the Lord is doing all the way across the world. Here, this sweet girl told of her witnessing to her atheist seat-mate in school and how God saved her from feminism.
I loved hearing my favorite preacher, but the bugs got awfully distracting sometimes. (Well, that and the cats....) Despite the gallons of bug spray I was using, the bugs loved me. They loved me. I prayed the entire time that I would not get malaria, 'cause the bugs were eating me with or without repellent.
The kiddos in this church were just too much fun! We had a blast together... It all started when I (the white, "rich" American woman who descended from the giants!) smiled at them. Oh, the fun.
Did I mention that Americans are celebrities in the Philippines? Everywhere I went, folks would just randomly ask me to take selfies with them. It was kind of fun, but it was hard for me to get used to all the talk about my white skin. I think all skin colors are beautiful and it was a little hard for me to not think of them as being racist towards themselves when they would say how pretty white skin is, comparing it with their own. I made a point of trying to tell them that I think of tan skin as perfectly lovely and that, no, my height and my white skin do not make me look like an American movie star!
Next time, we'll delve into the more difficult situations we encountered. Until then, pray for the Philippines!
Any questions? Please as anything you want about my experience in the Philippines. Feel free to ask about food, culture, my impression, or anything that pops into your mind!