Sunday, February 28, 2010

open air

With no air conditioning downstairs, our windows are open all of the time. The breeze is great, especially recently, since it's been very warm. But the downside is that lots of dust accumulates. As a result, our fans and window screens need frequent cleaning.

Meet Michael, our resident expert who dissembles the fans to keep them clean.

We like to hire some of the children who come by asking for jobs to wash the window screens. They love this assignment on a hot day!

Here Jeremiah, Mark and Dionisyu scrub the screens while Josanne and Jericho dry the car.

These children (and several others) were coming to our house at all hours,
as early as 7:30 a.m. and as late as 8 at night,
calling repeatedly at the gate,
"Ayo, Ate Babara!" (Hello, Ma'am Barbara)
hoping for jobs or food.

We finally learned enough Cebuano to tell them, 
'come only in the afternoons.'
 We think they understood our simple, inelegant message,
because our school mornings have been much more peaceful lately!

Friday, February 26, 2010


Minor earthquakes are routine on these islands along the edge
of the Philippine sea plate. Since we arrived in Davao, we have
experienced 4 or 5 small earthquakes. The latest one was this
afternoon. It's never been frightening for us, only exciting!
(Please don't worry about us!) We feel the ground vibrating,
see the clothes in the closet swinging, and within 20 or 30
seconds all is still. Here are the statistics for today's quake:



Friday, February 26, 2010 at 04:37:02 PM local time at epicenter
Location 6.38N 126.77E
Depth 111.5 kilometers

150 km (90 miles) ESE of Davao, Mindanao,
It does always serve as a solemn reminder of the power of our God.

The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. 
The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.
Nahum 1:5

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


One of the fruits we tried recently is the mangosteen.
The dark purple fruit is about the size of a peach.

The outer rind is thick, and the fragrant edible flesh found in the center is sweet and tangy; very citrusy with a slippery texture.
It comes from a tropical evergreen tree.

The segments are tasty, although their appearance is not awfully appetizing!
Everyone goes for the tiny segments first, which, unlike the larger segments, have no large pit inside.
All in all, there isn't much to eat in a mangosteen!

Monday, February 22, 2010

our big backyard 2

Although we don't have much space to play in our own backyard, we enjoy other options for being outside.
The street out front is often full of people playing, lounging, talking. Here Michael and Amy play some badminton alongside others. This is a great time to get to know some of our neighbors, and to let them get to know us, this odd foreign family!

Our other option is the 'neighborhood sandlot' - the field and playground at the international school just a few blocks away. Mark and the kids often join in weekend Ultimate Frisbee games here...

...and it's one of Michael's favorite after-school spots to play with his friends.

We're so thankful for these great neighborhood options!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

good things come in small packages

Many people here have small living accommodations.
Many shop daily for necessities, instead of stocking up in bulk like we would in America.

Here is a sampling of 'small packages' available here:

a single roll of TP
1 serving pizza sauce
single serving crackers, cookies, and drink mix
mini Crisco can
single use packs of shampoo, toothpaste and moisturizer
single wrapped carrot, etc...

Even the watermelon (yellow!) comes in small packages.
(We can get red watermelon here, too!)

Here is some of the largest celery I've found yet, in contrast to some regular-sized green onions. Most celery bunches we've seen have stalks 1/2 this size!

Unlike what we're used to, it's not more cost efficient to buy larger quantities here. Two small units are even sometimes less expensive than buying the same amount in one larger package.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

dirty feet

Life in this community leaves us understanding a bit better what a blessing the custom of foot washing was in the New Testament.
The photo below is all too normal these days...!

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
John 13:14&15

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

our big backyard

Someone asked what our backyard is like.
This is a view from our back wall (over which those roosters live!) The door leads to our kitchen. To the left is our wonderful washing machine; to the right is an outdoor sink that comes in handy for laundry purposes, and for cleaning produce from the market. It's also been the testing ground for more than one science experiment; a water wheel, boats, etc. Here Michael is helping to hang some laundry.

Under the sink is our trusty gas tank which powers our stove and oven. When the gas runs out, (hopefully not at dinner time!) we text the guy around the corner who zips over on his motorcycle with a full tank to sell to us.

The hose hanging down from the sky on the left enables the air conditioner in the girl's room to drain more neatly. (Mark's ingenuity at work! Thanks, Mark!) The windows downstairs are open all of the time, since we have air con only in two bedrooms upstairs. These we use at night for sleeping, and sometimes to create a cool evening haven.

It may not be the largest yard, but it's big enough for other experiments - like testing centripetal force (below).

Best of all?!? No grass to mow! ;o)

Friday, February 12, 2010


The other day we were looking for public transportation on our way home, and a motorcab driver spotted us. We agreed on a price, and hopped in. This was probably the most fun we've had yet on a vehicle here.

Jimmy, our driver, grew very communicative when we practiced a few Visayan words on him. He was surprised and delighted that we knew some of his language. He told us about his previous jobs, and gave us a detailed explanation of a good local beach to try (unfortunately, we didn't understand much of his directions - we won't be going to Jimmy's favorite beach anytime soon!)

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
- Nelson Mandela

Thursday, February 11, 2010


"Merienda" means snack time in this country. Similar to a British tea-time, there is a morning and an afternoon merienda.
Donuts are one popular merienda treat, and Dunkin' Donuts rate pretty high. Their slogan, "Pasalubong ng Bayan," is something to the effect of "A great souvenir gift!"

So after a trip to the city, donuts are a great gift to bring back to the folks at home.

Along with the standard chocolate frosted, there are a few less familiar types. The purple one is an Ube donut. Ube is a bright purple yam used often in desserts like ice cream and cake.

Would you be surprised to learn that the Filipino donuts are just about 1/2 the size of their American counterparts? I wonder if it's just another commentary on American consumption?

Monday, February 8, 2010

the light went on

I woke up Saturday morning to find Michael doing this.

We've seen a real break through just in the past few weeks as Michael has been reading not because he has to, but because he's discovered the delight of reading!

We wish you many happy hours between pages that will take you places you've never been, Michael!

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

~Groucho Marx

Friday, February 5, 2010


We were laughing the other day about the kids never having ridden in a taxi before we arrived in Davao. Now a taxi ride is a common occurrence. Taxis are everywhere, and we often ride in one when a jeepney route won't take us where we need to go.

The taxi drivers are not usually English speaking. And since our Cebuano is pitiful, the only communication going on is our telling them the name of the neighborhood to head toward, and then indicating left and right turns.

Things were different today. Ricky, our driver, was a spunky young man who looked about 20 years old, but really is 30. He has a wife and two young children. He was semi-fluent in English and was very eager to talk. He introduced himself, and began to tell us about how he was saved through a local pastor 10 years ago. I wondered at first what his motives were, but it was quickly apparent that he was a true believer, delighted to tell his testimony, and to praise the Lord for what He had done in his life.

We asked Ricky about the taxi system. He rents his taxi by the day from the taxi company for 500 pesos. (Just over $10) He drives it from 6 a.m. until midnight. He pays for the gas, and keeps the rest of his fares. Our ride took just over 20 minutes, and cost 80 pesos - about $1.75. He's not making a fortune.

I asked how he knew English, was it through school? No, he had asked his pastor to teach him. His parents were divorced, and not believers, but he told us how he prays for them both to know the Lord. He was a cheerful, energetic young man, unashamed to talk of Christ and of His goodness.

He shared that he has a Cebuano Bible, but wished that he could read God's Word in English, too, if he only had an English Bible. I felt a prompting to share with him one of our Bibles, an extra, inexpensive paperback version. Michael ran into the house to get it when we arrived home, and Ricky was so happy to receive it. "How much does this cost?" he asked. "Nothing," I replied, "it's God's gift to you."

I don't know if he'll use it, or if having an English Bible will really help him to understand any more of God's Word. But I wanted Ricky to be motivated to continue studying, to continue learning; and I wanted him to know the encouragement of having the Lord supply, in an unexpected way, a desire of his heart for God's Word.

"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you,"
Colossians 3:16

"But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?"
1 John 3:17

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

love ko 'to

I'm lovin' it.

Can you tolerate another McDonalds blog?

While the girls and I were out this afternoon, we caught this glimpse of a McDonalds employee, all in a day's work, getting ready to hop on his bike and make a delivery.

That's right. McDonalds delivers.
No minimum order required.
40 peso delivery charge (about .85 cents.)

I know, I know...we're making you so jealous...