Monday, November 29, 2010

blind love

This weekend we went to a church-wide wedding shower
for two sweet believers, Jodel and Kelly,
who will be getting married next month.

These two face many challenges;
perhaps the greatest is that both of them are blind.

(When I first heard Jodel sing the song "No More Night" with his guitar, it brought me to tears -

No more night. No more pain.
No more tears. Never crying again.
And praises to the great "I AM."
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

See over there, there’s a mansion prepared for me,
Where I will live with my Savior eternally.

What a promise to one whose has no earthly sight, and so little materially!)

We enjoyed fellowship together,

young and old!

And a potluck fellowship meal.

It's time to eat!

The first item on the table?
Rice of course!

Then other not-as-familiar potluck options...

It's pretty normal at church potlucks to see the kid's plates full of just
rice and pasta (and dessert!)

And that's NOT just our kids!

Afterward the children went out to play,

,,,and while the food was being cleared away, Jodel practiced his guitar.

Then we all gathered...

to play some games
and to watch the couple open gifts.

Then the men and women separated into two different rooms.

I'm not really sure what the men did, but poor Kelly was grilled -
When and where was your first date?
When was the last time Jodel told you he loves you?
How did he tell you of his feelings for you?
Kelly seemed pretty embarrassed.

The women then each expressed wishes or marital advice for Kelly,
and then they had MORE questions for her-
all about the wedding preparations, the wedding itself, the honeymoon.

Though I only understood part of what was going on
(due to my halting language ability)
and though I was really glad I wasn't the one being grilled,
it really was very sweet to see the love within the body of Christ expressed for these two.

Thanks for inviting us to the party, friends.

And we share your hope, Jodel and Kelly,
of glory - a place of no more night.
You will see your Savior there,
and for the first time, you will see one another, too.
Until then, may your love be grounded in His.

"Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?... Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!" - Fanny Crosby

Thursday, November 25, 2010

this our hymn of grateful praise

Giving thanks....

...for a kitchen that's big enough for all of us to cook together...

...for fun kids to cook with...

...for cherry pie...

...and apprentices who are taking up the pie-making torch...

...for our kitchen fan -
without which we might have been puddles by the end of the day...

...for memories made together...

...for God's goodness in reserving cranberries for me,
even though every ex-pat in town was shopping for them this week!...

...and for REAL celery for our stuffing, too!...

...for an alternative to the $50 turkey I spotted at the grocery store...
...and for the fact that our children like chicken better anyway...

...that Mark is back home in time to celebrate with us...

...for sweet potatoes (even if they aren't quite like what we're used to!)...
...and for the luxury of pecans, a gift from a sweet friend...

...for Michael's excitement to craft decorations,
even though he's not a crafty kind of guy...

...for the joy in giving thanks...

...for being altogether under one roof again...

...we give thanks.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

giving thanks

Aren't you glad that America has continued the
tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving?
If it encourages even only some of us to pause and to give thanks,
then it ought to be a keeper!

Because a thankful heart is a healthy heart.
It's one that can praise,
and it's one that finds it hard to complain.

When we take time to consider the incredible grace that God
has poured out on us, in not sparing His own Son;
in Christ's gift of His own life in payment for ours,
how can we not be FULL of thanks?!?

I know so little of a true heart of thankfulness, but I'm learning.
I long for greater contentment,
and I'm convinced that choosing to be thankful is the key!

We would worry less if we praised more.

Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.

– Harry Ironside

Here are some of my very favorite quotes on giving thanks
by people who have said it much better than I ever could...

Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep. -Robert Louis Stevenson

A joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful. – Book of Common Prayer

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? - GK Chesterton

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. – Aldous Huxley

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. –William Shakespeare

You say, ‘if I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. – Charles Spurgeon

Happy Thanksgiving week

to each and every one of you...

May we all be known by our thankful hearts!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

he's home!

After about 54 hours enroute,
Mark has finally safely arrived home,
tired but thankful.

Thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

on his way

Mark has been serving in another country for the past 3 weeks, and we've sure missed him!
He began his homeward journey yesterday, and is scheduled to arrive home tomorrow (yay!). We are excited to hear the stories he'll have to share about his time away. And we'll be writing about his trip in our next newsletter so you can get in on some of the stories, too!**
Please join us in praying for safe travels for Mark, and also for good health; that he won't have contracted anything that will cause him illness.

MANY THANKS to all of you who have been praying for Mark and for us during this three week period of being apart. God has been so faithful, and all has gone very well. We are deeply thankful for God's goodness!

"...the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues.
And they shall come and see My glory."
Isaiah 66:18

**If you would like to receive our newsletter (which is where we are able to share about the work we're involved in here in S.E. Asia,) please email us and we'll add you to our mailing list. Or, if you don't have our email address, just leave a comment here (which we will not post on the blog) with your contact information.

Friday, November 19, 2010

what's in a name

Thanks to those of you who shared name ideas with us for our kitten!

The naming of cats is a difficult matter.
It isn't just one of your holiday games.
-T.S. Eliot

As it happens, she made for herself a Visayan name;

That's pronounced 'Chinellas' and it's the word for slip-on shoes

That's because this (above) is her favorite spot to curl up;
on top of all the shoes (tsinelas!) in the outdoor shoe rack.
It's her bed stead at night, and her quiet retreat in the daytime.

She's become a favorite with some of the neighbor children,
and they love telling other kids her name!

Tsinelas is a sweet kitty who loves to climb,
(though I think we've cured her of climbing up the window screens
to peek inside at us) and she's very sociable.

Cats as a class, have never completely got over the snootiness
caused by that fact that in Ancient Egypt
they were worshiped as gods.
~P.G. Wodehouse

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

advance merry Christmas

Here in the Philippines, Christmas preparations
happen all through the 'BER' months
(you know, SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER)

Yes, that means that on September 1st
the malls are decorated,
you begin hearing Christmas music on the radio
and in the stores,
and taxi drivers and the garbage men begin to greet you with
"Advance Merry Christmas!"

Street vendors walk by our house with holiday decorations for sale

Unlike the U.S., the Philippines has no autumn season -
no falling leaves or cooler temperatures.
There is also no Thanksgiving holiday,
(that's right - school and work as usual on Thanksgiving Day!)
so the fall motif is just not a part of the culture.

More vendors drive by with holiday wares

That means that we move with ease from summer into Christmas.

At least, some do.
A Filipino friend of ours told Mark that his wife had their Christmas tree up in October.

I finally gave in to Michael's consuming wish to decorate our home early.
It's always been our family tradition to decorate on
December 1st, but 'when in Rome...'

So if you come to our front door today, you'll see this...

But we'll save the Christmas tree for December 1st.
I've got to maintain some semblance of family tradition around here...

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Josanne rang the doorbell on Saturday.
"Tita Barbara?"
(Tita is 'aunt')
I assumed she was looking for work, so I went to the gate,
wracking my brain for a job she could do to earn a few pesos.

But as I approached she proudly said,
"Niluto ang akong Mama ug mga saging.
Lami sila.

'My mother cooked bananas.
They are delicious.'

Then she asked if we'd like to buy some.
Would I ?!?!
Since I love to encourage this kind of work ethic,
and this type of family involvement,
I ordered 5.

Josanne looked very pleased,
and (in a very business-like manner) whipped out her bag of sugar
and proceeded to dip and shake 5 still-warm fried bananas,
coating them maybe a little too well...?

The bananas were sliced and fanned out in a very artistic way.
And Josanne was right.
They were lami.

I'm happy to be building friendships with Josanne, and with other children of the neighborhood. I'm thankful that we can communicate a little better than we could a year ago.
But I'm frustratingly slow to learn the language, and I long for the ability to be able to better relate something of the sweetness, the goodness of God with her and with the others who visit our gate in a way that they would understand.
I pray for some way to share the hope and light of the gospel,
to see their lives transformed
and their destiny redeemed!

Please pray with me that God would open a way in this neighborhood
for these children to hear His good news,
and to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

'tis the season

It's basketball season again, and Elise and Amy are loving the time on court.
They've got fabulous coaches, and a really fun team this year.

But games with local schools don't always work out as planned.

Last Friday's game was quickly redefined as a scrimmage,
complete with paid refs and scoreboard
when the school they were expecting called at game time
to say they weren't able to get their girls out of class to come.
(Filipino school days can last til 4:30pm.)

Elise (#11) makes a shot

The head coach gives some advice to the scrimmaging 'visitor team'
Amy's a temporary #2

I love this shot - something about the slanted posture of most of the girls is great.
I don't remember if Elise's attempt made it or not!

In scrimmage, they put Amy and Elise on opposite teams.

I'm glad that on-court aggression toward each other isn't the norm, sisters!

This weekend the scenario was a little different.
No game was announced.

It was a lazy Saturday morning, and we were all slow in getting going.
Then at 8 o'clock, we got the call from Coach.
'There's a team ready to play us waiting at the school; can you come?'

Elise #11, Amy #5

By 9 am both of the coaches
and 10 out of the 12 team members were there warming up.

Two dads who had come to watch the game were drafted as refs...
(chosen because they happened to be wearing appropriate shoes)

Arranged games just require a certain amount of flexibility,
another great character trait being learned
as we live in a culture that doesn't always work the way we would expect.

They played an intense game, 24:22...unfortunately not in their favor.
But they had a great time anyway.
And Elise made 10 of those 22 points!!! Go Lise!

As point guard, Amy gets lots of ball time.

We are incredibly thankful for the gift of such a wonderful community;
something we never even dreamed of before we came.

Wish you could join us for the next game!