Friday, February 21, 2014

Last week in the Village

In a sense, it feels like I just got here. Wasn't I just saying goodbye to my friends and family at the airport? Didn't I just arrive here and begin to adjust to a new family, culture, and lifestyle? Wasn't I just organizing the school room, trying to wade through piles of books and teacher's manuals, and feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead?

Now, I am packing, not just for a short trip, but everything. I'll be home in less than 6 weeks, and we'll be away from the village for most of that time. I'm getting our schoolbooks organized for the time we'll be away, planning the remainder of my time as teacher, and preparing to pass the baton to Shannon for the last bit of the school year. How did time go by so fast?

On the other hand though, it feels like I've been here much longer than almost 7 months. I love it here. When we return to the village after a trip, I call it home. The Talbots feel like family, and I love spending time with all of them. Though there are still plenty of challenges, even the challenges have become familiar. Believe me, I am so eager to go home, but the idea of leaving is honestly a painful one.

Things are a lot like they were 7 months ago, when I was getting ready to come here. There are so many unknowns ahead, and saying goodbye is going to hurt like crazy. But God was absolutely faithful then, and He is faithful now.

Here are some pictures from the last several months- sorry I've been so negligent in posting them!  

Out for a walk with some of the Talbot and Easton kids, with some of the village children tagging along (the Eastons are the Talbot's co-workers).

I finally got to ride a water buffalo!

I had two big boxes coming for Christmas; the result of the combined effort of wonderful family and friends. Long story short, they didn't arrive at the guest house until January. I was expecting this one to come in on the helicopter, but Chuck and Shannon arranged to have it brought in a week early without telling me. Here it is arriving via water buffalo!

I was so surprised! (I find Chuck's expression quite amusing!) 

The kids and I will periodically have a "tea party." Those at home will laugh at me for saying this, but it gets quite "cold" early in the year. One gets used to the hot temperatures, and in the 68 degree weather I was freezing!

That house was built beside ours early in the year.

Jenna likes to brush my hair. Kyle suggested the addition of clothespins, so Jenna and Sophia collaborated to accomplish... this. According to Jenna, I look beautiful... haha. Of course, they needed some too! 

Making sugar cookies for Valentine's day

We had a village party for Bea's 1st birthday. About a hundred people came, and many helped with preparations! Shannon and I tried pounding rice, just for fun. I failed miserably, but at least I can say I did it!

So much coconut!

Rolling balls for nansilot- a dessert made with sticky rice flour.

Hala and the birthday girl

Party time!

Fun with the balloon animal kit from my box. These swords were later used for an epic... and loud... battle. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Another Village

 You may remember me mentioning Vicky in a post shortly after I got here. She first came to the Philippines as a missionary in 1980, and works in another village. I had the amazing privilege of spending nearly two weeks with her there. I'm not quite sure where to start, but it was wonderful- the perfect mix of working and resting.

Vicky has a lovely alto voice, and we had so much fun singing together. One night we even stayed up late singing hymns! I went on walks through the jungle with her or Heidi, Vicky's co-worker, and loved having the chance to see more of this beautiful country and getting to know each of them better. I was able to help with lots of little things, and enjoyed it so much! Vicky gives away a lot of clothes to the babies and toddlers in the village, and while I was there we organized the bags she had brought from the States and made a decent sized dent in her supply as lots of mothers came by asking! One day Vicky, Heidi, a lady from the village and I took a long hike to visit another area nearby. We were gone for 5 ½ hours, and estimated that we hiked for a total of 4! We visited some houses there and had fresh coconut, and even got to see a big waterfall! We were all tired, but it was so worth it.

I particularly enjoyed the chance to be more involved with the people in the village. Lots of ladies and kids would come to the porch to visit, and though I obviously couldn't understand the conversation, it was still great fun, and I made friends! I did manage to learn a few words and phrases, both from being surrounded by it and from asking questions. Vicky and her co-workers have been there a long time, and there is a church that meets under Jonathan and Heidi's house. The Talbots are just getting started here, and so it was nice to be able to see something on the other end of the spectrum. I was there for two Sundays, and it was especially fun to try and sing along with the worship songs! I knew some of the melodies, which helped. Everybody made me feel so welcome, and made it very, very hard to leave! I definitely left a piece of my heart there.

I anticipated a lot of growth and stretching taking place during the trip. It did, but it didn't look at all like I thought it would. I wrote pages and pages in my journal, but I'm not sure how to summarize it here. Through talking with Vicky, seeing the way she interacts with the people in the village, and just by living there for awhile, God taught me so much about patience, loving people with His love, trusting Him with our weakness, following Him no matter how hard things get, resting in His love for us, being willing to endure suffering when it comes (because it will surely come), serving, and really, just what it is to be a missionary. It was a full, joyful, peaceful, challenging, growing time. I thank Him for it, and I pray both that I will never forget all of that God taught me and that He'll lead me in applying it.

Will you join me in praying for God's continued work in that village?

I was surprised to see the stone paths in the village. So pretty!

The bridge over the river

Ladies visiting on the porch
The view from Vicky's porch


coffee in progress!

Out for a walk... isn't it beautiful?

Vicky and new baby Darren

Me, Vicky, and Heidi before our long hike

In the jungle... I can't believe I get to do this!

Big fern

With Arsilie (I doubt I'm spelling her name right...) by the waterfall

This beautiful basket was given to me "for remembrance." I will surely never forget!

These are the clothes for the village babies.

Yes, it was wonderful... but there were still some moments I could have lived without!

Jonathan, Heidi, Vicky and me right before I left. I wasn't ready to say goodbye!