Saturday, December 1, 2012


We moved out of Bontoc and put all our belongings on a big gravel truck.  We had two big bookshelves that we couldn't maneuver down the stairs so we had to lower them down from the second floor balcony.  I never knew we had so much stuff.  The good thing is we had at least 20 people helping us.  Dad rode with our stuff while we rode in the van.  We had so much fun listening to music that I didn't mind the 6 hour ride.  The best way to travel in the mountains is singing silly songs all the way.  It was especially funny when my sisters dramatized "The Cheeseburger Song".  We went to McDonald's for real cheeseburgers and coke floats.  Dad had to wait until 7 to come because Baguio has a 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. truck ban to cut down on traffic.  Then our family and maybe 5 others moved all our stuff into an empty dorm.  It was easier because we didn't have any stairs in our way.
          The first apartment they lowered the price then raised it again and then lowered it again.  Besides, it was small.  But we found a house.  It has a courtyard, lots of space and storage, and plenty of water!  It is amazing!  We are very excited about it.  
While our parents unpacked, we played soccer and badminton.  We developed a game called soccer tag where you try to hit the others with the soccer ball so they are it.  We can't kick the ball off the ground, though, because there is a creek right behind our fence.  Mom says we are not to go there because the neighbors throw trash in the water.  There's one piece of black netting that sways like a moray eel.  Our landlady lets us play in her courtyard.  It's larger and much more private than our own.  There is part of a mountain with stairs up to it that we can sit on.  It seems like a very good place to draw but I haven’t done so yet.  However, I have discovered that the cement concrete walls are perfect for chalk pictures.
Glad to be home (even though I still miss Bontoc sometimes),

Our Summer

Thank you everyone who is still checking our blog. We are so sorry that we have not posted sooner.
This summer we were able to visit our family and friends in the USA.  It was so great to see everyone. These are some of the things we did:
  • Adriana and Alexie took the SAT and visited colleges.
  • Alayna got her ears pierced.
  • Enjoyed devouring the great quantity of books at the public library
  • Spoke at several churches 
  • Went out on the boat with Grammie and Papa
  • Swam
  • Blueberry picking with Sam and Grammie
  • Went Salmon fishing on Lake Michigan with Uncle Neil
  • Helped with and participated in two Vacation Bible Schools
  • Went to the beach with the Youth group
  • Had sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa
  • Watched the sunset with Uncle Ed
  • Made baskets with Mrs. Emmereth
  • Annalise started violin lessons.
  • Took CPR
  • Trained for a Five-K and ran the Logan’s Run
  • Visited old friends and made new ones
  • Went bowling, miniature golfing, and go carts with Aunt Rhonda, Jordan, Josiah, and  Stone
  • Went to the zoo and fed giraffes with Grammie and Papa
  • Danced and sang along at the World Pulse Festival with our friend Katie
  • Watched fireworks and went miniature golfing with Grandma and Grandma and Uncle Ed
  • Celebrated Annalise and Alayna’s  birthday with a splashing pool party
  • Adriana got accepted into Bethel College’s REACH program which is online course allowing her to earn high school and college credits at the same time.  She started  August 30th. 

Thank you everyone for the special time you spent with us. We all had a great summer.
The Dancing 4a’s
Adriana  Alexie  Alayna   Annalise


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

World War II Stories

Lately, I have been joining my parents at their weekly clinic. Adriana and I have just learned about World War II so we sent emails out to our great-grandparents to learn about their experiences in World War II. Then the following week when we were at clinic, Dad asked the people there about their experiences. I hurried to write notes but most of the people did not have any stories. One man did. He had many stories. His wife invited me to her houses to her more stories. After breakfast, he started telling stories. He was captured by the Japanese and a messenger for the Americans. My favorite story is of his time as a messenger:
“I was taken as a messenger for the American. They would put a message in a wax container like the ones tennis balls come in. Then they put it in my back pack covered it with grass, kamote, and then some more grass. I would hike to Betwagan via. Taluban. An American squad was always with me. There were many leeches on the path.  When I got there, they took my back pack, fed me, and clothed me. Then they let me rest the next day. They also gave me a field jacket that reached past my waist because it was too big. Then I walked back with my back pack and when we went home, they took my backpack again. It may have had a new message in it. I had to keep my journey a secret so I learned what secret and top secret meant from the military.  I was also given two triangles of cloth: one white and one red for when I went to Samoki. I would hide them in my g-string and tie them on sticks and use them as signals for the Americans. I would wave them three times. It is only now I know that the red meant danger and that the white meant forward.”
Still dancing,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ash Breeze

“Bah!  Only a weakling gives up when he’s becalmed!  A strong man sails by ash breeze!”
Nat asked, “How do you ‘sail by ash breeze’?”
Sam grinned.  “When a ship is becalmed-- the wind died down--she can’t move-- sometimes the sailors break out their oars.  They’ll row a boat ahead of the ship and tow her.  Or they’ll carry out anchors and heave them over, and the crew will lean on the capstan bars and drag the ship up to where the anchors are heaved over.  Oars are made of ash-white ash.  So-when you get ahead by your own get-up-and-get—that’s when you sail by ash breeze.”
page 47and 48 of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch! By Jean Lee Latham

Recently our family just finished reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch!  It had been a read-aloud before but it is such an inspiring biography that is worth reading again.  Although Nathaniel Bowditch was taken out of school at age 10, he still managed to win success with perseverant hard work. 
This idea of hard work has been reinforced by another book we have been reading.  Alexie and I finished reading Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington.  Booker T. Washington shared his task of teaching African-Americans that work was not a disgrace but a calling and teaching them how to do their work well.  While he realized that laws should apply equally to African-Americans and whites, he wanted to train African-Americans to strive for excellence and become people worthy of their neighbors respect.  He says “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.”  If laws allow uneducated whites to vote but not uneducated blacks, then the whites are the ones who suffer because they have no motivation to get educated.  Our circumstances do not determine who we are; it’s what we do with them.
Our assigned chapter of A Christian’s Secret to A Happy Life talked about circumstances as well.  Often, people think that accepting Jesus will clear away all their problems.  Many people believe a blessing gospel which says accept Jesus, and your mortgage will go away, you will be extremely fit, your boss will give you a raise, and everyone will like you.  They forget that God promised us persecution.  He told us to take up our cross and follow Him.  How can we relate to non-Christians if everything goes perfect for us?  Still, God promised He would be with us every step of the way.  He will never give us more than we can bear.  He won’t get rid of our bad circumstances but He will give us triumph over them.
My heart broke for a young lady at Sabangan but she also inspired me.  Her goal is to earn an education so she can help support her family.  She feels like her relatives look down on her family as if they were just a group of ants.  She is struggling with algebra.  Her parents never finished high school so they can’t help her.  One of her brothers has a talent for math but he chooses to work in the field instead of studying.  When she was little, she was told that the Philippines was a developing country.  Why has nothing changed?  But only the persistent hard work of such as her will ever change it.  When I left Sabangan, I determined that I, who have so much more with two home-schooling parents, would work harder and not give into my laziness.
So what are your dreams?  Your desires?  Your purpose in life?  I encourage you to first make sure they are right and good and then to fight through your difficulties to reach them.  Ask someone to pray for you and most importantly, don’t give up.  If the wind won’t blow the right way, break out your oars and sail by ash breeze.
If what you’re doing is good and right
Do not fear the enemies’ might
Just do your best
And God will do the rest.


          “Circumstances make men kings in the outer life, but in this hidden life men become kings over circumstances.”
~The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adriana's a Godmother

On Thursday, October 20, Daddy called me to read a phone text he received.  Our friend’s daughter, Stevonnie was going to be dedicated in Saclit Sunday and they had chosen me as godparent.  Our whole family wanted to go but it was such short notice.  Daddy and Alayna were going with part of the team to Sadanga and someone had to stay behind and take care of the rest of the team.  I was very excited about the trip because it was my first village trip without a family member.  
Kuya Steve picked me up.  (Kuya and Ate are titles of respect for people older than you.  Kuya means “big brother” and Ate means “big sister”.)  He was texting my Dad to ask if we liked guavas but hadn't got an answer.  I told him that Daddy was in Anabel and so he was surprised.  We went to the jeepney and got to ride all the road to Saclit, without changing tires or slipping down mountains.  We only stopped to let people on or off and to get water for the engine.   Kuya Steve had forgotten to get something for supper.  There was an old lady with two squash on the jeepney and she gave us one.  Later, Ate Mindel confessed that she had been thinking: those are very nice squash, I want one, Please, God, give me a squash.  An example of answered prayer and God's provision!
We hiked up the stairs and stepped over fences on our way to the church.  Most villages don't have fences, but Saclit doesn't have pigpens.  Ate Mindel would stop to talk with people.  Frequently, I heard the word Americano.  We went to the parsonage (an empty room below church where Kuya Steve stays when he comes to preach) and I played with Stevonnie as they washed dishes and prepared supper.  I wanted to help with decorations but there was a drunk man and so Kuya Steve didn't think I should go up and I agreed with him.  Kuya Steve had been going to ask our former host if I could stay there at their house because he didn't think I should stay at the parsonage but it was 10 p.m. already so I just slept with Ate MIndel and Stevonne while Kuya Steve slept upstairs.  The parsonage has no CR (bathroom or comfort room) so if it was day, you went to the neighbor's house and if not, you went outside.  It was a little uncomfortable for me because I didn't know the neighbor and she didn't seem to know English and the CR had no door.  The biggest thing was the church has rats because it is "so prosperous".  I wouldn't have been so scared if Ate Mindel hadn't said "Let's pray they don't bite us." I was ashamed because I woke her up.  I thought I heard the clicking of many toenails on wood next to me and it was too dark for me to find my flashlight.  It was just a moth in a cellophane bag.
     The next day, we all bathed and went up to church.  Ate Mindel sat next to me and translated.  She is very good about that and I deeply appreciate it.  The visiting pastor said, "Oh, I see you have a white Saclit," and hoped this would not be my last visit.  He preached about thanksgiving and blessing.  Then it was time for the dedication service.  The parents and children sat on a bench in the front and the sponsors stood behind them.  The pastor explained how dedication was different than baptism and he and the parents laid hands on their child and prayed for them.  Then he asked the sponsor (godparent) to hold the baby and pray for him/her.  Then the sponsors were asked:  Whether we would help the parents nurture their child, physically, mentally, and spiritually?  Whether we were willing to take this vow before the congregation?  Then the sponsors came and signed the dedication certificate.  The visiting pastor invited me to a homecoming service at his church 80 km from Saclit.  There was a lot of food.  Later, I learned it is okay to say no, I am full, but then I over-ate because they served me so much and I thought if I didn't eat it all, they would think their food wasn't good enough for me and I would offend their hospitality.  After the service, Stevonnie got to open her present.

We also got to do ministry.  Every morning, Kuya Steve and Ate Mindel have been reading a chapter of the Bible and discussing it.  They are now in Psalms and invited me to join them.  After church, we walked around and prayed for people such as a feverish baby named Julian.  We also prayed with the mother of Lazaro.  One man said he knew me.  He was one of the builders of the nepa huts for the restaurant below our Bontoc apartment.  It amazes me how many people know us.  We visited our former hosts.  They wanted me to stay there but all my stuff was back at the church.  We stayed for dinner, though.  Kuya Alex (our former host) wants a team to go to Saclit because he tries to share the gospel but it doesn't seem like the people listen to him.  They sent us a backpack full of blankets so I wouldn't be cold and let us borrow our flashlights.  Kuya Steve said we would have to get up early because the jeepney left at 8 or 9.  I woke Ate Mindel up again because there was a squeaky scream.  She said it was outside and then she told me that rats only bite if you smell like food and not if you wash.  In the morning, she said that a rat had probably fallen from the church.  I hope I didn't shame myself too much but the scream woke Kuya Steve up too.  
We missed the jeepney.  You can't walk very fast on gravel.  Kuya Steve was wondering if the road from Saclit to the highway was the longest village road I had traveled.  He couldn't believe that I had gone to Chapyosen.  We caught a surveying van.  It would stop and go backwards but it was very comfortable.  Then we finally caught the bus.  Ate Mindel and Kuya Steve were worried that my parents might be worried about me.  We had lunch together at Bontoc and the rest of my family joined us. Mommy got a slight surprise when she saw me wearing Ate Mindel’s shirt.  Ate Mindel would not hear of me re-wearing one of mine.  I was given a squash and peanuts.  Later, Kuya Steve brought us a lot of guavas.
I really enjoyed my time at Saclit.  It was good to talk with Ate Mindel and Kuya Steve.  I loved seeing Stevonnie’s smiles and getting to hold her.  I certainly enjoyed the adventure.

The very happy Ninang (godparent) of Stevonnie Bless,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Poems and Thoughts by Alexie

I have written two poems lately that can really express what I felt and have learned lately. So here they are:

Friends come,
They fill my heart,
With abundant joy.
Friends go,
My heart bursts
With troubled grief.
That is why
I hope for no good-byes
Only hi’s and sunny skies
To fill my world of friends.

Words cannot express
The pain it bears
To say bye to a friend so dear
That I may never see again.
That is why
I hope for no good-byes
Only hi’s and sunny skies
To fill my world of friends.

I wrote that poem because we have a team here but they are leaving very soon. I will really miss them especially Ate Krista who has been a real encouragement and friend to me.

In My Mind

In my mind,
I try to work it out.
In my mind,
I try to make it fine.
In my mind,
I try to figure it out.
In my mind,
I try to make it all paradise.
In my mind,
I try to make it all right.
In my mind,
Sometimes I succeed.
In my mind,
Sometimes I fail.
Out of my mind,
Many times I fail.
Just because I am trying too hard
To do it on my own
Not leaving room
For any help
From Him.

I really like to plan and work out problems. However I have been learning a lot about trusting God for everything and so that is what I think that I should do. 


Am-Among, I Danced and the Mayor Played the Gongs!

As I have said I enjoy the Lang-ay and Am-among festivals of Mountain Province. This Am-among, we had a team here from the U.S. so I was really excited. I love learning and I love sharing what I have learned. I am a legend lover and collector of fun facts. Annalise can testify because she likes my stories and I like a listener. I especially like learning about the Igorot culture I am surrounded with.
We started early in the morning. I was anxious to get going. After breakfast and sunscreen, we hurried to see the street dancing. Already, the best spots were taken but we found a place where we could see. As a dancer passed by, I took her picture. I didn’t recognize her at first because she was so very serious focused on her dancing. Then she winked at me. It was laughing, smiling Cassey! I gave her thumbs up. Cassey used to be one of our SSM (student sponsorship ministry) students but I was really sad when we came back from furlough and she had moved back to her village so I couldn’t see her anymore.
Cassey Seriously Focused On Dancing on the Right
Cassey as Her Normal Smiling Self and Adriana
It was difficult to see the dancing from the street so we headed to the municipal plaza where we were ushered to front-row seats. There was a cute little girl sitting with her Mama behind us. Nanu was a perfect example of Filipino open friendliness as she sat on my lap and accepted a water bottle from Zach. Ate Arielle was also making friends with a little boy.
Zack and Nanu Making Friends
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”-Matthew 10:42
We learned that the cultural presentations would be held after lunch. We hurried home for our HAM sandwichs. I tend to get a bit excited about meat. No cheese, though, that would be way too expensive for thirty some people.
Unfortunately, lunch is not a definite time. Some people eat faster than others. We thought that lunch meant a hour or two later but we ended up arriving near the end of cultural presentations. People who eat fast do not like to wait for the people who don’t. Of course to be fair to fast-eaters, there is the fact that I stopped to say good-bye to Cassey as she boarded the jeepney home. But that was important. Very, very important. I just hope that I will be able to see her again soon sometime when she isn’t going somewhere, unless it would be our house.
The cultural presentations were good though. I always learn something new. This time it was about the sacrifices of rice planting. Unfortunately, the sacrifices are still real here as I have seen some of the symbols of the sacrifice in rice fields today.

I just love the sense of action and motion in this photo.

Igorot Leap-Frog

The best part for me seemed to be impromptu. The mayor and other officials began playing on the gongs. Then a general invitation to join the dance was issued from the loudspeaker. I wanted to so much. As Kuya Patrick and Ate Rufina had recently noticed that I generally dance when they get the gongs out at YWAM parties. Not the courtship dance though, I try to avoid that because I am still too young!) However, I didn’t want to intrude. I didn’t want to be thought of a big white American who comes barging in where she isn’t wanted and I know they would never tell me that I was doing. However the doctora came over and personally invited. Alayna, Ariana, and I eagerly accepted though Ate Bridget didn’t, even though she was from this area. She preferred to sit and watch us under the shade of her elegant umbrella. I enjoyed the dance. I was only told to stop watching my feet and to make my arms like carabao horns. I had never heard it described that way. Later, I thanked the doctora for inviting us because I wanted to dance but I didn’t want to intrude. She said I didn’t have to worry about that because I was “part of us”. That meant so much to me.
This is where the past and the present collide.
 The Mayor, Government Officials, Indigenous Dancers, and Police Officers All Playing the Gongs.

Sorry about it being so late,