Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Interesting Church

Tuesday found us soulwinning in a town called Balibago. We stopped to invite one older lady sporting a cast on her left arm. I asked her when it would be removed and she pointed to the cast, there I saw scrawled June 14. Smart lady, can't forget that way....
She began to tell us of a church that another foreigner had started right after Mt. Pinatubo, the volcano, had blown. Many people would go there and there was food for all. The preacher only asked that we eat it there and not take it out. She said thousands would come...(soon I found out why) "Every time I would go, I would get 10 pesos. When the bell rang, everyone on the inside would go to the outside and the next crowd would come in, I would go back in, I made 40 pesos a day attending the studies!" She continued...."the preacher said that it was ok to smoke marijuana, they offered it to me, but I didn't want any......WHOA! when she said that, I was shocked. Made me understand how much more they need the truth. More than rice, and 10 pesos per message, they need the truth!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Well, yesterday was a little frustrating being in the Philippines. My wife, as you know by now, is pregnant. The baby, and the belly are growing. It was time for a trip to the store to find some stylish maternity clothes. In one of the earlier posts, we shared they had just built a new mall in the area and so it was stop one. There must be 100 stores in this place, it is huge! and the clothes are all small! My wife and I have never before felt like Goliath and his Amazon wife, until we came here. Once, when my shoe needed repaired, I happened upon a shoe place and pulled off my shoe and placed it on the counter asking if they had some soles for this size shoe. The lady just laughed...To them, I am the original "Big Foot"....well back to the maternity clothes....we did find a maternity section in the one department store, but many of the clothes there, looked like they were meant for attracting the same type of activity that got them into the maternity section to begin with! Spaghetti strap numbers with short hem lines...etc. After ruling out their maternity section, we tried the ladies section looking for a skirt or dress there. Again, short, short, short. I asked the lady, "Do you have anything that would fit my wife?" She looked at her, and chuckled and said "For Ma’am?, No Sir." I told her "She is pregnant! Are there any maternity stores in this place?" She replied "Right outside of this store, there is a place called Tubby." Well out we went, and searched and didn't find. We began to think that the lady was just being rude. I mean really, a store named “Tubby”! My wife remembered receiving an advertisement that showed a store with maternity clothes, so off we went to stop number two. Upon arriving, I again asked if they had any stores for maternity clothes. The first lady said yes, a place called "Tubby". Ah Ha! There is such a store! We sought and found said merchandiser, it was not a store for maternity clothes, but plus size women...!!! Although, I tend to think, that such a name in America would never fly. Alas, no clothes suitable for Mommy and the little Devonshire within. Not to worry, we will just have to have something made. I include the picture from my phone, bad quality, but I wanted you to see this is real! What think ye? Would "Tubby" make it in America with that name?

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Tender Heart

My wife came into the room and told me that a brother was sitting on our porch, his head was down, and he had barely greeted my wife. I went out to see what the brother wanted. I found him sobbing. This is not a young man, he is in his mid forties. When the tears dried enough for him to speak, he told me that the bag that had his bible college notes and bible had fallen off his motorcycle/trike. When he discovered the bag was missing, he returned to look for it, but it was gone. I let him know, that these things can be replaced, not to fret, and then invited him in to our prayer meeting we were about to have. As I thought about how tender his heart was and what a loss it was for him, that it made him weep and sob, I asked God to make my heart tender too....

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Visit from the Mackerts (5/06)

Rev. and Sis. Mackert came to visit us yesterday and stayed the night. He had to come here and get some of his things that have been stored here until he found a more permanent dwelling In Manila, where he is going to pioneer a church. He shared with us they had found a place, 9feet by 14feet and one bathroom. It is on the 6th floor and there is no elevator. The last place they had stayed, they had to share a common bathroom with the other tenants! Yikes! This place has their very own private bathroom, although the Rev. shared there is no seat on the throne, and no way to attach one….

The Great Flood is Coming

Monday, November 07, 2005
A couple of funny things have happened recently. We were visiting a lady named Ame (pronounced Amay). She is very pregnant and having some complications so she is basically housebound. We went to check in on her and she pulled out some chairs and began to tell us her story. She is 41 now and this is her eighth pregnancy. When she was 25 (I think) she had her second baby and the doctor told her she had cancer and would not be able to have any more babies. She went to visit her relatives and there happened to be a faith healer staying in the next house. She told the healer her story and the healer rubbed her belly. She became pregnant. She was concerned that the baby would be somehow deformed because of the cancer and so went to the doctor and the doctor told her she was healed. She had the baby, and shortly thereafter was pregnant again. As she told us the story in her thickly accented English, it became increasingly humorous…”What is this? It can’t be!” She was obviously stunned and not so pleased to be expecting her fourth without a break. Life continued and she had her fifth, sixth and seventh. She went back to the healer and asked the person to stop this…”I can not.” Was his reply. When she delivered one of the children she was due to have a tubal ligation, but she delivered in a Catholic hospital and they didn’t agree to it. She tried to convince her husband to have a vasectomy “I have been pregnant for eight years! After all I have suffered, you’d think he could sacrifice for 15 minutes!” but no….. When she went to the field and told her husband she was pregnant with this one, he fell on his knees, kissed the ground and said (loosely translated) “Oh the great flood is coming!” meaning the end of the world. The way she told us the story, we three were all laughing hysterically and I was wiping away tears.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Beginning of the Outstations (10/05)

This past week we went into two of the Barrangays (communities) and held open air services. I think they turned out good. We often invite and get commitments from people but they sometimes do not show, this time we were going to bring church to them. The first time we had 30+ people and many prayed, the next time, we walked through the streets playing the guitar, tambourine and singing and had 60+. We plan to do it again this week. We had one sister testify. She used to be a “Jueteng” (pronounced wetting) worker. Jueteng is an illegal numbers (gambling) game and she was the #1 collector for her area….then came Jesus and she gave her heart to God and gave all of that up. She is an older lady, full of energy and spunk and quite a soulwinner for God! Her life makes a difference in her barrangay.

Funny Signs #3, 4, 5

#1 In a new mall..."Doncha bring dem foods in here!"

#2 Is this the man everyone wants to see at Halloween???

#3 I don't know if they meant "we're" or they are announcing you just missed it....

Friday, May 26, 2006

Getting to name church members

I found out that Rev. Gaudario is the original Adam. Of course you know Adam named the animals in the garden of Eden. Rev. Gaudario gets to name some of the people that come to our church.

When the Koreans come here, their names are not very user friendly. Three examples in our congregation (the spelling may be off, but the pronunciation is true…
1. Ra Min (Chicken or Beef you may ask….)
2. Har Em (Yes it is a girl)
3. Hy Min
Well with these names having less than wonderful English meaning, they often choose an English name to go by while they are in the Philippines. One girl chose Nana. Well that is fine, but when she began telling the Philippino kids in church her name, they all started to giggle, she asked Rev. Gaudario why and she found out her name means “pus” in Tagalog. She started to panic and asked for names right then, he began giving her bible names and she liked “Leah”, so that is what we call her now. I dare not tell her that Leah was tender-eyed (ugly) in the bible!
Another man was asking for names and Rev. Gaudario gave him John. That is what we call him today. One Sunday, a Korean girl that has attended the church for years, plays the piano for us and sings, left during the last part of the service. We have known her as Jen the whole time she has been here. Her fiancĂ© came and told us he was going to take Sophia to the hospital. I thought that maybe they had brought someone else with them to church, but wondered why I didn’t see the other girl. Later the mystery was revealed to me, Jen didn’t like her English name and decided to change it to Sophia! This after several years of being known as Jen!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Photos From the Philippines

Click on the link above to see some more photos.


Rev. and Sis. Macdonald are laboring in the church and bible college In Mindanao. They are truly an inspiration to me. He has labored outside of America for 14 years running now. (Germany, Korea, Philippines) He has oft been an encouragement, specifically because he can relate to what we are dealing with. In our conversations, he has shared some of the challenges of laboring in Mindanao. Although the city of Cagayan de Oro is larger than our city of Angeles, the economy there is more desperate, the danger more real.
Someone painted on the church vehicle “Kill all rich Americans!”
Two of their dogs have been killed
They have no landline (phone) there. The phone company will not install lines there unless the neighborhood agrees to hire two guards to keep the lines from being stolen. Recently, some of the students were on there way to work and found a dead man. He was 21 years old and had attended the church before. There was a note on his body that said “I am a wire thief.” Vigilante Justice.
The students there have many preaching points, or outstations and the attendance at these places is growing. People are getting saved and filled with the Holy Ghost! That part is very encouraging!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Can you help me find my Dad?

Perhaps some of the more heart touching things that have happened to me, occurred recently. As I walked through the barrio, they looked at me and saw that I was white and said to another lady, “Maybe he can find your children’s dad?” from what I could piece together, some man came by, got the girl pregnant, and then forsook her, and the children…sad, sad, sad. Then just two days ago, we invited this young man and afterwards he said, maybe you can help me find my Dad. You could tell he was a mix ( ½ White, ½ philippino). But as I thought longer on the subject, I thought that is exactly what I am trying to do, I am trying to help you find your father, not your earthly father but your heavenly Father…

His two best friends

I read this and thought it a worthwhile illustration...

Forgiveness!, by Jamie Shell & Brent Nidiffer

"She'll not live a day," a physician told an attending nurse.
Concerned, the nurse befriended the dying woman, and in a few hours had won her confidence.

Motioning for the nurse to come near, the old woman said sorrowfully, "I have traveled all the way from California by myself, stopping at every city of importance between San Francisco and Boston. In each city I visit just two places: the police station and the hospital. You see, my boy ran away from home and I have no idea where he is. I've got to find him ...."

The mother's eyes seemed to flash a ray of hope as she added, "Someday he may even come into this very hospital, and if he does, please promise me you'll tell him his two best friends never gave up on him."

Bending over the dying mother, the nurse whispered softly, "Tell me the names of those two friends so I can tell your son if I ever see him."

With trembling lips and her eyes filled with tears the mother responded, "Tell him those two friends are God and his mother," and she closed her eyes and died.

God, even more than a forgiving mother, never gives up on one of His children. A long time ago, the apostle Peter promised, "All who believe in Jesus will be forgiven of their sins through Jesus' name" (Acts 10:43). God's forgiveness is uniquely infinite ... and since God is the quintessence of forgiveness, to think on God is to immerse oneself in thoughts of forgiveness rather than failure.

Hold tight to the truth that God forgives and God loves you with an everlasting love. And if this finds you away from him, remember that your two best friends have never given up on you!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Local Version

You remember I shared in the last letter about having to bargain for many of our purchases. I was talking to a lady bargaining for a pair of tennis shoes for my wife to walk around in. They said they were Adidas, but they were only being sold, new, for $3.90. I asked for a discount and she pointed to the shoes and said but these are Adidas. I told her that I knew that they were not real Adidas, she said something to the effect of “No sir, these are Local Adidas”. I thought about it after a while and realized that that is the same thing some people think about Christianity. That this is not the real Christianity, but the local version. Thank God for the real thing.

Monday, May 22, 2006


We have been tormented all day today, (Karaoke) I think it may be peculiar to the Philippines that if you can not sing, then rent a videoke/karaoke machine and crank it all the way up and let the whole neighborhood know of your inability. I really get a kick out of it usually, I do love the Philippino, but I guess it is a vice that I sometimes indulge by watching a fellow in a public place sing his heart out and sound soooooo bad! Once while we were walking through a mall, this large guy had the microphone and was grooving in front of the videoke machine and singing horribly (highly amplified of course) and I chose to walk on that side of the walkway to see who would do that to themselves. It is so important to them, that if you go to a little village, where they may not have a doctor, they may not have a real toilet, they may not have their own water and plumbing, but you can see a little 6ft by 6ft building, or maybe a tent, that has a karaoke machine and the volume is always cranked up (Especially if you can’t carry a tune.) Today, after a whole day of this loud music I wondered if the suicide method Hari-Kari originated from the word Karaoke!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sports in the Philippines

Perhaps you would like to experience some of the sports here in the Philippines. The Philippinos are a very friendly people, and naturally smaller physically, so vicious games of bone-jarring football are not the norm. What you do see, are lots of little basketball hoops, (sans net) sand lot courts and fellows driving to the hoop. One brother here told me that in the Philippines there isn’t always an open area to play football and soccer but a hoop can be placed anywhere. I guess the sport that really caught my attention was badminton. (is that a sport?) well… The sports pages cover it, and they manage to take pictures of the athletes with a grimace on their face as if they are striving against a 300lb middle is an Olympic sport, (I had to double check that to be sure) and kids are playing it in the barrios, (it’s cheap!)

Househelp (10/05)

Well, we have a helper now. Her name is Jenifer (her spelling I believe) and her nickname is Inday. She has been a real blessing. I did some research to find out what the responsibilities of an employer to the househelp were. I found out the minimum wage was 800 pesos a month (about $16)(We pay ours much more than that!) if they live in Metro Manila and about 650 ($13) in certain other cities and 550 ($10) a month in all the rest. A day off a week is required but rarely given to most househelpers. We are to provide food and lodging and necessary medical attention. Househelp here is a real blessing. She gets up around 6am and sweeps the yard and street, makes breakfast, washes the car, irons and does laundry and cooks dinner along with any other cleaning that may need done around the house. We treat ours like family, which means she does all of that and we don’t pay her! just kidding. We take really good care of her and she seems to be quite happy here. I remember one lady we met while inviting people to church and she said “I like working for Americans, they eat good!”.

Things to get used to

There are things that I thought I would never get used to. The driving around here is one of those things. But now, I find myself complimenting a driver who was able to stop traffic by nudging the nose of his vehicle into the lane and getting the others to stop….it’s just the way it has to be, you find yourself saying “Hey that was a good move” after someone cuts someone else off and squeezes between two vehicles.
There are other things that I think it will take more time to get used to. The fact that we get stared at wherever we go, like aliens from another planet. Kids want to try out their one phrase of English and so call out repeatedly “What’s your name?”. If we walk through the neighborhood, we soon, without trying, gather a crowd of kids following us like the Pied Piper, asking for a church card or flyer, and it doesn’t really matter to them that they already have one in their other hand.
I have to get used to the fact that you can’t always find the things that you need. When my shoe’s sole needed replaced, I stopped at a shop and pulled off my shoe and put it on the counter and the lady just laughed “Too big!” I only wear a size 11 ½ but I am the original “Big Foot” to them. The other minister here working with us needed to replace the heads on his electric shaver and looked all around but to no avail, I decided to look on the internet for him, no problem I thought, and sure enough I found the heads, but when I went to purchase them, I found that few people ship to the Philippines. After about an hour or so searching, we find the heads (new) and were able to get it shipped to us for a total of $22 (he had bought them before at Walmart $29) and about two weeks time, but it sure would be nice to be able to drive down to Walmart and pick them up in 10 minutes.
The advertising here can be frank…and funny. Recently there was an ad for a weight loss clinic that said “I went from a huge American size 10 to a sexy size 4”. Huge American size 10??? There are some tiny people here, and the poverty must be really bad because they can not afford enough material to make a modest garment, they all look like they are wearing their little sister’s clothes. (definitely tongue in cheek)

Funny Sign Category #2

You know, they are trying to take God out of everything! Out of the schools, out of the government, out of the churches and the families. Of course all of you bible scholars know that El was one of the names of God in the bible. Look! They are even removing Him from the's a funny sign anyway!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Funny Sign Category #1

Always SAFETY!

Malaking Mga Pamilia! (Big families)

Philippinos have big families, Americans have big families too, but in America the big refers to our girth, and here to birth, or births I should say. It is not uncommon to hear of 6 or 8 siblings, and for the whole tribe to live together or next door. This picture is part of one tribe that attends. Grandma, two moms and many little ones.

Dangerous Haircut

Haircuts in the Philippines can be hazardous to your self esteem. I decided recently to get a flat top haircut. Seemed like a good idea, I remember my pastor saying he had worn one while he was in the Philippines, plus your hair won’t get messed up when you wear a motorcycle helmet…So I sat down in the barber’s chair and he began, he started with the sides and the back and was literally half way through, my mop of hair on top hanging over the close cut sides….when there was a brown out! No Power! The barber got a real kick out of this. He was laughing and sharing that he would just have to give me a hat and I would have to come back tomorrow. Brown-outs are not uncommon, usually at least once a week we lose power for about an hour or so, sometimes more frequently. I sat in the chair unmovable, I wasn’t going to leave, not like that! Thank the Lord the power kicked on after about 30 minutes and he finished up the haircut, but not before offering to exchange noses with me…(strange but true).

Music in the Phillipines...

I may have already shared in one of the previous emails, how that in the supermarkets and malls they have music playing very loudly. You just can’t avoid it. What I have noticed though, is that they have a lot of crazy songs about stupid things. I was forced to listen to a bunch of high pitched girls singing their hearts out about ….. Spaghetti! Not to be outdone, the male gender could be heard in another song, singing lustily about…Chocolate! (Choco…Choco-latay…Choco…Choco-latay) Later, I was in the barber shop and heard what sounded like the same female group singing about….Biscuits! (Which is the word they use for cookies and they pronounce it biskwit!) and then again recently an up-tempo number about….Gasolina!!!

Friday, May 19, 2006

When the Outstation becomes the Outhouse

Today (5/19/06), two of my favorite weekly adventures took place, going to the market to soulwin, and having our Friday outstation. The market was packed as always, even with the new mall open, it didn't seem to diminish the crowds here. Two of the new bible college students went with me. We took the jeepney and paid our fare (15 cents a piece) and rode til we got close to the market. The scene changes little from week to week. Teeming humanity searching for their weekly treasures, vendors trying to convince you to buy, though the novelty and excitement of the place has worn off a little, the excitement of talking to someone about Jesus hasn't. Now, my grasp of the language enables me to invite them and to witness to them. Even my ignorance sometimes works to my advantage, If I don't understand everything they say, I just reply by telling them no matter what, they need to make time for God, and only the blood of Jesus can wash away their sins. Since most of the time they are just giving me an excuse, it works pretty good!

On the way home, we bought some mangos (from the family above) negotiated a fare on a tricycle, and went home for lunch. After lunch the second great adventure began.

Balibago is a small community of poor folks that live right next to the infamous "Fields Avenue". Fields is where the bars and girlie joints are, and it's lifestyle claims many of the young girls with it's lure of fast money. Fridays we go and spend time inviting people for an hour or two, and then have service right there in their community. It is an adventure, because as you walk through the pathways, you always seem to find more paths leading to more houses and lots of people to invite. Today after about an hour of inviting the rains came. Although many parts of the Philippines are beautiful and clean (so I am told) this is not one of them. Trash is thrown everywhere, and children and animals do their "Bizness" on the pathways. When the rains come, it is like flushing the toilet! These are not gentle little sprinkles sent to refresh and cool, but dousing dollops that send torrents of water surging through the paths, washing away all of the filth and trash with it. The kids loved it! They came running out and took impromptu showers under the downspouts! After the rain died down, we had church, even with the inclement weather, two new men came and prayed for salvation!

Ate! Tawad Naman!

Ate (pronounced Atay) is a term of respect to use, it literally means older sister, (Kuya for older brother) and “Tawad naman” means “discount really!” As a white guy, you are looked at as rich, and the prices are many times increased automatically just for you! So you must learn to negotiate. After about the third flat tire, it occurred to me that I might need a jack and a tire iron. I left the tire repair shop and drove across the street to another shop and began asking if they had a jack and tire iron to sell. It was a lot of fun. They understood very little English and so I was forced to use my Tagalog. He found a jack and I asked how much, he began examining the jack as if it were the Maltese Falcon, or the Hope Diamond, obviously a very rare and expensive jack was the impression I was getting “700 pesos” he told me. That is only about $14 dollars, but you have to understand, that is 3 days wages over here. WAAAAAAY too much I complained with my facial expressions “Very expensive! I am not rich! Tawad Naman!” I replied in Tagalog. He asked how much would I like to pay. I offered 350 if he could throw in a 4 way tire iron. He responded by saying “That’s too cheap!” (as he sends someone to go find a 4 way tire iron) The ideal impression here is to make the foreigner think that if I sold at that price, my family will have no money, no food, and you would be very evil to do that to me. (never mind the TV and full size video games in the background of the tire shop) Usually around this time it is good to talk about something else and so we started talking about God and I found out that his name was Joseph and he was a Christian. I really think he had a relationship with God. We talked about how God heals and he shared later how for 30+ years one of his relatives had taken no medicine (might have been him, can’t recall) and they had just prayed. We spent about an hour there and then finally came back to the bargain and bought the jack and the tire iron for 500 pesos. I made a friend.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I am Suki!

No, I didn’t change my name or sex, but Suki is a term used for a faithful customer. If you go to the local sari-sari store (tiny mom and pop snack shop) daily to buy eggs or a candy bar, they might say to you “Babalik Suki!” (Return suki (Oh faithful customer!)), but alas, I am suki to the wrong people. I had shared that I had gotten a flat tire recently and had it fixed, that was the beginning of a total of four flat tires in less than 2 weeks! I am Suki to the tire repair shop!
My wife and I really do appreciate our car. We bought it from a recommended mechanic who had fixed it and painted it and even gave us a three month labor warranty. I have taken it back many times to have things fixed in the short time that we have owned it. Three times for the windows, once for the headlight, once for the Air conditioning, once for the back up lights, once for various sounds emanating from the vehicle and then last week…The car was having a hard time starting and also some sort of fuel-engine problem. We took it to Randy(the mechanic) and he replaced the battery and put a new fuel pump in, he was kind enough to have it driven to my house and I jumped in to drop off the workers back at their shop…when the steering wheel broke, well we made it back and they fixed the steering wheel, we headed home (less than a mile) and the clutch stopped working, they fixed that the next day and we drove off and the fuel-engine problem arose again, they had my car almost all week! I am Suki to the mechanic shop! I am not paying any labor for these fixes, but I feel like I am putting somebody’s kids through college with all of the parts that I am buying! These unfortunate occurrences nudged me to purchase an additional vehicle. We still had the side car sitting in the driveway and all I needed was a motorcycle to have some sort of transportation if the car completely fails, so I bought the same version bike the previous pastor owns(his bike has already been shipped to him on the island of Cebu). It is described in the advertising as “A Real bike for Real Men” if that doesn’t get the testosterone flowing… It is a Honda XLR 200 dirt bike I found a used one with only about 600 miles on it. I now understand why the last pastor was so sold on them. They are great on gas, cheap to maintain, can go just about anywhere and a whole lot of fun!
I wish I could say the car problems were over, I am already building a list of gigs to take back to Randy, it is a good thing I am Suki!


I certainly understand that being a white guy here with a big nose, two body traits that they admire, (there is a place for everyone!!!!) makes me different. I am not so stuck on myself that I give it much credence. I thought the last two accounts were humorous enough to include. I am also trying to chronicle my experiences while things are still new to me. Pastor shared with me the advice a missionary had given him. Take all the pictures that you want while you are new to the Philippines, because after a while, you become accustomed to it and don’t see things with the same eyes. (Paraphrasing) I know it will be the same with these things so I am trying to write it all down while it is fresh and new to me.

Market Melees (10/05)

My wife and I were inviting people to church at the market, I using my limited Tagalog invited a group of fellows and a couple of them began pointing and saying something to me that I didn’t understand. There is another language here that this province uses that I do not know at all, and my Tagalog is still limited. He was pointing at me and laughing, “You Pogey!” He gave me the impression that he was calling me a punk, calling my bluff that I wasn’t fluent in the language and he could use a term to my face with perfect impunity. I became very uncomfortable, and asked him if he was speaking in Tagalog, he said he was, and all I could do was smile and make my exit. Later I had a chance to ask the other minister here (a Philippino) what the man was saying to me. I hesitantly spoke the word, after all, it could be a curse word the man was using, my fears were allayed when I found out it means “Handsome”. Suddenly my opinion of that fellow improved. He was a pretty nice guy after all.

Philippino Frankness

Philippino Frankness

This can be a little disconcerting. They call ‘em like they see ‘em. A person that might be called “vertically challenged and gravity enhanced” in America, is just plain short and fat here. One lady was told “You have skin like pig.” I am sure that did wonders for her self esteem. They said to the same lady, “You very beautiful, but you not as beautiful as her” (pointing to my wife) I agree. My wife and I and the other minister who is working in the church with us here were visiting a family. We had a nice visit; replete with “Mano” a sign of respect a younger person shows an older one by taking your hand and touching their forehead to the back of your hand. We had made our way to our vehicle and the lady and her brother accompanied us out. She was making pleasantries and began a physical comparison between the last pastor and myself. She said “This one is kind of sexy and the other one…” the other person who was with her, stepped in and said “He was fat.” We three were shocked and wondered if this lady knew what she was saying. We managed to overcome our “dumbfoundedness” and get to our vehicle and had a hearty laugh once inside and out of sight.

Good new News (NOT Gnu-gnus or mu-mu's)

Rev. Gaudario's family (Mother, sister and cousin) came to visit at the church tonight (5/18/06) and his mother and cousin prayed for salvation! His mother and sister live in San. Francisco (USA) and his cousin lives here in the Philippines.
Praise God!


The name was longer, and the selection was smaller, but we can finally say....We have a Wall-Mart in the Philippines!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Philippino Resourcefulness

I am pleasantly surprised by the resourcefulness of the people here. I had a flat tire recently and took my car to a “Vulcanizing Shop” where they make Star Trek characters, I mean where they fix flats. They did not have a machine to remove the tire from the rim, but they had crafted a lever welded with rebar that accomplished the task. The hole was patched with a strip of rubber and glue and a literal iron, the same type you would use for ironing clothes only the outer casing was removed. Another lever and latch to hold it in place till it cured, and all told, in about an hour and a half, and approx. $2, the tire was fixed.

Sounds of the Philippines

Many mornings I have been awakened by the sound of the Walis ting ting. It is a local broom made out of the stem of the coconut leaves with the leaf stripped away and the center part dried and strapped together to make a broom. The katulong (househelp) usually start their day by sweeping the street in front of their respective houses and then on to the driveway and porch. Their days can start pretty early and mine end pretty late…I am not a country boy and so my conception of the rooster crowing in the morning was that they waited until a decent hour…maybe it is the time difference and these are American birds…but they crow starting at around 2 am and keep on crowing for 3 or 4 eternities…well sometimes it may seem that way. I guess you know when you are getting acclimated to the place when you don’t notice those things as often.

You may see a brake drum, but the average Philippino sees an excellent bell! They hang the brake drum from the bicycle handlebars and tap it with another piece of metal to announce their arrival. Usually they are selling some type of food. They have ice cream vendors on bicycles, mami carts (soup), fried meat, fried nuts and just about whatever the local folks might like to eat. The bell sounds very similar to a train crossing bell. It is effective.
Others sounds include an older man driving his bicycle and yelling what sound like “Balooooo” Which is really Balut. (Duck embryo partially formed in the shell and boiled) or the man riding his bike yelling “Hasa….” Which means to sharpen, he is offering to sharpen your knives. Or the merienda lady…She may have a covered tray balanced on her head (no hands) or carrying a tray in her arms, walking through the neighborhood saying “Merienda…Merienda” which of course means snack.

The traffic sounds are myriad. Horns are a must, and a light double tap announces that you are getting ready to pass the person. The problem is, when you get into traffic, there are so many horns that they lose their effectiveness and you start to tune them out. Perhaps that is reason why they install really loud ones. There is the fog horn sound, the sirens, the whistle and etc. etc. etc…The government actually passed a law outlawing these horns and so everyone immediately removed them for fear of a ticket…no sorry, that would be America. So everyone did nothing and business continued as usual. We have one jeepney driver who picks up people for the church services, that likes to announce his arrival with his special whistle horn sound. I noticed that he doesn’t use it if service hasn’t started.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Apo Day

It is Friday evening here. Friday means that it is “Apo Day”, Apo is the name of the street market. Every Friday they close off a street and the city crowds in to buy and sell the goods. We had finished visiting some of the church folks and needed a few things so off to the market we went. The streets were jam-packed with people and jeepneys honking to get through and moving only a few feet at a time among all of the people. Vendors hawking their goods, the myriad smells of food cooking, and the great hodge podge of people make it an exciting experience. Perhaps a little too exciting today…As we moved around one of the slowly creeping jeepneys, I looked down and there was someone selling dinner…maybe even leftovers for breakfast…A Live Python! an open box….at foot level…or if you prefer, Python heads, even what looked to be the skeleton of a snake…might make a nice necklace for a punk band in Seattle! I snapped a couple of shots with the built-in camera on my phone, the resolution isn’t the best, but I knew that you would want to see this….Makes you thank God for Mcdonalds!

Speaking of Mcdonald’s, the Mcdonalds here are a little different than any I have seen in America. They sell fried chicken, spaghetti, Philippino sausage (Longanisa) burgers and rice. The serving sizes are small, the prices are too, so no complaints.

Driving to Manila-Email order brides

We made it into Manila and after a few mistakes (I stopped at a red light) I got accustomed to their manor of driving. Pedestrians keep walking until forced to get out of the way…so…you point your car at them and go forward! They move….when you get close enough. If it was not so nerve racking, it would be humorous. I am concerned that a little child is going to run out from between the cars…the streets are so narrow and the kids are everywhere. I watched from the window as scores of people crossed the street and when the whistle blew that announced the cars were coming…the people just kept on walking…until the cars were about to hit them. I again enjoyed my height advantage as I can easily scan over the heads of the crowds. I thought that in Manila I would find more diversity and more white folks, but in our whole time there, after seeing thousands of people, neither my wife nor I saw any white folks! We don’t mind at all, we were just surprised that in this city of millions, we didn’t see the diversity that we would see in a large city in America. I guess the difference is, that people are not breaking down the doors to come to the Philippines. As a matter of fact, people are doing all they can to escape here. Two recent examples. I have read that the average Doctor makes about $200-$500 a month. It is no surprise then to hear of many of them coming to America as nurses (there is some kind of visa for professionals and nurses are included) to make 8-10 times that even if they hold a lesser position. Example 2. The days of mail order brides may be over, but the days of email order brides are flourishing. Thousands of Philippino girls sign up to these foreign match making services, I read an article in the local paper that gave the example “I don’t care what he looks like as long as he takes me away from here!” It is sad to hear that, but as you look at their day to day lives of desperation you can understand. Make-shift house under the bridges, scrawny little dirty faced kids begging for a peso, anything to survive. One of the main ways the families do survive is by sending a family member overseas to work. They are called OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) They sent back to the Philippines 8.5 billion last year and are on track to send back 12 billion this year. We have a family in our church where the father is an OFW. He gets to come home and see his family every 2 years for about a month! They think it natural. I try not to react too much when I hear these things, but it is shocking.

The Lord is blessing. You remember my Brother Edison I asked you to pray for? Well his wife has started coming now and things are really looking up. Thanks for your prayers.

Why the SUV's?

Recently I was able to answer a couple of questions I had. Why do so many people have SUVs here? We pondered the question when looking for a vehicle, but settled on a small four door that would be good on gas. We were on our way to Manila to talk to the lawyer handling our missionary visa. The rain started coming down heavy. Water quickly filled the streets…and kept rising…and rising….and rising. We had to turn off of the road we needed and we were warned by the trike drivers that the water was too deep. The only problem was, we needed that road. We tried a couple blocks farther down and ended up behind a Ford Festiva. I though if he can make it so can I. I watched as the water rose above his tailpipe and to his bumper…I admit to being a little worried at this point. I was gunning the engine to keep it going forward, but even in the storms there was traffic. My wife noticed one lady wading through the water and said the water was up to her thighs…Well, by the grace of God we made it through…Now I know why so many have SUVs.

Family Appreciation day (8/05)

On the serious side, this Sunday we are having a family appreciation day.
We are going to take a photo of each family and give them a copy the next
Sunday. This, I hope, gets them to come back the following Sunday. Many
are getting excited about it and we should have a good time and get to
tell many about Jesus. There is a tricycle driver here named Edison. He
gave his heart to God and has been coming to all of the services and
helping out around the church. He brings his kids and a couple of nephews
and really seems to have a heart for God. The devil has made a play for
his soul and his wife does not come to the church and there are other
things…maybe if you think about it, you could remember him in your prayers.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Translating Idioms

Actually he is a good interpreter. We have a challenge though, I have to
speak slow enough that the Koreans that attend can understand the English.
(many of them are just learning) I have to speak fast enough that I keep
them awake. The interpreter has to transfer the idioms I use to something
similar in Tagalog. I was warning recently about the dangers of basing
your life on just the outward appearances and joked that some may have an
hour glass figure, but as time passes the sand runs to the bottom! I
heard him interpret “Hour glass figure” to “Coca Cola bottle” a common
term used here to describe a shapely woman and I wondered how this phrase
was going to turn out! I guess you could say that the fizz may go out or
cola gets flat….

More communication gaps.....

Now the frustrating part…The culture here is built around not shaming or
embarrassing anyone, to the point that they will often agree with you to
be agreeable, but have no intentions of really doing what they are
agreeing to. ie. I was ordering at KFC (which by the way does not stand
for Kentucky Fried Chicken although it is the same franchise, but Kapag
Fried Chicken! (which means whenever)) I asked if I could substitute
French fries for the ball of rice they were going to give, and he said
yes. He asked If I would like to upsize my drinks and I said yes, when
the order came, there were no fries and regular size drinks. I asked
about the fries and he said we can not do that! After just telling me he
could…It made me wonder how many times that happens in more serious
conversational exchanges. I talked with my interpreter and he shared it
is sometimes difficult to differentiate between can and can’t when the
preacher is preaching. It made me think what the people have been hearing.
I preach: “You can’t get drunk and go to heaven!”
They hear: “You can get drunk and go to heaven!”
Attendance is growing quickly…(grin)

Communicating Here

There are some fun and frustrating things about communicating here. The
fun thing is they really don’t expect foreigners to learn the language, so
when a tall white guy starts speaking in Tagalog to them it usually brings
a smile. Sometimes they bring others to me so I can invite them and they
show their friends this white guy speaking tortured Tagalog.
The problem with that is they sometimes reply in such fast Tagalog that I
quickly become lost. I have learned a phrase for this: “Dahan Dahan lang
ang pagsasalita para maintindihan ko ang sinabi mo.” Literally: Slow slow
only the talking so understand I the saying your. Makes perfect sense to
them…makes me understand why certain Asians learning English have inverted
sentence structures

More P’s and F’s have been recently interchanged, a common occurrence in
the Philippines. As I was shopping around for a car, the man assured me
that his car had no froblems…and no matter how slow I try to speak, I am
still the fastor!

Crust Toothpaste

I have shared some observations
and some things that we had to adapt too, please don't think that I am
complaining or unhappy. I am having a blast.

Just a few lines to share some funny things and interesting experiences.

We went to the market today to invite some people to church. The market
is teeming with people and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves getting to
invite so many to the house of God. As we were walking by vendors would
hawk their goods to us which at this time, didn’t must interest us, til my
wife’s feet started hurting and in a flash we were able to buy some flat
shoes for about $1.60. This is of course the home of fake name brands.
Rolex watches for $3.00 and name brands of whatever you want very cheap.
I looked down and noticed they were selling some toothpaste, the colors
were familiar and the design was too and as I looked closer, it was a
knock-off of Crest toothpaste. But they didn’t choose the best
name…CRUST! I still chuckle as I think about it….I hope they don’t start
making floss, it may end up being called FLUSH!

Library, Driving and "Mary"enda (merienda)

Things here are moving along with the challenges and victories and quirks of a new culture.

My wife and I wanted to go to the library and check out a few books. We found the library after another death defying stint of driving the motorcycle and sidecar, and made a parking space and entered. We had to fill out a registration slip and then we started browsing the books. I found a couple of books and she found a couple and we headed to the desk to check them out….Only problem is they don’t let people check out the books! A little frustrating...

I have overcome my fear of the cycle and sidecar (trike) and drove down into the mix of the traffic and survived. That was a liberating feeling! My wife and I get a lot of strange looks. There are not too many white guys here and very few white ladies, then to see one driving a trike is to them a little funny. I get a lot of thumbs up signs and smiles.

If we get out of here skinny, it will not be because of the people! Everywhere we go to visit the church members, they open their house and give us “merienda” (snacks) and something to drink. We have a fair share of Koreans that come to the church and so these snacks are sometimes pretty interesting. We have had hot corn on the cob, a puree that looked like orange juice concentrate without the water, (it was mango) coconut juice, sticky rice boiled til it could be rolled and formed into a cookie shaped disc that was then dipped in coconut flakes and sodas poured into plastic bags with a straw (bottles are worth money and must be returned). Lots of crackers that call themselves “cookies” and nuts. Christine is picking up on the language a little, but she was stumped on this one…”Who is this Merienda that we are going visit and ….why is she going to give us something to eat?”

Cultural tidbits and adjustments

(From 8/05)
Text messaging is in every nook and cranny of society here. You can watch
people driving their motorcycle and staring down at their cell phone at
the same time, they text and walk, text and talk, text and drive, text and
text and text.

The septic smell is intermixed with the constant burning of vegetation and
trash, this, I believe, is so your nose won't get used to the sewage smell
and tune it out, it always stays fresh! Really it is not so bad, just
part of the culture.

We have pared down to two dogs. The other couple that was here, took one
with them to the island of Cebu, and a mother and her three pups were
given away. Hurray!!! Christine is the caretaker of the pups, and
although she says she is not a "dog person" I sense she is growing fond of

Hot Water!!!! We have hot showers now. I luxuriated last night for the
first time in almost three weeks in a hot shower. (See, the air IS
smelling better around here!) We looked into installing a hot water
heater for the house, we actually already have one, but found out it was
much better to install a small unit that attached to the shower head,
heats the water, and then out it comes. Truly wonderful. It ran about
$100, which is quite a chunk on the mission field, but I chalked it up to
preparing the homestead for the next 4 years. (I found an Air Conditioner
for the living room too!)

The motorcycle.....Well, I really don't want to use one. The economics of
it all point to one, I have looked for a car, but at the moment, I will
have to wait. The last man has left his motorcycle and sidecar here until
we can ship it out, so it provides a temporary form of transportation. I
drive it back and forth to church and try to avoid traffic.

The is not in the same subdivision, but very close, as far as
the growth, well, the church has hit a high number of around 400 about 2-3
months ago. We promoted for his last Sunday and got up to 372. It
dropped off quite a bit the Sunday after, which is not unusual, and now we
are in building mode again. We have had to do a lot of settling in, and
have not worked the church work as much as we need to, but now that the
other man is gone, we will.

The school is still in the making. I am watching the people and seeing
who is real and who isn't. We will see.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Going to the Philippines to stay

The trip here...7/05

The trip here was pleasant enough, the flight attendants fed us two meals and an additional mid flight snack (ice cream sandwich!) and gave us hot face towels to clean up with. It is amazing how something so small can make such a big difference in "feeling like a human again".

When we arrived in Manila, there was a glitch in the baggage handling system and one of our bags came up onto the baggage carousel quite quickly, soon things were straightened out though and the auto-sorting-put-the-Americans-luggage-last-system kicked back in and we waited 20-25 minutes for our others bags to

We drove to Angeles city and stayed up talking about the Philippines and fellowshipping.

It is rainy season here, and I think this may be the place where they coined the phrase "When it rains it pours!" Streets flood quickly and the smells are not too pleasant, perhaps something with the septic drain fields being saturated.

We hired our first house help. She lasted a week. She was 42 years old and her husband had worked for 23 years at an oil company until he got a cyst under his arm and had to retire. He will not receive any sort of pension till he turns 65, so his wife, Bibing left her home island with her 18 year old daughter
and moved to Manila. Someone found out we were looking for help and went and got her after only three days in the city. It was obvious she was lonely and wasn't too happy. Today, (Sunday) she got a call that her husband saying her son hasn't eaten since she left and the husband sent some money for her to come home. We paid her what we owed for the week and wished her well. I am sure she will be happier.

We live in a nice house with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. It is in one of the nicer subdivisions here. We have guards that let you into the subdivision and hopefully keep the bad guys out. Yet theft is a normal state of affairs here and the fence surrounding this beautiful house in this very nice subdivision is topped with constantina wire (circular barbed wire) and there are seven, (Yes Seven!) dogs that help protect the property.

I had my first experience riding through traffic on the back of a motorcycle and am alive to tell about it, no small feat!. The missionaries here have become Philippino in their driving mentality. It is absolutely cutthroat. Motorcycles weave between lanes and pass on both sides with or without the assistance of a lane. Cars and jeepneys are no better. It is not for the faint of heart, small children, or pregnant women! As you might imagine, I am taller than most folks here, including the missionary that I am replacing. So, when I am on the back of the motorcycle, my knees jut out farther than the drivers are used to. Several times I thought I might get plucked off the back of that thing! Perhaps driving it myself would be better you think, well my experience there didn't fare so well. I, through the miracle of the Philippino drivers license bureau, was presented with a drivers license that is qualified to drive motorcycles. The fact that I have only rarely ridden them in my lifetime didn't prevent me from getting the "Class 1" (motorcycles) on my license. I promptly proved why America's licensing system is
superior in that they actually require you to be able to drive the thing, by crashing into a pole at a slow speed. Everything but my pride survived! A total of about $20 of damage.

I think that I will get a car until I can safely drive the cycles.

The people here all seem to be fairly friendly. I practice my Tagalog (their native language) with the children. It is easier to get laughed at by them. They use a lot of facial expressions to communicate. You may ask a question and get no verbal response, only raised eyebrows, which means yes. Pointing is done with your lips or elbow and eyes.

What do I miss? Hot showers! We have no hot water in the house, not even a hot water heater. The first few showers were shockers, but I seem to be getting used to it and I hope to get hot water installed sometime this week.

Coffee! You know it is a third world country if...most folks drink instant! Arrrgh!
We found some ground coffee and am working on locating a grinder and some beans.

We are eating good, too good, it does help my waistline to have sardines and rice on the table for breakfast..No Temptation!!! Yet we have had lots of good stuff too.

We have already had two experience of our 110 volt electronics being plugged into our 220 volt receptacles and being blown. We found a electronics shop that no one in America would even trust a calculator with, who ably fixed both items, $6 for one and $9 for the other (We also had him convert it to 220!)

Gas here is the equivalent of $2.25 a gallon (Note: that was then, now $2.95 (5/14/06)

A haircut costs a little more than a dollar.

Two yard men mowed and raked and worked for about 3 hours each and their pay was about $5.

Well, that is "The Taste of the Philippines" that we have experienced so far. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

The End of the Beginning...last section of the first letter

Cagayan de Oro exposed us to more of the country side of the Philippines. There were many dirt roads with plenty of potholes to go around. It is common to see the drivers of the motorcycles wearing a scarf around their mouth and nose to keep from inhaling all of the dust. Ladies carry a handkerchief to breathe through.

The mission house here is located on the top of a mountain along with the chapel and bible college classrooms. The area itself is beautiful and very peaceful. One is able to look down into the valley on two sides of the house and see the ocean in the distance from one side. Though it was somewhat remote, there were excellent cell phone coverage which did surprise me. The Philippines is the text message capital of the world with over a million text messages a day. That is because it is substantially cheaper to text a message to someone than it is to call them…only 1 peso! So it was common to see people staring into the screen on their cell phones and punching in messages with their thumb. This was a handy service for me as I was able to have all of my emails forwarded to my phone, and able to text message back to America for 15 cents a message and keep in touch with the church at home.

About this time, physically, it got pretty ugly. First the host missionary was sick, food poisoning from the buffet we usually ate from at a restaurant at the first island. Then another brother got sick, then it was my turn to violently eject my lunch (forgive me if I am a bit too graphic there), my wife was sick the next day and our pastor got sick during the last couple of days. Whew!!! Don’t drink the water and bring your own food to stay healthy I guess…

We got to attend a new church they had just started in a small town named Carmen. I will include the picture to the church there in the attachments. You will notice that the door was about a foot too short for me! The entry way was a little alley stepping on a palette that spanned a little creek, People were doing their wash in little tubs right outside of the church. It may not have been the Taj Mahal to us, but it was the gate of heaven for many who had given their heart to God and got saved!

Around this time I got my first chance to preach with an interpreter. You preach a phrase and then he or she interprets it. I was blessed in that my interpreter, was a seasoned minister with a real command of the English language, she had gotten reached in the Philippines when Pastor Davis was first there 35 years ago. It was good to see her continuing on.

We finished out the week with a bit more shopping in the daytime and preaching each night. During our forays into the mall, there were security guards at the door that would partially pat you down as you walked in, and search the lady’s purses. The funny thing is, their pat down is so routine that if you wanted to, you could probably smuggle in a M-16, just so long it was in the front of your pants!

We flew back to Manila on Thursday and stayed at a really nice hotel for the brief night before our early morning trip home. We walked down united Nations ave and then turned down Roxas Blvd and walked past the United States Embassy. The night was late, but it was still populated with people along the baywalk area. It was beautiful.

Apart from them making us pay to leave the airport (550 pesos) the trip home was uneventful. I Stopped back by the duty free in Japan and found out that what I thought was $70 was really $700 so much for my buying savvy!

Back home the Lord is blessing and we are moving on!

Friday, May 12, 2006

New SM Mall

After our Outstation on Friday, we stopped at the Grand Opening of the new SM Mall on Clark Air base. SM stands for shoe mart and they are the king of Malls here. We were amazed to see how many people were there. It was packed. We managed to worm our way through the masses for a quick walk around and then went home to prep for bible college class. We didn't know there were that many people in all of the city! I think people were bussed in from all over the province. I hope this will help provide decent jobs for those that want them and clean up and help eliminate the sex trade in that same neighborhood.

Something Old, Something New

Something New....
Today is Friday, which means our Outstation in a little town called Balibago. Friday afternoons we go there and invite the neighborhood to come and hear a short gospel message. We usually have two parts to the congregation. The first group will come right up with us and sing and listen, the second group is a little too cool to join us, but a little too curious to completely leave, so they listen from afar. It was very windy today, a typhoon is making it's way toward us (they say it will hit on Sunday) and the wind blew the bamboo tree that we were under high and low. So, I found a new use for my umbrella, to keep the branches off of our heads!

Something Old...
(Letter from our first trip continued)(1/20/05)
For those of you who know them, Rev. Reed, Rev. Macdonald, Rev, Jordan and Pastor Davis preached in the evening service during the conference. There was an interpreter there for each of the services. And on the last night, there was two, a Tagalog interpreter and a Korean interpreter. Many Koreans come to the Philippines as missionaries and workers for God. They attend the services to help them learn English. One missionary’s son, found a reality in God with our church there, and attends our church instead of his own father’s church!

The trips to the market and the mall were great adventures. Riding a jeepney there…taking a trike (motorcycle with a side car) back to the hotel….dickering with the driver over the amount….walking along the open market on the streets. That was a colorful experience. The jeepneys are privately owned and decorated with very bright colors and usually a theme or phrase. Many of them have references to God. Such as “Gift of God” “My Savior” “God Provides” and then there were those that had references to Bob Marley, or a certain section of town, even some with American flags on them. Walking the sidewalks, means walking the streets, for many of the vendors use that area for there wares. Jaywalking is common, so much so, that a recent government idea was to hang a wet sheet from a pole on the side of a vehicle about 7 feet high and drive through the streets, soaking those who were off the curb on the streets. The idea was mocked and as of this time not yet implemented.

Music CDs, DVDs, and computer software were openly sold in kiosks in the mall area and along the streets. I perused their offerings and found software that would cost hundreds of dollars here, for just three or four dollars. I am sure (tongue firmly in cheek) that it was all legal and not pirated copies…Actually, I was told that when the police come to do a piracy crackdown, they confiscate the whole rack of material and as soon as they are gone and out of sight, the proprietor brings out a brand new rack! I did buy a couple of Rolex watches for only $5.45 each! I gave them as gag gifts that I hoped would at least last 15 minutes.

One benefit to those who would not abuse it, was that prescription drugs could be bought without a prescription. Some bought their allergy or headache medicine that cost them $3 a pill in the states for the equivalent of 45 cents a pill.

After a week in Angeles City, we went to Clark Air base and got on a commuter flight to Manila and then caught a jet to Mindanao. The prop plane on the first leg of the trip required us to be weighed and seated according to our weight. The flight cost us about $18 dollars a piece and saved almost 2 hours traveling to Manila on a bus. The flight to Cagayan de Oro, the city on the island of Mindanao that we were going to, was smooth. There was no gate to pull up to, but we disembarked down a set of stairs that were rolled up to the plane. At the bottom of the stairs, there were umbrellas to be used to keep the sun off of one’s skin during the 100 foot walk to the terminal. The Philippinos are obsessed with wanted to have a lighter skin complexion and take whatever precautions necessary to keep from getting darker. I was amused at seeing the advertisements that went something like this “Tired of your dark underarms? Use Cortez’s whiteneing soap and you will have lighter underarms in days!” Yes, there was an actual advertisement to lighten their underarms….

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Beautfiul Bataan

Sis. Hughitt, laboring with her husband in the church in San Diego, gave us the contact info. for her father here in the Philippines, so on Monday we made the trip to Subic Bay / Olongapo to see him. It took about 2 hours to get there, and then we had an excellent visit, a death in his family provided a perfect backdrop to talk to him about eternity.

This picture was taken on the way to Subic. Bataan is beautiful, but you may remember it more for the Bataan death march.

In the beginning...continued

We arrived in Angeles City, actually a suburb called Balibago right outside of what used to be Clark Air Force Base. Because of the recent Tsunami, the Philippines has received a lot of the tourists that had previously planned to visit in the neighboring nations. The city is infamous for it’s red light district that I assume began and flourished during the time the GI’s were stationed there, and now is known as a Cybersex center of the world. It was not unusual to see old, balding, pot bellied men walking around with some young beautiful 20 something girl. Prostitution flourishes here, but there are also girls who will willingly marry a man like that for the financial security and perhaps a chance to get out of the Philippines. The average house girl, a maid that is hired to cook and clean, receives between 1000-2500 pesos a month besides room and board. That would be $18-$45 dollars A MONTH. A skilled carpenter can make about $90 a month. Ahhh, but you say, things there are much cheaper…some things, but our experience in the restaurants and at the malls showed us little differences between American prices and Philippino prices. A meal still cost us between $6-10 and a bottle of real cologne was still about $40.

Our first week had us in the Asian conference. Pastors from Korea and Okinawa Japan joined us along with the Missionary who works on the Island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Pastor Davis taught us on Executive leadership and the need for us to change how we think if we are to see God’s business flourish. Jesus said I must be about my Father’s business.

During many of the afternoons, we perused the markets and malls and experienced the retail side of the Philippines. I bought several Barongs, which are the local version of a polo shirt that is worn untucked and usually has two vertical designs on the front. These are their formal attire. The really formal barongs are made of what was described to me as “pineapple paper” and is sheer, long sleeved and sometimes even worn with cufflinks. Because they are so sheer, a white T-shirt is worn underneath.

It was during one of these afternoons that we had our first experience soulwinning in one of the Barrios or Barangays (Neighborhood). Many of the pictures are from this expedition. We saw poverty that would shock you and melt your heart. Houses that had only three walls, no floor, or I should say, a dirt floor. They cooked with a pot placed over two concrete blocks with a small fire burning between the blocks. The children were poorly dressed if dressed at all in some cases. Some had no shoes, but they almost all had an infectious smile. They didn’t understand or care, just how poor they were. This was the only life they knew. Yet I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you, that though they didn’t have a fourth wall for their house in some cases, they surely had a television set! Amazing what the priorities are! As we walked through these areas, the kids were very excited to see us. Some took us by the hand and helped us as we passed out flyers for the church. Some of the locals spoke English and with the others, the pastors wife, who is a Philippino, would interpret and tell them where to catch the bus that we would send for them. Many of the people had lice. And several times we saw them inspecting each others hair for the little creatures.

That night, the “Jeepney”, an elongated version of a jeep, was sent to pick them up. It made several trips, and on one of the trips home, I counted approximately 35 crammed, cheek to cheek sideways, and knee to knee across from each other with children riding on the laps. In the service that night, over 40 came to find Christ as their Savior. What a great joy!

The NTCC Family Group

Have you been to The NTCC Family Group yet? Come be a part of the family, see the pictures, hear from friends and enjoy the fellowship.

So many have asked us about what life is like in the Philippines, that I decided to start this blog and to share our first hand experiences. It is my hope that the blog will keep us fresh in your minds and prayers, and who knows, maybe inspire someone else to go to a foreign field to preach the gospel.

In the beginning....

This is from our first trip to the Philippines...
Thank you all for your prayers during our recent trip to the Philippines. The trip was, as we hoped it would be, heart stirring. We spent about 15 days total between two islands. We flew from Seattle, about 10 hours, into Narita airport (Tokyo, Japan) and walked and gawked at all the gewgaws in the duty free shops. My mental money exchange figured that a new digital camera was only 70 dollars! I marked it down to check it again on the way back and perhaps buy another. My wife was hungry, and so I bought her some food at the Japanese food joint. I literally didn't know what it was that I was buying her, little dumplings called gyozas, that didn't look too intimidating, they ended up being filled with pork and didn't agree with her taste much, but her hunger overcame any objections.

We, (there was another minister that traveled with us) boarded the plain to Manila and made the almost 5 hour final leg with a building excitement to get there. I had studied, Tagalog, the national language, for several weeks and looked forward to wowing someone with my limited "Hello, How are you? How much is this? Where is the bathroom?" vocabulary. I admit that is was a bit intimidating, arriving among hundreds of travelers, mostly Philippinos not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into. One advantage I found was being 6'1", and able to look over the crowd of shorter locals!

The airport was anything but modern. There were only a few baggage carousels, huge ovals with discerning mechanisms that put all the American's baggage at the end of the group, at least it seemed so. We exchanged some dollars for pesos (one dollar gets you about 55 pesos) and walked out of the airport. Once you exit the first area, you cross the street and go through a gate where we had pre-arranged to meet our ride for the 2 hour drive to Angeles city. Behind that gate were hundreds of people, (there was a small fee to enter into the airport area) The only problem was, our ride was not where he was supposed to be! I had brought my cell phone with me and turned on international service in case of an emergency, and it now came in handy. After some technical hurdles in figuring our how to dial to the states, I got the number of the cell phone of the man that was to pick us up. After another couple of tries, I figured out how to dial within the country and soon had our man on the line. He happened to be looking for us in a different part of the airport.

They had hired a local van driver, accompanied by one of the local ministers, to come and pick us up. We piled into the van and had our first of many combat driving experiences. Lanes, are only suggestions, and get-ahead-of-the-other-guy-no-matter-what is the law of the road. I think God had the angels busy escorting us there safely. More to come....