A Retreat for the Macads

11 10 2016


Our family just spent three days in Paradise here in the Philippines. We attended a missionary retreat at the Re-Creation Center (RRC) in Rizal Laguna. It was a CMPI (Christian Missions in the Philippines) missionary retreat for all missionaries commended by CMML (Christian Missions in Many Lands) and MSC (Missions Sending Committee). Wow, that was a lot of letters… All of that to say, we connected with about 25 other missionaries doing all different sorts of things all over the Philippines.

We had to drive 15 hours to get there (Okay I admit it, Achao did most of the driving…I drove for about 1o minutes…) but once we arrived we knew it was going to be worth it. RRC is a sprawling resort with acres perfectly manicured lawns and gardens. There was swimming pools, basketball courts, trampolines, giant chess boards and more, for the kids. They enjoyed getting to know some other missionary kids while Achao and I got to attend some great encouraging seminars from a preacher from New Zealand. Well, Achao couldn’t really understand his accent so he let me attend most of them while he watched the kids.

I love all the new connections we have made and look forward to seeing where they lead in the coming months and years. I have already agreed to help one bible translator put together a “safe delivery” pamphlet that he can translate into a local language where he is working so that he can give to the pregnant women he works with.

We are back to work, feeling refreshed. Kids are back to school (well, aside from Zion refusing to go yesterday…) Achao will continue to oversee construction at the Bugnay Birth Center and I will continue training and working with the midwives here in Tabuk City.

I will update again soon as it is officially Christmas season now in the Philippines!

Good-bye Apu

6 10 2015
Apu with Emmaus a few years ago.

Apu with Emmaus a few years ago.

Apu Bas-il is one of the very first people I met when I went to Bugnay back in 2004. He was one of the oldest members of the community and also the most welcoming.

One of my favourite memories of Apu was back in 2005 when my fellow missionary Crystal and I were staying in Bugnay for a month. There had been a typhoon and the water source close to the village was cut off. Crystal and I had to hike down to the community bathing area for our baths. We chose a time of the day when all the men would be in the fields so that we could have privacy. So there we were taking our baths … and out of the trees pops Apu on his way to check on his tobacco. He didn’t even look twice at these two half-naked (okay pretty much totally naked) white girls. He just kept on his way saying “You are taking a bath, and I am going to the fields.” We stood there shocked for a few minutes and then burst into laughter.

When I married Apu Bas-il’s grandson in 2007 he couldn’t have been happier. He would often travel the 4-hour jeepney ride to visit us at our home in Tabuk and spend hours playing with my kids. He was an amazing, generous, gentle man.

Visiting Apu in Bugnay.

Visiting Apu in Bugnay.

Well, a few weeks ago I got a text message from the Bugnay staff that Apu was getting very weak and his children weren’t sure if he would survive the night. As soon as we got the text, Achao and his dad (who had been staying with us) left for Bugnay to see if anything could be done.

The Bugnay clinic staff also let us know that Apu had symptoms of a urinary tract infection. No one in his family wanted to take him to the hospital because he was old already and they didn’t think he could make the trip. So, my staff started him on IV medications and pain reliever for his infection and Achao brought up a new mattress and some pillows with him when he went.

A few days later our whole family went up to see Apu and to say good-bye to him. I prepared the kids that Apu would be very weak and thin and that he may have a difficult time speaking. I explained that we were going to say good-bye because he was going to go and be with Jesus soon.

The boys hike into Bugnay to visit Apu for the last time.

The boys hike into Bugnay to visit Apu for the last time.

Well, he was very thin and weak when we got there but he was comfortable. He knew all of us, which was so nice because a few days previously he wasn’t very lucid. We spent the day with Apu and fed him and talked to him. The kids all got to give him a kiss and say good-bye.

In his last few weeks Apu was not left alone for even a moment. One of his friends or relatives were always by his side until he passed on just last week.

Bugnay will not be the same without Apu Bas-il, but we are rejoicing with him that he is with Jesus and he has no more pain and has a strong body once again.

On A Personal Note …

16 09 2015

It is a rainy, cool day here in Tabuk City, Kalinga and I am having a quiet day at home. I was thinking that some of my blog readers may be interested in knowing a little about what our day-to-day life looks like here in the Philippines.

I imagine most of the joys and struggles that families experience are pretty much the same regardless of where we are in the world. However I suppose some things are different.


We usually get what we need for our meals every day at the market. We don’t have a big fridge (or ref as it is called here) so we hit the market every day and see what they have. Depending what time of year it is, different fruits and veggies will be available. It is an open market with people calling out to you to buy from them. Some days there will be frogs, eels, bats and maybe even be a cow’s head for sale. I usually skirt by those vendors and choose the chicken, Tilapia or beans. Not very adventurous, I know!

Zion and Lucas at the market.

Zion and Lucas at the market.


Emmaus is in grade two now and he leaves for school at 7:00am (usually getting up 10 minutes before it’s time to leave) and comes home for lunch from 11:30-1:30 and then back to school until 4:30pm. It is a long day! Trying to get any homework in at the end of that day is nearly impossible. And he does get homework as well as exams every quarter! Emmaus is one of the few English-speaking kids in his class so he has been learning lots of Ilokano from his friends. Emmaus also has a Tagalog class and he needs to know Butbut to speak to his grandparents. Lucas is in Kindergarten and so has it a bit easier – for now!

Emmaus school ID which MUST be worn every day.

Emmaus school ID which MUST be worn every day.


I know for a lot of families in my home country of Canada, family time is spent on ball fields, hockey rinks, soccer fields etc. For us, that isn’t really an option as there aren’t any organized sports teams for kids. I am sure some of you moms and dads think that sounds like heaven! 🙂 Our family pretty much spends all of our time together as work and regular life seem to happen simultaneously. If I need to go into the clinic, I will take some of the kids with me and they will play with some of the other kids who came with their moms. If Achao needs to go in search of supplies for a building project, he will pack the kids in the multicab and head out to look for it.

Ok I have to say it – Vacations in the Philippines are awesome. We only need to drive for 4-5 hours before we reach an amazing beach with white sands and clear blue water. Who wants to visit?

Pagudpud Paradise

Pagudpud Paradise


This has been the area of our lives that Achao and I have probably had the most “discussions” about. For the Kalinga culture it is seen as an honor to host guests so when we were first married we had a constant stream of visitors coming to “honor” us by letting us cook, clean and host them for days at a time. In the past few years it has slowed down; I probably offended someone by asking how long they were planning on staying or something. But now it is pretty much just close family members who show up unannounced, planning to stay indefinitely. This I don’t mind at all as it means that Achao’s dad comes often and stays with us. He is a genuine pleasure and we have told him that he can live with us forever.

The day that Apu Awoy caught a small bird and tied its foot for the boys to place with … Mom untied it pretty quickly.

The day that Apu Awoy caught a small bird and tied its foot for the boys to place with … Mom untied it pretty quickly.

Emmaus First Day of School

8 06 2012

Emmaus had his first day of school on Wednesday. He had been asking to wear his uniform every day for two weeks previously. He did very well at his first day. I realize now though that the two of us need to learn the words to the Filipino national anthem as they sing it every morning!
Enjoy the cute pics.



Looking very handsome in his uniform.


Hands on heart for the National Anthem.

Miracle Baby in My Family

27 04 2012

I have to tell some very exciting news.

My sister-in-law Channic had a healthy baby boy at our clinic last week.

Channic, Emmaus and CJ.

This was a miracle.

This is Channic’s fifth baby boy. Only one of them has been born alive and was delivered by C-section in 2010. The reason he was born by C-section was that I couldn’t stand the thought of her losing another baby for some unknown cause and so Achao and I paid for her to have the operation at a private hospital two weeks before she was due to deliver.

When I found out Channic was pregnant again last year I asked her what she was going to do. Would she get another Cesarean? She said that she didn’t know. Channic didn’t go for any prenatal check-ups in her village and then came to my house last week saying that her labor was starting.

I was so worried! I knew that is was Sunday and that the possibility of getting adequate care at the hospital was very slim. I called one of the doctors to see if we could have an emergency ultrasound to see if everything looked ok with the baby, but because it was Sunday there was no key to the ultrasound room.

B-lyn and I talked about what to do. We knew that if we took her to the hospital she wouldn’t be monitored until she was thought to be fully dilated and even then the baby’s heart beat still may not be monitored. We decided to keep her at the clinic and closely monitor her and the baby.

Channic labored quickly with seemingly no problems. After about an hour she told me that she felt like pushing. I checked the heartbeat again and it started dropping! I quickly checked her and she was only 7cm and the head was still high. The heartbeat kept dropping… I tried to call the hospital but there was no one picking up. We told Channic to push as hard as she could and I dilated her cervix while she pushed. The baby came out within 5 minutes of the initial drop in heartrate. He needed just a little resuscitation and was crying like a champ! So was I! I was crying and thanking God for this little miracle. If Channic would have stayed at home for delivery, or even delivered at the hospital without constant monitoring, little baby CJ wouldn’t be here today.

I am not sure why Channic has lost so many babies; maybe it is placental-insufficeincy that causes the babies to crash as the labor gets stronger.

What I do know is that I am thankful to God for CJ being here with us!

On Our Way

30 05 2011

We have left Tabuk on the looong way to Canada. We took the 12 hour bus ride last night and are now in Manila awaiting our flight to Davao. While in Davao we will attend the going-away party of our former volunteer, Abigail and visit Mercy Maternity Center where I trained in 2004. Then another flight back to Manila and we will be on our way to Canada! This picture really says it all about the long trip ahead of us. 🙂