Sat, November 24, 2007

Touching the stars on a rainy night!

Writing to keep in touch with everyone. Language learning is coming along yet I still have much to learn. Been busy with entering handwritten manuscripts of the Bible in Palawano into the computer and helping carry wood to the new clinic that is being built here. The medical ministry here is a very important part to reaching the people and the helicopter is great to have to aid with medical work.

I will tell you about a unique experience that happened about a week ago. I went down to the lowlands to help put with afternoon church services and when we finished we hiked back to our mountain home. On the way back I had one of the most interesting experiences ever. We began the hike in rain and it pretty much rained the whole hike. We were walking and we saw a bunch of little lights to our left hand side as we were hiking up the river/waterfall. The little lights were small fungal growth on the branches of the trees. It was raining and it was very dark so we were able to see the lights really well when we turned off our flashlights. I thought it was one of the coolest things and when in the midst of the branches and it was awesome. It was like looking at the stars at night but in this little microcosm of mine amidst the branches the stars were in three dimensions and I could actually reach out and touch them. It is hard to explain the beauty of the experience but it really brought me a lot of joy and I thought that I would share that with you.

On Thanksgiving Day right before dinner there was a medical call and my friends had to fly in the helicopter to get to the patient to care for him. So the pilot,Dwayne, and the nurse, David flew to where the patient was. David had not finished caring for the patient before dark so Dwayne had to fly back before it got too dark so David had to stay with the patient. My friends Nathan and Naphtali did not want to have Thanksgiving Dinner without David and the only way David could get back was by hiking back but he also needed our help to get across the river which was flooded more than it has ever been. To shorten up this story, we went down with some ropes and helped David to get across the river so that he could have dinner with us. It was dangerous to cross the river, especially at night time but we had ropes for safety and had a lot of fun rescuing David from not being able to have Thanksgiving Dinner with us.

Will continue to write as new things come up. God bless and please keep praying for my language learning and the people here. Thanks!


Palawan News

Sat, November 3, 2007

Just wanted to share something with all of you that you might find intriguing. I do a fair amount of language learning in a village called Merindanum. "Danum" is the Palawano word for water. I usually converse with Ering and his children: Dading, Dyusi, and Ligi. The interesting thing is that none of them know what their age is.I converse with them and I usually read a passage from the Bible to them before I leave. I read a passage from the handwritten sections of the Bible that are in Palawano. Please pray for this family that they would come to know the Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

I spend about two hours language learning each day and the rest of the day I work on typing in handwritten translations of the Bible in Palawan. This helps my Palawanos as well. These people do not have the Word of God in their hands yet, but they will in due time. Putting together a Bible is tedious work because even after we get it all typed in to the computer my supervisor and I will have to go through and do a lot of editing. It is somewhat difficult to read the handwritten manuscripts because I don't know Palawano that well and the handwriting and punctuation are difficult to decipher. However, the work is still progressing and I take joy in the fact that the Palawanos will one day have a Bible in their hands, I would like my own copy as well.


Simba`an etawa Church

Sat, October 27, 2007

"Simba`an" is the word for church in Palawano and etawa means "or".

Just wanted to send out another letter to keep in touch and let you know how things are going. If I didn't make it clear to you what we do on Sabbath I will right now.We have the main church service from 8:00 to 10:30 AM and there are usually two sermons, but they call them stories here instead of sermons. There is also a children's story. At 10:30 the women and children got to a different benwa, Palawano term for building of any type including homes and school buildings, where they have their bible study. The men stay where the main church is and we read through a chapter of the Bible and discuss it together for about an hour or more. After church we grab lunch and all the adult members go to off site locations to put on services there with singing and stories. The church has around 30 members and the members disperse in the afternoon to 10 or more different locations to put on services. So,needless to say, each member is actively involved in reaching others. I told a story again in the village i went to named Erisurung where my friend Pidli lives, he and his newly adopted pet monkey which is absolutely in love with him. The monkey is pretty fun to play with and watch. I actually told the story in Palawano this time although I had to get help with a couple of words but I made it through pretty much on my own by what I have learned so far.

Let me tell you about language learning here as well. This is how I learn the language here. I go out in the morning to visit people in other villages and I try to communicate with them in any way I can to learn their language. None of them know English so it is quite difficult sometimes. We have a language book that helps a little but not that much. I have actually picked up the language quite well despite the difficulties of not having a translator tell me word equivalents but depending on learning little by little and using what little I know as tools to learn more. A lot of what I learn is through trial and error, having the people correct me,pointing to things, and acting things out. It is challenging sometimes to have to hike in the mud to get to a place where no one speaks English and I am trying to learn their language, or at least it was at the beginning because I am starting to enjoy it now and enjoy the company of the people I am learning with. But at the start it was the love of Christ that compelled me because I didn't really feel like doing it but now I am starting to enjoy it. It is kind of like motion resulting in emotion. For example you just do it first even if you don't like it and next thing you know you feel good about what you are doing. Kind of like our walk with Christ,sometimes we don't want to let go of sin but we do it anyway and somewhere down the road we are really joyful that we did because we know the Lord has something better for us. I still have a lot of learning to do and the church has its struggles so keep praying for me. Please continue praying for my language learning. Pray for one of the more influential people around here named Mami. Pray also for the guidance of Pastor and his wife as they have some important decisions to make and pray for the church members as well. Could you also keep Ering, Rupid, and their families in your prayers because I spend a lot of time with them. Thanks and I will write to you again with new updates the next time I get a chance.


My first letter since I have arrived

Sun, October 14, 2007
Just have to say since this will be my first letter since I have arrived in the Philippines, “What an adventure.” I left on Monday was on a plane all day long and arrived in Manilla on Tuesday night and flew to Puerto on Wednesday then drove to Brookes Point on Thursday and Hiked up into the mountains on Friday morning. I now live in a tropical jungle in the mountains. The hike up here puts the Hike to Half-Dome to shame. It took us only two hours to hike into the mountains but the trail is very rugged.You can reach out and touch the trail in many places because it is so steep. The trail is very slippery and this is what makes so difficult. If you are not slipping on the mud you will be walking on very slippery rocks as you walk trough a stream that flows down the mountain. I actually hiked the trail last night and the trail is much more difficult to do at nighttime. I fell over a lot because of exhaustion due to the steep trail and have a minor case of malaria which doesn't help.

I actually gave the sermon at church yesterday and had a translator. First time I have ever given an actual sermon. The first sabbath I was here I told a story at a school in Kensuli and had a translator there to. The missionary team is based in Kementian and we have church in the morning and hike to other villages in the afternoon to give Bible stories to others. My language learning is coming along quite well but I still have a lot to learn. It is kind of tough not being able to communicate with others, but I will be patient as I learn the language and know that in time I will be able to communicate more clearly with the locals here.

The scenery here is beautiful and the stars are so bright when they are out. When it rains it pours here. It is kind of cool to look at the stars at night because it can be a clear night sky and you will see flashes in the sky from lightning without seeing clouds because we are below the mountain tops and there are thunderstorms on the other side. There are a lot of cool creatures here as well. The butterflies are beautiful. Pastor has a pet monkey named Replic and I have played with him a bit and he is quite an interesting character. I came back from the restroom once to find a goat on right beside my door and that was kind of interesting. There area lot of small dogs and goats up here. Not too many karbew but there are karbew in other places. I saw a cobra slither in front of me my first day here. I got a picture of a frog that is camouflaged like a leaf and that was really “ayad ne” the local term for “cool.” I actually saw a snake that was beautiful for the first time in my life, I was walking on the runway and saw this very skinny snake that looked almost transparent with streaks of yellow, red, and green. It was so long and skinny yet so graceful. Which brings me to the next subject, there is a helicopter up here now that is helping with medical work and other things.

I actually got to see its first landing because I was working in Pastor's house which is not too far from the runway. It has been very helpful to have and makes things much quicker and helps with the medical ministry that is going on up here. It is kind of interesting because the clinic is right outside my door and so I usually have people sitting right on my doorstep. One Sunday there was about 20 people on my front porch the whole morning and then I went to work at Pastor's and returned later in the afternoon and there were still 20 people on my front porch and I am not going to lie I was getting a little annoyed at this, I am starting to get used to it. My roommates are building the new clinic and they are really motivated to get it done quickly so that we do not have people on our doorstep all day long.

I have been working on inputting material for school, typing in handwritten translations of Palawano and this has helped my learning a lot. I will be helping with typing in handwritten notes of the Bible in Palawano into the computer in December and January and that will take up a lot of my time as we try to get a Bible for the Palawao people. I live in a thatched hut and sleep in a mosquito net. We eat a lot of the local rice and vegetables but have some food that we brought from the lowlands.

The people here are incredibly strong especially for their size. The men usually average about 110 to 120 pounds but they carry 25-40 kilos up the mountain like it is nothing. There were some girls that carried some stuff in from the lowlands, they were all under 15 or so and they carried 10-25kilos and they did it at night, talk about having a lot of heart, I was utterly amazed and it takes a lot to amaze me. The people here are pretty friendly but the church, like all churches, does have struggles.I have to tell you about the Tamlang which is River in Palawan. It got so flooded we had to use a rope to get across it. Nathan, my roommate, and I went down there for fun to play in the water. It took all of our strength to hold on to the rope to cross over and get back. If we let go we would have been crushed by the rocks downstream because the current was so strong. It was dangerous but it was quite fun at the same time. We have to cross this river to get to Kensuli to give Bible stories there. If you are to outdoors and adventure this is the place to be, it is kind of like National Geographic.

The shower is outside and is not very private and the water is cold, still have not gotten used to that. The top of our roof came off because we caught the tail end of a typhoon and we had to put a tarp on it at night to keep from getting dripped on.

Well, that is it for now and I know I probably forgot something but will try to remember next time. Please pray for the church here that local leaders would rise up and please pray for my language learning so that I can communicate the gospel to them. It is difficult to do language learning but it is the love of Christ that compels me to walk out my door to hike and try to communicate with others without a translator but it is quite fun at the same time. My prayer life has been strengthened since I have been here and I am now vegetarian. I love all of you and pray that your spiritual life is continually growing.

I would just like to let all of you know that one of my fellow student missionaries received a letter from the states in just 10 days with a 39cent stamp. Hint? Hint? Go ahead and mail me a handwritten letter with some encouraging words or tell me how things are going and what has been happening in your life. You could even do some art on a piece of paper and send it to me, I would especially like that.

Sorry no pictures cause it would not load, maybe next time.