Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Greetings. Sorry we haven't updated you in a while. We've been out of town for a few days, and before that we had lost our internet connection for a brief period. We went to a place called Nasuli for four days (Saturday to Tuesday). We went with the other families that are enrolled at the Midwifery school and we had a great time.

Nasuli is an old missionary community that is located about 4 hours north of Davao City. We all stayed in one house, which is pretty impressive considering there were nearly 30 of us. It was a great opportunity to get to know one another better.

We had a great time playing games together. We also made regular trips to the local watering hole. Within a five minute walk was a spring water pond that was great for swimming. The water was just cold enough to be refreshing, but warm enough that you could stay in it for a long time. It was surrounded by trees too, so no sunburn! I've included a picture of one of the small huts that was located at the edge of the pond.
On Sunday we all took a trip down the river. Everyone had brought innertubes, so we inflated them and took a nice lazy river ride. We rode on the river for over an hour and it was very relaxing. We saw lots of people washing their clothes at the edge of the river. We got to see some exotic vegetation, and some really big cattle at the river's edge too. I'm sure we were quite the spectacle ourselves!

It was great to get out of the city for a few days and see some more of this beautiful country. We drove for several hours through the mountains to get to Nasuli. I didn't get any decent pictures of the mountains because we were in a five vehicle caravan, so I didn't have the option of stopping every time I was awestruck by the view. I did try taking a picture from the window of the truck as we were driving. It didn't turn out well, but it gives you an idea of what the countryside looks like.

While at Nasuli, Matt discussed with us the idea of starting a "care group" for all the students and staff of the clinic. We're going to gather with the entire group (about 50 people) every other week to worship and pray together and somebody will facilitate a brief bible discussion each time we meet. It looks as though I will help with the worship.

We had a nice relaxing weekend, but today it was back to work. This morning I spent a couple of hours at the immigration office getting our tourist visa extensions. We're now legally allowed to stay until September 6, but by then we will have applied for our missionary visa.

Please be praying for Bethany. She is feeling pretty sick with a bad cold and a fever. We just found out that one of the kids that was with us this weekend has come down with the measles, so please pray that Bethany isn't suffering from the same. Also, please pray that her computer will continue to work well. We just found an infestation of tiny ants inside her MacBook (hundreds of tiny ants just poured out of her computer and onto her lap).

There is a possibility that I will be able to go on a brief trip to a remote island later this month for the purpose of scouting out a location for our first water filtration project. Please pray that the new engine is installed quickly on the boat that we will be taking.

Be blessed. Thank you for your continued prayer. We'll write again soon.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Prenatals and feeling more at home!

Greetings! Thank you all for the comments and encouragement this week! We have been so blessed by your e-mails and responses.

Last night, Tim and I hung our first picture in the house...actually it wasn't a picture at all...it was a quilt my dear friend, Heather Lilly made for us for our wedding! (see picture!) It has verses all over it from many of my university friends. What a blessing to put it in our new home. No doubt those Scriptures will come in handy during our stay. Thanks, Heather.

Then today, Thursday, I spent time in the clinic (picture of the outside of the clinic) learning how to do more prenatal exams. (Picture of the other prenatal examiners and the "buntas" praying before their exam). My teacher this time was Tiffany. She was so great! I learned a TON from her. She had me doing quite a bit of charting results, checking the fundal height, palpating the baby, praying for the "bunta" and learning all the risks involved in giving birth in the third world. She was a gem.

The pictures are of Tiffany teaching me with the "buntas". By the end of the shift "Ako si Bethany" rang in my ears and I can honestly say that the best way to learn a language is constant repetition!

God has been so faithful in all of the experiences we have had....right now, Tim is getting our extension to stay in the Philippines until our missionary visas are filed and ready to go. Apparently he has to wear long pants, shoes and socks and look really presentable in order to obtain an extension....it's HOT today and Tim doesn't own anything but sandals, but he suited up for the occasion and wore socks WITH sandals...his dad would be proud! :)

Today we may get househelp, too! Our househelp will come two days a week to help with keeping the floors clean and getting the laundry done....it's surprising how much I have taken for granted the washing machine and dryer! Hanging clothes on a line is a lot of work and because clothes get dirty so fast, you have to do laundry everyday....or close to it! So when I start school, I will have a hard time getting all of it done and the floors are all tile so soot settles on it very quickly....a little black dust never hurt anyone, right? Anyways, it will be a blessing to have the help and one to one time with a Filipina!

Tomorrow, we are heading out with all the married couples at Newlife School (in total, there are 5 families going...30 people in all!). We are heading into the bush with all their kids to get to know each other better....sharing two bathrooms and one house....this should be interesting....I am not sure that I am looking forward to the four days (Saturday to Tuesday for us), but I am sure that at the end, I will REALLY know these people. PRAY FOR US! Fifteen kids does not sound like fun to me- I've enjoyed being childless since leaving our job with the group home, but grace is an attribute that I am asking the Lord to give me. We'll take pictures....but there won't be a post during that time. Many blessings to you all!

Ropes in a Bag

I'll keep this brief because I'm tired. Today we went to Outland Adventures, which is a ropes course that Matt started seven years ago. They minister to high school kids, using various elements on the ropes course to share the gospel. For those who don't know, a ropes course is kind of like an obstacle course, but not really. It involves lots of different elements, some of which are way up in the trees. Today we joined their staff as they got some training on a new aspect of the ministry.

Outland Adventures has been informed by one of their sponsors that if they can figure out a way to follow up with students after they have completed the three day camp, those students will be provided with a full scholarship to university. Outland has responded by initiating a program that the students can use to share their experience with their classmates that were not at the camp.

The program is call "Ropes Course in a Bag". Today our friends Manny and Heather (she is a student at Newlife) were teaching the staff how to use this new tool. They will train students how to use some very simple objects (rope, hula hoops, marbles, etc.) to do team building exercises with their peers, using the activities to share the gospel. This way, everyone gets to share in the experience, even though they may not have the opportunity to visit the ropes course.

Basically, we just played fun games all day and learned how to use them as object lessons. It was lots of fun and we got dirty and now we're very tired. Please be praying that we get our immigration stuff done in a timely manner. We have to extend our tourist visa and then apply for a missionary visa. As we discovered this week, when working with the Filipino government, things may not go as planned.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Be careful what you wish for...

Some people like to skip to the end of a book to find out the ending before they have even started reading the beginning. I think people like that are silly, but I know you're out there so I'm going to make it easy for you and give you the bottom line right now: we got our stuff out of customs today and it only cost us 5000 pesos (approx. $115 Canadian).

And now for the rest of the story...

I have a friend named Joe. He lives down the street and he's on fire for God. Now I know that sounds like a cheesy charismatic cliche, so let me qualify it. I have sat down with him a couple of times and listened as he's shared his heart. This guy loves Jesus, and he has an insatiable hunger for the presence of God. The Lord has taken Joe on an incredible journey, and every time he thinks he couldn't possibly desire God anymore, the Lord takes him deeper and causes him to hunger and thirst even more.

Joe has told me with tears in his eyes about his desire to be a carrier of His presence. All this guy wants is to be in communion with God. I want to be like Joe. I want to want what he wants. Joe continues to ask God for more, and as we know, God answers prayer. And therein lies the rub...

You see, a few nights ago as I was sitting and listening to Joe, I prayed a very dangerous prayer. I asked the Lord to break me open, the way he had broken Joe. I told God that I wanted to be desperate too. Oops...

As you were probably aware, we have been jumping through hoops for several days, trying to keep up with the customs officers who seem to be forever changing the rules. This morning I got a text from Matt, the director of the school and the man who holds my hand (figuratively, though he did literally hold my hand once during orientation). I awoke to a text message that stated that we would have to pay 40,000 pesos in duty in order to pick up our cargo ($930, nearly an entire month's budget). That is a rough way to wake up.

My wife had just gone to sleep an hour before I got up (she worked the overnight shift last night). My only thought was that I had better get this fixed before she woke up, or it would be a very very bad day. I had prayed that God would make me desperate, but I didn't think he would answer my prayer this way.

I have learned that everything is a waiting game in this country. It was early in the morning and Matt had made phone calls to some important people who might be able to help get us an exemption. This left me feeling powerless with way too much time on my hands. I suspect that's just the way God likes it.

There was nothing left for me to do, so I prayed. I haven't prayed like that in a long time. I was tired of trying to do everything on my own. I was desperate for Him to intervene. It was a far cry from Joe's desperation for the presence of God (all I was desperate for was my cargo), but it seemed like a good first step.

Long story short: I got a call from Matt, we went down to the customs office to meet a guy who had been instructed to help us. As far as I can tell, the instruction came from the Majority House Leader in congress, so this customs broker was quite eager to assist us. He and our other broker worked together and were able to secure us an exemption on the duty. We even got a deal on the brokerage fees, so the final cost was only 5000 pesos ($115).

Thanks to Matt, who was incredibly gracious and long-suffering as he drove me all over the city this week. Thank you all for your prayers. This entire customs process was certainly a pain in my posterior, but at least it brought me to my knees. I know it's a dangerous prayer, but I will continue to ask the Lord to break me.

Below are some pictures of me unpacking my guitar. I am filled with glee. Bethany is very excited about our cargo and we have already unpacked everything and put it in its rightful place.


Monday, July 23, 2007

My first shift.....ADDED TO!

Greetings! I am writing this in Mercy Maternity's birth room! It's 12:30 am Davao City time and things are fairly quiet here. Four babies were born this evening, but I missed the births, so I am shadowing midwife Elisabeth!

Pictured is Elisabeth caring for patient, Rey Ann, postpartum care. Her beautiful baby girl, Prisilla, was born at 9: 10 pm. All are doing well....I got to take part in all the afterbirth adventures such as the Vitamin K and Hepatitis shots, the baby's bath, check-up and paperwork. Elisabeth did a great job walking me through everything she was doing....she has such a gentle, quiet spirit! I would love to have someone like her as my midwife. Rey Ann is very blessed.
Baby Prisilla also had a gentle, quiet spirit about her! She only cried when Elisabeth gave her the shots! I got to hold her a long time...precious little one. I got to pray over her a blessing, too. That will definitely be my favorite part of the birth room.

The "buntas" (laboring woman's helper) has to do a lot of clean up here at Mercy! Because there are no nurses and only midwives here, the buntas have to take care of the bloody sheets and provide a lot of physical support for the laboring woman. What is truly amazing about this culture is that it is the norm to have a bunta come and care for all the needs of the woman....they stay the whole time and expect to be the gopher. No independence here! They pride themselves on community and help. I really admire that.

Coming from a culture that preaches independence and "the self-made man", Filipinos are quite the shock.

The rest of the midwives here are currently sleeping until their alarm goes off for the next postpartum check-up. I drank too many cups of coffee, so I will be up for a while. :) I am feeling a bit better about this whole midwifery thing....while there is so much to learn, Elisabeth was so encouraging and such a blessing.

I struggled today with mixed emotions of fear, inadequacy and reluctance of entering the birth room.....I tried to take a nap so I would be ready for the overnight shift, but I couldn't sleep....Tim was, once again, at customs trying to retrieve our belongings and once again, they told him that he needed more paperwork and now needed a broker! What a mess. Matt, our director, went with him again and the customs department played hard ball. Looks like we will need EXTRA, EXTRA prayer to get our cargo...we are praying that they do not charge us a huge amount of duty, too. We've been waiting two weeks for it and it has all my needed medical supplies and Tim's instruments. We are learning a hard lesson in patience.

To get through the disappointing day and the feelings of anxiety for the birth room, I got crafty....hence the other picture...I was getting tired of all the white walls in our place and I knew we wouldn't be getting our cargo today...I have pictures to put on the white walls in cargo....anyways......The Lord gave me this verse and it really hit me today....the good He is planning for us will come to pass and He WILL, without a doubt, use US to fulfill it.....nobody else.....just us. The plans He has for us can only be accomplished by us. This is good news.....'cuz it means that He will prepare and hone me to accomplish what He desires no matter how I feel.... What a promise. It got me through the day....and prepared me for the evening. God is good.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement...we so need it. We'll keep you posted and I will report if anything else happens on my first birth room shift!

So here's the update....another lovely, smiley lady came in named Maricel....a beautiful lady at 8 centimeters dilation! She smiled and smiled and quieted herself....she was so peaceful and seemed to be full of life....she held (very tightly) onto her rosary and I offered to pray with her. She smiled and nodded....she spoke very little English, but understood my eyes closed and my head bowed.

Around 1:30 am, my teacher-midwife, Jane....a lovely Filipina lady....began checking her vitals and monitoring her closely. She explained each step in the process and I enjoyed spending more time with her, Maricel, and her husband, Dickey. What beautiful people!

Then about 3:30 am, her bag of waters broke when she felt she had to pee and then the action really started!

She kept a smile on her face the whole time even when she was visibly in pain....she pushed and rested....pushed and rested....pooped, pushed and rested some more. And at 5 am, their little boy, DJ, was born! He was huge! And a bit of a cone head, but beautiful and pink within minutes.....he had a good set of lungs, too! Breastfeeding within minutes and happy to be warm in his mothers' arms. Maricel is doing great and even let me take a picture of her and her growing family....(the one at the very top with the Filipina midwife). What a blessing to see her smile of relief and her husband's joy of a new son. I think I am going to like it here. Thanks for reading...be blessed.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Made in the Shade

Yesterday we went to the beach for the first time since we arrived here in Davao City. It was wonderful to see the ocean again. Ah, but the ocean is better here. The water is warm! Ironically, I'd rather it was a couple degrees cooler because it isn't quite refreshing enough at this temperature. Having said that, it sure beats the frigid temperatures of English Bay in Vancouver.
I was delighted to discover that here in the Phils, sunbathing is considered a silly activity. "Why would anyone want to make their skin even darker?" In fact, in the Filipino version of SkyMall (you know, that magazine on the airplane that's full of stuff that nobody needs) I saw an advertisement for skin whitening soap; probably not a product that I will ever purchase. Anyways, because they don't suntan, the beach is almost entirely in the shade. The picture above shows Bethany sitting in the little spot we picked out for ourselves. I was glad to be in the shade, but even my four minute (I timed it) foray into the water left me with a sunburn. Go figure...

While sitting there reading our books and resting, we observed a colony of ants hard at work. They had found a dead insect that was about two inches long and they were determined to get it back to their home, which seemed to be hidden somewhere behind the yellow sandbags that we were leaning on (see above). They carried that dead bug about four feet across the sand, and then somehow found a way to carry it up the very steep sand bag wall. I was so fascinated by it, I had to take a couple of pictures. Okay, I know it's kind of gross, but you have to admit that it's an amazing display of teamwork.

We went to a church today where we met a couple named Glen and Paula Knight. They run a ministry called RIM (Remote Island Ministries). I spoke to him about the possibility of doing a water project in some of the villages that they minister to and he became very excited. He has been praying for a "water guy". I hope to visit one of these villages next week.

I am happy to report that yesterday was my first full day of feeling perfectly healthy in about a week. Thank you all for your prayers. Please continue to pray that our cargo will get through customs tomorrow without any duty being charged. We are really looking forward to getting our cargo because it has my musical instruments, Bethany's medical doodads, and some things that will put the finishing touches on our new home.

Blessings on you all, and thanks for your continued prayers.


Friday, July 20, 2007

"Welcome to the Philippines!"

Greetings! Well, an eventful day it was today.....

First I must start with yesterday....my Thursday, your Wednesday (depending on where you are).

You see, we were supposed to get our cargo at noon yesterday, but went to the airport to retrieve it and they said that our pieces were not on the supposed plane. "Great." They told us it would arrive Friday for pick up. So we decided to head out instead of staying home sulking because pieces of our lives were stuck in Manila.

We headed to "Jack's Ridge" and "Shrine Hill" at the prompting of our director, Matt. He's been so helpful...he, too, is waiting for our cargo as his northwest smoked salmon and pistachio nuts are in there.

So we took a non-aircon taxi all the way up the hill to a beautiful look-out where they do not charge you money for toilet paper. :) This is a plus. Here are some of the things we saw....Tim has more photos, but you know him, he wants to fix them up before posting them....I just don't care.

Needless to say, the beauty was breathtaking. Then we made it home before the rain hit.

Then today, I worked my first clinic day at Mercy Maternity. I hung out with my new friends Jenny and Lois, who taught me so much about prenatal exams, baby check-ups, and communicating with the native ladies. They were sooooo beautiful....and very pregnant. When a Filipina gets pregnant, it is impossible to hide it because they are so small and their bellies just stick out so far! It is such a lovely sight. The ladies really do glow (yeah, maybe it's the sweat, but they still glow!). Some are happy to be there at the clinic, while others seems as though they can't wait to get out of there.

Lois and Jenny helped me hear the fetal heart tones (FHT) and taught me to take blood pressure....I learned "vagina" and "bleeding" and "swollen" in Cebuano. That was entertaining....I also learned "good-bye" and "thank you". That was pretty helpful, too. Lois even let me pray for one of the ladies. They are all pretty willing to let you pray for them as they get a check-up. Lois shared the many difficulties the women endure to get to birth at Mercy....apparently many women get turned away as there are just not enough hours in a day or enough workers to handle all the births....everywhere you go, there is no shortage of pregnant ladies. They all look about 16 years old, too. Many are older, but there are many young girls, too. I learned so much today.

After my shift, I went home to discover that our cargo was ready for pick-up, but after orientation pictured here at our house (Matt is explaining that guys show friendship by touching each others' legs and being physically affectionate...you know how Tim is with that!!! Tee hee! The other pic is of our class laughing at poor Tim), Matt and Tim went to the airport to pick up our belongings and it was a no-go. The Customs department was being a booger and wanted Tim to come back on Monday to claim his stuff because there was too much paperwork to fill out and it was too close to closing...and the customs guards wanted to get as much as they could in duty....ARGH!

So here we are again...without our cargo....waiting, waiting...."Welcome to the Philippines" they say. I get it now. So please pray we get our stuff on Monday.....I have my first birth room shift starting at 10pm on Monday, so I would really love to get our stuff BEFORE I start work. Mmmm. God has been gracious so far....oh how we need His mercies....good thing that they are new every morning! Tee hee.

We are trying to keep our spirits high as we are really adjusting to the culture shock now. Honeymoon has worn off...we are trying to accept and not push our culture....we are aliens and guests in this beautiful land filled with beautiful people....who do things different. The tension grows at times, though. He is faithful and He has called us here for a reason much bigger than to teach me midwifery, meet pregnant ladies, deal with customs and try interesting food...we are to be Christ everywhere we go in order to win the hearts of those around us for His sake. I am feeling rather convicted right now. Can you tell?

Thank you for all your prayers and we will keep you posted on all the goings on.....be blessed!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Getting around!

Greetings! We have more pictures! Yesterday, we visited the Agdao market to pick up our tax forms that have to be submitted before we can apply for our missionary visa. Because the market was beginning to close for the day, the smell of not-so-fresh meat hit us like a ton of bricks. One of the pictures below is of the market from above.....they really cram the little huts together! Tim could barely fit through the market!

We waited to get our forms and did some people watching......more pics. When they close their little market space, they often take a little "siesta"...as seen here. They even pack 6-10 people on their tables to sleep! Cool.

After returning home, we decided to start our immigration papers....whew. Heavy stuff...

Then Tim decided we needed to go see a movie....not at the bad theater where guys sit next to your wife and do icky things...it's true! Public theaters are sketchy things here.... no, to the theater in Gaisano Mall. We got there to see "Zodiac" and misunderstood the clerk at the counter and bought tickets to the movie which already started....oops. Tim didn't want to see a movie that had already started so we tried to get into another movie....."no-can-do" said the guard in front of the theater....we needed to pay again for ANOTHER movie. Ummm, yeah, not gonna do that. Anyways, so Tim began to feel the diarrhea urge again and I had just come from the mall bathroom where there is no toilet paper or toilet seats....not a good place to let the diarrhea go. So we decided to go home.

Upon walking out of the mall, we were going to get a ride with one of the motor carts (a motorbike with a cart attached for about 20 pesos), but they wanted to charge over 30 pesos because we looked like desperate and dumb white folk. So we decided to begin walking towards home (a twenty-minute walk) and then a young teen (maybe 16?) rode up on his bike with a cart attached and asked if he could take us for 20 pesos. Tim was pretty desperate at this point, so we said sure.....that's when the adventure began....

You see, it's a pretty straight shot from the mall to our house, but I don't think this kid knew where Dakudao and Vinzon St. were because we took a number of turns while the cart threatened to tip over.....the guy continued to peddle at records speeds never stopping at any intersection to look or watch for cars.....

"AHHHHH, TAXI!" was my exclamation...."Whoa, buddy"was Tim's. Then we nearly got beaned by a huge truck....another motor bike...another taxi....all honking away to get us OUT OF THE WAY! Yeah, no, this guy just kept peddling as though he was the only one on the road....I was praying in tongues the whole way. God heard because I am here writing this today!

We made it home and to the toilet. Tim is feeling better now. Bless God.

Today, Thursday, we are hoping to pick up our cargo shipment! It is set to arrive here at noon....what a blessing it will be if it truly arrives! We'll keep you posted!

Then tomorrow, I start my first shift in the clinic observing prenatal exams! YEAH! I begin at 7:45 am. On Monday, I start my first birth room shift at 10 pm! Very exciting! I am quite nervous as there is so much to learn.....I'll keep you posted.

Thank you all for your prayers and comments....we are so grateful for your continued support and encouragement! Please continue to pray for our health (Thanks, Aunt Syl!) and that our shipping gets here. Please also pray for my first shift tomorrow....that I would grasp all the info, be a blessing to the patients, and a support to the staff. Thank you!

Be blessed!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Thank you for your prayers!

Greetings! Sorry for the crazy delay....our internet has been down for a while and we've not been able to get the good news over e-mail....."what good news", you ask? Well, our cargo shipment of all my medical supplies will be arriving here in Davao on Thursday!!! YIPPPEEEE! Thanks Christina-mum! She worked hard to find a company that would ship to Davao and finally, after much perseverance, found a place that would do it! Now we have to pray that it doesn't cost a fortune!

God is good.

Thank you all for the e-mails, comments and prayers.....we have been so blessed and encouraged.

Pictured above is Tim cleaning up our giant mound of garbage....there's a story to that, too.....

You see, they don't really have garbage collectors here....they do, but not really....it's a bit of a run-around. We decided that we were going to place our garbage next to the garbage of the business downstairs after dark....so we started to do that...hence the picture....but Tim discovered something very quickly.

He place the first two boxes out on the dirt curb and went up the 36 stairs to get the next box, came downstairs and VIOLA! The two boxes had disappeared....

So he repeated the process and across the street, a restaurant guard started to chuckle, pointing and giggling at this big white guy hauling trash downstairs only for it to disappear moments later.

So, Tim, the big white guy, decided to find out what the chuckling was about....yeah, the guy didn't speak any English...so Tim went back upstairs and hauled some more trash (I was killing the mass-quantities of ants underneath the garbage...thanks for the tip on killing ants, Merrilyn! I will try it!).

So when Tim hauled a giant sheet of glass downstairs, one of the Filipino guys off the street came running toward him screaming to grab the glass (apparently he wanted it!)....so in the end, our trash didn't last on the street curb. Mmmmm. Hopefully it was a blessing to someone! :)

Then after our giant trash party, we decided to take some pictures of the beautiful sunset view from our porch! We have a view! The pics of the sky are looking up and the ones looking down are the views of our neighbors who burn their trash everyday. :) They have a farm of cats, too....they aren't pretty cats, but at least we get to see some indigenous wildlife! And then the dogs that bark all night live there, too. :)

And to finish off our busy day of running errands and getting new toilets (that's another story....our toilets didn't flush, so our dear community handy-man, Jun, installed beautiful white toilets that have two buttons!!! What a blessing!), we invited the ladies from the Orange House for cookies and Cranium. We had a gas and even broke one of the old toilets.....you see, we ran out of chairs for the girls, so we used an empty toilet as a chair....take note, "Porcelein thrones on tile floor do not mix...it is not safe"...there should be a warning on those! -- "Warning, when using toilet as make-shift chair for midwife, do not place on tile floor, toilet may shatter into millions of pieces".

A giggle or two later and there were MILLIONS of toilet pieces all over our tile floor. Midwives are messy. But we REALLY got to know the girls this way....we even christened the evening with bashing open a young coconut (it's harder than it looks). We had a great time and we are really looking forward to learning and growing with these ladies. What a blessing!

Today is another day of errands and tying up loose ends. A very Happy Birthday goes out to our niece, Justice! CONGRATS ON BEING 1!! And out to our brother, Ben! Happy, happy Birthday and we are sad that we aren't there to eat your birthday chocolate cheesecake. Be blessed!

Monday, July 16, 2007

God is good and adventure at every corner....literally.

Greetings again! Our internet has been in and out, so I apologize for the lack of e-mails, replies, updates and info...but it is working right now...so pray it'll last!

Well, Sunday, Tim had the runs....no he did not run a marathon...."runs" to the bathroom were frequent. Please continue to pray for his belly.....mine, too, as we are fighting a battle for our health right now.....
I have been singing "O Victory In Jesus"...you know...the OLD hymn. Seems to be working. (Thanks Uncle Bob and Sylvia for the e-mail reminder to war in the Spirit!)

We are so enjoying getting to know both the Filipino and the westerners working in the clinic. Last night we had a party at the Orange House (the dorms for the students) to say good-bye to the women who just graduated. A current student named Lois made a fantastic meal of East Indian food! It felt like Vancouver food! Yummy!

This morning, I got up early and went with my new friend Jen and Nini, her househelp, to the biggest market in Davao. Little shacks lined up and down the street reeked of ripe fruit, raw meat, and fresh rain. It was pretty awesome. I will take pictures next time....this time it was a little overwhelming. The market is much like a giant shanty town with makeshift roofs, rotting 2x4s holding up ratty tarps and covering both merchants and beggars. The food is crawling with ants, but it is super cheap and can be washed. It is the best way to give out to the poor here, too, as we have been advised NEVER to give out money, but provide a means for them to make money. The people are so beautiful and though they stare and giggle at my every move, you know that they are dear people with BIG hearts. I just love them. This place is really beginning to feel like home. God is good.

Then today I got a wonderful tour of the maternity clinic that I will be serving in this week! At this point, I have no idea when I will be working, but it will be sometime this week....it amazes me how organized and yet how primitive the clinic is. They are always in need of medical donations such a blue pads, syringes, pitocin and the like, so if you have that available to you and want to donate to a great cause, please let me know. They are sooo blessed when the Lord provides for such needs.

Tim spent most of the day resting as his belly is feeling oooky, but he managed to go to the bank to check out what it would cost to cash Canadian cheques and came home with a really bad report. We are still trying to sort out the money issue and our shipping stuff. Despite the current frustrations, we are falling in love with this city....falling in love with the people and praying that the Lord opens up doors beyond serving in the clinic to bless and share His love with the people here.

I came home from the market and Tim was still feeling poopy and wanted cookies.....so I made some millet chocolate cookies! (They were so good) I made them in our gas oven that would go out every couple of minutes so I would have to re-light again and again.....but hey...at the end of it all, we had COOKIES!

Because everything attracts ants, we have to be uber careful when we cook, put away groceries or store fruit....even the slightest piece of grain, rice or salt attracts THOUSANDS of ants.....they do get into everything.

We also have noticed that the men who work in the warehouse below us, LOVE to pee on our big metal door and allow their nasty (and I mean HIDEOUS) dog to pee and crap all over our door and front step....so the first thing to greet you when leaving home is the intoxicating scent of feces and pee. Ahhhh....the diesel fumes come as a sweet change in comparison! :)

All in all, we sure love our new home and Gos has placed a wall of protection around us with great directors, wonderful and helpful new friends, and a love for this amazing country, its culture, and its people. They do everything to maintain peace wherever they go and that also means that they do not confront....EVER. While my background fights this way of life, I understand how, in this culture, it is a blessing and a strength to forgive, forget, and keep the peace. However, they serve each other with love and grace that it is hard to come up with a reason to confront. What a nice change.

Here are just a few pictures from our just-about-finished house. It just of the guest bathroom and finished guest lounge...the rest of the pictures are having trouble being loaded on to blogger right now. Our internet connection is pretty bad today. Sorry. We are still waiting to get our cargo shipped that we desperately need ASAP....it has all my medical supplies in it!!!! PRAY I GET IT SOON OR I CAN'T WORK IN THE CLINIC!!!! Have a wonderful day and be blessed!

PS. For those of you who are coming to visit soon...(mum, dad, Heidi, Kate?, U.Bob, Syl?) YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE SOOOOOO MUCH FUN! THIS PLACE ROCKS! And we have just about finished your room, bathroom and 'quiet' lounge! See you soon!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Patient Aliens

Bethany's been writing our blog so far, but I think it's time I share my side of the story. I noticed on yesterday's post that I appear as a bit of a slacker. Well I'm no McFly (you wouldn't get a Back to the Future reference from Bethany, would you?). As she pointed out, I've been battling with a bit of illness, so I wasn't able to help out around the house very much a couple of days ago. Yesterday, however, I was feeling much better and I proved myself very helpful. This picture of me putting up curtains is proof. (Yes, I know it's sideways, but I can't fix it)

I'm learning that everything takes longer in this country. I suppose that is good for me because it means there is a lesson on patience waiting for me at every turn. Yesterday we went grocery shopping. Wow. It took forever. You may be aware of my "mild" distaste for SuperStore (a grocery chain in Canada). I'm afraid the checkout stand at SuperStore is a Utopian paradise compared to yesterdays experience. With the Lord's grace I was able to stay positive and keep smiling. Okay, maybe I wasn't smiling much, but I didn't scowl or roll my eyes, which is a personal victory for me.

In our orientation meeting yesterday, Matt reminded us that we are the aliens in this land. Sometimes it is so easy for us to assume that the Filipinos around us should conform to our way of thinking and do things the way we are accustomed to. We are praying that God will give us the grace to understand their culture without pushing our ways on them, even if it means standing quietly in line at the grocery store while they find every way to be inefficient.

After we finished up our work for the day, we joined some of our new friends for a game of Settlers. There will be rumours that I had an accident, but I assure you I simply spilled some water on myself. We had lots of fun.

Please continue to pray for my health. I was suffering from a cold, but now I seem to be wrestling with some sort of stomach virus. We were hoping to visit a church tonight, but that may not happen. Bethany has done a fabulous job of making our apartment feel like home. Even with her limited resources (our cargo still hasn't arrived), this place is looking great. In fact, I'd better go help her out.



Friday, July 13, 2007

"These are a few of my favorite things...."

Greetings! I apologize for not posting more photos of our city....the truth is, we have been so busy running one errand and another that we have hardly been able to pull out a camera! I wish I had today, though!

We set out early this morning to fully move into our place! We first went to the hardware store (that was an awesome experience....there are men and women EVERYWHERE wanting to help you find whatever you are looking for AND they hold your basket while you shop, too! Eat your heart out Home Depot!)

Then we went and bought pillows! That, too, was a very pleasant experience!

And then we had our first day of orientation. Matt, our director, shared how Newlife came to be and what their vision for their marriage, the city and the school was......then he explained the immigration policies and heavy duty paperwork. It seemed only slightly overwhelming...but encouraging, too.

Then we took a little bikecart home....a little old man was peddling this gigantic cart for two....we couldn't resist....for P 15, he peddled two overweight Canadians to their home with all his might....all of his co-carters giggled at these two whities piling into his cart....they even gave him one good SHOVE to get him started. What an adventure. He was a good sport.

Then I got to work! I hung curtains....Tim fell asleep.....I washed the furniture....Tim fell asleep, I set up the living room....yeah, Tim was still sleeping....He hasn't been feeling good....so please pray for him. Thanks.

And so the last thing I did tonight was kill big bugs....lots of them....my two favorite things? Baygon and Chalk. Kills ants AND roaches! Sweet!

And the feet? That's what they look like after working in our house on the tile floor. You see the diesel fumes blow through the window and settle as soot on our floor and linens. At the end of the day, I wipe my face and the same comes off of my face! Eeew! Maybe I'll be brown after two years here! Tee hee!

Thank you for all your prayers and encouragements....we sooooo need them! Thank you, thank you! We'll have the house ready for visitors in no time! Stay tuned and please pray for Tim's health as he has a bit of a bug.....Be blessed.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Working hard.....almost there....

Greetings! Yesterday proved to be an eventful day!

Tim got to go to coffee with Matt and Krys' pastor who was visiting from Oregon along with the other husbands of the students.....and I was dropped off at our new home......

I worked like MAD! Scrubbing the furniture, killing more ants, hooking up appliances and doing 5 loads of laundry with our new washing machine! What's nice is that the washing machine goes outside (on our porch...pictured) so when it leaks (which it SO does) it leaks outside right into the drainage system! This is good!

However, we don't have a dryer, so I spent a good portion of the day hanging sheets, towels, and clothing on our clothes line.....by the end of the day, my arms were so tired. But I'm pressing through.

When Tim arrived, carrying a borrowed vacuum, I was so relieved. The cushions and foam mattresses are caked with dust, so having a vacuum was such a blessing. He got started there and then we set up our huge bamboo bed! That was an adventure! It took forever and by the end we desperately needed a shower. We were able to shower in our home for the first time and it looks like today we will MOVE IN! YEAH! There is no hot water and we still have to fix a bunch of screens so we don't get eaten alive by mosquitoes, but the majority of the place is finished enough to sleep in. Praise God!

Then last night we attended Newlife's graduation ceremony (pictures posted) and met the students....what beautiful ladies! Some are going directly on to the mission field to serve while others are heading home to raise support to go on the field. It was exciting to hear more about the clinic and the program....I definitely have my work cut out for me. And Tim was able to get to know the other families that are hear and it sounds like the husbands are going to be ministering together not only to the Philippinos, but also to the other students. He is getting blessed often these days.

Today, after we do one more push in our home to make it clean (we have to go to the hardware store and get bug traps, baking soda, vinegar, toilet seats, hammer and nails, screw drivers, etc.) then we have our first day of orientation at the clinic! Whohooo! The next few days are gonna be busy, but we're excited to jump right in.

Please continue to pray for God's gracious provision of our stuff that is supposed to arrive here from Vancouver, but we still haven't heard from our contact guy. And please pray that the Lord would give us strength to get all the things done that we need....please also pray that Tim sleeps better...he's been having a bit of tummy trouble and isn't sleeping through the night.

Thank you so very much for your prayers and for keeping us posted on what's up with you! Be blessed this weekend!

Oh....for those of you who do not know...we're roughly 15 hours ahead of Vancouver...so it's 6:30 am on Friday morning!