Tuesday, October 29, 2013

what a riot

With temperatures in the 90's through much of October,
and several recent downpours,
the view from our front window is a riot of color!

We often watch from our breakfast table 
sipping refreshing nectar from these flowers
in the early morning hours.

Though we're yearning for some cool fall weather,
we're also giving thanks for the tropical brilliance;
the beauty of summer in autumn.

This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their Maker's praise.

This is my Father's world:
He shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear Him pass; 
He speaks to me everywhere.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

it's more fun

Election Campaigning - More Fun in the Philippines.
Very happy to see an American woman with a camera pointed at them!
Today is the last day of campaigning before the barangay (or district) elections.
Music, balloons, parades, posters, more music...it's like a party!

The parades included jeepneys packed with supporters,
'elf'' trucks transporting live bands,

motorcycles, trikes, and more 'elf' trucks, packed with excited supporters.

Everyone was in a happy, festive, and very friendly mood.

The slogan for the department of tourism...is it familiar?

Election campaigns are definitely more fun in the Philippines.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Here are two of the newish taxi paint jobs in town.
 But don't let the names fool you;
do plan on paying in cash, 
and maybe even with exact change.

Friday, October 18, 2013

as good as used

Michael found a great bargain at the community garage sale last spring:
a pair of Adidas cleats for 75 pesos.
That's less than $2.

Unfortunately, the sole ripped off yesterday during after-school sports.

Fortunately, Mark knows where to take broken shoes.
In a society where labor is cheap, it's worth trying to fix almost anything.

Mark dropped the cleats off here at this counter at 11 this morning, 
and they said, 'Come back at 2.'

For just $2.50, the soles have been stitched to the uppers; not quite new,
but ready for miles more soccer action!
(And a whole lot less money than a new pair of cleats!)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

He holds its pillars firm

When the earth and all its people quake, 
it is I who hold its pillars firm.
Psalm 75:3

8:12 a.m. October 15th.

Amy noticed it first - the tremor and shaking.
Wall hangings swayed, and the ground under our feet felt disconcertingly 
like sifting sand at the ocean's edge.

I don't really know how long it lasted,
but I do know it was longer than any quake we've ever felt here.
(Thanks to those who have expressed concern about us...we are absolutely fine.)
The epicenter was in Bohol (A), northwest of our island of Mindanao.  But we felt the shocks all the way in Davao.

For those closer to the central Philippines epicenter of this 7.2 quake,
  the death toll is now numbered well over 100, with many injured.
Buildings fell, bridges collapsed, roads folded.

A collapsed church - photo from CNN
 We are reminded again of the incredible power of God.

We sometimes wonder why He would allow such disasters to occur,
but I find it much more breathtaking to consider 
His unfathomable goodness and control,
keeping such beautiful order day after day, 
year after year 
in this intricately woven world and universe of ours.

He holds its pillars firm.
Thanks be to God. 
*Pray today for the people of Bohol and Cebu affected by this quake...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

most wonderful time of the year

Believe it or not, it's that time of the year...
at least in the Philippines!
"Open a very happy Christmas" -translation by Elise, since I don't speak Tagalog!
With the 'ber' months comes a season of Christmas celebration;
carols are playing in the stores,
and our neighbors lit up their Christmas tree last night.
We heard them call out a "Merry Christmas" to others as they passed the house.

So, though we're more in the mood for autumn colors and pumpkin spice,
we'll join in and wish an advance Merry Christmas to each one of you!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

out of bounds

What's that ahead in the road?  A ladder?!?

Way back in fifth grade, I played a mean game of four square during most of my recess breaks. I always kept an eye on the lines, quick to call my co-players when they let the ball slip out of bounds.
Hopefully I've learned a little more grace since fifth grade, but essentially I haven't changed all that much.  My family knows it; recently our children considered buying a t-shirt for me with the inscription, 'I am silently correcting your grammar.'  Thankfully they demonstrate more grace than I deserve, and they left the shirt on the rack.

Maybe that's one reason why God stationed me here in this south-eastern culture, where boundaries are not always so fixed.  People don't necessarily live by the rules that I hold so dear, and somehow they seem to be doing just fine without all of my western limits.

This telephone repair team (in photos) working last week in the middle of a 2-lane street is a classic example of living out of bounds.  In the US, this team would have clearly marked margins - bright orange cones liberally distributed hundreds of feet prior to a cherry-picker truck, warning oncoming traffic to be alert.

An employee in an equally bright yellow vest would be strategically positioned, waving a cautionary 'slow down' sign in order to create the safest work environment possible for these men.  Not here. This team of three included one holding the ladder, one watching from the median, and a third laying his life on the line to keep people connected.

There are other examples of living out of bounds.  One evening last week, Ate Bebing popped into my kitchen as I chopped onions for dinner to say "Good afternoon, ma'am!" and it wasn't even her day to work for us.  She just walked right in our front door to say hello since she was in the neighborhood.  

Two years ago when my dad died, a few acquaintances wanted to come over immediately to share some comfort.  To me, that constituted an intrusion. By my western standard, the initial grieving period is intensely private. Their response didn't fit inside my boundaries.  And my response didn't fit their perspective on grieving together.

Taxi drivers routinely ask questions that are far outside the normal bounds of western etiquette.  They also create their own lanes down the middle of roads. Women friends take my hand to hold, twining arms and holding tight as we have a conversation, far longer than my western sense of personal space dictates.  Car owners think nothing of parking on wide open sidewalk space. (photo below)

 I have it easy here in the city.  Co-workers who have lived in more rural areas of the Philippines tell how they would hide their toothbrushes so that villagers who drop in wouldn't use them to brush their own teeth.

Would these situations make you feel uncomfortable?  I admit that often I'm stretched more than I like by this different standard of boundary.  I have to remind myself that it's not wrong; it's just different.  

“One half of the world cannot understand 
the pleasures of the other.”
― Jane Austen, Emma

At the same time, life in this culture has challenged me to hold my personal standards a little more loosely; to consider the viewpoint of others, and to acknowledge that sometimes fewer boundaries  result in a more healthy environment.  I'm still pretty sure that the lack of boundary might not be so healthy for line repairmen, but it can be incredibly beneficial for relationships when the walls aren't quite so high.

In a culture with fewer boundaries, God is lovingly teaching me to extend a little more grace when the ball crosses the line. And just maybe, because of the grace, it will be even better than recess.

Friday, October 4, 2013

the end of the adventure

After our hike up Mount Puting Bato, we climbed back on those motorcycles 
and headed down toward civilization. 
I felt relieved to hit flat paved roads again.
We stopped at a sari sari for something to drink (bottom left)
and then headed on toward Hagimit Falls.
Michael takes the plunge at Hagimit
 We spent a refreshing hour at the falls,
enjoying the cool water and the peaceful setting.
This little girl (bottom right) sold us cold drinks.  
She was so sweet, I asked if I could take her photo.  
I love how she's framed by all the colorful goods for sale.

It had been a high-energy morning, and it was time to head home.
We said good bye to our trusty motorcycle drivers
and boarded a little ferry boat (below, right) homeward.

Elise and Amy baked a fabulous chocolate cake and served it up that evening for my birthday.
And Amy's birthday gift to me summed up how we all felt after our adventure...
There's No Place Like Home.

"Maybe that's the best part of going away for a vacation - coming home again."
-Madeleine L'Engle

Amy crafted this piece for me using a paper-cutting technique called scherenschnitte.  
The patience required for such precision cutting is beyond my comprehension, 
but I'm loving my beautiful gift!  Thank you, Amy!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

an adventure continued

Mark bartered with three motorcycle drivers to negotiate a fare 
to hire them for the morning.
Once agreed on a price, we jumped on and zipped off down the road.
After a quick stop for enough gas to last the day ($2.50 per bike)
we headed to the highest point on Samal Island,
Mount Puting Bato (Mount White Rock).

These photos cannot do the 30-minute trip justice.
After all, good photos are only obtainable when you aren't bouncing along rutted dirt roads 
at a 45 degree angle.

After what seemed like hours of fervent prayer and holding on for dear life,
I found myself whole-heartedly agreeing with Mr. Baggins:

“Why O why did I ever leave my hobbit-hole?" 
said poor Mr. Baggins, bumping up and down on Bombur's back.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
 At long last we reached the Tayapok Trail, a 25-minute hike to the top of the mountain.
(Notice our drivers outpaced us by driving up the trail)

A brave heart and a courteous tongue.   
They shall carry thee far through the jungle. 
– Rudyard Kipling

But success was denied us;
the top of the mountain was off-limits that day.

Mark tried to rouse a keeper for the padlocked entrance gate; 
(that's him on the bottom left, peeking into the gatekeeper's lodge)
we would have been more than happy to pay the 15 cent entrance fee!
All to no avail.  
I guess they hadn't got the memo that we were on our way.

So Michael pulled out his R/C plane instead.
 What a great place for a flight!  
Our drivers were fascinated by the mini air show.

In the name of God, stop a moment, 
cease your work, 
look around you. 
 - Leo Tolstoy

- Stay tuned for one more post to complete our birthday adventure!