Thursday, December 30, 2010

This week we celebrated our 19th anniversary... it's been quite the ride! Looking back on our years together we can hardly believe all the places we've been and the things we've done. Like most of you, we could never have imagined that our lives would be like they have been! Wow, God!

We are so blessed by Kevin and Kaleb, the wonderful sons God has given us. We are amazed at the things we've learned and the incredible people we've met. We are thankful for the many people we've worked with in different places. We are humbled by the team that God has given us to stand with us through so many changes and so many journeys.

We celebrated by going out to lunch at our favorite local restaurant. Garry bought me a lazy susan for the table and a full length mirror. He surprised me with flowers. I am married to a truly amazing man... not primarily for the lovely ways he surprises me, but because of his heart for God and the way he cherishes me. I could go on and on, but I can already sense his face turning red!

Over break Kevin has been enjoying riding the motorcycle, particularly since he got some cool gear for Christmas. Kaleb and Garry are making him a light box today so he can improve his animation drawings, his newest idea of fun.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Day is over, yet the reality of God's greatest Gift, His Son, remains. May we live in constant awareness of His gift though we've taken down the Christmas decorations and opened all our gifts.

At this time of year we miss being at home with family-- and that's a good thing! We miss sharing meals with our parents and siblings. We miss family gatherings. We miss greeting friends at church. Yet we are incredibly privileged to be here, to be involved in what God has called us to.

This is also a time of year when we feel incredibly blessed by our family and friends. We are enjoying the many Christmas letters in our inbox and are amazed at what God is doing all over the world! We shared Christmas dinner with our missionary team here and were blessed by the friendships we share.

Over the past couple of weeks we've had some time with our missionary friends here also. We are excited about the work God is doing among various people groups here. One village has started a school this year and has many students who are learning to read and write. Soon they hope to provide materials for teaching basic math, history, science, and social studies.

One of our works has faced some hard questions lately, and it was the church leaders who asked God for direction and chose to follow Him. One of our locations no longer has foreign missionaries living there, yet the church continues to reach out, teaching and discipling new groups of people. Wow, God!

Kevin turned 16 at the beginning of December and got his learner's permit. He's enjoying driving the motorcycle these days! His injuries are pretty well healed, so he's back to badminton again also. Kaleb has been riding his bicycle as well as making a new model of balsa wood airplane.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Aren't these beautiful! Garry bought them for me in town the other day and I was very impressed. I enjoyed the beauty and the nice smell for nearly a week!

Wow, a lot has happened since I last blogged. I guess that's what comes of too much bookkeeping and too little time to do other things! Thankfully I've finished my end-of-year bookkeeping stuff for the time being.

Garry has spent the last week in the office also, catching up on projects, phone calls, and e-mails. A week of flying requires payback in the form of extra office time the following week. It's been neat to see God work out so many things over the past week as he's talked through a lot of flight program things with different people.

Kevin has spent the last 3 weeks resting because of different injuries. Thankfully he's doing pretty well now, though his wrist is still pretty sore.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Kevin drew this the other day and I thought it was pretty good.

Brian did get back to town with one of the patients. The other spent that night in heaven. Thankfully, the unbeliever survived until the plane got there and is now receiving medical attention in town. The one who passed away was a believer, and his family was glad that he could leave peacefully from home instead of in a hospital if it was his time. Thanks for your prayers for the family.

Garry and Josh did a LOT of flying the first few days of this week. Josh did a great job and will be able to have his checkride and get his more permanent pilot license soon! Brian has also done a lot of flights this week, though several were delayed because of bad weather.

On Friday Garry took the damaged engine to the city to ship it back to the US for repairs. He was really thankful for Terry who met him and helped him through the tangle at the shipping office. I enjoyed riding along!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Thanksgiving photos are finally able to be uploaded... long story. But anyway, didn't Bailey set a beautiful table? It was so much fun! And even though the day is over, thankfulness is always in season, despite the pain in our world.

This morning is bleak.... just a bit overcast but not exactly cool. There are 2 really sick patients in one of our remote locations. They asked for an emergency flight Sunday night, which we hoped to do yesterday. Brian tried to get in there all day, but weather wouldn't allow it. This morning doesn't look much better. At least one of the patients is unsaved. We are asking God to spare her life so she can know Him and spend eternity with Him. Missionaries from the indigenous church have just recently begun teaching in her village, so she hasn't even heard the Good News of Jesus.

Garry and Josh are doing some more flying this morning... they've been burning up hours in the sky the past few days. Josh is doing a great job getting used to flying again and Garry is enjoying their time together.

Just got a text that Brian is in the location of the patients, but bad weather is coming quickly. I'll update when we find out the end of this story for the day. This morning I read in Psalms that God is two things: both strong and loving. What a wonderful Father we have who does all things well!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends! We enjoyed Thanksgiving yesterday with our aviation partners. We had a traditional meal complete with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce! We really enjoyed our time with our friends-- chatting, cooking, and watching the kids entertain one another.

This morning Garry went flying with Josh, our new pilot in Palawan. He is just beginning to fly here on the field, and his first step is to get some hours and then have an official checkride with a national check pilot. He's hoping to get the required hours this week as well as getting comfortable in the airplane after a couple of years of not flying. We're also looking forward to some time together as families over the coming week.

Kevin has a big toe injury this week, so he hasn't been playing badminton. The advantage is that he's had more time to do other things, like ride his bike and study hard. It really is amazing how a toe injury can affect you.... one toe hurts, and he spent several days barely able to walk. The toe has a purpose, and when it doesn't do its part it's hard to stay balanced.

I started writing Christmas cards this week. What a great opportunity to remember our friends and relive good memories of times together. I am so grateful for each of you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Garry just called from Palawan. They've been working hard on the engine inspection today and found a cylinder with low compression. He was planning to come home tomorrow, but he may stay another day if they need to change the cylinder. I guess they need to fly it in the morning and test it again... techie talk from a non-techie.
I finally got the photos from the guys time at the hangar last Saturday on my computer. So here are a few of them.

We spent Saturday in the city and enjoyed some great badminton. The badminton community here is quite small and appears to be quite fractured. It was a privilege to get some "warring sides" together for some games and see good camaraderie. A small step of reconciliation, but I think God smiles. Small steps, and we as a family wonder where they will take us.

On the way to the city we stopped at a small gas station and filled the tank and bought some ice-cream (for breakfast-- it was the healthiest option there). When we took it to the check out counter the lady needed to scan it, which is rare in a small store here. Anyway, Kaleb was holding his cone and the lady looked at him and asked, "Can I borrow that, ma'am?" It took us a few moments to figure out what she wanted and who she was talking to!

This evening the boys and I started putting up the Christmas tree. We didn't get it quite done because we have a major problem with the lights... only about a quarter of them worked when we plugged the tree in. Here in the Philippines we feel we're getting a late start as most of town has already been decorated for a few weeks. But since it's before American Thanksgiving it still seems early to us. The dilemmas of living in a second culture...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ever feel like you're looking at the back of even the slowest vehicle on the road of life? Ever have the sense that while everyone else is going somewhere you're more or less standing still? It's not a fun feeling. And it's usually more rooted in our fear of failure and our tendency to compare than it is rooted in reality. Nonetheless, sometimes I feel that way....

I should blog more often, I should make school more interesting, I should answer letters more quickly, we should invite the neighbors over for dinner, I should get more exercise, I should make healthier meals, I should be more spontaneous or more scheduled, we should be more.... the list is endless! Yet God's words to us are never those of condemnation. He does convict us, but He never condemns us. He sees us through the blood of Jesus! He has made us new, and He is committed to conforming us to the image of His Son day by day.

Enough pondering! This week Garry has been helping Brian between flights and doing a little flying himself. He's also spent a lot of hours in the office, catching up on e-mails, parts orders, and program paperwork. This weekend he's headed back to Palawan to sign off the annual there.

Kevin and Kaleb are still studying hard. School is going well and they are making progress, seeing the halfway point of the school year getting somewhat closer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The airplane is back in the air, helping our missionaries accomplish the job God has given them! We are so thankful that our paperwork was approved on Wednesday afternoon. Brian has been doing a lot of flying to get back in top form and Garry has done some flying as well.

Today Brian picked up some people from one of our remote locations. They are native speakers of the language our missionaries are translating the Bible into. This week they'll be here in town helping our missionaries check their current translation of Exodus. Soon our missionaries will be back in the remote location, continuing work on the translation and disciplining local believers.

Garry and the boys are at the hangar today. Garry is planning to do some flying himself in preparation for more checkout that he will do soon with one of our new pilots. He and the boys will also wash and fuel the plane to shorten Brian's day a bit.

I'm enjoying some quiet time at home and catching up on some things I've had waiting for me in the office. I'm also trying to get a little cooking done today. I had a nice chat with Mom B this morning... being able to talk on the phone is truly a blessing! I had also hoped to talk to my mom, but the internet has been poor, so we couldn't connect when she had time to talk.

God does all things well... I've been pondering the implications of that this week again. No reason to worry, no reason to fear, no reason to hurry or be impatient. Grounds for faith and hope. Grounds for peace. A solid promise on which to build life!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Crazy Friday blended right in to Crazy Saturday, Unexpected Sunday, and Get-Going Monday....

We actually had lots of fun on Saturday driving to the city (it's about 3 hours, more or less), doing a little shopping, seeing the chiropractor, taking the boys to badminton, and wrapping it all up with ice-cream with a friend. Lest you get the wrong picture of our illustrious city, here are some photos of the normal traffic there and a look at the wiring.

Sunday we slept in a bit then had breakfast at the hotel, went swimming, and headed out for lunch before parting ways with Garry. He was headed to Manila and the rest of us were coming home. We were nearly out of town when Garry called to say his flight had been delayed a few hours.

While we were driving home it started pouring and looked like late evening by 3 pm. All considered we made good time. While we were enjoying supper we got a call from Garry that his flight had been cancelled. A few minutes later he called to say that maybe they were going to do it after all. In the end he spent the evening standing in different lines for different things. Around 10:30 pm he got to a hotel and called it a day.

Garry took the first available flight to Manila, which was this afternoon. It was thankfully quite boring today! Now he's at our mission guesthome and the boys and I are home doing school and keeping the dog fed. Garry had some things planned for this evening, but both of them got cancelled, so he had some time to touch base with friends and still call it an early night.

It's getting late, I'm getting old, or both. You see, I can't seem to remember what else I wanted to blog about today.....

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Good morning... crazy Friday here! It should be a calm day, but so far it hasn't felt like that. I did have a nice walk with Garry this morning and a good chat with my mom. But I'm feeling the pressure of a lot of things that need taken care of today.... or that I think need taken care of, to be more accurate. God's perspective on it is what I really need, because what HE is doing WILL be accomplished!

The guys turned in the paperwork last Friday, but the lady who is supposed to take the payment for processing the papers hasn't been in the office. We continue to pray and wait expectantly for His will to be done. Soon several of our teams will be doing translation checks and it would be a big benefit to have the airplane flying again then, from our perspective. But again, our perspective isn't the one that matters!

Tomorrow we will head to the city for the day and on Sunday Garry will head off for some leadership meetings.

The boys did, in fact, get a badminton trainer. Coach Roy spends about 6 hours on the bus to come train the boys for 3 hours. Amazing, isn't it?! He's a very good trainer and has already been helpful to the boys.

Oh, and I finally got the photos of Garry... I'm posting a few today and changed some of the photos from last week.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good morning! Still no updated photos... for some reason all the pictures from the hangar that showed Garry won't download on to my computer. Go figure!

Garry and Ben finished work on the airplane on Tuesday and finished the paperwork on Wednesday. Ben couldn't get a flight home yesterday, so he left this morning with the paperwork in hand. Joel plans to meet Ben at the airport in Manila and deliver the paperwork to the appropriate offices. We are praying that it is quickly approved... which would be a miracle since we aren't turning it in until Friday afternoon and Monday is a holiday here. But, we serve a God of miracles.

We are very excited that the boys have found a badminton trainer, we think. A friend was going to come train them, but then he got sore eyes. Maybe tomorrow.

Another week of school done! This marks the end of our first quarter-- yeah! We are so happy to hit this milestone!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Today I wrote a quick e-mail update, so no blogging for me. If you don't get our updates and you'd like to, just comment or e-mail me!

Just a quick note-- I think Garry is flying the airplane as I post. At least I hope so!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Garry and Ben continue to work hard at the airport. The new engine is in place and they are hoping to run it today. Yesterday they ran into some small snags, but overall it's gone remarkably well. I think Josh is sending some parts from Palawan that they need. Thankfully we have a courier here that is reasonable and delivers things throughout the Philippines in a day or two.

The guys have been pulling some rather long days, and it's reminded me of one of my weaknesses-- I think a decent meal fixes most things. So, the longer they work the harder I try to get something decent on the table in the evening. By the time Garry gets home, though, he's more tired than hungry. Still, I think it has to help something... my conscience if nothing else!

This afternoon I went to town to get some cash from the ATM machine and pick up a few things. I took a trike to my first stop and walked a block or so to the bank from there. After going through the whole ATM routine with your PIN, choosing an account, etc, the machine was out of cash. So i went to a second machine a few more blocks up the street. It was off-line. The third machine, a couple more blocks down the road, was also out of cash. By then I had nearly walked home. I got in a trike anyway, because I needed to pick up water from the water purification place. I had planned to pick up a few veggies, but since the ATMs haven't been working for a few days, I was totally out of cash. There's always tomorrow.

I'm really thankful that Kevin is feeling better today. It's been simply amazing how often he's been sick since we moved here last year. Thankfully none of the rest of us seem to be getting this cold.

We're back to school today, and I've actually enjoyed the routine of it. I love teaching the boys and seeing them learn different things. I love knowing what they're doing and seeing them grow. Kevin has been writing a fair amount of poetry lately, neat poems that express truth about God and life. What a joy to read what he's written!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Some days I think I'd like to do something really remarkable. Something that matters, that's noteworthy. Partially because I'd like to feel good about doing something useful: partially because it would make a good blog post...

Today I was reminded that we never know what we're doing, really. A friend of Kevin's texted me for advice this morning. His chest hurts, and he doesn't even smoke. What can he do? Really, I think he just wanted someone to care... but I offered my limited advice anyway. This is the friend that told Kevin he respects him for living differently, but he isn't sure he wants to make any changes in his life. His friends are afraid to come play badminton with Kevin because this guy has told them there will be no dirty language when Kevin is around and they're not sure they can hold their tongues. When Kevin says he is different because of God his friend tells him he isn't ready to talk about that yet. So we wait. We sow seeds. We offer friendship. And today I remembered that this, too, is important. Not a great blog, but important.

Ben arrived yesterday and he and Garry are at the hangar today. They were hoping to mount the engine today, I think.

Kevin came home sick yesterday-- he has yet another nasty cold.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today I thought I'd post a few photos of some of our friends in one of the remote locations. These folks are from one of our locations that has a strong church. The church has its own leadership and is reaching out to new areas. The missionaries who currently live there are mostly involved in developing materials and doing translation-- they are the helpers, not the leaders! What a work of God!

Garry took both Kevin and Kaleb to the hangar today. Yesterday Garry and Kevin got a lot done and it sounds like today is going well also. Changing the engine on an airplane is just a lot of work.... work which the guys enjoy doing together! At the end of the week one of our other pilots will come to help finish up the project and help on the paperwork. It will be fun to touch base with him also!

I'm home alone for the whole day, something that seldom happens. And I'm enjoying every moment of it! I had a long list of things I wanted to do, but I doubt I'll finish them. Someone once told me that when I start a "to do" list I have no common sense... it might just be true.

Lately I've been "living" in the Psalms, reading through so many prayers of people who are simply pouring out their hearts to God. It brings me back to truth in a new way, that in the midst of suffering there is truth, love, and justice. What we see with our eyes and experience in our lives is not the whole story-- God is bent on redemption and He will do it. He is building His church, growing us into the people we need to be. We can rest in Him, in His total provision, ultimate justice, and limitless grace. We must stand against sin, but we must not be discouraged when things are not resolved in our timeframe.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The container arrived and was unloaded quite uneventfully yesterday afternoon. This morning Kevin and Garry are working on the airplane, getting things ready to install the engine. Garry had been waiting for some paint for the engine mounts, and that also arrived this weekend. So now it looks like all the important pieces for getting the airplane flying again are here!

Kaleb is busy tweaking his last balsa wood airplane, and I'm sitting here typing, obviously. I need to get my day arranged... well, what's left of it. Do you have days where it is just hard to get going and then when you finally do something it seems to turn out wrong and have to be corrected? If so, you can feel with me today.

This is our week of school since its' a great opportunity for the boys to work with Garry. That means it's my week to finish a lot of things that have been waiting for my attention... really. And I was hoping to blog some of our latest inspiring and funny happenings.
The container is on its way to the hangar today! It arrived in the closest port yesterday and is headed here by truck right now! This is a real answer to prayer-- we thought from the time the container left the USA that today would be the very first possible day for it to arrive here. And it is on the road, a real answer to prayer!

On a funny side note, when the trucking company called they asked Garry if he needed strippers to help unload. When he said that would be helpful she asked if they needed to be dressed in a particular way... made me laugh. Then at the tournament Kevin's partner excused himself because he was "going into the toilet". Language is a funny thing.

We spent the weekend in the city at a badminton tournament. Both boys did really well, though they didn't win this time. We also had good opportunities to connect with different people. We pray our lives are a witness in this environment... our language is limited, but our lives are not! We also enjoyed the time away from our normal lives and responsibilities, time to be together as a family and just enjoy one another's company.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monday just after noon, and I'm sure hoping someone will soon make lunch. I think we're doing fried egg sandwiches, which is one of Kaleb's favorites... and cooks very quickly! And I'm guessing I'm the one designated to get it on the table.

Last week Garry got a good start on the inspection and this week I think Brian is finishing that up. Garry is starting to get things organized for the engine change. He had hoped to get to the hangar quite early today, but his few minutes of e-mails ended up taking longer than expected. When he left for the hangar I got the feeling he was actually trying to escape from the office!

The boys and I are finishing up a bit of school before we take a week break... can't believe it's been 6 week already since we started. We are taking our break now because this weekend we're taking the boys to a badminton tournament so it's good timing to take a break. Also, next week the boys are going to help Garry with the engine install, I think.

Did I tell you the helicopter container has arrived? Our broker says it should be out of customs this week! We pray it is so.

Friday, October 08, 2010

And still no photos, cause the camera got left somewhere. I mean, I think we'll get it, but it isn't here at our house to download the photos. Update on Monday-- got photos and I'm uploading them to this post!

Garry and Kaleb are at the hangar today, cleaning things up and starting the airframe inspection that we need to do for our annual. Both the boys are quite proficient at removing and replacing inspection plates and it's always great time with their dad. So today is Kaleb's day of fun... and actually a lot of hard work!

I didn't post much about the trip in to the remote location or the flight out, but everything went really, really well. The prop was at the airport in the city when the guys got there and they got it loaded quite quickly. The drive in was wonderfully uneventful and some men met them at the end of the road to help carry stuff in. Hiking the prop in was quite a feat, but they did it! The tribal guys hiked it in as they are much better at hiking heavy loads down steep, slippery trails than our guys are. Tuesday afternoon the guys were able to install the prop and check things on the airplane out, so Wednesday morning they were ready to go.

It rained really hard in the middle of the night, which was a bit of a faith-tester as a wet airstrip is not the best for taking off. But Wednesday morning the weather was perfect and all the final checks and run-ups on the engine went perfectly. In fact, all the way back to home base Garry had no reason to be concerned. Brian and Kevin had a good ride back, though the prop was pretty rough on Brian's car top, which I think is in need of some repairs now.

Thursday morning Garry and Dave took the prop off and loaded it back in the box that was still on the top of Brian's car. Brian took it to the city and it should have arrived back in Palawan today. So thus is the story of our adventure this week... and when I get my photos maybe I'll just add them to this post.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Garry and the airplane are home! He, Brian, and Kevin went to pick up the airplane yesterday and after giving it a thorough check over felt food about ferrying it to our home base for further repairs. They borrowed a prop from our other airplane for this flight.... now we're waiting for our parts to arrive here in a container.

And Kevin is home too, for that matter.

I'm hoping someone took some great photos. But for now, just this quick update.... Good night all!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Tuesday here now. Where does the time go?! Garry finished his week in Palawan and accomplished the things he went there to do. He had good flights with both the guys as well as spending a lot of time just talking with them about the program there and some of the issues they're facing.

Here at home we finished school for the week, which was a very nice thing. We also started a really fun read-aloud. On Friday I went to the city to pick up Garry and enjoyed the ride with a friend who needed to go to the city also. The hours in the car sped by-- first talking to Lynne then to Garry on the way home!

The weekend was sort of a blur. Monday we spent getting Garry and Kevin ready to go. That's right, Kevin went with Garry to pick up the airplane! They left around 4 am this morning and arrived at their destination sometime around 3:30. Apparently they were able to install the new prop and run the engine a bit before the rain came late this afternoon.

This afternoon Kaleb and I went to Bailey's for a while. It was good to catch up a bit.... and eat her cookies and drink her coffee! We had anticipated that this program in Mindanao would be slow for a while, but all of us in the flight program have been plenty busy. Which means it's extra good to take the time to talk about everything and nothing.

Tomorrow morning Garry hopes to fly home! Kevin will ride back in the car with Brian, since he can't go in the airplane this time. And hopefully they'll bring some really good photos...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So, I've changed the look of the blog again, cause I had some comments that it was hard to read. What do you think... is this easy to read? Should I go back to the original? Or, do you have another idea?
Since I never posted the photos I took a long time ago when the guys were working on the car, they're going on today's post. It works. I hope!

Garry had his check ride yesterday and it went really smoothly. This morning he did some flying with Ben and now I think they're putting together a box to ship the prop in. (The prop won't be shipped until next week, but they want to put the box together so everything is ready.) Tomorrow he plans to do some flying with Josh. It sounds like he's having a profitable time there, which is great.

It's Wednesday already, and I've actually gotten some sleep the past couple of nights, which is quite something when Garry's gone. The boys are doing great with school. Kevin has some kind of knee injury at the moment, so we haven't been playing badminton lately, which is usually Kevin's entertainment of choice. It means we've had more time to read together.

Kaleb built a zip line across the living room yesterday, which I never did quite understand the point of... the idea came from a book of science experiments. He also made soap for bubbles and was experimenting with how to get the biggest ones. It looked like so much fun I thought we should send some home with our helper. She texted me yesterday evening and said her kids loved the bubbles... I don't think they've ever done that before.

Last evening I was reading Psalms and was struck again by how life doesn't really change... we as people always have a choice to turn to God and there are always good things and bad things about life. We all make some good choices and some bad choices. God is worthy of all honor and praise.

For anyone who's interested, I went shopping this morning and survived! I'm hoping to attack my inbox and possibly even empty it today, but it's already 5 pm, so I may not make it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Garry is in Palawan, so I'm up later than I should be. No, it isn't late yet... but it's getting there, and I haven't even sent the boys to bed yet. And after they go to bed I likely need a cup of coffee and a good book. And maybe some computer time. Just kidding!

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday here, Monday evening on the other side of the world) Garry has a check ride scheduled. This is one of the requirements for his annual pilot license renewal. He's also looking forward to doing some flying with the guys while he's in Palawan this week.

On Saturday Kaleb was out with Garry and came home saying he'd been stung by a bee. We put some baking soda on the sting and I didn't think much more about it-- but Sunday morning his finger was very swollen. I was going to tell you that we had to take this picture before we tried to get the swelling down, but....

Someone asked me about garbage and shopping here. Well, I asked my neighbor the other day if her garbage had been collected, because mine was left. She said hers had been taken but mine probably wasn't because it was in a black bag and tied shut. Yes, clear bags and/or leave them open! What especially made me laugh is that you can't even buy clear garbage bags here! The following day I was talking to some friends and they were planning to go talk to the subdivision management to find out how we can all get our garbage taken away.

Changing the subject, here are some lovely bell peppers I found at the open market last week. On the right are my amazing find, close-to-North-American sized peppers, and on the right are the peppers we usually get. The taste is similar, but it takes a LOT of the smaller ones to do something like fajitas!

Grocery shopping here takes time, not primarily because of long lines, but because you have to go several different places. My routine includes the following: open market for fresh veggies, fruit stand for fruit except bananas which we buy from a lady on the other side of town, wet market for chicken and bacon, meat shop for beef and pork, egg stand for eggs, seafood place for tuna, Armand's for any grocery items I can get there, Guisanos for anything that is absolutely not available anywhere else (which doesn't mean I could get the other items there if I wanted to), Highland for fresh milk (it only lasts a max of 5 days), water station for filtered water... and these are just the things that we need most every week! Most other things are also bought at specific stores-- be it phone load, dog food, stationery items, or medicine it's virtually impossible to find different kinds of items in the same store.

Guisanos LOOKS like a rather modern department store, but it doesn't work quite like one... you have to pay for items from each department separately, and they almost never have change in the cash register, so if you don't bring proper change you can wait up to 20 minutes for you change! Other than that, everything in town is small specialty shops. Which maybe explains why I really enjoy shopping in the city that's a couple of hours away but has more traditional grocery stores.