Beauty and the Beast

My family spent the last several days on a Kivu trip to a most inspiring place - the islands of El Nido in the Palawan province of the Philippines.

These islands are chunks of black limestone arranged quite closely, so that a wonderful adventure can be cobbled together visiting island after island.

Almost immediately I wanted to scope out climbing destinations, but upon close inspection of the limestone I found that Kevlar gloves might be necessary.

The heavy rains that come during the monsoon season have created sharp, serrated edges on the rock that would chew up ropes, shoes and human bodies in short order.  Click the picture to the left to check out the climbing horror fest!

We stayed at the El Nido Resort in the nature preserve.  It's first-class accommodations for sure, with excellent food, service and activities.

We snorkeled gorgeous coral reefs with multicolored fish of every variety.  We kayaked through crystal clear bays and hidden coves with towering ramparts surrounding us.

We climbed a few routes on smooth rock, we windsurfed, we hiked, we watched the monkeys, we avoided hordes of jellyfish, we detoured around the occasional poisonous sea snake, we sat in stillness on pristine beaches that looked like they came out of King Kong or Jurassic Park.

With the parents of the teenagers that came we talked theology and kids and worldviews and philosophy and business and accountability and book reviews.

We ate every sort of Asian dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we snacked on mangoes 'till we sloshed inside.

Josh and Dylan received hats from the resort made from palm fronds.  They had no reservations about wearing these works of art through the giant Mall of Asia in Manila.  Oh the looks they got from the mystified locals! 

Yes, El Nido is truly a spectacular place.  It's beauty like no other spot on earth.

But like the rest of the fallen world in which we live, El Nido has a beastly aspect as well.  El Nido Town, a 45 minute boat trip from the resort, is yet another example of the effects of poverty.

So one of the large-scale goals of the trip was to help International Care Ministries in the Philippines with their projects in El Nido Town.

Specifically, we assisted in the construction of two homes for the poor, and we helped provide dental care in another part of the town.

I cut rebar for concrete floors and painted the exterior of one of the homes.  Josh painted, raked and shoveled.  Dylan had to be the cutest little concrete bucket carrier in southeast Asia!

The local pastors and the people were so happy to have the help and the time spent in conversation with them to understand the ongoing issues with the mission in El Nido Town was illuminating for me.

So yes we had a great, great time exploring and working among these precious people.  I hope the connections we made on the trip will bear fruit in the Kingdom for years to come.


Ron Cannon said...

Thanks for the report back. It is good to hear what God did in and throughyou guys in the Philippines. Aren't those the best mangos ever?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Awesome!!!! I want to go the next time you guys go. That sounds like such a blast.

Lowell said...

Far out!

Good on you guys! Its nice to see you can be a family man and a world traveler :)

What a cool experience

Sheryl said...

I like the picture with the rocks and water, very pretty, did not like "poisonous snakes" did you see any? Looks like you had a nice time! And a very productive time with the people in the town.

Mike Aleckson said...

Ron, yes, those are the best mangoes ever!

Sure Heather, you and Dustin join us next time. You guys would love it.

Lowell, I'm no world traveler. That 16 hour flight from LA to Manila was a torment to me!

And Sheryl, I didn't see a sea snake, but Susan did. It was in a hidden lagoon I swam through a rock cave to get to. The rest of the team followed me in.

It is a surreal place of awesome beauty, but only later did Susan tell me she saw that nasty snake.

They say those snakes have tiny mouths that can only bite small fingers or toes - but that once you're bit hard, you die fast...


Anonymous said...

hmm I don't think that would be a snake I would want to bump into. :p