Friday, January 31, 2014

happy new year!

Happy Chinese New Year, that is!
It's a big event pretty much anywhere in Asia.
In some countries there are fireworks all day and night long.

Here in Davao it's mostly an excuse for a party,
a day off work, and some very colorful street dances.
I found myself in the middle of this one today while out with a friend!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

the support of praying people


I can't share here in any detail, but Mark is beginning an important 3 1/2 week project, and we would deeply appreciate your prayers for all of us during this time. 

Thank each one of you who prays for our family. Mark and I were talking Monday evening about God's great faithfulness toward us over the course of the past 5 years.  Mark commented that he's convinced it's a result of the faithful, prayerful support of so many. Thank you.

Our job is to support the work that God is doing in this part of the world, but you provide the prayer support without which we could not carry on.

"...God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, His holy dwelling place.”  
2 Chronicles 30:27 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

finally enough

Oh! do not attack me with your watch.
A watch is always too fast or too slow.
I cannot be dictated to by a watch.
-Jane Austen

Are there days when you are surprised that you weren't able to accomplish all you set out to do?  Do you wonder if you are doing enough; if it would be better stewardship if you’d just achieve a little bit more?  Are there unending needs that cause you to fall into bed every night feeling as if you’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg?  I find myself doing relentless battle with the feeling of not enough; the feeling of ‘I really should…

 I need to answer her email before another day goes by.  I should spend more time in prayer.  I should get more exercise. I really should clean those dust bunnies (or do they now qualify as rabbits?) out from under the bed.

The voice of expectation is loud and accusing.  Why didn’t I remember to pick up more milk at the store? I need to make an effort to cook more healthy meals. How could I have forgotten his birthday?
The voice contradicts itself.  I should be more organized; I should be more spontaneous; I should offer to help with that ministry; I should make individual time with each of our kids.

I hear the voice in other people’s comments.  We ought to be spending more time in our ministry.  I should not be leaving so much to my husband to do.  I need to lose weight.  We really should get together for coffee.

The unmistakable voice of expectation lays the guilt on thick, regardless of how hard we try.  It’s a voice that reminds us that there’s always one more thing undone, one more area in life where we’re lacking, one more vice that hasn’t been checked, one more way we’ve failed again.

Can we ever do enough?  Or will we forever be dissatisfied with our inability to do the good we want to do?  In Earth’s economy, there are just never adequate amounts of the limited resource of time.

It helps me enormously to know that there is a reason I’m not able to do it all.  An explanation as to why I’m not satisfied in these confines of time.  After all, I was not designed to be content in this economy, but destined to evacuate one day these strictures of time, in order to revel in eternity.  

We are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it.
"How he's grown!" we exclaim, "How time flies!"
as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty.

It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water.
And that would be strange indeed;
unless of course, the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.
-CS Lewis

In eternity, there will finally be enough.

Until then, may God guide the use of my time,
helping me to do exactly what He designed 
for my hands to do today;
giving me a greater contentment in Him 
than in what I accomplish for Him.

 By grace alone.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

caught by surprise

 We've lived in Davao since July of 2009, long enough to know this place pretty well.
How is it then that every time I leave our home,
I see new things that surprise me?

Enjoy a few glimpses of surprising elements of life in this country.
I only wish I was quick enough to catch the most amazing ones on camera...
a little boy watches traffic at a busy intersection
Recycling old's an uphill job
Jacob had a pillow of stone; this guy's whole bed is just as soft
Somehow I think these guys have what they'd need to fix any radiator in town
Davao River at its best...the clouds were breathtaking!
Yes, the new city speed limits are pretty low...
Furniture Row.  This street is lined with furniture makers with their wares displayed for sale in the road
Make you feel like yodeling?
That's a mighty small lodge...
A shopper (in orange shirt) karaokes in the mall
Bags of ice water on a hot day
Who needs a mini-van?
Umm...are those what I think they are?

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

Have you seen anything that surprised you today??

This is post #600!  Thanks to all of you who stop by and visit us here!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

chicken and gravy

Is the long arm of the polar vortex stretching across the globe to lay a chilly finger on this archipelago land?  The weather service has called it a tropical depression, but whatever the cause, we've had a bit of winter in Davao.  It's all relative; as New York hits record lows of 4, our chilly temps have hovered at 75.  Please don't cry too hard for us.  But believe me, the reprieve after a scorching December is mighty welcome.

A cool breeze stirs curtains, and memories of comfort food from my mother's kitchen. This cold weather gives me a good excuse to cook up some of our own. One of our favorites is a steamy chicken and gravy, poured over a bed of rice. Can you smell it?

It's not exactly like the chicken and gravy Mum made when I was young; hers had no vegetables, and was usually served over flaky biscuits.  This recipe is a little more savory, and if you think biscuits sound better, we've found that a hearty whole-wheat biscuit is spot-on.

Chicken and Gravy

1/4 cup butter
1 chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped green beans
1/2 cup of flour
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic (or, if you prefer fresh, 2 cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
Shake of black pepper
4 cups of chicken broth, (made with 2 bouillon cubes)
1-2 cups of cooked, cut chicken meat

Melt the butter in a frying pan and toss in all the vegetables. We sometimes add more veggies, or different ones. We've also added  potatoes to make it more hearty for a potluck.  Saute the vegetables in the butter until they're tender.  Add the sugar and seasonings.

Throw in 1/2 cup of flour, and toss to evenly coat the vegetables.  Then stir in the broth, and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for a minute or two to thicken it into a smooth gravy.  Reduce the heat and add your cooked chicken.

Ladle it over hot rice or biscuits, and feel the comfort...

Cooking, for me, is the emulation of the deity's most essential habit:
to create.
As such, to cook is to worship.
- Patty Kirk

The leftovers (if you have any!) are the perfect base for a quick chicken noodle soup.  Just boil up some extra veggies and noodles in a pot of chicken broth, add the leftovers and a bit more basil, and soup's on!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

eating crumbs

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m sitting next to Mark as Pastor Vic begins to speak, continuing his study of the book of Genesis.  “Should not the Word of God be what guides us? Ang Word ni Ginoo?” Mid-sentence he switches to the Visayan language. “Gihatag mong akong gikinahanglan,” then back again to English, “…through the Word of God.”

The men's Sunday School class studies the Word in Visayan and English
But wait! My slow mind is still back there on that word, “gikinahanglan.”  I know I’ve heard it…WHAT does it mean?!?  I finally give up trying to recall the meaning and begin to listen again, only to find that the sermon has gone on without me.  He’s now speaking in a third language, Tagalog, and I don’t understand a bit of it!

That’s when I know that what I’m experiencing, this attempt to understand the Word of God preached partially in a foreign language, is exactly what thousands of fellow believers across the world are doing this very morning, and every Sunday morning, as they listen to the preaching of the Word.  They are hearing it like I do; piecemeal, understanding a little here and a bit more there, but never all of it.  And they will go home hungry for more.  Because thousands of believers don’t have the Word of God in the language of their own heart.

Multitudes of pastors will be preaching next Sunday morning from a Bible written in their national language - a language used primarily for business transactions.   Even those pastors may not fully comprehend the meaning of some of the vocabulary used in the only translation of the Bible available to them.  

Meanwhile, we feast in the West, buying multiple versions and paraphrases of the Bible, all in our own heart-language, listening to unlimited sermons preached entirely in our mother-tongue.   And as we feast, millions eat the crumbs of His Word, understanding only bits and pieces, never once hearing the words of God in the language of their heart.  How can the Word of God feed those who cannot understand it?

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. 
                                                                                          Romans 10:17   
I’m giving thanks for my feast today, and praying about how God might want me to share it with brothers and sisters who are hungry for His Word.  

"What should I pray for him? 'Lord, give him some crumbs please,' 
and I'm stuffed with a gourmet meal. 
'Give him some crumbs'? I can't pray that! It chokes in my throat. 
I can only ask that God give him the same as He has given me."
**And I finally remembered; “gikinahanglan” means “all that’s required."  In God's Word is all that’s required
for life and godliness.  Oh, that all His church had all His Word! 

p.s. Pastor Vic!  If you're reading this, PLEASE know that we love it when you preach 
in the language of your people!  Don't EVER stop for our sake! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

new year, new photos

Thanks to Elise for our family photo shoot!

Monday, January 6, 2014

sleeping on the job

The New Year begins here with lots of noise right at midnight;
car horns honking, spoons banging on metal gates, flares rising in lieu of banned fireworks,
pots and pans clashing in symphony with store-bought noise makers.

But once the burst of celebration quiets, the whole city seems to be lulled into a few days of sleepiness.  Businesses close, store shelves lie unstocked, and much of the normal city activity comes to a halt in recognition of the beginning of the New Year.

Down the street, even the local builders take time off,
and only the 24-hour guard remains,
making sure that what has been entrusted to him is well protected.

This New Year is a gift from God.
May I intentionally guard these days that have been entrusted to me,
 alert to opportunities to glorify and enjoy Him!

“God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, 
but by its being rejoiced in.”
-Jonathan Edwards

Thursday, January 2, 2014

happy to be His children

The month of December is usually filled with celebrations;
opportunities to rejoice in the gift God gave in sending His Son to this earth.

But being so full, the celebrations often fly by without record.
So here, for the record, are a few of our memories of Christmas 2013.
Clockwise: - Kuya Ronnie and Michael happy to be celebrating together again this year.
- Elise and Amy share a piano and flute duet at the church Christmas party.
- Mark and Elise win the 20 questions type game!  Great teamwork, guys!
- Neil and a friend sing a beautiful Christmas carol duet for us, accompanied by Vic on the guitar.

L-R: A sweet handmade gift from a sweeter friend
feasting at the Church party; 
Michael and AJ give two delighted little girls a ride on the table as they set up the room for the feast!

Clockwise: Games at the high school Christmas party; 
 Enjoying an Italian dinner at the high school Christmas party; 
an Agdao Violin Institute benefit concert; 
a staff Christmas celebration with our co-workers.

Clockwise: - A Christmas Eve home celebration of Lessons and Carols
 - our traditional Christmas cookie feast on Christmas Eve
- stockings on Christmas morning (with candy canes!  thank you, A and J!!) 
- a delightful Tolkeinish Christmas surprise from Michael to his sisters
- father and son tinker with their Christmas R/C motor kits
- Elise helps prepare Christmas brunch.

We missed out getting lots of other photos... like our Christmas dinner with a co-worker, 
and Christmas night movie and snacks with friends.  
But we treasure the memories, and rejoice in the reason for all of our celebrations.  
We are so happy to be His children!

Oh, God...
help us rightly to remember
the birth of Jesus, that
we may share in the songs
of the angels, the gladness
of the shepherds, and the
worship of the wise men.
May the Christmas morning
make us happy
to be your children.

~Robert Louis Stevenson