Tuesday, May 29, 2012

winging our way

Even as you read this, our family will be winging our way back to the U.S.  Our route is an extended one as we visit friends here in S.E. Asia, so it will be a week before we arrive 'home', but we're pointed that direction!  That means we'll be seeing you all soon.  We value your prayers for us as we travel, and then as we re-enter our home culture.  Thank you!

Yesterday was a full day of packing, goodbyes, cleaning, more goodbyes, washing clothes, and even more goodbyes!  We'll share more about that once we reach the U.S., but until then we probably won't be blogging much. 

Thanks again for following our journey, 
for joining us here to see what God has been doing
in the lives of us5earthenvessels.

We give thanks for each and every one of you!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Following our time of worship and Sunday School yesterday, (top left)
this loving body of Christ laid out a huge farewell for us;
a 'despidida' or good-bye party.

JR cooked up a delicious batch of his kare-kare (thanks, JR!)
and Flor (lower left) rolled and fried 91 crisp, flavorful lumpia (you're amazing, Flor!)
Dai-dai (above, lower right photo) was mesmerized by the enticing cake.

What a feast!!

Elise (at the head of the table) and Amy (on her right)
 fellowship with some of the other youth

Ate Cathy visits with Amy and Elise

This little man munching the corn is Seth.
Seth made a farewell card for us that is priceless...

Then Kuya Harold started the program with a slide show full of memories of our time here,

Ysha, along with Yuri on the piano, played a beautiful duet

and a variety of people shared stories and memories

while the rest of us listened.
It was very fun.
 These friends know how to make you laugh and cry!

We were presented with a beautiful farewell poster
that Lois designed with well-wishes from everyone.

Then it was time to say good-bye.
Ato na mi.

We will miss you all.

Makita-kita...but we will see you again soon!

One last hop on Kuya Ron's wheels...

Friday, May 25, 2012

red lady

 Have you ever seen such a huge papaya?  
This is a Red Lady papaya, our favorite kind!
They are so sweet, and beautiful, too!

 This is the Red Lady in contrast to the more common papaya,
pictured at the bottom of the photo.
These common papaya are more golden in color, and tend to be a little more bitter.

 Mixed together with some fresh mango and pineapple,
this is the most delicious tropical fruit salad around!

We wish we could bring a big bowl of it to share with you!
But instead, you'll just have to come and visit us
when we get back to this island!

As the distinct flavors of these fruits compliment one another,
so it is with the body of Christ, and the fruit that she bears.
We have not all been designed to bear the same fruit.
Your life and work look different than ours. 
Taken together, it's most pleasing, 
not because we're all passionate about the same work,
but because of the very variety of the fruit we produce.

 I am the vine; you are the branches. 
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, 
for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

Have you, like me, ever expected others to catch your passion for a certain work?
I want to pause and just give thanks for the beautiful things He's accomplishing through others 
precisely because they don't do the work I do!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

earthen vessels

They aren't exactly earthen, but I spotted these five vessels at a retreat we attended a couple of years ago, 
and I thought they were photo-worthy, 
not even connecting until recently that they represent our family...
us 5 earthen vessels!  :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

nowhere else to go

In some mysterious way, God works through the prayers of His people.  We invite you today to pray with us and for us, as He brings the following requests to mind...

* Please pray with us for our friends here, who are co-workers too.  Their 4-year-old adopted Filipino son died this past weekend.  Though it wasn't totally unexpected, since he's had major health problems since his birth, and they knew he wouldn't live long, it is still a great loss to their family.  Please pray for God's comfort and strength during the days-long Filipino-style grieving process, and then for peace and rest and comfort for their family in the days that will follow his funeral tomorrow.

* Please also pray for an upcoming Bible dedication scheduled next month in another S.E. Asian country.  Many complications have emerged: health problems, a family death, and the last minute scheduling of a major religious event of another faith in the same area, which is causing questions about housing of visitors and other issues.  Please pray that God will work it all to His perfect plan, and that He will be glorified there as His Word is made known!

* And finally, please pray for our family in our upcoming travels and transitions back to the US. We deeply appreciate your prayers for us now!

Thank you for  praying. 

I have been driven many times to my knees
by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.
-Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, May 17, 2012

what a different view

With a heavy heart I trudge home from my errand.  With just a couple of weeks left in the Philippines, I am beginning to distance myself a bit emotionally so that the good byes will be less painful.  But in the process my attitude is turning sour.  I feel a bitterness edging in, robbing me of joy and of grace and of love.  So my heart is heavy, and I abhor these negative feelings inside of me.

I plop down at my computer and I reach out for help.  I pour a little of this heavy heart out in quick emails to two praying friends.  Promptly each one in turn emails me back some grace.  One with a beautiful prayer that melts my hardening heart, reminding me of God’s mercy and of His goodness even right here in the middle of the challenges.  The other friend lovingly encourages, then challenges me: ”Disarm your ill feelings with gratitude.

How quickly I forget!  Gratitude.  Gratitude for every gift that God gives to me today, confident, trusting that this gift is the perfect one for me in this moment.  Gratitude that turns sourness to sweetness, bitterness to joy.  Thanks, my dear friends, for being uplifting instruments of grace and truth to me today.

A day later, lighter of heart, I leave the house to run another errand.  I’m on my way to the hospital to pick up TB testing results, a requirement by the school for involvement next year on our return.  Outside of our house the sun blazes hot at midday.  Thank You, God, for cheerful sunshine!

Riding up the road in a jeepney, another jeepney passes by.  From deep inside I spot someone waving at me!  It’s my friend J, and she signals that she’s sent me an email.  Thank You, God, for friends on the jeepney route, and for emails from them in my inbox.  The wind blows cool through the jeep windows; thank You for this reprieve from the grueling heat of the day.  I hop off downtown and walk toward the hospital.  People are on the street all around, visiting, repairing vehicles, texting, enjoying a cool drink. Thanks to God for community.

I arrive at the hospital entrance where a smiling guard checks my purse.   
I’m grateful, God, that we live in such a secure place.  
inside the hospital
Within minutes I have the TB test results in hand.   
Triple negatives.   
Triple thanksgiving  for three healthy children.   
As I exit the hospital I make a decision.  I’m going to walk home.   
The sun is shining, God is good. 

On my walk a sociable taxi driver asks, ‘why are you walking?’   
I tell him it’s for exercise, though that’s only part of the story; 
it’s more because today I want to take time to notice more of God’s goodness.   
Thank You, God, for healthy legs to take me home.  

 In the field I pass a huge grazing cow.  
She’s magnificent.   
Thank You, God, for Your creative genius.   

Across the street I see a squatter’s shack and I give thanks for our house. 

Almost home, a group of Filipinos chatting together in the shade yell out a cheerful greeting. 
 Thank You, God, that I live in such a friendly place!

With a light heart I arrive home from my errand.   
I traveled the same route.  
 At the same time of day.  
 But oh, what a different view, 
and all because of friends who pray, 
and the joyful perspective of a thankful heart.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
that though He was rich, 
yet for your sakes He became poor, 
so that you through His poverty 
might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

early mother's day morning

Mother's Day morning...
I could sleep in, since our children had plans to make breakfast.
Lemon scones dripping with lemony glaze, a beautiful fruit plate and hot scrambled eggs.
Food of kings.
( Thanks you3, for a wonderful Mother's Day! ♥ )

But instead of sleeping in, at 4:30 a.m. I was woken by noises from outside;
the sound of instruments growing louder by the moment.

I was now wide awake, 
listening to the band's notes ebb and flow 
as they wended their way up and down the neighboring streets.

 I went up to the deck with my camera, hoping to catch them again.
But for a long time it was only me
and the birds
welcoming the dawn.

Finally, at 5:30, the notes grew louder, and I knew they'd be passing by soon.
But it wasn't a marching band this year,
no candles,
no following parade,
just a group of enthusiastic guys in the bed of a truck;
guys who obviously hadn't thought of sleeping in on Mother's Day!

In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; 
In the morning I will order my prayer to You 
and eagerly watch.  
Psalm 5:3

But God sent them to wake me 
so that instead of ushering Mother's Day in with more sleep,
I could rise,
and in a quiet place give thanks for my own sweet mother,
now at home in Glory,
for my mother-in-law who has always shown me such love,
and for this privilege of being a mother, 
for the gift I have in parenting these three gifts of God together with Mark. 

I am eternally grateful.

I do hope you weren't woken quite as early as I, 
and that you had a wonderful Mother's Day, too!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

we're not so sure...

 Here's the other side of the equation.  As our departure draws closer, we also find ourselves thinking about what we'll miss about being here in the Philippines over the course of the next several months.  Here's a list of some of the things we aren't so crazy about in our transition:

What our family is unsure about:

*Being overwhelmed by all of the American choices; in the stores, in the restaurants.
*Fast traffic, and no easy public transportation. We haven't had to worry about finding parking for a long time!

*Gaps we have in knowledge about the American culture.  Don't be surprised by our blank looks in the middle of conversations.  You might need to fill us in once in awhile!

*Time away from friends here in Davao.  There are many dear Filipinos we will miss very much. We'll also miss being part of a close community where we interact with so many friends every day - at work, at school, at our gate, on the street.

*Remembering how to use self-checkouts,

*Or how to pump gas,

*Or how to run a dishwasher.  When I came home for my father's funeral last August, I asked if my sister filled her sink with that glorious hot water to wash dishes, or if she just washed under the running tap?  She looked at me with a quizzical look and said, 'no...'  It was then I remembered the dishwasher.  :blush:

*Not having fresh mangos, papaya, and pineapple! 

*The absence of friendly, smiling pedestrians on the street at all hours; strangers who call out greetings.  The streets will seem so...deserted.

*Re-building relationships with people, looking beyond the changes that three years have made.  You have changed during our absence. So have we. But we truly want to hear what God has been doing in your lives!

*Expensive haircuts.  A very good haircut costs under $4 in this part of the world.  Can you beat that?

*The holes left gaping by the deaths of  Barbara’s dad and sister since we left in 2009.  Grief may hit us again as we miss them in our family gatherings.

*Missing basketball season in Davao; Amy and Elise especially will miss the sports seasons, though Michael will too - since this would be his first year to try out for team sports.

*Expensive health care.  We had to get chest x-rays for TB testing required by the school this week.  We walked in without an appointment, and were finished in about 35 minutes. Each x-ray cost under $10.

*A ‘we need this!’ tendency to go overboard buying things we can’t find in SE Asia.  All of us have lists of things we'd like to look for.  Clothing (we feel a little raggedy right now) water color paints (Amy) Legos (Michael) books... Pray that we will be able to shop with attitudes of contentment and thankfulness!

* Cold temperatures.  Will we survive?  We've had perpetual summer for 36 months.  We've grown pretty acclimated to the warmth.  Though it will be nice have a break from constant perspiration, we wonder how we'll handle the cooler weather!  Guess it's time to teach Michael what a jacket is...  (just kidding, M!)

*Never enough time to spend with people we love.  It just never could be long enough.  
                                        But then, we'll have all of eternity to be together. :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

looking forward...

As we get closer to our departure from the Philippines to begin our six-month home assignment, we find ourselves contemplating both what we are looking forward to in the U.S. as well as what we are not so sure about. The following list is some of what we’ve agreed we are looking forward to. 
Does any of it surprise you?

Things our family is looking forward to in the US:

*A quiet atmosphere

*Being together again with family and friends.  We've missed you!

*American restaurants - we talk about this one quite a lot.  Some of us even have our own separate lists of restaurants we can't wait to try again. We won't mention who.

*Clothes driers and soft, fluffy, warm dry clothes


*Being ‘invisible’ – not standing out as foreigners everywhere we go

*Walks in the woods

*Target (and other American stores) and good sales on summery clothes!

*Strawberries, peaches, blueberries, pears, cheese, milk, bagels, deli meats, and boxed cereal

*Bug-less houses

*Understanding what everyone around us is talking about

*Fast and reliable internet (this especially matters to Mark)

*Public Libraries and all those glorious books!

*Carpet (though some of the family thinks it sounds unsanitary and a little disgusting)

*Hot running water.  Ahh!  Luxury!!

*Dishwashers - though we aren't sure we'll quite know what to do with them

*Driving a car after using mostly public transportation for 3 years

*Learning to drive (that's Amy & Elise)

*Public parks

*Trying AirSoft guns (that’s Michael!)

*Cool fall temperatures; wearing long sleeves and seeing our breath…

*Clean streets

*Did we mention American food?
Soon to come...things we are not so sure about...

Monday, May 7, 2012

banquet bound

 Last weekend, Elise and Amy attended the annual High School Spring Banquet.

...let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart
 with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:4


 We're so blessed by both of you...

Friday, May 4, 2012

fare thee well

Our first term in Davao is drawing to a close.
I know, because the farewells have begun.
This week colleagues had our family over for a goodbye dinner, 
and my sweet friend Ate Fely took me to lunch in farewell.

When I asked Fely what she liked best about the restaurant she chose, 
she looked at me with a twinkle in her eye, 
and told me it was the red table cloths.
Red is Fely's favorite color. 
And she'll never let me forget it.
Three years ago we said our goodbyes in the U.S. 
I thought it just might break my heart. 
And here we are again, saying more of them.

Saying goodbye is like a mini-death; 
a loss, a separation.
And saying goodbye hurts.  
It hurts because in some way those I am parting with have blessed my life.
You have made me a richer person,
and demonstrated something of Christ to me.
Thank you.
Thank you for making it hard to say farewell...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

join the band

Last Friday night Michael and Amy performed with their school bands;
Michael on trumpet.

It's amazing how much progress you've made in 7 months, Michael!
You sounded fabulous!

And then the high school band:

with Amy on flute.

Her solo part in "Scarborough Fair" was absolutely lovely.
But then, I'm just a little biased...

Keeping an eye on i-phone in the row ahead of us...

I couldn't resist a photo of the Sousaphone:

And Michael poses with Mr. B., 
their amazingly energetic, enthusiastic, inspirational and gifted band teacher.
Thanks for all you do, Mr. B., to bring music to our lives!

For some more artistic black and whites of the concert, see Elise's blog...