Friday, May 16, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Read Part One, click here.
Previously: "Upon our arrival to LTO we were told to go to one location. Well, that was the wrong one, so we walked 5 blocks to the correct location. Once there, we realized there was a dress code and we were not dressed to meet the requirements."
Thankfully we were carrying our luggage because we were returning that night to Caticlan on the boat. In our bags I had capris and closed toe shoes and a decent dress shirt. So after putting those clothes on over my other ones, they let us in. I’m sure I was a laughing matter for all them, but I didn’t care, I was on a mission.
Ana and I started in one office then were directed to 3 more at that location before finally getting the right person we needed to see. Well, when we got to his office, it was lunch hour so we had to wait. We went and got lunch ourselves and I was so hot I just DE-layered my clothing as we were walking to lunch. Once again, I’m sure I turned some heads, but oh well!
After lunch we went to the office we were directed to previously and learned it was not the right place. We walked 6 blocks to the correct building and in there we were able to get the info we needed! Turns out it was all the same info we had that morning so we decided to return to the location 6 blocks back to file a claim. Once we waited for our turn there we learned we had to do this process in a certain order, meaning we had to go to the cab operator and start there before making a claim. The man there said if security does not let you through then get a police officer, we have rights!
With official papers in hand we set out back to where we started that morning. At this point it is 4pm and our bus was leaving at 5pm. There was no way we were going to make it, but we had come too far to give up so we just decided we would go change our ticket and leave the next day. But first, we had a cab operator to see. We chose to travel via subway and then jeepney this time!
Upon returning to the exact location we started at that morning, we were able to finally talk to the operator. Once she learned we were downstairs, she was very kind to meet us and begin trying to track the driver down. Also my phrases like “we are going to file a claim”and “I am going to the police” lit a little fire under her tail and she got things rolling.
The driver and his info could not be found, but she was going to the main office at 4am the next day and invited us to go along. After giving her my contact info we set out to the main office to change our boat ticket. After taking another jeepney to our location were learned that we actually had to go the the North Pier (20min away) to change our ticket. So once again, here we go. (jeepney, then cab) We were able to get the ticket changed for p880 which translates to about 20 American dollars, but there were no tickets available for the next day (Friday) so we had to schedule for Saturday instead.
At this point its 8 pm and we are exhausted and hungry. On our way out of the pier I saw an elderly woman and her small granddaughter carrying a bag. It was heavy so they carried it about 5 feet stopped, and carried again. Each time stopping after five feet. Well I gave Ana my bag and asked the lady if I could carry it for her. She said yes and I followed her to her location and set it down. When I did she said thank you and her granddaughter did to. My reply was, your are very welcome and God bless you. When I turned to leave 3 men and a lady sitting there said “thank you for helping her. She is from an outcast tribe and nobody helps their kind, ever” and I said “well I don’t look at the outside, I look within like my Lord” and they said “ so you are a Christian” and I said “yes, born again (this is what they call us here)” and the lady said “you have made a difference in her life today” and to that I just said thank you and walked off. I never, for one second, thought not to carry that bag.
I’m thankful for moments like these in the midst of utter chaos when God reminds me that it’s all about HIM. After all, we were really getting somewhere with the pink bag situation and all I could do is give Him praise.
That night Ana and I stayed with her sister and the next morning we all set out at 4am to go meet this driver. We road with the operator, Josie, out to the location which was about one hour away. When we arrived we were instructed to just sit and wait for Peter to show up (the driver). Well 6am rolled around and no Peter. At that point Ana sister chimed in to get things moving. Finally, Josie came up with Peter’s info and we got him on the phone and he came down to the office. It took him two hours to get there so we went and had some pancakes for breakfast first. When Peter arrived the Josie asked if he recognized me. He said he did and I then I said we left a bag in your cab a few days back and to that he said, yes, a pink bag. So immediately I knew he had seen it.
Then he began to trail off on how he had not seen it and had no idea. Well at that point my friend Ana chimed in. Now I have never seen her so adamant about anything, but this had already been a long few days and we were tired of the run around. The man continued to stick to his story until Ana mentioned we were going to the police. Peter still wanted to help us “track” down the bag. As this discussion was taking place between he and Ana (of which I only could understand a little because they were speaking Tagalog) I began to pray.
I prayed for truth and clarity. I prayed for complete brokenness for Peter. After about ten minutes of Ana pressing the issue with him he finally broke. He admitted that he had the bag and had the Kindles! Yall, I began to cry. Literally crying in front of everyone and saying, "Thank You Jesus," out loud. I mean a HUGE prayer had been answered. The impossible was possible. The Lord answered our prayers and we got the Kindles back.
Now I know to most of you this may seem silly, but to us this was huge. My children were on their knees about this issue and God came through. Did He have to, no. But, He did and for that I am so thankful. My kids at six, four, and two years of age got to experience their God are such a big way!!!
Thankfully through all our adventures and trials Ana and I made it back home in the early hours of Sunday morning with Kindles in hand. The pink bag stayed with her sister because her niece needed a back pack for school! God is so good!! Even if we had not gotten the Kindles back, God is still good, but this time our faith was so very strengthen and we praise His name and His alone.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
I am totally going against what I had planned, but I have been so behind on blogging that I have no choice but to catch up this way. I am going to write about recent events and if I ever get the chance I will fill you in on the days of typhoon Yolanda and our Christmas here. I will make sure and set aside time to write about them, but for now I have another exciting adventure to tell you about.
Dec. 30th I met mom, Kari, and my kids in Manila because they were coming here to stay. Upon leaving Manila we left a pink backpack in the back of the taxi that drove us to the airport. Normally I would just take it as a loss, but inside the bag was my kids 3 Kindles, which they received from their Nana before moving here. Now, again, don’t get me wrong: know it’s only material possessions,but I feel my kids have made so many sacrifices that them having to give up, yet another, favorite thing did not set well with me.
Immediately upon realizing we left the bags I contacted the hotel where we had stayed to see if they could help me. Turns out they had a video of the cab and were able to give me the company and license plate number. I asked them if they could contact the cab company for me since we were about to board a plane and I would call them that evening. They very graciously agreed and were so helpful. Well, that evening when I called back they had not been able to locate the cab company and the next three days were holidays; chances of reaching anyone were slim.
During the days to follow, Mom and Kari were here, so I was distracted with that, but the loss of the bag still did not sit well with me. After they left which was on Jan 3rd, I began to make regular phone calls and search the internet as much as possible. I kept getting a complete run around soter talking to James we decided I would go to manila and try to track this bag down. Now, keep in mind, manila is the size of NYC but it’s much bigger as far as land mass. Therefore my search would not be easy, but something inside me knew it would all work out. After all, the kids and I had been praying to find that bag from the day we lost it.
On Tuesday, Jan 7th, we bought 2 boat tickets my friend, Ana and myself. On Jan 8th, at 6am she and I set out for our "getting the bag back” journey. The boat ride (like a very small cruise ship) is 8 hours, which allowed us time to visit and rest.
Upon our arrival in Manila we went straight to the Best Western Hotel and got some more info on how to find this company. Also, on the way, our cab driver was a great help. Ana talked to him about our situation and he took our name and number. Sometime later that night he saw a cab from the company we were looking for; he followed it and got the name and address of the company and text us. By Wednesday night we had all the info we needed. The next morning I called the number and the lady said that was the wrong number. So we decided to go to the address, but the security guards would not let us into the residents.
At 8 am on Thursday morning we were already stumped. That’s when we went to see Ana’s family and in the meantime James found the info for LTO (some transportation office) where we needed to go and file a claim. After seeing Ana’s family (which she had not seen in 2 years, some people even 10 years) Ana, myself, and her sister set out to go to LTO. Instead of using taxi’s they introduced me to the very best and cheapest Filipino types of transportation.
First, we rode in a Jeepney. This is a stretch Jeep. It’s covered top, but open along the sides and it really only seats 12, but in the Philippines they literally fit 30. Then we had to take a trike. This is a motorcycle with an attached space for passengers. You can fit about 8 people. Then we took a bus (finally something familiar).
Upon our arrival to LTO we were told to go to one location. Well, that was the wrong one, so we walked 5 blocks to the correct location. Once there, we realized there was a dress code and we were not dressed to meet the requirements.
Check back tomorrow to find out if Ashley and Ana can figure out how to meet the required dress code.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Let me start by saying this may be the most confusing blog I post, but just go with me on this heart journey for a minute and I pray you can remember back to what you read if you ever face something like this.
So, our friend, Lora, asked us if we want to go hiking to these beautiful water falls. She said it was about a three hour hike. We said, yes, we would like to do that. So on this particular day our house helper, Mercy, watched the kids and we left to go hike around 7:30am.
Days before the hike, I was really struggling with letting go and also facing some of my past giants. Now you see I am not dwelling in the past, but I had recently had some dreams that truly rocked me to the core. See the enemy cannot tempt me and I give in when I’m awake, but in my dreams things take place like they used to in my past and it sets me back. James and I spent many hours praying over me and these issues leading up to this day of the hike.
The morning of the hike I was feeling emotionally defeated and even drowning spiritually. When we started out on the hike James had the back pack. In it we had sandwiches for lunch and plenty of water for the hike. As we began our walk it was ok. Starting out there was some incline as we began to climb the first mountain, but it wasn’t bad at all. We got to this little resort place about 20 min into the hike. WE just looked around and kept going. It was really beautiful there. We crossed over the shallow river on a bamboo bridge then walked a few steps in the water to finish the walk across. The water was cold which felt great and it was as clear as can be. This water started in the mountain we were going to that day.
We had about 15 people on the hike that day. Our friends Evan and Lora (Evan’s 8 friends) her sister, Ivy and nephew, and James and I. The crowd thinned out pretty quickly, meaning the slower ones (us) we at the back. One of the guides stayed with us to keep us safe. I was not sure why until we got further into the hike. So about 30min after the resort stop, I began to become very tired. This hike was a major deal. I was under the impression it would be like 1.5 hours there and 1.5 hours back but NO, its 3 hrs there and 3 hrs back. Now I haven’t even taken a 3 hr walk lately, let alone a 3 hour mountain hike. This was serious business and I was in no way prepared for this.
As we set out on mountain top #4 I was done. James was really done. I had already gotten the back pack from him because he was near passing out. At each step I began to call on the Lord for help. I wanted to finish, I wanted to see what I set out to see. I wanted to reach the goal, but the climb was, at times, just too much. As I sat to rest at one point (on a fallen bamboo branch) the guide gave me a stick. He said it’s like a third leg, it will help. I had some water and we started out again.
AS we were going I began to realize that this hike was a lot like my spiritual journey. See I have a goal in mind, something I really want to make it to see, and that is Heaven. I want to complete this journey here yet it’s such a hard thing sometimes. Just like the hike, there are days of immense uphill battle. Some days we need an extra hand, some days we need to just sit because it’s just too much. One thing I loved was my ‘extra leg’ I had on our hike. To me that was God. He was the thing I should hold on to for all my strength. Lean on Him, my always there, solid rock. At one point on the hike I asked James to walk beside me so he could catch me if I fell. He said “no, if you fall I’ll go down with you.”
Now that spoke so many things to my heart:
1 - he was not going to be there for me.
2 - he was right, we were both so weak that he couldn’t help me.
3 - sometimes we only have us and God, not someone else.
At first I was upset with James, but in the spiritual realm of all this I felt God saying “me, all you need is me.” See I am one to look to others for help and advice so many times and in that I neglect the Wonderful Counselor. He has everything I need; I just have to take the time to tap into my own resource.
Into the hike I began to slip and fall a few times. Every time I slipped it was on a downhill part. I was so thankful for the downhill times, but they soon became something I seriously had to be alert in. See in our spiritual walks we tend to relax in the easy times, the season of downhill. But it is there, when the enemy can sneak in and cause you to fall before you even know what is happening. At those times it hurts, it surprises you, and then getting up is painful but keeping on is even more painful because there is now a bruise. Well we then have a choice, keep going or just quit and turn around. Fight through to the end with pain or go home defeated. Man, I wanted to turn around but NO, I came to see the falls and I was not going home until I did. I have one goal in mind…. Being in heaven with the Lord and giving Him all the Glory while I’m here on earth. I fail so badly, I fall, I am caught off guard, I AM A SINNER, but I am a child of the one true King. He loves me, He adores me, and Heforgives me and most of all HE never never leaves me. When every one else moves on ahead, goes home, gives up, or just says no, God says “I’m here.”
So after a terrible yet amazing journey we finally reached the falls!!! Along the way were some amazing views and treacherous inclines along with a few falls, but we finally made it!!! It was so beautiful. It was amazing to see what our God created with only his words. Only His words… think on that. I thought of that song Redeemer…"Who taught the sun, where to stand in the morning. And who told the ocean, you can only come this far. And who showed the moon where to hide til evening, whose words alone can catch a falling star?” I mean really, and to think I doubt Him. To think I doubt His love and provision for me. He created me/you in His image. He sent His son to die to save us. The greatest love of all was poured out for us, and yet, I complain about the journey. Oh Lord, please forgive me. Please!
So after an hour of resting and eating it was time to go back home. Now understand, I’m still exhausted but somewhat rejuvenated. However I just wanted to stay here at the falls forever. I did not want to leave this beautiful place and face the walk back. Much like say church camp, a retreat, an awesome worship service, those things where we feel so alive and so close to the Lord, don’t we want to just stay there forever. I believe these things are a taste of eternity which in turn keeps us going until eternity. And because of that simple taste we choose to press on. Press on toward the Goal. To run the race, to discipline ourselves to be used for His Kingdom Glory.
Well no more than 10 minutes into the hike down, a bamboo bridge rail broke and I fell. I leaned on it for support and it broke. I fell about 10 feet down the mountainside. A tree broke my fall. As soon I quit moving a just sat there. My friend screamed my name and the guides were there to pull me out right away. I had lots of cuts and bruises now. I mean real blood, but it was time to keep going. So as we continued my hands began to constrict. I could no longer grip my stick. I had lost the strength in my hands and I the fall had done some very real, damage to my right hand. Even today I am still having pain. So instead of a stick, I had a man named Kalaful who helped me up and down all the rest of the hike. See to me, in the thick, terrible, life shattering events, sometimes we get a Jesus in skin. A person in the flesh, sent to be a Jesus in skin for us. And let me tell you, I needed Kalaful for every step of the journey back. In my spiritual life I could list you a hundred Jesus in skin moments I’ve had. Each one, in each season has been a turning point to help me make it through. I am so thankful God loves me so much that He sends a friend, a word, a song, anything HE knows I need at just the right moment. He loves me that much!!!!
The walk back was just as bad as the walk up but once we reached our car I truly broke down because of the pain I was in. I mean, I cried. I let it all out and I went straight home for a shower and bed. AS I laid down that night all the spiritual aspects came over me. I thought of that song The Climb “there’s always gonna be another mountain, but it’s not about how fast we get there, it’s the climb.” There is so much truth to that. Don’t miss the journey and the lesson God has for me and you, just because the climb is too much. WE were placed on this earth, during this season for a purpose. We have a choice. WE can follow Him on His path for us or we can choose our own. His path ultimately leads home, heaven, eternity with no pain, no loss, no tears, no anything that hurts me now. My path leads to hell. Simple as that. And although this world is hard and the journey is some days terrible, this is truly the only hell I’ll ever know. Because on some glorious day, He will call me home where I will sing with the angels and the saints around His throne!!!
Today, in the Philippines, it is 3 days until Christmas. The first Christmas I’ve not been home for. I have spent many hours in tears for being homesick. My friends hear me. I miss my family and friends back in the USA, but THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME!!! I’m longing for Glory. I’m longing for no more sin struggles, no more hurting souls, no more starving children, no more hurtful words, no more no more no more.
So today I choose a verse in 1 Cor. I choose to discipline my body, soul, for the race ahead. I am going to win the prize, I am. And I will face all things, I will learn in all things, and I will give God all the praise and Glory for each circumstance. The good and the bad. The times when it hurts to breath and the times of awe when my breath is taken away. I bless your name, I bless your name, I give you honor, I give you praise. You are the life, the truth, the way. I bless your name, I bless your name (a song by Selah).
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Praise be to the creator of all things, Glory to God in the Highest.