Sunday, July 6, 2008

Journal from the Philippines

I realize that this is a long post and poorly written. I wrote it on my mission trip to the Philippines, in large part for my own memory, but also so you all can read what it was like for me. I thought about coming back and correcting it before I poted it but was afraid that some of it would get "lost in translation" I am going to post it today (July 7th at 11:30ish Philippine time) and will add the pictures and the last posts when I get home, hopefully Wednesday or Thursday, before I have to go back to work. I do apolagize in advance for the poor grammer and spelling. Thanks for reading! ~Laurie

June 24, 2008 08:15 cst Chicago, IL
Yesterday Leigh took off and we left home after I got off work. When we got to Chattanooga we went to the eye dr where I got contacts. This is where I found out how much I hate people either touching or putting anything anywhere near my eyeballs! It was miserable but they are in right now as I type and hopefully they will stay in at least until I get back, since I did not find out how to take them out of put them back in myself!! After that we all did a little shopping and then went to eat at Moe's. Then we headed back to Trenton where Dr. Chad (the most awesome chiropractor in the world!) opened up just to adjust us before we left. By this time it was past 18:00, EST and we headed back to Mom and Dad's to finish packing and get in the bed. I would have been asleep 2 hours earlier than I actually got there if The Bachelorette hadn't come on! She didn't give Graham a rose and I was torn between being happy (to know that he's still single!!!) and disappointed (he was my favorite).
Now I am sitting on the floor of the O'Hare airport (so I could plug all the electronics into charge) with a full belly. We ate in the airport and for a mere 21 dollars American dollars me and daddy ate an omlet, turkey and chedder croissant, an orange, and two bottles of water. Gotta love America! That pretty much brings up to date. Our plan for the next five hours (our layover time) is that we are going to grab a cab, go to Wrigley field, and eat some deep dish pizza! That honestly sounds like a great day in Chicago to me! The only thing better would be if the Braves were in town and had an afternon game! When we get back we will check in for our 16 hour flight to Tokyo. Hopefully this time there won't be screaming kids right behind me! However, the view flying in over Lake Michigan was amazing! So far, I would definitely say my best buy for this trip was my Zune! I have been loving it! That's all I can think of. I am going to try to update again in Tokyo.

Friday, June 26, 2008
What a crazy few days these past few have been! In Chicago I did get to go to Wrigley Field but that was one expensive trip! First they didn't have any lockers at O'Hare so we had to carry all of our carry on luggage, backpacks, purses, computer cases, ect with us. We decided to take the L so we could see the city. What we didn't know it how long that would take! We ended up getting off and taking a bus but that took a long time too! Public transportation is wonderful if you leave plenty early! So, we finally got to the field and took our pictures and they have a that is always streaming live from the field so right before we left I called Louise and she saw us live! I am so easy to excite :^) We took a cab back to the L station and it pulled off right as we got there and the next one didn't come until 20 minutes later. Well, by now we are pressing for time so, of course, they would be working on the tracks so we stop and sit there for ten or so minutes! Ugh. We finally get back, get to our terminal (you know the one that the tv screen had said 2 hours before when we left), we get to security and they tell us that our plane just left! We were obviously upset but also bewildered because evidentley the plane had left 15 minutes early! Just our luck. They told us that we needed to go to Japan Airlines and change our tickets. So we go all the way across O'Hare to Japan Airlines counter and even though we could see them in the back we stood there for almost ten minutes before they came to see what we wanted. Then they told us that the security people had told us the wrong counter and we needed to go to the American Airlines guessed it, back across the airport. So now we are running, barely get to that counter where they tell us to run through security (they opened up a special line so that we didn't have to wait) and that we hadn't missed the plane! So we get through security and the guy tells us to run to the right to find our gate. You probably are ahead of me again, of course, our gate was actually to the right but we didn't actuall figure that out until we ran to the end of that side! So then we had to run ALL the way across O'Hare to our gate! When I finally got there, I turned around and saw Julia right behind me but no Daddy! I kept looking, the ticket taker was trying to rush me on the plane and still no Daddy! Now I am thinking, "He IS 52...please say that he is still on his feet!" and started thinking all of the bad things that could have happened to him. No need to worry, he made it but he did LOOK like he was having a geart attack! We finally get on the plane and guess where my seat for this 14 hour flight is? Middle section, middle seat. Oh wait, it gets better, with a kid right behind me. Ain't life grand? There are only two really memorable things about this flight. Of course we, passed our 24th hour traveling while we were on it and were tired so, of course, the kid was a kicker and the mom couldn't have cared less. He kicked the back of my seat for about 8 hours before I finally snapped. That little brat kept kicking my seat and finally stuck his hand in between my top and bottom cushion. I grabbed it and squeezed his little fingers til he screamed. Think that stopped him? Nope. That was a fun 14 hours and to top it off, I left my new camera on the plane!!! UGH! Still not over that one! We stayed in Tokyo for a couple of hours and almost exactly 32 hours after we had first taken off we landed in Manila! Suprising to us one of the preachers from Manila was there to pick us up and take us to our hotel. We visited with him for a minute and I took a stinkin cold shower and then we slept for about 7 hours before we were up and on our way for the 5 hour van ride to Dagupan. Roger and Josie were the ones who picked us up. The hilarious thing here is how CRAZY their driving is! And what's hilarious is that on the back of all of the Jeepnies and cabs it says "How is my driving? Call or text..." It's horrible! LOL! On the way we stopped at a Pizza Hut and ate. It was a little different but what sticks out about that is that these two little boys came right up to the window by our table and just stood there and watched us. They stood there the most time and just stared at us eating. Then they just begged when we walked out. They were probably 6 or 7 years old and all alone, shoeless. It was tough to see. Then we stopped at a Church of Christ thay we had established and met the preacher, his wife, and eight month old. The baby was so cute but they lived in a "lean on" shack that was built up against the permanent structure church building. One room, all three of them and as happy as any people you have ever met. Then we were on to the new school property so Daddy, NaNa, and PaPa could survey the damage from the typhoon. It did take almost all of the trees and part of the fence but, thank God, the structure was fine. It was here that all the neighborhood kids came up and when they found out I had candy, they mobbed me! I looked back and screamed for Daddy and when he looked I said, "for the love!", all the kids turned around and yelled, "for the love!" What could you do but laugh? I almost cried from laughing so hard. When we left we were so far beyond tired. Our hotel is nice enough and at least is clean. I'll try to put pictures up. I am thinking that tonight will be the best night's sleep ever, even though the beds are like benches with a thin blanket blanket over them. Who cares? I would sleep on a park bench if it was quiet and dark.

Friday June 27, 2008 (but written on the 28th, the best I can remember...I was just too exhausted last night!)
Today we got up and met down for breakfast. The restraunt in the hotel looks pretty clean and nice so I ordered something even though I couldn't see the kitchen. While I was eating it is when I saw a mouse run across the floor! I thought I handled it pretty well since I stayed in my seat and didn't scream but Daddy obviously didn't think so, as he was quick to inform me that this was a third world country and this is as good as it gets. Great. I got to call Leigh for just a minute this morning and started crying. I was exhausted and had just seen the mouse and was chastised for the way I reacted and was jet lagged in a 3rd world country that I had never been to before, the sound of her voice just brought on the tears so I had to get off after only a couple of minutes. Then we went out to see the new property where the school will be. It's great but has a lot of dammage from the recent typhoon. The kids from the neighborhood started coming and just standing at the doors when they heard us singing. We had a chapel service and then had an introduction period where we all got up and told a few things about ourselves. After that there were about 20 kids there so we invited them in and started singing with them. Beverly suggested we sing the Baby Jesus song as an introduction song. This is how that goes, "Baby (insert every child and adults name her, one at a time, which, yes, means we sang it about thirty times!), Baby name, do not cries, do not cries, Jesus truely loves you, very much, very much" with hand motions. The kids love it! They love having everyone look at them and say their name (we the exceptions of course of me, NaNa, and Julia, since we couldn't understand/ pronounce most of their names) but it is exhausting! We also tagught them some songs and they taught us some. In the school system here they are taught English from their first day of school so there isn't much of a language barrier, except sometimes it is hard for us to understand with their accent combined with broken English. After this we went to pick up Dad, Roger, and Fernando whho had left to go have a Bible study. When we picked them up (along with Fernando's wife) they has a 23 year old female schoolteacher with them and her mother. Her and her mother kept staring at me and whispering in Tagalo. I could tell by the way that they were talking that they were talking about me but there was no way to politely ask. Then they told Josie that I was very pretty, I looked like an American doll. Obviously I was flattered until I later found out that they idolize whiteness and roundness like Americans do tans and thiness. It figures. (As if that didn't bring me down to Earth quick enough, the next day we got to get on the internet for a while at the school office and I pulled up MySpace, where I have a slide show whit a lot of pictures from Louise's wedding on it, and showed her. She couldn't hide her surprise that that was me! LOL! I told her to give me a break, I am ALWAYS nasty sweaty when they see me, in throw away clothes, AND I didn't even bring a brush, make up, or jewlery over here! That's not a fair comparison :) The girl, Mary Joy, was baptized. We took her to the China Sea where MacArthur came ashore to do it. It's beautiful there! Then we went to the museum/park dedicated to that even, which was very interesting and fun. By the time we got back I was to exhausted for supper. I showered and watched a little Fox and Friends as I drifted off to sleep.
Saturday June 28, 2008 8:00p.m. (Philippines time???)
This morning I was again awoken (sp?) by the stupid rooster and once again I have no idea what time I was woken up but I do know that it was many hours unitl daylight. After the first few times that I was woken up, I did get into deep thought about what would have happened if the roosters and chicken hadn't made it off of the ark. Would I rather there be no roosters and not have eggs ever or vice versa? I'll probably have to wait until the end of my stay here when that stupid rooster has woken me up for 12 mornings or so to say. I do love eggs but I do hate roosters! Anyway, we got up and went down to breakfast again this morning and then Josie, Roger, Kevin and Arnel (two boys from the school....I say boys, they are 19 and 18, respectively) picked me, Daddy, and Julia up to go to Bayoas (near the city of Aguilar). This is where Josie and Beverly are from. Josie is one of 6 kids, the 2nd oldest. Beverly is here niece, one of 18 that she has. So today we went to their compound (this is the only way to describe it), which is really a bunch of wood particle board or cement blocks (usually two to four total rooms...bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, ect...not sure where there bathrooms are, but I have an idea...) with tin roofs and dirt floors. They were the nicest people, her mother and other women of the family all made us supper, which consisted of vegetable stuffed milk fish, some type of Philippino spaghetti, fried chicken, rice, fresh pineapple, mixed vegtables, and banannas. They had also Coke and Sprite, which was a special treat just for us. We sat down and ate, then after we had eaten they served there children, then the adults all sat down to eat last. That was the order of the three shifts that we ate in. The main house, which is where the parents/ grandparents live was probably about 700 sq ft. There was a lot of dammage to these people's homes during the first Typhoon. It ripped many of their tin roofs off and some have been replaced and they wouldn't stop saying how thankful they were to all the American Christains who donated money to help them fix their houses. I would guesstimate that it took less than $200 to get them all fixed because it is just tin on a few wood boads, but it is something that would have taken them months, if not years to repair on their own. If I needed something fixed that cost $200 dollars, even that wasn't as important as the roof over mine and my families home I would put it on the credit card, and work one of my off days overtime to pay it off, if I didn't have it lying in the bank. The destruction here was hard to comprehend. After we ate we loaded up about 25 kids into the 12 passanger van, plus all of our adults and we went to their church building, which is a one room, appx 600 sq ft permanent dwelling and they use plastic lawn chairs for seats. There were about 32 kids ranging in age from a 13 year old to a 1month old. We spread them out in a big circle and started off with Father Abraham and the Baby Jesus song. We sang, played Bible trivia games, and told Daniel in the Lions den and then had them color sheets that corresponded with the Bible story. Again I was totally inpressed with the boys from the college and Beverly. While we were with the kids Daddy, Josie, and Roger were all having a Bible study with one of her cousins and her huscband. She has been studying with them for five years. Today they were baptized. She is eight months pregnant with their fifth child. God is so good. Next we went back to the school and all of the neighbor hood children saw our van turn on the road and ran up to meet it, running along side us to the school. It was like crazed fans unning after a movie star! We sang some more songs sand told the story of Noah. I know it is hard for most of us to imagine but of these 30-35 children almost none of them had ever heard that story! Then we sang some more and gave them some candy (which turns them again into the crazed fans, that trample each other trying to get more!) After we left there we came back to Dagupan and went to the mall. It is very simialr to an American mall. In fact, we had McDonald's for supper! I also entertained them by doing some improv videoke in the middle of the store! Beach Boys, "Wouldn't It Be Nice", they had never even heard it! Videoke is huge over here and I hopewe can take all of the students and workers and go do it one night! Our funniest moment of the day was when we were on our way to the mall and Roger hit a dog or a goat (just not sure) and one of us said, "What was that?" and he said, "A dog hit our van." Whatever it was couldn't have weighed more than 10 pounds! Now we have eaten and they have left for the night and I need a shower! I sweated more today, maybe than I ever have in my entire life! Daddy said it was the hottest day that he has ever experienced in the Philippines!

Sunday, June 29, 2008 9:20 p.m.
Wow. If I had to sum up today in one word that would be it. I am going to "Cliff's Notes" version this as much as I can because I am exhausted! We got up again today at 6a.m. after another night debating on eggs or no rooster. The no eggs things is looking better and better. We left the hotel at 7a.m., skipping breakfast because we opted to sleep a little later instead. I grabbed an apple and she ate a granola bar. (Our group was me, Julia, Kevin, Arnel, Josie, and Roger) Our first stop was the jail here in Dagupan. I have to tell you about the jail system before I go farther so that you can understand. In the Philippines the govt does not supply you with a lawer so if you get charged with something you can't get out on bail until you hire a lawyer (this is supposing that you have enough money to come up with bail, there are no bail bondsmen here so you have to pay 100% of your bail) and, of course, most of these people do not have the money to pay a lawyer. Therefore, guilty or not, you are in jail for how ever many years it takes your family to save up the money for the lawyer! And, keep in mind, in the case of the men, the household breadwinner is IN JAIL! It's a terrible system. Anyways, we walked in (which was remarkably simple) and no one is in jail uniform so it is hard to tell who the guards are and who the inmates are. We had a service for about 50 total with about 10 women included. After the sermon (which was all in Tagalo) 8 men and women came forward! It was one of the biggest goups they have ever had to respond! Due to jail rules we will have to go back tomorrow to actually baptize them. My biggest memory from the jail was how happy all the people were. They were so excited to meet the daughter and cousin of "Brother Don Walker", he is like a super star to the Christians in this area! So funny! Next we went back Bayoas (near the city of Aguilar) to their worship, which I was SO excited baout because I had fallen in love with Josie and Beverly's families yesterday! We got out of the van and they were already gathered in the building while the children were in 100 ft away in a make shift hut. Me, Julia, and Arnel went out to teach the kids whie Roger went in to preach again, Kevin lead singing, and Josie of course went into the adult service. They have to split the children and adults up because the building is too small to hold of them! Isn't that a marvelous problem to have! The unfortunate thing is all the children the top age was probably 11 (if you have been baptized you go in the adult service) down to around 1. This makes it hard to keep the attention of all the different age groups. We sang all the songs, including (of course) their favorite, "Baby Jesus" and then we told the story of The Good Samaritan with a flip chart that Julia had brought and Arnel translated to make sure they understood. When it was time for the Lord's Supper. Afterwards we gave out some candy, took a picture, and were out pretty quick to go to Alaminos. It was about an hour out and before this, I had never seen true poverty before. It was actually indescriabable. Worse than any of those heart wrenching commercials we see on tv. But the kids were SO excited to see us. In this compound there is no structure of any kind so the very small congergation (made up of only 5 women) is held in someones home. The children (appx 20) ranging in age from less than one to mid teenage years, did not speak nor understand English because they can't go to school. This time Arnel led singing in the service so Kevin stayed with us. They actually caught on to most of the English words amazingly quick! The only song they knew before they got there was (you guessed it!) the "Baby Jesus" song! Of course, we inserted all of their names and it lasted forever again but you can't really mind because they love it so....all 25 or so rounds of it! We taught them 'Jesus Loves Me' and the "Hippoptomus Song", the funny thing about it was, not only did they have to learn it in English, they didn't even know what a hippo was! They, obviously, had never been to a zoo, there are none around, and they hadn't seen a picture because most have never seen a book! Try explaining that! We told them that it was like a much fatter, shorter water buffalo. Probably not close but we had to give them something they could relate to. After that service we left for ANOTHER hour ride to go to Agno. From here on out, known as THE MOST beautiful place on Earth! Holy cow! On one side you have these beuatif, lush, green mountains, literally ACROSS the little road, the South China Sea, the most beautiful,undeveloped beach ever! God really was on his "A" game there! There are no words and probably no pictures to even come close to describing the amazing beauty there! Half way up the mountain (which we have to walk up, there are no roads going up) we met in a very nice hut that seats about 30, that they rent for 300 pesos a month (appx $7). We arrived late bacause of the rain so most of the families had, had to leave. There were 12 of us there for service (no children because of the rain, they usually have about 20 adults and 15 kids), including the 6 of us. At this service Roger got a much deserved break and Arnel delivered the lesson while Kevin led the singing. The guys were amazing! They would shine in any country, I know God has great things in store for them! I forgot to mention that after our third service we stoped at a Chow King, which is a popular fast food type, Chinese food resturaunt. I just had rice and friied chicken but tried Josie's so I'll know what to order next time. The funniest moment from this day came here, where they ordered a very poopular dessert Halo Haol (mix mix). I don't know what all it consist of but some of the things are a yellow ice cream, red, yellow, and green jello, cocanut, some kind of slimy fruit, fried banana, some kind of 'sweet beans', and this mixture of ice, sugar, rice, and cocanut milk. I know and believe me, I was thinking the same thing. Well, Josie bought one and insisted that we try it. As all new things, I made Julia try it first. I wish I had taken a picture of her face! You mix it all up (hence the name!) and make it into almost a cold soup like thing. It's not the taste I guess that is so bad, it's that there are like 5 different textures in one spoon full! Uck! I just can't describe it well but I can always say I tried it and always say I don't have to again! The boys and Roger were happy to finish it off! We didn't get home until 9 p.m. tonight (that 14 LONG, hard, HOT hours, if you are keeping count) and I have got to go to bed before that stupid rooster starts crowing! My last thought about today is that it was one of the best days of my life and it changed my life.

Monday, June 30, 2008 8:20p.m.
Who could believe that it keeps getting better! Our day stared off after another horrible "nights sleep" and I still hate that stupid rooster! We got picked up at 7:30 and were off to the Dagupan city jail to baptize the ones from the service yesterday. It was me, Roger, Alma, Daddy, NaNa, and Julie while Papa and Josie went to PTC to do some work and Papa taught a class. At the jail while we were waiting we walked up to the top where the chapel used to be. Did I mention that the jail is on the beach??? I mean ON the beach! Closer than hotels are in America! SO the roof, even though the typhoon took the chapel is still a beautiful place o be! Then we walked down to their work area and were amazed! For their livlihood they are allowed to make things and sale them. But since they don't have mmoney to buy supplies they use what they have. They roll up little pieces of paper and make everything! It is really amazing! I bought one and will definitely add pictures, just remember that it's all scrap paper! Usually cigarette paper and trash newspapers and such. When they were all ready they lined up and Daddy talked to them about what a wonderful, powerful, life changing decision they were making and then took all of their confessions independetly. We then walked over to a blue, trash like barrel filled with water and they crawled in (one at a time, of course) and Daddy dunked them. It was beautiful. After that we ran some errands and finally ended up back at the office. Here we got to write some emails before going out to a school near Rogers house before eating with his family. When we pulled up to the elementary school the kids were pretty excited to see us pull up and we were smiling and waving to them. Then we got out. That's when my "Fifteen Minutes of Fame" started. All of the sudden I was like one of the Beatles! The kids mobbed us and were screaming like crazy. There were about 400 kids and I haven't seen that kind of excitement from 1st through 5th graders since I went to a New Kids on the Block concert in 1992!! It was the funniest thing ever! (Later the principal told us that we were the first white people tha most of them had ever seen!) We taught them some Bible songs and gave out candy. When we left they were blowing kisses, screaming "Goodbye visitor, goodbye visitor" and houting as they ran along the inside of the fence where we were walking and the van was parked on the outside. The principal asked us back and, hopefully, we will be able to work it in while I am still here. I am already counting down and dreading leaving, hating that I have to leave before the rest of them. Then we went to Rogers house, which I am thinking (and from what I have seen) is a very nice middle class house. It was concrete, had a tv, fridge, and a sink. That was the first house we have been in here that had a tv or fridge. Of course, it was just three rooms total and a chicken wandered in and clucked around while we were eating. The food was spaghetti, fried chicken, frech pineapples and banannas (and some weird stuff that I have NO idea what it was), and rice of course. From there we went back to the office where I just visited where while they all downloaded their pictures on the computer (remember my camera is somewhere in Chicago or with a cleaning person from American Airlines in Tokyo), it was good because it was the first time we had seen the boys (what I call the students) all day....I had missed them! Then we went to the Dagupan mall and I wanted to treat everyone to UpFloats. Can't remember id I've already covered them, but they are THE best version of a Coke float EVER! It's regualr Coke (which I NEVER have in the states), ice, chocolate syrup, whipped cream (another thing that I never have, because I don't really care for it), and vanilla ice cream. UNREAL. Josie 2 (that has 3 boys) and Beverly split up with me and Julia while the rest went to the electronics store to price a stove, fridge, ect for the new building. Meanwhile our group went to a Wal Mart like store and I told Josie 2 that I would like to buy gifts for her boys and asked her to pick them out since I haven't met them. After much prodding she asked me if she could answer truthfully what I could buy her. When I told her of course she replied with, "milk. they really love it and have drank all of ours." I think that I will look back on that moment and think of it as a single moment that changed my life. I told her I would get milk but I was taking them something else. she finally gave in and decided to let me buy them backpacks. I then bought them some house supplies (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, ect.) for them and the three girls that live in the office. You would have thought we bought them the world. Know how much it was (my part, me and Julia split it)? 1446 pesos, about $32. They must have thanked us 10,000 times, seriously. Then we ran to McDonalds where I bought everyone UpFloats and me, Josie 2, Julia, and Beverly supper. It all came up to like 445 pesos. Again with the thanks. Then we met everyone back at the vans, handed out the floats, and were on our way back to the hotel, which brings us to now. It was early but after doing a little catching up on stuff and visiting, it's now 9:00 and I haven't showered yet. I AM taking an Abien CR and we got mattresses put on our beds so hopefully I will get my first decent nights sleep in what seems like forever, because I have now well passed exhausted and I have to go flush the toilit because Julia just walked out of the bathroom and said the toilit flushes the opposite way that it does at home! As previously discussed, I am easily amused!

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008 10:35p.m.
Yep, the toilit really does flush the "wrong" way. Huh. Anyway, today started off (as usual) with me skipping breakfast and us meeting downstairs to be picked up around 7:30. Josie and Roger picked all of us up and took us to the office, where all the others were already and we had their chapel service. Then we got to read our e mails and then were off to the bank. Today is payday for everyone at the school. When we got out of the bank (which was crowded because, ironically ;^), it's the 1st of the month here too!) we went back out to the van where the others were waiting and realized that our front passanger side tire was completely flat! Well everyone (at this point "everyone" is me, Julia, Dad, Roger, Josie, NaNa, and Beverly) got out and Dad and Roger worked on the tire while all the ladies went into a Christian book store across the street. When we realized how behind schedule this was making us all the girls took taxis (no way to even begin to describe these, you'll just have to see the picture....the closest thing you can imagine is a motorcycle with a side car but...NOT what you are imagining!), three on each taxi to the hotel, where I dropped off the tagaolg.english Bible that I had purchased. Then we took a Jeepney (if you don't know what these look like, see my pics or google it...hilarious!) to the grocery store.. You just think that you have to wait in a long line at Wal MArt when they don't have any cashiers! We waited 4 times as long in line than it took us to get all the snacks we were buying for the gospel meeting! By then the van was fixed and picked us up. We went back to the office and then split up (picking up the others) into all of the vans. Me, Julia, Beverly, Josie 2, and Ed, Arnel, JohnRay, Fernando all rode in Reuben's van to the village where tha campus is. He dropped us off about a mile away and we stopped at every house and 'store' in between there and the school, then about a mile past the school and back, inviting them to come to the school at 7:00 tonight for a 'gospel meeting' and to 'get to know' the school. Well we weren't hardly a step down the road when the kids that now know us started gathering around and walking with us, so excited. The wanted to hold the pamplets and they would point to each ouse and tell us whose it was and run ahead of us, announce our coming and start inviting. What I wouldn't pay to see such excitiement at home! By the time I looked up there were thirty kids excitedly dancing around us while we walked. It was so hot and didn't take me very long to get exhausted. By the time we got back to the school I tried to get the kids to go back home and come back at 7. Yeah, right. That was NOT happening! Luckily I am more stubborn than MOST of them and was determined not to have them there when we ate supper because, I just can't eat in front of them. Believe me, if I could have skipped supper and had enough for all of them, I gladly would have. I finally waled back down to the part if the village where they mostly seem to live and was trying to emphesize 7:00. They all started chanting, "seven o clock, seven o clock, seven o clock....", which was funny enough but when I go back down to the compound, Sam (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite people in the world) informed me that they didn't understand time in English! They were just so happy to be saying whatever it was that was so important to me to keep repeating! Finally we ate, where they had a surprise "birthday cake" for me, NaNa, and the ones here with birthdays in July. Precious. Then it was time to start and, of course, it started POURING! We ended up with 75 but I am almost positive we would have had 100-150 if it hadn't been raining. The class was good, I told the story of baby Jesus and the kids were amazingly well behaved and seemed to remember EVERYthing from every story I had ever told them! I can already tell it is going to be ecspecially hard on me to leave them.. It's amazing how attatched we can become in such a short period of time. It's hard for me to now remember when these people weren't such a huge part of my life. I am already trying to figure out a way to get back ASAP and I haven't even left yet! I'm sure I am leaving a lot out but Iaccidently took a sleeping pill before my shower, which was before I stared this and I can barely keep my eyes open, much less think and type. I do have to mention, for the record, that I am getting the same feeling that I get when camp is half way over or so....just a dread feeling in the pit of my stomach. I really don't want to go.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 7:30 p.m.
Today started (you'll never guess...) by Josie and Roger picking us up and all of us meeting all of the students and staff for chapel at the office. When we got there they had made this big sign wishing NaNa a happy 75th birthday and all of us that have birthdays in July (except they had my birthday July I need to get a year older ANY faster than I am!), it was SO nice!! Then we had chapel and the dean spoke about some do' and don't's that James Garfield had given for a successful life. One of them was marry well and when he was expanding on this point he told the story of a man who fell in love with a woman who was (and I quote) "beatutiful AND sexy" Now I am sure that this story is not funny to you, reading this, but I am in tears writing it. I don't know why hearing the Philipino dean, who looks like he's never cracked a smile (even though he is actually really nice and funny!), saying with his thick accent the word sexy cracked me up! Ed said the ending prayer and, as morbid as this ounds, I wish that I had recorded it, I would play it at NaNa's funeral when she dies. It was SO nice, brought tears to my eyes! Next me, NaNa, Julia, Beverly, and Reuben left to go to a community about an hour away where he met with a woman and her family who had just been baptized last Sunday. The first thing that you need to know about this place is that it is seriously at the end of the world. It made me re think all the pictures I have ever seen of Earth and it being round, because I seriously felt tlike we were about to fall off! We rode down these "roads" and I use that term lightly, until we came to this cliff like thing and we had to get out and walk down it to this compound to the peoples house. We took the 7 children who weren't at school to the one bedroom. In this "bed" sleeps the mother, father, and two children. The "bed" was about the size of a full size and was made of bamboo shoots cut in half with the round side up, that you slept on. That's all. They had one blanket folded up on end. It was so uncomfortable to even sit on! Did I mention that this bedroom is actually a lean on and also has the fire pit where they cook (the kitchen) and is open to the outside? I can't even discuss it, just needed to record it so that I could always have the mental picture. One thing that I can't remember if I have mentioned yet or not is these are the cleanest people ever! They don't wear shoes in the house and they are always sweeping! I have never, even in the shabbiest of shacks, seen a roach or a mouse in one! And they always are clean, not one greasy head in the whole country (which I can't figure out because mine is from the time I step out of the shower because that's when I start sweating!), it's amazing considering most of them take their "baths" at a outside swater pump. Anyway, these children were the most relaxed, well behaved children ever! They all got along well but were the shyest I have ever seen! After we trecked back up to our van and back down the "roads" we rode about 40 minutes to another school. This one was similar to our last school (you know...the regualr...them mobbing us, trampling each other to touch our hands, screaming like rock stars...) but this time I was actually too tired to even sing. My voice was doing the weird going out thing that it does when I am tired and I was trying so hard just to have the energy to do the motions. At this school we met Reuben's wife, who is a teacher there. She was very nice and told us that they have 900 students at this school. Some of their classrooms are outside, under a pavillion because they don't have enough rooms! Next we went about 30 minutes away to a house where we had a Bible study with some prospects. This house was one of the nicer ones we have been to. It was on a compound but it was the front house, right off the road, and was all concrete blocks. They had a tv, bamboo furniture, dvd, player, and old linolium floor. I didn't get much from the study because obvioiusly it was in Tagalog. That was our last stop and we were back here by 6:00! Julia and I ordered McDonald's (they deliver here!) and had some down time. Now we are going to get some well deserved rest, I am about to fall asleep writing this!

July 3, 2008 9:00 p.m.
Today was quite possibly the best day ever. I am quite serious. Well it started off with a another horrible nights sleep. It seriously has creeped into detest, my feelings for that stupid rooster. I looked out this morning to see if I could see it, thinking maybe I could throw something at it. Anyways, Daddy, Roger, and Josie all left about 2 a.m. today to go to a jail that is about six hours away to meet with the people there that we have been doing Bible correspondence cources with. They are not back yet but we received a text from them saying that 28 of the ones we have been studying with by mail were baptized!!!! Papa, the dean, and "the boys" went out to the school to work on the property and ended up having Bible studies with four of the ones that were there last night at the meeting and two were baptized and one was the village Captain (the mayor!) and his wife and mother in law are two serious prospects! That left me, Julia, Sam, Reuben, Jessie 2, Beverly, and NaNa. First we went to a school but were warned ahead of time that this would not be like our other schools because it would be a high school. Here the school system is simialar to ours the have 2 or 3 years of preschool then 6 years of primary school but they have no middle school or jr high, they go directly to high school. There is four years of high school so they graduate at 16 instead of 18. When we got there we split up iinto 3 classes. I taught one with Josie 2 as my interperter, Nana was with Beverly, and Julia with Sam. I took the oldest group, mostly year 3 and 4. At forst I was SO nervous and really had no plan of attack. Reuben did a little introduction of me, mostly in Tagalog, so I didn't know what she was saying but I understood when she added "and she's still single" because they all whooped and hollered and and the boys slapped fives. Seriously, they were making it hard to get focused! I had some time to kill because I had to talk for an hour so I started out telling about myself and my life as Americana (female from America). Then I started in on why I was in the Philippines ans went over the plan of salvation. They were SO respectful and attentive, I'm not sure that I could have even imagined teenagers that respectful! It is a great work there because they even asked questions when I was done so I know they are interested! I heard all the classes went just as well. It wasn't quite the fan fare of the primary school but COMPLETELY as rewarding! By the time that was over it was lunch time and we went to Jolibee (China's answer to McDonald's) for lunch and I had Chinese spaghetti (much sweeter than Italian), a cheeseburger, fries, and then Cookies and Cream Swrilee Bits, which is life a Oreo Blizzard. Next we went out to this prospects house that was in a very nice neighborhood but we parked and I was looking around to decide which house we were going to. It wasn't too hard, there were only houses on one side of the road because the other side was a steep enbankment down to the river. Guess where we were going. Well across the river by way of bamboos just laid across of it, of course! For the love! Just when I think that I am figuring things out here they throw me another curve ball! Well after we teeter across we have to crawl back up the embankment! did I mention that this is to go to the building we rent as a church building and our group goes there and conducts a service every Sunday! We had a Bible study and with two prospects and there were only two childen who just colered while we studied. Then we left and they said they had a surprise, we pulled up to this little compound on the back of a street and Josie 2 said she used to rent a room here and introduced us to all her friends. We met them and then we walked into a empty room that only had two tables and a videoke machine. We videoked!!! It was so fun, everyone bbut NaNa sang. Julia and I sang 'Because of You' by Kelly Clarkson and I sang 'The Rose' and Julia sang the theme song from Beauty and the Beast. Then we went out to the new building for just a minute, saw 'our kids' and sang a few song with them and then headed back to Dagupan. We dropped NaNa off at the hotel and went back to the office, Reuben and Sam went on home to their families while me, Julia, Beverly, and Josie 2 were left. We went across the street to Josie 2's house and met her three boys and then rode tricycles like we rode the other day, except this time the bike was a bicycle instead of a motorcycle! So fun! We rode them to the boys dorm and surprised them! We had SO much fun! All the boys except Ed, who stayed upstairs in the bedroom, and Fernando, who lives away with his wife, were there, including the dean! They all played the guitar for us and we sang, some secular songs with the guitar and all taught each other some new worship songs with out it. We were having so much fun singing that when the dean left to go get the van and came back that the boys rode with us to be dropped off just so we could sing for a little longer! When we got back to the hotel we ordered a pizza and ate with dad (who stopped by our room on his way in, exhausted of course) while he told us about the jail which was (his words), "the nastiest place on Earth" and, allthough repulsed by the conditions he had been in all day (which tells me something because he IS NOT easily repulsed by conditions or's like he's usually immune to things that normally disgust others like him, so I know it was more than disgusting!) but was happy as a lark about all that had been done. This is the day that my idea came to me and I first ran it by Dad (I may write on this later but I needed to document it for my own record). I am beyond tired and since supper and Dad interrupted my typing, it is 10:40 and I haven't even showered yet and we LEAVE at 6:30 tomorrow for our "off day" to celebrate the 4th! I am SO excited! It's hard to imagine though that anything could beat today!

Friday, July 4, 2008
SO, today was our "off day" for the 4th and the Dean had planned a touristy day, at the only real "tourist place" in the Philippines. It's like a cross between a Colorado town (the scenery and weather) and NYC (the over crowding and shopping). We were picked up at 7 and then met at the office for a devo. In our van was The dean, the dean's brother, me, Julia, Sam, Beverly, Josie Dos, Kevin, Arnel, John Ray, and Ed. It was a super fun ride up, filled with singing! Bagaio was nice and beautiful, but a little more touristy than I like. I did get some good pictures and got to do some good shopping. The real problem came in on the way down. Bagaio is on top of a very high mountain and I have a serious probelm with motion sickness and they drive SO far BEYOND crazy!!!!! Crazy like, passing on very narrow, very steep, very curvy road, in blind spots!! It was very much like being on a rollar coaster just in a covered vehicle! I honestly thought we were going to die. I don't mean like people say, "like we were going to die"...NO...I mean I thought our lives on this Earth were going to end! Bagaio is ok but I will never make that trip again if I have any say over it. Thank goodness for Dramamine. Not much to report today, tomorrow we are back to work. Then another hard/ terribly rewarding Sunday before it's time for me to! I have thought a lot today about the 4th and have actually missed being in the states to celebrate the day. Being here gives even more meaning to the statement, "God bless America."

Saturday, July 5, 2008 7:40p.m.
I woke up this morning like a Cyclopse! My left eye was swolen shut! It went down eventually and I guess it was just some kind of reaction. Me, Nana, Papa, Josie Dos, Beverly, Kevin, and Reuben all left at 8 to go to Reubens house (about an hour away) while the rest of the people went to San Almos to an area wide, day long fellowship. When we got to Reuben's house there were about 20 kids waiting on us. PaPa, Kevin, Reuben, and his wife went inside to study with the prospects while the rest of us sang and taught the kids. Those kids were so wonderful! They retain EVERYTHING you tell them! Next we went to Chow King (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite fast food places ever!) for lunch and then on to meet everyone at the "fellowship" You are probably imagining a fellowship like we have at churches in America....not so much. First it involves about 20 different congergations and it starts at 8am and ends at 4pm. All the different congergations send choral groups and there are 3 speakers like a lecturship. I messed the first two but was kind of glad because Julia and Dad said, not only was it SO hot but the first two speakers spoke completely in Filipino! We did our singing at 3 and were out of there soon as it was over! Or, at least, me, Daddy, Julia, Arnel, Josie 1, and Roger (his wife had come with him also) left to go pay the carpenters, ect, at the new property. I LOVE going there! As soon as we turn on the road I open the ven window and as soon as the kids see us they start screaming and running after the van! That is ALWAYS our welcome there! These are the kids that I am really getting to know and know their personalities! We were only going to be there a few minutes so I took those few minutes to do something that I have been dying to do the whole time I was here....I taught them to sing Rocky Top! It was so funny and look for a link to see it on You Tube! Next we left to go to the mall. Ineeded to buy a couple of things that I had been waiting for but first we had to eat! There is something that you need to know before reading the rest of this story. I have serious stomach problems. It is the main reason that I was so weary of coming here or doing any kind of third world traveling. Luckily, my dr's keep me well medicated and I pretty much know what triggers my colon spasm (if you have never had one, it feels like some one grabs onto your colon like you would ring out a washcloth and a add a serious side of nausea and diarrea), tomoto products and caffiene are what triggers mine. Some times I can have a little of either and still be ok and sometimes just a bite will trigger them so I usually just try to totally avoid. Here enters the problem...I LOVE chocolate and italian foods like ziti, spaghetti, and pizza! Since I have been over here I was so excited because I haven't been sick AT ALL! I have found out since I have been over here I have found out that I LOVE "up floats" (their version of a coke float) so, of course since we were at the mall I had one and we decided to have Shakey's pizza since me and Julia hadn't tried it yet. I'm sure you can see where I am going with this... I have to now tell you about Filipino bathrooms, or as they are called over here, Comfort Room (yuck!!!!) Most don't have toilit paper and they are usually gross and they don't have soap or paper towels. If they do have some type of wiping paper, you can't flush it!!!! Honestly, I don't go anywhere but the hotel of Chow King (because, even though you can't flush it, it has t.p., soap, and they are clean), most people who know me know that I have an extrodinary ability to hold it AND have a fear of even clean public bathrooms. So, appx 5 minutes after we finished our meal I thought I was going to die. So I run to the mall C.R. where I immediately was SO glad that Ididn't have a sense of smell and saw that there was NO paper products ANYwhere to be found! Not only did I get sick everyway humanly possible, I was in so much pain that I wanted to die! Literally! Crying, praying that somehow my mom would walk in AND without any medicine! Finally I crawl out and inform them I need medicine NOW! We go across the street and I actually have to jump out of the moving van to make it to the Jolibee C.R., which was decent and had t.p. In one of the smartest moves in my life, I grabbed some and stuck it into my pocket and walked over to the pharmacy next door, where they were waiting for me and Dad was trying to communicate to them what I need. I'm sure that you are thinking that we just picked up some Pepto, right? Yeah, sure! No! We try to get something and we finally settle on something that I am pretty sure that was a prescription and tasted as bad as castor oil, not that I cared I was just looking for enough relief to make it the ten minutes back to the hotel. While in the pharmacy I have to make it to another bathroom and have to get escorted up to the "Staff only" bathroom, above the pharmacy. I might actually be sick again just typing about it. There was no water in the toilit or the sink, no soap, no t.p., and NO trash can!!!! For the love. I finish up and have to walk out with my t.p. (thank goodness that I had the forethought to grab some in the other bathroom!) and find a trash can! Ugh. Thankfully, I am now back at the hotel and although weak and Phenergan'd up, have actually lived through the ordeal and am now going to get some well deserved drugged up rest.

Sunday night, July 6, 2008 9:45 p.m.
Are you kidding me? I cannot even believe that I am typing this right now. It is the craziest I can imagine that it is already time to go home. Tonight I will go to sleep (unpacked, which I am sure won't surprise any of you who know me very well), wake up in the morning and go to chapel. Not sure what the rest of my morning will entail but after lunch me, Daddy, Josie 1, and Roger will all be going to Manila. Manila is about 4 or 5 hours south of here which is Dagupan City, in the Province of Pangasinan (state), on the island of Luzon (which is the big one). In Manila we will spend the night and be at the airport at 4 a.m. to drop me off for my 6 a.m. flight to Tokyo. When they leave me they will head back here for another day of evangalizing. I will fly from Tokyo to Chicago, where I have an 8 hour layover before flying into Chattanooga. Ironically, even though I will be traveling for over 32 hours, will arrive in Chicago just a couple of hours after I left on the same day! Passing the Intl' dateline is weird! Mom will pick me up in Chattanooga and we will drive straight home to Montgomery. Lord willing, I will be home early Wednesday morning! It was hard for me to believe after our last service tonight that the next time I am in a worship service it will be in a huge, air conditioned, building with a roof, four walls, and padded seats and there will be 500 people there! I am so sad about leaving. This morning Roger, Josie 1, Daddy, and I all went to Dagupan City jail for a service first and there were 5 baptisms, which brings our total to 55 so far! Next we went to Alaminos, which is about 2 1/2 hours away from here and is the poorest community that we go to. I had been there once before but neither me or dad had been there at high tide! ALL of their houses flood! We had to wade through calf deep NASTY water (and in the rain none the less, lucky us!) to get to the outdoor place where the water is. The kids here don't go to school and have virtually no contact with anyone outside of their viallge/compound so it is tough because they don't speak English. I mean AT ALL! Most of them aren't even fully dressed. Today I sang with them and they always put a smile on your face no matter how much the sight of them makes your heart hurt. Before we went there I stopped at a store and bought 60 matchbook toy cars for the boys, hairbands and sticers for all of the girls, and candy for all of them! You would have thought it was the greatest day of their lives! Some of the women came up crying thanking me. The kids were literally stampeding themselves trying to get to me! After there we went to the San Carlos city jail (about 2 hours away) for a service. It was so funny there was a detainee cleaning some VERY fresh fish, i guess for supper that night and there were to little puppies just wondering around our feet! ALso there were detainees who were locked up hanging from cells above us! It is hard to describe! Next we went to the site of our new campus where we were going to have our first Sunday service. We had a gospel meeting out there on Wednesday and had 80 somthing so we were hoping that we would have 100. We had over 175, over 100 KIDS!!! It was so wonderful but SO exhausting! We are going to call it Campus Church of Christ. It was unorganized because we had so many people but if you have to have a problem, having too many people! We did eat lunch before going to San Carlos and because I love it so much and am leaving, they took me to Chow King. Time to close this out, I might try to write more in Tokyo or Chicago, and maybe even in the morning, I'll just have to see how things go. I am watching Fox News ans see the George W Bush is in Tokyo, maybe I'll run into him there. I am going to sleep with a very sad heart tonight.....


The Holtons said...

I am so proud of you! My best suggestion is to get home and start looking for pictures of all the animals in the Hippo song, so you can show it on your nest trip. Make a flip chart so it is easy to keep together! I love you! Gin

Chad said...

This was a great post and really makes you think about what life is really all about. It really made me think and realize how much we take for granted in this life and what is really important. I know you posted this mostly for yourself, but thank you for letting the rest of us read along with you.

Sharon said...

I laughed and I cried, then I looked at Dan and told him I really would love to go with your family one year. You are very special Laurie and I thank you for taking your time to make this blog. Just your words have touched my heart and "yes" made me think about what's more important...eggs or sleep. See you soon. Sharon

Bev said...

Laurie, have I not always told you you are a champion? Your journal is terrific, I laughed and cried & enjoyed every entry. I am so proud of you and hope you'll come to GA. soon so we can listen to your stories. I am so proud of you, you are a CHAMPION, those people will never forget you. Welcome home, enjoy a hot bath a comfy bed and a good American meal you've earned it, but I think you will never be the womanyou were before this mission trip. We love you, Steve & Beverly