Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good afternoon! It's very warm and cozy here today, so I thought I'd take a minute and update our blog. The boys are growing their snow fort quite quickly-- this is yesterday's progress! As you can see, we're enjoying a very white Christmas!

So, it isn't quite warm yet, but it is MUCH warmer than it has been, according to Garry. He's been running errands today, and I haven't been out of the house yet:). He also took the boys Christmas shopping, which is probably only the second time they've been to town since we arrived here last week.

Donna, Garry's youngest sister, arrived from Texas yesterday and we enjoyed a late supper as a family. It's amazing to have 3 of the 5 siblings here for Christmas this year!

Since I last wrote we're getting settled in quite nicely. We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of folks in our church as they have poured blessing after blessing on us! Boxes of food delivered to our home, gift certificates for grocery stores, warm clothes to borrow or keep... the list is amazing!

Yesterday I met a friend in the store and she noticed I was a bit overwhelmed (do you know how many kinds of tortilla chips there are in this country?!). I appreciated her hug and the homemade dinner she sent home with me. Wow! And that's just the latest of a series of understanding, kind people who have crossed our paths!

We were also able to enjoy the wedding of some dear friends of ours. The boys decided they'd rather see the happy couple at another time, but Garry and I were privileged to attend the ceremony and reception. The normal rites of passage, things we are usually too far away to attend.

We've also found out that things can actually go FASTER than you anticipate-- we already have our internet! So I'll say goodbye for now and a Merry Christmas to each of you!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wow! It's been a long time. We arrived in Steinbach, Manitoba on Wednesday evening to very cold weather. It's been amazing to see family and friends! We've been overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and family in getting our house ready for us to move into, buying us food, stopping by with meat, welcoming us with open arms, and.... well, the list is to long to finish! We just feel so blessed to be here and be settling into our new home.

It is really, really cold here right now, for those who live further away:). The boys have been working on a snow fort in the back yard and have enjoyed being outside for small periods of time. We're all getting over jet lag, which I imagine will take a few days yet. So far we've been awfully tired during the afternoon (which is the middle of the night in the Philippines) and been waking up rather early. Each night has been a bit better, so I think we're heading in the right direction!

Garry was able to renew his drivers license and pick up our van this week. We've also got our mailbox keys, internet on order (it takes 2 weeks to install), and enough winter stuff for the moment. We still need to find a a couple more pairs of gloves in order to return the rest of the winter stuff we're borrowing. We've already been cooking in our house and are feeling relatively settled for the short time we've been here.

I'm at home with a very poor connection just now, so guess I can't post a photo-- next time! Maybe next time I'll also post about our interesting re-entry experiences, but for now I just wanted to say we're here and getting settled!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's late Tuesday evening and we are packing up the computer in preparation for an early departure tomorrow morning. We'll see many of you soon!

Next time I'll log on from Canada!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wow, it's been an incredible week! We arrived in Manila Tuesday evening, happy to be finished packing up our house and excited to be heading back to Canada next week. I can hardly believe that in just 1 week we'll be with family and friends in Manitoba! Wow!

We had a great meeting with our field chairman yesterday as we discussed what God has been doing here in the Philippines. We also talked a bit about the future of the flight program and where God is leading. It was an encouraging time together.

Here in Manila we have a short list of things we want to do-- check around the city for some warmer clothes (can Kaleb arrive in Winnipeg in sandals or does he need a pair of tennis shoes?!), see our new NTMA families who are currently studying language, and do coffee with some other friends. Garry is also finishing up a bit of flgiht program paperwork and Kevin needs to go to immigration to be fingerprinted on Monday.

During our last week in Puerto we spent a bit of time with different people... with Norm and Jacque, for whom we provided flight service until they moved to town earlier this year; with Kevin's badminton trainer and his girlfriend; with Kevin's badminton team; with Ben and Suzy, our co-workers who are now running the Palawan flight program; with different foreigners that live in town and do various ministries; with the men who have invested in Kevin and taught him much about agriculture; and with the folks at Aloha orphanage. Many of our badminton friends do not know the Lord and our prayers are much with them, that God would be working in their hearts and that they would come to know Him. Though our times together were good they were also sad as we said our goodbyes and realized that another chapter of our lives is finished.

At the same time, we are excited to head back to Canada and catch up with so many of you. We are excited to see what God has in store for the next months!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just after my last post Kaleb got a pretty nasty stomach flu and then Garry got a touch of it. Kevin is still struggling with a cold, though he's doing quite a bit better today than he was yesterday. I guess it will just take a little while to really feel good.

The other night when the boys were sick I was up with them and found a rather large gecko on the wall. He wasn't really huge, but probably a good 12 inches long or so. Too big for me! Since I've been thinking of some of the things I won't miss from here, I decided to take a picture. When I got my camera I turned on the light and found two other "friends" right in my front room! I thought maybe you'd like to enjoy them with me...
Garry has been home most of today, though he did spend a couple of hours at the hangar showing Ben some of the paperwork stuff that needs done for the annual. I was so thankful to have him here packing with me! He packed several boxes, moved stuff to the hangar, fixed a light outside the house, and did a few other things. Wow!

On a slightly more normal note, one of the things we enjoy here is a kefir drink called Yakult. A lady sells it on the street and stops by our house about every other day. It comes in really small bottles which always makes me smile! Here is Jhean (my helper) getting Yakult from Chit, our friendly delivery lady!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday Keith and Simon stopped by to pick up some stuff and took a quick look at Kevin's garden. These men are helping local people learn to garden organically among other things. They've both been such a blessing to us and Kevin in teaching him many things about gardening!

This weekend I've been thinking a bit about little things I'll be glad for when we arrive in Canada... not watching small lizards run out of my sink, no mosquitos under the table when we eat dinner, the ability to actually speak English freely with nearly anyone you meet, frozen vegetables, fresh milk, good product labelling (I hope!), and lots of other little things. Insignificant things, really. But things that cost time and energy in our everyday lives.

Of course, there are also things I'll miss when we go-- small things that nonetheless make our lives easier or more enjoyable.... fruit shakes for a reasonable price at nearly every restaurant, living in our own home with our own things, fresh mangos, househelp, great deals on text messaging, warm weather, and lots of other little things. Every goodbye has a hello waiting on the other end, and every loss is gain!

One of the things Garry wanted to do before we leave Puerto is paint his toolbox or have it painted. He found a shop in town that looks pretty good and was able to take it in on Friday. The people there were helpful and we're hopeful that it will turn out well!

This weekend we all came down with colds, so this morning we're all moving a bit slowly. Actually, Garry went to the hangar early so he may be going at his normal rate as he didn't seem to be hit quite as hard as the other 3 of us. He's getting a computer set up for the program today and hoping to get the annual paperwork passed on to Ben.

We trust that your week is starting well and that is a week of enjoying life where you are. We certainly intend to savor the good things here in the weeks we have left!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good afternoon! It's been a cool day here due to yet another long rainstorm. I enjoy the coolness, but I could use some sunshine! Actually we had enough sun yesterday to empty the clotheslines so that was a huge blessing!

Last evening we sorted Kaleb's art-- his pictures he's drawn and painted. It was fun to look through his creations and see how he's developed in the last years (no, he hasn't been good at throwing things away throughout our time here!). Kevin has also done some neat art, but he doesn't have the same passion for it that Kaleb does.

Today Kevin has been busy about a million things. We had a young guy come help in the yard and shop and he and Kevin did a lot of work in one short day! Kaleb pitched in with some sorting and burning papers also!

The annual is going well. In fact, I think the guys are hoping to finish this afternoon since Ben is flying tomorrow. They'll still have the paperwork left to do, but hopefully the work on the airplane itself will be done!

and yes, the photos are pretty random these days!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good morning! It continues to rain almost non-stop here and the clotheslines are getting very, very full. Everything is wet. In fact, Monday evening we discovered that the boys walls were nearly covered in mold. This happened incredibly quickly as Kevin's allergies alert us to mold and mildew in their room. We wiped the walls down, but the added moisture of wiping them made it impossible for Kevin to sleep in his room. So, being friendly brothers both boys brought their mattresses into our room for the night. We're thankful that we were able to clean the room sufficiently for them to move back in yesterday!

Both Kevin and Kaleb have had colds lately. This one seems to take a long time to get over-- Kevin's been feeling rather down for over 3 weeks now. Every time we think he's better he gets hit again. This morning he woke up sounding terrible, but went to the hangar to help Garry anyway. Soon they should be home for lunch and I'll hear the rest of the story!

Garry, Ben, and Kevin are working on the annual this morning. They hope to finish inspecting in a few days and then move on to the paperwork. This is the first time Ben's been involved in annual paperwork here in the Philippines so they're planning some extra time for him to learn the process.

We got a neat message from our church this morning. People have been contacting the deacons to find out what we'll need when we get home. Since we don't have anything stored in Canada and need to set up housekeeping for our 8 months there we were pretty excited to hear that!

For my part I've been busy sorting and packing. In between times I continue to cook, clean, and generally take care of things on the homefront. I think I'll be quite happy to have the moving process finished!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The days are passing quickly with sorting, packing, and trying to finish things that we need to do before we leave here in about 3 weeks. Wow, time flies!

The boys did finish their school last week, completing their assigned work for the semester. It really is a great feeling to be done for now and we celebrated by going out to a little restaurant in town! Now the books are all packed away or given away and we're officially on our semester break.

One morning last week Kody, our dog, accompanied us on a visit to Ben and Suzy's. She was pretty excited to get in the truck and responded to every dog we passed on the way. She is going to stay with them while we are gone, so we wanted to be sure Tanya, their dog, and Kody would get along before we made final plans that way. We adults had a short business meeting and enjoyed Suzy's blueberry strudel. The younger kids enjoyed playing together. Kevin didn't get to join in the fun as he was busy doing school.

Ben is flying today and tomorrow, getting missionaries and their supplies back into their remote locations. When he finishes his flight tomorrow he and Garry will begin work on the annual. It shouldn't be a big job this year, though the paperwork always takes some time.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Saturday was another fun day! We spent the day with Galangs at the Underground River-- the longest underground river in the world! We went with Filipino friends, which made it extra fun! In fact, these are the same people we did baking with last week.

We drove about 3 hours north and across the island, then had a picnic at the town of Sabang. Jo had brought hotdogs, rice, watermelon, mango, and pork adobo. I took some taco soup and honey bars and we both brought some snack kinds of food. The older kids played Uno (a new game to this family!) and the adults and younger boys walked on the beach or sat by the ocean.

Then we took a boat about 20 minutes to the mouth of the underground river. From there we took a smaller boat into the river itself and enjoyed a guided tour.

The river itself was amazing! The cave is amazingly beautiful and diverse. We only went just over a kilometer down the river, but the total length is 8 km. The ceilings were sometimes high and sometimes low. Overall it was an incredible reminder of the creativity of the God we serve!

This week is off to a quick start. The boys are trying to finish their last week of school and are quite enthusiastic about their assignments-- or should I say finishing their assignments?! Garry and Ben are fixing some little things on the airplane in preparation for several flights later this week.

Yesterday Garry and I did some running around town and doing errands. I never cease to be amazed at how long life takes here! Even little things can eat up enormous amounts of time! One thing we did was get fresh milk from the farm. They are still only milking one cow, so the supply is quite limited!

Hope your week is starting out well-- enjoy the journey!

Friday, October 31, 2008

On Monday we were able to do something we've been trying to arrange for quite some time-- spend the afternoon with some Filipino friends. Jo and Ferdie and their kids have become friends through our time at the badminton court. Jo loves to cook and has been wanting to learn to make some American baked goods. It seems time just keeps passing and it doesn't happen.

In light of the fact that we only have a few more weeks in Palawan we decided we'd better do it now! Their older girls who are in college in Manila are home for the week and they were excited to join us in the kitchen also.

So, we had a great afternoon making cinnamon rolls, sweet bread, and crazy cake.

When we'd almost finished with the cooking Jo told me she wanted us to stay for mid-afternoon snack (at 4:30). In my mind the food we'd just made was lots to eat. But then they started getting out what they'd planned. Before they were finished we had juice, coffee, spaghetti, burritos, watermelon, mango, and the sweets. It wasn't supper to them because it didn't include rice.... but it did make me think people could be sorely disappointed if they came to our place for a snack! Anyway, we didn't need supper that evening.

The cylinder was released from customs yesterday and arrived here late yesterday afternoon. Garry & Ben spent the day installing it. In fact, they'll need to put some hours in this weekend to get the airplane ready to fly on Monday.

Belle finally got out of the hospital yesterday, though Abby is still confined until she finishes her antibiotics.

This morning I was once more surprised by a text from Jhean. Her mother had told her she had to come home for All-Saints day. Since home is about 7 hours from here she left this morning and won't be back until Monday. My Filipino friends say I didn't handle it quite right... I give my helper too much freedom to come and go, apparently. Which may be true since she seems to be missing nearly half the time.

This afternoon I made another batch of quasi-Korean kimchi. Garry and I have been eating it because it's supposed to be healing to the digestive tract and we're acquiring a taste for it. Kevin and Kaleb were a great help as we did laundry and prepared food for a possible trip to the underground river tomorrow. When they had spare time they headed for the court to watch their friends play badminton in the city meet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On Sunday evening we went to see Belle... she had Abbie by c-section on Friday around noon. Abbie is on the second floor on IV and being watched because her breathing is somewhat uneven and her birth weight was low-- just over 5 pounds. Belle hadn't been able to see her yet since there isn't an elevator to the second floor and she wasn't able to do the steps yet. Glenn, as well as Belle's sister and mother were there taking care of her-- you see, the hospital doesn't provide much of anything, not even meals for patients. She is hoping to go home soon, but can't leave the hospital until her bill is paid-- about $600 or more. Ashley, Belle's 5-year-old is getting rather impatient to see her mother as she isn't allowed in the hospital. Life is certainly different here with its own unique set of challenges!

The tapioca pudding turned out well... a little thick as I wasn't sure exactly how much cornstarch to replace the flour with! But it was fun to make anyway. The boys weren't so fond of it-- Kaleb says it has a strange consistency!

The cylinder is still in customs in Manila. We are praying it is soon released.

Garry found out he needs to have 2 small growths removed from his eye area. The doctor doesn't think they are malignant but it seems better to be safe than sorry!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Thursday afternoon here now and the boys are training for badminton. Garry headed off to the eye doctor this afternoon and hopes he can get things done there quickly... we'll see! The cylinder is still in Manila... Garry has spent hours on the phone with FedEx and the customs broker, trying to understand what they need to finish the process. It seems we keep finding things out in small steps-- send one thing today, send another tomorrow. Please pray with us that it will be released soon!

Since I last wrote we were also able to go see Belle's new house. She and her family continue to build as they are able, though they are already living there without running water or anything but dirt floors. It is very cool there as it is a bit outside of town, which is a benefit. It was fun to catch up with Belle a bit again. Today she texted that the doctor says she needs an emergency C-section because of a problem with the placenta. Pray that it all works out well for her and the baby!

The boys have been doing a lot of bike riding this week. And after riding they seem to spend a fair amount of time fixing. Kaleb's tire popped the other day, then today Kevin said his spokes are bent. It's a great learning experience, though!

Kevin and Kaleb helped me make tapioca pudding this afternoon-- a friend game me some dry tapioca and I was excited to try it. It's been years since I've made it, or even thought about it. So that was a fun thing to do together.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good morning! How's your week starting? Here things are going abnormally normally.... Jhean came to work about 2 hours late yesterday and had to leave just an hour later. Apparently when she thought she was finished with her court case it wasn't so. She didn't come back yesterday and then texted last evening that she won't be here today either. She looked pretty worried when she left yesterday... maybe I'll get the rest of the story tomorrow if she comes to work! Her life is pretty hard right now with a million family obligations and this court case. It's obviously affecting life at our house also as we count on her to do many little things required by life in the Philippines!

The cylinder for the airplane engine arrived in the Philippines in record time-- just 4 days from when it was sent! However, it was randomly pulled in a customs study and is still in Manila waiting to be cleared. It sounds like we'll have to pay a hefty duty on it, but hopefully it will arrive here today or tomorrow.

Ben should be headed this way with the airplane from Northern Luzon today also. We'll be glad to have it here, securely hangared with our other airplane. We were planning some avionics work at the end of next month but found out this morning that it isn't going to be possible. God has a different plan!

Kevin and Kaleb are making tracks in their school and learning lots! They are excited to finished the semester and then have some time off while we travel and get settled in Canada. In fact, I think I'll be as glad as they are for our school break!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wow, I have really been delinquent this time! The yard has long ago drained and then flooded again and drained again! Today is sunny and beautiful, and hot! In my defense, I've sorted a huge pile of stuff since I last wrote :).

I thought you might enjoy Kaleb's french-fry tower. It was quite ingenious, though I must say the fries were rather cold before any of us were allowed to enjoy them!

Garry and Ben finished installing the engine last Friday and Ben took it flying. After the flight they discovered a problem with the compression which came from a bad cylinder. A new cylinder is now on its way here from the US, via FedEx express. Since our missionaries are all in town until the airplane is up and flying again we'll be particularly glad to get the cylinder here and installed!

Meanwhile Ben is headed to Manila to pick up the airplane that we worked on in northern Luzon this summer. We are praying for good weather for his return flight as he'll spend quite a few hours over the ocean.

Last weekend we played in another badminton tournament. This is Kevin and his partner. They were leveled higher than anticipated so had several hard games. They did amazingly well, though!

This week we've had the privilege of sharing lunch with several of our missionary friends. It has been good to hear what God is doing in their lives and ministries. It's encouraging to know that God promises to be faithful to complete the work He has started in each of our lives and in His Church! Can you imagine what it will be like when we, His completed bride, stand before Him at last? What a day that will be!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Good afternoon! It's pouring rain here this afternoon and I'm enjoying the extra coolness. The yard is flooding a bit, but I think it will drain when the rain slows down. Garry and Ben are making good progress on the airplane and hope to get the propeller on this afternoon.

This morning I decided to make some gluten-free bread, something I haven't done for a while. Garry was reacting to one of the ingredients and I'm not sure which one. However, I came up with a plan and decided to make bread today. When I looked in my cupboard for xanthum gum I realized it was missing-- yet another thing that "disappeared" between northern Luzon and here! I'd already come up with a rather long list of missing things, all things that we'd purchased in Manila because they are either much cheaper there or aren't available here in Puerto. I could hardly believe there was something else missing!

At noon the boys and I took lunch to the hangar and spent some time with Garry. Suzy and the kids weren't able to join us because the kids are sick. I know how hard it is when little ones are sick and I'm praying this afternoon that they are soon better!

After lunch I told Garry about the xanthum gum and we decided to look for the missing box-- again! We were headed toward a large pile of stuff when I saw a stove in the corner of the hangar, "Did you check in the stove, Gar?" I asked. He said he hadn't and we looked inside. There were two boxes with our name on them! We were thrilled! The stuff isn't that big of deal, we can live without it. But what a blessing to find it!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I realized last night that if things go according to plan we'll be moving out of our house in about 8 weeks. That feels very soon!

This week I've been going through our files and throwing away anything that we don't need. Many things are now available on the net, which really cuts down on the need to save papers-- a huge blessing! We will be shipping our things to Mindanao so we are trying to really minimize what we take. That will save money on shipping... plus, I think that the less stuff we have the more simple life is, which is always good!

Garry and Ben were able to hang the engine and begin connecting the tubes and wires yesterday. Or maybe they aren't tubes and wires, but there are a LOT of things that connect to the engine of an airplane! Suzy and I are contemplating taking lunch out there again tomorrow.

The boys have another badminton tournament this weekend, probably their last before we leave. They've been busy practicing with their partners and honing their skills. In between times we're getting school done and yesterday they played some basketball with other friends.

Jhean's situation is still a bit of an unknown, though things appear to settling down for her.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

\It's Monday morning and the beginning of another new week! I had a nice chat with my mom this morning while I made yogurt and put pork roast in the crock pot for supper. Now we're starting school to the music of the weedwacker in our yard. So I thought I'd take a few minutes while the boys are busy to blog...

Garry and I have been talking a lot lately about praising God and how thankfulness seems to have a dramatic effect on our attitude. Everything that comes to us comes through the Hand of God, and His plan is always to use it for our good and His glory. He is far more interested in our growth than He is our comfort, so He often allows things into our lives that are not comfortable. Yet they are good things because they help us learn about God and see the truth about ourselves. What an incredible blessing to be sons and daughters of the Most High, Loving God!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Friday we had a great time doing lunch at the hangar! It was fun to be together as families and watch the kids play together. Kaleb's paper airplanes got stuck in the rafters, which are about 20 feet high, much to our amazement. Then several of us joined him in trying to get them down with wads of paper. It actually worked after a while!

The engine mount is now painted and Garry and Ben hope to hang the new engine on Monday. The plane looks pretty funny without it! While Kevin was waiting for us ladies to finish talking he made himself a new fishhook. It looks pretty cool!

After our time at the hangar we went looking for a pair of socks for Kevin, which we were able to find. Then he had badminton training for a couple of hours. I'd made some Brazilian-style beans the other day and I was quite happy to find them in the fridge to make an easy supper... there's something about Friday evening at 5:00 pm not knowing what to put on the table that makes me feel cranky!

This morning we did some running around in town and the guys got haircuts. The whole barber shop/beauty salon experience is quite different here. For less than a dollar you get a haircut and a little "head massage". Now the guys are in town picking up some shoes we had fixed this morning. It continues to amaze us that all of the shoes that we brought to the Philippines with us have lost their soles at one time or another. I guess the glue isn't quite the same or something!

Jhean is back at our house working today. She carefully explained her current situation to me in perfect Tagalog, which I totally didn't understand! I think I'll either go to the lawyer with her on Monday or talk to her aunt who speaks a bit of English. I believe that things are going to be settled out of court after all. Keep praying!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thursday evening. Jhean, my helper, was released today on bail and I'm sure she's thrilled to be home. There are still lots of questions surrounding all that's happened and what our response should be. Please pray with us that we would know what our calling is in this situation and that we have courage and grace to follow it.

The boys and I spent extra time washing dishes and doing laundry today, but they were still able to finish their school. This afternoon they had badminton training. I enjoyed coffee with a friend around noon then Garry and I spent a few minutes doing errands and catching up during his lunch break.

Garry and Ben are making good progress on the engine change. Among other things, Garry has been working on repairing the baffling, which was quite deteriorated. It's looking much better now! Tomorrow Suzy and the kids and I plan to join them at the hangar for lunch, which is sort of a family tradition when the guys do a big maintenance project. We plan to get some rotisserie chicken and make rice and some kind of veggie. Maybe we'll even come up with a dessert of some kind, but I'm not sure yet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Wednesday already and I'm still trying to catch my breath! It's been a crazy beginning to the week in several ways, but let me back up a bit.

Last weekend we all enjoyed a local badminton tournament. It was fun to be part of the group, cheering and playing. We were also able to catch up with some friends we haven't seen since we returned to Palawan. While our badminton friends are very religious we don't believe many of them understand the true Gospel. We continue to seek to be a light and have been encouraged lately by some of the comments and questions that have been coming our way.

Kaleb and his friend partnered in the men's level and it was fun to see these short little guys do a great job on the court. They actually placed second! Garry and Kevin partnered in a higer men's level and took third place. Kevin and I played in the mixed category and were able to take first place.

Monday passed by in a flash of getting back into our school routine after our week break and getting the house cleaned up after running around over the weekend. Tuesday morning we were just finishing up school when the doorbell and my phone both rang. My helper went to the gate and stepped outside when motioned to do so by a man I barely saw. I answered the phone call and was watching the gate from inside when I saw the man begin to walk away, but Jhean (my helper) didn't come back in the gate. I had an uneasy feeling and went outside to investigage. The men were actually policemen and they had a warrant to arrest my helper!

Apparently her family is in the middle of a bit of a fued and a girl had issued a complaint against her. The more I find out about the situation the clearer it becomes that there's really nothing we can do. It is so hard to see her in this situation and not be able to do anything. Please pray with us that her family will get her a good lawyer, which is what she really needs. Pray also that this would be a turning point in Jhean's life, that she would seek God and find the One True Source of everything.