Cannons return home from working in the Philippines

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 08/05/97.

After teaching in the Philippines for two and a half years, Ron and Kim (Fenske) Cannon are back in the United States.

They were assigned to teach and administer a Bible training school in the Visayas Region in the Philippines through an independent church of the Family Worship Center, Cleveland, Tenn.

We lived in a very rural area, Kim said. They would have to drive 40 kilometers to the grocery store. A small gas station and convenience store were within a couple of kilometers. While there, they led a very simple life. We never knew when we would have electricity. Every time there was a typhoon, the electricity would go off for a minute, sometimes 18 hours and once for up to 41 days, Ron said. As there are no hardwood trees in the Philippines, electric poles need to be imported from Malaysia.

The people of the Philippines are now planting mahogany trees so some day they will have their own hardwood trees to harvest, Ron said.

The Cannons said the Philippine people live hand to mouth on a daily basis. They are not long-term planners and dont look to the future very often.

They said the main staple of the Philippino diet is rice. A meal isnt considered a meal without rice. If it doesnt have rice, its just a snack. At every meal they serve large bowls of rice. When we first got there, we would eat just a little but now we can eat the same amount as they do, Ron said.

We grew to love rice and the many ways it can be cooked. The people use rice as it is less expensive than meat and vegetables.

The temperature averaged 85 degrees year-round with 100 percent humidity. I think one of our coolest days was between 70 and 75 and then a storm came through, they said.

Their days usually started around 6 a.m. with prayer and breakfast. That was followed by campus cleanup. We lived in the dorm with the students, Ron said. By living with the students helped us relate and understand them better. Two days a week they would hold chapel services.

Ron taught theology classes and pastoral doctrine. The average age of the college students was 16 and 17 as the students get out of high school earlier there than in the United States.

Majority of the students who attend school are on a work study program which helps cover their tuition and boarding. The students come from poor families and live in the poorest region of the Philippines. The students would attend classes in the morning and work as grounds keepers, cooks, janitors and farm workers afternoons.

The major industry of the region is farming and fishing. The farmers raised rice, sugar cane, bananas, and coconuts which they consider the tree of life. Once a tree has exceeded its usefulness, it is harvested. The tree branches are made into brooms, the trunk as lumber and shells as crafts. A coconut tree doesnt start producing until it is seven years old, Ron explained. Did you know there are 348 different varieties of bananas? they asked. After eating the tree ripened fruit, they find the bananas they purchase here tart. Ron explained it takes a banana six to seven months to ripen. They start as bright red blossoms and gradually green sticks form into bananas.

The Cannons explained that most newspapers in the Philippines are written in English. All the government proceedings and billboards are also printed in English and English is taught in most schools. The Americans get preferential treatment in the Philippines. They are hospitable and make you feel very welcome, Kim said.

As much as they enjoyed living in the Philippines, Ron and Kim decided it was time to come home and pursue a ministry here in the states. They are presently speaking at different churches and filling in pulpits where needed. Eventually, they hope to make their home in North Carolina, Rons home state.

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