Travelchick

My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Anonymity, I’ll never take you for granted again!

Today I became a part of the first graduates of Walla Walla University as I joined fifty others completing our field school of evangelist and church growth. It was a long graduation, but delightfully punctuated by performances from a really wonderfully talented group called the Asidors. Their music is beautiful and I believe they are true Christians in their hearts. I bought their CD.

Today while out and about we found some baby goats in a field. I picked one up and it licked my nose! That kid was so cute I wanted to take it home as my souvenir. Alas, I doubt I could successfully pull it off. Maybe I’ll just get a baby goat instead of a kitten.

Bugs have discovered me. I run but I can’t hide, and I scratch but I still itch. Argh!

I’m totally ready to be anonymous. We went to an absolutely beautiful garden today with rambutan, bananas, coconuts, and mangos growing. I tried to sneak away down a little path without anyone following me, but still it was only a couple seconds before I heard “Lydia, Lydia! Where are you, Lydia!” And when I came down to join the others, there were people there waiting, “Oh, Lydia, please let us take a picture with you!” Soon and very soon people whom I’ve never laid eyes on before will not know my name. I was very happy to see the Asidors signing autographs too, and when we had them sign our CD covers, I reminded myself how important it is to be kind and courteous to your fans.

Advertisements

August 31, 2007 Posted by | Philippines | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, so tuna are huge and pineapple doesn’t grow in trees…

We had a really full day today. It started at 7:45 am when we left for the international fish market here in Gensan (General Santos City) to attend the annual Tuna Festival. There were paddling races and swimming races. That part was really hot even though we were sitting under shade. I took some video of the racing, but most of the time I wasn’t sure what was going on. Then we moved to another location for the other contests. That part smelled strongly of fish and was much cooler. Our celebrity status got us front-row seats of course. First they had a contest to see who had the biggest tuna for the day. Those fish were so huge! I think of tuna squeezed into little cans, but those suckers are some big fish! The winner was 69 kilograms, about 152 pounds. (That’s only 1/3 of the size of the biggest one they’ve ever had at the port) Then they had a contest to see which man could hold up a 35 kilo tuna the longest. Very entertaining. Lots of men with big muscles. At the last of the contestants, two of our guys jumped in and joined the contest, and they didn’t do half bad! Of course, it got them onto international Philippine news for the second time. Sheesh!

Lunch was at a church school, where we received a spectacular welcome by a live band. They continued to serenade us throughout our meal. While eating, I was excited to discover beans that tasted almost familiar. I had a lot of them, while also appreciating the mangosteen some woman plopped onto my plate (that was for you, Keri).

Lunch reminds me of yesterday when we went to visit an elementary school. We received that most amazing welcome and treatment I’ve ever experienced. A band and baton team formed from students put on the most incredible performance for us. It must have lasted 20 minutes. They were SO good! Then they had us sit on the stage during their assembly. Nearly 500 elementary-school kids singing songs at the top of their lungs is not an experience I will soon forget. It’s not talent we lack in the States, just enthusiasm. There’s wasn’t a single child who didn’t sing his or her heart out and I was completely inspired. Then, when a very young boy got up and revealed his absolutely incredible voice, my mouth dropped open. The only time I’ve heard a kid sing like that was on TV on some kind of contest. I got some video of that too, but I doubt it will do it justice. The excitement and welcome we got from the students and teachers was almost overwhelming. My jaw actually started to hurt very badly from smiling, but I couldn’t really stop- OUCH!

Next we toured Dole Philippines. I found out how pineapples grow- yes, I am ashamed to say that I really hadn’t known before. Now I do and I have pictures in case I forget. At the place where the, I guess, owners live, it almost felt like the US.

Me- Why does it almost feel like we’re back in the States?

Ken- because it’s nice, it’s clean, and there’s a golf course.

Me- Oh, yeah, you’re right.

It was also less humid, which felt veeeery strange. And the bathroom had soap in it, and hadn’t dryers. Still no toilet seats, but…

Immediately after returning to the compound, a few of us set out again for a little rushed shopping. I’ve officially bought all the souvenirs now that I need. Oh, and Andi, you got the really cool gift. I hope you like it as much as I do! I was pretty worried at first that I wouldn’t get enough time to shop because of our tight security. The bodyguards have been totally cool, though, about arranging times for us to get to the mall and other places. Once I got to know those guys, I feel more amiable about their constant presence.

I think I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that it’s not that safe here. A personal search on the internet went a long way in convincing me that we’re right to be so careful. Sometimes I still hate it though, like when Zach and I couldn’t go SCUBA diving because the location wasn’t secure enough. I really wanted to go! Tonight we got two police escorts home from the meetings because of the Tuna Festival.

The meetings are going so well. Sabbath we’ll have a huge baptism. I have no idea how many there will be, but judging from the crowd that responds every night at just the site I attend, there will be hundreds. I love seeing people’s enthusiasm for the meetings and for God. They’re also very enthusiastic about us, and sometimes I worry that my very presence is a distraction. That’s kind of frustrating. I’ve gotten some crazy letters from people, particularly young girls in their late teens, that make it sound like I’m the most significant person in their lives, have impacted them so strongly, have been such a wonderful friend to them… and we just met, like just that very minute. I appreciate the fervor, but often I just really don’t get it. They also seem to be unable to refrain from blurting out how beautiful they think I am (like everyone, everywhere, whether or not they know me, does it) and I just wonder how they can’t see how beautiful they are. They think their skin is inferior and their eyes and their hair and I’m just thinking, “Man, they are all so gorgeous!” The kids also are all so adorable and photogenic and I just can’t stop snapping their pictures. I got a couple of very cute kid pictures tonight that you can see on Pedrito’s site.

The most common questions you will be asked if you come to the Philippines, in conversation form:

– Excuse me, where is your place?

– United States.

– How old are you?

– 26.

– Do you have a husband?

– No.

– Oh…

Most of my pictures are now online. Go to my folder on Pedrito’s site and there they are!

There is so much more to say, but honestly, I’m super tired right now. This trip has been so good for me already. It’s almost over, I guess, but the next couple of days will be really full. More autographs, more gifts to give away and receive, more fruit to be offered, more durian to be tasted, more meetings to attend, more hands to shake, more questions to answer, more bug bites to get, and more bucket showers to take.

August 30, 2007 Posted by | Philippines | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are we in danger yet?

There’s so much I didn’t even say about yesterday!

You may be inquiring as to why we’re under such close scrutiny, such protective security. Evidently, or so I’ve been told, the people are rebelling against the government, and we know rebellions are generally not safe, even for locals. According to the government travel website, communist and terrorist groups here have made threats and acts of violence against westerners. They say it’s best for Americans to maintain a low profile (kind of difficult when we get treated like we did yesterday at the festival!). Yes, people are super happy to see us, but that’s because Americans are so rarely seen here. And why are they so rarely seen? Because it’s so particularly unsafe the United States government is recommending that its citizens do not travel to this country, especially this particular part. The average citizen absolutely loves westerners, particularly Americans, but it’s those pesky terrorists and political insurgents we’re concerned with.

I really don’t want any of you to worry about my safety, though. I have to say that I’ve felt particularly safe here, more so than I have in other countries. That’s probably due in part to the fact that our security detail is taking their job so seriously. It makes me want to rebel, in fact, but I probably need to simmer down and thank God that we have such good protection. One of the head honchos in city security is a head deacon here and he’s in charge. If anything happened to us on this trip, it would effectively cut off opportunities for evangelism from the United States to this country. As it was, we had a difficult time convincing the conference it was safe enough to come here.

Oh, and also, I plan to prepare I slide show of all the different fruits I’ve eaten here. I’ll show the inside and outside and tell you how to get into them. A website someone showed me after reading yesterday’s blog talked about cutting rhambutans or biting them to open them. Haha! I would never bite a rhambutan open. Not here. They’re usually covered in ants. You have to open it quick and pop out that fruit. Thankfully, the ants don’t bite. Like most fruits here, I’ve discovered that the easiest way to open a good rhambutan is by squeezing it. That produces a nice crack and you can just open the thing right up. You can squeeze mangosteens too after you pull off the stem. All of the fruits that are most common right now are “squeeze to open” affairs.

Yesterday as I was sitting there absolutely surrounded by kids, it came to me that it must have been how it was when children came to Jesus. Not that I want to put myself up there with Him by any means, but maybe we’re acting as representatives of Him in that way. My energy for the children has to be coming from outside myself anyway.

Today I had a devotional talk in our training seminar. It was only a 5-minute deal, but I still woke up pretty nervous about it this morning. I just talked about a topic that I really cared about, though, and was able to share a really great personal story. It was awesome. And over quickly, too.

August 24, 2007 Posted by | Philippines | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: