in philippines 2005

10/24 I leave Japan.  My suitcase is still empty up until 8:45am.  I have to leave by 12:40.  The whirlwind goes thru the house throwing away things i thot i couldn’t part with, but when it comes to everything in one suitcase, and one backpack, some things inevitably get left behind.  After leaving Japan i remember that i forgot the power pack to my notebook, and left some food in the cabinet above the sink.  I hope my 2nd mama wasn’t too upset 🙂

The grandkids took off school today to go with me to the train station.  I was quite touched by their love for me.  Already i miss them, and pray they will grow up to love Jesus so we can meet in heaven some day.  Friends J and A met me at Kyobashi station to ride with me a few stations to where i had to change trains.  There was an accident somewhere, so all the trains were stopped, and i missed my train.  It worked out OK because i was able to take a slow train for awhile, and save a few yen on express fare costs.  At Nabari i struck up a conversation with a nice lady – S, and she was very helpful in assisting me to the correct platform and everything in Nagoya for the airport train.  She accepted a Great Controversy book.

When i got to the airport the sign said that my 7:40 flight to Manila was delayed to 0:00.  After my final meal at Lawson’s convenience store, i made it on the plane and asked a passenger what happened.  He said that the plane from Detroit had gotten past Anchorage when it was discovered that the toilets had not been serviced in Detroit, so they turned around and jettisoned lots of fuel and landed in Anchorage to clean the toilets.  Sounds very Northwest-like.  He was a nice man who worked with the World Bank, and altho he had a Diplomat passport, he was flying economy like me.

Even tho i landed after 3am in Manila, my friend was waiting for me with his friend who was driving a 4WD, and we went quickly to the SDA union guest house where i got a few hours of sleep.  Lunch in the SDA sanitarium was nice, and after that we went to Philippine Publishing House, arriving there in my first ever jeepney ride.  Jeepneys are very colorful vehicles that go for short routes in the cities usually, charging small fares and emitting lots of exhaust.  Manila is a very dirty city, but not as bad as Indian cities i’ve been to such as Mumbai, Chennai, or Calcutta.  The PPH people were pleasant, and several of the young editors of the various languages asked us questions about the 1858 Great Controversy, with one young man quite insistent that the later versions were as good or better, but he admitted he had not read the original edition?!

We bot some peanut butter, bananas, peanuts, oranges, bread etc., and ate in the room.  The garlic in the peanuts was a bit too strong for my taste, but seems to be popular here.  We went to a supermarket, and it was interesting to see that they make you store any bags with the clerk at the entrance.  It is unnerving to me to see my backpack being taken by someone else, knowing it has all my money and passport etc. in it, but so far it has always been returned with no problem:)  Spent pesos – 1389.

10/26,27 When we go to buy ferry tickets we are in a department store at noon when all of a sudden a tape is played (noon) in English saying something like “All hail to Jesus and Mary his mother……”.  Everybody in the store stopped what they were doing and respectfully stood at attention while my friend and i, while being quiet, went about our business.  In the market we saw Fuji Apples and Ponkan, originally products of my beloved Japan, and sliced bamboo and even tofu – yummy!  We bot some tofu, but when opening it to eat found that it was sour, so threw it away.  We did find some tofu with basil in it at the sanitarium, and that was quite good:)

In the afternoon we go to the Pasay Central Church near the union offices and meet pastor Israel Bucdayan to promote this GC book.  He seems skeptical, and asks questions about copyright etc.  I was praying very hard that the Lord would work on his heart, and he suddenly changed and became very positive about the book even suggesting that we make a poster to promote it so he could put the poster in his church!  When leaving the church i had goosebumps thinking how i had just witnessed a miracle – praise God!  I breathed a prayer of thankfulness to God for strengthening my faith in this GC project just at the beginning when i needed it.

We make it to the ferry by taxi and have to cross a busy road and then wait outside in a dirty area where trucks are going back and forth, mostly carrying huge loads of bananas.  Why don’t they make a nice waiting area and allow vendors to come so they can make money and the passengers be happy too?  This country is very haphazard.  Our 9pm departure becomes 5am, so a one nite stay becomes 2 nites.  We are in economy and it is hot, noisy, and tobacco smoke is bad.  But to stretch the funds God has entrusted to us, this seems like the best use of 780pesos (14usd).  Sure, we could ride in air-conditioned cabins for about twice as much, but would it enable us access to the many people who walk by, look at our GC books laid out, and ask questions, or even purchase them as 4 people do?  The ferry was made in Japan in 1973, so that is a bit comforting to me, but please, take down the old b/w pics of some old Japanese guys off the walls – ha!.  Most of the electrical connections are busy servicing cell phone chargers, so i have to explore around the ship before finding a lone one up on the top deck.  I plug in there and happily work on graphics for a GC translation.  Working on a computer even draws a crowd, and before long i’ve given up, and am showing them various things on it. 

Thanx to Nisshin, we have a nice lunch fishing out beef parts of the noodles.  I’m more thankful for Japan every day – ha! 3798php

10/28 Even tho it is late at nite, why on the speakers do they play loud rap music?  ouch.  Now i have some rap song going thru my brain: “E I E I ut-ohhhhh”.  Actually, it reminds me of my English students in Japan, and makes me a bit homesick……  I wonder how everybody is doing back there?  Cebu City seems to be nicer than Manila, but maybe it’s just that i’ve become accustomed to the Philippine level? – ha!ouch!  After a nap and shower i feel really fine.  We go to Central Visayan Mission press to see where our GC books were printed – what a surprise!  They have a little, old place, and several ladies are folding the inside signatures by hand.  The cover is printed one color at a time, 4 times to get all the colors.  I’m surprised at the nice quality they can do with the primitive equipment at hand.  We make a plan to print a poster to put on the notice boards of the various churches to promote this Great Controversy book.

The little hot-water heater i bot in Manila for 35pesos is used to try and heat some water for noodles, but it melts in the process.  Not counting the first time used for test purposes, we got service from this device exactly 0 times. 🙁  Some little moyashi (bean sprouts) heated up in a crockpot are nice, and after supper we go to church where there is a powerpoint presentation about health.  A few members ask about our book, but we do not get up in front to promote.  637php

10/29 We go to 4 different churches today.  The big Capitol Center Church that burned down last year meets in a tent now.  No one invites us to their home for lunch, so after our usual peanuts, bread, some fruit etc. for lunch, we head off to visit some churches to promote the GC book.  The first church has 3 dogs and around 15 young people inside.  They are interested to hear, so i give a 15 minute talk about my life experience growing up SDA, and then show what is being done with the book.  No one has ever read the whole Bible thru, so i get 8 of them to make promises to read the entire Bible thru page by page.  The other 2 churches allow us some time too, and i’m very appreciative of the response, altho it is not enthusiastic.

We go to a big mall in the evening and buy some walnuts (762pesos/1.4kgs), and have buttered Japanese Sweet Corn on the cob along with some asian vegetables – all very yummy, but over a 20 minute wait for fast food seems strange to me. 1320php

10/30 My watch battery is dying, or i touched it in a bad place, because it’s as crazy as all the Filipino clocks here.  This is the main thing i notice on this trip regarding the Filipino mindset: They are very haphazard.  They aren’t totally out of touch with the world like most of India, where it is hard to find clocks of any kind, but there aren’t near as many as in America or Japan, and the ones they do have are nearly all off by varying degrees.  I took a video of one restaurant, where it was very unusual to see one clock there, and another clock at the same time in an adjoining store.  They were around 30 minutes apart!

This week is a big holiday where they believe the dead spirits come back, so there is a long line at the bus terminal.  We finally get on one, and our shirts are drenched in sweat.  Even me.  I hardly ever sweat, and my friend can be soaking while i have only a little wet spot under my arm or under my backpack straps, but today is hot.  For some reason i don’t remember my scented Japanese folding fan yet….  We get off and go to a ferry terminal.  We buy some little onigiri (triangle shaped rice balls) that are wrapped in some bamboo for the whopping price of 1.5peso, or less than 3centsUS.  They have no taste, but eaten with some peanuts and corn helps.

We ride a bicycle taxi to the bus station from the ferry terminal, and take our first ride in this country that can be called pleasant.  We climb some mountains, and see rolling hills and beautiful greenery with very few hints of the dirty dwellings pressings close to the road.  Filipinos love to play billiards and basketball, and it is funny to see way out in the countryside, some young people crowding around a billiard table smacking balls.  I remember playing on Saturday nites when i was in academy too – ha!

We arrive around 10pm at the Ilonggo GC translator’s house.  They have a very nice place by the beach called “Sea Mystic” that their son in America sent them money to buy.  The husband is a retired pastor who worked in a nursing home in Chicago for 3 1/2 years, and boy, can he ever talk your leg off!  Anyway, in getting ready for bed, i took off my glasses in the toilet/bathroom, and started to dip the water in the big bucket to pour on my body which is the Filipino custom.  Knowing to be cautious, i looked at the water to see if it was clean.  It was moving.  No, the water wasn’t, the mosquito larvae in it were.  Unfortunately, they have forgotten to turn on the water to the guest house, so there is no water from the faucets either.  I took my “bath” dipping my cloth in some bottled water and then wiping the sweat off my body – whew!!!  1779php

10/31 The beach is nice, but not sandy.  I strolled around after breakfast where i shared my walnuts with the family, picking up pretty seashells.  After lunch and a tour thru their flower gardens with the lovely orchids etc., and seeing where they plan to build a church, we head back to Bacolod city where we flop in a conference guest house that is free if you choose the rooms without airconditioner.  There is a pastor there who is somewhat interested in the GC book, and after stepping gingerly in the fairly gross toilet/bathroom, hit the hay.  I sleep pretty well, but the next morning my friend says that his blanket reeked of urine, so he could not sleep well.  I was afraid of mosquitos before coming to the Philippines, but have not seen many at all, and at nite the fans are put on high, so the mosquitos can’t fly too close even if they want to.

The books for sale in the Adventist Book Center there are not bad quality, and a few are even quite high quality.  I see we need to make our GC book a big smaller, so that people can carry it easily in their pockets and read while waiting for their friends etc.  It looks like most paperback books are for sale between 60-80pesos.  I don’t think our 50 pesos is too high.

People here in the Philippines LOVE their cell phones.  Everywhere you go you see people “texting” each other etc.  Usually one text costs 1peso, or even 1/2peso, so you can see why they are very popular.  Thanks to their wide acceptance, our Seventh-day Adventist brothers and sisters can keep in contact well, and we can coordinate activities with our book nicely. 267php

11/1 While waiting for a GC distributor to come meet us, a man approaches and strikes up a conversation.  Turns out that he is the Health and Communication director of his conference, and is interested in getting me to sponsor him to get a new health van.  He talks some more, and shows me his office, and tells me of his need for a printer.  He then says he will take some pics of me and write a story in the next Conference paper – Mispah.  This is like an answer to prayer, as i had been praying that God would open some way to get this book promoted in some SDA paper that is read widely.  No matter how hard we work as individuals, we are only in one place at one time.  But when we print, the printed page can go many places at one time.  This seems like the 2nd miracle to occur on this trip, and i thank God:)

We walk 5 minutes to the distributor’s house after he fails to show up for one hour (why did we wait so long, i don’t have a clue).  Brother Om. is a very nice man, and i thank God for his willingness to help in distributing the book.  He wishes for exclusive permission to distribute in his territory, and i think that is fair, providing he really does work.

We take the bus over the beautiful roads to San Carlos, and then the ferry to Toledo.  Then we have a big problem.  Because of the holiday i guess, there are no busses.  There are 2 long lines of people – maybe 500 in all waiting in the sweaty terminal.  A few make it into little minivans, and then finally a bus shows up after waiting around 1 1/2 hours.  Even tho i know it’s going to be super-crowded, does that bus ever look good!  What do you know, i even get a seat, and altho there are elbows in my back and a backpack in my side, it is good to be moving to reach a destination.  It is too late to eat when we get back, so after being happy about my big suitcase being watched carefully for the 2 days we were gone, we go to bed.  823php

11/2 Morning was spent washing clothes (by hand of course!)  The internet cafe is cheap at 20pesos/hour, but it is slower than molasses and i can’t accomplish anything.  After that we go to the Cebuano translator’s house, Pastor Mor., and talk nicely for about 5 minutes.  He seems very dedicated.  At CVM press we pick up 500 English copies just printed.  They have them all in one box, but we can’t carry it, so the fastest worker i’ve ever seen in the Philippines takes it apart and gets another box and tapes it all up in super-record time.  We lift them into the jeepney, and then carry them about 150 meters when getting off.  Carrying around a 20kg box of books along with the normal backpack, it is tiring, but glad to be able to get these books.  At this point we don’t realize that the books have a big mistake with the page numbers not matching the index-listed page numbers.  Also, the cover is quite blurry, as evidently the somewhere in getting the 4 colors on, the printer slipped up.  Not nice…..

I thot there would be a problem getting to the ferry, but we took a taxi which charged only 55peso, and then at the port hired my first ever porter in my life that i can remember.  The 60pesos paid to carry our 2 heavy boxes of books and one heavy suitcase of close to 30kgs up to our deck in the ferry is well worth it.  All the ferries in Cebu port leave at around the same 8pm time frame, and it was kind of scary seeing our big boat headed right into the side of another big boat.  I doubt we missed by any more than 100 meters.  Driving on the road is chaotic, but there seems to be a certain unwritten rule to it.  People most stop at the few stop lights, and except for big busses, usually keep to their right side of the road.  To think that the pilot is under the same unwritten rule as the landlubber drivers tho is a bit unnerving.  We eat our bread, nuts, bananas, and mango on the ship.  This is my first mango in the Philippines, and as most mangos in Japan are from the Philippines, i was expecting a smooth feast.  Imagine my disappointment to cut the half off, and dip my plastic spoon into the soft fruit, only to get a sour taste in my mouth 🙁  Too bad.  After waiting for the cell phone chargerists to get done with their thing, i plug in the computer and finish the graphic work for front cover of the Ilocano version.  We are hoping to print the Tagalog and Ilocano versions before the end of this year.  1568php

11/3 We get off the ferry in Cayagan de Oro and this is the first ferry terminal i’ve seen in this country that looks like this is something resembling a system – good!  But not so good when the porter tells us 100pesos to take the baggage down.  We finally get the price down to 70pesos when telling them many times that the porters in Cebu city did it for 60.  Then we meet pastor Casanos who has graciously left his post at the crusade in the hills to come to the port to visit us (over 1 hour journey by not pleasant means).  There are a bunch of screaming tricycle drivers grabbing at our boxes and suitcase, and we enter one – big mistake.  We ride a touch over 5 minutes, and get out at the SDA Northern Mindanao Conference compound.  When we do, we are told “150 pesos”.  This is just outrageous.  Usual fare for this distance for one person is 6pesos.  Even admitting that we basically filled up the whole thing, anything over about 30 pesos is outrageous.  We finally agree to 60pesos, with him leaving curses behind, and several undedicated SDA workers laughing at the spectacle.  Next time we know to take the metered taxi, air-conditioned, with no fuss or hassle about fares.

So i have a very bad first impression of this, the largest of the Philippine islands – Mindanao.  Pastor Casanos is very nice tho, and after eating with us in the canteen, we go to our room (100peso/person/nite) and have a good talk.  He knows there are problems in the church, but he is working his best to spread the 3 Angel’s Messages, even entering new territory to start new churches when he is already the district pastor in charge of 14 churches.  He has been diligently promoting the Great Controversy book, and my friend says this is the man, so i give him a Toshiba notebook i had bot in Japan just for this purpose of giving to someone who is in need, and working hard to help spread this book.  He is soooooo happy.  “This is the most valuable object i own” he exclaims thru tears of gratitude.  I’m a bit overwhelmed by all this, and try to dampen his enthusiasm a bit by telling him that in Japan, this computer is not very expensive.  He seems to really enjoy the Bible software and Ellen White writings i’ve pre-installed for him, and when we meet again after lunch he says his wife is really excited too, saying that now she can study he CAD/CAM.  May it be used for God’s glory.  I’m very happy to see it so joyously received, and am glad a bit too that my suitcase is now around 4 kilos lighter – ha!

After a nap (not much good sleeping on the ferry last nite), we meet pastor and head out towards his “crusade”.  I’m told it’s way up in the hills, having to ride the last 2 hours on a motorbike.  Well, the motorbike ride is very interesting, with me sandwiched between the driver and my friend, but just when i’m starting to overcome my fear of wheeling along rocky, bumpy, sometimes muddy roads at maybe 40kms/hour without a helmet, we arrive at our destination.  It is a relatively clean, little village, and we stay in a little house that has been taken over by the crusade workers.  They are mostly students at a SDA college, i would say around 20 of them with one elderly layman worker, and my pastor friend and another pastor providing direction.  The house has a dirt (read “mud”) floor, with the toilet being a hole somewhere in the backyard that everyone seems  to strictly avoid.  Dogs wander in while we eat – yuck!  Of course some other creatures wander in and out too.  Fortunately there are few mosquitos, but i give myself my first good rubdown of the anti-mosquito stick i bot in America several years ago.

There is a Korean man here who went to Mountain View College here, and married a Filipina.  He is a dedicated missionary worker, working as a literature evangelist.  He gives me some Korean nori (sheet seaweed), and i feel i’m back home in Japan for a bit – yummy!

I’m asked to talk a bit at the meeting, and when i see the rows of kids singing songs, it gives me a bit of a flashback to 1998 when i was in India.  The flourescent lighting, the smiling upturned faces, the kids up front, and the teenagers and adults milling around the back edges – very similar.  I show some of the various languages the GC book has been translated into, and they seem interested.  Later i go sit in the crowd while the pastor gives his main speech using powerpoint to show the silliness of evolution, and the truthfulness of the Sabbath.  It is strange to me that many of the things are written in English, but i find out that many people read English, but like to speak their native tongue.  It was cool to hear the little kids reading the English shown on the screen out loud.  There was a squall, so we all gathered on the stage.  There was a health lecture about arthiritis, then the Korean man showed a movie.  The presentation of the pastor’s talk was a bit too long – over 45 minutes, but to have a secular movie shown right after the spiritual talk, that was a shame.  As can be expected, the restless youngsters and oldsters all got quiet and intently watched the screen when it came movietime.

I’m a guest, so am given half of a futon matress on the floor upstairs in the little house that looks and feels more like a small barn.  My friend sleeps in a hammock strung half over my head.  I sleep pretty well, waking up many times when the Korean guy on the other half whacks me in his sleep scaring me silly that it was the huge lizard coming after me that lives under the roof giving out a creepy “Gecko, Gecko” call every once in a while.  Fortunately i can get back to sleep very easily, but it all ends at 5:30.  We eat “corn-rice” for breakfast.  It looks like rice, but is a cheaper corn substitute.  I hold out a dish with some walnuts, and find out that no one has ever eaten them before.  I ask them to use their hands instead of their spoons already put in their mouths, but some do it anyway.  I think later that probably toilet paper is not used, and i see very little handwashing……..  Son-san and i look at what is on my USB stick, and he copies most everything over to his computer.  I’m sorry i don’t have the GC animation of the first chapter on it, and promptly do that when returning to the guest house.

It was great to see those out in the hills and byways calling all into the kingdom of God.  The crusade is for 3 weeks, and they say they will ground the people in the faith before baptising them.  The dream is to build a small church there.  Does anyone wish to donate around 3,000usd to help build a church in a beautiful rolling hill area several miles outside of Cayagan de Oro, Philippines?  130php

11/4  We get back to the guest house, and a Brother Lagra who is distributing the books comes visiting.  He is really genki and on fire, and his 6y.o. daughter is too cute.  I wonder how my kids in Japan are doing…… We give a bit of an explanation of the work of distributing the books, when another man comes in and my friend goes thru it all again.  In the evening we go to Carmen church with this Brother, and he introduces us, and we each spend around 10 minutes introducing the books.  Around 50 are in attendance, and after the talk, a man comes up to me and says he is very interested in that i worked at a vegetarian restaurant in Japan.  He says he would like to start one here in Cagayan de Oro.  His wife and son are there, and the son is already reading one of the GC books just purchased for 50pesos.  His mom says that he has tried to read the large GC book with no success.  I talk with him a bit, and we make a pinky-promise-lock with our little fingers saying that he will promise to finish reading this entire original GC:)  520php

11/5  Today is Sabbath, and we go around to 3 churches.  At Bulua church Brother L and my friend Brother Bayani and i each talk a bit promoting this GC book.  Around 150 are in attendance, and around 15 minutes after we finish, the pastor gives a few announcements holding this book in his hand, promoting it to his flock.  No one invites us for lunch here either, so we go back to the room and eat some rice and eggplant and cashew nuts and tomatoes, then head for Vista church with Brother L again.  Here is the first time i’ve ever had a public showing of the animated first chapter of the GC.  Unfortunately, i forget to turn up the volume, and have to try and read the script while it is flashing up on the screen.  People ask where chapter 2 is, so i guess they enjoyed it.  One elderly lady who escaped the Japanese in WWII by going to the mountains for several years, asks why God allowed Satan to come to this planet.  I say i don’t know, and she replied: “It’s nice to hear an honest answer”.  My companions don’t leave the church at the agreed-on time, and i’m upset that we will probably miss our next appointment at the main Central church.  I walk by myself back to the road, and then of course wait for them there as i have no money, and very little idea of how to get back to where i need to go anyway – ouch!  They come a few minutes later after listening to some rich church member complain how the book is too expensive, and we make it in time to the Central church where they are having Bible games etc. for the youth mostly.

Even tho it is around 5pm, there are probably around 150 people in attendance.  It seems the program directors thot we weren’t coming, so our 30 minutes became 15, but we each talked promoting the book for 5 minutes.  The main pastor had just come in before we started talking, and he was quite an imposing man, so it was a bit frightening, but not as bad as teaching English to 28 kids at nursery school – ha!  Then it seemed like a miracle occured, as after the service quite a few people came up to the front requesting books.  I went to the guest house to pick up 20 English ones, and when i gave them to Bayani, he asked for the key.  Huh?  We need 100 books.  What?!  Yes, some lady wanted to buy them to give away to her friends.  Of course we were very happy to accomodate her, and even gave her 10 copies free.  When we all got back to the room we gave a prayer of thanks to God for impressing on this lady’s heart to buy the books.  She asked Bayani if there was something in the book written about the Sabbath, and praise God, he has read the book enough to point her right to chapter 18.  We must know our product well.  Companies of this world spend lots of time and money training their workers, and we should be at least as diligent knowing what we are promoting – the inspired words of God.  Brother Lagra is very happy too as the distributor, saying that now he can afford to buy a tank of LPG gas for his wife to cook with (500p).

We go out to the mall for the evening meal and have delicious chopsuey with broccoli and cauliflower.  We need more fresh food!  What a great day today!  I praise God to have this little position to work at in his vineyard, and ask for prayers of all, that God will give wisdom and strength to carry this out and widen it further.  386php

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