Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Tropical Christmas

This year we spent Christmas on a remote island with our good, good friends who are also missionaries with us here in the Philippines.

Much to Neo's delight, the trip involved three different modes of transportation (or 'broom brooms'). Two airplane rides, a van ride and a boat ride!!

No snow and ice for us this Christmas. We were sweating, drinking fresh coconut juice and swimming in the ocean for our Christmas festivities.

Not only was our Christmas tropical, it had a German flair too, as we celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve instead of Christmas morning. But that wasn't the only international flavor, we missionaries are so used to doing things the non-traditional way.... our Christmas dinner was fajitas!! Yum.

But, tropical islands, German friends, good food, coconut juice and swimming aside, the only REAL reason we had any joy at all this Christmas is because of Jesus. He's the one who created the beauty of this island. He's the one who gives us the ability to enjoy and savor good food. He's the one who puts the beauty in friendships. And he's the one who gives us true life.

Merry Christmas.
In the St. Nick of time!

My sister sends our Christmas presents from home every November (along with other 'non-Christmas' related items, like allergy medicine and clothes for the people in the village) ....some years we get them in time for Christmas, some years we get them in time for Valentines Day. This year, we got them the day before we left for our annual trip to Manila. Whew.

Yeah! Box day!!

A sewing kit from Nana and Papa!

Ally's new baby.

Neo all snuggled up in his new choo-choo blankie from Aunt Bethany!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Happy. . . October!

Whether you're a 'Harvest Party-er' or a 'Halloween Celebrator' - Happy October from our family to yours!!

Three little punkins with their three little punkins!

An interesting combo - Robber, gypsy, train, hula girl and wizard.

Cutest Choo Choo Train EVER!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My New Office

Gotta Laugh

Missionary life would be impossible without a sense of humor. Especially if you need to go to the hospital. Despite the fact that we are more adjusted now to life in the Philippines than we are to life in the U.S., my recent hospital stay still gave me lots to laugh about.

Thanks to a lumbar strain, I found myself in the hospital for 2 days. Since the lower back pretty much controls all body movement, I found myself flat on my back and completely helpless.

The most amusing part of my hospital stay was my m.r.i. The m.r.i. machine was located in a building across the street from the hospital. And, since I couldn't walk or sit up, I was wheeled, on a gurney, through the hospital, OUT the front doors, DOWN the street and into the building that housed the m.r.i. machine. I was soooooo embarrassed and such a spectacle (not a lot of white ladies being wheeled down the streets in the Philippines!), that I just pulled the sheet up over my head - which probably didn't help since I then looked like a corpse!

I did the same thing as I was being wheeled down the halls of the hospital, but my friend quickly reminded me that 'They can all still see your white toes sticking out!'

Another funny thing was the advice I was given. Filipinos love to give advice, solicited or not. For example my taxi driver on the way to the Emergency Room suggested I get a massage. Filipinos think massages cure everything. And a friend of a friend who came to be my 'watcher' (the nurses don't take care of you at the hospitals here, you have to provide your own 'watcher') told me that this happened because we built our house near a big tree and didn't ask permission from the tree spirits.

Luckily the doctor knew what it was and I was given the right medicine!

As amusing as it all is, it just shows how deep superstition runs in the culture here. And why we have given our lives to share the TRUTH that sets people free from fear.

Here I am being a very obedient patient and doing my 3 days of bed rest - sorta. If I can't go to my office, my office can come to me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

11 Years!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Helpers

Some countries function on a 'helper/boss' basis. Like this one. There are no washing machines and dryers and vacuum cleaners and dishwashers to do all our work for us, so people do! We have 8 ladies who work at our house on a rotating schedule. They do everything from wash the clothes to weed the gardens. And they are happy to do it, we get our work done and they get a paycheck! It's very foreign to us as westerners, but actually, a really wonderful system.

But, the two most important helpers in our house are 7 and 9 years old. One of my worries is that because we have so much help already, our girls will become lazy and dependent on other people to clean up after them. But, actually, the ladies that work for us are doing a great job of teaching Daisy and Ally. On the days they don't have school, they each pick an 'Ate (older sister)' and help her all morning. They are learning to wash clothes, fold clothes, wash dishes, weed, etc, etc.

I'm so proud of them, and sooooo thankful for them. It's not just the housework either, they are two extra pairs of hands to help out with Neo too!

Ally 'helping' to 'alam' (pick out the rocks) from a sack of rice. I think the lure of looking pregnant took over the desire to help out.

Daisy is my 'Morning Neo Cuddler'. She crawls into bed with him and waits for him to wake up while I either jog or take my shower or tend to visitors, etc. She's amazing and such a great sister!

Here, Daisy is learning how to knead bread with her Ate Marita. Marita, by the way, has gotten so good at making bread, she runs laps around me! She is definitely more qualified to teach Daisy than I am!!

Ally and her Ate Enday are busy weeding the flower garden. They started out washing walls, but it turns out Ally can't reach very high, so they moved out to the garden.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Neo's Room

Once upon a time, I had a beautiful office (see below). But then, God gave me a beautiful son, who needed a bedroom. So, after almost two years of Neo sleeping in our room, this week, he moved into his newly remodeled bedroom (and Mama's moving her office downstairs!).

Night night, Neo!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Baby Love

I love babies. I can't explain it, but I just can't get enough of em', especially the sweet little ones that fall asleep on me. The highest of all compliments!! So, here are some babies that will make you smile.

This 'pile o' babies' all attended our recent ladies seminar with their mommies. So many of these little ones have such a special place in my heart. Some because they have healed broken places in their mommies hearts. Some because their mommies are like sisters to me and some just because they are soooo cute.

These two ladies live next door to Josh's best friend, 'Benjie'. The baby in the front is named 'Daisy Grace'! :) And the baby in the back is a precious miracle. Her name is Princess. And it should be. She is number 9....8 boys, and then Princess!! Last month she nearly died of pneumonia, but God in his grace spared her life and she continues to be the joy of that family!

O.k., now on to MY baby love. I know he's two and half now, but he's number three and 5 years younger than number two, so he's always gonna be my baby. Here he is helping Daddy make a Bible lesson.

Here he is sleeping like a little angel. He will only go to sleep surrounded by his treasures. His buddy 'Yertle the Turtle', his 'choo choo', his 'broom broom', his 'night night' (blankie) and 'Sponge-a-Bob' (I don't know why he adds the 'a'). That Sponge Bob blanket is the best thing we've ever stolen (sorry Sis and Bubba).

A boy and his puppy. Melts my heart. His older sisters are terrified of our dog, Paquiao, but Neo loves him to death. Whenever he plays outside you can hear him calling, 'C'mon Chopchow!'

Oh that face. Don't you just want to kiss it!!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Boring Post

You've been warned. This is a boring post about my garden. There is one person in the world who will find this remotely interesting...that's my sister. The rest of you feel free to move on to a more exciting blog.

This is my 'root crop' garden. This is my proudest accomplishment. I've got sweet potatoes to the far right. You can see a big rock, and the green all around it are sweet potatoe tops. Then the tall-ish plants in the middle are called cassava, they are also like a sweet potato. Then the great big leafy plants to the left are called labog and they are also similar to a sweet potato- but not really. All of these are considered acceptable substitutes for the people here if they have no rice. They are boiled and then eaten dipped in soy sauce or fish sauce. And, you can eat the leaves to, like spinach!

This is my pumpkin plant. I didn't plant it, it was here waiting for us when we got back from Manila, and it already has a big pumpkin growing on it! It's not helping out the lawn much, but I'm proud of this pumpkin monstrosity!

This stuff is called 'Angelica', it's amazing. It's an herbal medicine. And what you do, is take a leaf and pound it a bit with a hammer, then put it anywhere on your body this is sore and wrap and ace bandage around it and IMMEDIATELY you can feel a cooling effect! It's so cool!!

This is a kind of squash - I think it's called chayote in English. My family hates it, but I cook it all the time because it is so easy to grow. The best thing about it is that it's easy to hide in a meal - it takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with! And you can eat the leaves (below)!!

This picture is just to prove that my entire garden is NOT boring green!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Family Happenings

Neo still continues to be the cutest little boy in the world. Here he is with his face covered in Cajeta...which was supposed to be for his banana, but once mommy turned around, he dove right in!!

The girls make us so proud. Here they are helping their Uncle Nick clear rocks out of his potato field. Such hard workers!!

Here is our 'family'. These are the ones we call 'Amay and Inay (mother and father)'. They are our precious co-workers and here they are singing under my bedroom window at 4:30 a.m. on my birthday!!

This is a picture of our whole team (minus the Howells) at a wedding in a village about 6 hours away. Filipino weddings vary as much as American ones. Some are small at held at the home of the bride, some are huge and held in churches. This was one of the latter.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today I'm 31 (gasp!)

Here are 31 things I'm thankful for:

1. Josh
2. Daisy
3. Ally

4. Neo
5. All my family and friends in America
6. All my family and friends in the Philippines
7. My health
8. Money in the bank

9. Food in the cupboards
10. A vehicle
11. The Word of God
12. Salvation
13. My job
14. My house
15. My beautiful co-workers who serenaded me at 4:30 this morn
16. My sister's family and my Grandma who sent over a LOT of chocolate
17. Each day
18. The end of each day
19. Kids who are thriving in school

20. The way Neo makes us laugh every day
21. Emails and skypes from people I love who are far away
22. Filipino food
23. My bed
24. Paquiao our new puppy
25. Flowers
26. Rain

27. Presents
28. The love of God
29. Our supporters
30. The mountains
31. Life

Friday, August 14, 2009

Family Picture

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