Monday, January 18, 2010

Arrival and Orientation Week

Tuesday and Wednesday, 12 January 2010

Five a.m. is really too early to be at any airport… but we are at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, waiting for our first-leg flight to Atlanta, on our way through Tokyo to Manila, Philippines.  Erica rode with us, having spent the night, then went on home for more sleep.  We left our heavy winter coats, scarves, and gloves in her car; we’re SO glad we won’t have to use those again for a long time! 
An egg-bacon-cheese sandwich with strong coffee was a good way to start, then we checked e-mail and posted new statuses on Facebook. Dan has changed our seats on each flight so we have the easiest possible way to sleep, get to a restroom, etc., so we don’t have to climb over too many people and can be closer to the front of the airplane.

After an easy flight to Atlanta, we took the inside shuttle to Concourse E for international travel and boarded our plane to Tokyo.  The gentleman in the aisle seat of our row turned out to be a great seat mate; he‘s a project manager headed for Singapore with a company that maintains trans-oceanic phone cables aboard ships. We discussed quite a number of things, including recent sermon topics (a challenge for “church“ to be a verb instead of a noun!), Christian service, good books…

We enjoyed the meals (3 of them) and a couple of movies.  Dan took a night-time cold medicine to get some rest and keep from coughing (we each got H1N1 shots 10 days ago and since then, he’s had a sore throat and cough). Fourteen hours later, we arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, with a two-hour layover until our last leg to Manila.  We were served another meal during the 4-hour flight.  Retrieving our luggage seemed very slow, but going through Immigration and Customs was quite smooth, except for having to stop and fill out one new entry form.

We didn’t have to wait long with our heaping luggage cart before a man with a Trevecca (Nazarene University) shirt came up to us and identified himself as Greg Taylor!  He and his family have lived here for 12 years.  He brought his Ford Escape around and we transferred the luggage and headed for their home.  We were unloaded and installed in their guest room - a beautifully decorated room with a bath.  All we needed were instructions about drinking water and breakfast time, then find our pajamas…

Thursday 14 January 2010
After a hard night’s sleep, I didn’t want to get up yet, but it was time to begin living in tune with this time zone right away to shorten the jet lag.  Zachary Taylor (age 16) had already left for school and Terri was out walking their dog Lucy, so we helped ourselves to coffee and walked outside, into their walled yard, to enjoy the new day. There’s an underlying smell of smoke, as burning garbage is prevalent.  But the surroundings are so beautiful with coconut palm trees and lots of other palms and plants of all sizes, colors, and textures. Some plants have purple foliage or interesting flowers - it’s a true tropical paradise.  And their home is wonderful, painted in greens and browns, and decorated with native dark wood furniture and Terri’s artful accessory pieces.  Terri and Greg cooked a great breakfast of eggs with bell peppers and sausage, fresh mango and fresh pineapple.  Then we headed over to Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS) for a day of orientation. 

We met Timothy Kim and his wife Lydia (Regional Office finances), who will translate for the new missionaries from Korea, Paul Yi and his wife Ji Yun.  Staying with Timothy and Lydia, the Yis (with children: Sam [age 7] and Nudi [boy, age 3] and Yena [9-month-old girl]) will serve in Cebu.  Greg and Terri led us in a day of what-you-need-to-know and we all took lots of notes, only stopping for coffee breaks and a delicious lunch on campus.  It was a full day of information before we went back home with the Taylors for dinner and an early bedtime.

Friday 15 January 2010
Terri is an amazing domestic manager, always ready with a wonderful and hearty breakfast!  A “field trip” called The Amazing Missions Race is scheduled for the 4 of us “newbies” (with Paul and Ji Yun) and it’s a big mystery (“Bring a camera and a backpack“), but guaranteed to be fun!  In the conference room of the AP Regional Office, we were given 12 numbered envelopes plus 6 more labeled “Bonus.”  With instructions to (1) have fun, (2) learn how to use “public“ (public transportation), and (3) learn to rely on the Filipinos, we opened the first one and headed toward the front gate of the APNTS grounds.

The first challenge included Filipino pisos and orders to find and purchase a diaryo, so we began by asking the seminary gate guard where to go for this. He pointed up the street, so we did, still not knowing what we were looking for.  We asked a couple of other people for help and finally asked at a stand that had some local newspapers - that was it!  We made the purchase and called Greg, as instructed.  We were told to come back to the Seminary where Terri and Greg drove us to a 7-Eleven in Antipolo  for our next challenge.

Most envelopes included pesos which we were to budget, so we traveled by Jeepny several times, trike once and bus 2 times.  We worked together trying to understand each challenge and use the money the best way. It was fun to shop the new Taytay Market for tsinelas (we heard, “Sleepers”; translate that to, “slippers” - oh, flip-flops!) for 7-year-old Sam Yi; purchase something for 5 pisos or less (pineapple chunks that we shared later) from a street vendor and take her photo!  We bought 2 headache pills and bottled water at a Mercury Drug Store.  We also took photos of ourselves in particular situations, like with an armed security guard at a shopping mall and at the EDSA memorial statue. We ate at one of the MANY Jollibee (much like McDonald’s) for lunch, and used a C.R. (stands for Comfort Room = restroom - make sure you bring your own paper!).  And, except for going way too far to find a giant golf ball for a photo (which created a walk that delayed us more than an hour), we had a great time talking with Filipinos, budgeting our money, and getting to know one another.  Envelope #11 sent us to Green Hills Shopping Mall to find the area selling pearls - and buy some for us girls!  Dan and I had been there before, so we had no trouble finding that floor and we helped Ji Yun pick out 3 pairs of pearl earrings (negotiated to the challenge-dictated price of 150 pisos) and I did the same!  Our last envelope told us to find Teriyaki Boy restaurant; there we found Greg & Terri waiting with mango shakes and sushi, our reward for having worked so hard!  And the girls got another treat; Terri had also been shopping and had chosen a pearl bracelet for each of us!

Back at the Taylors’ home, we watched Terri create a fabulous broccoli soup and a beautiful salad.  It was all we needed before going to bed to continue the jet-lag recovery.  Dan has had a hard day, barely able to “croak” with his sore throat and cough.

Saturday 16 January 2010
Up early after a more quiet night for Dan (no coughing - yea!, but still very strained voice).
Terri fixed a delicious egg casserole, with more mango and pineapple and strong coffee.  (I could truly get used to this as Terri is a great cook, but we’ve prevailed on their kindness long enough and will move to our own place later today.)  Greg took Zachary out very early to ride with his rugby team, so we’ll follow, to Brent International School, to watch him play in 2 of 3 rugby matches this morning. He’s on the junior varsity team, but will be on the varsity team next year at Faith AcademyRugby is quite fast-moving and exciting. Zach had talked lots about the rules and plays at dinner last night, so we think we’re catching on!  We really enjoyed those games and would truly like to watch more of them!

Greg drove us back into a downtown area to a large S & R store - it’s just like Sam’s club at home!  We chose a few items to get us through the next morning, since we haven’t seen the house yet to know how much we can purchase and store (even though we’ve been told we have a full-sized fridge, a freezer, natural gas range, and plenty of kitchen cabinets.  It’s great to see that we can purchase so much that we’re accustomed to, and lots of new and different items too!  Back at the Taylors’ house, our borrowed car is waiting!  We quickly re-packed our suitcases and piled them into the car for the guys to take. Terri and I followed, but took a detour, inside the Brookside subdivision, to Terry’s Sewing shop to pick up a newly-recovered window seat for the house and numerous matching valances for the windows.  We unloaded all the suitcases at the back gate (front gate key missing), brought them through the walled backyard, then up the concrete stile stairs and down the other side into the courtyard around the house and in the beautiful wood doors of our home for the next 3 months!

We took things to appropriate rooms, and can get settled later.  Greg & Terri came back later, picked us up and took us to the Eastwood shopping mall.  At Momo’s Dan & I shared a dinner of bacon alfredo pasta before they took us home.

Sunday 17 January 2010
We are awake early, still not quite in tune with the time zone, but getting there.
No Internet yet even after Dan reset the modem, so we decided to hang the valances and have a basic breakfast of juice, cereal, and French-pressed coffee. Dan brought his computer downstairs to the dining room and played some worship music on I-Tunes… “I’m Amazed By You” (Phillips Craig & Dean) brought us both to tears as we considered our first morning in Camden House on our own in Metro Manila. Dan read this day’s devotion from “My Utmost from His Highest” that was right-on (no surprise, of course) with God’s calling and our service.

With plenty of time before church, Dan tried the Internet again but it’s not working. He laid down to rest a while longer before we need to be ready for church.  I’m journaling, listening to a small child singing in the house next door and several dogs barking outside our window in the other direction.

Danial & Melissa Pope (Poppy) with their 3 children live in our neighborhood so we followed to Taytay First Church of the Nazarene, parked across the street and carefully made our way across, then up the concrete stairs to the surprisingly large sanctuary where the worship team/band was already playing.  Most of the music was familiar; in addition, several friendly greeters made us feel very comfortable. We also recognized several of our missionary friends - the Taylors and Phillips families.  The lady pastor of this church is an accomplished woman. She preached alternating in English and Tagalog, knowing her audience very well!

It’s interesting that food vendors were waiting outside the church to catch those leaving the service. Families with children are especially interested… We’ll try the fish balls or ice cream another time, as we’re going out, to the Old Spaghetti Factory with the Yi family, being treated by the Field Strategy Coordinator, David Phillips & his wife Naomi.  They ordered quite a feast, so we enjoyed lots of food and were entertained by the Yi children before David gave us all some more coaching about ministry in the Philippines.  After, we said goodbye to the Yis, as they will soon be on their way back to their new home in Cebu for their ministry assignment.  We drove to the Phillipses’ home to borrow some more things for the house, then made our way back home.

Since we have few groceries yet, we drove to Max’s Restaurant for a light dinner. It’s on Ortigas, between APNTS and our subdivision, so it was easy to get to, besides the fact that we’d been there before on a previous visit to Manila.  I had Pancit Canton and a green mango shake while Dan had crab fried rice, then we headed back home to sleep in preparation for our first work week!

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