I promise that I will finish my Top 10 list…. but I’ll need a little grace and patience from y’all, as there’s a BUNCH of stuff to do now… Actually there was another “bunch of stuff to do” before which was the primary reason that it didn’t get written so far, too….
First props to my amazing mom and dear friends for putting up with me in the last few days before we left for the Philippines. A serious thank you also to our dear host family who put up with all our stuff in transition and the noise and late night visitors during our last week in the states. I’m hoping your total selflessness earns you a special gem in your Heavenly crown! And my mom who doesn’t like good-byes, who stood by us til we pulled out of the church parking lot, bound for JFK airport– then took home three car loads of “extra stuff” and sorted and stored it all for me. I love you Mom, you’re the best!
Our travel to JFK airport was super smooth, we rolled right up to the front door outside our check-in area in a little less than 5 hrs. On the way, our awesome “driver” treated the kids to Wendy’s which was on Mark’s bucket list… Check!
In line at the check in counter in JFK!
We unloaded our terrible pile of suitcases and attempted to form a jumbled line at the EVA check-in area. We’d hope for some grace and mercy, to be pulled out of the regular line and checked-in as a group, but it was not to be. Instead my strong boys got to haul the load around the zig-zagged check-in line. At this point I’m doing great, no stress, until I hear one of the EVA counter staff give another passenger a hard time about and overweight bag…. then I start to worry a little.
Our check-in guy was pretty great. He had a reasonable sense of humor, which is helpful when checking in nine people and 18 checked in bags, plus carry-ons! We hadn’t expected them to weigh our carry-ons and we did end up have to redistribute some of the weight. Jared voted to toss his Algebra book t help his bag make weight, but Mom said no way!
After about an hour, we were all checked in– 18 bags on their way to Manila and the rest of us with legal carry-ons… or were they? I think at the end our check-in guy looked the other a way a bit. Thankful for his grace and God’s provision!
The flight from New York to Taipei was really easy and we all agreed it didn’t seem to take as long as past flights. It was still 15 hrs and 50 mins, but I guess we’re getting good at managing our time. A couple of movies, a couple of meals, a nice sleep (sort of!) and you’re there!
Still feeling fresh and alive in Taiwan!
Everything went well at Taipei, unfortunately it was rainy so the take off in the morning light was not as picturesque as it could be. But Levi and I (who had the only seats near a window of the family) got to see the beautiful mountain peaks of Taiwan jutting above the clouds.
We arrived at Manila not too far behind schedule, and our check in at immigration and customs was smooth. We ended up managing our own bags without a porter, exchanged some money and got “load” (minutes for the local cell phones). Carrie and Randy met us with two rented vans which was another HUGE answer to prayer. We began our journey toward Batangas port and that’s when things started getting hard.
Jet lagged and travel worn, kids started to fall asleep in the comfort of the air conditioned van. We arrived in Batangas at 4 which was several hours before we needed to check in for the 9 pm boat launch. So we persuaded our drivers to detour to a local mall so we could eat something before we got into the port. It wasn’t easy or pretty to wake everyone up at the mall, but soon we had everyone on their feet and moving toward a restaurant. But before dinner was served Matthew was back asleep in my arms and Mark ended up falling asleep while eating his dinner.
Back in the vans, we traversed busy traffic to the port and began the arduous process of unloading the bags. This was probably the breaking point of the whole trip, as everyone was exhausted, jet-lagged and ready to just lay down (or be there!) And of course it wasn’t simple, at least not at first…
We had hoped they would corral all of our luggage and run it through as a group, but at first, that did not seem to be the case. Then the porters got involved and loaded the majority of our bags onto three huge carts. They by-passed the line for the x-ray machine and placed our bags on along side those of the travelers who were waiting in line. We were all still waiting outside, trying to figure out what was happening and what we were supposed to do next, when one of our porters summoned Rusty to come to the security check area.
They had found knives in our bags.
At first I was thinking it was just the kids pocket knives and Rusty’s Leatherman that had to be in our checked bags for the flight. But then I remembered that our checked bags had all our household items in them, including a set of brand new knives that was given to me our church ladies! As I saw the security guard carry out the knife set, each one still in the box it came in, my heart sank! Oh, please don’t take my new knives!
Thankfully, they had decided to “lock up” the weapons until we disembark the boat in the morning… whew! That was close!
After some wrangling around on the ship to find everyone’s bunks (we were spread out over two rooms of the ship because we had purchased 10 of the last 14 tickets on the trip) we settled down to sleep. I think Josh was asleep first, followed by Mark and then the rest of us. Matthew had slept almost non-stop from 2 pm that afternoon. He even managed to sleep through the check in and security debacle by being passed (still asleep) from parents to siblings multiple times. It had been a long and exhausting journey.
At about 2:45 AM, Mr. Matthew was awake! Since I had him in my bunk, so was I. I convinced him to go back to sleep for a bit and he allowed me sleep (lighly) until 4:45 am. At that point, we got up, went to the CR (bathroom) and had a nice breakfast on the upper deck while we watched the sunrise. Poor Matthew was quite hungry, since he had missed our 4 pm meal the day before! We dined on boiled egg, Skyflake crackers and 3 in 1 coffee as we watched the islands pass us by.
Landing in Caticlan was an exciting, welcome relief! We were almost home! Getting all of our luggage (and confisicated knives) off the ship wasn’t as simple as we’d hoped, but eventually we all arrived at our new home in Cubay Norte!
I decided to try to unpack as much as possible the first day and successfully sorted through all the suitcases but the ones
Mark exploring his new space and the bamboo bunk beds!
that had Rusty, Matthew and I’s clothes in. The kids were each given a carry-on sized suitcase to serve as their “dresser” and limited number of clothes for starters.
We made a couple of trips to town the first few days, today (Saturday) we finally bought a refrigerator. The house is reasonably set up, thanks to a lot of Carrie’s help in organizing the kitchen and we are beginning to feel unpacked and settled in.
We spent a fair amount of time in the village the last two days as well, and the reunions have been sweet! Tomorrow we are guests of honor at a huge party hosted by my dear friend Elsie and her family. Last year they were raising a pig in anticipation of our return. He got quite big, but he’ll make a dandy feast for everyone in the Ati communities and neighboring friends tomorrow! Jon and I were there for the butchering process, yet another interesting cultural first!
We’re really thankful to be here, despite the challenges with travel and adjustment. We appreciate all of our “home team” who make it possible for us to be here, and especially for the prayer support for the outreach to the Ati!
- Pray for everyone’s adjustment phases. Matthew still is asleep by 7 pm and Mark awakens at 5 am. Our house is in a noisier neighborhood than we are used to and there are a lot of roosters surrounding us! The heavy rain on the metal roof each night has made sleeping straight through the night a challenge for everyone. Rusty and I were both sick the first two days here and are slowly rebounding, but still more tired than normal. There’s a lot to adjust to, including the high humidity!
- We’re praying that tomorrow’s welcome lunch will be a great time to reconnect with old friends and begin the work of building friendships and promoting unity and love among the people. We’re especially excited about the opportunity to get to know some of the men and boys in the community!
- Pray that our language skills will develop quickly and that God will give us a supernatural power to retain all we are learning! We’re thankful for patient friends and tireless teachers!
I snapped this picture from the trike (motorcycle with sidecar) while coming back from town today. The scenery here is fabulous!
Paalam! (Good-bye!) for now!