Saturday, November 22, 2008

Philippines

About six years ago I got a packet asking if I wanted more information about sponsoring a child through Children International. http://www.children.org/ It was free to get the information so I did, and I received this picture.



This is Jason, he is five years old in this picture. I couldn't resist and so I began sponsoring him. For the past six years I have been able to write him and received letters and pictures from him. However, visiting him was always out of the question because it was too far.

But when we found out that we were going to Korea, I knew that I wanted to visit Jason in the Philippines. Korea is much closer to the Philippines than the USA.

So on November 14th we flew to Manila.

Here I will put a plug in for Korean Airlines. If you ever have the option to fly with Korean Airlines, do it. They have the best service. They are kind and polite, and their food is pretty amazing. For those that are vegeterian you know how terrible veggie food is on planes, but our was really good! And!!! Shocker-of-all-shockers they served us ice cream!



So, fly with Korean Airlines. It's a great choice.

So into Manila we flew, and for 20 miles it took over and hour to get to our hotel. Traffic is terrible.



Here's a picture of some pesos.



This was the view from our hotel in Quezon City.

Children International picked us up at our hotel on November 15th and brought us to the agency to meet Jason.



It's hard to explain what it was like to meet Jason. His mother and youngest brother were there as well, but just to sit next to him felt unreal. Matthew and I brought him a Lego set and a basketball with a pump as a present. It was so cute to see Jason hug Matthew for both of the gifts.

Jason was really shy, understandably, but I was really shy too.

First we went to a public park...







Then we were able to take Jason, his mom and younger brother to Ocean Park. This was a big deal to Jason because it's too far to come for his family, plus it would be out of the question because of finances.





Watching Jason's excitement and joy in the aquarium was worth the whole trip.

video

video

video

As far as I know he's never been able to see stuff like this, and so it was really special. He almost ran through the whole aquarium!

After Ocean Park, we went and ate with them and headed to the Children International distribution center. This is where the children go for the medical supplies, doctor check-ups, dentist appointments, etc.





Inside the hall at the center.



This is where they take pictures that they send to the sponsors. Here a little girl is having her picture taken..



An activity for the children while they wait for appointments.



I was shown this area of homes which represent the type of homes the children live in. Many are without electricity and basic plumbing. We should be grateful for all we have.

Then we drove to see Jason's home and meet the rest of his family.



This is a picture of Jason's school. It's the multi-level building in the background. It is right up the street from his home. I forgot to mention this, but at lunch Jason ordered two pieces of chicken and rice, but only ate the rice. He then got the chicken to go, so he could share it with his brothers at home.



Once at the house he and his next oldest sibling pulled out the box of Legos and began assembling!



This is us with his whole family. Four younger brothers, father and mother. His whole family was nice. It was poverty that they lived in. The house was small but thankfully all of them seemed healthy.
It's beyond words to describe what the trip was like, but before we left Matthew got another hug and I got a kiss on the cheek and a hug.
I pray that many of you will consider being a sponsor. It isn't that much a month, and it really does change their lives.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Yap and Palau

A Blog of Matthew





How should I begin? It has been three years since I went away as a Student Missionary to Yap (I was also able to visit Palau). It was the worst and the best, the craziest and the simplest, the most adventurous and the most homesick-filled year of my life.



This blog is about me stepping back into time. It's closest and best to compare it with a dream. So this blog is about me stepping into my dream world that I alone knew and know, but this time...my beloved wife would share in this dream of mine.



So let's jump in! (Play the following video for the full effect)



video





The trip began from, well, Incheon, South Korea. Where else?



We rode buses and planes, and quickly found ourselves in Guam!








The first picture is from 3 years ago - travelling to Yap at 21 years of age. The second picture is of the exact same location. Notice the SAME picture on the wall?









We stepped out for some fresh air and perhaps stamps in our Passports! (We got none *frown*)






Our flight finally departed - with us on it - and we arrived on Palau.




We stayed at PMA (Palau Mission Academy) with a wonderful young married couple who just happened to have a dog and two playful cats! We were so pet and people deprived by this point that we savored all the moments and simply had to take some pictures.










And after many years of wanting desperately to take Beth-Anne to the Rock Islands, I finally had the chance! But...it started off with rain. *sigh*




First Stop: Milky Way




They call it Milky Way because there is a sandy-white sediment at the bottom which turns the water a cloudy blue - milky.

This next picture is of me from 3 years ago at the Milky Way.






This picture is especially for Jaden (Beth-Anne's cousin)!!!






We hope you enjoy these next two videos!



video



video



The Next Stop: Imfamous Jellyfish Lake

First picture is of me 3 years ago at Jellyfish Lake - surprise, surprise.

























Again, a few videos for your enjoyment.



video



video



video





So, despite the rain, we had a good time, and things finally began to clear up for us as we broke for lunch.



Beth-Anne and her famous pose.







After lunch, we explored Clam City.





Tom and Geoff, are you jealous?










Sorry about this picture, it....had issues. Here's how you solve the problem: 1) tilt your head to the right, or 2) tilt your computer monitor to the left.





Beth-Anne dives for a pair o' clams.


video








After Clam City:



....




Shark City lies beneath these calm, torquoise waters.









Watch the video...if you dare!





video

Yes, Beth-Anne did swim with the sharks...all 20-30 of them! They were all Black-Tip Reef Sharks (one of my very, very favoritist kind (I misspelled all that on purpose by the way).)






We had one more snorkeling spot after Shark City.




The emphasis of this next spot was coral and small, but beautiful, fish. Here are the pictures and videos.






video


video


video





We just couldn't resist comparing....












Palau is so beautiful, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.









(Beth-Anne's beautiful pictures of a beautiful sunset from land...)







(My pictures of the same beautiful sunset near the water (I had been out shopping for food while she had been inside sick. *another frown*).)









How could we not make the most of our time on an English-speaking Island with good Indian food and...of course...The Rock Island Cafe!?!?!














Next Stop: Yap!!!




Pictures of our Lei's - given at the airport to all those incoming.






The school. (This used to be grades 10, 11, and 12.)




(My classroom had been in the far right classroom of the building on the right.)







My Students!


Let me tell you, it was one of the most amazing and refreshing experiences I've ever had to again meet my students that I had taught (attempted to teach) 3 years ago. All my students remembered me, missed me, and were so proud that I had come back just to see them. I understand now how Paul had loved so much all those he had preached to and taught - because they had become his friends.


These former students of mine, though they still call me Mr. White, are now my friends and I can honestly say that I love them and really miss them.






Good ol' times with basketball.





They also took me to a Sea Wall. It's a wall....at the sea.




Beth-Anne and my former student, Elias, walk the Sea Wall.



Here are some pictures of the deck where I had, for so many different hours and nights, cried to God for help and answers.





This first picture is one of me from three years ago.




The same spot....*sigh* - surreal memories.






Of course, we had to see some of that world famous Stone Money.











We also had to re-visit a few, old plane-wreckage sites.


Yap's former runway from a few decades ago.




The pictures on the right (or the 2nd in each set) are from 3 years ago...if it wasn't obvious enough already.











We couldn't make a trip to Yap without tasting that wonderful pizza aboard the old-school (we're talking WAY old-school) ship at the Manta Ray Bay Hotel.















Yes, we got pulled over by the cops because I (yes, Matthew), didn't completely stop at a stop sign. Then, because we were just coming back from church, we got even more "busted" because I didn't have my wallet (which contains my driver's license) - not good! So....they said we could either 1) have someone bring my wallet to me, or 2) have someone drive the car. We had no phone numbers, so we opted to walk. However, the police officers were very kind, so one of them drove my former-student's vehicle for us back to the school. No tickets or fines - YES!!!



Beth-Anne sneaked in a shot (I mean...a picture!) from the back seat. Shhh...don't...say....a word.







All in all, the trip was good, but exhausting and...too much for our sensitive city-accustomed skin.









But, oh, those glorious sunsets never cease to remind me that God is a beautiful, caring, loving God.






The picture tells just how tiring everything was to us (the flights were at the worst possible hours).









Beth-Anne and I couldn't believe what we were saying to each other, but we missed home - Korea home.





The trip was more emotional, more powerful, and more wonderful than I could have prepared myself for. This trip - it was the right way and the perfect way to say good-bye and farewell to that little, scarcely-known Island in the West Pacific. That Island changed my life, and I pray, sincerely, that I changed the lives of my students - I have grown to adore them.
I will put more pictures up on my flickr picture account later. If you're interested, here's the link: http://flickr.com/photos/56841549@N00/