The Philippine Chronicles, 6

We're at the new island now, and we're a little over halfway through our trip. So, they were gracious enough to plan into our hectic schedule a day to kinda relax and take it easy. I say that to give you fair warning that this post may seem cush and trivial when considered against everything else we've been doing. That's because it is. However, it's also needed and part of what makes a Compassion vision trip so effective, but I won't get into all that now. I woke up this morning and went to the lobby area (it's not really inside, so I don't know if it is actually a lobby) so I could use the internet. I grabbed some breakfast, bought an hour worth of wi-fi from the front desk and then called Liza on Skype (which rules, by the way; free plug for Skype). I also was able to post about yesterday, though I didn't quite finish it before we left, but it should be finished by now.

We then went to Nice's church (she's one of the LDP's that might be with us this summer). It was the 61st anniversary of the church. This means that it was founded in 1947 soon after the Japanese had been occupying the Philippines during WWII. So, the service was really centered around that, and they had pulled out all the stops. There was a lot of singing and a lot of dancing. However, it wasn't really what I had expected. It was pretty modernized, a nice church building, a sound system, a live band, a screen and a projector. But it was still really cool to just see the people worshipping there and to hear how proud and joyful they are. And I mean really joyful. I won't get off on a tangent here (even though I could), but I'll just say that one of the things that has made it difficult for me to find a church lately is that people seem to have anything but joy at a lot of churches I visit or else it seems to be completely contrived (yes, I'm being judmental by saying that, I guess, but that's not really the point). Anyway... before the service started there was a little boy running around the front just playing with a balloon. He would even run up onstage sometimes if his balloon got away from him and ended up there. I leaned over and asked Taylor what he thought would happen if a little boy was running around the stage playing before one of the services at our churches. We decided some uber-important dude, would get onto him or chide his mother for not making him stop.

After the church they had prepared food and drinks for people to hang around and spend time together to celebrate the church's anniversary. Of course we immediate found ourselves with plates full of stuff. I sampled everthing and some of it was pretty good, like the banana chips and banana bread. However, there was also some kind of tamale thing, and it wasn't so hot. They also gave us bottles of some red drink that they called red tea. It tasted like Kool Aid. I was hot so I drank all of mine. Later we found out they had made it. Supposedly the water had been boiled, but the bottle may have been cleaned out with who know's what. A waiting game ensued to see if anyone would show symptoms of some horrible stomach illness. We didn't, but it did make us feel like a bunch of pansies, like, "oh, I'm sorry. I can't have what you prepared for me. I'm American. Our stomachs are weak. We really only eat processed foods."

After "fellowshipping" for awhile, we hopped on our vans and came back to the hotel (Actually, to be perfectly honest, it's more like a resort. No, it is a resort). We changed and caught a boat across to another island to a beach (I can hear your groans now). We ate lunch there and spent the afternoon engaging in various activities. I'll spare you the details of the $10 hour-long massages by the water that had a little Filipino lady bending Graham like a pretzel or the snorkeling outing to an outlying coral reef where a sea serpent was spotted.

So, after our afternoon of nothing important, we came back to the resort, changed again, and went to a "cultural dinner." That phrase can mean anything so we didn't know what to expect. The dinner was good. The hotel catered it. But here's the deal... evidently we're the first (or possibly the second, depending on who you ask) Compassion advocate group to visit Davao City. That's because the island we're on (Mindalau) is known for its criminal and terrorist activity (though it's nowhere near us). So, whenever the Filipino Compassion office suggests that groups come here, the American office in Colorado Springs says "no." But for some reason they let us come. Hmm... Anyway, the Compassion LDP graduates and alumni association were so excited for us to be here (and for our coming to hopefully open doors for other groups to visit in the future) that they planned the whole evening for us. There was worship and singing and dancing and all kinds of fun.

One singing group consisted of four cousins who were all former Compassion children. They were amazing. Very personable and incredible singers as well as performers.

The last dance the group performed was with these two long bamboo poles on the ground that two people would slap together on every third beat. The dancers would dance in between the poles avoiding the slaps. After they were done, of course, they wanted us to join in. I was the second to give it a try, and I have to say that I didn't do that bad.

At the end of the night, though, came the culmination of everything. The balut challenge.

Let me give some history here. There's a show on the travel channel called Strange Foods or something like that. Basically, this guy goes around to different places and tastes of the local cuisine, no matter how bizarre it might be. Taylor saw an episode before we left where this dude was in the Philippines and ate some kind of cooked baby duck out of an egg.

On the first day we were here we asked the Filipinos about it. They lit up and said that this food had been featured on Fear Factor as well and that it really was a common delicacy around here. So, we've been talking about trying it all week, like really trying to gas each other up. So, Nice contacted her sister here in Davao and had her prepare two dozen of the things. Not everyone tried it and not everyone finished it, but it was great fun for all, Filipino and American alike.

Below is a video of the experience intercut with Pattie's explanation of just what it is. Some of the audio sucks, and some settings got jacked on the camera so parts might be a little grainy, but you'll get the idea.

And that's that. We see our last project tomorrow, and we've still got a ton of filming to do. Pray for us.

Signing off.