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.