Friday, December 31, 2010

times square

Happy New Year
Times Square


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Thursday, December 30, 2010

peeling off the city

Yesterday our family piled into the car and began to drive;
through, and then up into the hills beyond the bustle of Davao to Eden.

We basked in the refreshment of
peeling off the city.

We could feel the tensions roll away
as we shed the heat and the noise,

leaving them behind as we entered the comparative cool,
quiet, and calm of the nature park.

There is no place like this inside the city;
inside our daily life...

...and our spirits give thanks...

...for muddy trails to explore,

for flowers and rocks, waterfalls and trees that silently sing.

They quietly whisper the melodic praise of their Creator -

songs that are too often drowned out by the din of the city.

For this reprieve, our spirits give thanks!

Four out of five of us end the afternoon with a dip in the pool;

and with the luxury of the touch of chill!

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

created for work

Over the course of the past couple of years,
Mark and Michael have been doing a weekly book study together.
They have enjoyed two titles by Christian author Bob Schultz;
the most recent being the book "Created For Work."

The goal of the book is to provide boys
with tools for becoming young men of character, wisdom, and strength.

"It is better to trust in work than money;
God never buys anything
and is forever at work."
-George MacDonald

After one weekly study, Michael was inspired to begin some more demanding chores.
That's not always easy here; life is very different in this society.
But he began to take on the job of cutting our grass.
As you can see, though our yard is small,
so is his equipment.
No power tools going on here.

Michael also sent out emails to a few neighbors,
offering his grass-cutting services.
A couple of friends have hired him,
and he's been happy to have the opportunities.

On his last job, Josanne and GR joined him,
lending a helping hand,
and vastly enjoying watching their Americano friend at work!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

glimpses of memories

Sharing with you a few photos of our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day;
glimpses of memories made,
with hopes that your Christmas too, was blessed with joy and thanksgiving!

unique Filipino-style snowflake
ingeniously constructed out of recycled goods...

serenaded with a homemade drum at the gas station

1000 piece puzzle in 24 hours

Christmas Eve anticipation


sorry, no photos of us singing carols in the dark on our deck,

trying to cool off from the 90 degree heat,

fortified with our traditional bottomless plate of Christmas cookies...

On Christmas Day in the morning...

Glory To God In The Highest

sweet Christmas calls to family
(Michael's talking on the cell phone)

the wonder of physics

Lego joy

origami cheer

evening food, and games, and prayer with friends

more carolers, still wishing us 'advance merry Chreesmas!'

pinata fun with a hockey stick ...

...a South American Christmas tradition
shared by a friend
(no, the hockey stick isn't traditional - just the pinata!)

We're full of thanks for opportunities to share
the joy and hope,
the life-giving message of Christmas.

And because of that message,
we look forward to a new year of joy and hope;
joy and hope found only in the presence of Immanuel -
the God Who is with us.

Advance Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

what have we done?

There was silence as we viewed the next image on the computer screen;

photos from December 2008; our last Christmas in Savannah.

They were like glimpses out of a fairy tale.

The clean white hearth and mantel, decked with garland and soft shimmering lights. A lavish gingerbread house sprinkled with colorful candies. Our traditional ferry ride across the Savannah River to see the lights and gingerbread houses.

Lessons and Carols at the church.
An almost palpable glow of warmth in the crackling fire on Christmas Eve, surrounded by beloved family.

I felt a strange sensation; as though I were peering through some magical lens into another era, another world that was once home.

"We had better not look at too many photos; it will make us discontent."

Elise’s comment struck a chord.

What have we done to leave such beauty, such tranquility? What are we doing here in this sweaty, gritty, inelegant place, far from those we love?

With a sigh we looked at the last photo together. A few seconds passed in silence.

What have we done to trade all that... for this?

Yet that’s exactly what Jesus did. And that's what Christmas is about.

He left it all.

The wonder and beauty, the tranquility of His Father’s home, the companionship at His Father’s side. He became incarnate, leaving it all behind to come to this sweaty, gritty, inelegant earth.

“He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:17

He forfeited His culture of perfection to dirty His feet on our streets,

to taste our daily bread,

to communicate in our language,

and, beyond that, to lay down His life in ransom for ours,

to bring good news to the poor.

He left all He had for me.

Could I do any less for Him?

Amy broke the silence, and my heart swelled with joy to hear her words.

“I wouldn’t trade that house and that life for what we have now.”

Life here is not soft and clean and storybook-lovely.

It’s more like the stuff adventure novels are made of.

But I wonder now if we could be content with anything less than being part of this adventure. What have we done? We’ve just responded to Christ’s call; to bring good news to the poor…the riches of the Good News of the Incarnation to those for whom He came.

Thanks to all of you who have encouraged and partnered with us in responding to Him.

We miss you, but there's nowhere else we'd rather be.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

come celebrate

On Sunday evening we had the joy of hosting our small church
for their annual Christmas party.

The party got started at about 4:15, when some of the youth
gathered to practice some special selections to play later in the evening.

Meanwhile the kids gathered in Michael's room to play.

Then we all headed outside to the driveway for games.

First, charades,

then a group charade,

and then a 20-questions type of game.

Michael played with Kuya Alan,
trying to guess the Christmas-related word
taped to his forehead
by asking a variety of questions.

We enjoyed the music of lots of laughter!

Then we all left our shoes at the door,

and headed inside for a potluck dinner.

After lots of delicious food, the Sunday School performed.

Even Michael had a part in reading the Christmas Story
in Cebuano.

Others shared music and song;

here Elise and Amy play in quartet with Yuri and Ysha.

Then we caroled together,
with an entertaining solo performance by Kuya Ojie.

More food, more music, more laughter...

Then it was time for a gift exchange;
youngest to oldest.

Little Seth helped Elise choose a package.

It was a special evening.
Though we in many ways were more observers than hosts,
we felt honored to be included so warmly
in this celebration of Christmas.

And we are thankful again for the very real reminder
of the universality of the church -
the unity that exists through Christ
and His unparalleled work of love for us!