Sunday, January 31, 2010

keeper of the tales

This weekend Elise and Amy had the fun of joining the other Middle School students in performing the play "Keeper of the Tales." The play was a retelling of several stories from the 1001 Arabian-Nights.

The whole cast

Amy and a friend before the performance

Elise with another friend

Elise (2nd from left) and Amy (on right) with a couple of other "Marketplace Sellers," all prepared to walk up the aisles to the stage, offering fruit for sale

Elise and Amy had small speaking parts, and front-row seats for the rest of the play as they posed as merchants at the bazaar

Amy (on far left) was cast as a servant of the princess

Elise (2nd from right) played the part of a rich merchant's servant

Barbara also had the delight of working with this group of 5 students weekly before the play, to help them to learn their lines and plot their scene. It was great to get to know some of the students, and having a small part in the process made the play all the more fun to watch.

We'll look forward to next year's production!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

smoke shack

Riding home on one jeepney route, we pass this little shack.

It's tiny, and had been invisible to my eyes until one day when our jeepney driver lurched to a stop beside it.

Turns out it's a 'sari-sari;' a mini store. The woman who operates the business pushed a sort of deep, long-handled ladle out the window of the shop, straight through into the driver's side of the jeepney. The driver dropped a peso or two into the ladle, which was promptly returned to him with a single cigarette inside. Dangling from the ladle's handle was a lighter on a string, which he then used to light up.

All the while I was wishing I had the camera with me, but at the same time I knew I would never be able to catch the full effect from my vantage. Oh to be a photo journalist!

Monday, January 25, 2010


This is Mae, one of the house helpers who works next door, with Michael and the neighbor's children who she cares for.
Mae, and another helper, Joy, live with this family in an apartment the size of ours. We think that Mae and Joy must share a room like Michael's.

Shortly after we moved in, we met these young ladies, and not long afterward, they left a sweet note in our box. The end of it read,
"We are hoping and wishing that we are friends. May GOD bless your family, we are praying for your family...this is your neighbor house, Mae and Joy."
We hear them up working early, frying fish for breakfast at 5:30 or 6.
We hear them singing hymns as they do the laundry or dishes over the wall out back, and every time we see them, they are smiling.

Their joy is evident, and surprising, considering their lot in life.
But its source is obviously deeper than what they have or want.

"The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting."


They serve as daily reminders to us of the joy found in knowing Christ!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Basketball Tournament

Today was the Faith Academy Mindanao Middle School Girls Basketball Tournament. In addition to Faith, two other schools, Dranhs and Assumption participated. There were a total of six games, each team playing the other two teams twice.

Here's the tip off for one of the games with Assumption

Elise (#11) gets in position for a rebound

Amy takes the ball down court (she's a point guard)

Amy (#8) on defense against Dranhs

During one of the breaks (when the other two teams were playing)

The team picture with their coaches

The girls lost their first two games (to Dranhs and Assumption) but came back to beat both schools the second time around. The win against Assumption was the final game of the tournament, and Faith won 45-44. It was a very exciting game, and the girls played with lots of determination. Assumption was the overall winner of the tournament, with Faith coming in second. Amy and Elise really enjoyed the camaraderie and challenge of playing on the team. They did a great job!

Friday, January 22, 2010

hazard a guess

This sign is typical of many identical ones found around town.

Anyone willing to hazard a guess as to what it means?

Email us, or post a comment if you think you might know!
We'll post the answer in a day or two...

Great guesses!
It's an advertisement for a boarder.
In Manila we were told by a fellow-worker that sometimes a bedspacer is kind of a bed time-share arrangement. A student may sleep in the bed at night, and a night shift nurse may sleep in it during the day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Those of you who are friends of Amy and Elise will be happy to hear that the game of SPOONS works in this part of the world, too, and that it generates just as much wild and crazy behavior!

It was an international group around our table the other night...
girls from El Salvador, Korea and Peru, and our U.S. crew.

The adults stuck with the much more dignified game of Carcassonne (which we learned from the Gibson family...thanks, friends!)

Monday, January 18, 2010


I walked into the department store today and immediately realized something was different. It took a few seconds to process. First, the normal loud music wasn't playing. It was quiet. Second, all of the employees seemed to be at attention, not talking with one another, not dusting the displays or following customers around as usual. Then I heard the slow, deep, reverent, sounding voice over the intercom system;
Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
I slipped into a side aisle to wait it out, knowing that I needed to show respect...
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death. Amen.
The Hail Mary was followed by a prayer to Jesus, and a solemn call to remember to pray regularly.

The moment the exhortation was finished, the music resumed. It was a popular Filipino rock song, and all the employees in the store began dancing in unison to it. The incongruity was startling. 'Lord,' I asked, 'how can they be praying reverently one moment and doing these moves the next?!? Can't they see the hypocrisy here? How could this be true love for You?'

My ugly, self-righteous attitude was checked quickly as I tried to maneuver my way past another shopper and an employee who together were blocking the aisle, blissfully unaware of the subtle western messages I was sending, suggesting that I wanted to pass. I growled inwardly with frustration as I turned to retrace my steps to go back down the aisle I'd come. "...and your neighbor as yourself." Ouch.

Friday, January 15, 2010

file 13

The Sanitation Department in other parts of the world works a little differently. Back in the early 90's when we lived in Japan, we would drop our trash bags on a street corner where the garbage truck would regularly pick them up. Things are a little more sophisticated here, where there are neighborhood trash cans. These are well-marked; Recycle and Biodegradable.

The system isn't quite as smooth as all that, though. When we open the lid to toss some cardboard into the recycle bin, it's not uncommon to find fish bones and flies waiting to greet us.

There are men (and some young boys) who make their living by sifting through the trash cans to look for anything salvageable; cardboard, plastics, metal etc. Each day they load these items onto rickety carts which they push through the streets to the next pile of neighborhood trash. On their way, they call out loudly in a sing-song voice, "Plasteecs!" and other words we can't yet understand, advertising their willingness to pick up any recyclables directly from your home.

To make their pursuit just a little easier, we still try to separate out our biodegradable items from the other trash.

The garbage men then come to pick up what is left. Mark took this photo on Christmas Day, when our local garbage men stopped by, hoping for a Christmas bonus. The smallest bill we had was a 100 peso note (about $2) and they were very pleased with the gift. We're sure thankful for the work they do!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

everyone who asks

Do you ever wonder what Jesus really meant by what He said?
As we read Luke 6 together yesterday morning, these words jumped off the page:
"Give to everyone who asks of you..." Luke 6:30

I've never been in a position before where so many asked of me.

That afternoon, Jasper and Josanne came to the gate. "Work?"
With that verse on my mind, I couldn't turn them away. They swept the driveway and washed the (already clean) car. They sorted some cardboard...and all for the equivalent of about 10 cents a piece, and a snack.

We find ourselves needing so much wisdom, as we ask Him what His words really mean.
Mark is attending a study with other co-workers based on a book called "When Helping Hurts". We both plan to read the book, and are praying for insight and wisdom to live well in a world so different than what we have ever known.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

snail mail

It's always exciting to get mail from home!

Some of you have asked whether we have a new mailing address since we moved.

But we live in a city with no regular residential mail delivery.
(It would be a challenge to deliver mail to specific addresses when houses are randomly numbered: a #2 next to a #23 next to a house with no number...)

Since there is no regular residential mail delivery here, we will continue to use the same address. Our mail is picked up at the main branch of the Post Office and delivered to our own personal box at the office by a fellow-worker a few times a week.

Most of the malls have a Post Office branch, too, though they are often tucked in out-of-the-way spots, and are sometimes hard to find! Here's Barbara at one branch mailing letters.

The Post Office was also closed for the week after Christmas, and we've heard that the back-log can take some time to catch up on!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

one year

It was one year ago today that Mark left his previous employment and we stepped out on this journey.

Today we're celebrating a year of God's amazing faithfulness and provision!

"Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God..."

Michael, Amy and Elise, last January at our training time
(boy, that snow sure looks inviting!)

"God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supplies."
-Hudson Taylor

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

taco time

Though we are able to find ALMOST every kind of food we could want in stores here, there are a few things that are unavailable.
Tortillas are one of those things. And our family is partial to soft tacos and quesadillas.
A local lady makes and sells delicious homemade ones, but when we haven't ordered any ahead of time, we make our own.

Michael especially loves tortillas, so he's happy to help with the work of rolling out the balls of dough.

They might not be perfectly round, but they'll taste just as good!

Meanwhile we bleach wash our lettuce and tomatoes to prevent any amoebic problems.

And then it's time for dinner.
Tacos are a little more time consuming to make now, but we've decided that it would be hard to go back to store-bought tortillas after enjoying these!

(Here's the recipe a fellow-worker shared with us:

3 cups flour
3 T shortening
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 pinch sugar
1 cup water (room temp.)

Mix flour, shortening, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
Gradually add water until crumbly dough forms.
Work with hands until dough holds together. Shape into a ball and knead until smooth. Divide dough into 12 roughly equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and let them set for 15 minutes.

Roll flat into 8 inch circles.Cook on ungreased skillet on medium heat.
When it bubbles, turn it over. When entire tortilla starts to inflate, take off the skillet. Makes 1 dozen tortillas.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a cup of cold water

It's been extra hot here the past few days.
When Mico came to our gate asking for some water,
I was struck with his simple request...

...and with the refreshment he found in that cup of cold water.

It satisfied his physical thirst for the moment, but I pray for opportunities to someday share something with him of the living water:

"Jesus said...whoever drinks of the water that I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."
John 4:14

Friday, January 1, 2010


The first day of a new year.
We spent the morning exploring around the city.
It was the perfect day for exploring, since most businesses were closed, and the streets were amazingly, wonderfully quiet.
We drove up a nearby hill that overlooks Davao where we enjoyed the beautiful vista.

Mark, Michael and Amy pick out familiar landmarks

Elise on the other side of the ridge, looking toward Mt. Apo,
the highest mountain in the Philippines

Posed in front of a Davao sign composed of letters
made from items the city is famous for:

D - durian (a fruit - more on durian later...)
A - an orchid
V - the Philippine Eagle
A - Mt. Apo
O - pommello (another fruit)

Looking down into an ampitheater

A new year with new opportunities and experiences ahead.

May we live it intentionally.

We wish you all God's very best in the New Year!

"I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father, as my harbor,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails."

Arthur Bennet, Puritan