All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving in the Philippines

Today I was reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving America.  Originally I was planning to be enjoying my first Thanksgiving in the U.S. in the past four years--turkey, stuffing, smashed potatoes, and my favorite, my wife's green bean casserole.  She also makes the best pies in the world.  But tomorrow, on Thanksgiving Day, there will be none of that here...but I'll still be thankful.  Very thankful! 

You know why?  Because today, like each day before, we delivered food into the hands of people who are truly hungry.   People who've lost nearly everything.  Their houses destroyed.  Their boats wrecked.   Their livelihood--seaweed farms--ruined.  And on top of that, they're hungry.  These people, on the tiny island of Bandit, were extremely thankful for the one meal that they will get to eat today.  A simple meal of rice, sardines and coffee, delivered directly onto their tiny little beach by an R44 helicopter .  Because of the thousands of people who've given and prayed and pitched in to make this possible through a multi-mission and local Philippine church effort, these dear people will get to eat a meal today, and for that, they are extremely grateful.   Sort of puts things into perspective for the rest of us hugh?

So yes, I have a ton to be thankful for this thanksgiving.  First, I'm thankful that I'm able to be here--in a remote corner of the Philippine islands, playing a small part at the spear tip of a multi-mission typhoon relief effort.  A small operation by some standards, but a very effective one, and one that I'm convinced will be proven over time to have been a pivotal part in God's big plans for His church in this area.  Second, I'm thankful that I have the best family a guy could ever have--the most awesomest wife and kids who are willing to give in so many ways so that others around the world might know and experience the love of Jesus.  And finally and most importantly, I'm thankful for Him--Jesus--my Lord and Savior! 

I could list a thousand other things that I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving, but in light of what I'm experiencing here now, I'm just thankful for the big things this year.  There's nothing wrong with turkey and stuffing and football, believe you me!  And the next time I'm in the U.S. over thanksgiving, whenever that is, I'll surly be diving in full-bore!  But sometimes it's good to get a reality check, and realize just how much we take for granted.  That's what we're getting out here in the typhoon-stricken islands of the Philippines.  A reality check and a reminder on what really matters most in life.  So that's what I'm thankful for this year!

Here's a few verbatim quotes from people who are thankful for food today:

"We thank you people from the missions, for is willing to help for the people here in Bandit."  --Jonatan Ulabitir, smiling from ear to ear, having just helped to unload hundreds of kilos of family food packs to share with his fellow villagers, Bandit Island, Philippines. 

"The people here are so very, very happy for all the food things you bring us here!" --Lucilla, grandma to many children and grandchildren on Bandit island that will now get to eat one meal today.  One.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" --untold numbers of people in the crowd, making it known to the pilot, Zack, and me, how thankful they were for food!  Simply food.  Their gratitude really belongs to the myriad of people who've given in so many ways to make this combined effort happen.  Each of you need to know that what you're doing IS making a difference out here! 

Here's a few more pictures from today.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Going to the Philippines

I'm leaving today for the Philippines.   I'll be assisting MAF in giving logistical support to NTM Aviation as they bring desperately needed relief supplies to remote islands devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan.  They're operating two fixed-wing aircraft and a small helicopter which were already serving in in the Philippines prior to the typhoon.

I appreciate your prayers for Joy and the kids while I'm gone.  Also, please pray for traveling safety and safety in our relief operations in the Philippines.   Mostly, continue to pray for the tens of thousands of people so profoundly affected by this disaster and struggling to survive, or coping with the loss of those who didn't.  Pray that Christ's love would be evident in and through the help that we bring.

It depends on the Internet and time available, as to whether or not I'll be able to post anything here while I'm gone.  I'm also not entirely sure how long I'll be gone.  If I'm able, I'll post an update here once in a while.  Meanwhile, I'm sure MAF and NTM will have updates on their websites.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Glacier National Park 2

Here's a few more shots from Glacier.

This is from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the most spectacular and scenic roads in the country. We really only got to enjoy these views for a few minutes the first day on our way to find a camp sight.  The rest of the time we were there, the sky was obscured by clouds and fog much of the time.

Like this.

We did manage to squeeze in a hike up near Logan Pass, in between sleet and rain showers.  Here's a few shots from that.

We were really hoping to camp and spend a lot of time in the Many Glacier area, but alas, the campground was full when we first got to the park, and the weather was pretty crumby.  We drove up from Two Medicine campground where we were staying to do some hiking one day, but this was the only view we got as we approached the Many Glacier area from the East.  By the time we got into the valley, it was totally socked in with low clouds and absolutely pouring.  And the temperature was in the 40's.  We were freezing!  So we ate our picnic lunch in the car, and after waiting around a bit, finally gave up on hiking in the Many Glacier area.

We did, however, get to see a nice little bear not far from the road on our way out.  He (or she) seemed to be foraging for food among the bushes and rocks by the road.  Doesn't he/she look wet and cold?  From our ranger classes that we later took at Yellowstone, I believe it is a cinnamon-colored black bear.  The big, pronounced ears are a dead giveaway, as well as the shape of the shoulders and rump.  We did get to see a HUGE grizzly while we were hiking up near Logan Pass, though it was quite far away.  And there was a grizz that came right up to the edge of our campground, the next day.

Stay tuned for one more post from Glacier National Park, with some of the best scenery pics still to come!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Glacier National Park 1

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." -- Revelation 4:11 (ESV)

In September we had the privilege of tent-camping as a family in some of the most beautiful National Parks our country has to offer.  The gorgeous scenery was like medicine for our tired souls--straight from the hand of our Creator.  And it worked!

We started our "therapy" in the northern Rockies, at Glacier National Park.  We wound up camping at Two Medicine campground (not our original plan, but that's another story.)  The campground was located a long way from the rest of the park, way up in this valley, where the clouds and mountains converge.

It was a gorgeous place!  Here's a panoramic photo from our phone, looking out over the lake in front of the campground.

We saw mountain goats, sheep, and bear, as well as a bunch of birds, squirrels, gophers, caterpillars, butterflies, and lots of other stuff.  Every night an owl would hoot as we fell asleep.

To be honest, we were freezing during most of our time there.  It seemed to rain about every other 20 minutes, and the wind would blow something fierce.  The temperatures were between the 30's and 50's, which to our tropically-adjusted bodies felt like the North Pole!  But the kids still wanted to play by the lake, even in shorts and flip-flops.  They wanted to go swimming too, but that's where I drew the line.  I might have let them try except that firewood was expensive and it would have taken a lot of it to warm them back up again! :-)

We did some hiking too, though it was tough to get very far because it kept raining...and hailing.  I think we were the only morons in all of Glacier National Park that didn't have somekind of gor-tex winter gear, or at least some rain gear of some kind.  Shoot, we didn't even have an umbrella!  The rapidly changing weather made for some dramatic skies and drastic changes in scenery, which is good for photography...if you can keep your camera dry.

I can't imagine what we must have looked like, walking around  shivering and chattering, wearing shorts and crocs, with our mouths wide open, oohing and awing and pointing, just trying to take it all in.  But we didn't care.  It was glorious!  The best type of medicine, besides maybe laughing.  But we did plenty of that too!

The colors of Autumn were just beginning to flare up in a few stands of woods and brush.  Since it's been four years since we've experienced fall, and since a few of our kids couldn't even remember it at all, this was really special.  Again, mouths wide open.  Staring.  Uncaring.  Loving it!

Check back soon for the next installment of our time at Glacier National Park!