Sunday, December 29, 2013

Busuanga & Celebrations

Today Garry and I celebrated 22 years of married life, 22 years of adventure, 22 years of trusting God for the impossible together. It's been a grand ride! And God gave us a great time over breakfast this morning, rehearsing His goodness and grace in our lives together.

We did spend Christmas in Palawan as planned, and came to Manila on the 26th. Although we didn't have much time to make plans for Christmas, we made good memories. Christmas Eve we had dinner with the Puerto team then spent some time singing and sharing. On Christmas Day we visited some other friends in Puerto and had more fun-- catching up and reminiscing on other times together.

Between celebrating Garry, Josh, and Phil spent a lot of time discussing our next project, getting seaweed seedlings to Conception for the seaweed farmers. I'll post more about that next time, suffice it to say, we've done a lot of thinking and planning, and the plan has still not come together.

These are photos of Kevin's time in Busuanga. The Jet Ranger heli team there delivered about 15,000 kg of food and other supplies to areas around Busuanga. Kevin really enjoyed worked with NTM-Philippines personnel there. In each place the pastor would accompany the helicopter on the first trip and share with the people that we were doing this because we love God and care about them. Long days and lots of cargo, a broken fuel pump and non-functional cargo cart kept things interesting the week they were there.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Shipping week...

The week is nearly over already. And Christmas is less than a week away. Really, it is! I can hardly believe it myself. I think this week we did decide where to spend Christmas, which feels good to a semi-planner like me. After all, I bought some lights to hang in our apartment here. And we may do some shopping yet. At the moment, the trappings of Christmas seem rather insignificant. Every day we are reminded how blessed we are.

I think this has been a "shipping week". Monday morning Garry shipped 50 sacks of rice, 72 sacks of 40 kg family packs, 3 sacks and 86 boxes of other food to Cuyo. Tuesday he sent more goods to Busuanga via several companies. He even sent a fresh cake via air cargo as a thank you to the people who lent us a cargo cart so we could continue loading the helicopter.

When Garry isn't shipping something, he's talking to someone.... people in Manila, Busuanga, and Iloilo whose efforts we are helping coordinate. Folks who want to donate and companies that are helping us. And this is winding down!

Kevin has been loading cargo-- about 15,000 kg of relief goods between him and another guy. Each piece of cargo has to be weighed, divided into loads, then loaded on the heli, so the guys have really moved about 50,000 kg in 3 days! Today he gets home and I can't wait to see photos and hear his story. Who knows, he might even blog it:).

I'd also like to highlight "Fuel the Relief, A conspiracy of generosity" blog. Garry was able to meet the pastor and chat with him before we left Manitoba. Check it out, you'll enjoy it! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Week 1 in the Philippines

As we wrap up this week, we are so thankful for grace. The fact that God has allowed each of us a part, small or large, in reaching the world with His good news is astounding. That He is redeeming the disaster of Typhoon Haiyan to redeem people for His own is incredible. We are amazed, humbled, and blessed.

On Thursday morning Garry inherited the role of relief coordinator from Tim (MAF), who had to head home after his wife fell and broke her ankle. It's been a busy week..

In Cuyo, Kevin was able to help with loading as they finished delivering food supplies. In Busuanga, they used the helicopter to do further survey work with a local pastor and made plans to deliver 17,000 kg of food aid that should arrive in Coron/Busuanga on Sunday. The Kodiak and C185 have positioned 14 barrels of fuel in the past 2 days. We received another 50 sacks of rice and other food supplies that we plan to ship to Cuyo on Monday.

We have also seen a huge reduction in staff as various people have headed back to their normal work: Nathan is flying back to Indonesia in the Kodiak today, Zach and Brian are returning the R44 to Tugegerao where it can service NTM missionaries, Brian and Joel are back in Mindanao serving NTM teams, Tim is back in Nairobi, and Danny, Don, and Jared are headed back to their ministry locations. Each of these people has been a huge part of the relief efforts.

As we look to the future, the need to rebuild housing and livelihoods is huge. Exactly how that will unfold is very unclear, but we know the One who has the answers!

Internet is incredibly slow and the number of things we're involved in is rather large, so I'll leave it short for this time...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pondering in a Plane

I wrote this on our way over and decided to post it now...

The flight tracker says we have just over 8 hours left of this leg of our journey, and the little airplane icon keeps moving across the screen. I can hardly believe we are actually going, that next time I crawl into bed it will be in the Manila guesthome, a place that has often been home for a few days or a couple of weeks. A world so far removed from what we’ve been doing and thinking and learning that it boggles the mind.

In all the busyness of saying goodbyes, making arrangements, and packing to go it’s been easy to forget that we’re actually going. But sitting in the cramped airplane seat, eating airline food it is hitting me. We’re really going! 

In some ways we’re going back-- back to familiar places to work with some familiar people. But there will also be a lot of new things. We’ve been gone for over a year, and we are going back to do a bit of a different thing. I cannot imagine the needs we will face, the decisions we may be part of making. 

In the meantime, the view out the window is stunning!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Going Home?

Soon after we were asked if we would go to the Philippines for 2 months a friend asked if I was excited to go. “Well, of course I want to go home, but it isn’t like it will all be easy,” I responded.

She asked if it was really home, more than Canada. After all, we’ve lived in Canada for over a year this time around, we have family here, and we have a lot of history here. I wasn’t sure what to reply. In fact, my choice of words surprised me as much as it did her. Since then I’ve thought a bit about it... what made me say that? 

Quite honestly, I’m not quite sure. Maybe it’s simply the sense that as a third culture kid who’s raising third culture kids, the next place is as likely to be home as this one. Maybe it’s the sense of going back to something familiar. Maybe it’s the friendships we have there. 

The next question was if life is easier there. Easy? Not at all-- I dislike being without electricity and water as much as you do. The extreme heat often wears me out. Nothing is done quickly, which rubs my production-oriented side crazy. Nothing is as predictable as things are in Canada, except the weather which is always hot. And predictable translates to secure in many ways. But can I personally function better in the Philippines than in Canada? Maybe in some ways I know better what’s expected, I’ve learned the parameters of a flight program better than the expectations of home assignment or Garry working remotely on aviation safety. 

Really, though, the more I think about it, I think it’s the freedom of knowing that I am expected to be an outsider, a foreigner who is prone to make mistakes. And at some level that role feels familiar. Which makes me laugh simply because among my Canadian friends I am often considered as much an outsider, a foreigner, as I’ve ever been anywhere. So, in the end.... Yes, I am going home, but I’m also leaving home. It’s the joy and the sorrow of our lives.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Heading out on Sunday

Sunday. Just 2 days and we'll be on an airplane headed across the ocean. Wow. It seems simply unreal. Since my last update a lot has happened. An awful lot! Just after my last post we got a message from the Philippines asking if we'd come. A set job description is impossible, but the needs are huge. We are somewhat unique in having served in aviation in the Philippines quite recently and understanding life there. So we as a family will go and see how our experiences and gifts can be used!

Our first plan was to leave yesterday, but God had other plans. My dad had surgery in Venezuela today. Ticket prices were very inconsistent between days. Parts were ordered for the airplanes and we plan to hand carry them. In the end, we are leaving on Sunday morning and still praying the needed parts make it in time.

And the "extra" days have been filled to overflowing with opportunities to share what God is doing in the Philippines, friends to see, and things to organize. One by one the details of our trip are coming together, though we still have a rather long list of things to do. Thank you, Jesus!

The efforts of our team are currently focused on the Coron/Busuanga area where NTM-Philippines has active church plants. The destruction there is similar to what it was in the other islands where we've served, although on some of the islands nearly everything was washed out to sea. Thus, relief efforts at the moment are going beyond food to providing cooking utensils, food, and other necessities.

We were also excited to hear that two pilots, a helicopter, and an airplane arrived in the Philippines from Indonesia to help with the flying. This is allowing the Philippine aircraft to return to their "home islands" and do some supply flying for NTM missionaries. How things will unfold from here is unclear, but what remains clear is a huge need for help and support.

Pray for us as we go, that God will give clarity about how to best help, strength for the challenges ahead, and deep faith to trust in His goodness and grace. Pray that we will bless and encourage those we come in contact with. Pray for those doing relief work, for wisdom and strength. And especially pray for the many, many Filipinos who have lost so much and have so much rebuilding ahead of them. Pray that the Gospel would find fertile ground in which to grow.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


My basement is quite cozy with the fire cracking and me bundled up in my sweatshirt and warm slippers, sipping coffee. Life feels good in this moment.

I'm sitting reading updates from the Philippines, humbled and awed by both the needs and hope. The hope on the faces of these people who were receiving aid. The resilience behind a kitchen on the beach.  The width of the destruction is staggering. The reality of more than 2.5 tons of aid delivered, and the end not really sight.

NTM and MAF are partnering to help small islands that would not otherwise receive aid because the larger relief effort is focus on more densely populated areas. The island we are serving have relatively few people (30-400 houses). Many people have eaten little or nothing since the typhoon, and they are incredibly thankful for the aid they are receiving through the partnership of the local church, NTM, MAF, and generous donors around the world.

As time goes on the aircraft are needing maintenance and the pilot/mechanics are getting tired. Av-gas is hard to come by, but God continues to provide. Longer-term decisions need to be made as it becomes obvious that the opportunity to help and bless and serve is much bigger than we imagined. 

Garry has been in Arizona for meetings this week, and we are looking forward to having him home again late tonight. His week has been really full, but we are thankful for this opportunity God gave to be involved in what He is doing in other parts of mission aviation.  

As I reflect on the realities others are facing this day, I am thankful and humbled. We have been given so much, and we want to invest that in what God is doing, in the bigger picture around the world and in the smaller picture of neighbors, friends, and family. To receive blessings with joy and pass them on generously. That is my challenge today.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


This week I've been overwhelmed by two things: the magnitude of the devastation and pouring in of aid in the Philippines and the incredible response of people to our celebration of 25 years in mission aviation and the fact that we're in a transition right now. It's amazing to realize how quickly life can change for any of us. And it's humbling to know you have friends who would walk with you through anything.

Last night I was type chatting with several friends in the Philippines and the homesickness hit again. The ache to be there, to be a physical part of what's going on, the desire to help, the knowledge that a chapter in our lives is finished. And gratitude for the incredible friendships God gave us there, friendships that I know will last the test of time.

We've spent a good part of today getting ready for Global Connections, a missions conference our church is doing in partnership with another church in town. We're just setting up a display table, but we're looking forward to it. I can't wait to hear what God is doing through other missions and missionaries, I'm looking forward to connecting with friends and making new ones, and we're excited to be part of corporate worship once more. I don't know.... missions conferences are just pretty much fun.

This evening is an international potluck, and I was thinking through things I could take. In fact, I was trying to think of some amazing international salad to share (I arbitrarily signed up for salad). Something we routinely ate overseas. I really couldn't come up with anything. Kevin's response? "Mom, most places we've lived we didn't really eat salad." Oh, yeah. So, I came up with an idea from life in the jungle growing up. I'm not sure it's a great salad... maybe more like a reality check.

Well, I guess I'd better go make that salad and get ready to go.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Celebrating 25 years in Mission Aviation!

Last month we celebrated 25 years in mission aviation! It’s been an incredible journey that has spanned 5 countries on 3 continents and supported 25 tribal churches. We have seen God do far beyond what we could ask or imagine. We’ve experienced God in more situations than we can count and worked with incredible people. As we move on, we want to take a few moments to relive parts of the journey with you, our friends, supporters, mentors, and co-workers who have journeyed with us.

I am posting overviews of what God did and what we experienced in the various countries where we've served. 

Moving on.... As things have unfolded with NTM Aviation and the safety job over the past year, we have come to the realization that God is once more moving us on. As of the end of October, we are no longer serving with NTM Aviation, but plan to continue to be involved in mission aviation with New Tribes Mission of Canada. This is yet another move, a transition for us. But God is faithful! The details of the future are still unclear, but God is giving us many opportunities to be involved in consulting for mission aviation. He continues to confirm and clarify His call on our lives. We are passionate about the potential of mission aviation and the people who minister there. We love helping resolve technical challenges while encouraging people towards God and His plan for them. 

We trust you will continue this journey with us, a journey to see God glorified because of who He is and to prove His faithfulness as we follow Him in simple obedience.  Thanks for your part in our journey and for taking time to reflect with us on all God has done over the past 25 years. 

Truly, He is worthy of all honor and glory and praise!

Venezuela 1988-1999

Beginnings.... Garry arrived in Venezuela in 1988 and worked on loan to Mission Aviation Fellowship for several years before we were married. Having both grown up in Venezuela, we were friends with the missionaries and many of the tribal people. In this busy program we learned the ropes of a mission aviation program. 

In fact, we were privileged to be part of opening NTM Aviation’s program in Venezuela. Besides flying, Garry was also in charge of maintenance for most of his years in Venezuela. We were privileged to work alongside many different pilot/mechanic families. Most of our missionaries were totally dependent on the airplane for all transportation, so the demands of this program often felt endless.

As an aviation program, we supported work among the Yanomamo, Piaroa, Maquiritare, Yuana, Panare, Pume, and Maco people groups. When we left Venezuela, each of these groups except the Maco had a functioning church.

Panama 1999-2000

Learning... We arrived in Panama as a young family, eager to learn and experience life in a smaller program. Flight scheduling, bookkeeping, and juggling various jobs in addition to flying and maintenance was a new experience as we worked alone after serving as part of a large team. God gave us a great team of missionaries to work with and serve, and we loved our year in this beautiful country.  

We arrived in Panama with a 4-year-old and a six-week-old, excited about this new venture. Another couple trained us in the flight program, marked a map of Panama City with favorite places, and introduced us a to a great getaway spot before moving on to their next ministry. The leadership team encouraged and blessed us, becoming good friends over the year we were there. Friends adopted us with the adage, “You have to take care of your pilot!” All in all, God gave us great new friends in Panama and a renewed vision for teamwork.

Our year in Panama we flew for works among the Buglere, Kuna, and Naso. The first two were older works, while the Naso work was just beginning. We were also privileged to witness the salvation of a couple who worked for us and have since been a huge part of the local church in Chame, Panama. 

Paraguay 2000-2001

Experiencing... We arrived in Paraguay after an overnight flight from Panama, excited to see what God would do in this new country. This was a furlough replacement, and we were eager to begin flying. We adjusted to this very hot, but sometimes cold, southern country. We learned to love life among the Mennonites in the Chaco. Our missionary teams were a privilege to serve and we made many friends as well as gained new mentors. It was a year of practicing what we’d learned in Panama and experiencing God for ourselves in a new way. 

Our first months in the Chaco were spent asking, “Why would anybody choose to live here?” Over our year there the question became, “Why do we have to leave?” The Mennonite community was similar to Garry’s roots, and he enjoyed being able to speak low german and relate to the local culture. This was our first experience south of the equator, where a south wind was cold and northern winds brought extreme heat. 

The Paraguayan field leadership was a blessing as we faced many challenges during our year there. Co-workers became great friends, and we look back to Paraguay as a “school on intentional discipleship and relationship building”. We flew in support of four works in Paraguay. There were growing churches amongst all these people groups when we were in Paraguay and they continue to grow and reach out.

Arizona, 2001-2005

 Growing... From Paraguay we moved to Arizona to join the leadership team of NTM Aviation. This was a huge growing experience as we came to see more clearly that God has individual callings for each of us. We loved being involved in training new families and aviation safety, and moved out of leadership to focus on these other areas. 

We arrived in Arizona with a deep desire to make a difference in our headquarters and to invest in other mission aviators. Garry got his instructor rating and began training new pilots. We found nearly endless opportunities to build relationships, mentor, and invest in community.

We are thankful for these years we had to invest in younger families and build relationships with older ones. We appreciated the opportunity to see life from a headquarters perspective as well as the field perspective we’d grown over our years in Latin America.

Philippines, 2005-2012

 Enjoying... After 3 years in Arizona God moved us to the Philippines. The years we spent there were some of the most challenging and exciting in our journey as we trusted God to re-open flight programs on 3 islands and train 6 new pilot families. We had an impossible prayer list when we moved to the Philippines, but God granted all of those answers and more besides! 

The leadership in the Philippines impressed us by their faith. We loved the way they led and were blessed by the way they ministered to us through the many challenges we faced. We lived on two very different islands and Garry especially spent a lot of time traveling to other islands. On both the islands we called home, we “learned the ropes” and then ran the flight program for a while before training new families. Our family also made several extended trips to other islands to train new families. We worked with a younger team and were amazed by the opportunities we had to invest in their lives and by the ways they blessed us.

Honest relationships and a new leadership paradigm were things we took away from the Philippines. One of our biggest prayer requests when we moved there was for a healthy team. God granted that and we enjoyed team work like we had never experienced it before. As a flight program we served missionary teams in eleven locations and saw the birth of three new churches during our time in the Philippines.

Canada, 2012-1013

Paying back... We’ve often joked over the last year that we moved to Manitoba to pay for all the fun and excitement we’ve had overseas. Garry spent our first year in Canada working as  Director of Aviation Safety, traveling to various locations and getting more training in aviation safety. Other focusses have been home assignment and helping Kevin settle into life as a young adult. 

The past year has been challenging in a totally new way as we have worked with NTM Aviation from a distance, re-connected with our church and friends, learned again how to function in Canada, and spent weeks on the road. This year has also been incredibly rewarding as we have planted seeds and seen them sprout and begin to grow.  

In some senses, this time is still too new to summarize. The story is not yet complete, so it is hard to relate. Yet already we are blessed by walking through this time as children of God, relying on His direction, grace, and strength. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Just for fun...

I thought I'd post this photo from the Grand Canyon just for fun. It's nice to have boys who like to play with the camera!

The past week has been busy with a myriad of things.... finishing up some safety stuff in the office, phone calls, school, getting firewood, having friends over for dinner. What struck me this morning is how each day is meant to be governed by God. He actually cares what we're doing, and in each moment, each hour, He has a plan to use us in HIs kingdom.

The seeds we plant with the people around us, the times of prayer, the energy we invest in relationships, the heart of worship, the tasks we do as part of living-- all things are meant to bring Him honor and glory. And that happens as we walk in step with His Spirit.

Today is a blank sheet, a new chance to experience God and invest in His kingdom and work.

Monday, October 28, 2013

This week...

Friday evening we had dinner with some friends of Garry's from flight training days. Allan and Esther work with NCEM, and are excited about what God is doing with First Nations people in Canada. It was fun to hear their vision for the work up north. There's always something neat about time with people who are involved in mission aviation and leadership, a kindredness of spirit.

We spent most of the weekend at the Winnipeg Winter Club, watching Kevin and Kaleb play badminton. Kaleb had a blast playing, and Kevin was into serious competition. A lot of great players from
various parts of Canada competed, and Kevin met many of them. He enjoys chatting with other athletes and hearing their stories, training strategies, and thoughts. Interacting with others in his field is helpful and stimulating. The opportunities to live faith are many, and he was busy planting seeds this weekend.

Garry is back in the office today, finishing up some things for NTM Aviation. This month marks 25 years since he joined NTM Aviation, 25 years of opportunity, surprises, rewarding ministry, challenges, and investment in planting churches all over the world. It's been quite a ride, full of incredible people and blessings!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Times change

Fall has apparently arrived. The colors are beautiful, the days brisk (translated freezing cold in my reality). Leaves keep falling, reminding me that winter itself will soon arrive. Not a totally happy thought for a tropical girl like me. On the other hand, I begin to see why the change of seasons is so beautiful. It gives a framework for our lives, an external reminder of the passing of time.

For me, watching the leaves change and fall has reminded me how far we've come in the last year. Last year at this time we were in deep mourning for so many things we'd said goodbye to.... Mom, many friends, the Philippines, life overseas, and a field flight program. Life on this side of the ocean was totally foreign, we ourselves totally displaced. 

Things are different now. We still miss the things we've left behind. We still have our moments of culture shock, but there are many things we've learned to deal with and do. We've built new friendships and created new routines. We've moved again. We've changed jobs again. But still, there are more constants from 6 months ago than there were last year at this time. And as things begin to feel more comfortable, we are more able to invest in what we see God doing around us. New friends, new opportunties, and new possibilities are becoming exciting instead of overwhelming. 
On our trip south we bought some mugs to decorate, and last week I filled mine with reminders of our time in the Philippines. Words that bring joy and comfort in the memories. Words that remind me of investment instead of loss. It's not a work of art, but I love my new mug.... and I realize with a certain degree of surprise that I may one day be making a mug to remind me of these days, this life that I'm now living.

Yes, times change. God heals and gives grace to help us adapt and change.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Flight and friends...

Garry took me flying the other evening... just for fun! In our lives in mission aviation, Garry has flown a lot of hours. I've gone on a limited number of flights because flights were most usually full, and I needed to stay by the radio. But we have seldom had opportunity to fly for the fun of it. In fact, it's only the third time in my life I remember being in an airplane just for the fun of it! It was fun, it was beautiful! We enjoyed a sunset, we enjoyed being together. Blessed.

Garry has had a few neat opportunities lately, and one of them was roofing with a couple of friends for an afternoon. After some long days in the office, it was a much-needed break to spend the afternoon working physically. Blessed.

Kevin has been excited by the work opportunities he's been getting lately as well. He's had fun working on a few farms lately. And he's had some very good training opportunities lately as well. It's exciting to see how God is bringing things together for him as he pursues a new chapter in his life of following and serving God.

This week I did another "almost first".... I took Kaleb on a field trip! Again, we've done a lot of interesting things and we've been a lot of places, but seldom do we go just for the purpose of school fun and learning. And this day ended up to be perfect! Roseau River Bible Camp hosted a group of us, providing great activities for the kids-- BMX biking, zip lining, and archery. And we took a short hike to see a hanging bridge. Kaleb met a new friend and neighbour, a homeschool kid who loves to bike and make movies. "Mom, what are the chances?" he asked me last night. Blessed.

Kaleb and I were discussing perspective this week, and how our perspective can change simply by what we tell ourselves. And there's nothing as powerful as asking God for His perspective, catching glimpses of the blessings we are given in light of eternity. And from that perspective, we are all incredibly blessed!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Saturday Ramblings

I can hardly believe it's Saturday, and I'm not at all sure how fall has come upon us to so quickly! The weeks are passing, times are changing, life is moving forward. This week I've often felt caught in a vortex I can't explain, a feeling I can't comprehend. The security of a new year's school routine, the many questions we have about our future. A sense of expectancy interwoven with the sadness of things that are finished. Endings and beginnings.

Garry spent this week at the Bombardier Safety Standdown in Wichita, Kansas. He enjoyed the sessions and the opportunity to connect with various people in aviation. The things that struck him most from the week were human factors in accidents and the need for trust in creating "safe culture". He loved spending time with other guys in mission aviation and simply being in the aviation world. How he got there is a God story also, since he had to cancel his registration a few weeks ago, and was able to be re-register after the deadline. 
The boys and I stayed busy while Garry was gone, which always helps time go more quickly. School, work, and training took up most of our time.  Kaleb took his bike dirt jumping with a friend and met some new friends last week. Kevin did a little coaching a a badminton evening. I had coffee with a friend. 

Friends invited us for dinner last evening, and it was great to connect. To laugh and share, to play a game, to simply enjoy an evening as families. We are blessed and humbled by the people God brings into our lives, people who reach out to us and those we can reach out to. The opportunities to give and to receive.

I really hope to blog more over the next week, to share some photos of our trip west and south. We'll see how that works out, I guess! For now, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Home again, home again...

Wow, I have some serious catching up to do! Today isn't a day I feel like catching up, though, so just  a few thoughts to share this afternoon. Garry is at his cousin Everett's funeral this afternoon.... loss and pain, the suffering of living in a world that is bound by sin. I had so hoped to be there, but I couldn't go. So I am home while my heart is with them. 

It has struck me again since Everett's passing that God weaves so many colors into the tapestry of our lives. And so often simultaneously... joy and pain co-exist. The heaviness of Everett's passing.  An amazing weekend sharing stories of what God has done among unreached people groups. The remembered pain of Mom going to heaven last year. New friends and unexpected opportunities. Goodbyes in Arizona. Gorgeous scenery. Heart connections that draw us deep into what God is doing. 

And at the end of the day, the joy and the pain are both grace. Unexplained gifts of God that draw us to know Him more, that pull us out of the temporal and into the eternal. Some of the gifts are more pleasant, some we'd rather return. But each one is lovingly given by an omnipotent Father. Today I want to embrace each gift, savor each moment. Live, truly live!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Westward Road...

It's been a fun 5 days, driving through beautiful country and spending time with family and friends! Stories... joy and pain, opportunities and challenges. The deepest stories are once more not mine to tell. There are, however, some stories I can tell.

Driving through the mountains as a family, reminiscing about the amazing things God has allowed us to do. The pure fun of surprising Garry's sister and her family in Osoyoos, BC.... showing up at their door in the midst of a move! The boys mountain biking in BC and Spokane. Time with Dustin, buying groceries and figuring out internet. More McDonald's meals and dollar drinks than I'd care to report. A gorgeous rest area where we played some soccer. Sharing meals with Alan, Fern, Shandi, and Sadi. Coffee and mini-golfing. Amazement at what God has done at Moody Aviation in Spokane... and remembering what a tragedy it seemed when the Elizabethton program closed, yet the growth that has inspired. BBQ with Jason & Jen and their kids. Late night coffees. Dinner with Cec and Joyce. The list is long.... blessings that we have experienced over the last days, evidences of what God is doing and His love for us, His kids.

This morning the guys are working on the van, hopefully replacing a rear wheel bearing. I'm enjoying some time to connect with you, the many people who follow us via this blog. The friends who pray for us and journey with us. The boys are looking forward to another bike ride this afternoon, and Kevin's hoping to fit a run into the day. Then we're planning some time connecting with friends before our time in Spokane is finished.

Tomorrow we will head south to Arizona, looking forward to seeing many more friends and continuing on the journey of enjoying God's work in various places. We are truly blessed to be His Body, His church, and His children!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday evening....

It's a rainy Sunday evening, warm and humid. I almost feel like I'm back in Malaybalay, Philippines. Funny how smells can bring memories flowing back, take you to another time, another place.

Last year at this time we were driving home from Arizona for Mom Barkman's funeral. It's been a weekend of remembering and some reflecting. Of spending time with family, thankful for the ones who are here and missing those who aren't. As we realize Mom has been gone a full year, we miss her in a different way. Her wisdom, her spirit, her friendship, and her simple presence. Thanks, Mom, for a rich legacy.

Garry and his dad went to Riverton today, and I'm anxious to hear how their day went, who they met, and what God did. I'm thankful they got to spend today together! Us ladies stayed home and enjoyed a good chat over nice coffee.

These days have been busy seeing some of you, communicating with NTMA, doctor visits, and planning for next school year's homeschooling. So many stories, so many blessings, so many challenges. Things I'd love to reflect on and share, but stories that are not mine to tell. You've blessed us by sharing your stories and your lives. We thank you.... and may the blessings and truths and stories of God's goodness and grace continue to circulate and encourage all of us, His Body!

Monday, August 12, 2013


Family. Immediate family, extended family. Family loyalty and family feuds. Family really can do a lot of things, and we do. We love each other and we hurt each other. Still, in the end, family.

There's something beautiful about the way we relate to our families, the way we defend one another, the way we help one another. Being back in Canada this last year has allowed us to relate with our families more, which has been a huge blessing. It has also allowed us to watch many families who have spent their whole lives living close to one another.

I am constantly amazed, really, to see the way families help one another. I'm awed by children who are close to their grandparents and the way people care for their parents as they age. I'm also shocked by how little people seem to realize the blessing they have in spending their lives in the same community as their families. In a small community where this is the norm, I don't think we often consider how unusual this is in the world at large. From Filipinos who are forced apart by the need to work overseas to the many work-related moves many young families make, much of the world is living in community devoid of family.

In communities where there is little family, friends must move into the parts of our lives that would normally be reserved for family. Relationships deepen based on need, and we must become vulnerable with people that we're not sure will respond the way we wish they would. And for many of us who have left family to pursue God's call on our lives, He has done as He promised and given us people who are like brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. It's a deep blessing.

As I ponder this I'd like to say thanks to our family who has loved us through many moves, who has chosen to stay connected despite distance. I'd like to thank you all over the world who are like family to us.

I'd also challenge you who have never lived far away from your family to ponder what life would look like if you had only friends and no family. And thank your for family the way they invest in your life! Then consider reaching out to someone who has no family as though they were family... you might be surprised what happens!

Friends and family. Family and friends. There's a difference, but then again, there isn't. Let's blur the lines in healthy ways for the glory of God!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Saturday thoughts

Another weekend is here and I hardly know where the week has gone! It's been one of those weeks that is busy, but there aren't really big projects getting done.

Kaleb has entered a week-long animation contest and has been really busy creating his entry. It turned out really well.... I'll post a link after the judging is complete and it can be shared. 

Friend came for the afternoon one day this week. What fun to reconnect with people from nearby that have also lived in the Philippines. To share memories and know that some of our "norms" from life overseas are also their norms. Another friend called, and I agree with her comment that it was like a spoon of ice cream, leaving you wanting more. Years of history, yet much of that apart.

Kevin has been training really hard. He also had opportunity to learn a new skill loading turkeys this week. His arms looked like the turkeys figured out he was inexperienced... but next time he'll get the better of them! I sent out an e-mail this week regarding Kevin's graduation from high school... if you didn't see the fun photos, e-mail me and I'll send it to you!

We celebrated a niece's birthday. What fun to be together as a family and share her special day with her. What are the chances? In fact, this is her 20th birthday, and I believe it's the first one we've shared. Wow. 

Life. Opportunities to live faith, love, and hope. Chances to share and to listen. Lives to impact and lives to be impacted by. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mist of change

Yes, it is another random photo. Since I'm not so comfortable posting photos of all of you (since you already know each other mostly!), my world is no longer a novelty to you since I moved, and I'm not really into posting photos of the boys when you see them every week... well, there isn't much left but random. I have considered posting more of our Philippine photos since many of them never made the blog, but they're not current... so, if you have a thought, share it!
So, random photo. But not so random. Cause it highlights the mist at Niagara Falls. And mist is drops of water hanging in the air, something I've been thinking about. When millions of drops of water are falling hundreds of feet-- some of them are suspended in the air and create a beautiful mist! It reminds me of change... lots of new ideas begin to create change. Provided the change is positive, it begins to color our world in softer colours. And that is beautiful.

We all come from somewhere and we have some new ideas, new things God is teaching us. We can pass those on and like a drop of water at Niagara, they can become part of something bigger, something powerful. Or we can hold closely to what we're learning and the ways we're growing and be a slow moving stream. I'm thinking, "Let's color our world with the truth God is allowing us to see!"

It happens slowly, this change. It takes time and patience, a lot of drops of water. But over time, things do change. We are given opportunities to share and invest. We are given access to the lives of those around us. And in the process we affect them, for better or for worse. The ways we choose to relate, the ways we choose to isolate-- they matter. This day, this smile, this truth, it's all part of a bigger plan, an epic tale of God Himself.

Of course, there are stories behind my ponderings, but they are not mine to tell. Suffice it to say that I love the way you are investing in my life, and I'm privileged to invest in yours. In person, via e-mail or mail, by phone, or simply through prayer.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Joy and laughter....

I was looking through our photos and these made me laugh... it almost looks like trick photography, the big faces and little paper cups. It's a reminder of a moment of laughter, fun, silliness. And we need those! This summer I've been reminded again that we need to laugh, to smile, to enjoy the journey of living. Joy waits to surprise us multiple times a day, but we can choose to rush by it. Or we can take a moment to savor it.
A baby's smile, a teen's joke, the blessing of a friend, an unexpected phone call, a note of thanks. A sunrise, wildflowers, growing fields, puppies playing in the yard, a hug from a friend. God created a perfect world, and parts of it remain. Creativity and beauty remind us that God exists and that He is good. They bring us back toward truth and goodness and healing. They call us to a home we've never seen before!

Home assignment is keeping us busy these days as we catch up on things that need done after being gone for years. And part of what needs done is processing the past years and seeing God make more sense of our story. Our last years have been both challenging and rewarding, and as we ponder the times and people we left behind we are blessed, encouraged, and strengthened to move ahead. Surprised by the strength of memories, the depth of bonds, the fruit of truth, and the reward of being a small part of God's epic plan, a plan we continue to walk in here as you do. A plan that encompasses time and eternity, the world and each individual.