Monday, June 29, 2009

Family, friends, and blessings galore...

Greetings! Here we are with our second week in North America....still adjusting. The jet lag has passed and each day is filled with home visits and planning of home visits! Little Promise has developed the "Complete Works of Snot" and her cough is getting worse. Sad sad girl, but what a trooper she is! Still smiling and greeting so many new faces, she has been graciously adjusting to life on the other side of the Pacific.....and of course, everyone loves her to bits!

This passed week, we had the privilege of meeting with some old friends and enjoyed the company of our home church, The Life Center. We were quite surprised at how much at home we felt entering the door. After a year and a half, we were greeted by our church family with open arms and excited kisses for The Bird. Our pastors were so loving to us and gave us an opportunity to share what God has been doing in the Phils. We felt totally supported and loved. What a privilege to have a church family to come home to. :)

Everyday has yielded amazing provision from the Lord from financial blessings to delicious dinners at friends' homes. We've even been given coupons for things like diapers and clothing! Cool, eh!?

Today, Tim, Promise, my mother-in-law, and I got to go to IKEA and then to Granville Island (one of my favorite places). Though I really dislike shopping about as much as eating creamed brussel sprouts, walking through IKEA was refreshing! I found Promise a bib that actually covers her (the only one I'd brought wasn't doing the trick) and she found a little stuffed bird....very appropriate for The Bird....I found exactly what I was looking for and as we stood in the check-out line, I felt a twinge of envy. Envious of having my own home to decorate....a place where I had the choice to hang cool light fixtures and eat off my own dishware....a place where I could finish with matching linens and warm wall paint....a place to have hanging plants and candles....a home that was "mine". I remembered our apartment in the everything in there was once another family' instead of choosing the decor, I just "made do" with what was many of the items were broken, worn and full of holes...and when we leave, none of it can be taken along with us to the next "home".

It wasn't that I was feeling sorry for myself, well maybe I was a little, but rather I was struck with the Scripture from Matthew 6:19 that says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

This reminded me of what my purpose is and brought me to a place of recognizing that all of those fringe "treasures" I want will only be more responsibility and bind me to feeling "in need" all the time...."I need new curtains....I need new sheets......I need to renovate....I need pretty light fixtures". Yeah...I want those things, but God has not called me to that life. He called me to serve in the Philippines. IKEA won't fit in my suitcase and it certainly will not fit my budget or free me to serve the poor.

I was convicted again to ask the Lord to be my that my heart will be there also...satisfied, content and always thankful for what He has so graciously provided for me and my family. Staying at that place not only brings me peace, but makes me more effective in the place of His calling.

Well, I guess you could say that's where I am at this week. I think I am processing a lot these days. My pastor here, Ernie, shared a very thought-provoking quote Sunday morning that I've been rehearsing in my mind though I can't remember it word for word, so here it is paraphrased: "We write our accomplishments in the sand, our failures we chisel in marble, our faults we carve in brass, and God's deliverances in water."

I am learning, hoping and praying that I will chisel my God's deliverances in marble by repeating them here over and over again. I serve a faithful God.
Be blessed.

Below are some pics from today's trip to Granville Island, including a rather odd street performer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jet lag: Day 3.

Greetings! You'd think I was writing this from Davao...considering it's 3:52 am Vancouver time and 6:52 pm Davao time. But alas, jet lag has claimed another victim....Me. All things considering...a jet lagged baby, traveling non-stop and adjusting to Western life for 11 weeks, we're doing pretty well!

The flights over were great and Tim and I were so thankful to have his parents along to keep the Bird occupied and comforted. She did awesome! We arrived in Vancouver with our dear friends, Heidi, Kate, Danielle, Uncle Bob and Aunt Sylvia holding up signs and making obscene noises with dollar-store noise-makers....They even made signs in the shape of appropriate individual interests! For Promise, they made a bird, for Tim it was a water filter and for me, well, I got the placenta...complete with cotyledons...I have very dear nursing friends. :)

The hardest part of our journey was the ride home....Promise had to sit in a car seat for the very first time ever in her very first mini-van. It did not go over well. She screamed for the restraints to be lifted and reached out to be held by mommy. I tried to be a law-abiding citizen and let her cry all the way to Grandma Stewart's house. She was pretty traumatized. Over the next few days, I tried to get her comfortable in this new environment we call "safety", but alas, riding on the back of a motorbike in a sling on her mother's hip is far more "safe" in Promise's eyes. She misses home. I don't yet.

However, as I went through Superstore this morning, I was taken aback by the "unfriendliness" of Canadians. It was refreshing to see the vast array of cultures represented...the Sikhs, Chinese, Afro-Americans and the like, but gosh...they looked so one smiled when you made eye contact. No one. There was no, "Morning, sir! Morning, Ma'am" or "What you like, Ma'am" or "Can I touch your baby, ma'am?" Nothing. Weird. I must've seemed odd to them, too because I was saying good morning and "Maayong Buntag" to every Asian that passed. Ooops.

Maybe it was the jet lag....or maybe I am just that friendly. I missed my smiley Filipinos. 

And the COLD!!! It's like 22-26 degrees C here and I have long pants and a coat on while my fellow Canadians bask in the sunlight in shorts and sleeveless tops. Poor Promise was an icicle the first day! However, a hot shower with REAL hot water did the trick. :) And her uncle Jeff bought her a hoody to get through the next 10 weeks. Nice uncle. :)

And the quiet! No car horns, Balut-selling, traffic noise, ice cream man, diesel engines, engine brakes, cockadoodle-doos, barking dogs or cats in heat....silence. I could barely sleep it was so quiet! And no mosquitoes, cockroaches or ants....NO ANTS!!! We ate chocolate in our bedroom and left the wrapper on the floor just because we could! Eat your heart out Filipino ants! 

Promise had the opportunity of meeting her Stewart cousins....all 4 of them. She especially like Hope who is just 6 weeks older than her. They cooed and screamed at each other with wild expressions. Hope is very close to walking and so Promise has been ramping up her crawling to keep up. Despite all her new experiences, she has her moments of complete and utter exhaustion where she throws herself in a crying fit not knowing what to do with herself. This land is strange and foreign to her. 

We've been incredibly blessed to spend time with the Stewart family this week....and have been blessed with dear dear friends that have poured encouragement into us (which I must say has been much needed) and have been so well provided for. Not have a dime when we arrived, we had a friend buy us a box of disposable diapers, an uncle that bought warm clothes for Promise and another that bought Promise a well-loved and entertaining toy, not to mention the housing and food prepared by Tim's mom and the great company of others. 

Tim continues to work hard on the water project meeting with board members of Impact Nations and picking up some photography work to earn some money while we are here. Pray for him. I think he is overworking himself and needs some time for actual furlough. Meanwhile, I am spending my days being a FULL FULL time mother. Promise is with me from start to finish....I love it. And I am seeing her grow leaps and bounds with each day....she's great. 

So, that's it for now. This week will hold more visits and a bit of work. Still adjusting to the is a quite a shock, to be honest. I've only been gone 1 1/2 years, but I feel like it has been a lot longer...I hardly know what to do with myself.  I don't know where 'home' is.

Will write more later and include better pics, but for now, here is evidence of Promise's first plane adventure. :)
Be blessed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It Is Finished

48 hours from now, my family and I will be making our descent into Manila. I'm anxious to get this trip underway, but I've got way too much to do between now and then. Despite Bethany's gentle reminders, I've yet to start packing and I've still got loads of work to get done in preparation for my 10 week absence. Toti will do a great job of running things while I'm gone, and I will continue to do a lot of my work from North America via email and text messaging. But 10 weeks is a long time to be gone, and right now it's got me stressed out.

Bethany graduated last night. I know I've said this a few times before, but I am just so proud of her. They did a great job of honoring her last night, mentioning a few times the amazing feat of passing the program while being pregnant, then raising an infant. She didn't just pass, she managed to get an average above 90%, and she had the second highest average grade for all of her assignments. That's my girl.

They honored the husbands last night too, which I thought was a pretty classy thing to do. The ladies do all the hard work—you'll never catch me studying—but I suppose we've sacrificed too. Sure, there was a time commitment once Promise came along, but the biggest sacrifice was having to hear the word "placenta" on a regular basis. Never mind the nasty diagrams found in open text books on the kitchen table.

I can't believe her two years are over already. I can't believe we've been here that long. It seems like just yesterday that we dragged our jet-lagged bodies to the 2007 graduation. Since then, Bethany has studied her brains out, had a baby, and ministered to countless women. I've learned all about water filtration, found a wonderful friend in Toti, and he and I have watched nearly 2000 filters go out to 12 different provinces. It's been a busy couple of years.

Speaking of the water project, that grant money came through last week. I went and purchased our new truck (it's fun writing a cheque with all those zeros). It's got a 19'x7' bed and the biggest engine available in that model. Once we've outfitted it with a new steel bed and reinforced the suspension, we'll be able to carry at least 50 filters at a time.

Toti is up in Manila right now, enjoying his two weeks with Mum & Dad and the whole JOC (Journey of Compassion) team. They're seeing some awesome healings, and I've heard that Toti has been serving as the translator for some of the crusade meetings. While in Manila he'll be working on scheduling a training session for a group of pastors that want to start their own water project.

I need to go, the Bird is completely covered in some sort of squash goop and if she doesn't get a bath soon, it may permanently stain her skin orange. I leave you with a snapshots from last night, one of our new truck, and a practice pic of Promise. I'm still working on the high contrast black and white technique. I like the blown highlights, but cant seem to figure out how to get a smooth transition out of them. If that doesn't make any sense, don't worry about it.


Thursday, June 4, 2009



Yes, it's true....God knew all along, but we sure didn''s pretty RAD! God is faithful!

Ya know, when we're desiring to please Him (even when we fail, but the desire is there), He always takes care of us! ready for this!?

Promise's muchly coveted provisional temporary passport arrived last night by courier to our home in Davao!!!! YEAH FOR CANADA! With 7 days to spare before we take off for furlough, God answered our prayers and Promise can now leave the Philippines legally! YAHOOO! What a miracle!

Another I took my last and final midwifery exam for school. At 1 pm, just after my day shift duty which started at 6 am, I started the loooong exam....high on 3 cups of coffee. I was the first one finished, so that either means I knew the answers quickly or I failed miserably and guessed quickly! Ha ha ha. We'll see. There was a big portion of one section that was on circumcision. Unfortunately, I did not spend much time studying that....felt pretty unsure about that. I came home and poured over my textbooks to find that indeed, I missed a few of those. I hope I passed!

To celebrate, I went and made another pot of coffee...but not for me. For these guys pictured below.....

For those of you that have visited us, you may recognize them....they are our favorite "hobble-hobble" (motorbike) drivers, Kuya Chris and Kuya Ray. They LOVE the Bird and requested that before we leave for Canada that we take a picture or two. They crack me up. We've debated on running a corner business with them-- "100 pesos for a picture with a puti (white) baby!" Haven't tried it, yet. :) We didn't charge them for this one. Ha ha ha.

Kuya Chris and I have had sooooo many talks about Jesus and about the state of the world. He maintains the idea that he deserves to go to hell and therefore, he will go there despite Jesus. Most of the time he is joking around, but I know he has some what, I am not sure. God has been working on him for some time, though.

So today, we shared a pot of coffee and some cheap Filipino chocolates.

We also took some pics of the construction on our street. It's pretty obnoxious. For those of you who visited us, you remember our lovely sewage ditch? Well, it finally clogged up to the point that the city made a decision to re-dig it. Apparently, our neighbors down the street own a chicken farm and would slaughter the chickens dumping all the waste products (use the full extent of your imagination) into the ditch...the nastiness would heat up in the hot tropical sun and "bless" us with the most fantastic stench known to man. It was enough to make you gag on your way out the door, accuse the person in front of you of cutting the cheese, and vow never to breathe deep again. In fact, Tim and I decided that as soon as the Filipino "summer" started, we would shut all the anterior windows and run the aircon exclusively just so we had some form of air purification. When it came to choosing either a soaring electricity bill or clean air, clean air was the superior choice.

The ditch looked even worse than it smelled, if you can imagine.

Yes, here is a pic of our apartment building (we're up top on the right) with our pleasant ditch and Filipino workers galore. We are kinda situated on a mote now. With only a wobbly wooden bridge connecting us to the rest of Davao, crossing to the other side is always an adventure with Promise in tow.

Next week is graduation, a busy and full week of birth shifts and Friday, a flight to so...ummm....giddy... :)

Meanwhile, Tim is finishing up water projects to prepare for furlough and setting up new projects for Toti while we're away. Toti is up in Butuan this week for Impact Nations' Journey of Compassion and absolutely LOVING it.

The Bird is great and growing soooo very fast. This passed week, she had her first swim in a pool at our dear friends', Darrel and Shannon's place. She LOVES the water like her daddy!

That's about it for now....Until later....Be blessed!