Friday, July 27, 2012

home sweet home

As we visit with many of you here in the U.S.,
we encounter lots of questions about where we live in Davao.

So here's a picture tour of our home!

Here's our house - the one right in the middle
Inside the gate is a carport (though we have no car!) and a small yard
We love our little patch of green in the front,
the birds that visit us,
and the flowers that grow...

Down the right side of our house is another small unit where a co-worker lives
Our driveway is a spot where local kids can come to work or to play
Here's our living room/dining area - all ready for our church Christmas Party last year.

And the same room from another angle - ready for a Thanksgiving feast!

Our kitchen is spacious and wonderful. 
Do you notice any differences from a typical U.S. kitchen?

In case you were wondering...
*No dishwasher
*No running hot water
*Lower kitchen counters
*Windows open all the time except in driving rain
*Small range/oven - not large enough for a cookie sheet!
*Most foods in plastic storage -to protect it from the ants

Continuing the downstairs tour, this is our office space
This room also has a window A/C unit, so we gather here every evening 
after dinner to read, work, play games, or watch a movie.
Lots of together time!

Also downstairs is our main Comfort Room
or bathroom.
Because we have an electric water heater in this shower,
it's the shower of choice.

And finally, our Master Bedroom is downstairs, too.
This room has about two more feet of width than what you see, 
and two feet of extra length at the end of the bed.

Michael's bedroom is upstairs
as is Amy and Elise's room.
The upstairs bathroom
This room gets soaked if anyone turns on the shower.
Another good reason to shower downstairs!

Upstairs is also a loft area where we sew, play piano, and use as workspace.

Mark calls our deck 'the best room in the house.'
After the heat of the sun has passed, it's a great spot to read,
meet with friends,
or have dinner.
Michael eats dessert on the deck while lightening flashes in the background
And the deck is also where we hang our clothes to dry after washing them in the machine
Thanks for visiting!
We'd love to have you come
for a real-life tour when we get back!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

summer days

On our way south-ward, we stopped in Hot Springs, Arkansas to visit our dear friends,

      Hank and Jane.

They live on a lake in Hot Springs, intentionally working to create a home where their grandchildren will want to visit them.

We had the best of times enjoying the water with them. And we can see why their grands love to visit!

my handsome husband!
Michael water skiis for the first time

Then he gives advice to Amy who decided to have a go

She's up!

Hank instructs Michael in driving the boat
while Michael's poor sisters hang on for dear life on the tube behind

THANK YOU, Hank and Jane!!

**to see Mark and me on that tube, check out Elise's lake photos !

Thursday, July 19, 2012

heavy laden

 She walks down the street on a Monday morning,
calling loud for all to hear
'fruit for sale! fresh fruit!'
Mangoes, Rambutan,
a basket laden heavy with a means of living.
She stops at a gate to make a sale.
The fruit in her basket is past its prime,
and a little bruised around the edges,

but then so am I.
It will still be sweet,
and I hope that the years and the bruising
are producing sweeter fruit in my life, too.
It's not until she turns to go that I see her companion,
her young daughter
burdened too with this task of earning a living;
not in a school with a desk
learning to read and write,
but in training for a life of work and of heavy  load.

And I give thanks again
because that could be me,
walking down the dusty street
with the heavy burden of daily subsistence.

That could be our daughters beside me,
laden with such a load; the weight of the world,
the responsibility of earning their keep
in a school of heavy burdens.

Could it be that
but for the grace of God,
this might be you,
calling loud for all to hear,
hoping for a sale,
for pesos to buy this day your daily rice?

What burdens are you carrying today?

Are your shoulders bowed with the load?
Financial worries, health issues, tense relationships,challenges with children, 
spiritually dry, aging, loss of work, discouragement or sin...
It's heavy, and it hurts.
May the bruising be producing sweeter fruit for Him in you and me
as we give Him thanks for not leaving us to bear it alone.

His yoke is easy; His burden light.
But only because He is bearing the weight of the load. 
"Cast it all on Me," He says...
"I care for you."
 1 Peter 5:7

"Are you in a hurry, flurried, distressed? 
Look up! See the Man in the Glory!  
Let the face of Jesus shine upon you - the wonderful face of the Lord Jesus Christ.  
Is He worried or distressed?
There is no care on His brow, no least shade of anxiety.
Yet the affairs are as much His as yours."
- Hudson Taylor

*edited from the archives

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

righteous rides

Last Wednesday noon we said bitter-sweet goodbyes to our family
and took a flight from Seattle to St. Louis.

We were met at the airport by this amazing family

who are part of the Righteous Rides team,
a dedicated group of people who minister to families like us
with van rentals for reduced rates.

Not only did they deliver this beautiful van for our use for the next several months,
but it had also been stocked with thoughtful items like this gift bag full of snacks for the road!

The K. family shared their story of God's working in their lives,
information about the van,
and then prayed for us, making us feel so very blessed.
Then we set off southward bound.
More of our trip soon!

Note: We just arrived in Savannah tonight and have been already so blessed by the people of God here.  THANK YOU to ALL of you who had a part in welcoming us!!!  We give thanks to Him for each and every one of you, and look forward to seeing you all soon!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Since we've been back we've been enjoying so many things about our home culture.
 And we've been caught by surprise by several things we sort of forgot about, like:

*Mail delivery...seeing the mailman delivering to each home! Now that's amazing.

* took us a few rides before it became natural to click-it again.

*Long days...being close to the equator, we've lived for 3 years with the sun setting every day by 6pm.  
The extended summer days here took us much longer to adjust to than getting over jet lag.

A&E with 2nd cousin, J!
*Feeling like eavesdroppers...we can understand everything everyone around us is saying,
 and it leaves us feeling as if we're spying on you.

*Smart phones...people around us are not just texting on those cps. 
  5 out of 6 are playing games, on facebook, or browsing the internet.

cousin K hangs out with Michael
*Looking like everyone else...we've had trouble locating the family in a crowd 
because 'everyone looks alike!'

*Soft carpet, this grass.

*Reading sale's kind of fun to browse the ads in the Sunday paper!  There's no such thing in Davao.

*Getting tans...we find we're in the sun way more here than we ever are in Davao - 
it's just way too hot under the Philippine sun!

*Oatmeal at McD’s... healthy breakfast options even at the Golden Arches?!?

*Celebrating American holidays...we forgot how special these days are.

photo by Elise

Time changes everything 
except something within us 
which is always surprised by change.
-Thomas Hardy 


Saturday, July 7, 2012

ever faithful

As we visit with family and friends in the Pacific Northwest,
we've heard lots of stories of the past few years.

Stories of struggling with challenges like
caring for disabled loved ones,
experiencing debilitating health issues,
bearing long-term unemployment,
lovingly parenting through tumultuous times,
watching a lifetime of memories go up in flames in a home fire,

Our dear friend Wyndall (second from left) lost his home in a fire early this year

feeling the heartbreak of broken relationships, 
functioning in a frustrating work environment,
losing loved ones in death,
and facing uncertainties about the future.

But despite the challenges, 
the resounding theme we are hearing is one of 
A theme of God's goodness, and of His care through the struggles.
We hear the desire of your hearts to trust Him,
to follow Him.

 Thank you for sharing your stories with us...
for encouraging us with your faith in God Who is ever faithful!

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, 
the faithful God 
who keeps covenant and steadfast love 
with those who love him and keep his commandments, 
to a thousand generations...
Deuteronomy 7:9

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

impossibly wonderful gift

Another blessing in spending time with family and friends over the course of the past month is hearing the ways God is working in your lives.  I'm delighted to share this guest post written by my brother Carl, a man who seeks after God's own heart:

One of the most significant contributors to my view of God is Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Ever since my first encounter with the book, its potent themes have haunted me continuously. I’ve never read anything else that portrays so piercingly what God’s love looks like when experienced, then faithfully expressed by a human being. 
My favorite passage in all of literature takes place near the beginning of the book, when the fugitive Jean Valjean is welcomed into the bishop’s home, no questions asked, but treated as a brother and an honored guest. Then, responding to the bishop’s warm hospitality by stealing his silver in the night, Valjean is apprehended by the police and summarily returned to the bishop’s home to face recrimination and certain return to prison. 
Then, in the most shocking, impossibly wonderful scene, the bishop declares to the police that the silver was a gift and he incredibly underscores the assertion by adding silver candlesticks to the “gift,” implying that Valjean had simply forgotten to take them with the rest. The remainder of the book then portrays Valjean’s thoroughgoing repentance and its fruits in the lives of others.
Of course Hugo’s work is fiction, but I find more truth here than in almost any factual account I’ve ever seen. I grew up viewing God as essentially angry and in need of placation, thus my need to repent to produce that effect. Hugo has helped me immensely in knowing that it’s the goodness of God that produces repentance, not the judgment of God (as Javert would have it). 
God’s movements of love, as mirrored also by the Prodigal Son’s father, not only precede repentance but are even performed in the face of absurd odds that they will ever bear fruit. 
In this emerging realization, I’m growing in gratefulness to and amazement of God. That holy magic of God’s love is intoxicating me.

Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you?
 Does this mean nothing to you? 
Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
Romans 2:4 (NLT)
-Carl Grant