Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today Garry and I are headed out to celebrate 20 years of marriage! Unfortunately, the car has a bit of a problem, so I'm sitting here blogging while Garry and Kevin fix it. Life happens.

I was thinking yesterday how 20 years ago I married a man who I thought was pretty cool. Twenty years later we've been through a lot of things, and I KNOW I am married to a man of strength, integrity, and a million other amazing qualities. It's been an amazing 20 years, spanning 6 countries, 3 continents, and over 20 homes together. We've seen God do things beyond our wildest dreams and know Him in ways we never thought possible. We've journeyed with God these 20 years, and He has proven Himself more than faithful!

Here is a photo of Kevin and Dave just before they left for their survey... but I'll let Kevin post his favorite photos before I put a lot up here:). They checked out a rather large area, with Dave talking to pastors and asking about the health of the local Christian community. It is amazing to chat with Dave and hear how People Group Assessments (the new name in our little world) are done and what kind of information they need in order to properly assess the need for missionaries in a particular area! This was quite a privilege and quite a learning experience for Kevin.

We had a great Christmas, despite the chaos leading up to it. I may even post some photos later:).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The flood nearby has made this Christmas a jumble of emotions. Yesterday one of my friends said that about 80% of Cagayan is affected and I checked out some of the news online. They estimate about half a million people are homeless after the flood... pondering it is overwhelming.

A couple weeks ago I was in the grocery store and bought a couple of gift packs for a few people. One of the ladies I had in mind is a young lady who sells me empanadas. Her mother-in-law spends the morning making these empanadas and she spends the afternoon selling them. In an afternoon of traipsing around town she gets about $2.50. As a mom of a young son, she is happy for the income and thankful she has a little job. Her smile always blesses me. Anyway, yesterday I gave her the little pack of food, worth maybe $6 or so. She burst into tears. Wow, did I feel awkward! How little it takes to bless people. I pray the truth of Christmas is, or becomes, a reality in her life and that I am planting or tending it by small acts of kindness.

Garry took this photo a little while ago when he was doing some checkout flying. These kids are children of the King, people you'll one day meet in eternity. Their lives are vastly different than yours, but their hope is the same, their God is the same!

As we read Christmas updates from friends we are blessed to hear what God is doing all over the world. And we are blessed to remember good times with friends who are now far away as well as enjoying good times with friends who are close by!

Kevin should be home later today with a new batch of experiences, stories, and thoughts. I can't wait to hear it all!

Kaleb is busy making a movie with his friend. His creative mind has an amazing number of ideas for camera angles and transitions between scenes.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kevin left yesterday on a survey trip with Dave, one of our missionary friends. As NTM seeks to partner effectively with local churches and spend their energies reaching the most needy of tribal folks, surveys are key in finding viable locations in which to minister. Kevin and Dave are on motorbike, riding some remote but beautiful parts of the country. While Kevin can't communicate because of the language, hopefully he's good company for Dave while he learns from him. What an opportunity for Kevin!

Though Kevin is on his motorcycle and not his bicycle, I can only imagine he's about this dirty by now:).

These days we get a lot of carolers at our house, only a small percentage of which have apparently sung together or practiced before arriving at the door. The real point of caroling here is to ask for a "small something" for Christmas. Small treats are in order, and we have a pretty good stash of them.

I've also done a fair amount of baking, some of which we've taken to friends and businesses in town. It seems something homemade is a real treat... and that made me wonder whether this is something "odd" we do here, or whether all our friends at home are baking for each other-- swapping plates of cookies, Christmas bread, and other treats. Strange to say, I have no clue!

As I finished a plate of cookies for the neighbors the other evening one of the boys asked for something and got a rather snippy reply from me. It brought me back to reality-- the joy, love, and abundance of Christmas should be apparent not only to our friends and those we consider "needy" at this time of year, but also to our family. Why do I spend my energy baking for the neighbors and wish my kids would give me a little peace? There's something wrong in that, and adjustment is needed!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Over the past few days I've been pondering the reality in Cagayan de Oro, where many families are reeling from their losses. Hundreds of people died in the recent flash floods and many more have lost their homes and belongings. In fact, many estimate over 1000 people died when a flash flood enveloped communities and parts of the city. One of our friends was traveling when the flood happened and got a call that 5 from her household had died, among them her 11-year-old son. Pray with us for her and for the many other families who have lost loved ones, homes, and businesses.

This tragedy, this pain, is part of living in a fallen world. We are living in the world that Jesus came as a baby to save. He experienced life as we do with its pain and hardship. He came into the pain to redeem us. He lived totally dependent on the Father, seeing beyond the pain to an eternity with the Father and knowing the Father’s joy and provision.

This hope of eternity compels us to seek Him and to know Him. It drives us into His arms and causes us to follow where He leads. We are blessed beyond measure to be His kids this Christmas season and throughout the year. We are privileged beyond our wildest dreams to be part of what He is doing here in the Philippines. Thank you for being part of what He is doing. Thanks for your friendship and prayers.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas is on Sunday! Today I'm planning to start on Christmas baking. I had planned to bake some fun things to give to our friends in town, but at this point I'm wondering if we'll even have many Christmas cookies. I guess we'll see how far we get!

When we started talking about Christmas cookies, there was no discussion about needing to make sugar cookies in order to decorate them-- a first in our home. First it was Kevin, then Kaleb. And now I guess they've just grown out of the fun of decorating cookies. So we'll have our traditional favorites, but I don't think I'll be decorating any sugar cookies this year.

While Garry was in Palawan he spent an evening at the pier, where this huge Christmas tree is. I believe's it's the tallest Christmas tree is Asia-- an incredible amount of work, but a source of pride and fun for those who live in Palawan!

On another note, the typhoon that ripped through Mindanao last week has left over 700 dead and a lot of devastation. All the water from a large area flows down a relatively small number of rivers to the bay, through Cagayan de Oro and Illigan. 10 inches of rain over many, many square miles of land is a lot of water to rush through cities, and it has caused a lot of damage. One of our friends lost her son and 4 others from her household as well as the house and everything in it. We are on high ground here and haven't been affected beyond having heavy rain last week.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Garry and Kevin actually took a couple pictures on their little trip! Garry had to go to Manila for immigration paperwork, and Kevin went along for a birthday trip. They enjoyed dinner at Chili's and Kevin got some practice stringing racquets as well as some great badminton play. I think they had a ton of fun!

And, we got our Christmas tree up last night! I've been putting off listening to Christmas music simply because it didn't seem right with so few preparations made at our house. But now that the tree's up and I have hope of starting on my Christmas baking on Monday, it all feels much better. Garry and Kevin did a little Christmas shopping in Manila, and I'm not sure we're going to do any more. Strange at it sounds, none of us are really wishing for anything in particular this Christmas-- we are simply looking forward to being together and having some quiet time over the Christmas season.

Our flight programs are busy these days, both with scheduled flights and with delays. One of our families is waiting for paperwork and here in Mindanao we're waiting for the weather to clear. Some days it seems to many "odd" things are happening... but the reality is that these are the norms of living here. Kaleb mentioned this morning that there are lots of things that don't make us look twice but we wouldn't often see in Canada: things like someone walking out the upper story window to lay their laundry on the roof to dry.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On Saturday morning we headed back to the city for a one-day badminton tournament. Kevin and Kaleb both played well, though neither of them won this time. We enjoyed doing some fun things together-- swimming, eating pizza, and playing pool.

Monday morning Garry and Kevin went to Manila for a hearing with immigration and a couple of father-son days. Kevin got more good badminton at his favorite court as well as learning to string badminton racquets. Kaleb and I drove home, stopping for lunch at little gas station and having some adventures of our own.

I thought you might like to meet Mr. Lego, one of Kaleb's recent creations. Kaleb seems to continually find new mediums for creating and testing things, and he was inspired by some photos on the web to see if he could make a simple picture out of Lego. Yesterday he started making various puppets after watching the creator of "Sesame Street" do so on a short YouTube clip.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I can't believe it's been nearly a week since I was on, but it's the truth. It's been a good and crazy week. I picked Garry, Tim, & Kay up from the airport as planned on Tuesday morning. It was so much fun to meet Kay, who was a huge blessing to me this week as we talked about knowing God and life in the mission aviation world. We spent most of Wednesday with Joel & Missy and Tim & Kay, discussing the flight program and our worldwide mission aviation program. It was great to hear what God is doing in Arizona and where our leadership is hoping to go in the coming months and years.

Thursday morning Garry and I drove back to the city with Tim & Kay and enjoyed a nice lunch before they headed to the airport and we headed home. (Trivia: the city is about 93 km away, and with current road conditions and "normal" delays, it takes over 3 hours to drive one way!) Lately I've been dreaming about freeways as we've made the trip back and forth multiple times over the past weeks.

Christmas is just 2 weeks away! And no, I haven't blogged much about the Christmas season, because it hardly seems like it will happen.... or maybe that should be, "is happening". The abnormally normal parts of life keep us moving at a quick pace. And so we haven't started to decorate or shop... maybe next week:). On the other hand, the reality of Christmas doesn't need trimmings, it remains firm as it has throughout history. The birth of God Incarnate is something to celebrate and ponder, but the "trappings" of Christmas aren't a necessary part of that process. Still, with two kids still at home, I think we'd better do something!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Monday isn't usually my favorite day of the week, but today has been good. Garry, Tim & Kay made it to Manila this morning, and should be here tomorrow! Garry spent the rest of the morning in the government aviation offices and is still there, trying to do a few things for our flight programs. Later this afternoon he and Tim will meet with our field leadership, which I'm sure they'll all enjoy.

Both Kevin and Kaleb were star students this morning, studying hard and focusing on the task at hand. Now Kaleb is enjoying a novel while Kevin does some badminton training. I need to go do some bookkeeping with Missy in a few minutes.

I called Garry and thanked him for the flowers he'd bought me the other day (aren't they beautiful?!) He sounded a bit confused about it, so I had to explain that I'd been close to the flower shops that afternoon. It crossed my mind that if he were there he'd buy me flowers, so I did him the favor and thanked him for it. It seemed to work out just fine!

Hope you enjoy my flowers with me!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Yeah for Saturday! I am so enjoying not doing school today, and the boys are not far behind in their excitement. As simply as we do school, I'm not really sure why it's so exciting to have a day off. It just is:).

One of our friends took these photos the other day... and doctored them up a bit. Anyway, I had such a good laugh that I thought I should pass the photos on to you! This is the last day of Joel's checkout at one of our airstrips, a rather challenging one at that.

Garry enjoyed his time in Northern Luzon and is now in Palawan. He is really enjoying getting to know Tim and Kay as well as catching up with our pilot families and other friends along the way. It's been a busy trip, but a good one so far. Monday he'll head back to Manila to turn in some aircraft paperwork and meet with field leadership. Hopefully he'll make it home on Tuesday!

Culture hits you at the strangest times. Yesterday I took Kevin to the barber shop. Although there were 6 chairs, only 3 of them were in use. The barbers were busy snipping away and a row of 3 guys sat on a bench, apparently waiting their turn. We sat down quietly and waited close to half an hour. When the barber closest to us began to pack up his stuff and lock drawers, I asked him how much longer we'd have to wait. "For what, ma'am?"

"My son is waiting his haircut."

"Oh. He can sit here," and he motioned to one of the empty chairs. As Kevin took his seat one of the guys stood up and came over. Apparently he was one of the barbers, not a customer! In fact, I think all 3 of the guys on the other side of the shop who were sitting facing us were barbers waiting for customers. Go figure-- after all, what did they think we were doing there?!