Wednesday, March 31, 2010

cooking by candlelight

The brown-outs have continued, and it looks like it will be a normal event to have two-hour outages often for awhile.
It was almost dinner time when the lights went out on Tuesday, so
the mango salsa was made by candlelight:

The gas stove works fine without electricity, so the rice cooked by candlelight too!
(The blue light on the right is the burner flame.)

In case you've got some extra mangoes sitting around, here's a recipe for that Mango Salsa; one of our new favorites!

Mango Salsa

2-3 ripe mangoes, diced
1/2 cup ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1-2 Tblsp. lime or lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cilantro (thanks to a friend who sent us a bottle!!!)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
pepper to taste

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

back to class

For the past two weeks I substituted in the Kindergarten classroom at the school since the teacher had to return suddenly to her home country of Australia.
It was a little bit of an old dream come true - years ago my desire was to teach MKs.

Because it was a shorter two weeks in the school calendar, and since Amy, Elise and Michael were scheduled to take standardized tests over that period of time at the school, it worked for me to teach the class and it provided the school a couple of weeks to find a replacement teacher for the 4th quarter.

Between testing and regular school work, Amy, Elise and Michael came in as assistants.

Here Elise and Amy help with a craft lesson.

The 8 students are an international group from Korea, Germany, Burundi, North and South America and the Philippines.

Michael helps design a railroad.

They are a sweet bunch of children, and we enjoyed the time together.

But I'll be happy to go back to teaching my own class of 3 again!

"From the mouths of infants young
You the pow'r of praise compose
In the face of enemies
To stop avenging foes."
Psalm 8:2
from the Psalter

Friday, March 26, 2010

greek to me

Once a week we meet with Ate Bebe for our language lesson.
She is a very patient, gifted teacher, and she encourages us even when we are so very slow to learn!
She is also a fabulous cultural interpreter, answering questions we have about living here.

The Bisayan vocabulary isn't so hard - it's the grammatical structure that makes our minds whirl.
Our assignment this week is to memorize the personal pronouns.
I guess I'd better go study!

What amazes me most is the warm and gracious reception of the Filipino people to our faltering Bisaya.
The letters below (and others like them) were written to us by Mae, the house helper who works full-time next door. She wants to help us learn the language, and this is her way of helping.
She began leaving letters written in Bisaya, along with English translations, in our mailbox!

Though she gets up at the crack of dawn to begin her work, she sits up late at night to write to us.
Through the letters we've written back and forth, we are getting to know Mae better. Now when we see her in the street, she's not as shy to talk with us. And through her letters, Mae has encouraged and blessed us.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Ten years ago today, God blessed our family with the gift of Michael.
He has brought great joy and sweetness to each of our lives, and we are thankful for him!

The birthday celebration began when Michael woke to find that his sisters had stayed up late the night before to decorate his doorway.

After a special breakfast, Michael packed up his bag,

and walked to the school

for a morning of standardized testing.

When he got home, Michael enjoyed the gift of no more school-work for the day.
Instead he helped to prepare the batter for his birthday cake.

Then he helped prepare one of his favorite meals for lunch -
quesadillas on homemade tortillas.

He and the girls read and enjoyed the many emails and e-card greetings sent from several of you. Thanks so much for remembering him today!

In the afternoon Michael headed back to the school for his Filipino Culture class and for baseball practice after school.
Here he's up to bat (with Mark behind him helping to coach the team)

and here he's on his way to 3rd base.

Michael finished the day by making a wish and consuming chocolate cake and ice cream.
He's looking forward to a party with some of his friends at our place this weekend
which will include the consumption of more chocolate cake.

Happy 10th Birthday, Michael.
We love you, and we pray that
the Lord will bless you and keep you,
make His face shine on you,
and give you peace!

Monday, March 22, 2010


While at Eden, our friend Jim treated us to a Skyrider Adventure.
What a ride!
(The $3 charge per person was an amazing price by U.S. standards)
Here Amy suits up in a harness and helmet.

The Skyrider is a set of 200-meter long steel cables suspended roughly 20 meters in the air between two steel towers, on which you glide along suspended with a spectacular view of Davao City and the Davao Gulf.
This was the departure tower.

Amy and Michael went first - they were eager and ready to go!

They zipped all the way to the tower at the other side,
(can you see it?) where they climbed up again and zipped back.

Elise and Barbara were next.
(Mark missed out - he was back at the cabin reading!
Next time, Mark.)

Elise and Barbara take off from the tower.
My only complaint? It was too short. ;o)

After that ride the free ziplines seemed a little tame.

Next, Michael had his very first fishing experience ever.
He caught a Tilapia for dinner!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

faux pas

A common way to greet people here in the Philippines is by raising your eyebrows and lifting your chin just a bit. As you walk along the street, it's a polite way to say hello without speaking. I use this often as a friendly gesture, since the no speaking part fits my personality to a T.

I always feel so culturally 'in' when I do it, too.
But what's that saying about pride goes before a fall?

The other day I was walking to take out the trash. I waited for an approaching jeepney to pass before crossing the street to the dumpsters. As the jeepney drove by, I raised my eyebrows to the driver in greeting.

To my surprise the jeepney immediately ground to a halt. I realized too late that, to the jeepney driver, the raised eyebrows meant I wanted a lift.

I'm sure we'll make worse mistakes over time, but as I dumped the trash and hurriedly headed home, carefully avoiding any more eye contact, I was pretty embarrassed at my glaringly obvious Amerikano ignorance.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

beyond our strength

For the past several months I've been contemplating some of the Apostle Paul's thoughts:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Father of mercies, and God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our affliction
so that we will be able to comfort those who
are in any affliction
with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.

For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance,

so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren,
of our affliction which came to us in Asia,
that we were burdened excessively,
beyond our strength
so that we despaired even of life;

indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves
so that we would not trust in ourselves,
but in GOD who raises the dead;
who delivered us from so great a peril of death,
and will deliver us,
He on whom we have set our hope.

And He will yet deliver us,

you also joining in helping us through your prayers,
so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf
for the favor bestowed on us
through the prayers of many."
1 Corinthians 1: 3-5, 8-11

Sometimes the trouble in this life is excessive; more than we can bear - "beyond our strength." That's when we begin to discover God's surpassing power (2 Cor. 4:7) and when we cling to His promises. "We have come to know and rely on the love which God has for us." (1John 4:16)

He was able to crush the power of death and to give us the hope of eternal life with Him! Though He may not choose to deliver us from physical pain or death, He instead delivers us TO HIMSELF, drawing us into a fuller intimacy with Him.

And somehow, in the body of Christ, we as fellow believers have an amazing ability to join in helping others through our prayers, so that we all have even greater reason for giving thanks as we see God's faithfulness in each others lives! Even through the excessive burdens.

Will you join in helping us through your prayers for my (Barbara's) sister, Shirley, who is facing an 'excessive burden' of cancer? After a two year battle, her liver is failing, and the doctor's prognosis is for just weeks more of life on this earth. Please pray that the God of all comfort would pour out abundant comfort through Christ on her and her family. Thank you. Thanks to God for His love for her, and for the hope she has of eternal life with HIM!

Barbara's sister Shirley is pictured in the white dress
with Barbara and two other sisters -
years ago before Shirley's latest battle with cancer began.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

the garden of eden

This past weekend we were invited by two friends of ours, Marla and Jim, to join them in an overnight trip.
We managed to squeeze all of our luggage (and the kids!) into the office vehicle, and off we went!

Our destination was Eden Nature Park, a large park with cabins to rent, trails to explore, a lovely pool, and other activities to enjoy.
Eden is 3,000 feet above sea level in the foothills of Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the Philippines.

One of the best things about Eden is that the temperatures there are noticeably cooler than down in the city. It was incredibly refreshing to be in a cooler, quieter place for a little while.
We rented this cabin together,

...brought food to share, and games to play together, too.

The kitchen was in a separate building in the back.

From Lola's (Grandmother's) Garden near our cabin, we had a beautiful view of the city of Davao down below, the ocean, and nearby islands.

Here we are on the Mountain Trail, a 4k hike.
This hanging bridge was pretty amazing!

Mark caught a shot of this classy black and white butterfly perched on a Bird of Paradise plant.

After warming up on the hike, a dip in the cool pool was wonderful.
For the first time since we've arrived in the Philippines we actually felt COLD.
What a luxury!

The flowers and vegetation at Eden were gorgeous.
Elise reveled in using the macro feature on her camera.

Elise, Amy and Michael were good sports and posed for us on the caribou (water buffalo)

A nighttime visit to Lola's Garden gave us a beautiful view of the lights of Davao, but an even more AMAZING display in the heavens. The stars were brilliant, and we could see the glow of the Milky Way!

We'll post a few more photos in a later blog!