Wednesday, February 27, 2008

His Mission Fellowship

Here's a short video of the worship service at the church. We really enjoyed our time visiting the church and getting to know the people.

Midwife action! Monday evening Jenn was working a swing shift and I got to go in and observe. I didn't think I was going to get to since I had just had a wisdom tooth pulled and a root canal done, but I was feeling pretty good. Jenn called to tell me that a woman in labor had just walked in and I could come to observe if I wanted to. The woman was having her 6th baby and her previous ones had come very fast! The last one coming only 15 minutes after getting to the clinic. This one wasn't quite as fast since the baby was in a little bit more difficult position, but still relatively quick. She was the sweetest lady and sang worship songs through her contractions! It was so fun to see Jenn in her element and doing what she loves to do...deliver babies! A beautiful baby boy arrived safely into this world!

Jenn has been studying for her semester exam that she is taking today. Hard to believe a semester in midwifery is under her belt already! She is enjoying what she is doing and learning so much.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Small steps!

We are continuing to enjoy our time here as God directs our steps in meeting people and visiting different places. It has been amazing to see God’s hand in even the smallest things! The resounding reply recently when we tell those that we have met that we are leaving soon is, “Why are you leaving? You seem to enjoy it so much here!” And “When are you returning?” We really wish we had a good answer for those questions, but at this point we don’t have any specific direction although we seem to be getting small answers here and there.

This last week we didn’t have any big plans, but just school with the kids, dentist appointments for Stacey, Ann Marie, and Joleigh, a field trip to the Crocodile Farm (more about that with pictures on the blog), swimming, house cleaning projects, school and work for Jenn, visiting the YWAM base here in Davao, and spending hours at Immigration to extend our visas. Not much, huh?!? Doesn’t seem like much as we go about each day, but when it’s listed it kind of adds up! The kids are doing well in school as we push on each day. They are getting used to either sweat dripping off their forehead onto their papers or the fan blowing away their papers so they are not sweating! The funny things we have to adjust to!

On Sunday at His Mission Fellowship we enjoyed worshiping with the people both in English and Visayan. I remember back to the first Sunday we were there and feeling like I couldn’t really worship because I couldn’t understand what was being said, but now understanding that it has more to do with the heart. Worship comes from the heart! Steve and I both cried as we sang and worshiped along with one of the familiar songs in Visayan, realizing how much we are going to miss hearing the people worship in their own language. God has changed my heart!

The unreached mountain people have stolen our hearts and thoughts. The ministry that Beth and Merly continue with to the mountain people is so vital and yet there are so few that seem to be going. We are hoping to be able to help out anyway we can. Steve, Joe, and Tim (friend of Joe’s whose wife is going to midwifery school) will be going on a medical outreach with Beth tomorrow. Tim builds and distributes water filters to families in need through Impact Nations. Steve is very excited about the opportunity to go into the mountains. They will be staying the first night at Upian, a couple hour hike from the road, and then continuing on in the morning for another 4 hour hike to Newtawas. At Newtawas they will be helping Beth with medical needs, just for the day and then hiking back out. Please pray for Steve, Joe, Tim, and Beth as they hike in the mountains, and bring God’s love to the people of Newtawas.

The resounding theme that we keep seeing is the need for primary health care, being able to take blood pressure, listen to lungs, look in ears, and clean wounds, are such simple things to know but can change someone’s life. Joe and Jenn had some missionary friends, Mordecai and Twans, which just recently moved to Cambodia to continue their work there, but they had an incredible impact on the mountain people here on Mindanao. Beth and Merly’s ministry is a continuation of what Mordecai started. Mordecai was not a professional doctor or dentist, but he knew how to help the people with everything from pulling a rotten tooth to cleaning infected wounds to giving antibiotics for ear infections that had gone on for a long time, and the list goes on. He cared for the people in a very physical way, but was able to show them God’s love! Yesterday as I got one of my wisdom teeth pulled by a local dentist I was realizing how important it is to be able to pull a tooth so that someone can live with less pain. The pain of a tooth ache can be so excruciating and yet if there is not a dentist what is someone to do, but live with the pain. I was terrified of getting my teeth pulled, but soon realized that getting a tooth pulled with a little painkiller is not bad at all. And I can only imagine how the people must have felt after Mordecai pulled a rotten tooth for them!

God just seems to keep showing us more with each step we take! Yesterday before I got my tooth pulled all the kids prayed for me…I was really afraid of getting my tooth pulled. God answered their prayers in a big way…He physically calmed me while getting my tooth pulled, and then caused there to be no pain! Even this morning as I woke I was expecting to feel the pain in my mouth, but my mouth felt normal, no pain at all! It was amazing to be able to tell the kids how God had answered their prayers in such a personal way! Tomorrow I will get two more wisdom teeth pulled, but this time I am not filled with fear!

Primary health care, agriculture teaching, midwifery, and water filtration are just some of the needs of the people, but such a physical need that needs to be met so that they can see and know the love of Jesus! Please pray for the unreached mountain people of Mindanao.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Crocodile Farm

On Wednesday we took the kids on a field trip to the Crocodile Farm. There are LOTS of crocs as well as many other animals...almost a zoo! The crocs are bred at the farm and then moved to different areas as they grow. We were there over feeding time and got to enjoy the action of chicken, pigs, and other meat being thrown to the crocs. My image of crocs are lazy sleepy animals, but that is not so when they are being fed! Several guys with crates of meat stood around the edge and threw the meat over the fence to the crocs. Those large lazy animals come to life as they scramble to get a share of the food. The kids thoroughly enjoyed watching the action!

We also saw large funny looking birds, monkeys, smaller birds, snakes, lizards, tigers, deer, rabbits, owls, and many other animals. The orangutan, Carlos, was another favorite...after we watched him get fed with a spoon his handler brought him outside the cage for all of us to pet and say "hi". Carlos is a four year old orangutan and weighs 40kg. He seemed very ge
ntle and the kids had fun shaking his hand and petting his fur.

Here are some pics of all the animals at the zoo! Some of them look strangely familiar! :)

Recess time

Looks like we have a school yard full of kids at recess! It is actually recess time and they are all lining up for their turn at foursquare. Steve and Joe painted foursquare lines on the driveway and then taught the kids how to play foursquare. We had to go online to remind ourselves of the rules for foursquare since it has been a few years! Everyday at recess time they all race outside to get in line and they all have had so much fun playing!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fresh fruit and relaxing

So how about a little fresh fruit...pineapple, mango, watermelon, pamello, oranges, bananas, sebana(soursop), or marong(in the picture)? We love the fresh fruit we eat at every meal, both the fruit we know and the new fruit we get to try! Some reason I think the fruit in Alaska is just not going to taste the same when we return...not to mention the canned fruit we eat lots of in the winter!

Last we got in lots of school and dentist appointments. Ann Marie had lots of cavaties so we decided to get them fixed while we are save on a little money! So Ann Marie
had two appointments last week and then Joleigh and I each had one of Friday. Ann Marie only has one more visit and then she will be done, I have several more to fix cavaties and to get xrays for some deep ones and wisdom teeth. Not looking forward to possibly getting my wisdom teeth pulled, but I have needed to for a long time and wouldn't mind saving the money. So these next two weeks will be rather full of visiting the dentist!

The kids have had lots of fun just playing wherever we you see in the goofy picture of the boys! They all look forward to PE on Wednesday when we go swimming at the pool, and this week we also went to a park to let them run. Ethan and Tyler are a little challenged by being enclosed within the four walls o
f the compound when they are used to having acres to run and explore. It just takes a little readjusting of what kids get to do and enjoy. I recently read a book about a family that moved into the "Red Light" district in Amsterdam, they had two children and no where to run and play. The family had moved from out in the country with lots of room to explore, kind of like Alaska, but they knew that God had called them to the city and they would all readjust. They each had to find new things to enjoy within their four walls, so we are doing the same!

On Wednesday Steve and I, and Joe and Jenn got a wonderful retreat over to Samal Island at Paradise Resort. We rode a small ferry boat over to the island and stayed there overnight. We went beach combing, playing with hermit crabs, ate dinner, breakfast, and lunch by the beach, and we went snorkeling. Paradise Island resort caters to foreigners as their getaway so it had all the "comforts of home". Snorkeling was a new experience for Steve and I, a little hard to get over the feeling that you might suck in a lung full of salt water, but once we got used to it we had a lot of fun! We swam around for over an hour enjoying the discovery of lots of colorful small fish. I felt like I was swimming in our old fish tank with striped fish, angel fish, bright neon fish, and on and really was quite a sight! We had a very relaxing time and the kids all did great back at the house under the care of Ann Marie and Joleigh.

We brought back roses for the girls for Valentines Day from the flower market. How does a dozen roses for less than $4 sound? It is so much fun to be able to get things like that for so little money! A
couple days ago the kids all made Valentines for each other and we bought candy, so when we returned we had a card exchange. It was fun to see each others creations and enjoy some Filipino candy!

Sunday evening we enjoyed a treat of barbeque hamburgers over a makeshift grill...felt like our summer barbeque's at home in Alaska except just a little warmer! Real hamburgers are a special treat here as it is just rather costly for all the fixings, and we sure enjoyed them! After hamburgers then everyone got to cook their s'mores over the hot coals. Mmmm, good food and great company!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Steve's Photography

Steve has such an eye for detail, especially in plants, trees, and shrubs. He loves to take pictures of things that most of us do not take notice of. I just thought I would share some of Steve's artwork...although all the pictures on my blog of our time here in the Philippines have been taken by Steve!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Samal Island

Hagamit Falls on Samal Island is absolutely beautiful! On Friday we drove aboard the ferry in Davao to go to Samal Island to spend the day at these beautiful falls! It was only about a 15 minute ride on the ferry to get to the Island and then we drove for about 20 minutes to get to the falls.

We took along a lunch of fried chicken, oranges, and chips which we ate when we arrived before everyone dove in the water. Eating lunch with t
he ants takes on a whole new meaning here! As the food drops to the ground the ants start gathering...the little black ones are's the red ones that bite! Speaking of which...The saying "don't let the bed bugs bite" just doesn't have much meaning when you live in cold Alaska, but it sure does here!

Anyway...once our lunch was eaten everyone got in the cool water to play in the waterfalls. The kids had so much fun jumping off the rocks into the water. The "big" kids had fun too or those that are kids at heart!

At the falls we kept moving up stream to try different pools of water and different water falls. It was a wonderful day of exploring God's creation and enjoying a beautiful spot on an island in the Philippines. We are loving the new experiences and the new places we get to see!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

West African night

Wednesday night we had a West African night with good company and good food... We met a couple guys from Nigeria at a basketball game at a local college, and they were quite interested in our family. We decided to invite them over for dinner of groundnut stew. The couple with the baby are also from Nigeria, they are here going to Bible school. Jenn knew of them through the clinic where they had come when they were going to have their baby. It was a fun night of chatting with West Africans...makes us feel right at home like we were back in Sierra Leone!

Medical clinic

The church that the Germain's attend was having a free medical clinic on the first floor of their building this week. They needed volunteers to come and pray for the sick, so we decided to take the older kids and go help out. When we arrived there was less than 50 people that had come to be seen by the doctor. We prayed for a few people and then started helping everyone get more organized. It was only the 2nd time they had done a medical clinic and were still in the learning phase of how to make it run smoothly. Steve helped direct people to where they needed to go and Joe set up another spot to take blood pressure since there was only one person taking BP and alot more people were showing up. Ann Marie and Ethan as well as some of the other kids got involved in praying for the sick and sharing the Gospel with colored bracelets. Ethan said once he got used to talking with people it was actually alot of fun and he was disappointed when the bracelets were gone! Over 150 people were signed in to see the doctors by the time we finished and they had to stop there otherwise the doctors would have been there all night.

There is such a need to just know primary health care to be able to help out with simple medical needs.

Monday, February 4, 2008


On Friday, January 25 we drove about 6 hours north of Davao to the small city of Malaybalay, up in the mountains about 3,000ft above sea level. Joe drove his jeepney and we all piled in with bags tied down on top. The kids did great despite the long drive...I think the adults had a harder time with cramped quarters and the uncomfortable seats for such a long drive!

We thought we were going to be "roughing-it" for our week in Malaybalay, but we were in for a big surprise when we drove up to a large beautiful house that looked far from roughing-it! Three sisters built this house, two of which live in the US and come back to stay here for vacations. They let visiting missionaries stay in their house for a very small price of 500p a day (or $12). The house is fully furnished and had plenty of room for all of us. It was like staying in our own personal mansion for a week!

Saturday morning we headed out to find a little breakfast
of bread and bananas and then went to the Children's Home. New Faith Family Children's Home is located outside of Malaybalay down a small dirt road, but within a neighborhood. They have 11 children at the home ranging in age from 2 to 11 who are there for various reasons. Larry and Belen are the wonderful house parents and the children love them dearly. Larry is a trained pastor, but felt the Lord was calling him to help the children. They do an amazing job of loving and caring for the kids! There is also several other staff members that do the cooking, cleaning, and a social worker as well as two people from Australia that run the Children's home and the construction site.

After visiting the Children's Home we then went to see the work on the camp and new housing for the children. The property is off the road and set it back amongst the hills. Work is progressing daily on the camp building that will be able to house 40 children for camps.
The next building to be constructed will be the Children's home. The land has been donated by a very generous Filipino couple, Glenn and Grace, who are huge supporters of the Children's Home in Malaybalay. Please pray for Glenn as he is in the hospital with possibly a brain aneurism. Steve and Joe got the opportunity to visit him in the hospital and pray for him.

We spent the rest of the day just hanging out at the Children's home playing with the kids at the home as well as the neighbor kids who come to pla
y too. Our kids made lots of new friends and had so much fun!

We arranged to eat our lunches at the Children's Home and have our helper Ate El
sa help with the cooking. We doubled the amount of food they needed to cook, except we can't even come close to eating the pile of rice that those kids can consume! Ate Belen told me that we eat 3 tablespoons of rice while they will eat 2 cups of rice...that is probably rather true! For dinner we went back to our "mansion" and Elsa cooked us a wonderful meal before we all headed off to bed...a bunch of very tired people.

Sunday we went to church...

Larry pastors a small church out of the city. He wants to reach the mountain village people and they will not come all the way out, so he brings church to them. Here is a little from Steve's journal...
The hill people are poor and
are embarrassed about coming to a church in the city. Even though the people only live 5-10km from town, it is a world of difference. Those who live deep(only a few kilometers) in the mountains(jungles) only come so far to the nearest villages, those villagers then take the produce and supplies to the people who live along the road. The road people then go to the city to sell the wares and bring back the supplies. Medicine and the Gospel never make it past the road peoples. There are small churches along the road side, but those off the road will never make the trip to the road. First because of the subsistence life, it is a good day or two journey to make it to the road. It is often not affordable! Also the mountain people are too embarrassed to come out that far.

Rarely do the city people or even the road people ever venture out to the villages and mountains. The church we went to is off the road about a quarter mile. Those who come from the hills walk in 30-90 minutes by foot.

We really enjoyed listening to Larry preach, sitting outside on bamboo benches with excerpts from John Piper's book! It's a small world! The kids listened to Ate Belen for Sunday School out in the shade.

We spent the afternoon playing with the kids
and getting to know everyone.

Our timing to go to Malaybalay seemed to be God directed...the Children's Home vehicle needed to be worked on, but that left them without a way to get around, so Joe became the driver for the week. Our days began at 5:45 so that Joe could take Steve and the older boys to the work site by 7am, then to the children's home to pick up kids for school, back to the house to pick up the younger kids, Joleigh, Elsa and I so that we could go to spend the day with the kids. He then got water filled and took it to the job site, back to pick up kids from school at 11 so they could come home for lunch, then pick up Steve and the boys from the job site, and then kids back to school at 1pm. We would have a restful afternoon while the younger kids napped and we would prepare for our afternoon VBS with the street kids.

Steve, Ethan, Tyler, Joziah, Samking, and Brian spent each day at the job site doing various jobs of painting, shoveling, pounding holes in the concrete for pipes, removing nails from wood, and hauling water. It was hard work in the hot sun, but the boys had alot of fun! They often came back for lunch covered in red paint that was used to prevent rusting...not sure if they got more paint on themselves or on the metal?!

The girls and I played with the younger kids at the home, did a little preschool with them and just helped out wherever we could. We all ate lunch at the home and then put the younger kids down for naps every afternoon. In the afternoon from about 3-4 we did a small VBS with the younger kids as well as 5-6 street kids from Malaybalay.

It was a good opportunity to learn a little about how to do a VBS here...what works, what doesn't, what the kids understand, and how to use a translator. The kids loved the songs with the hand motions, the Bible stories, the snacks, and the games we played out in the field. By far, Duck, duck, goose was the favorite!!

One day we went to a Bible Seminar
y up in the mountains to help and watch them pour a concrete basketball floor, or at least a section of it. We did more watching than helping, but we also did an impromptu singing time! All the students gathered in the chapel and we sang for them, then shared a box of oranges and bread with everyone. Didn't know we were a traveling singing group?! Gotta be ready for whatever!!

We had such a great time meeting new people and learning so much from everyone! We ha
ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities we get to talk to people and see what they are involved in. Being here in the Philippines has really given us a first-hand, on-the-field view of what God is doing here and the many opportunities there are to serve Him!

Sunday, February 3, 2008