Thursday, December 16, 2010

Traveling to Tyler

On the sixth of December we started our trip to Puerto.  The first transportation thing we went on was a little boat to get to Townsite.  It was not Uncle Dennis'  boat, but it was a boat that a guy owns who lives in the same village that we do.  It was a boat like Dad and Grandpa rode in the first time here, but a little bigger...but not big enough!  Mom had to ride on the motorbike with Uncle Dennis.  The boat was still a little low in the water.(note from Mom-the boat was so low and the swells were large enough that they disappeared in the swells...scared this Mom!)  When we got to Townsite we unloaded all of us and our cargo.  It was a little cramped sitting in the same position for one hour.  After we unloaded our stuff into a tricy-cab we started to walk to where we would sleep that night.  We were sleeping over top a karaoke bar and it is kind of loud, but I can sleep through it!  For dinner we went to a restaurant and you have to remember that we are still in Townsite so we have to walk everywhere.  We had chicken and rice for dinner.  After we were done we went back to Sing and Swing (that's the name of the bar).  We sleep there because it is easier to travel in the day rather than at four o'clock in the morning!  When we got back we went straight to bed.

The next day we got up at five o'clock in the morning to get on the boat to Rio Tuba.  Johnny said he would come with his truck between 5:30 and 6:00am.  So were were ready by 5:30, but he did not come until after 6:00.  Before he came Dad got worried that we would be late for the boat so he went to sign us in.  Right after Dad left, Johnny came to pick us up.  He took us to a place called BCI (I don't know what it stands for).  We went there because it was wavy and they don't want the boats to hit the cement dock.  So they put they where it is not wavy.  We did not have to wait very long before the boat was on its way.  Dad said it sounded like it had a turbo in in (most of them don't), so were were going at a fare speed for about one hour.  At the next stop a lot of people got on.  There were about 15 people on the top and it was packed down below.  So the rest of the trip was a little slower.

When the boat got to Rio Tuba all the guys wanted to carry our stuff (as usual), so we let them.  They set all of our stuff down on the street.  We rented a van so we thought it would come down to where we were, but it did not so we rode on tricy-cabs to get to where the van was parked.  It is always a bumpy ride.  Once we got there we all took a bathroom break before we got on the van.  The van ride was nice, nothing abnormal happened.

When we got to Simon's, we unloaded our stuff and some of the workers carried our stuff into the house.  We ate dinner and went to bed.  The next day we learned about the soil and how to get the nutrients back into the soil.  They have four kinds of animals at their place, goats, pigs, ducks, and chickens.  The mother pig had two week old piglets; they were cute.  On the second day we learned about goats and chickens.  We also mixed bokashi.  Bokashi is a Japanese word but I don't know the meaning of it.  We mixed it up and put it in the soil to make the plants grow better.  On the third day we learned about different types of plants and other things, and on the fourth day we went to the New Tribes guest house.

Since we have been at the guest house we have been shopping for Christmas gits and food.  We drew names and I got mom so I had to look a little harder.

Oh, I almost forgot, I bought a boat down on the island.  Our neighbor's son made it.  It is made out of wood and fiberglass.  It is about two and a half feet long and ten inches wide.  It is made to go in the water and it is a model of a launch.  A launch is a boat that carries big cargo from one island to another. 

I enjoyed Tyler's description of our trip to Puerto and our agricultural training last week that I thought I would share it!  Traveling to and from our island is always an adventure, but it sure is a beautiful ride!  We have enjoyed our two weeks in the city, but we are also ready to go our quiet, slow paced village life!  The agricultural training we participated in last week was excellent.  We have learned so much about soil fertility and how much the soil here is lacking in nutrients and organic material.  Now we just need to take some of these techniques back to the island and help the people understand the importance of improving the soil.  The second week we have spent the time buying supplies, everything from food to Christmas presents and gardening supplies.  Not much to buy once we get to our island so we have to get all we need while we are in the city!  We are anxiously awaiting returning home and getting ready for Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


American style on a remote island in the Philippines!  Who would have ever thought??  We had a fun Thanksgiving! We were all sure looking forward to a day set aside as a holiday, the only problem is that it didn't last near long enough!  The turkey turned out great in the oven.  Dennis figured out how to put a larger log toward the back of the oven and let it slowly burn to maintain the temperature.  Jeanie made mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, jello salad, a corn dish, and a relish dish.  I made rolls, pies, and the gravy.  I was going to make a fruit salad, but decided we had plenty to eat!  It was quite the feast, especially compared to what we normally eat which is something over and rice and hopefully a fruit or vegetable on the side, but not always!

The other day Kailee asked if we were going to be eating rice for our Thanksgiving meal.  I told her no, we were going to have potatoes instead.  She said, "Oh good, we are going to eat civilized food!"  We laughed and laughed!!  Apparently rice is not civilized food for her, but potatoes are!  We explained what civilized meant and she realized maybe that is not really what she meant!   But it was funny anyway!

The ants had found our pumpkin pies before we got to eat them, so we had to pick the ants out...but despite that they were good!  Oh, and I had to sift the bugs out of the wheat flour before I made the rolls. ( I haven't seen that many bugs in our flour yet, but it was an older bag that was already open, so that is probably the reason for the bugs!)

The kids played games, built Legos, did sewing projects, and read books while the rain was falling  in the morning, but after our meal in the afternoon the kids went out to play with their friends on the airstrip.  Amazingly they never seem to tire of playing with the kids! 

We got to talk to Steve's parents in the morning.  We hadn't scheduled Skyping time with them, but Steve happened to catch them on Skype.  It was good to be able to visit with them. 

We had a good Thanksgiving Day and certainly a different sort of day in the tropics!  Instead of driving through snow, ice, or cold, we slogged through mud under our umbrellas to get to Dennis and Jeanie's for Thanksgiving.  We listened to the thunder and lightening as we walked and watched the rain fall even harder once we got to their house.  Making memories...

Monday, November 29, 2010

A few pics of our house...

Our waterbed with the mosquito net
The school room or maybe it would be better to call it our library as it mostly holds our books!
Ann Marie sitting in her school corner with the beautiful jungle view behind her!
The boys room...Tyler and Adams on their bunks secure in the mosquito nets!-
The girls room...Kailee and Alyssum on their bunks reading books.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

More pictures...

Adams birthday celebration
Super-hero birthday boy!
Oh fun! Rabies vaccinations!
Everyone's reaction to Ethan's cut on his knee!
Dennis suturing Ethan's knee
Everyone getting to observe and learn how to suture!

Island Arrival!

The long awaited arrival to our island home has finally happened! It was a long journey...5 hours in a van, 4 hours on a boat, overnight in town at Sing and Swing (karaoke bar), and then another 1/2 hour boat ride to "our  beach".  The boat ride was beautiful ...on a pom boat.  For the last 1/2 hour ride we were able to get all of our boxes and supplies loaded on the pom boat to be delivered to the beach.  If we had not hired the pom boat captain, we would have had to make many trips to town to get all of our supplies.  From the pictures we look as though we were washed up on the beach!
It took us most of the day in the hot sun to unload our supplies, ferry them from boat to boat, and haul them to our house.  Needless to say we were rather tired and sunburned by the afternoon.   But ...we had a wedding to we dug in our boxes for a change of clothes, showered in our new bathroom, and made our way in the dark to the local wedding.  It was certainly a fun event and a great cultural experience! We ate rice and pancit with our fingers (but only our right hand) out of a banana leaf.  Ann Marie and Adams danced with the young people.  It was a great introduction to living here!
We spent the first several days unpacking our boxes and attempting to get settled in our new house.  So many  new things to get used to with many "firsts" for this Alaskan family!
Our first sleep under a mosquito net, but it sure does make you feel quite secure with so many bugs and lizards all around! eat in our new house at a new table (pancakes or eggs and rice, anyone?!) wake to roosters crowing right outside our window (the only problem is they start crowing at 3am!) sleep with so many night time noises (the jungle is a busy, noisy place at night)! celebrate Adams 8th birthday in our new home.  We celebrated with Uncle Dennis and Aunt Jeanie and enjoyed delicious pizza and mango pie!  Adams had a great super-hero birthday! ...but he also had a first time of cutting his thumb deeply with his new knife! use jungle first-aid!   Ethan sliced his knee cap with his new machete.  It wasn't that big of a cut, but because of where it was located we decided it needed stitches.  Dennis brought over his suture kit and closed up Ethan's wound with three stitches...front porch ER! meet our new neighbors.  Jeanie has been taking us house to house to meet everyone, so now we can smile and wave when we pass and send an American greeting of "Hello"! ...for the kids to make friends with kids they can't really talk to!  They have all sure had a lot of fun playing games, singing songs, and learning language from each other! bake bread, granola, and cookies in a clay oven!  We are learning so much and yet have so much to learn in the many days, weeks, and months ahead!
Unloading all our stuff from pom boat
Veldstra family washed up on the beach!
Runsii dance at wedding
Traditional wedding
Adams dancing and all smiles!
Our first meal in our new home!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Birthday and Beach

Ethan...what a handsome young man!
Ethan is 15!  We celebrated Ethan's birthday with cake, ice cream, gifts, and plenty of noise and laughter!  Ethan really wanted to go to the beach, but the day of his birthday turned out to be rainy, so we postponed the beach for another day.  Late Sunday afternoon we walked to the beach from the guest house where we are staying.  It wasn't a tourist beach, but a beach for the local people.  Not a well groomed beach, but sand, warm water, and treasures nonetheless! 
Kids contemplating the it really warm? Of course it is...we are  no longer in Alaska!!
Alyssum with her sea star treasure!
Adams always the charmer!
Uncle Dennis...a kid at heart!
Tyler and Kailee watching the activity at the beach
Beautiful Ann Marie!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weisser time

We are so thankful for the time we got to spend here in Manila with the Weissers!  Uncle Randy, Aunt Marla, Nathanial, Anna, and Omega have been great hosts and so gracious to share their home with us. They took us shopping, out to the movies, swimming, birding, gave us directions to our appointments, advice on Filipino culture and city life, cooked many meals, laundry, and so much more!  We could not have done this part of our journey without them and we will be forever grateful. 
Swimming at Faith Academy
Dinner time...a full house!
Veldstra and Weisser kids...a crazy bunch!
Thanks so much for the laughter!  We certainly loved being here...our home away from home!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two weeks and counting

We've been in Manila for two weeks already!  Wow, time flies in the big city!  It has been fun and we have certainly enjoyed some great activities as well as family time with the Weissers.

One of the kids favorite activities has been swimming up at Faith Academy.  They have a wonderful pool up at Faith and the kids swim and play for hours and hours in the sun!  The water is so much fun, but it wears them out and they sleep long nights afterward!

Shopping in the malls, definitely a big city activity!  And there is nothing quite like the malls of Manila...the noise, the people, and so many things to buy.  One should be able to find whatever one wants to buy at whatever price range you can afford.  Yesterday I went shopping with Aunt Marla for our new dishes, some other kitchen items, curtains, and pillow was fun to begin to make our new island house a home. In one of the malls Steve found an inverter and a water filter system for our home...just about anything can be found!

Another fun activity in the mall are cinemas, and each mall has many cinemas!  In Alaska we rarely went to the theater, just so hard to pay the high price of movie tickets for so many of us.  But here it is so much more affordable, only P130 or roughly $3 per person!  We were all treated to a fun!

The traffic in Manila is always an adventure just by itself!  Most of the time we ride along with the Weissers in their van to get to the store, mall, church, or Faith Academy, but Steve is learning his way around the city using public transportation.  Jeepney, train, tricycle, taxi, bus, or FX...which one will get you to where you need to go?  We have had the experience of using each one of these public transportation's in the few weeks we have been here.  We much prefer our own vehicle, but when you need to get somewhere it is nice to have options...just make sure you know how to get where you need to go and how to get back home again!!

Ethan and Tyler were given the opportunity to go bird watching with Uncle Randy last Saturday.  They got up bright and early to beat the heat and to be able to observe as many birds as possible.  Twenty-five different species is alot of variety for only going out once.  Randy is hoping the boys will learn how to identify the different birds on Balabac! 

One Saturday we spent at the RBI office working as painters!  They had just gotten new carpet, but the paint didn't match so a new coat was needed on the lower half of the wall.  We volunteered our expert painting services and picked up paint brushes and rollers to get the job done.  Not quite sure we are experts, but we had fun and made the job take a lot less time!

Today Stacey and the kids spent the day at Mega Mall with Jeanie, while Steve and Dennis went to find bricks for our clay oven and get some paperwork done.  Jeanie and I found more household items that I needed to set up our house while Steve and Dennis found the necessary bricks for the base of our clay oven.  They are some nice looking bricks and will be worth their weight in gold by the time we get them to our home!

We are certainly enjoying our time in this big city, but we will be very ready for the "quiet" of our island home!  Not sure living next to a rain forest is considered quiet! I've heard it is very noisy, only the noise is so much different than that of the city!!  No cars honking, busy traffic, or crowded stores...but more like noisy birds, loud geckos, crunching carabao, and the symphony of insects...certainly makes for a rowdy neighborhood!

Friday, September 10, 2010

We have arrived!

We are all here in the Philippines...together once again as a family! 
Alyssum, Kailee, Adams waiting at the airport
 Kailee, Alyssum, Adams, and I had a great flight over here earlier this week.  We slept for seven out of the nine hour flight from Anchorage to Taipei.  We woke at one point, but all felt slightly sick from all the we went back to sleep.  Finally woke for the last two hours of the flight, we all ate and felt much better.  With only an hour layover in Taipei we had to keep moving in the airport, but we made it to our gate with only 10 minutes to spare.  Aunt Marla met us at the airport in Manila. Thank goodness since our eight heavy totes were more than I could deal with myself.  The heat always surprises us when we arrive and takes awhile to acclimate!

Ethan, Tyler, Jonathan atop the boat
Ed, Ann Marie, Tyler, and Jonathan inside the boat
Tyler and Ethan enjoying the ride and the beauty!
Our totes in the canoe being transported to our home.  Amazing they made it from Homer to this remote island in the Philippines!
Ann Marie, Ethan, and Tyler with more of our "stuff" going to our home

Steve, Jonathan, Ed, Ann Marie, Ethan, and Tyler arrived in Manila from Puerto that same evening.  So good to all be together again and to hear their adventurous stories and see pictures of our new home!  What an adventure and they were only out there for a little over a week!

Our house being torn apart
Framing the walls

So much work has been done on the house and the whole team worked so hard to get our home ready for us!  Amazing transformation on the interior of the house as they tore out old walls and termite damage, and then replaced it with new walls of wood.  I have an amazing kitchen with a double sink and a five burner propane stove top surrounded by shiny tile.  The walls have been painted white in the kitchen and dining room.  The dining room now has a large table big enough for our family.  The bathroom has running water with a flushable toilet, sink, and a shower.  We have a room for the girls with plenty of room for bunk beds and a single bed, and a room for the boys with enough room for three beds and whatever else they collect!  There is a master bedroom, office/school room, and a large pantry.  Looking forward to making our house a home!
Bathroom almost finished
Kitchen being open and bright
Tyler celebrated his 12th birthday on the island.  Tyler loved his gift from Dennis...a local made bolo. 

We are spending several weeks in Manila with visa appointments, shopping to be done, meetings, and time spent with the Weissers.  We started school today to pass the time and time to be on a schedule!  School time is so different, instead of being cold and wearing layers, we sweat and have fans blowing the pages on our books!  Always an adventure!