It seems months since our family turned the key and opened the door to our beautiful home in The Philippines! In reality, we have not even been here two full weeks.
It seems weeks since I've had a long phone conversation with my "bestie" or cleaned my house top to bottom in anticipation of a visit from my parents.
I can't remember the last time I drove toward Wal Mart talking to my sister on my cell phone. But I know it is not as distant-past as it feels.
A BIG change like the one we are undergoing really tampers with your sense of time.
There has been, in just under two weeks, so much progress in this "missionary life" that I don't know where to begin.
We have already had the distinct honor of hosting three hilarious, instantly-loveable, fellow Believers in our home.
First is my "soul sister", Sharon, who runs Children's Garden (the shelter that cared for Ariel for a long time), next is
Jake, an American (from OMAHA - where I was born, of all places and currently calls NORTH CAROLINA home - yeah, weird? I thought so, too) who has committed a year to living and serving at Children's Garden. Finally, Allie, who is the daughter of Children's Garden's US counterpart's president, AmerICANHELPer. She's just a few days younger than my oldest son and is a sunshiney, fun-loving cheerful spirit who is open to wherever God will lead her.
God placed these new friends in our lives at the perfect time. We were just getting settled and after weeks of hard work, needed some fun!
|Everyone but Anthony, the eternal photographer, at a restaurant together|
|The Beach in Batangas|
|The rock island some of my kids swam out to|
|What A Great Daddy!!!!|
|Sharon and Me: See the resemblance????|
We have eaten various foods from street vendors, restaurants, etc and not been ill. We are being "held".
I attribute that solely to the prayer warriors in our lives who I KNOW have been walking with us in spirit.
We visited a nearby church called "Christ Commission Fellowship" and, much to our surprise, found another CHURCH PLANT before us. From Village Church to Explore Church, it seems we are destined to attend church plants. Yes, it's always a lot of hard work but the payoff is immeasurable! Being on the "ground floor" of the building of a part of the Body is a privilege.
In order to officially begin Bartimaeus work full force, we have to register some paperwork with various government offices and wait for a few approvals. We are free to visit the children (and we will next week) but we are not officially sanctioned by the Philippine government until we fulfill a few more requirements. The hard part about this is these are NOT things that can be done online. We must go, in person, to various offices in the most congested parts of Manila and drop off paperwork. Everything must be previously notarized and, of course, there is a small charge for every document submitted.
Everything takes longer here.
We went to open our bank account and were informed that we had to submit 1 inch by 1inch color photos of ourselves to make our account official. No, they can not be emailed, either. We must go to the drug store, pay for photos, pick them up later (not instant pictures) and drop them off at the bank. All this in pretty dicey traffic.
That is the way here. This is NOT the USA and an "I want it NOW" attitude will only end up in futility so we are learning to step back and allow for things
That lack of "hurry up" has a nice side, too. Friends stop and linger. Meals are unrushed and full of fellowship. Church service was relaxed and loose with not one "alarm" beeping that it was noon and time to race the Methodists to Golden Corral . . .ha ha. . . .
It's just so different here. Not worse. Not better. Just different. . . And I love it.
My heart breaks with every drive down the highway as I see the squatter villages with unclothed children playing so near the street it makes me hold my breath. And I'm taken aback by the physical beauty of both the people and the landscape. The resourcefulness of the poor is something to behold and the way NOTHING is wasted here never fails to amaze me. People make something out of all the things we discard in the US. Useful things that we buy. They make and make well.
The food here is UMATCHED! The fried chicken is heavenly. My favorite dish (which is so so bad for me) is called "Crispy Pata" and it's basically pork fat fried as crunchy as a potato chip and seasoned. There's a soup called "bulalo" which is a piece of beef in a broth that tastes so good it could make a grown man cry! I choose Filipino food over Mexican, Italian (sorry, mom) or any other type of food any day.
I had every intention of writing a deep, beautiful post about our place in this country but I feel like I've only succeeded in rambling about some of things and people we are encountering.
Let me wrap up with a few pictures and by saying, I am so blessed and happy to be here. I consider it an honor to serve in such a place. I want to thank you all who are praying and giving. It is our heart's desire not to disappoint but to make YOUR sacrifice count for the Kingdom.
For HIS Fame,
|Skyping with my parents. Always a blessing!|
|Elliana's foot with sea urchin barbs in it (see the dark parts?). She said it was truly excruciating.||A man saw what happened on the beach and brought us a packed of vinegar he happened to have. Anyone believe in angels?|
|The Taal Volcano . . . just a few miles from our house. Can you believe this beauty???|