With 2016 already well underway I’m overdue for our annual summary of the previous year. It seems, like every year, that 2015 flew by. In early 2015 we decided that it would be good if we could take our next home assignment before the end of 2015 so we could get our eldest son, Elijah settled for his future in Canada. That meant that there was a lot to accomplish in 2015.
In January our co-workers, the Easton’s, moved into their new house in the village and began formal language and culture study. It was great to have them settled into a bigger place and fitting into the community more as they learned more language.
Most of the year was spent with Chuck in Ga’dang language and culture study. He had already completed about 2 yrs of language and culture study but still had a lot to learn. In April we were encouraged with the progress he made. We had 2 language consultants spend several days with Chuck in the village following him around seeing how he interacted with the people and how he spoke. There was also times of directed speaking tasks to see how well his grammar and understanding of the language was. There were also lengthy discussions on what we have learned about the Ga’dang culture, how they think and why they do what they do. We set a plan for Chuck to have his final language and culture evaluation in August/September.
Language and culture learning is an exhausting task but with many rewards to it also. There is no computer program or teacher to sit with you and explain the language you are learning and how to grammatically put a sentence together. Chuck had to figure it out on his own. Chuck would spend his days in various places doing various things. Some days he would work in the fields with men as they planted corn or rice and others days they would be harvesting those very things. Some mornings began early as Chuck would go to visit the men soon after the sun was up before they went to the fields. They would visit and talk of what was happening that day and news from the village and surrounding area. Chuck also worked with a few men in directed speaking tasks in his office. It’s a great place to practice new words and get proper correction and to ask questions about words/phrases that weren’t understood while out visiting. It was also a time that Chuck could ask questions about the culture, to ask about why people did and said things. One of our favourite times was “merienda” time, also known as snack time. Almost every day Chuck and his language helper would come to the house for coffee and a snack. Shannon and her house helper/s would join them and we would talk about many things. Sometimes we were asked about our families or home country. Sometimes we would talk more about how things work with Ga’dang people and why they do things that way. It was a great time to learn more. Chuck would also end his day with a walk through the village visiting with different people along the way. Every day for most of the day, Chuck is speaking and thinking in the Ga’dang language. Why? So he can clearly translate God’s Word and teach the Ga’dang people about Jesus coming to die for their sins.
In May we said good bye to Samantha Carr, our kids homeschool teacher. We loved having her with us for 8 months. She was missed throughout the rest of the year.
Again this year we went without the helicopter for April, May & June as it waited for new rotor blades. This meant traveling by land even though we had lots of rain. Thankfully the Lord allowed the rains to stop at times so we could get in and out of the village. After we all settled back in the village in June, the Easton’s learned that Valerie’s mom was diagnosed with Leukaemia. They decided they needed to go home to be with her and help the family care for her. That left us alone in the village for the last half of the year. We missed having them in there with us.
In July, Kyle headed back to Canada to live with is Aunt & Uncle so he could start school in September. We sure missed having him at home with us but he had a great summer and enjoyed his start to the school year. July ended with our bi-annual regional mini-conference. It was a great time of fellowship with fellow missionaries of northern Luzon.
Shortly after our return to the village in August came Chuck’s final language and culture evaluation. Everyone was pleased with the progress he had made in the 4 months since his last evaluation. He was finally officially finished formal language and culture learning. But there is always more to learn.
At that point we continued learning but began packing up our house for our return to Canada in November. We were able to take family pictures of everyone in the village before we left and printed them each a 5*7 and framed it for them. They loved having them.
We finished our time in the Philippines by spending a few weeks on the flight centre helping with projects that needed to be done at the guest house. We haven’t had a supply buyer/guest house operator since March. One of our pilots was filling in as time allowed. This time was refreshing for us to spend time with friends, sort and pack what was going with us and finish our school work. Chuck also got to take his mind off language and culture by working with wood, one of his favourite things to do!
November 11th we arrived to cold Ontario and the welcoming arms of family and friends. We had arranged a house to rent before we arrived so we went right to our house and beds! We had an uneventful trip back. We were nervous about a “bullet” scam that was going on at the airport in the Philippines but we had no problems at all. The kids traveled great and enjoyed all the movies they could watch on the plane.
We were quickly able to find a van and began our many trips to see doctors for all our check ups and such. Thankfully everyone is healthy. We also had lots of sorting and organizing and shopping to do. Plus Christmas was fast approaching. It was a very busy time. But we enjoyed spending Christmas with our families.
We also celebrated 20 years of marriage on November 18th. We had to wait an extra week to go away as we were still feeling unsettled but we really enjoyed a time to rest and remember the gift of 20 years of marriage.
We welcomed in 2016 with a quiet evening at home playing games and watching movies. It’s not quite the same as ringing in the New Year in Manila!