Wednesday, February 26, 2014

top heavy

While we were out together this afternoon, (yes, he's home!)
Mark and I noticed this toppled cement mixer in front of a construction site.

...took out the wall, too.

To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. 
To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
-Winston Churchill

Saturday, February 22, 2014

my presence will go with you

A few weeks ago we asked you to pray for Mark as he began a new project. The time has finally drawn to a close, and the project has wrapped up for the time being. Thank you to all who prayed.

During these 3 1/2 weeks, Mark has been serving at a workshop in another S.E. Asian country, and as you read this, he'll be on his way home, back to Davao, back to us. It was a productive and exciting time of sharing new skills that will promote the Word of God in this region of the world.  

Though we've missed Mark very much,
and are delighted that we'll soon be all back under one roof again,
it is also truly a privilege to know that in a small way we've been able, by "letting him go," 
to contribute just a little in the good things that God has done as a result of this workshop.

Mark and fellow staff-members tumble out of the closely packed van for work
I've tasted a bit of the bitterness of stress and worry during Mark's absence, 
as I allowed fears about the future to seep in at the corners of my heart.

 I share that not to make you worry,
but to accent the goodness of God in using His Word,
(written and preached - how thankful I am for access to sermons on the internet!)
the prayers of God's people,
and time in His presence 
to calm my anxiety and cause me to once again put my hope in HIM.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; 
it is I who say to you,
 “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Isaiah 41:13

Mark took the above photo on one of his many early morning runs during his time away.

I love the composition.

It gives me pause in my concerns about the uncertainties 
that lie ahead for our family in the coming year.
The mysterious morning fog completely hides the horizon;
there's no glimpse of what lies beyond the haze.

But there's serenity and placid stillness right here, 
in this spot.

Despite what lies beyond our line of vision for the upcoming year,
right here, in the presence of God,
there is peace.
 So this is where I choose to stay through the coming changes;
in His presence.

And He said, 
My presence will go with you, 
and I will give you rest.” 
Exodus 33:14

Friday, February 21, 2014

lizard on a leash

 On the day that Michael climbed a volcano,
as he and his group headed back down the dusty trail,
they crossed paths with this big lizard,

photos by Michael
 presumably someone's pet, since it was tied by a rope (just in front of the back legs)
to a piece of wood on the side of the trail.

He viewed us, as we passed him by,
With calm and yet with questioning eye,
But moveless still, as though the stone
Were portion of his being's own.
- Edward Robeson Taylor

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

the magic tap

"The water pressure is dropping!"
This statement gets used at our house every day lately, 
and I rush to fill a tub to carry us through lunch time. 

We've had very little rain, and the river is low, and the land is parched with thirst,
and dust clouds blow billows through our front windows,
while my dust cloths do endless duty inside, trying to effect some semblance of clean.

In an effort to conserve what there is of the water, the city is daily shutting off our supply - 
sometimes at 8 in the morning, sometimes at 11, sometimes in the evening - 
for an hour, or maybe 4 hours at a time.

But we've noticed that, even if the water in the entire house is out,
this one tap inside the downstairs shower seems to continue to run for just a little while longer.
Michael calls it my 'magic tap.'

How often do we think to sincerely thank God for water?
For the beautiful, cleansing, refreshing water that flows ceaselessly from our taps?
Heartfelt thanks that it's clean;
fit to quench our thirst without needing to be boiled?

Our water outages are an inconvenience, yes.  
It's a challenge to do a load of laundry without running water, 
or to make a pot of vegetable soup,
or to shower after soccer practice.

But the outages also have been a means to grow my thankfulness for this precious gift of water,
and for taps that carry it straight into our home.
Much of the world has no such luxury.

But I do see the good side of water now. 
How good it is when you're really thirsty, 
how it glitters and gurgles! 
How alive it is! 
~G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, February 16, 2014

you take the cake

This was Mark's afternoon snack at work one day last week.
Bet you're jealous.

Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, 
eat what is set before you.
Luke 10:8 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

statistics in missions

When the article came to my attention in three different ways in a single day last week, I knew I needed to pay attention.  First, I found a thick envelope in our mailbox from my sister-in-law, in which was tucked a copy of the article with a quick note. Later that day, a co-worker emailed me a copy of the article.  And that evening, Mark emailed me a link to an on-line commentary on the very same article.

It is an account of recent statistical evidence compiled by Robert Woodberry revealing that conversionary Protestant missions have impacted the growth of stable democracy in a global way throughout the past 200 years.  According to his exhaustive research, Protestant missions have been a key impetus to initiate religious liberty, growing literacy and education, the spread of print, and social reform.  And all of this has stimulated the growth of democracy in the regions where missions were found.

Woodberry's accumulation of statistical evidence is rocking the boat for many whose prior concept of Protestant missions includes stereotypes of insensitive westerners imposing their culture and beliefs on nationals content in their circumstances, causing more harm than good.

The article is the cover story in the latest issue of Christianity Today (sadly you can't read the entire article without a membership) covering Woodberry's fascinating study .  For an editorial on the article see this shorter commentary by John Stonestreet published on Breakpoint's website on February 3rd. 

Thank you, D, S, and Mark, for sharing this important article!
And for anyone who lives near me, I'd be delighted to share the photo copied version - it's worth the read. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

the end of wisdom

Dra. Kim and Elise after the surgery
Saturday morning marked the end of wisdom.
The end of two of Elise's impacted wisdom teeth that is.
Doctora Kim extracted them using local anesthesia.
The procedure took about 3 hours, 7 sutures, 9 shots, and one brave patient.

It helped enormously that Dra. Kim was so cheerful and confident.
She even made Elise laugh as she joked with her assistants in Tagalog.
She doesn't look old enough to do this job,
but she did famously.

After the procedure, 
Dra. Kim told Elise that this was Elise's early birthday present!
(Though it didn't come free...)

all that swelling even LOOKS painful!
Elise is doing well, with slow but sure recovery.
She's dealt with the normal swelling and pain,
soft foods and slower pace required by this surgery.

Thanks to all who prayed for Elise (and for her mom!) through the surgery.
There's somehow a feeling of vulnerability when doing something like this in a culture that's not your own, as you aren't completely sure if you're communicating accurately, 
and when the expectations of how it would be done in your own culture can't be expected!

But again, we are very thankful for good medical care!
And Elise is thankful it's over.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Michael climbs a volcano

Last Monday morning, Michael got up at 3 AM, 
packed last-minute essentials in his bag, 
and headed to the airport.

There he met up with his classmates, and boarded a plane for the island of Luzon
to participate in his second Outdoor Education experience.
Photo by Michael
 They traveled by bus to "Base Camp" where they joined with students from Manila to make a group of over 200 middle schoolers.  From there they split into three travel groups, 
rotating to visit three different locations during the week.

Michael's first day's trip was to Taal Volcano, about 30 miles south of Manila.
(Okay, Michael didn't take this one!) photo credits: Wikipedia
 Taal is the second most active volcano in the Philippines, with 33 recorded eruptions.
It's been pretty quiet since 1977; long enough to make it an interesting but safe place to explore!

 His group boarded a barge (above) pushed by one boat and pulled by another (see below) 
toward the island volcano (which you can also see in the photo below)

 Here they set up camp, and then hiked across the island 
of volcanic rock to the volcanic lake in the center.

Michael and a friend at the overlook
They swam in Lake Taal
Michael poses by a steaming hot fumarole
and explored the beach around it, carefully avoiding hot spots in the rock,

and these burning fumaroles; cracks in the earth's crust emitting steam and gasses.
Michael said that this one (above) was a little frightening, with no bottom in view

He had other adventures last week too, including learning to dive,
killing and cooking a chicken for dinner, 
ministering to kids from a local school,
snorkeling, competing in games,
and sleeping out under the stars, on a bed of coral rock.

He was happy to get back to a mattress, a hot shower and flushing toilet, and something other than PB 'n Js for lunch, but he loved the experience, and has some fabulous memories as a result.

Thanks to all of the adults who led these kids on such an adventure!  
We're thankful for each one of you!

Friday, February 7, 2014

morning flight

They rise early on weekday mornings,
before the air heats up and causes too much current,
and head to the school field for a flight

On this particular morning, friends had heard about the 6 am flights
and came to watch

Michael flew the r/c plane he had most recently made from scratch,
out of foam board and hot glue and various hardware components saved up

Mark chose to fly his Reaktor,
assembled from a kit

The group of watchers grew,
friends who had seen the planes from a distance, and came for a closer look

and our friend, K, got a bit of advice and launched his own r/c plane.

This hobby has been a great one for where we live.
The guys are able to download free designs from 
Flite Test, and Michael has learned fundamental
principles of aerodynamics just by
listening to the free podcasts and videos from the same site.
(And of course through hours of building and repair.)

It's a hobby Mark and Michael have been able to share with friends,
and with a field so close to our home, they can fly almost any day of the week,
so they're getting in lots of flying time as well!  

The only real downside is that when our daughters are away from home,
the entire dinnertime conversation is sometimes conducted entirely 
in the foreign language of push-rods and FPV and lipo batteries.

But it's a small price to pay.

It is possible to fly without motors, 
but not without knowledge and skill.
-Wilbur Wright

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

from basketball starters to night of stars

The International School Athletic Conference gathered
from January 22nd- 25th at the British School of Manila.

There our high school girls' basketball team (including Elise and Amy) and the boys' soccer team competed with several other schools in the league.
 Top: all of the delegates from our school in Davao
Bottom Left: Sister-work - Elise picks an opponent to make room for Amy to get through
Bottom Middle: our girls' team won 3rd place - not bad for a school 1/4 the size of most of the others!
Bottom Right: Amy is named one of the All-ISAC team
Then last weekend Amy and Elise joined together musically on stage 
at the school's Night of Stars performing "Concerning Hobbits" in a beautiful piano/flute duet.
(Yes, I'm a little bit biased.)
How thankful we are for opportunities like this
in a community of believers unlike anything we could have imagined.
It's been a wonderful thing in the lives of our children.

 "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, 
for the sake of the kingdom of God,  
who will not receive many times as much at this time 
and in the age to come, eternal life."
Luke 18:29-30

And we give thanks to God for His faithfulness...