General Aguinaldo, Ramon, Isabella

Wednesday, we woke up at 3:45am to prepare to load into our vehicle in order to get to the airport and check-in in time for our flight to Cauayan Airport. Felipe Cariaga and Philip Dumawa were kind enough to drive us there. Check-in went smooth and we got off on time, arriving just a little earlier than scheduled. Edward and Arnolfo were there, at Cauayan, waiting to pick us up and carry us to the Bible study center in Ramon.

The location of the Bible study center here is in Ramon, near the Matagan river. The building is about three years old, and has rooms for visiting individuals, like us, to stay in. The surroundings are rural, and beautiful. However, not so rural that we do not have 4-5 bars of 3g cell service most of the time. In fact, no matter how rural it has appeared to us at times that we are, the cell service has always been, unexpectedly, excellent.

Since we have been here, we have been able to go and visit some members of congregations near this area. We were able to visit with some from the Ubao congregation, which is just a year old, and their hospitality was tremendous. We also visited the Potia church of Christ. There, we pulled up chairs in a semi-circle around sister Caring (you’ll find her small frame in the middle of one of the photos below). She moistened our eyes as she told us of the birth of her faith, and how she became a Christian while in Saudi Arabia.
What a powerful woman we found there in that place, and we understand from Ken that her influence has been exceptional. They were so gracious to us as hosts. The wife of J.R., the preacher there left on a motorcycle to go and buy sliced bread so that we could share some with the soy coffee they had brewed. Even now, it make my eyes well up at the though that they sacrificed more for the sharing of that meal than they should have on us – but everywhere we have turned we have encountered this sort of hospitality from the brethren here.

On Thursday afternoon, we traveled about an hour to Dafun, where Edward and Bing’s daughter Sharon Kay (together with her cousin Penilin) helps to manage a Bible study center near the college there. While we visited, Dick Baguioen came over to join us. At 5:30 we hosted a class there in the center with 29 of us in attendance together. Ken introduced our topic of “Jesus has a blessing for your future, your present, and your past." Clint started us off by covering the blessings of our future. Next, Jake and Luke both spoke on the blessing Jesus has for our present. Then, I finished our class, which was about an hour to an hour and a half long total, speaking about the blessing He has for our past. Following this, we shared in a meal together and visited for quite a while before piling back into the vehicles and traveling back to Ramon for the night. There, we found the day had caught up with all of us, but we sat in the kitchen for quite a while in spite of that sharing thoughts, and laughing with one another. I especially enjoyed watching Arnolfo teach Luke some of the Ilocano dialect.

This morning, Friday, was a slow morning. I think Edward knew we would need it before the teen gathering which begins here tonight. Bryan, Clint, and I traveled with Edward and Bing to the market in Ramon to be with them while they bought the needed supplies of food. If you are picturing HEB or Kroger, think again – this was nothing remotely like that at all. About sundown, a big rain storm blew in which delayed the arrival of some of the groups coming here. At dinner, just after the amen, the lights went out, and it was pitch black. Ken said perhaps it was God reminding us again that we weren’t in charge after all. Thankfully, they came back on about 20 minutes later.

Now, a large gathering of teens is here, and the activities begin in earnest tomorrow. Kevin who is also here from Cebu will speak tomorrow, and Luke and Jake are to play a role in team building and fun.

I will close with some photos from the last couple of days here, with a thankful heart of what we have been able to share in so far.


Luke celebrating that his checked bag weighed less than mine (barely)

The ride to the plane; we loaded on the tarmac

The descent near Cauayan

Edward’s youngest daughter looking out near the Magat Dam

Some brothers and sisters at Potia (sister Caring in front of Ken)

With the workers who are spreading the Gospel at Ubao

Bulalo (ox knee soup)

Edward and Ken catching up

The class at the Bible study center in Dafun

Luke teaching in Dafun

Smoked fish selection at the market in Ramon


We arrived in Manila as planned on Monday morning here. It would have been about 10pm back home. Seeing Ken, Clint, and Kevin was joy. We were able to pile into one taxi, and we got our first taste of traffic here. I will no longer think of Houston rush hour as anything more than a walk in the park, or even Austin. There is no money I can think of that would be enough to tempt me to go two blocks through the type of driving which we witnessed for I would surely cause an accident. After several outings on jeepneys, walking, and taxis, I still have not understood the underlying rules and etiquette which keep it all flowing somewhat smoothly.

We met Phillip Dumawa, who took care of us later by bringing us dinner so we could get our feet underneath us and catch up with one another in Wilkey’s apartment next to the church chapel before it was time to begin class at 7pm (7:30pm Filipino time; that’s a local joke with which I can already personally identify).

Our both Monday and Tuesday classes were well attended, with about 50 Monday and 30 Tuesday. We had, however, been preparing for about 15, but the increase was a happy blessing. Bryan kicked us off Monday with a class on the underlying reasons for why we believe that the plea of the Restoration movement is so important. After a short break for noodles, I presented my topic which was a look at the development of the American Missionary Society, and the troubles which were associated with it. We finished up about 9:30pm, and after some goodbyes, were in bed by 10:30 or so.

The next morning Bryan and I were up first and had an idea to try our hand at traveling by jeepney alone for some coffee at the McDonald’s about a half mile away, but were soon (probably for the best) saved from that idea by everyone else joining us. But first, we began with some discussion in the apartment, complemented by some fresh pandesal from across the road.

Mid-morning, Phillip drove us to the National Museums, where Ken wanted to share some of the country’s history with us. It was here that we finally came to realize what a spectacle Luke and Jake are here among the young people. They had fun with a group of students who just wanted a photo with them.

Today we were thankful to get to do some visiting with Filipe and Clarita Cariaga in the afternoon, joined by a brother named Ronnie. The evening class was handled by Ken, who gave a presentation on the history of the Restoration movement in the Philippines.

Before bed about 11:30, and after some more visiting with Phillip’s family (his wife Helen prepared adobo) in their home, we had to pack for our trip to the airport at 4:30am the next morning. These two days in-country have been both exhausting physically, but such a blessing in fellowship with our brothers and sisters here. What a fellowship of faith, that wherever we are in the world we can be one people in unity of belief, resolve of conviction, and enthusiasm striving for the same goal of doing what we can as we have the opportunity to serve our Lord and Savior.


Our first ride in a jeepney

Walking in Manila

Wilkey’s Apartment

Bible Study Center in Manila (Wilkey’s apartment is in the pink attached building)

Fellowship and halo-halo

Culture Shock

We left LA about 4:30pm on a 777-300er. Our flight chasing the sun was a good one. It’s hard to describe what is felt like passing that much time on a plane. I had tried preparing myself for the past week, but in the end it passed just fine.

We landed in Taipei at 8:25pm, but it’s plus one day in the calendar coming this direction. We had 10 hours to pass here and no hotel, so we decided to go through immigration, get a stamp in our passports and see the city (we didn’t use our travel funds for this night). We navigated the metro system from the airport to Taipei proper, managing to exchange currency, and figure out the system with not much problem. The people here have been very friendly and eager to help — although the language barrier for the most part has made interactions difficult. One person cleaning sidewalks on the street level of the Taipei main station is one of our new friends here. Though we couldn’t explain what we needed, he was able to help point us on our right way to the next metro station on a map.

We made our way to the Raohe Night Market to see the sights there, but the smells were the biggest cultural shock for me. Stinky Tofu is potent in a humid area enclosed that small. We only had a short time there if we didn’t want to miss the last train back to the main terminal. There, we caught a taxi back to the airport. Our China Airlines boarding pass didn’t help much in explaining to them our intended destination. But, with about four helpers and the four of us, we were finally able to get it nailed down and on our way. The taxi ride was as good as any Six Flags ride, but being as tired as we were with basically no sleep for the previous 36 hours, our level of care was a little less than normal you could say.

Safely back at the airport, we made our way back through customs and tried to make the best of our situation on the sofas near our terminal. The only people in sight for a quarter mile down the hallways here, we wrapped ourselves around our bags and dared to venture off into a small round of sleep. We all woke up after about an hour, but I felt certain before I looked that it had been about four. So, that was a hard sleep from 3am to 4am.

We feel awake, but I know we are tired. Bryan and I agreed that it did actually feel like 4am when it was so perhaps we will be able to flip our days from here. We all feel like we are moving when sitting still. Luke tried to drink a Coca Cola backwards, and Jake almost put the lightening adapter in his ear instead of the earbud. We might be overdone, but we are buzzing with excitement still.

And now, an hour and a half later, the airport is bustling with life, and the team is waiting to board our next plane in the next 45 minutes for Manilla to receive the hugs we’ve been expecting at Terminal 2 there. And I have one to deliver from Margie as well.

Touching the Pacific

We touched down safe in Los Angeles last night at LAX. Luke’s first flight was a success! We beat our schedule and landed before nightfall by about thirty minutes, then we caught a shuttle to pick up our rental car (it was cheaper than getting a shuttle from LAX to Ontario airport), and Bryan drove us around for a bit so we could see the city at night. We had a meal at In-N-Out in Hollywood, and tried to get what sleep we could in the night.

In the morning, Bryan drove us down to Malibu and Luke and I saw the Pacific for the first time. It felt strange to know that no one in my direct ancestral line that I know of ever saw the Pacific, but Luke did beat me to be the first to touch it. Lord willing, we will be seeing the Pacific for the first time from the other side tomorrow.

We are all in good spirits, and there has been a lot of laughter the past 28 hours or so since we started this journey. It was an emotional send off for Paula when she and Laurie dropped us off at the airport in Austin – the day we get back, she will have to drive Luke to Lubbock to move him into his dorm at LCU. We just found out the night before we left, that as an athlete, his move in day is earlier than we had been planning. Suddenly, she lost the last five nights of her oldest child at home which she had been planning on having. Being with him for the next two planned weeks, I am feeling a twinge of guilt at the blessing it is for me under these circumstances.

We are currently about 1/3 of the way into a 13 hour flight. The China Airlines plane we are on still almost has that new plane smell, and the service has been excellent. Even better, the flight is only about 50% full, so Bryan and I have a four seat row to ourselves, and Luke and Jake have the same two rows in front of us – our flight attendants were kind enough to set it up for us this way, even though we were ticketed in the same row originally.

I can’t believe the deal we were able to get that Bryan worked to find for us. Our first plane, that we tried to book on another airline never got ticketed. We were concerned that would mean our prices would be going up. We met with Ken for some advice, and he prayed with us about it. The next morning this plane opened up as a new flight for an even lower price. The only downside was that we were going to be leaving LA at 4pm instead of 9am like our original flight (the original reason we booked the first leg with an overnight to save $1000 per ticket), and we have an overnight layover in Taipei. We were supposed to be in Manilla after 11pm Sunday night, but now we arrive at 9:30am on Monday. All in all, I believe this arrangement has turned out to be much better. We were able to get Luke a first flight, and time to wind down and absorb that experience before jumping on this long haul. Getting to Manilla after 11pm may have been imposing on our guests more than necessary, and the 9:30am seems to be just right after all.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We are ready to be useful however we might to God’s glory and not our own. I am so looking forward to seeing the faces of all the people we feel like we know, even though we have never seen one another face-to-face.

Watching Luke and Jake this last day, has made me proud, and I know Bryan feels the same way.

Right now, I am so thankful for all the people who have helped us along our way. Many helped us by giving to fund our travel. Many have been so encouraging, and of course we have so many who we know are continuing to pray for us. Thank you.

Travel and Work Preparation Update

"God is in charge
and we have no concerns."
– Ken Wilkey

I know Ken likes being quoted (not really), but I couldn't help sharing this bit of encouragement he sent our way. He does know that we have a penchant for sharing his bits of Wilkey-isms whenever we have the opportunity, so he knows he's taking his chances writing anything to us.

Yesterday, I put together our itinerary into a format where I could visually see what our travel is going to look like – sixteen days, nine flights, and one long boat ride. I've also had an update from Wilkey this morning about our work plan on the ground. Not much in general has changed from the original plan, except we will most likely not be able to make a trip to visit the minister on Biliran because of the amount of time we are working in the north. This is still good, however, because we will be able to devote more time to the work in Isabela, and Lord willing, we can make some encouragement on Biliran in another trip.

The update from Ken about our work to be done is as follows:

  • We will share with the Manila brothers on 30-31. We will be sharing about the restoration ideal and some history there. In Manila we will be teaching men who are being trained by the Manila School of Evangelism to preach.
  • From the airport in Cawayan, Isabela, to Barangay General Aguinaldo, Ramon, Isabela, where the majority of our time will be spent.
  • We will visit the Bible Study Center in Diffun, in Quirino Province, where we will have a night class.
  • There is hope that Edward and Dick can transport us to Ifugao for a few hours so we can see the outreach in that area.
  • Friday and Saturday will be full of activities of youths from at least five congregations – this is where Wilkey is expecting Luke and Jake to especially shine.
  • We will have a full Sunday of classes after that.
  • Monday, back to Manila to load up that night on a boat to Cebu, where we will have a class in the Bible Study Center.
  • In addition Ken says, "I have no idea what may be asked of us other than these things." In other words, we are expected to be "tough, flexible, and optimistic" to use the best of every opportunity we have.

Pray for us, that our minds and bodies can be strong, and that we will (1) have opportunities, (2) have boldness, and (3) have the words to say which are most advantageous to bring glory to God.

Here is what our travel looks like, which touches across 16 days.

How did I get here?

By this time next week, we should be waiting to board a 777-300er in L.A., and depart on a 15+ hour journey across the Pacific. In the meantime I'm trying to understand how I got here – I think Wilkey has been playing missionary chess with me, and I didn't even realize it (evidence in photo from two years ago below; look out boys, that means you other four are next).

I have flown a total of one time to D.C. and back in 2009 with Paula, and Luke has never flown. Even for Bryan and Jake who have traveled quite a bit more, including Europe, this is going to be a quite different experience. But when the opportunity presented itself to take our just-graduated sons to the mission field and be with Ken, how could we say no? So, I am counting the hours to the start of this adventure.

Please be praying for us as we prepare. Bryan and I want to be as encouraging and useful as possible while we are there, and our desire is for this journey to leave a spiritual mark on Luke and Jake that will last a lifetime. Having spent so many hours with Ken over the years, and knowing the names of so many there we are anxious to see, I cannot wait for that plane to finally land in Manilla.