Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Visiting family and friends...

Sunday morning we loaded up the van to go to church, not only with family, but with several blind college age students who are staying at Marla and Randy's for a college prep class this week at RBI. We all went to church then made a stop at Burger King for lunch which is a treat for everyone. Sunday afternoon Aunt Marla and I went shopping at Mega Mall...nothing is more of a culture shock than a huge mall for this small town Alaskan girl! We had fun shopping together and getting the time to visit and catch up some. I found lots of fun things to bring back for my kids...nothing is more fun than a suitcase full of treasures for the kids!

Since Monday was a holiday nobody went to school or work, so we loaded up in the van again and went to Faith Academy to tour the school, see Paula, and take a dip in the pool. The day turned out to be hot and the perfect day for a dip in the cool water...I think it was about 98 today! Faith Academy is very big with lots of nice classrooms and they are expanding their facilities for their students and staff. Paula took the tour with us and then headed back to her office as we made our way to the pool. I slathered on the sunsrcreen and braved the water and sun again. The cool water felt great on such a hot day! We went home late in the afternoon.

Paula came over in the evening with ice cream and freshly baked cookies for everyone...what a treat! It was great to see Paula, Ben, Liz, and Phil!

I had such a great couple days getting to spend the time visiting with Randy and Marla, and getting to know my cousins Seth, Nathaniel, Anna, and Omega. I have never really gotten to know them since last time I was there Seth was just a new baby!

We are looking forward to
hopefully being back in the Philippines in January, except this time it will be our whole family! We are hoping to spend some time in Manila with my family, but then also in Davao with Joe and Jenn, and hopefully we can also find something short term missions for Steve or for our whole family to be involved in while we are there. I am glad I got the opportunity to go to the Philippines to help Joe and Jenn move and to visit with everyone!

I am now home, tired and not quite sure what time zone I am in, but am home with my family. Everyone did great while I was gone, but were so excited to see mom come home! We have an amazing family that can manage on their own while I am gone...I don't think my kids or husband hardly skipped a beat while I was gone except that I was missed. Ann Marie did a great job of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and teaching homeschool to the younger kids while I was gone...Steve was able to stay caught up on work and didn't have to be torn between home and work because everything was going great at home. Our kids are growing up!

A stop in Manila

Well, after leaving Davao I made a couple day stop in Manila to stay with Uncle Randy, Aunt Marla, and the four kids that are still at home. It was a fun couple days getting to see some of Manila. When I first landed in Manila we dropped off my suitcases at the house and then took off in a Jeepney to go see the offices of Recourses for the Blind. The streets were busy so we rode in the Jeepney for a little while but eventually got out to walk the rest of the way because it would be alot faster. The offices weren't very busy because it was the weekend, but I still got to see the preschool, the computer rooms, the printing room where all the braille printing is done, and the tape room where they copy lots of books onto tape, but are now gradually moving into cd instead of tapes. It was a quick tour, but still good to see what RBI is doing. After leaving RBI we headed back to the house with a detour through a market where Randy bought flowers for Marla for Mother's Day, then we hopped back on a Jeepney for the ride home.

Here is an amazingly clear view of the city of Manila!

The Velmains... we liked to call our big family! :) We took this picture of everyone just before the Germains moved to Davao. Kids from age 15 on down to 1 with several twins and triplets in the middle!! Always so much fun!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Saying good-bye...

It feels like a chapter has closed in our lives and we are moving on to the next chapter in our was a very tearful good-bye as many hugs were given to 7 Germain kids and to my friends, Joe and Jennifer. I know this is the right step and we are moving in the right direction, but pulling apart can be so painful. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to go to Davao with Joe and Jenn, to see their new house, the school, church, and just a little bit of what their lives are going to look like in Davao, apart from the Veldstras! Such a change for all of us. We are going to miss the close community we had with them...sharing our lives...the ups and downs, the good and the, uh, not so good, but somewhere in all of that was always lots of laughter! Two families, 13 kids, 2,000sq ft house, who would have ever thought it could work out so well?! We are all looking forward to whatever God has next for all of us and so thankful for all that He has brought us through!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pictures of the kids for my kids...

The other night we had quite the storm, and the kids loved it! They went outside to play in the warm rain and then they got to take their showers in the rain too! Such fun new experiences!! Tonia is holding a quail egg...the kids had fun eating quail eggs for breakfast although they wasn't much there for the trouble of cracking lots of tiny little eggs!
Levi likes to go through the little door in the front door...such fun when it is just your size!

Joziah with new dog Mocha...she is a great dog to have around, very submissive and keeps all the critters away that you don't want in your yard!
The boys have had lots of fun catching these large frogs...they seem so big compared to the little ones they were catching back home in our yard!

Days in Davao...

Well after several days of feeling like I would never recover, I think I am finally feeling considerably better. Not completely well, but well enough to be able to get out and enjoy some of Davao before I head home. On Wednesday afternoon I got out with Jenn for a couple hours and we did a little bit of shopping at the SM Shopping Center...when you are in there you don't really feel like you are in the Philippines except for being in the minority as a white person. Maybe that is because I am a small town girl and not used to such large shopping centers or malls, but it is huge and has just about anything you might need. It was fun to wander around and pick up a few things to take home, but that outing completely wore me out and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on the couch.

Thursday I woke feeling even better especially after some breakfast and a shower, so we decided to load everyone up in the van and go for a drive, just to get out! Joe and Jenn are needing to learn the streets of Davao so this seemed like a good opportunity...I know, kind of sounds like we got lost...nope we didn't! :) We stopped at Mercy Birthing Center and got a short will be so nice to know where Jenn will spend alot of her time while here in Davao. Only eight beds in the Center and yet they deliver so many one gets to hang around and recoup very long! We once again descended upon McDonalds for lunch and then headed to NCCC to look at furniture. They bought bunkbeds for all the kids and a small couch and chair set for their bedroom. It will all be delivered on Friday. That was our day, but it was fun to drive the streets and see the people and their way of life. So many new things to see...

The kids have been begging and begging to go to the beach...we are this close so certainly we should be able to go! So today, Friday, we decided to head out to a beach close by and spend the day getting a nice sunburn! No, we also had lots of fun despite the redness of everyones skin when we returned home. The kids had so much fun playing in the water, in the warm water no less! Such a novelty coming from a bunch of Alaskan kids! The adults also enjoyed the warm water and the sun, of course!

I can't believe I leave Davao tomorrow...seems like my week here has been so short. I will be spending a couple days in Manila with my Uncle Randy and Aunt Marla. Its been a long time since I've been there and I am looking forward to spending a little bit of time with them before I fly home on the 15th.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Church,unpacking and getting sick...

Well, let's see what have we been up to the last several days...on Sunday Joe braved the roads and drove us all to church. Jon and Rhoda left Sunday morning so that left it up to us to figure it all out. Joe and Jenn purchased a van from Jon and Rhoda so they have always got wheels, just gotta figure out the road system here. Actually it isn't too bad, Davao is not a huge city and the driving isn't crazy like I remember it in Manila! We went to a church called All Nations, and there are certainly lots of different nationalities of people there. After church we stopped at McDonalds for lunch, oh the comforts of home, and then drove by the Mercy Maternity Clinic where Jenn will be working.

Monday was a full day of unpacking, organizing, and putting everything away. We managed to get it all done with lots of hands helping. Their helper Neney is a great organizer so we got the house put together quickly! Then last night we went to dinner at the midwifery students house. They fixed us a yummy dinner of spaghetti, salad, and french bread. It was fun to see some of students that Jenn will be going to school with, although most of her class is not here yet. She doesn't begin classes until September.

So after our hard day of work I think we completely wore ourselves out, because I woke up in the night with a fever and a raging headache. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep, and after a shower and a little breakfast I went back to bed! I managed to sleep the morning away and woke up feeling slightly better. My head is still throbbing and I still have a fever, but at least I can drag myself out of bed! Joe is also sick with the same thing and he also spent the morning in bed. Please pray that we get over this flu bug quickly and that no one else gets it. I really want to enjoy the rest of my time here and not be laying in bed!!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Davao, Philippines

After 17 years I am back in the Philippines...I am here with our friends Joe and Jennifer Germain and their 7 children. They are moving here so that Jenn can go to midwifery school. We flew out early Wednesday morning (although our flight wasn't near as early as it was supposed to be, it got delayed by several hours because of a thunderstorm in New York where the flight originated), and arrived here in Davao Thursday evening. Even though we had a delayed flight we were able to be transferred to a different airlines which actually put us in the correct airport in Manila rather than have to transfer airports. We got to see Randy and Marla briefly in Manila, but I will get to spend a couple days with them when I head back home through Manila.

It is so good to see Jon and Rhoda and their 6 kids! We are staying at their house which will be the Germains home when Jon and Rhoda leave. Jon and Rhoda are filling Joe and Jenn in on lots of helpful information for living here in Davao. It is just kind of funny how Joe and Jenn are just kind of taking over Jon and Rhoda's life here...their not sure if the neighbors will even know that they are gone since everything will be so close to the same! The kids are all having fun getting to know each other and playing in the sunshine...we are going to have some tired kids tonight.

We had a yummy breakfast this morning of hard boiled eggs, fresh sweet pineapple and papaya, and some Filipino bread. I love all the delicious fresh fruit that has been ripened on the different than back home in Alaska!!

Looking forward to more adventures in Davao!