Tuesday, August 31, 2010

home away from home

Or, Trip to the Village, Part Two:

After driving up, up, uphill on a road that a few local women pointed out to us (commenting that it might be too steep for us to drive up) we arrived at the end of the road. It was the village high school, where students were out front practicing folk dances, an important part of their daily curriculum.

As we pulled to a stop, students paused to look, and Sammy asked them where Ate (Ahtay) "E" lived? They pointed to the house next door, from which emerged a group of Filipinos and our co-worker, "E."
Several of the high school girls were brave enough to come and talk, and were very curious about the two 'new girls.'

This house below was to be our home for the next 3 days.

Our co-worker has been living and working in this home for the past 20 years.
That tin roof does a great job keeping the house dry! But the noise made by a rain shower is close to deafening. And in the heat of the day, you can feel the temperature rise inside - I think you could cook an egg on the ceiling!

We were invited inside to the office (below), and then to see the rest of the house.

Below is the sala, or the living room, the place where people gather to talk and share morning and afternoon merienda (coffee break!)

Below is the kitchen.
Think about it - can you imagine living in a home with no refrigerator and no oven, not to mention no dishwasher or microwave? Yet it's the normal way of life here, and it works!
Before we came, I asked "E" what we could bring to her from the city. Her response? Good bread! With no oven, and no bakery in the village, bread is one of life's luxuries.

We were shown to our living quarters for the duration of our visit - Sammy slept on the bench in the office, and our family shared the bedroom below.
The walls in the house are more like partitions - they didn't reach the ceiling, so you can see light from other rooms over the top, and hear the snores of your fellow house-mates in the wee hours of the night. (Of course, that means they could hear our snores, too...!)

Amy and Elise pose under the mosquito net hung over the bed they shared with Barbara
It was our first time to sleep with a mosquito net!

Mark slept on a cot off to the side, and here's Michael on his bed...

...which converted back into a table the day we left for home!
Curtains were strung on strings surrounding each bed to provide a measure of privacy for visitors who might share the room.

Below is "E's" room - what you see is not much smaller than what she gets. This space has been her home since 1989. Since her house is used by a group of employees, she keeps all she wants to be more private in this room; special foods like coffee creamer, jam and cereal (if they were stored in the kitchen, they would be eaten right up!), extra household supplies and toiletries, etc.

And finally, here's the CR (for those of you who are new, that means 'Comfort Room'!)
Notice the luxuries - running water, a lock on the door for privacy, a drain in the floor to allow for indoor (sponge) bathing, and an actual throne!
The differences?
-Flush by pouring a bucket-ful of water down the loo,
-Sponge bathe in very cold water ("E" told us they laugh evil laughs when they hear visitors scream the first time they dump that bucket-ful over their own heads!)
-Squat, don't sit
-Don't expect to bathe alone...the rats love this room!
-So don't leave your soap here, because rats love to eat soap.

It's true, rats DO love this room.
Each evening we could hear the scuttling of little feet in here as we prepared for bed.
We tried not to look too hard for our co-inhabitants.
Michael saw a rat the second night in the kitchen, but he graciously didn't tell his sisters until we were on our way home the next day.
Barbara was getting ready to take one of those exhilarating baths when she came nose-to-nose with a rat who was perched on the shelf just behind the water buckets. He wasn't too keen to see her either, and rushed away through a hole, for which she was relieved!

Next time - what we did in the village!

Friday, August 27, 2010

road trip

This week we had the amazing opportunity to visit a Filipino village together with Sammy, one of Mark's co-workers. The entire trip was exciting! Over the course of the next few days we'll be blogging more about it. For today we'll just share some images of the road trip.

For the entire 3 1/2 hours of travel from Davao, there were endless interesting sights...

...through countryside...
...and cities.
Check out all those trikes!!! I think ours was the only private car around!

We saw speed limit signs for the first time since arriving in the Philippines.

Fruit vendors sold their wares along the road in city and country.

Here's a bunch of guys hanging out around the pool table.

The vehicles we saw on the way defy imagination. I only wish I could have taken some better shots. Mark wasn't too thrilled with my suggestion to support great photos by driving at 15 mph.

This guy was trying to keep the load of cardboard balanced...

...ooops - now he's losing cardboard from inside!

The vegetation was gorgeous. Below is a field of coconut husks drying to be used as fuel. Not much goes to waste in this culture.

Fields of sugar cane

Rice fields

Rubber trees too!

There were also so many schools along the road, I lost track of how many we saw.

As we neared the village and began trying to read the fine details of the map, we found that it wasn't totally accurate. We took one minor detour, through a banana plantation and over this water-covered bridge. These photos don't do it justice... it was definitely worth the detour!

The vine bridge that spanned the river was tantalizing, but there was no time to explore.

Thanks to Sammy's Filipino good sense, we stopped and asked directions.

And soon we were on the final road leading up to the village.

Soon we'll blog about our days in the village!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Last week Davao celebrated the festival of Kadayawan, a festival celebrating the unique tribes that make up the city of Davao. Thursday evening we went downtown to People's Park, hoping to get in on some of the festivities. Since we could find no printed schedule of events, we knew we were taking a chance.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at 6:30, they were winding things up for the evening. We just got to see the very end of a children's dance, and to hear this musical group perform.

The park was full of people, and we were hopeful that maybe the performances would pick up again, but after a walk through the park...

...we came back to find the bandstand deserted.

Sunday morning was the big parade, and not being huge fans of largely populated spaces, we didn't work hard to go and see it, though we've heard that some of the floral floats are really spectacular. Maybe next year!
Early Sunday morning, around 6 a.m., we heard traditional Filipino bells/chimes being played in a sing-song way out in the street.
It went on and on. We finally went out to take a look.

Our next door neighbors were preparing their float for the parade!

There was a very festive air about the city all week, jeepney routes were skewed, and the streets were packed with people.

The President even declared Friday to be a non-working holiday for Davao residents so they could better participate in the festivities!

Friday, August 20, 2010

always room for one more

We've shared the quote before..."A Jeepney is Never Full." Here's just a little more evidence...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

count it gain

One of the underlying fears restraining Christians from abandoning ourselves to doing what God asks is the fear that, if we obey, we'll lose out in some way; we'll come out short.

"God is not a deceiver, that He should offer to support us, and then, when we lean upon Him, should slip away from us." -St. Augustine

We'd like to affirm that obeying God's call, even when it means huge life changes, does NOT leave Christians with the short end of the stick. Yes, there are things about our own culture, and things about our former lifestyle that we miss, but after living over a year here where God has led us, we have found unquestionable gain.

What have we gained?!??
*We have gained an incredible front-row display of God's unfailing faithfulness.
*We have gained a whole new perspective on how He works through the body of believers to provide for His work.
*We have gained an amazingly rich adventure full of experiences shared as a family that has bonded us together as nothing else could.
*We have gained a much broader world-view; our children number their friends from many continents.
*We have gained a vibrant community of fellow-workers who, though imperfect like us, share a common goal and have shown unparalleled inclusiveness.
*We have gained from the culture of our Filipino hosts as we learn to slow down and to value relationships more highly from their daily example.
*We have gained beautiful 30 cent pineapples dripping with sweetness unlike any pineapple we've ever tasted.
*We have gained a status of honor in our host country; we have been treated with grace and kindness.
*We have gained places of refreshment and rest...from Eden to Paradise.
*We have gained an experience of the universality of the Church as we worship together with believers of other tongues.
*We have gained a growing compassion for the poor, who are our neighbors.
*We have gained opportunities to grow in ways we never expected.

"The meaning of earthly existence lies, not as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul."
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Would we trade all of that to be back in the U.S. 'prospering' with a boring regular paycheck instead of depending daily on God's provision, driving an unremarkable minivan instead of riding colorful jeepneys, shopping at Target (okay, I admit I miss Target!) and comparing deals with my neighbor instead of hiring kids to earn a few pesos and some kind words?

Will I ever be fooled again into thinking that some more material stuff could be satisfying?

But our family has lived next-door to how the rest of the world lives. We've seen contentment and joy on faces of poverty-stricken people. We've shared lunch with blind brothers and sisters, and we've worked and laughed with dirty kids who have no shoes. We've prayed with our neighbor over illness and death. We've held babies whose hair is laced with lice and whose teeth are already rotting. And it's changed us. God has changed us.

All that gain, and I haven't even begun to describe the reason why God brought us here! I wish I could, but in this context we just are not able to share about our work. But we've gained so much more in the work we are privileged to do here!

Is it worth what we gave up?

Without a doubt. Life is short. Eternity is long.
Eternal investments just make good logical sense.
And in answering God's call on your life, there is unquestionable gain - now, and much more in eternity!

Monday, August 16, 2010

not your average u-haul

This weekend Mark and Michael helped a friend to move.
First they loaded the Isuzu (the spacious vehicle we're currently car-sitting!)

...and then they loaded the jeepney.

Michael was sort of hoping to ride the bumper for the 45 minute trip across town, but that idea was overruled.

A curious crowd waited at the other end, and they were soon put to work helping to unload the furniture. But not before a photo shoot!