Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Last visit...

...to our beloved island home and neighbors(in January).  And what a week it was!  We were all tired and sunburned, but great we it was a great week although plenty of mixed feelings too...both happy and sad.  

We attempted to go to the island on January 5, but over half of us came down with a nasty flu bug and so we postponed our trip for 5 days.  Tuesday, January 10 we took a jeepney to Rio Tuba to get on the pomboat to take us to Balabac.  After a two hour jeepney ride and waiting for several hours on the dock, we were told the boat would not be going that day!  The weather was changing and the captain didn’t want to risk getting caught in it.  So…now what?  What does a family of eight do when stuck in a small mining town in the Philippines?  A couple weeks before Jeanie also had to spend the night in Rio Tuba so we took her recommendation for a nice pension house and set out to find it.  JJas Pension House turned out to be a nice “hotel” for the night!  It had a bathroom in each room, running water, electricity, fans, and it was very clean…what more could we ask?  So we spent the afternoon wandering the street of Rio Tuba!  Not much to do!

The next morning we arrived at the dock and boarded the boat by 7am, expecting to leave by 8 or 9.  The boat finally left the dock at 11am!  We were a little weary of the boat by then and the ride hadn’t even begun.  It was not glassy calm, but not too wavy either.  We ran into the worst weather nearer to Balabac.  Dennis was waiting with his motorcycle along with five Molbog men and their bikes to take us to our house.  Welcome to Balabac…the muddy motorcycle ride!  It was a fun ride though and someone always has a funny story to tell when the ride is over.  This time Ann Marie got dumped off the bike she was riding, right into the mud!

So fun to return after almost a year!  Jeanie had dinner waiting for us, and we were sure hungry!  Then we went to our house.  Jeanie had hired a couple young girls to help her clean our house and get the beds ready for us.  So nice to have it all ready for us!  But once again our water was not working!  So we all took bucket “showers” before laying our heads on our pillows.  The next morning Steve, Ethan, Tyler, and Adams hiked up to our water source and fixed our hose…yeah, we had water once again! 

On Thursday we spent a good part of the day sorting the remaining things in our house, deciding what we were going to keep and what items we were going to sell.  Jeanie made lunch for us each day, which was so nice!  We also got to use our oven!  I made bread, cookies, brownies, and pizza for Friday night!  So nice to use!!  One of the many things that makes us sad that we cannot be there to use.  Friday was more of the same and Steve and the boys started each day with a  trek up the river to fix our water!  The kids could hardly wait for the weekend so the Molbog kids would be home from school to play and play!


Can you find our three daughters?

Saturday was the planned day for the “lami-lami”.  It is a gathering of everyone in the village to eat a meal together for a specific purpose.  This time the purpose was us being there and spending time with all the people we have come to know.  Jeanie and I provided the food and about six Molbog ladies cooked the meal of pancit and rice, and buko salad for dessert.  I had fun being with the ladies as they chopped vegetables and cooked in the big pots over the fires.  For some reason food always tastes better when cooked over an open fire!  While the ladies were cooking our kids played games with the 60 or more kids that came with their parents!  After the meal we had a short Bible lesson and singing songs with the kids on the airstrip.  We brought gifts for all the kids so we handed out over 60 small wrapped gifts to all the kids!  Then Ethan and Tyler put on a short fireworks display.  Too bad it couldn’t be done in the dark, but still fun as most of the people hadn’t seen or heard fireworks before!  We also handed out lightstick bracelets to all the kids.  I’m sure there wasn’t much sleep in many homes as the kids were admiring their “lights”!  It sure was a fun, full day with our friends and neighbors!
So intently listening to Aunt Jeanie

Uncle Dennis with his computer is so popular!
For Sunday at 9am we scheduled a “dental clinic” for the kids on our porch!  Our language teacher, Awab, agreed to teach the kids about brushing teeth and using floss. A little before 9 we got word that Awab could not come because of an unplanned meeting he had to attend.  So Jeanie had to be the teacher!  She did a great job telling the kids about brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing everyday.  We then demonstrated flossing and handed out floss to each child to try for themselves!  Then we let the  60 kids choose a toothbrush and we assembled small bags of floss and toothpaste for each child.  Thanks to Jenny Weisser, Marissa, and Alesha for bringing the dental items for the Molbog children.  We are so grateful that we had the opportunity to share these things with the families there.  

Then in the afternoon we went over to Dennis and Jeanies for lunch and our kids spent the afternoon playing games with the kids on the airstrip.  So much fun and no one really wanted to leave. We really enjoyed the time to just relax and be with the people on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Monday was “yard sale” day.  We scheduled the sale for 1pm, but our first customer showed up at 11am and they were from town.  Not bad except we had priced everything low for our Molbog neighbors!  We allowed them to buy the electronic items, but told them they had to come back at 1pm to shop with everyone else.  They were not too happy, but they did come back and spent the most money!  All our neighbors were waiting at the house below…so at 1pm Jeanie called out that they could come on up!  The house was instantly FULL of people and continued to be full for about 1 ½ hours.  And just about everything was bought!  We certainly didn’t make a lot of money, but our friends and neighbors were able to get some new items for themselves and that made the day worth it all.

We spent the remaining part of the day packing our belongings and getting ready to leave early the next morning.

Our alarms rang at 3:30am and we dragged ourselves out of bed.  It was rather cold in the early morning air, but we were soon warm enough as we hiked to the beach with our boxes and backpacks.  The moon was shining bright although not a full moon.  We waited on the beach for the two boats to arrive, one for our boxes and bags and the other for all of us.  It was a beautiful, calm morning and perfect for the one hour boat ride to get to town.  We watched falling stars in the brightening sky as we puttered along on the sea.  Dennis was waiting for us in town as he went ahead to put our names on the list for the boat.  Good thing he did as it was one of the smallest boats with only enough room for 21 passengers!  It was a an absolutely perfect day for a boat ride and the kids enjoyed the cool breezes of the ocean air as we sailed along.  It was an uneventful return trip by boat and jeepney.  We were all exhausted and ready for a shower and a long good nights rest!

We are so thankful for the time we had on Balabac.  It was not easy to return and have to say good-bye especially since we all love being there.  So many things we don’t completely understand and maybe we never will.  Please pray for our Molbog friends and neighbors as they too are saddened by our move off the island.

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