Sunday, October 31, 2010

all saints day

It's All Saint's Day today, a holiday to remember family and friends who have died.
Amy, Elise, Michael and I walked up to the nearby cemetery and took a stroll through this morning.

There was a quiet festival feeling in the air.
Cars were lined up to enter, some with lawn chairs piled on top.

We passed a long row of vendors, selling everything; flowers, Pepsis, candles, snacks.

Even Dunkin' Donuts had a booth.

People had set up awnings to spend the day at the graves,
and others had tents; they had spent the night.
Still a few others had slept inside elaborate mausoleums complete with a/c and TVs.

This pavilion was being set up for a 9 a.m. Holy Mass service.
And at 7 o'clock tonight there will be movies on some sort of big screen.

Can you see all the graves up on the hillside? There were lots of people there, too, walking around the graves, cleaning them, and leaving flowers and candles.

In a culture where relationships are so important, it's not too surprising that a day like this is reserved for such devoted remembrances.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

1 Corinthians 15:53-57

Friday, October 29, 2010

best seat in the house

November is almost here,
and fall is in the air...

at least for most of you back in the U.S.!

Here in Davao, the temperatures are just as hot as ever, and I find myself thinking wistfully of chilly mornings,
golden leaves,
candles burning,
orange chrysanthemums,
Butterball turkeys,
pulling out the winter clothes,
and pumpkins on doorsteps.

We did have some rain this week which brought the temps down closer to 80 than 90,
at least for the day.

(above) Amy and Elise leave for school Tuesday morning, after a night of non-stop rain

(above) our street in the other thankful for those sidewalks!

On these intensely hot fall days,
we've found ourselves increasingly thankful for the deck on our house -
the best room in the place!

Here, in the bright glare of the early morning sun,
is the perfect spot for hanging our laundry up to dry along the gutter of the roof.

As midday passes, and the sun goes over the roof line,
the deck is a pleasant place to visit with friends
and to watch the jeepneys go by.

Or on the weekends, Mark likes to grab a book to read here.

Around 5:30, as the sun begins its descent,
it's the ideal setting to watch God's magnificent artistry on the canvas of the sky.
(nice photo, Elise!)

The deck has also become our favorite dining spot.
Since at dinnertime the house is still stifling from the heat of the day,
we often grab our plates and head up the stairs for an autumn picnic,
where we can watch the bats fly by,
feel any breeze that happens to waft through,
and see the stars begin to peek out one by one.
(Not to mention being able to watch the approach path
of incoming flights to the airport, right, Mark?)

In fact, it's Mark and Barbara's favorite spot to go on our date night!

And often we are witnesses to an amazing display of lightning in the night sky.

(above: Michael enjoys some dessert while watching the display.
Don't worry, Grandma, the carport roof is right on the other side of the railing where he's sitting!

(another nice photo, Elise!)

All on our deck...the best seat in the house.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

watch your step

Though we're happy to have sidewalks in some areas of our neighborhood,
it's always a good idea to watch our step.

Sometimes these drain covers (like the stone in place above)
have been moved off to the side, and there's a gaping hole to dodge.

It's not a place where you go out for a jog in the dark.

Other times it's just obstacles, like this rock and dirt,
or in some places, large tree stumps or very low street signs (watch your head!)
in the middle of the sidewalk.

Then there are the less common obstacles.

One day I was walking down the sidewalk to catch a taxi
when two motor cyclists, because of the potholes in the road,
hopped the curb to drive on the smoother section of sidewalk.

Considering they were headed straight at me, I, in instinctive self-preservation,
made a quick detour onto the road.
As we passed, they on the sidewalk and I on the road,
I found myself thinking...'there's something not quite right with this picture!'

Drivers have to keep their eyes open, too.

This improvised road block (above) has been in place for months, and requires some serious maneuvering when two jeepneys are trying to come through from opposite directions at the same time.
Originally the branch protruding up from the tire had a little flag waving cheerfully on the top; I guess it was just too tempting for someone to leave alone!

I wonder, if in Jeremiah's day, they had similar sidewalks?

Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Barangay Elections

Today is a Philippine holiday for the holding of Barangay elections. The Barangay is a native Filipino term for a village, district or ward. Based on the enthusiasm we've seen in our neighborhood, it appears that these local elections are of more interest to many people than the national elections. There have been caravans of vehicles, many playing music, lots of colored balloons, etc. We're not sure everyone is completely into the election aspect ... some seem to just enjoy riding around with a group of people honking horns, making some noise, and generally having fun together!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


A family of Filipino friends walked in the door. Their thirteen year-old son, Jotham, walked over to greet me. He took my hand and bowed his head. In my ignorance, I thought to shake his hand, until I realized that he had lifted my hand to his forehead.


The gesture of raising the hand of an elder to the forehead is a demonstration of respect and honor, and is called 'Bless.' My heart swelled with wonder. Not only had Jotham shown me tribute as an older friend, but he had given me the dignity of inclusion in a ritual uniquely theirs.

I cannot even begin to imagine what it will look like in heaven,
when all nations, tribes, people and tongues together,
with one purpose,
but unique in custom and expression,
will give glory and blessing to Christ,
who is worthy of all praise,
all honor,
and all worship!

Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be to Him that sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb for ever and ever!

Revelation 5:13

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

engineers in training

Saturday morning we hosted a group of home-schooled families for our monthly meeting.

Mark prepared a session on aerodynamics,
beginning with some basic explanation of a cut-away Gulfstream poster.

He discussed basic aviation principles, and showed some great video clips to demonstrate the concepts.

Then the group built their own gliders, models of the X-1.

After a series of test-flights and suitable adjustments, we had a competition to see who had the furthest flying model.

It was lots of fun!
Here's the happy third-place winner with his
faster-than-the-speed-of-sound X-1.

Amy wasn't able to join us, since she came down with pink-eye the night before.
Please pray for her as she continues to recover from a multi-symptom bug.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


This from our local news: DAVAO Region can expect rain and nothing more from super-typhoon "Juan" (international name Megi), which is expected to make landfall Monday in Northern Luzon.

We are thankful that we are not in the path of the storm, but are praying for those in the North who face potentially huge losses today:

Thousands of people in the Philippines have fled from their homes ahead of a powerful storm, Super-Typhoon Megi, which is expected to reach the north of the country early on Monday.

Megi, which has winds of up to more than 175mph, is the strongest storm the Philippines has faced this year.

Government forecasters say waves off the east coast could be greater than 46ft.

Thousands of soldiers and officers are on standby to deliver aid and rescue people stranded by the floods. (Below, Philippine National Police and volunteer rescue units practice search and rescue operations on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010)

Trucks, rescue boats and food packs have been pre-positioned near vulnerable areas, said Benito Ramos, a senior disaster-response official."This is like preparing for war. We know the past lessons and we're aiming for zero casualties."

Farmers in Cagayan, a rice- and tobacco-producing region of more than 1 million people about 250 miles northeast of Manila, have been warned to harvest as much of their crops as possible before Typhoon Megi hits.

With its current course and speed, the typhoon is expected to barrel across the northern tip of Luzon island then blow into the South China Sea late Monday toward northern Vietnam or southern China, weather bureau official Nataniel Servando said. (Below: tracking the storm)

Thanks to those of you who have expressed concern.

We are safe and dry.

Friday, October 15, 2010

free fall

I hope that you aren't getting too tired yet of seeing photos of Samal Island, because I'd like to share one more highlight of our time there!

We spent one morning exploring Hagimit Falls,
a private park full of trails
through a system of small waterfalls
which are fed by an underground spring.

Unlike waterfalls we've been to in the U.S.,
these are open for climbing...

...and jumping!!!
(can you see Michael in the photo above?)

What a fun place to explore!

We even found natural water slides.

Michael and Amy discovered the game of 'buko bola' (coconut ball);
who knew that a coconut could be such a great toy?

And what could be more fun than jumping off of waterfalls?

Jumping with your dad, of course!

Here's a short video of 'buko bola' just for fun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

up to bat

While on Samal Island, we visited the Bat Caves one afternoon.

This underground cave, with a series of 5 different openings,
is supposedly featured in the Guinness Book of World Records
as the largest colony of Rousette Fruit Bats in the world.

We followed our Filipino guide (the one with the sunscreen on his head - these 'head coverings' also double as umbrellas on rainy days!) through the property to the cave.

Shhhh.... sleeping bats ahead!

The guide led us around the railing right to the edge of the cave.
We could almost feel the rush of bat wings, and the guano smell was pretty pungent.

Michael peers inside the first cave opening

Each cave opening had an amazing number of bats - we read on one sign that there are 60 per square foot!

And then came the chance of a lifetime.

Our guide thought it was great that we were willing to hold the baby bat.
I thought it was an amazing, not-to-be-missed opportunity!

What amazing little creatures these are!

"My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever."
Psalm 145:21

Monday, October 11, 2010

smiles of samal

The people of Samal Island were friendly and a little shy of us.

This vendor sold us a 10 peso bag of peanuts at the ferry launch.

The children were shy when they saw us coming, but smiling and waving as we went!

This scene is oh, so typical; A group of guys just hangin' out, enjoying being together.

I wish we could have pumped this boy's front tire just a little...

This lady was lovely.
She tried to talk with us, but our Visayan was so halting, she smiled and moved on.

Washing in the river.

'Lami kaayo!' I think she was worried I might try to take her ice cream after I said, 'very delicious!'.

We agreed that we were probably just as much a novelty to them as they were to us, since we didn't see too many other Western families exploring the island.

"Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me."
Genesis 22:18