Monday, November 28, 2011

Thank you

I slithered down the last section of rail and came to a stumbling halt. Turning around, I gazed back up at the jagged green of the jungle mountains. The sun slanted through vines and branches and mists floated lazily between the peaks. Though the sun bean down mercilessly where I was in the valley, I knew up in the mountains a balmy breeze carried the earthy scent of leaves and damp stream beds passed my house, the clinic, and the school where I'd spent the last nine months.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but the bonds created by joy, pain, love, and friendship seemed to bind me deeper to the Palawano people than I could have ever imagined was possible in such a short time.

As I continued to gaze at the mountains for the last time, I thought of the countless miles I'd walked down steep trails and the many streams that had been splashed across. I thought of the smiles of my friends, the tears of a new orphan, and the giggles of the school children. I thought of the countless patients, the many injuries, ailments, and diseases, and the joy of a body made well through the healing power of God. And I thought of you, without whom none of this most eye-opening experience of my life would have been possible. How can I thank you for the prayers , the letters, the support, and the phone calls; all the many ways you gave of yourselves to help this dream come true. I know the sacrifice of time, effort, and funds that each of you have given and I thank you. I thank you not only for myself, but for each baby that is now living because it received medical treatment in time; for each child set free from the chilling grips of malaria, and for each mother who no longer has to look at the open sores covered with flies on the legs of her child.

Thank you for this unforgettable experience that you have made possible! May the God who holds each of His children in His hands bless you and draw you ever closer to Him!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fire Ants

I sat up in the dark and looked around and the lumpy outlines of sleeping children surrounding me. Half standing, I stepped over several sleeping forms before bumping my head on the roof as I made my way to the side of the hut where I’d left my shoes (cleats used by missionaries for navigating the almost impossibly slippery trails during the rainy season).

Slipping my feet into their cold and clammy depth (they rarely dry out in the damp weather), I stumbled a short distance from the hut and crouched next to a banana tree to answer the call of nature. As I proceeded with business, I began almost imperceptibly at first, to notice a strange crawling sensation on my legs. Almost at the same instant that I recognized what the crawling sensation was, they bit me in one accord: hundreds of karamiring (a sort of red fire-ant)!

I let out a squeak of pain into the darkness and frantically brushed my legs to try and rid myself of the clinging insects. Finishing what I was doing in great haste, I trotted back to the hut and quickly took off my shoes and began to rub my feet vigorously to remove the clinging ants. After several minutes of rubbing, I felt that they must be gone and settled down on my mat on the floor, wedge between two girls. Sleep wouldn’t come for several minutes as the few ants that I had missed made their presence known at various intervals!

After about the millionth time I rolled over trying to get comfortable, I opened my eyes and to my delight discovered it was morning! Enough of writhing on the floor in the dark pulling of biting ants! Thanking my hosts for the ‘lovely’ night on the floor of their hut, I prepared to leave. Gathering my things, I prepared to put on my shoes for my early morning hike home.

As I peered in the early morning light at my shoes, I noticed that the left one seemed to be moving – heaving and writhing. Grabbing my flashlight, I pointed it into the depths of the shoe and peered in after the flickering beam. Yikes! I yanked my foot back from the edge of the shoe and huddled on the edge of the hut. The shoe was full of fire ants – busy building a nest in the sole of my shoe!

Every moment of my night in the village had been eventful, I reflected as I hiked down the trail, holding one shoe at arm’s length and stepping precariously through the mud and rivulets of water with my unshod foot. Since it was impossible to wear that shoe until the ants were removed, it would have to wait for a bleach-water soak down at our house.

At the request of many of my small friends, I slept in their house in a village about 20 minutes away from ours by foot. Because they loved to sing, I took my guitar and we sang hymns in the darkness and smoke of their hut before settling down for the night. They excitedly lay down next to me, seeing who could sleep the closest to me…..I lay flat on my back, feeling like a hotdog in a bun. How claustrophobic those poor hotdogs must feel!

I thank the Lord for the chance to be able to experience the lives of these people and to be continually made more aware of the different lives we lead and the unity we can experience in Christ. 

Monday, July 11, 2011


I sat, chin in hand, mesmerized by the candle flickering in front of me. The flame, dancing and swaying to the soft tune of the breeze, cast a soft light about the room. I watched it waver and flare.

As I continued gazing at the flame, I slowly became aware that someone else in the room was also being drawn to the light. For a few minutes it floated in and out of my line of vision, then centered on the wavering wick. At each passing flight it drew closer and closer to the flame.

As the moth continued circling, I became concerned for its safety. Those delicate wings of his were dangerously close to being scorched. As he continued to flutter around the light, I watched with fascination the perilous dance between moth and flame.

Suddenly, so fast that I was hardly able the catch what happened, the flame sputtered and the moth disappeared, becoming one with the object of his fascination. His irresistible desire to be near what he perceived to be the ultimate goal met in the ending of his own life.

“I sure wouldn’t want to be that moth….or would I?”

Now before you become worried lest I have suicidal thoughts in the middle of the jungle in the Philippines, rest assured. I have no such intentions! J But I was struck with two different object lessons quite opposite from one another.

My first thought was that the flame represented the things of the world – by all outward appearances shining and beckoning one to come nearer and partake in the shimmering dance. Fascinated and enthralled by the beauty we fail to notice the dangerous associated with drawing near and many do not escape without being scorched.

Following the first idea not a moment later, however, was the thought of Christ: the Light of the World. “…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never live in darkness. They will have the light that gives life.” (John 8:12) As I watched the moth consumed by the flame, I feared the fire. It burned and scorched and took away all that the moth previously knew, changing it from what it was before into being one with the flame – a mere burst of light added to the greater light of the blaze.  

“I will be in them and You will be in Me. So they will be completely one. Then the world will know that You sent Me and that You loved them just as you loved Me.” John 17:23

To be one with Christ, to be consumed by His brightness, to be so completely hidden in Him that all an outside observer can see is the luminous, glowing, perfect fire of Christ’s love – that would be worth dying for.

That is what I learned from the moth and candle.


I look at the calendar with a sense of dread. In just two weeks, Shama will be leaving. Her unexpected early departure being due to a serious illness of her father, I do not begrudge her in the least an early departure, but the thought of being the only medical person here in the mountains does add a great deal of responsibility.

Not only am I losing a valuable nurse, I am also losing the only person in the world who can relate step-by-step what it has been like to be transplanted into the middle of the jungle where no one understands you, where you take cold showers every day, eat weevils, and trust God implicitly for every next step. 
I’ve been so blessed to spend the last five months with Shama and I am going to miss her sorely during the remainder of my stay here (until mid-November)! Just a few things we’ve experienced together:
  • -          Arriving in the middle of the night in Puerto and experiencing our first drive in a trike at night
  • -          A wild and speedy ride from Puerto to Brooks Point (where I became thoroughly car-sick)
  • -          Our first hike into the mountains
  • -          Sitting awkwardly around a smoky fire near someone’s hut, trying desperately to learn the language
  • -          Our first hike up to Emrang
  • -          Our first day of teaching in Palawano (oh my, how scary!)
  • -          Frying geckos
  • -          Running the clinic, getting up with inpatients in the middle of the night, being woken up for emergencies
  • -          Making friends
  • -          Laughing and arguing about how to dig weeds
  • -          Sleeping on bamboo floors

These and many other things I’ll miss reminiscing about and experiencing with Shama. But as I’ve learned over the past five months, God doesn’t allow anything to happen that wasn’t for the best all along.

Although we don’t understand all the reasons now for the meanwhile she’ll go home and I’ll stay here; but when we look back at the end of our time here on earth, (perhaps just as we are lifting off with the cloud of angels) we’ll see why. And then we’ll sing with all the others, but maybe Shama and I will sing in Palawano, “My God, how great Thou Art!” (Ama’ Empu, mebasag Ke!) 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fried Geckos and other Delicacies

I happily watched as Shama opened the can of Multigrain Cutlets and heated the frying pan. Vegi-meat is a rare treat in the mountains and we were looking forward to eating them. Carefully she breaded the culets and then put them in the frying pan to cook. We watched intently.

The cats ran across the floor and we were momentarily distracted in watching them scuffle on the datag.  When Shama looked back in the pan she gave shriek. We all jumped to our feet and ran and looked in the pan where she was pointing. “There is a gecko in the cutlets! A gecko fell in!”

Frantically she grabbed the spatula and managed to flip the small lizard onto the floor. It was quite dead from the heat by the time she was able to remove it from amounts our cutlets and we poked it dubiously through cracks in the bamboo. After some consultation, we decided the cutlets were still edible after the foreign object had been ejected because they were still cooking on high heat.

And we thoroughly enjoyed those cutlets! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

But If Not....

“But if not…”

I sat cross-legged on the bamboo floor and struggled to find the words that I wanted. By far the hardest thing for me to do in a new language is tell a Bible story and bring out a meaningful lesson: there are just so many words I don’t know.

It was four in the afternoon on a Sabbath and I was visiting a branch Sabbath School down a curvy gravel road at the base of the mountains. I had already told a children’s story and a sermonette at church and had done another branch Sabbath School and 2pm before arriving here. Looking at the kids before me, I tried to summon up a few more ounces of enthusiasm. It’s not that I wasn’t enthusiastic, I was just tired!

Continuing with the story found in Daniel 3, I stumbled my way through the story of the three Hebrews frequently turning to Naptali (a friend and fellow missionary) for key words not yet in my vocabulary.  Drawing to a close, I sat back and let Naphtali tie my straggling conclusion together with a few questions. Oh to be fluent in Palawan! Someday….

While he spoke, I reflected on the story I had just told. My mom had called it to my attention a few days earlier while we were driving up to El Nito and I had been thinking about it on and off ever since.
I went back and reviewed the verses in Daniel:

“Be it known, O king, the God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand. But if not, be it known unto thee O king that we will not serve thy gods, nor worships the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:17, 18 (emphasis mine)

He could make me fluent in Palawan in a heartbeat. But if not… yet will I serve Him.

He could take away homesickness. But if not… yet will I serve Him.

He could heal a friend’s father who is suffering with one touch of His hand. But if not…yet will I serve Him.

He could provide nurses for Kemantian so that Shama and I could move back to Emrang. But if not…yet will I serve Him.

He could make the future known to me so I would stop guessing as to my next steps after the Philippines. But if not…yet will I serve Him.

As Naphtali finished speaking and we prepared to leave, I smiled to myself at the lesson I was finally able to learn from a Bible story I’ve heard for years:

God is always near and I am well aware of that, but the test comes when we ask Him to do something and it seems as though the answer is no. My God can do anything and it is His will that every good and perfect gift be given unto me (James 1:17); but if he decides not to do it…. Let it be known that I still will not worship any other god because I know Who holds the future! 

Wrestling with God

 “You have been put to no test but such as is common to man: and God is true, who will not let any test come on you which you are not able to undergo; but he will make with the test a way out of it, so that you may be able to go through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Father! You have promised not to give us more than we can handle….I claim that promise now!” My cry was lost in the tumult surrounding me – some praying out loud, some singing, other reading Bible passages at the tops of their voices.

Throughout my 23 short years, I have never in my life wrestled so physically with the power of Satan as I did that night.

It started on a Monday night with two girls sleeping in a hut. The door was flung open with such force that it crashed against the wall and they awoke to see ‘someone’ standing in the door. Immediately, they became unresponsive to human voices – screaming, moaning, talking to things that we could not see, and thrashing around with incredible strength.
Minan, Kyle, Brian, Timothy, Tina, Shama, Kiana, Kar, myself, and several Palawano gathered at the house to sing and pray around the prostrate girls. None of us could fathom why this had happened to them – they were both baptized, believing member’s   and even in their shrieks were called out to “Empu” (God). We prayed, read, and sang at their house for nearly three hours until the girls had calmed down a little. Around midnight several of us walked home while a few stayed behind to spend the night.

All throughout the next day the girls continued to go in and out of consciousness and sessions of struggle. As evening fell, it was decided to move them to the school so that more of us could gather and we would continue to pray and sing there.

As the night darkened, it seemed to me that all hell broke loose. I cannot describe neither the blood curdling shrieks nor the terror of seeing them flail and kick fighting against something only they could see. Then, unbelievably, one after another began in the same way.  By three in the morning, there were 13 people being attacked.

You cannot imagine the scene unless you’ve been there: each person surrounded by others holding them down so they wouldn’t hurt themselves, people prayed – aloud and silently, and others were singing. Above the noise of song and prayer rose the screams and cries of those struggling. It got so terrible  that Kiana and I wondered aloud to each other at one point during that night if Jesus might not come that night.

It was terrifying to think that the person next to you might be the next one. There came a point in the night where I couldn’t pray any more – there just weren’t any more words for me to pray. It was all I could do to claim Romans 8:26:

“And in the same way the Spirit is a help to our feeble hearts: for we are not able to make prayer to God in the right way; but the Spirit puts our desires into words which are not in our power to say.”

But above the tumult and confusion of that night one thought remained central in all of our minds: Jesus has already won this battle. Satan is fighting so hard because it’s his last desperate struggle. He knows that these children have committed themselves to Jesus and it makes him furious. Even in the midst of their torment, they would call out to Jesus to save them.

When the stars finally faded and the darkness began to slip behind the distant hills, I felt that with Jacob I had wrestled all night.  As the dawn broke and shadows slid away, I felt the spirits of darkness recede.

Looking around the room from one exhausted face to the other, I praised the Lord for each one of them. I couldn’t have made it through that night without the knowledge that Jesus was right next to me and our team of missionaries was praying along with me for the Spirit of God to fill that room.

The battle did not end with that night; it continued for nearly a week though never did we experience a night like that again. But with each day, it became more and more apparent that the Satan was losing ground that he would never again regain.

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7

I have been tried and I pray that I have come out stronger on the other side.
Coming from the United States, I always knew that the devil wanted to control our lives and hold us fast in his clutches. I also always knew that Jesus wants to protect us from this if we only ask Him. But I had to come to the Philippines to see the actual real struggle between Michael and His angels and Satan and his.

Though not as blatant in the US, Satan still seeks to control us. The very fact that it is not as apparent makes the struggle that more dangerous. He can control areas and we don’t even know it.

I’ll never forget that night and by God’s grace I’ll never be the same person. I pray that while I may not have a physical reminder of my night of wrestling like Jacob, I might hereafter have a ‘limp’ to remind me of Who has blessed me and Who can sustain me day by day and  that it will cause me to lean even more upon Him who alone can keep me from falling. 

Though Tears Fall

I stood looking down at him: his swollen abdomen dwarfing delicate arms and legs. His eyes were deep yellow and glazed his breathing shallow. I sigh and walked out of the room.
Miritis runs up and put her arms around me. Her brother, Ilil, stands more shyly in the background. I lean down and give her a hug and feel my heart contract. Their father, our patient in the next room, is dying of colon cancer. They have no mother. 
Afternoon after afternoon I sit on the clinic porch holding the little girl on my lap and singing songs or playing kickball with the boy on the grass in front of the clinic. I can’t ignore them as they wait for their father’s death. They started calling me ‘Indu’ (mother) and running to me for hugs every morning.
Colon cancer is deadly even in the States, but in a remote mountain village there is even less we can do. Our patient was carried out to the hospital in the lowlands, but when they could do nothing more for him they dismissed him back to the mountains.
Kiana, Naptali, and I hiked in with the patient from the hospital. He had only hiked for about 20 minutes before he could go no further. Naptali ended up carrying him on his back with Tajung (a circular piece of cloth). Kiana and I carried the bags with the patient’s son, Ilil.
I look to my right and to my left. The kids are sitting beside me as I type, exclaiming over the novelty of seeing words appear on the screen. In the next room, their father lays motionless – he’s lost 4 kilos in the last week. My eyes fill – and spill over.
Though tears fall, I take vitals and weigh the patient again: he’s lost another kilo and his breaths are barely 6 a minute. We try to tempt his appetite with anything that sounds good to him: pineapples, hot milk, peanut butter, coconuts. He can barely eat and vomits frequently.  Shama and I have a schedule to check on him last thing before we go to bed and first thing in the morning. Mostly, we are just waiting.
The children beautiful: happy giggles help hide worry in their eyes. I haven’t all the right words to explain what is happening, but they know. I pour all the love I can into them, desperately trying to ease the situation. I know it isn’t enough, but it’s all I can do. No, it’s not all. I can pray.
I pray for them, that they might have strength and that they might find loving people to raise them after their father dies. I pray for their father, that his last days might not be filled with agony and worry for his children. I pray for Shama and me. I pray that the Great Physician might work through us in some small way and use our hands for his glory.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Salted Black Beans

“This will be great!” I thought happily as I watched my mom struggle to open the can on the curvy road. Black beans are my favorite type of legume and the thought of eating a few spoonful’s for our alfresco lunch was a happy one. The driver took another swerve and my mom muttered about how there are easier picnic foods to eat in the car than soupy beans.
Four days earlier, my parents had hiked a grueling six hours into Emrang (my village) and stayed for two days of school and a Sabbath. Now it was Monday and we were headed towards El Nito, a seaside town, not so beautiful itself, but known for its amazing ocean scenery and islands.
With the can balanced decorously in a Styrofoam tray, I poised my spoon for a bite. The can was a small one and the spoon nearly filled the small opening. I dipped in…..
As soon as the beans hit my mouth, I thought I was going to die. It was nearly pure salt and soy sauce! I choked and wondered what to do – there was nowhere to spit: no windows, no trashcan, the floor wasn’t an option. Puckering up, I tried eating several crackers to disperse the salt flavor. I didn’t work. With a mighty effort, I swallowed and the horribly saltiness receded down my throat. My mom handed me her water bottle.
Peering into the can, I noticed that there were indeed a few beans besides the salty brine. Apparently, Salted Black Beans are meant to be used as a seasoning only and not as a meal by themselves. I found out the hard way that foods overseas aren’t always the same as what I used to at home.
Discarding the beans as a bad idea, we ate peanut butter and crackers instead.
Over the past few months, I’ve had several spoonfuls of Salted Black Beans: teaching for the first time in a different language, giving rectal Chloroquine, hiking in the rain for hours, loneliness, lesson planning.
Sometimes, I don’t want to swallow – the taste overwhelms me. “This isn’t what I thought it was supposed to be!” I cry, “I was expecting something different!” But there is nowhere else for me to go, nothing to do but swallow.
“O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Matthew 26:39 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A few pictures

A new friend

Sunrise in Emrang

The pharmacy in Kemantian

Our house in Emrang

Our Kitchen in Emrang

Rope or Bridge

            Rope or Bridge? There are pros and cons to each. The rope, while allowing for one to wade across the river in relative safety, also serves as a highway for about one million ants who also have business on the other side of the river. The bridge, while free of ants, swings precariously nearly 20 feet above the river pouring through two huge rocks just below. If I have a choice, I vote for the rope and then just wade along underneath it, ignoring the rope, and run the risk of being swept down the river.  Every time we hike from Emrang to Kemantian, we get to decide how to cross. If there has been lots of rain, we usually chose the bridge. The idea of hauling ourselves hand over hand on a rope while being dragged horizontally in the river by the current doesn’t sound all that exciting to either of us.
                Rope or Bridge? There is no need to make a choice when facing a difficult situation with God! He is the rope that is anchored securely when we fear of being swept away by the current. He is also the bridge that carries us high and safe above the rushing river. No matter the trail, we are always safe with Him.


I peered in the plastic bottle and watched the large hairy spider crawl slowly around. He was nearly 4 inches in diameter and therefore didn’t have much room the peanut butter jar to maneuver. As I leaned in for a closer look, he glared at me and leaped at the side of the bottle toward my face. Knowing that there was no way for him to get out and that he was tightly enclosed in the bottle, I did what any normal person would do in such a situation: I squealed in fright and nearly dropped it on the floor! Spiders are not my favorite creatures to begin with and ones of this magnitude are very nearly at the top of my dislike list. There are not many things that make me scream, but very large spiders (or any large sort of bug for that matter), are one of those things! Fortunately I haven’t seen any more of that type around, but must knowing that they are out there gives one an uneasy feeling. 

The Move

Imagine taking your clothes right out of the wash and putting them on still dripping cold water. That’s how I felt. Slithering down the trail with cleats digging into the mud, I struggled to maintain balance as my wet skirt slapped around my calves. The hike between Emrang and Kemantian is a good workout on dry days, but on wet ones you have the added factor of perpetually tense muscles as you brace against an unhindered slide down the slimy trail.  Since we moved up to Emrang four days previously, we’d had an abundance of pouring rain and gusty winds. I am used to rain (being from Portland, OR) but as much as I enjoy it I have to admit that it can have somewhat of a dampening effect on things!
About two hours after we started, Shama, Brian, and I squelched into Kemantian on a Sabbath afternoon. Shama and I had just moved up to Emrang for good the Tuesday before, but we had to return to Kemantian to do some planning for camp-meeting coming up in just two weeks. Brian has been planning with the villagers for months for our arrival and they had built a beautiful bamboo house for us: complete with a grass roof and datag (slatted bamboo floors). Shama declares it her dream house, and while I am not sure I am in quite 100% agreement with that statement I am immensely impressed with the workmanship that went into the structure and will thoroughly enjoy residing in it for during the coming year. It is very well made and functional, yet compact and aesthetic at the same time.
The school where we will be teaching is about 1/8th of a mile up a hill from us and has one of the most beautiful views I’ve seen anywhere: mountains disappearing into mist behind it and the valley stretching all the way down to the ocean in front. It faces almost directly east and the sunrises are spectacular. Currently, there are only four students (all girls) attending. While I would love to see more of the village literate, I can’t help but be grateful for the smaller number of students to launch my teaching career upon! 
Shama and I arrived in Emrang on a Tuesday morning and spent the rest of the day moving in and visiting with people. There was so much to be done that by the time we got around to bathing, it was completely dark. Each donning ‘tajung’ (a large, circular piece of cloth used for bathing), we slithered nearly an eighth a mile in the dark to the ‘shower’: a stream of water cascading out of a half bamboo pipe. Not only was it dark (and therefore getting cold), but it was raining as well. In combination these two things made for a rather hasty bathing process. I get goose bumps now just thinking about it! For those of you who might be tempted to think that it is never cold in a tropical rainforest, think again!
For the subsequent three days after our arrival we received an incredibly fast orientation to the school and clinic. Each night as I went to bed my mind reeled with the things learned that day. Having never had a days’ worth of teaching experience in my life, the thought of writing a lesson plan seems as nearly insurmountable as Everest! Not to mention that the lesson has to be taught in a language that I have had the privilege of learning for barely eight weeks.  I am so thankful that we have a God that is able to do abundantly, exceedingly more than we could ever ask or think!
Looking at the people here only on the surface, one would miss the underlying tension they always feel about the spiritual world. It is even much more apparent in Emrang than it was in Kemantian. Near our house there are two windmill-type things that they place high in the tops of trees to ‘call the wind’ in hope that it will blow away the rain so that they can plant their crops. They also tie special beads and strings to themselves and their children in the hopes of warding off evil spirits. One Sunday morning in Kemantian, a man approached me and tried to sell me a little black stone for $100 (5,000 Pesos). We found out that he believed if you kept it in your backpack it would keep you from dying or being injured on the trail. These beliefs and many more surround the people of the mountains in a cloud of confusion and uncertainty. Only the love of Jesus can break the hold of the spirits upon them and give them the freedom they so desperately need.
Please continue to pray that God will open the minds and hearts of the people and that Shama and I can reflect Him in all that we do. If we can but show them a glimpse of the freedom that comes from knowing Christ then we have been used by Him. The hardest part of all is to become a vessel worthy to be filled with and used by Him.
In His Service!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More News

1.       A month of fasting from all things electronic (cell phone, computer, IPod, ect.) has just ended and I joyfully called home at 5:15am on the morning of the 28th of February. I was met with answering machines and busy signals. What a letdown L. I kept trying throughout the morning and finally got through around lunchtime to Allana in Canada where she is visiting our cousins on spring break. Yay! It was great to catch up on all the news from a month!
During our month of ‘fasting’ Shama and I have delved into the culture and the language. While it still seems like I hardly know anything, I realize how far I’ve come when I think back to a month ago!
What seemed like a blur of faces when we first arrived is gradually sorting out into personalities and individuals. It’s going to be sad to leave Kemantian and go to Emrang where we’ll meet all new people, but it’s also exciting to know that we’ll be over there soon! Hopefully we’ll make the move within a month.
Ranging from getting up in the middle of the night to check IV’s to cutting off dead skin from a three day old knife wound, the clinic work has rarely been boring. Most of the cases that we see are malaria, but there have been a few more dramatic patients as well. John Miller taught Shama and I to suture using bananas with the peels split open. I am looking forward to trying for real.
I’ve set up my phone here with Facebook, so I should be able to receive short message sent to me thereupon J. That being said, the phone service here is finicky, so I don’t promise that I’ll be able to respond if you sent me a message….but try anyways! If you can keep it to 2-3 sentences, it’ll probably more likely to get through.
Thank you all for your prayers and I look forward to hearing from you J
In His service ~ Allie

P.S. If you want to read more about the Philippines you can go to the Miller’s blog at They are both nurses and have been working in the clinic since November, 2010. 

A Poem

I read this a couple weeks ago and really liked it!

      Love is the judge what comfort this
O shrinking heart to thee.
Though art dear workmanship of His
And perfect though must be.

He knows each lesson thou must learn,
How long to let the fire burn.

He does not judge by outward sign,
By failure not by sin.
Each secret heart response of thine
Each weak attempt to win;

He weighs it all, nor doth forget
The least temptation thou has met.

He knows thy blemishes and how
To purge away the dross,
Not overlong will He allow
The anguish of thy cross.

Love is the Judge and He doth see
The surest way to perfect thee.

Thou can’st not perfect if thou wilt

But turn thee to the light.
Love bleeds with thee in all thy guilt
And waits to set thee right.

Love means to serve sin’s outcast lost,
And cares not at what awful cost.

  Hannah Hurnard

The Goldfish

1.       It’s a 16 inch glass bowl enclosing two fake plants and I small castle half buried in glass beads. There is only one resident in the castle: a small fish all flashing gold and yellow and flowing fins. It spends its days circling the bowl; forgetting, or perhaps not caring, that it was just on the other side.
I felt like that today, circling round and round in my thoughts: certain one minute, then not.
“God you want me to be here, right? You’ve opened tall the doors! You do? Ok. I give You my life (again), its all Yours.” Peace.
“I want to go home! I want to hike out this afternoon. I want to see my family and be out of the jungle. I don’t want to hear bugs singing 24/7, sleep with ants, or take another cold shower.”
But wait…
“God, you want me here, right?” And I circle again to the other side of the bowl.
Then comes His promise, sweet and calming as a summer breeze:
“Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.” Isaiah 26:3
I stop circling, and wait. 

random list of gross stuff so far... :)

1.                             -             A 3”spider build a nest inside one of my skirts
-          I found the tail of lizard in my wash (thanks to the cats I think)
-          Some ants built a nest in my shoe
-          Two lizard fighting in the grass roof nearly fell on me
-          Chickens walk freely under the house
-          A large cockroach got caught in my curls
-          I’ve seen four snakes
-          I regularly sleep with ants
-          Alupians (scary centipedes that bite) can crawl through the floor of our house….we killed one yesterday with a hammer :S


1.       I instinctively stick my hand into the shower to see if it has warmed up yet. Of course it hasn’t. It take a breath and step under the stream of water, letting the spray wash over me. Quickly grabbing at the soap, I rub the bar over the goose bumps on my arms and legs. You’d think in a jungle you wouldn’t need warm water, but I’ve found cold water does the same thing to me here as it does in the States: goose bumps and very fast shower!
The weeks have ticked by and as we passed the one month mark, Shama and I discussed hopes and plans for the next eight months. We had the opportunity to hike to Emrang one weekend and stay overnight. It’s a beautiful place and I can’t wait to be able to move there (though I’ll miss the other missionaries we’ve bonded with!). We are waiting on our house to be finished before we can move. At the rate its going it might be a while, but we aren’t stressing: it’s in God’s hands and we’ve still got quite a bit of language to learn!
I’ve seen four snakes since I’ve been here. That is four too many for me! Two of them we killed, but the other two were on the trail and so I just watched them slither by. Two were definitely poisonous, I don’t know about the others.
I’ve been practicing doing assessments in the clinic with a cheat sheet to read questions from. The Palawano are extremely patient with me as I stumble through the questions! Most of the time I can understand their responses enough so I know what question to read next J.
Though we get plenty of hiking in (there is nowhere here that is flat: even their reference to where they are going centers around “dut diya” (up trail) and “dut napan” (down trail). I have been wishing I could don a pair of tennis shoes and go for a run down a long road. Sadly, their isn’t very likely to happen for several reasons: 1) no road, 2) we wear only skirts and the thought of flapping along in one isn’t that great, 3) people would think we are crazy to expend that amount of energy for no apparent reason.
Each morning, we awake to the sound of roosters. They continue to serenade me as I have worship and we get ready for the day. In the evening, a multitude of bugs set up full symphonic orchestra and sing us to sleep. The sounds of cars, motors, or airplanes are just a memory. A shout is about the loudest thing around.
While the shower is still cold, the roosters wake me up at 4am, and the trail is always up hill, I feel very blessed to be among the Palawano people. God has many lessons for me here and I pray that in some small way I may be a blessing to those I come in contact with.


1.       Every morning when I wake up, it is there: green shoulders rising powerfully from the narrow valley’s below. It can look sometimes formidable, sometimes peaceful. It’s the tallest mountain on the Island of Palawan: Kebetangan. Soaring up from from sea level, it towers above the village of Kemantian. I see it every morning, its different moods reflecting the probably course of the weather that day. Sometimes the whole mountain is visible – a promise of clear skies and dry trails. Sometimes mists swirl around its crest – gusty breezes and possible rain; other days the mountain is nearly obscured by dark clouds – rain and slippery trails and days of my laundry not drying on the line under the eaves of the house. Looking at the mountain, one can predict the course of the day.
I face another mountain each morning I awake and it too can set the course of the day. It is my time with God. When I choose to climb with Him, they sky opens up: clear and blue with a promise of fair weather. When I do not, mists and clouds swirl around obscuring the view and brining confusion and doubt.
Sometimes, looking toward the summit, it seems like an impossible task to reach the top. I don’t know the language, I can’t understand, I am too megla’aw (shy). But then I remember that Someone has promised to go with me and nothing is to steep or difficult for Him. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

First Week

She arrived in a wicker basket carried on the back of a young man. Barely able to stand, she was nearly collapsed in the few feet between the basket and the waiting bench outside the clinic. I took a blood pressure and temp while the other nurse (who speaks fluent Pelawan) interviewed her husband since it was difficult for her to talk. Her temp was 39 °C (around 103 °F). As we discovered, she had Malaria, left untreated for over a week.
She looked terrible: matted hair, filthy clothing, and skin caked with dirt; but she sounded worse: a rattling cough and rapid respirations (over 40). We ‘admitted’ her to one of the two inpatient rooms and they asked me if I wanted to start an IV on her. Feeling a bit nervous (one of the nurses was an ICU nurse), I got ready and found a likely-looking vein. It was hard to see the veins in her leather-like skin and her extreme dehydration didn’t help matters. Finding a vein that looked good, I grasped the needle: one poke and it was in! Praise the Lord!
At 5:00am the next morning, I awoke to my alarm and walked to the clinic in the dark, my headlamp making a small pool of light on the trail in front of me. In addition to the elderly lady, we had two other inpatients: an elderly man (her husband), and a baby with respiratory issues. After taking vitals on all of them, I handed out the medications that were due: Malaria meds to the husband, malaria meds plus antibiotics for the wife (she could also have pneumonia), and two different syrups for the baby. The mother, for some strange reason, is really resistant to taking her medications. The IV meds she doesn’t really have a choice with and those went in with no problem. Her PO meds, however, proved more difficult.
Using my limited medical vocabulary (acquired this past week at the clinic), I tried to coax her to take the three pills in the cup I held out. She wouldn’t take them. I finally took her hand and dumped them into it. She sat there, eyes closed with her hand out stretched, the three pills sitting motionless in her palm.
“Minan (Aunty),” I pleaded, “Ubat (medication).” For literally 20 minutes, I stood by her bed holding the cup of water trying to get her to take the medicine. How I wished I had a broader vocabulary! After what seemed like an eternity, she opened her eyes a slit and fished out the smallest of the three pills and took it; a few minutes later, another one, and finally the third. I gave a sigh of relief and went to give the baby her syrups. She cried, but took them much easier than ‘Minan’ had.
This and many other stories have made for a memorable week.
The people of Palawan are wonderful. Friendly, yet shy, they’ve welcomed Shama and I into their circle without hesitation. While my mind is a whirl of names and faces, I know that I have already found many friends. There is the family who gave us green mangoes when we visited their house, the family that gave us boiled cumbaheng (a starchy root), and the girls that tried to teach us to weave baskets.
We’ve had many funny experiences trying to learn the language. There was the instance that I told someone I had one child, instead of one sister, when trying to explain my family to them. There was also the time when I tried to explain how I fell on the trail and ran out of words half-way through. They looked at me expectantly, and I fished frantically for the words I needed. “Istaku! (I don’t know!)”, I finally gasped in desperation and we all laughed.
From heart-wrenching scenes in the clinic to hilarity while visiting in the villages during language learning: I’ve already been blessed with a wide variety of experiences.
Please continue to pray for Shama and I as we learn how to communicate and reach out to the people of Palawan!
Until next month!


Lying on the bed in my room at the Payuyo Pension, I listen to the sounds outside my window of a tropical deluge. Motor bikes growl passed, dodging this way and that on the cracked pavement avoiding puddles and each other. A dog somewhere below the window yips and howls pitifully, sounding like it’s about to die. Every so often, a rooster gives a tentative crow and then lapses into silence. I open my eyes wider and look around the room. Shama is lying on the bed on the other side under the window, reading Great Controversy with a tiny flashlight. Our luggage is spread all around the ends of our beds, and a fan blows warm air at us, stirring the curtains into gentle flapping motions.
Sitting up, I try to remember last night’s drive to the Pension. It is a bit hazy, because I was so exhausted, but I have a memory of dodging through dark streets, lights flashing by, and looking into lighted store fronts and tiny restaurants. A man by the name of Naphtali met us at the airport and escorted us to the Pension (like a hostel). I am so grateful that he came to meet us! While journeying by trike alone at night would have made our adventure complete, I am very thankful that we didn’t have to add that to our bucket list J.
Having slept for about eleven hours (we went to bed as soon as we got to the Pension at around 7:30, Palawan time), I was ready to face a new adventure. I sat up and we turned on the light and surveyed out scatter bags – more work to be done on that later, but not now. After a refreshingly cold shower, with chicken noise background accompaniment, we straightened things around the room and then went and knocked on Naphtali’s door. He’d told us the night before that he would take us to breakfast and since we hadn’t eaten supper due to exhaustion, we were very ready.
Sadly, breakfast was not the first order of the day. We woke Naphtali up (and felt very bad for this!), and he informed us that we would eat after we picked up Kiana (another SM) from the airport at 9:20. OK, we thought, we can do this. Going back to our room, we decided there was no way we could wait until nearly ten to eat, so we supplemented with the few leftover foods that we had with us: an apple (which Shama kindly shared with me), some oranges, and a few wheat sticks. It was a good thing that we ate a bit, because as it turned out we didn’t eat until almost noon!
 Feeling a little better we realized we had over an hour until Naphtali would be ready to go, so we wandered down to the lobby.  There, we just started talking to a lady who was sitting there and found out that she was an Adventist - not only that, she was a colporteur! She invited us to go across the street and look at the new Adventist Mission. Deciding it was fairly safe J, we walked across and into the Mission. As we toured around, we just happened to run into the Philippine Division president and treasurer secretary! After being introduced, we talked to them for quite  a while about what we were doing, ASI, and the Mission. The President said he had been to ASI in Albuquerque, but he pronounced it ‘All-boo-ker-kay’, which I found somehow amusing.
Deciding we should get back before Naphtali woke up, we headed back across the street to the Pension. Tip-toing passed Naphtali’s door, we saw that the light was on,  so we went back to our room and sat patiently on our beds for a few minutes until he came and knocked. On the street again, we hailed another trike and headed back to the airport. While we waited for Kiana to come, we learned a few more Palawan phrases. He also shared some cashew nuts with us since we were all famished.
About 45 minutes later, our foursome was headed back to Payuyo to drop of Kiana’s luggage. She took a shower and freshened up and then we headed off to lunch! We went to a place called Vegetarian House that had a menu about an inch thick. I initially though it might be because they had so many different dishes, but after we opened it up I realized it is because they had a full page color picture of each dish. Interesting…
Lunch consisted of pancit for me and tempura for Shama. We decided to split things to make it more interesting and so tried some of each other’s dishes. It was good, though I gave Shama the majority of the mushrooms adorning the plate!  After lunch and a stop at the bank to change money, we decided the next thing on the agenda was shopping. The plan is to shop for enough food for the two of us for the next six weeks. We went to a place called the NCCC: a huge Costco-like structure that carries everything from furniture to food to office supplies. It also sells cell phones. I got a very small Nokia for around $25 that will help me keep in contact with the world for the next ten months.
We spent a dizzying few hours wandering round and round the NCCC. It is incredibly difficult for me to think up planning meals about six weeks out! We ended up getting a variety of pasta, flour, oats, oil, spices, beans, and some canned goods. Vegetables and some fruits are available locally, but the above mentioned foods are difficult to come by so it is better to stock up now.  Finally, we had two shopping carts pretty much full and had probably walked around the store fifty times. Checking out took about as long as the shopping. They have a peculiar habit here of hiring about four people for each job that I am used to seeing one person do back home. For instance: for the check-out one person unloads your cart, another rings it up, another puts it in bags or boxes, and yet another may be standing around apparently overseeing the whole process. It is quite amazing. By the time we were done shopping, there were 22 boxes piled at the end of the cash register. I think we must have had six or seven shopping carts between the four of us.
That job done, we ran various errands like going to immigration and getting and extended visa, buying phone cards, and eating again at the Adventist hospital cafeteria (very good…it helped that we were all starving). By this time we were all quite exhausted, but none of us more than Kiana who had had about four hours sleep the night before! Clambering into a last trike, we motored back to Payuyo and wearily climbed the steps to our room. The first whole day in Palawan has been fully as wonderful as I anticipated!
I lay back on my bed and listened to the sounds of motorcycles drone passed. The dog still yowls on and off, and the fan lets out a monotonous drone. Thinking about the day, it seems like it could have been three days’ worth of activities. Tomorrow, we bus up to Brookes Point and will be drawn one step closer to our new home!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Until then

The final morning....doing last minute things
I thought I'd post my mailing address here in case
anyone wants to send me a letter :)

It is as follows:

c/o Kent George
Allie Westermeyer
5303 Brookes Point
Palawan, Philippines

Next time you hear from me, I'll be there!

Until then!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

___________Are you ready?____________

"My child, are you ready?"

"Well I am pretty much packed, I've made a list of things to do before I leave, I've..."

"That's not what I mean. Are you ready?"


"This year is going to take more than packed bags and lists, you know. What I mean is, are you ready like those who have served me before:

Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose"

David Livingston: "I am a missionary, heart and soul. God Himself had an only Son,
and He was a missionary and a physician. A poor, poor imitation I am, or wish to be,
but in this service I hope to live. In it I wish to die. I still prefer poverty and mission
service to riches and ease. This is my choice." 

Bob Pierce: "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God"

Oswald J. Smith: "I want Thy plan, Oh God, for my life. May I be happy and contented 
whether in the homeland or on the foreign field: whether married or alone, in happiness or sorrow,
health or sickness, prosperity or adversity - I want Thy plan, O God, 
for my life. I want it; oh, I want it!"

C.T. Studd: "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice is too great for me 
to give for Him"

"So, are you ready?"

"I am not like them, Lord! They've all done great things and I've just graduated from school! 
They know much more..."

"No, they didn't to great things, Allie. I did. They just let me use them. You can to! I can do so 
much through you. Are you ready now? All you have to do is say 'yes'. I'll do the rest!"

"Yes, Lord" (whisper)

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Song

I lay in bed unable to fall asleep. My mind a whirl of thoughts, ideas, frustration, plans, hope, and a little worry. There were so many things to think about I wasn't making much sense of any of them.

In the midst of this melee of thoughts a song kept repeating itself in the back of my mind. I couldn't make it out at first. It was quiet, but definitely something I recognized.

"....held without restless longing....or strain.....or stress....or fret....or chafings at Thy dealings....." Then I remembered! It was hymn 316, Live out Thy Life Within Me.

I lay back and thought of the rest of the words, adding them to the melody now soaring through my mind and silencing the thoughts one by one with its hopeful promise:

"Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou Thyself the answer to all my questionings;
Live out Thy life within me, in all things have Thy way!
I, the transparent medium, Thy glory to display.

The temple has been yielded, and purified of sin,
Let Thy Shekinah glory now shine forth from with within,
And all the earth keep silence, the body henceforth be
Thy silent, gentle servant, moved only as by Thee.

Its members every moment held subject to Thy call,
Ready to have Thee use them, or not be used at all,
Held without restless longing, or strain, or stress, or fret,
Or chafings at Thy dealings, or thoughts of vain regret.

But restful, calm and pliant, from bend and bias free,
Awaiting Thy decision, when Thou hast need of me.
Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou the glorious answer to all my questionings."

Unspoken prayer answered, I fell asleep and awoke again the next morning to the same promise. 
Thank you, Father!