Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Blog # 2 - Update from September 25, 2013

So I will start by saying today is a hard day. So many realities are setting in and its hard to adjust to life here. I want to go back a few days and catch you up to now.
We went to Borocay, with my family, to have a few days away together before they left. When we started out that morning it was raining and yucky weather, but we didn’t think much of it. When we got to the first boat dock and when I say boat, don’t think boat, thing big canoe with riggers! When we got to the first “pumpboat” location it was closed due to the rough water. Maybe we should have taken that as a sign not to try and go, but we didn’t. We found a port that was running boats and we started out. I had no idea we were going on this type of boat. James made it sound like a ferry, so when I saw what was in store I was not happy at all. Added to that we had 5 foot swells because of the rough weather. Later we found out this was Typhoon Odette. Yes!!! We were on the water in an oversized canoe in a typhoon!!

So we made it safely to borocay and on the way there we met a man named, Willie, who helps tourists (I think we stuck out like sore thumbs). He walked us to a nice hotel on the water and helped us get settled. I learned he actually knows the same people we know and is a Christian. Here they say catholic Christian or Baptist Christian. I’m not one for titles, but Baptist Christian is how they would describe me.

We quickly learned that Odette would make our stay interesting, to say the least. However, we came to go to the beach so we did. I kept thinking how much my cousin, Joseph, would have loved it because there were 8-10 ft swells and at one point I decided to swim into one, Bad Idea. I finally came up for air and headed to the shore. Yes!! It is a beautiful beach but I would prefer it not to swallow me whole.

That evening we ate dinner at the red coconut café. Mainly because we had 10% off. We had a great time with our family there including an atv ride to the tallest point and seeing some breathtaking sights. My mom, dad, and shelbi went scuba diving. They loved it, but that sort of thing is not for me.

After two days with our family there we headed back on the pumpboats to caticlan. Caticlan is the nearest town to us (10min away). There we piled into our very small van and headed home to Dumlog (pronounced Dume –a-log). Once we got here we began getting more things in order for the house. James made homemade calamari (posit) and American style spaghetti. Here they make a sweet sauce that I don’t like but I do like it our style. Pastor Leo, Sister anna and their oldest son obed came over and after dinner obed played guitar and we all sat around and sang praise songs. The fact that we have to keep our screeenless windows open is a good thing when Gods word is heard through song all through this neighborhood. We will be getting screens soon but here the landlords don’t pay for anything so as God provides we are making repairs.

The next day, which was Monday, we had to take mom and dad to Kalibo where they would fly to Manila. This was a very heavy day but we all did our very best to make the best of it. Have I mentioned it rains everyday… it just started again as I’m typing this. Thankfully it is about 75 degrees so its not too hot today. So, on Monday we went to visit the children at the Mustard Seed school (where the ati orphans and more ati go) so that my family could say bye. Shelbi made so many friends with the children here. Every afternoon our house is packed with kids and yesterday they all asked about shelbi. After we visited the school we headed out to Kalibo on a greyhound style bus. The drive should take about an hour, but it takes about two because of the roads and other traffic or animals that decide to be in the road. (dogs, cows, goats, oxen, carimou-oxen/cow) I got a little car sick but I was thankful sam and Lydia napped on the bus. Once we got there we got on two trikes (motorcylces with side carts that hold up to 6 people) and headed to the aiport to drop off their luggage. From there we went to an appliance store to by a single point/tankless water heater. This will go in one of our showers so we can have hot water to shower!!! I’m super ready for that. We also got a lid for one of our toilets. It’s not common here to have tops/lids for the toilet. Then we went to this mall style store to pick up some things we can’t get locally. Silverware, plastic bins and some plastic shelves as well as a few water bottles for the kids. After that we headed to McDonald’s for a farewell dinner. Yes!! It tastes the same, the kids loved it. Saying bye to my family was so super hard. I bawled and was sort of strong until they were out of sight, then I lost it. Having them here was so good for the beginning but man I miss them terribly. On the busride home we all cried and sat pretty quietly.

Once we were home we went straight to bed. It gets dark here around 6pm so typical bedtime is by 8pm and we are up by 6am because the sun rises at 5:30am and the roosters start crowing. Have I mentioned the bugs that fill this house. UGH!! Just sitting here typing I’m killing aunts that are constantly appearing.

So Tuesday morning we headed to Caticlan for a few more things for the house and on our way home we stopped by Rick and Kim’s house (the missionaries we’ve joined here) to ask their housemaid to pick up sam’s teddy bear from the hotel in borocay because she lives there. Upon leaving there I noticed they have coconut trees in their front yard. I’m going to get Robin (their 8 yr old daughter) to help me get one and show me how to eat it very soon.

So we spent yesterday getting things organized here and I made some curtains for our house. Pastor Leo, Sister Anna, Obed, and Jesse (their sons) came over last night and obed played guitar and we all sang with the windows wide open. At the end a brown out (black out at home)started. We held a very neat evening prayer in complete darkness. The presence of the Lord is felt so strongly, especially when all distractions are removed, including the lights. After they left we all piled into my bedroom where we have an extra mattress on the floor and opened all the windows and tried to sleep. It made me very thankful that we have air con ( that’s what they say here) in our rooms for sleeping. Around 10pm (after five hours of it being off) the electricity came back on. At that point I shut windows and we were able to sleep comfortably until the roosters woke us around 5:30am.

This morning was a harder morning than any others yet. Im missing home and my family pretty bad. James and I have been reading 1 Peter at night and it sure helps to keep the truth flowing because the enemy is working overtime to keep me down. Lydia had a breakdown last night that broke my heart. I think the outage had her scared but she made it very clear she wanted to go home. I cried with her and James and I prayed over her. So far today I have studied for my bible study I will lead with the girls tonight. Im excited to finally start doing something involved with the ministry. However, I know my own front yard has a lot of ministry right there, and everywhere I go. I just mean I’m ready to get to know the ati girls and love on the orphans. Currently Sam is napping and Lydia, Daniel, Tin Tin (Christine-mercy’s daughter) and Darrell are about to watch some veggie tales. It’s 2:00 in the afternoon and james is at a meeting with the pastors. Mercy is cooking up some lumpia for dinner (like egg rolls) and I’m about to help her make our food list for the rest of the week. She and her daughter are going to town with us after james gets back so we can buy her some new glasses! She is so excited to have new reading glasses. It costs her 150 pesos which is about $3. We are blessed to be able to bless her.

Please continue to pray for us. Adjusting to life here is hard. Everything is different and sometimes very uncomfortable. However, We Know and can See all the areas God has called us to and we know there are more we cannot see. I hope to write more often than this but until next time, may God bless you and may you see things through His eyes and take time to see Him at work.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beginning in the Philippines Sept. 18, 2013

So we boarded the plane in Houston and had the entire middle row (5 seats) and 2 by the window all on the same row! the seats had lots of space in front so the kids napped on the floor and laid out on the seats. it was an 8 hr flight to Honolulu and we changed planes there then headed out to guam. the kids slept for around 3 hrs on the first flight and for about 4 hours on the next one. the flight from Hawaii to guam was 8 hrs. in guam we changed to another plane and flew for 4 hours to manila. by the time we landed we were so exhausted. we met up with james and he had a van and a hired driver waiting for us. we had ourselves plus 11 suitcases and 15 carry ons in a very small 8 person van (it was a sight) we went to a cargo place to send our big bags via cargo style and we went on to the hotel while james finished that.

I was kinda nervous to be there without him but the driver was great and we got there quickly. while I got our kids bathed my mom, dad, and shel walked to get pizza hut ;) it was a sweet tasting sauce and very very thin crust, I loved it.  after we ate we went straight to bed because it was 12am and we had to leave out by 5am.

the next morning our same driver was there at 5 and we headed back to the airport. going through customs was so easy. I think they were scared of james ;) before we boarded in manila I saw a big sign that said MASSAGE and almost ran for the door. I only had 30min, but a 30min massage was $10. I could've used 6 hours of a massage but 30 min was better than nothing. so we boarded the plane which was 6 seats on each isle. we were sort of split up but people were so kind to move so we could sit together.

once we got to kalibo I really felt like I was finally in a foreign country. and it was HOT and HUMID. we had to walk on the tarmat. there we had another driver in a smaller van but we still fit all of us and all of our luggage and headed out on the 2 hr drive to malay.

when we arrived at the house, I'm pretty sure I was in shock. I looked at james a few times and asked to go home. he assured me I would get used to it. I'm still trusting God to help me with all this. I was shocked because this in nothing like I excpected. we live in a sort of gated community thing, like a burrow called dumlog. there are houses all around us. mostly bamboo with leaf roofs but some homes like ours (cement walls and tin roof) there are people everywhere and lots of kids. woman with the children and men stick to themselves. they dry the rice on the side of the road then have it processed. they dry coconut shells for coconut oil on the road too.

so once we got here we had chicken Joy (fried chicken) and rice along with this vegetable mix that's spicy but awesome! we have a five gallon water cooler that we have drinking water in and james had sweet tea made!! after lunch we made beds to rest but I was not able to rest, just ready to go!!james and Lydia took a trike (motorcycle with a side car that can hold 6 people) to kim's house to borrow the truck. when they got back dad, james, and I went into Caticlan (10min away) to exchange our money so we could buy our car. well the pawn place didn't have enough so we had to go back today. before heading back we got some cookies(chocolate), biscuits (sweet), and cheese rolls which taste like a cinnamon croissant.once we got back the local kids were through with their school day and Daniel was out playing football and basketball with them.  kim and robyn came over that evening to say hi but we all actually went to their house to go walk on the beach. there I had a few seconds of wifi. that night we ate leftovers and passed out on our 6 inch memory foam (stiff) mattresses.

the next morning, which is today, we got up and I made scrambled eggs with we ate with our cheese rolls. after that we went to the mustard seed school where all the kids say HI UNCLE JAMES!! they light up when they see him. they were pretty shy but I hope to get to know them quickly. after that we saw the church and upstairs where some girls(about 15-20) ages 4-15 sleep. they have either cardboard or a thin rug to sleep on. it made my heart just melt. I wish I could bring them all here. we met some of the moms who cook for the kids in what they call a kitchen. its an outdoor fire and a table. they were so friendly and everyone calls Lydia a doll. they say she looks like Barbie dolls (which I think is awesome because they say she looks like me). after that we went to caticlan to exchange our money. $5,000 is 215,000 pesos. we were rich for 10 minutes, then we bought our van! it seats 5 people but the back is open but closed in and tonight after church we fit 10 kids in the back. im pretty sure we can fit 25 people in our five seater van!!! Daniel is the size of the 11 yr olds and Lydia is the size of the 8 year olds and sam is the size of the 4 year olds. they call them dan dan, lydi, and sam sam. I'm auntie Ashley, which I love! after we bought our van we also bought our sectional and a water cooler which we had deliverd. when we got home mercy (our amazing God sent!!) had pork steak with onions and fried rice. OH MY it was so good!!! not sure im going to lose any weight but who cares! after lunch we napped a little and mom and I unpacked a little. we all share one wardrobe it has 5 shelves (we each get one shelf) and a place to hang a few things. I am going to give so much of what we brought away. we don't need near what we brought and they need way more than I can give. sister anna came over to visit and we sat on the front porch where she played my guitar and we sang praise music. this is about the time the kids get out of school so they began to trickle over. before I knew it there were like 10 kids in here with Lydia, coloring and playing barbies as well as about 20 kids playing ball with Daniel. well you know where I headed!! baseball was sure to break the ice and it did. before we had to get cleaned up for church I bought 3 kilos of rombaton (a sweet fruit) for 60 pesos and gave all the kids some for a snack. (40 pesos = $1) oh did I mention it rains off and on all day??? it does!!!

then we went to church at 6pm. there is where we finally met the ati. oh my goodness. they are the most beautiful, skinny, dark haired kids you've ever seen and they were singing praise songs and giving God praise for everything He has given them, which is nothing material at all. the boys got to go with uncle james for their message and i'll start with the girls next week. after the message we had a circle prayer time. I can only understand a little of what they say. sometimes they translate themselves but not much. after the service was over mom and shel helped hand out these corn muffin things. I could only think that that was all they had for dinner and we had a huge pot of food on the stove. I want to give all I have away. I see things so differently already, and they are so grateful. once we left there and drove some kids home we headed back here for dinner, supas (like chicken noodle soup) but made with pork. then we bathed, sam and Lydia took a warm bath in a basin. james boiled some water to make it warm because there Is no hot water. then we put them down and james and I visited about some stuff and now im headed to bed.