The Ubuntu Journey continues with our sisters traveling to Sierra Leone.
http://ubuntusl2012.blogspot.com/

Please keep them in your prayers!!

Janet

Julie’s Trip Home….

“[My flight was scheduled to leave Manila for New York on Saturday since I did not go to Seoul] Emma, [one of our Ubuntu sisters], and her husband came…early Saturday and we made our way slowly to the airport. There were torrential rains during the night and early morning so part of Manila was flooded again [as it had been last month prior to our arrival]. We headed down one street but couldn’t tell how high the water was in the dim light of pre-dawn but Emma’s husband moved slowly. Then we saw that someone was walking through the water over knee deep. He backed down the way we came and took another route. I arrived safely at the airport before 5:00 a.m. to find a long, long line. After 2 ½ hours I reached the ticket counter. In the line I had heard my flight was delayed so I was not worried but concerned about how much time was passing. Anyway, everyone missed their connecting flights and the counter agent was telling me I would be put up in Narita at Delta’s expense. I expressed concern about that since I don’t know anyone in Japan and they offered to let me stay in Manila overnight. A big group of us were directed to a waiting area where we spent another hour before being loaded onto a van to go to [a nearby hotel].  I was… glad to get some food, have a bathroom and be able to rest. Emma kept up with me but I asked her not to come over because she and her group had spent so much time with our event; I know they have other things to do. Still, she called and texted to be sure I was ok. On Sunday, I traveled together with a nun who is president of St. Joseph’s School in Manila and was going to visit her nieces in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. It was nice for both of us to have a companion so it felt less lonely navigating the trip home. I got off at JFK and she went on to FL. A nice perk to all this was that my flight from Narita to JFK was in business class. I don’t know why but it was much more comfortable for those 13 hours. What was not a perk was that I got home about 5:00 p.m. on Sunday and had to get myself together for work on Monday. Monday was a long day. And one of my suitcases looked like someone dragged it through the mud. I’ve cleaned the outside but the contents were wet. On Sunday I spread everything out around the apartment and yesterday was able to put most of it away or in the wash.”

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Coming Home

Our group started getting smaller on Friday when one member stayed in Manila while the rest of us headed to Seoul.  Early Monday morning, one member had to leave an hour earlier than the rest of us….then we were a team of 4, navigating the Seoul airport….my bags were searched and then rescanned…all of our bags (all passengers) were inspected again just before we boarded the plane…bless Kit’s heart, she was pulled aside for an additional pat-down…but her positive attitude kept us happy.  We all agreed that with the latest overseas embassy attacks, we don’t mind being searched.   Upon arrival in Atlanta after a 14 hour flight, we waited for Customs, immigration, bag check and bag transfer, then security. We took the train to our gates ..Kit, Bobbi and Meredith’s flights departed from a different gate than mine, so we waved goodbye as the train left the station.  My flight was on time, but slow to load because of a delay for our flight attendants’ prior flight.  I smiled when the announcer said, “ladies and gentlemen, we’re missing a flight attendant and will begin boarding soon.”. I said aloud, “is she hiding under the seats?”. And a nearby passenger awaiting a different flight erupted into laughter.  At that moment, I thought, it’s good to be on home soil, a stranger caught the joke. 

A few moments later, that same passenger said, “holy cow, it’s pouring down rain.”. I said, “planes have windshield wipers”. He asked, “aren’t you scared?”. I said, “no.  All is well.  We left Korea in worse weather and a typhoon headed toward us.”. He said, “but the runway is slick and cars hydroplane”. I said, “that’s the difference between cars and planes.  God made planes with wings to fly.”.

His tension eased and when I turned around, he was gone. 

I slept on the flight to Charlotte and saw my checked bag on the conveyor belt with no problem.  Jim picked me up a few moments later and we headed home.  I slept like a rock for 3 hours, had a bite to eat and then slept again…hopefully, around 2 a.m., I’ll get sleepy again. 

Thank you again for all of your thoughts, prayers and kind comments.  It has been a joy to share our Ubuntu Journey to the Philippines with you.  More pictures will be posted as they are made available and as we each continue the mission outreach with our sisters in the Philippines. 

If you are interested in being part of the 2013 journeys to Chile, South Korea or Zimbabwe, please go to the United Methodist Women’s Division home page and search Ubuntu.

May you continue to be a blessing to others. 

Janet Morgan
Western North Carolina Conference
Ubuntu Philippines 2012

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Immersion – Manggahan – Part 3

Sleeping on bamboo floors must take practice, Meredith and I slept fitfully.  Local military walked through the village near the house and dogs barked at various times in the night.  We were never in danger, just a little unnerved. 

For breakfast, we enjoyed peanut butter sandwiches and fried rice. 

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After breakfast, we walked to the river to take a bath. 
We rode in a boat which was made from a hollowed coconut tree.

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kids walking to school from the neighboring village.

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After bathing, we rode back across the river and met with the farmers.  While we were bathing, Angie’s helpers started mixing concrete for the staff house steps to the comfort room. 

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The farmers’ meeting was supposed to start at 9 a.m.  but they didn’t see Angie, they only saw Meredith and me and they left. 

Finally, at 10:30, Edward found them, and we met with them to talk about a cow and a goat pen. 
Angie worked through a situation that they have with a cow (it’s actually still a calf that’s not big enough to work) and the need for food was again discussed due to the recent flooding.  The Dumagat people are not looking for hand-outs, they like working with Angie who helps them take ownership of their own solutions. They expressed a need for a goat shed.  This is where Angie really impressed me,  in exchange for a bag of rice, Harris Memorial will provide nails and the villagers will also help with repairs to the staff house so that Angie and the other Harris volunteers can have a safe place to stay on their weekly visits. 

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After a consensus, we closed the meeting.  On behalf of the Ubuntu team, we presented the head farmer with a donation.  He in turn gave it to Angie as a sign of their partnership.  They all agreed that the donation would be the seed money for the community health workers start-up funds to make cough syrup and ointment.

They also said that I have an open invitation to come back and teach them to make soap; they have plenty of coconuts and wood ash. 

We started back down the mountain to Manila.  7.5 hours later (including a 3 hour ride in the back of the truck on a bumpy road, a van, and 2 taxis) we arrived back at Shalom Center in Metro Manila where we met our team members for dinner at Mr. Poon’s which features 7 kinds of steamed whole fish and watermelon shakes.

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This section of the journey will be forever imprinted on my heart and I will use the skills observed in Angie to better my own communication skills.  What a blessing.

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Seoul Stop-Over Part 2

Prior to the Miso Theatre show, we met with Dr. Reverend Hae Sun Kim who has been in Korea for the last 5 years establishing the Scranton Women’s Leadership Center.  Such a privilege to have a typical Korean dinner with Hae Sun and her associate Irene and office manager Julia.  The invitation alone was amazing.  Hae Sun also walked us through a Buddhist temple where we saw the simple beauty and wonder of the area.  Then, we witnessed a fist-fight at a nearby store.. and I thought, “fighting beside the temple grounds….that’s not cool.”.

On Saturday, we rode a tour bus to the DMZ and the freedom train stop.  It was the first time Kathy had ever been to this active site of tunnels created by North Koreans in hopes of attacking the South Koreans and destroying Seoul.  4 tunnels have been discovered and we visited the Third Tunnel.  We were vigilant and kept our passports on us at all times. 
(More photos to follow in the coming weeks)

After the half day tour, we were tired and hungry.  Kathy and Susan did an excellent job navigating the city for us and we were able to eat lunch in a small, local place probably not known for its food, bit it was just the place we needed to reassess our immediate frustration with fatigue and hunger.  Alain, our team leader Jeanie brought us together.  Half of the group went back to the hotel and the other half of us walked briefly through a local market. 

We met at 5 pm on the grounds of Ewha Girl’s School and saw the original classroom where Mrs Scranton started teaching as a missionary in the late 1800s.  An American widow from Ohio traveled to Seoul at the age of 50 after her husband died.  Mrs. Scranton’s legacy is visible in so many places.  (More photos will be added next week).

After a tour of the school, we enjoyed dinner of bibipap and walked to see a Korean theatre production of Nanta.  It’s a mixture of Marx brothers, Gallagher and Stomp… Absolutely hilarious.  I was shocked and thrilled to be chosen as an audience member to go on stage to be part of a skit.  The props were a lot lighter than I thought and of course, they were surprised that I was so tall… 🙂
(More photos to follow)

We returned to our rooms to relax,  prepare for devotions and for church the next morning.

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On Sunday morning, we attended the traditional service at the first Methodist church ever built in Seoul.  There must’ve been 500 people in this service alone…and that doesn’t include the full orchestra, and choir consisting of 75 members.  The music was wonderful.  Even though the words were in a different language and not something that I could even pronounce, we sang what we could in English.  The anthems sounded like professional theatre.  We could’ve attended the afternoon service in English, but that would not have been the same. 

We ate gimbap (a traditional Korean wrap) that really “hit the spot”.

Our team leader knows the importance of “re-entry” after a mission trip.  We needed the technology and the coffee shop so that we wouldn’t be bombarded when we return to our own lives in a few hours. 

At 5 a.m. Monday the 17th, we awoke so we could meet the bus that would take us to the airport. 

As I type this, I’m sitting on a plane somewhere over North America with only 4 hours until landing in Atlanta.  This will post after I’ve landed and hopefully have seen my husband. 

Thank you for your readership, your prayers and your positive thoughts for our team during this wonderful mission journey. 

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Janet
8:10 p.m. Incheon Time (7:10 a.m. Eastern Monday, 9/17)

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Seoul Stop-Over – Part 1

Our stop-over in Seoul was a late addition to the original Ubuntu journey.  Kathy and Susan were both born in Korea and immigrated to the United States long before I was born.

When we arrived, they were so excited to show.us everything they could.  A few hours after we landed, we met with Irene who gave us a tour of Ewha Womans University.  Irene will be the hostess team leader for Ubuntu Korea 2013.  We learned the history and ongoing works of this wonderful United Methodist University.  We stood on the steps of Pfeiffer Hall, named for the benefactors….yes, the same Pfeiffers of Pfeiffer University in North Carolina.

At lunch, we met with long-term missionaries Dwight and Sunny Strawn – both retired and yet working full-time teaching English. We rode a city tour bus and walked to the top of mountain overlooking the city.  (More pictures will be posted after Bobbi, Kathy and I upload our memory cards from our other cameras.)

For a treat in the evening, we saw a Korean theatre production called Miso.  A beautiful production.

Ending the night with devotions, we made pla.s for the next day’s visit to the DMZ.

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Thursday – free day & leaving Manila

On Thursday, we began a new process of packing up…and our wonderful volunteers, Apol and Ernest, graciously navigated us through the train stations and riding a jeepney so that we could go shopping for trinkets and souveniers.  We met the executive committee for dinner at Shakey’s pizza in the Robinson Place Mall

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And with that, we piled into vans and headed to the airport.  Vic, our driver from Sunday, is wonderful.  He and I joked like brothers as he navigated the crazy traffic.  Once at the airport, weade our way through customs and headed for a 3 day stop-over in Seoul, Korea.

We arrived Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. still exhausted. 

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Wednesday – Distribution with Asunción Pérez

Wednesday morning, we awoke to the smells of garlic and fish cooking below us…we moved to a room across the hall at Shalom, so it wasn’t as noisy or damp as our previous room, but the 5 a.m. aroma was quite interesting. 

We rode as a group to Metro Manila and the Asunción Pérez outreach center, part of the Methodist church right beside the location where many of our street kids live.  We met for a brief worship service with the families who registered the previous day and even some who did not register.  We gave each family member a bag packed by Julie, Rubie Joy, Kathy and Susan the previous day. 

Wednesday afternoon, we gathered in the Shalom Conference Room and processed all of our activities from the previous week.  So many things went through our minds.  Words like trust, love, acceptance, empowerment  and bonds rang true over and over.  Yes, tearfully, we said our goodbyes. 

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Immersion – Manggahan Part 2

After a 7 hour ride, we arrived in a remote village of the Dumagat indigenous people called Manggahan. Children in white shirts and navy skirts and shorts walked from small open-air classrooms.  We were greeted by the mothers of preschoolers and the kindergarten teacher, Arden. 

Angie introduced us and translated the purpose of meeting.  Teams from Harris partner with this village and others on a weekly basis regarding their concerns, needs and projects; think of it as a weekly team and status meeting.  First, we met the mothers of the preschoolers and learned that most of the women had between 3 and 12 children often with the youngest openly nursing.

Angie skillfully addressed their complaints and found that the crux of the problem is that they don’t have enough food.  This farming community’s rice crop was destroyed after last month’s flood and torrential rain.  Many times, mothers nurse their babies until they are 3 or 4 years old years old.  They may not even be producing milk, but the breast is both pacifier and source of nutrition. 

Arden reminded the mothers of the importance of sending their children to school on a regular basis.  The oldest mother replied, “it’s easier for our children to go work with us in the forests and fields than to send them to school.  At least in the forest, they can get a snack.”

Angie emphasized the importance of education and found that they were also concerned about the failed vegetable crops and that they do not have the funds to buy rice. 

Arden proudly showed us the school’s garden boasting raised beds and some beans ready to pick. Several families picked a handful of beans that they would use for several days’ meals. 

After the mothers’ meeting, we met with 3 community health workers who double as doctor and midwife.  They are all trained in how to use the birthing kits that many of our UMW sisters across the United States make each year.  The birthing kit contains a piece of plastic, two strands of twine, a bar of soap, two small blankets and a razor blade.  They could not specifically say how many babies that they helped into the world, but they said, “all of them in this and two other villages”.

Dumagat people see children as a prosperous gift and it is the outside world that has a problem with the number of children.  In this farming community, when crops are abundant, food is abundant…and life is wonderful.  When crops fail, everyone suffers. 

The week prior to our arrival, the health workers met with someone who taught them to make cough syrup and antiseptic ointment from the surrounding rain forest.  The problem?  They need stainless steel bowls to make the medicines.  They all agreed that this start-up would be their community’s main priority. 
Angie again worked her magic of partnering and the group had a plan. 

At this point, we parted with the health workers and started taking our overnight bags and food to the staff house at the top of the hill. 

We walked by the UMCOR deep water drilling site which will provide fresh drinking water instead of having to haul water from the river. 

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The staff house is made of bamboo with a thatched roof and bamboo floor.  We made a peanut butter sandwich, walked up the hill behind the house to the “Comfort Room”.

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We rolled up our pants to go to the CR (aka “the john”, toilet, restroom, water closet, etc) and took our own TP and flashlight…to flush, we dipped water from the blue barrel and poured it into the bowl until the water was clear. 

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The fireflies were beautiful and the sounds of barking dogs, frogs and unknown animals was wonderful music compared to the traffic noise of Metro Manila.  The bedroom was 6′ x 6’…Meredith, Jenn and I slept on the floor on 1/2 inch insulated foam and the others slept in the other raised section of the house…each bamboo section bending as we moved.
There was a car battery in our room that was used to light a single bulb for the house.  It was turned off around 11 p.m.

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Immersion – Manggahan Part 1

Immersion.  The word alone scared me.  It was the unknown factor.  Sunday night, after devotions, Kit said, “tomorrow is going to be so exciting!” Her exuberance was infectious.  And I was still nervous.  After a week of travel, new sights, sounds and smells, I didn’t know what else I could possibly see.  

Julie stopped by the room that Meredith and I shared and said, “this is a text from Jenn, ‘we have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that there is no power in the village.  The good news is that we get to ride a truck that hauls concrete blocks.'”

It took a short discussion and prayer to alleviate the fears.  Remember our word “depende”? Well that word was coming back again and again.. and I was looking for a bit of structure.  Bobbi’s bible study from a few days prior came to mind and I told Jeanie, Meredith and Julie that “I am so accustomed to being a ‘Martha’..doing, planning, fussing over things, that I am having a difficult time being a ‘Mary’, sitting and drinking-in the wisdom”.

Words of reassurance reminded me that we were all a little scared…yet I was the one crying and being hard on myself.  I was unreasonably thinking that I would be left in a remote area or that we would be stranded and homeless.

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Janet eating animal crackers and peanut butter the night before immersion

The next morning, Meredith, Jenn and I rode with Jeanie, Kit and Bobbi, to a point where we were dropped off so we could catch a taxi.  The taxi driver stopped at McDonalds so we could grab something to eat…

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From there, Meredith, Jenn and I rode a taxi to Harris Memorial College where we met with a local UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief) volunteer named Edward and a former Harris Graduate named Angie who works as a community organizer in the Manggahan community. 

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The chaplain drove us to meet the truck, driven by Angie’s son.  It was like riding in the back of a pick-up truck loaded with cinder blocks, lots of bottled water and a few workers who didn’t speak English. 

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We rode for an hour to Taytay, then when we turned off the paved road, I immediately felt peace. 

After another 3 hours on a bumpy, rutted road, we arrived at the village. 

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