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All in a day…

February 3, 2014

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I woke up, got ready, fixed the girls’ hair, grabbed things from the room to put in my to-go bag such as my lesson, my list of songs, activity sheets, crayons, candies, and carboard for the children to use as a table for their activities.  The kids and I hiked down the hill, with bags and guitar in tow to meet John, who had been at the mechanic, since the crack of dawn, to finish repairs and get the brakes adjusted.  Then we made our usual stop to collect people from our other outreach, who would be traveling and ministering with us.  When we arrived in the outreach of Taloy, an hour later, the children were waiting by the side of the road for us.  They climbed in the jeepney as we continued down the path to a waiting shed, where we hold the lessons, if there is no other covered space available.  Afterward, we drove back down to a house on the side of a hill to have the adult study.  When I say house, I mean a 8 x 8 room made out of assorted woods and plastics, with gaps you can peer out of, a dirt floor, an outside kitchen area with a wood pile for the stove, and no electricity or running water.  I love it there in that simple, quiet, peaceful mountain.  We had a full house and even a few sat quietly listening outside.  For lunch, they prepared pinikpikan. (I reallly have no idea if I spelled that right…)  Anyway, I’ll just explain… The chicken is killed right then and there, by slitting its throat.  Then the feathers are burned off over the fire, so the skin is nice and charred.  Then the insides are taken out but the rest is chopped up and put into a pot, and when I say the rest, I mean the head and feet included.  They are all boiled together with a vegetable.  (I have mostly eaten it with sayote, which I have heard is grown in Louisiana.)  Anyhoot, the taste is nice, depending a lot on the cook, as I have experienced.  I usually try not to get the chicken, if I don’t have to, in other words, if no one is looking.  But if someone is watching, they usually tell me to get chicken, and I do, so I won’t be disrespectful.  A lot of the time, Angel is next to me and I pass my chicken to her, if I can, because she loves it… and I don’t. 🙂  She is not picky at all.  Riley and Kendall, I have noticed, do the same thing, but Liam and Neely were young enough when we came here, that they aren’t too picky either. 😉  Liam even crunches on the bones sometimes, right along with Angel, talking about getting him some calcium.  (It’s all good.) 🙂  Most everyone eats with their hands, and we do too, a lot of the time.  It is not rude at all to talk with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open and smack.  It actually seems better to, like you are showing that you are really enjoying it.  We have picked up the habbit. (We’ll have to have a few family practice meals whenever we come back, before accepting a dinner invitation.)  I actually feel… rather free when I eat here, not confined to any standard.  I am merely showing a cultural difference, not preferring either or.  But I do prefer the food I am accustomed to. 🙂

After lunch, we went for a house visit just up the trail, and under an endless umbrella of sayote.  It grows over your head on a canopy of vines and you have to duck as you walk.  I went with my friend, and often translator, to a house whose base is an old broken down concrete pig pen.  They have mostly rice sacks and plastic for the walls.  The couple has two young boys and the eldest has never missed a fellowship.  He is six years old and as cute as can be.  He is sick often and his mother said he quit going to school because it is too far for him to walk and his health is affected, especially during the rainy season.  He usually stays for the adult fellowship with his parents.  He likes to sneak up behind me, poke me and then hide. 🙂  Sometimes I catch his finger and make him laugh. He sat on my lap one fellowship and it was translated to me that he told his mother all about it and was so excited that I held him on my lap.  When we were at their house, we were talking with his father about the Bible. We gave him some verses to read and he shyly explained that he didn’t really know how to look up the verses.  I sat there with him and showed him how, and he seemed excited to understand.  She said to him, “We can learn if we humble ourselves.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself. 🙂

John had this awesome idea for two of the elders he cares a lot about, who can’t read or write.  He bought these small, hand held, speakers that you can plug a usb into. He found the Ilokano Bible on-line and downloaded it onto the usb.  We checked it with our Ilokano Bible and it was word for word, as we read along with it in a few chapters in Matthew. They were so elated and thankful and kept thanking John and me and shaking  our hands over and over even though I really had nothing to do with it.  Now the man, who sleeps with his Bible, praying that the words of God would soak into his heart, can hear it… and have it do just that.

We stayed after that because we were invited up the road to a “thanksgiving” party because a family, whose son was working abroad, came home.  We sat among strangers who often don’t look away when your eyes meet.  Some smile and some simply stare.  As time progressed we sang Christian songs in the language of Kakana-ey with our small fellowship group. People started warming up to us and gathering to sing along.  This traditional party involved the butchering of two pigs. If you have never heard a pig squeal as it is being carried to get slaughtered, it is quite an intense sound.  As a group of men carried the first pig by me, Neely and Angel ran screaming to me, startled by its cry.  They knew more of what to expect when the second, larger one went by, but still, they came grabbing onto me, as if they were drowning.  It is, quite possibly, one of the worst sounds I have ever heard too.  I spoke with people as we waited for the food to be prepared.  One, was the young man who had just returned home.  He said he was working in Saudi and there were too many troubles there.  He said everyone is muslim and they kept trying to convert him but he was not interested.  He asked about our Saturday fellowships and seemed interested.  I told him what time and where.  I hope he comes.  As we ventured into the concrete house, the pig had already been slaughtered and I noticed two bloody bones hanging on the wall, in the kitchen.  Each bone had the heart hanging from it in the lining of the intestine.  (Something to do with keeping bad spirits away…)   One elderly man was speaking to me in Tagalog and Ilokano and I could understand him.  I always love it when that happens!  🙂  The man looked as if he had had a hard life with deep lines in his face, dark skin, white hair, and a white scraggly beard.  But he smiled often and was excited that I could understand him and laughed hard when I answered him.  He was such a kind old man.  He made sure my kids got a big plate of food, and plenty of glass bottles of soft drinks.  (They refill the glass bottles and you have to return them to the stores when they are empty.)  And now for a description of that plate full of food… It started with heaping rice covering the entire plate, and then a man would go and grab two barehanded handfuls of pig meat / fat and come slap it onto your plate of rice.  There was no way I could finish or even take a bite, as mine was mostly lard and I just couldn’t bare it.  I slowly ate the rice and saw that they were delivering plastic bags so people could take their left overs with them and I was glad of that.

It was so late when we finally ate, so we didn’t leave until 11:00 p.m.  We stil had the outreach team with us and had to drive them up to their village which is about an hour and a half from there.  When we were near their place, the jeepney made a strange squealing noise and we could smell rubber burning.  John pulled over and all the men got out to examin the situation, as men do. I heard a few tapping sounds and we were off again. We left them at the top of the road to walk down to their village.  As we drove back home, John calmly informed me that the brakes were out, and he was using the gears to keep it slow.  Since we live up a hill, he thought it best that we leave it at the mechanics and catch a taxi the rest of the way home.  Thank God for late night / early morning taxi drivers.  It was 1 a.m. by the time we got home!  But all in all, I think there will be many more that come to our fellowships.  I think they were able to warm up to us enough to not be intimidated to join us.  We came home to no water as the delivery driver still had not come and we all desperately needed a bath. What’s a mother to do? Off to bed we went.  I faintly remember John talking to me about the day as I think he was wound up.  But somewhere in the conversation, I fell smooth asleep.  All in a day…

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