Monday, August 31, 2009


We're Tim mentioned. And our dear friends Ate Christina and Ate An-An spent all of last Saturday preparing for our return by cleaning our apartment and making some food so our fridge was not bare! What a blessing! We were so thankful!

Just a day after arriving home, Tim and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary (August 31st)! I have had a few friends share about the "7-year itch" and how this was supposed to be the year that I get tired of Tim's idiosyncrasies and feel like calling it quits....ha ha...not even close. God has been so good and I am still very much in love with and so very proud of my Tim.

However, I have to share that I was very convicted by his last post. While he praised me for "stopping for the one", my experience flying into Davao was very much the opposite of that attitude. I didn't want to be here.

I immediately felt overwhelmed with the task before us...maybe it was jetlag, but I struggled whether to make contact with individual patients that I had promised I would keep in touch with upon returning to Davao. In fact, everything in me wanted to "stop for me" and NOT for the "other one".

Out of a "sense of duty", I started texting my patients notifying them of my arrival into Davao and asking about their families. Immediately I got a wave of responses. One in particular cemented my apathetic, weary, fearful, overwhelmed feelings...."Ma'am B, I missed you so are my baby's have pasalubong for me?" Pasalubong is basically souvenirs or presents from my homeland. She was asking me if I had brought her anything from Canada...I cringed. The irony is, I DID bring her something.

Why did that tick me off so much? I guess it was the spirit behind it. I've had countless patients, delivered 50 babies, have MANY dear Filipina friends that I work with and several peers that I would've LOVED to bring presents for from the homeland...alas, it's too costly to bring something for everyone and with weight restrictions on luggage, we barely made it here. I guess her response to my return made me feel like I was the rich, white missionary here to be used for her personal expansion of wealth. In all honesty, this aspect of life in the Phils is the reason I so desperately wanted to leave. How do I balance my wealth (mind you, all has been GIVEN to me out of the sheer grace of God) with their poverty (though their poverty is certainly not as poor as you might think).

I battled with the urge to just give away everything we received in the last two months while in the West...every gift given to Promise...every piece of clothing....every bath luxury given by Tim or by family....every tasty treat from home serving to bring some temporary materialistic peace for the coming months....each item became a burden that I felt pressured to "give away and get rid of". How messed up is THAT!? The poverty mentality was weighing me down...."there is so much to do and I have little to give"...

But then....I was reminded of the passage where Paul says, "Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee"...Then the Lord brought me to 2 Peter it if you have a chance. I was mildly encouraged that I could make it through the next 12 months here in the Phils...but not totally convinced. I asked the Lord to give me some kind of sign...a peace...something that showed me that I could love, minister to, and GIVE without fear, without giving into the expectations of others. This is how the Lord answered:

So as I mentioned before...I texted a bunch of my patients to let them know I was back in town...two of them wanted to meet ASAP. I decided that since they wanted to both come at the same time, that perhaps meeting at McDo (McDonalds) would be better than trying to chat in a crowded maternity clinic. I offered to buy them a sundae if they'd meet me there instead. They agreed.

The Bird and I ventured out to McDo with about P150 (about $3)...just enough to buy a few sundaes. :) Raani, her husband, her baby arrived just a few minutes before Ivy and her baby. They were very excited to see the Bird...likewise, I was ecstatic to see how healthy their babies were! They repeatedly said that they didn't need to eat and that they were just happy to visit. I was mildly surprised to be honest.

We had a wonderful visit sitting around sharing fries and showing off our kids. I brought them each a small gift from Canada and both Ivy and Raani were so very sweet...not at all assuming.
Hugs were exchanged and we parted ways. I hailed a tri-c-cab and noticing the color of my skin, the driver tried to charge me twice the going tax....welcome home. But I DID receive a very sweet text message from Ivy as I arrived home..."Thanks, Ma'am B for everything."

I felt encouraged. That maybe, perhaps, God would move through me to bless others who actually FEEL blessed.

Our time in the West was so amazingly FULL of God's precious provision, the hospitality and generosity of others and wonderful fellowship with deeply loved friends and family. I cannot begin to express my thankfulness to each one of you guys that made sure our time spent there was peaceful and full of joy. We couldn't have made it there (or HERE!) without you. :) All that to say....I look around me and in this apartment I see all that God has given to me through dear friends and family. Very little in this place was purchased...I guess that is my struggle...I want to be able to communicate to my patients, though they are poor, that God DOES meet each NEED...and often our wants, too! He most often meets them without our begging...without our reliance on the wealthier people...without operating in a spirit of entitlement. This is not to say that our job as followers of Christ does not include tangible acts of kindness and filling the practical needs of the poor. BUT, some people who THINK they are poor, are simply poor because they cannot see the wealth they have.

Anyways. I am wealthy. Not in possessions or bank account in currently empty and I have a large monetary debt. However, I am wealthy because my God supplies ALL my needs and out of that supply, I will give as He sees fit. This is my prayer, anyway.

Kay. My ramble is done. I am spent. Thanks for your prayers.
Be blessed.

Here are a couple pics Tim took of the Bird exploring the Vancouver airport while we waited for our 2am flight last week.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Musings From 21E

Maybe it was the sorrowful tones of Bruce Cockburn as he mourned the victims of yet another useless war. Perhaps it was the way the naked sun bathed my daughter's skin in warm afternoon light as she slept in her mothers arms in seat 21F. No doubt the two hours of sleep that I had stitched together throughout the previous 26 hours of airports and airplanes and taxis and datelines was a contributing factor. Whatever the source of my melancholy, it's interesting that it didn't strike me until we reached the shores of Mindanao.

As we flew over the beaches, and then the mountains and rivers of this majestic island, I found myself welling up with emotion. What I was feeling was not what I had expected. The moment was not one of sadness at the fact that I had just left Canada for yet another year. Nor was I suddenly overjoyed at the prospect of returning to my home of two years, though they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and ten weeks is plenty of absence. One could certainly be caught up in the wonder of God's creation, but that wasn't it either.

No, this feeling was catching me entirely by surprise: Regret. Don't misunderstand me. I don't regret giving up my life in Canada for a life of adventure in the Philippines. Neither do I regret taking an extended vacation that spanned three countries, three states, and two provinces and saw us board 12 different planes in 10 weeks.

I was regretting the fact that I haven't done enough to make an impact in this place. We've been in Davao City for two years now, and I feel as though I haven't done much. I don't deny that the water project has had an impact. Our water filters are being used by at least 35,000 people and that's nothing to sneeze at. And yet I can't think of many that I've impacted personally—people that have been exposed to the intense love of God as a direct result of interaction with me.

Heidi Baker challenges us to "stop for the one" in front of us. Indeed, Jesus' ministry was imbued with this concept. Blind Bartimaeus, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well; imagine a New Testament without these characters. I love Jesus and I want to be like Him, but I can't think of the last time that I "stopped for the one". My wife does it all the time without even realizing it. Why don't I?

I've somehow become isolated from the poor and broken. I've justified this by saying "Hey, I'm working on the big picture." Sure, my efforts are bringing clean water to the poor, and I've put water filters in the hands of many evangelists who use it to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the broken, but I no longer get my hands dirty.

The Lord is challenging me to come out of my ivory tower and start loving people "to their face". I'm crazy for telling you this because it calls for a certain level of accountability. I have a really hard time interacting with people on a personal, one-on-one level. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to project management. Whatever the case, I'm going to start looking for opportunities to minister to people personally.

One of the challenges that comes with "stopping for the one" is that it requires you to slow down. As a North American working in the developing world, I am constantly trying to push the pace, challenging people to act swiftly. "People are dying," I exclaim. "No time for dillydallying!" How then do I continue to set that example while also accepting the challenge to slow down and interact with people on a deeper level? The Lord will have to give me the grace to figure this out. Thankfully He has sent me a spouse who is very good at stopping for the one, so I can probably learn a thing or two from her.

As we made our final descent into Davao, we passed over the miles and miles of rusty tin roofs that stand precariously over the poor families that live along the coast. So many people, and only one of me. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people who call for our attention. But the beauty of stopping for the one is that it is impossible to be overwhelmed because we become so focused on the person in front of us.

People in need of love surround us in North American cities too, but here their poverty flashes like a neon sign saying "LOVE ME". Jesus was pretty good at loving people everywhere He went. Maybe it's time I tried following his example.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Almost home....

Sorry for the LONG delay! We've been tromping through the country with and without internet so updating has been difficult!

Alas, we are on the final two days of our time in North America. In the last 4 weeks, Tim, Promise, and I have traveled to Ontario for Tim's cousin's wedding, journeyed to Gabriola Island with Tim's parents, visited countless friends throughout the lower mainland, celebrated Promise's 1st Birthday (3 times!) and Tim's 30th Birthday, and now....I am packing for the journey home.

We have definitely missed the serenity and quiteness of our home in the Phils. We counted how many different kitchen sinks Promise has bathed in during our Western tour and counted 11 different bathing grounds! She's slept in 9 different locations in 9 different beds....and she's been a trooper.

We have been blessed beyond measure and loved beyond deserving. God is faithful.

We'll share more when we safely return to the Phils.
For now, know we are still around and will update soon!
Be blessed!