Saturday, July 31, 2010

secret codes

A friend recently showed us a hymnal from a nearby country. The page above is the carol "Once in Royal David's City."

We thought the notation system was intriguing!
Instead of staffs and notes as we would draw them, they use a cipher notation.
The numbers indicate the note to be played (1 for A, 2 for B, etc.) Dots indicate higher or lower octaves, dashes and apostrophes are for timing.

Makes me wonder what the heavenly notation will look like...

"And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation!'"
Revelation 5:9

Thursday, July 29, 2010

extended kin

A friend shared this photo with us of Michael in his Sunday School class last month.
We thought you might enjoy it, too.

His teacher, Atay Cathy, is very sweet and thoughtful. The class has warmly welcomed Michael, though there's still a little shyness on both sides.

I remember years ago, when one of my sisters heard that we were moving to Texas, away from our extended family, she responded, "Houston?!? You know we have family there!" I was puzzled until I realized that she meant 'family of God.'

Well, we have 'family' here, too! And we're enjoying getting to know them better, to learn from them and to be encouraged by their faith.

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
from Whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name."
Ephesians 3:14&15

Monday, July 26, 2010

chipping in

Though we enjoy lots of familiar brands, the products aren't always quite the same.
Amy's been intrigued lately by the various types of chips we've found. Below are a few:

From Pringles: Smoky BBQ, (that's not so strange)
Lemon & Sesame
Blueberry & Hazelnut

And from Lays: Ham Barbeque and
Seafood Nori Seaweed

Now have we just been away from the U.S. too long, or are these a little different than what's found in your average Walmart?

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This just today from CNN:

A series of four strong earthquakes spanning just over an hour struck the Philippines' Moro Gulf on Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Three of the four earthquakes had magnitudes between 7.3 and 7.6; the other came in at a 5.4 magnitude. The first quake struck at 6:08 a.m. (6:08 p.m. ET Friday) and the fourth hit at 7:15 a.m. The last quake ran the deepest at 616 (382 miles) kilometers.

The epicenters of the quakes were about 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the coastal city of Cotabato.

No tsunami warning was immediately issued for any of the quakes.

There were no reports of damage, said Rona Faeldin of the Philippines Coast Guard.

We felt 3 of the 4 quakes here at home. It was pretty impressive - all within the space of about an hour! Lamp shades, doors, telephone wires outside were all swaying. Each quake lasted quite awhile - between 1 1/2 and 2 minutes.

No damage done - just another witness of God's incredible power!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

walk on water

We visited Davao Crocodile Park with Chris, Mandy, and Marcus last week, and the most intriguing display of all was this one:
The Dragon's Den.

Long story short, the Philippine Sail-Fin Water Dragons, 2-3 foot-long omnivores, are known for being great swimmers.
This sign even led us to believe that they swim so well they look like they are walking on water.


The display was one in which you can walk right into the exhibit. These creatures were well-camouflaged, and startled more than one of us as they whipped past unannounced, sometimes across toes.

And then it happened.

One of them darted into the pond to avoid us, and instead of disappearing under the water, he skittered for 10 feet or more across the surface before plunging below!

At first we thought we were seeing things,
but when another and then another followed suit,
we had to agree.

These dragons walk on water.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you dragons, and all deeps!
Psalm 148:7

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

family ties

This past week has been a very special one,
with the long-awaited advent of our first guests from home.

Mark's sister, Amanda, her husband Chris, and their son Marcus came for a 10-day, all-too-short visit.

We've loved the time together with them; playing games around the table,

push-starting the vehicle we're currently car-sitting,
and all the fun activities we've been able to enjoy together.

Marcus meets the boa at the Crocodile Park, and Mandy meets the monkey!

The Butterfly House was packed with fluttering wings,

and gorgeous chrysalises.

We enjoyed some good meals together...

including this one at the Riverwalk, where you could order all different kinds of crocodile meat.
We stuck with the chicken!

We visited a display of indigenous people's homes...

and ate at Majid's, one of our favorite spots downtown.

Chris and Marcus joined in a game of Ultimate Frisbee,

and we took an overnight trip to Eden, where Mark and Amanda, both not keen on heights, took the plunge and rode the zip-line.

I love the look on your face, Mandy!

Marcus caught his first fish there, a delicious tilapia.

The cousins found ways to play together wherever they were.
"Rubbish" even works in the back seat of the car!

And on their last day here, a trip to Paradise to snorkel and mess about in a kayak.

What a blessing to all of us to spend time again with family. We are so thankful for the opportunity, so thankful that they were willing to make the time and effort to come.

Thanks for a great visit guys! We'll miss you.

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life."
Matthew 19:29

Saturday, July 17, 2010

first anniversary

Today, July 17th, we are celebrating
the one-year anniversary of our arrival here
in Davao City, Philippines.

Thanks for following our journey...
for all of your prayerful encouragement and support
over the course of the year!

"You have crowned the year with Your goodness..."
Psalm 65:11

Friday, July 16, 2010


If you've got to go to a clinic,
the best kind is a summer school sports clinic.

Elise and Amy enjoyed this week of basketball, doing drills and scrimmages with other middle school and high school students.

We're so thankful for the staff who volunteer their time to run these sports clinics!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Last Saturday, our family was privileged to attend the first (as far as is known) Home School Meeting held in the city of Davao. We met with four Filipino families who are homeschooling pioneers in their country. The deep convictions they have and the sacrifices they have made in order to educate their children outside of the regular school system are humbling and challenging.

They were so gracious to us, holding the meeting in English for our benefit. We look forward to learning from and getting to know this group of Filipinos better over the course of the school year, since they plan to continue to meet regularly.

For us it's a unique opportunity to begin to grow relationships in a new setting!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

i scream

Ice cream is a city treat here in the Philippines.
It's a special luxury for those from the provinces.

And it's available in some interesting flavors!
Above is a photo of some of the ube (a sweet potato like root) types:
*plain ube
*ube cheese
*ube cheesecake

Also available are flavors like:
*Halo Halo (a mix of fruit and beans)
* Buko Pandan (young coconut with a green leafy plant)
*Mais-Queso (corn and cheese)
*Jackfruit with cashew, taro and coconut
*Coconut Yam Paradise

Above is a popsicle-like dessert in Sweet Corn and Red Bean flavors.
I'm probably making you so hungry!

One day I stopped in at a store down the street to buy some vanilla ice cream. There were two vanilla containers in the freezer, and I picked up the one that looked less icy. At the counter, the checker popped open the top. The contents didn't match the lid! She called another employee, and he raced to the freezer to pull out the other vanilla for me, which, to my relief, really was vanilla.

Would it ever occur to you to check something like that? Obviously it wasn't the first mix-up they'd had. The next time I buy ice cream I'll be a little wiser.

Friday, July 9, 2010

where two or three

This is the group of believers we have been worshiping with.
For years they met here, in the carport of the home of one of the families who attends.

They are a sweet group of people, and have been warm and hospitable to us.

Just last week they began renting a room at a local seminary each Sunday, since they found that the carport surroundings were too distracting for some.

Our family will sort of miss the roosters crowing, the cats wandering around under the chairs and over the tin roof, ants climbing over our feet, the neighbor sweeping her drive, the geckos climbing the walls, and the cries of the vendors passing by.

They also used to have, in addition to a morning service and Sunday School, a weekly lunch potluck. Now that will just be once a month. It's been a good time to practice our language a bit, and to begin building more relationships with local people. It's also giving us more appreciation for the universality of the church, as we worship the Lord with believers of another tongue!

"All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and they shall glorify Your name."
Psalm 86:9

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

rice or bread?

"Maayong hapon," we greeted the taxi driver as we stepped into his cab, giving directions in Cebuano.  He turned in surprise.  Not many westerners learn this Filipino language.  Foreigners usually speak Tagalog, the national language.  "Do you know Cebuano?" he queried.  The rest of our ride featured a series of rapid-fire questions and comments.

At one point he asked, "Do your children eat rice? Or bread?" "Okay," I thought, "it's a simple cultural question. Will your western kids tolerate eating our traditional staple?"

Amy digs into a plate of rice
I began to answer that yes, our children eat rice, though in all honesty, any one of us would be happy to trade a bowl of rice for a slice of freshly baked bread. My mind swept back momentarily to fondly recall the warm homemade cappuccino muffins we had for breakfast, the cheesy homemade pizza from the night before, the pancakes and buttery rolls we eat more often than rice.

The driver interrupted my reverie as he continued his thought, confronting me with the REAL issue. "Bread is for the rich. Rice is for the poor." It was not an accusation. Just a simple fact.

Now I can't get the question out of my head. "Do you eat rice? Or bread?"

Rice is the staple food of over 1/2 of the world's population. In much of Asia, rice is so important that the word is almost synonymous with food. Here in the Philippines (according to a 2006 survey) 68 million out of the 90 million inhabitants live on $2 a day. And they're not spending it on Panera bagels.

So why was I born a bread-eater?

"For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive?" 1 Cor. 4:7

Not only is 1/2 the world eating rice, but often they don't have enough of it to satisfy. 1.02 billion people across the world are hungry. Not just peckish. Really hungry. As a result they deal with chronic undernourishment, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness. They live in countries that lack the social safety nets we enjoy in the U.S. like soup kitchens and food stamps. There is simply nowhere to turn for help.

But what about those with a far deeper hunger? What about the millions of people who don't know about the Bread of Life? About Christ, who is the only source of nourishment to feed their deepest hunger, their eternal need?

And what about Christians who have tasted this Living Bread, but who, without God's Word in their own language, deal with chronic spiritual undernourishment, stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to false teaching? They live in countries where there is no pastoral training, no teaching resources, and nowhere to turn for help.

Our early Christian counterparts braved cruel persecution and trial, and in devotion to Christ and to the truth that set them free, gave their lives to bring this Bread of life to those who hungered. I have benefited from their sacrifice. Now what does it mean for me?

"You are already filled; you have already become rich..." 1 Cor. 4:8a  

Bread is for the rich. I am rich. And I am responsible. Responsible before my Maker, from whom I have received every single thing I enjoy.

I must not be lulled into thinking that our rich American lifestyles are what please God. 

 "Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?" Job 30:25.
I must weep.
I must grieve.
And then I must share some Bread.

Monday, July 5, 2010

water closet

Many things about our home seem very Western,
but some of the differences are surprising.

By now, after almost a year in the country, we weren't surprised at the small size of the water closets, or the CRs (Comfort Rooms)

This is the upstairs CR that the kids share. Since taking a shower here makes the entire room wet (and it doesn't drain all that fast), we've opted to all shower downstairs in the master bathroom.

Here's the master bathroom. We brush teeth one at a time as we dodge the commode.

We were surprised the morning after we moved in when we realized that there were NO outlets in either of these CRs.
So we are not using electric toothbrushes, but we also weren't able to plug in the water heater.
That's right.
Translated that meant COLD SHOWERS.

In case you're wondering, yes, even in this hot climate, cold showers are COLD.

After asking around, Mark hired a couple of guys who do electrical work (as well as construction, plumbing and air con cleaning) to come and wire an outlet into the shower area. They came, and a few hours later they had that water heater mounted, plugged in and running.
Their total bill amounted to about $14.

And we now have the luxury of warm showers again.
How very much we take for granted.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

through the ceiling

The bad news is that Mark had to cut that hole in the ceiling.

(see this post about the kittens in the attic from a few days ago...)
It was not a job for the faint of heart.

The good news is that our house smells a whole lot better now.
That's an understatement.

I have the best of husbands.