Monday, August 20, 2012

A bigger goodbye...

On Friday noon  Mom (Barkman) moved into the presence of Jesus. I'm sure it was a happy reunion, Mom and Jesus, because they were always good friends. And I think as we make plans to remember her life, Mom is maybe just sitting at Jesus's feet,  enjoying in a new way the thing she enjoyed here on earth. We are beginning the journey of grieving, but Mom is full of joy and her hope is fulfilled!

We spent Saturday packing up and talking with family, then left Arizona early on Sunday morning. We hope to arrive home on Tuesday afternoon. Funeral services are planned for Thursday morning, a time to celebrate Mom's life and the way she impacted us and so many other people.

Mom was a woman of strength and character. She lived life to the fullest, passionate about God and her family. She hated gossip and loved to hear what God was doing. She enjoyed a well-organized home and loved to see things really clean. She was proud of her kids, all of them. She loved her grandkids and was proud of the way they were turning out. She prayed for all of us family and so many others fervently and often. She spent time in the Word, continually growing in her love of Jesus. Last time we were home she told me she was getting excited about heaven in a new way. I think she's really excited about heaven now....

The tears fall, but the sadness is mingled with joy as I realize that Mom fought a good fight and finished the race well. She left us a beautiful legacy. Thank you, Mom, for making sure I knew I really was part of this family....

Friday, August 17, 2012


"Can't get comfortable, 
Can't get settled in..."

I love that song! I love the truth it presents-- that what we really long for is heaven, what we really need is God Himself, and everything on this planet falls short of our deepest desire. Thanks to those of you who reminded me that no matter how long or short we've been somewhere, it isn't really home!

I mentally committed myself to blogging through this transition, so here goes nothing! We finished our trip, arriving in North America on Monday night. Tuesday morning we had a buffet breakfast at our hotel, and the culture shock began. Everybody was moving so quickly! While we were staring at the food, trying to decide what to eat, we got pushed out of the way multiple times. Ah, yes-- hurry up!

We stopped for groceries, and that wasn't as bad as I had expected. Armed with a list, I made my purchases relatively quickly. I guess being here 4 months ago does help! When we drove on to the freeway Garry started out at 60 km an hour, the fastest we can usually drive in the Philippines.... the cars whipping by us made us laugh.

We are in a nice house here in Arizona, and I was shocked by the size of it. The closet in the master bedroom is big enough that I unpacked in there. (And no, it might not be bigger than your closet!) Cupboards abound and there are plenty of drawers. The dishwasher works well, and if I take a glass out of there and it's still wet, it's safe to fill it up and drink the water. I don't have jugs of purified water on my counter, and I can brush my teeth with water from the sink. Speaking of sinks, there is hot running water in every one.  At night we have 4 outside doors to lock, but I'm not sure that locking them is really expected (haven't quite figured that one out yet!)

We've been waking up around 3 am most mornings and are ready for bed by noon. I guess we didn't really schedule in jet lag very well since this is our week with our co-workers from the Philippines! Fuzzy minds, sick tummies, and a desire for a nap are pretty much constants at this stage.

I need to get some lunch  on the table, so I'll continue this later.... until then!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Since we decided to move back to Canada nearly a year ago, we've become familiar with "The Question". You know, the one that doesn't have a proper answer no matter which way you cut it. The one that seems simple enough, unless you're the one being asked. The question that makes you stop and take stock.

"Are you excited to go home?"

Yeah, that question. After all, the whole question is loaded. It starts with "excited". What does that mean, anyway? Like jumping up and down, can't wait? Or like do I see possibilities ahead of us? Ok, I'm excited for what God's going to do. That's as far as I can manage.

"Go." It's brim full of leaving and saying goodbye. It means an ending to something, a leaving behind of something. Am I glad to leave this life behind? Umm... not really. I mean, I won't miss the potholes in the roads, the ants on my counter, the geckos that keep me awake, the roar of roosters and dogs, the loud music in malls, the getting stared at when I go out. But am I happy to go, to leave? No. When it comes right down to it, I've been living my dreams and we love our team, our friends, our life. What would make us want to go? I'll be happy to arrive, to see my friends, to begin a new venture. That's as much as I can manage.

Then there's the "h" word: Home. What makes Canada "home"? Having spent nearly our whole lives overseas, why would we expect to feel at home in Canada? What makes a place home, and have we created a new one in the Philippines? What's home, and will we arrive there? Some of Garry's family is in Canada. We have great friends there, people we connect with and know and appreciate. We have an amazing Church Family. Those are the things that we think of when we think of Canada. We think we can make Canada home. That's as honest as I can manage.

So, I'm not sure Canada is home or that we're excited to go. Mentally swap places with me (us) if you can, and let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, it's time to finish the trip!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hong Kong

We're sitting in the Hong Kong airport pondering all that has happened over the past weeks and days. Thinking of the goodbyes and looking forward to the hellos at the other end. A chapter of our lives has passed. Incredible. I knew it was coming, I thought a lot about it. But still, now that it's really finished, it doesn't seem possible. I find myself teary-eyed, thankful for the amazing friends and experiences we've gained and sad that it's over. I can't help but wonder what kind of a chapter will follow that one!

I realized this morning that we haven't lived in any other country for 7 years since we've been married. (Venezuela was a close second with 6 years.). Kaleb has spent over half his life in the Philippines, and Kevin nearly half. We've learned a lot about faith in the Philippines, and we've grown in our understanding of both grace and discipline. We've seen God work. We've been part of an incredible team. We finished what we went to the Philippines to do, and we have seen God answer the prayers that we began praying when we moved there 7 years ago.

We have another 11-hour flight, then tomorrow we'll be in Tucson. A new chapter is beginning, complete with new friends (and some old ones!), new opportunities, new challenges, and a new country. God will prove Himself faithful once more. We will continue to grow and learn and change.... at least I hope we will!

Stay tuned to be a part of this new faith adventure with us...

Thursday, August 09, 2012


You may have heard on the news about  the flooding in Manila. But's it on the other side of the world. It's easy to lose the impact this kind of rainfall has on individuals, on families, on the community. Each of the many people who has lost a home is a real person. A person like you with a father,  a mother, probably sisters and brothers and friends. In fact, living right here in Manila I haven't felt the impact. The rain has made it hard to go out. I feel tired and grumpy because the sun hasn't been out for over a week (until this afternoon!)

This was the view out the window when we arrived last Wednesday afternoon. A week later, this is how things looked on the street. As I sloshed through water that was mid-calf deep,  heading toward a dry house and a hot shower, I thought about the people around me. Some have lost their homes. Some have homes with water running through them. Some have lost families. On a city-wide scale, it's hard to appreciate the devastation. On a more personal level, I begin to understand.

Still, we are in a safe place. Our guesthome is relatively unaffected, beyond everyone being stuck inside listening to the pounding rain. We're enjoying time with friends and have ventured out a few times. We're blessed and encouraged as we hear what God is doing in various parts of the Philippines. We're challenged to pray when we hear how the evil one is attacking the work God is doing. We're blessed to be a part of it all.

Garry made one more trip to the government aviation offices on Monday and said his goodbyes there, leaving small gifts in the various offices. We're also taking care of paperwork while we're here-- closing our bank account, making sure our exit papers are in order, and the many other things that need done before leaving a country.

This evening we're headed out to play badminton again with our friends. Good times.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Opportunities & Experiences

It's beyond understanding some days that we left Mindanao and Palawan for the last time. For the foreseeable future, these places will only be visited in our memories. We've had so many incredible opportunities, so many great experiences there, and it's gone for now.

One of the last things we did in Palawan was stop at a Vietnamese restaurant for coffee. Our waiter didn't speak much English, but he tried really hard. He told us he'd immigrated from Vietnam and had only been in Palawan a short while. Palawan, where so many of our friends are struggling to find work, the place quite a few want to leave because of lack of opportunity, is the place this man had chosen to immigrate to in hopes of a better future. It's all in your perspective, isn't it?! And our perspective is created by our experiences and our responses to them. They brought my coffee in this cool little handmade drip cup... how many people have experienced that?!

We've been in Manila a few days now, and we are enjoying our time here. We've said a couple hard goodbyes here already, but mostly we've been saying "hello" the past few days. We've spent a fair amount of time at the badminton court, doing our best to make good use of the opportunities God is giving us with friends we've met through badminton.

Tomorrow the northern Luzon NTM conference is starting here at the guesthome, so we get to see all our friends from Luzon! This means that in our last 2 months in the Philippines we will have seen almost every NTM family that is on the field. With the way our works are spread out, that is truly amazing! Orchestrated by God. A gift.