Saturday, October 31, 2009


Halo-halo (hollow-hollow) is a popular Filipino dessert. The name comes from the Tagalog word halo, or 'mix.'

There's no specific recipe for this dessert, but it's a combination of shaved ice and milk with a variety of toppings. The one we tried last week had boiled beans, nata de coco (a chewy, jelly-like food with a coconut base), corn kernels, and various other fruits. It also included a scoop of bright purple Ube (sweet potato) ice cream on top.

Michael thought the Ube ice cream was pretty good.

We've tried halo-halo twice, and it's a good thing that we just got one serving to share each time. The only one of us who really likes it is Mark. The rest of us would rather have chocolate.

Amy tried a cherry-like piece. But it wasn't a cherry! She described it as rubbery and un-chewable. She may never know what it was.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Michael had the privilege of holding a little Philippine tarsier at the local Crocodile Park; a zoo-like place with some fascinating animals.

The tarsier is the smallest of the primates,
and is usually between 3 1/2 - 6 1/2 inches.
All species living today are found in the islands of Southeast Asia.

They are shy, nocturnal animals, very at home in the trees.
They cling to the trunk, and leap from branch to branch.

They are extremely quick! 
The one Michael held was on a little leash. 
 He thought it would make a great pet, 
but Barbara's not so sure she wants one leaping around the house at night.

Monday, October 26, 2009

off to the mall again

Grocery shopping is a different experience here in the Philippines. To begin with, the major grocery stores are actually anchor stores in the malls. There are several malls in town, so when we arrived I began asking people which one they preferred to shop at.
I didn't get straight answers, and I've learned why.

At one store I can buy chocolate chips (yay!) and whole wheat flour and tea.
At another I find tomato soup, spreadable margarine, and english muffin-type bread.
A third carries great produce and juice concentrate.
So we have on-going lists for various stores as we learn what is exclusively available there.
I haven't brought myself to buy the meat in the regular 'bag it yourself' bins yet. The smell alone has been enough to quell any faint-hearted attempts to explore the unusual options.

Instead I rely on Lisa and her pre-packaged, familiar meats.

Rice is a real staple in the Filipino diet, as are noodles of various sorts.

Here's a wall of dried fish - a few more varieties than you'd find at Publix or Safeway!

Time to check out. The grocery baggers are truly gifted young men. They can neatly pack and fit more groceries in a bag than might seem humanly possible. There are fewer bags used, but this also means that the bags are incredibly heavy.

They do offer the option of boxing your groceries, but I made that mistake only once. I'd much prefer to balance two or four heavy bags than one very heavy box on my walk from the service road to our apartment!

We are truly amazed at and thankful for how many familiar foods are available to us here!

Friday, October 23, 2009


"The eternal God is a dwelling place,

and underneath are the everlasting arms."

Deuteronomy 33:27

I've been contemplating the meaning of 'home.'
We've been here in Davao for just over 3 months now, and have not yet found a home to live in. It's discouraging at times, not being able to really settle in.

But in almost every other way the transitions have been so smooth.
This struggle is keeping us on our knees, trusting the promises of the Lord.
I've been reminded that God is our true home. In Him we find the love, the peace, the comfort, the rest that we long for in a home!
Please continue to pray that He will teach us more of Himself even through the wait.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, 'My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!'"
Psalm 91:1&2

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

luxury vehicle

We've been very blessed with the honor of 'car-sitting' for fellow-workers who have gone home for a year.

This little Lancer is a real luxury. Though we don't drive it often, it's such a huge help at times. Carrying food for 5 home in a jeepney or taxi is pretty heavy work, so being able to fill the trunk after a major grocery run every of couple weeks is an enormous blessing.

The interior may be stapled together, but it gets us there!
Mark is the sole driver in the family for the time being.
That's due to the fact that the car is a manual, and also due to the challenge of driving in a country where road rules are a little different.

The main rule seems to be that whoever gets there first has the right of way, unless the other vehicle is bigger, or more assertive! Mark does a great job managing the roads, though he'll have to learn to use his horn a lot more to really fit in.

"Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God."

Psalm 20:7

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Parols are traditional Filipino Christmas decorations. They are wooden frames shaped like a star. Then they are covered with paper or cellophane. Sometimes people will put a candle inside to light them up.

I made a parol in Philippine Culture class! It was alot of fun.
We made the streamers using the concept of paper snowflakes: fold & cut!

Amy is working on her parol for Philippine Culture. You can see the frame that she covered with cellophane.

Store bought parols are much fancier than handmade ones.

By Elise

Friday, October 16, 2009

hitching a ride

Pedicabs are one source of low-cost transportation in town.
They are a rickshaw-type vehicle, often pedaled, sometimes motorized.

There's a mini pedicab at the center, and Michael has become an adept driver.
His favorite customer (below) comes by often for rides, and is content to be driven about gratuitously for long periods of time.

Michael even talked Amy into taking a ride, though she wasn't enthusiastic about the lack of leg-room in the passenger seat.

One of those umbrellas would be a nice touch, to keep off the hot rays!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the Filipino flag

At my Filipino Culture class we learned about the flag of the Philippines. The three small stars represent the main islands of the Philippines; Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The sun's eight rays represent the eight provinces in Luzon.

This flag below looks exactly the same as the photo above, except that the blue stripe is on the bottom and the red stripe is on the top. It is used when the Philippines is at war.

I am really enjoying learning about the Philippines in culture class!

~By Amy

trader joe

Well, it doesn't have QUITE the same selection as its American counterpart.

More on grocery shopping in Davao soon...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

wild about hairy

This is the dish of Rambutan we tried for lunch yesterday.
It’s a fruit that's native to Malaysia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Something about the sweetness of this fruit makes it very attractive to ants. In fact, Filipinos we know say that the way to choose the best Rambutan is to look for the ones covered in ants.

Rambutan , in Indonesian, Filipino, and Malay literally means “hairy.”
One friend called it the fruit that had a bad hair day.

You squeeze the skin to pop it open,

revealing the white flesh of the fruit.

We all thought it was good...but it might be a while before we're truly wild about hairy...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

dirty work

Michael has had several opportunities to help "Uncle Jeff" (everyone is 'uncle' or 'aunt' around here!) and a few other boys do some work on the dirt road outside the center.

They've spent hours draining and filling and patching to bless everyone who drives that road.

Thanks, Uncle Jeff, for giving Michael the opportunity to work with you all. He's loved every minute!

It's good practice, Frankie, for the days when Michael will put all he's learned into use on the Point Pleasant driveway!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

you've got mail

"Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land."
Proverbs 25:25We love getting mail from home!!!
Thanks so much to all of you who have written to us here.

Your letters typically take between 11 and 20 days to arrive.
The average seems to be about two weeks, and we think our letters to the States take about the same amount of time.
Your letters are a refreshment to us all!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

song of praise

"Praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute."
Psalm 150:4

Last week was the year's first band concert at the school.
Amy played flute in the middle school band.
(She's the one behind the microphone in each photo)

Despite being a small school, they produce some great music from the elementary to the high school level!

Friday, October 2, 2009

safe and dry

Despite the heavy flooding in Manila, down south here in Davao we are dry and safe. Davao rarely gets hit with typhoon action because of its geographical position.

The flooding in Manila is very serious though. The loss of life, ruined homes, standing water, mud, hunger, and threat of another typhoon headed their way is overwhelming. We are thankful to be safe here, but we know that the people of Manila face enormous challenges.

Their suffering makes our housing needs seem pretty insignificant.

Thanks to all of you who have worked to check up on us.
We do appreciate your thoughtfulness and care.

"God is our refuge and our strength,
in straits a present aid;
And, therefore, tho' the earth remove
We will not be afraid;
Tho' hills amidst the seas be cast,
Tho' troubled waters roar,
Yea, tho' the swelling billows shake
The mountains on the shore."
Psalm 46; from the Psalter