Saturday, April 26, 2014

all very good

As part of the Holy Week Retreat last weekend,
our family joined the church on a very special excursion.

We met at the dock and boarded a large pump boat, 
off for the day to visit coral reefs and a beach where we could together enjoy the beauties of this country.

 I was surprised at how many of our friends had never been on a similar boat trip before.
We've had the privilege of doing this many times, and I'm afraid that we sometimes take it for granted.

 Because it was so new to many, it was all the more fun,
as we savored it in a fresh way through their eyes.

 And while we sat out enjoying the sun,

 our beautiful Filipino friends carefully slathered on the sunblock,
since in their culture, light skin is coveted!

 At one of the dive spots, Michael hangs out on an outrigger with friends.

 There was some great snorkeling, (Elise and Amy above)
with multi-colored coral and fish.

 Many tried snorkeling for the first time,

 and others were content to hang out in the shade, enjoying the water and the fun!

We reminded our Filipino friends that there's nothing like this in our home country -

 God has graced the Philippines with much beauty.
And we will miss the beauties of these people and of their land.
But they will continue to be reminders of the goodness of our Lord,
and of the far greater loveliness of the eternal fellowship in the place that He is preparing for all of us!

God saw all that He had made, 
and behold, 
it was very good. 
Genesis 1:31

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

holy week

Here in the Philippines, the week before Easter is referred to as Holy Week,
and special church events and worship times are often scheduled 
in Protestant churches.
 We had the joy of spending part of last week at our church Holy Week Retreat.
Can you pick us5 out of the group photo above?

 Meals for the whole group were prepared in the little church kitchen.
 Kuya Ojie and Harold (above) are preparing camote, a popular Filipino vegetable, for dinner.

 Inday helps with dinner prep too.
What a great time to fellowship together, and to bless the people of God!

Michael, Amy and Elise join with a group of other youth in prayer
It was special time to focus on the Word,
to pray and worship together,
and to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Easter,
the resurrection of our Lord!

"If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; 
if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? 
The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching 
but whether or not he rose from the dead."
-Tim Keller

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

hairy situation

As we anticipate leaving the Philippines next month,
and all that entails,
I find myself thinking about things that I will very much miss about this special place.

One thing I'll miss is this normally mundane event of getting a hair cut.

 Because here in the Philippines, it's not your routine Supercuts experience.

When we arrive at Alexandra's, one of her staff opens the door with a friendly greeting.
Another takes us back to the sink for a hair wash.  
The water's cold, but the scalp massage is warm and soothing.
She then leads us to a chair, provides magazines, 
and asks if we want a pedicure or manicure today?

After combing out our hair, if the stylist (there is only one) is busy,
an assistant will often give us 
a shoulder or back massage while we wait.
One assistant, the receptionist and stylist, all happy to pose with Amy
The stylist then goes to work, 
after which an assistant in purple comes back to dry our hair thoroughly.
The stylist then returns to go over it all again with a fine-tooth comb, 
making sure every hair is the perfect length.

The process usually takes about an hour,
and I've never before had such an excellent stylist.

So, what's the cost for all of that service?
250 pesos.
That's roughly equal to a grand total of
six dollars.

Yes, I'm going to miss this place.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

right on track

is always a fun chance to cheer our student body on.
This year the high school joined too.
Amy and Michael were both competitors,
Elise took photos and helped guide one of the elementary classes,
while Mark and I (thanks for the photo, J!) 
and others too (aren't they the cutest of spectators?)
watched from the sidelines, sporting team colors.

In union there is strength. 

The 1K was an optional event for middle and high school combined.  Michael (in the lime green shirt) started out far behind the high school competitors.  But after a couple of laps, his steady pace passed them by, and (congratulations, Michael!) he finished first!

Amy (in red) competes while Elise (in green) works as a helper

What a fun all-school event!  
A great start to the last quarter of school.
A great way for all ages to work together toward a common goal... 

...standing firm in one spirit, 
with one mind striving side by side
 for the faith of the gospel...
Philippians 1:27

Thursday, April 3, 2014

songs in the dark

We're sitting at dusk on a hot calm evening around the dinner table,
pasta all gone, stories about the day still being passed around.

Without warning everything goes black and still.
The eerie silence is pierced by a neighbor's loud comment, 
It's brown, not black, because it's only a local power outage, 
as common as water outages are on this slice of the globe.

 Candles are collected,
and Elise washes dishes by their glow
as another neighbor begins to serenade the street with old 80's tunes,
carrying them just a little recklessly.
 But he does it passionately, like a mission of mercy to families robbed
of our evening entertainment through radio and TV.

We bake a batch of cookies by candlelight,
 thankful for our little gas oven,
while Mark collects a few flashlights
so we can play Ticket to Ride by their light,
though I'm sure the fact that I couldn't see the whole board 
is the reason I didn't win.

Even in the dark we're sweltering,
 so when the power surges,
and the blades of the fan begin humming in sweet ministry again,
we cheer along with the rest of the street
in a united celebration of electrical power.

“I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, 
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12