Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Yesterday we celebrated Mark's birthday...
a milestone year!

It started with a competitive game of Dutch Blitz

and a walk in cool Eden (a nature park 1 hour from home)

While Mark worked in the afternoon
 we frosted his cake,

and did the dishes in the shower
 since the water pressure in the kitchen was out!

Mark's request - spaghetti for dinner!
This is standard Filipino birthday fare - 
the long noodles signify best wishes for a  long life.

Then it was time for birthday cards and gifts,

including a stack of surprise Birthday salutations...
from YOU!  
Thanks so much to all of you who wrote to wish Mark a Happy Birthday!!

Fifty years...
incredibly young in light of eternity!

(and may I add...more handsome than ever...!)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

the grand sea

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, 
that is the sky; 
there is one spectacle grander than the sky, 
that is the interior of the soul.  
Victor Hugo
 With summer comes opportunity to explore a little.

 We rented a couple of kayaks one day last week,

 to savor the grand spectacle of sea and sky...

 ...more of God's creative genius in the Philippines.

And we came away refreshed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Happy 17th birthday Elise and Amy!

A special early breakfast together, 
reminiscing about years gone by...

Arranging a birthday bouquet from the market

What a delight these past 17 years have been...
getting to know you both, sharing this family together.
You two are the world's best daughters. 

An incredible birthday surprise from a friend...
Abigail gave them homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Please understand -
this is both Amy and Elise's all-time favorite ice cream...
and it's not available anywhere in the Philippines.

That gift was a big deal.
Thank you, Abigail!

We love you, and hope 17 is the best year yet!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

happy Father's Day!

Elise and Mark, Jekyll Island, November 2012...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I walked into the department store today and immediately realized something was different. It took a few seconds to process. First, the normal loud music wasn't playing. It was quiet. Second, all of the employees seemed to be at attention, not talking with one another, not dusting the displays or following customers around as usual. Then I heard the slow, deep, reverent-sounding voice over the intercom system:
Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.

I slipped into a side aisle to wait it out with respect.

Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death. Amen.

The Hail Mary was followed by a prayer to Jesus, and a solemn call to remember to pray regularly.

The moment the exhortation was finished, the music resumed. It was a popular Filipino rock song, and all the employees in the store began dancing in unison to it. The incongruity was startling.

'Lord,' I asked, 'how can they be praying reverently one moment and doing these moves the next?!? Can't they see the hypocrisy here? How could this be true love for You?'

My ugly, self-righteous attitude was quickly checked as I tried to maneuver my way past another shopper and an employee who together were blocking the aisle, blissfully unaware of the subtle western messages I sent, suggesting that I wanted to get past. I growled inwardly with frustration as I turned to go around the long way. "...and your neighbor as yourself." 

*revised from the archives

Saturday, June 8, 2013

taking my half in the middle

I never cease to be amazed by taxi drivers who insist on driving
the center line
whether it's between two lanes of cars traveling the same direction
or between those lanes and the oncoming traffic.

I know it's hard to tell from a photo,
but these guys are not just changing lanes.
They've created their own lane!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

one inch high and rising

Mark and I were on Skype with our supervisor in the US
when our kids opened the door at 9:30 last night.
"Sorry to interrupt," they said, "but the house is flooding."

I turned around in my chair, and sure enough, 
12 inches behind me stood a pool of water that had silently ebbed in through the door.  
That Skype call ended quick.  (Sorry, J!)
water seeping into the study
Earlier in the evening heavy rain had begun, accompanied by impressive lightning
 and thunder that seemed to clap right over our roof.
Elise had come in to where we were reading and said,
"I need some help out here.
The driving rain was pelting through windows, and our kitchen counters and floor were drenched.
We mopped it up pretty quickly, and joined our neighbor in the driveway to watch the water flow by in the street outside.  Though it lapped at our gate, it didn't come in.

So we had closed things up for the night and proceeded with our scheduled Skype
to the sound of falling rain outside the window,
unaware that the water was rising higher than it's ever risen in our neighborhood.

outside our front door, shoes float around our neighbor's vehicle
When the kids interrupted our call,
the water had filled our driveway, 

floating door mat, shoes and trash can in our driveway
and was seeping through the front door into the living room.
We now know the low spots at our house:
our study and our bedroom.

not so much water, but enough to make a mess!
(Thankfully it's not the bodega, Becky and Lorine!)
Water also seeped from the sewer up through the shower drain in the bathroom,
into our study.  Not the pleasantest of smells.

When the water on the street outside your house is this high

both the above photos taken from our deck
 there's really not much you can do about draining your floors.
(It was just an inch or two inside, so very minor water, guys!)

Michael did rig up his little water pump, 

and filled buckets full of dirty water!
(He dumped them down the shower until we realized that the sewage was backing up...)

We gave thanks for an upstairs, 
and took our mattress up to camp out on the landing for the night.

This morning the water levels had dropped,
so we made breakfast around the piles of furniture staying dry in our kitchen,

and got to work emptying rooms, sopping up water, and getting things clean and dry.

We're giving thanks today...
that our house doesn't usually flood,
for health and strength to clean up the mess,
for running water to clean (it was shut off last night)
and for home and safety and all of God's goodness to teach us more thankfulness 
even through a flood.
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; 
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
Psalm 29:10

Saturday, June 1, 2013

a universal language

Our 2012/2013 school year came to a close on May 24th,
and last week Amy and Michael spent their first week of vacation at Orchestra Camp
with about 70 other students from all over Davao.

A guest conductor from California
 along with the music teacher from the international school led the camp, 
and blessed a wide variety of kids with their enthusiasm and leadership.

 Michael on trumpet

Amy on flute (in middle row)

There were so many participants that at the final concert,
the audience had to sit on the stage to make room on the floor for all of the musicians!

The performance was excellent,
as students from many nations combined
in a beautiful expression of the universal language of music.

 Thanks to all of you who made this happen, 
but especially to Mr. and Mrs. B!