Surprise Visit

IMG_0938It’s early morning in your sleepy, tropical village.  The sun rises and glints off the tops of the nearby mountains.  It will be a hot day, but it isn’t yet.

Smoke from your cook fire is winding its way up through the slats of the rough wood wall of your house, finding its way to the sky above.  All around the neighbors are all waking up, too, starting their fires, drinking sugary homegrown coffee, chatting with each other, making plans for the day.

Your family is planning to work in the corn field today.  Since the weather has been so dry this is the perfect time to get lots of work done.  The harvested, threshed, dried and sacked corn will be taken to town.  Hopefully there will be a profit this year.  Hopefully the rains don’t come before it’s done.

The weather is unpredictable.  This is the way it’s always been, as long as you remember.  You’ve lived in this town your whole life, and now that you’re getting older, the younger people are taking over the harder work of the fields.  You still go though, to  help watch the babies, do some of the lighter work, and cook for the rest of the workers.

Today is Saturday, a good day for working.  You gaze out over the road that runs through town.  A few people are getting their motorbikes ready.  Maybe they are going  out to the city.  It will take them a few hours to get there on these dusty roads, but at least it isn’t muddy.  Other gather supplies to go to the field.  The children are playing, the dogs are busily searching for scraps.

Suddenly the dogs start barking.  You know that bark; it means someone new is coming.  What is this?  Two foreign ladies, walking into your village!  They look hot, like they’ve been walking for awhile.

You’ve heard that there are a couple foreign families who have settled into a nearby village, 45 minutes away.  You’re not quite sure why.  You’ve even met the men of the families and caught glimpses of their wives and children at some weddings and funerals.  One of the wives helped you when you were sick but you don’t see her here, just the wife of the other family and a companion.   What can they be doing?  They are so far from home.  They’ve never done this before.

A neighbor calls out to them, “Where are you going?”  They reply, “Just there and now to our home.”  You’re confused.  Why are they going the wrong direction?

Everyone comes out to the road to watch these ladies.  They walk along, talking to each other and laughing.  Other neighbors ask them, “Where are you going?” and some say, “Come have coffee!” They keep answering that it’s ok, they are just going home, but it is obvious that they are going the wrong way.  Have they come to visit someone?  You wonder how long it will take before they figure out that their home is not that way.  They move out of sight.

A few minutes later the dogs start barking again.  You look up to see the two ladies coming back up the road.  Ah, they must have figured it out.  They are laughing but one of them has a bright pink face.  It is strange how pink their faces can get.

You go out to the road to intercept the strange ladies.  “Where are you going?” You greet them this way even though you already know what happened.  They are laughing as they greet you too.  You reach out your hand in greeting and air kiss the lady’s pink cheek.  You feel sorry for them that they got lost, but you still can’t figure out why they are all they way out here, so far from home!

They explain that they made a mistake, that they were walking and had thought this road would lead them home.  To you it is so obvious that this doesn’t go the right direction, but you suppose that for them it isn’t very clear.  You mention that your neighbor will be taking their motorbike through their village if they want to follow them.  They take off, heading in the right direction this time.  You chuckle to yourself.  Hopefully they make it home!  At your age you thought you’d seen it all, but life is full of surprises!

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Catching Up

Happy American Thanksgiving!

This has been an eventful year but you wouldn’t know it by looking at this blog…  🙂

After moving into the village in January we began the long process of building our home.  We had lots of hiccups along the way but are thankfully at the end of it soon and hope to be moving in after Christmas.  Thank the Lord!

We also enjoyed this year of getting to know our new neighbors.  It has been rewarding and challenging as we learn about their culture and make lots of mistakes.  For the most part they have been very welcoming and patient with us.  We’ve picked up only
bits and pieces of their language(s) and plan to get started on language and culture learning soon.

Celebrating Bear’s first birthday with a big party

We just said goodbye to Dennis’ parents yesterday.  They came with a team from Canada who was here for a month helping us with the house.  It was so great to have the team here- a real encouragement to us and a lot of help!  Dennis’ parents stayed for an additional week or so after the team left and we had a wonderful time with them.

The new nurse in town

Our co-workers left this morning for a month long break.  Before she left, Shannon brought me two boxes this morning: one containing various boxes of painkillers like ibuprofen, paracetamol and the like.  The other box contains bandages and wound care items.

I shuddered as I took them; I am no nurse.

She also let me watch her clean up a machete foot wound.  I nobly suppressed the gag reflex and promised to keep my eye on it for a week or so.

Like I said, I don’t even pretend to be a nurse.  I can barely keep it together when my child has a wound.

We didn’t tell anyone in the village that I even had the boxes of medicine, but she gave them to me “just in case”.  I also tried to spread the word this morning that accidental injuries are strictly forbidden for the next month.

Our co-workers had not been gone for five minutes when my first little patient arrived.  Throwing up and diarrhea in an 18 month old toddler, without a fever.  Using my very poor Tagalog, I suggested that the mother increase the times she nurses the baby and wait to see if it passes.

A few hours later I was scrambling some eggs for supper when I saw a group of women that I didn’t recognize coming down the path.  I thought to myself, “I bet they are coming here…”  Sure enough, there was a knock on my door.  One of the ladies was suffering from a headache and had walked, along with her five friends, from the village 30 minutes away for a check-up.  WHAT?  I asked the lady about her other symptoms and when I was satisfied it was only a headache I sold the lady some ibuprofen.

A guy with them asked if we could give him anything for an allergic reaction he was having on his arm.   We said no to that one, not wanting to dive into diagnosis and prescribing on our first day on the job.  Hopefully he’s ok.

After selling a few vitamins and a package of paracetamol to another neighbor, I guess the word is out that the new nurse is in.

Pray for me!!

Presenting… the last 7 months in a nutshell.

Since my last post…

This new little guy (let’s call him the Bear) was born on October 31, 2013…

…and has grown into a chubby, smiley 4 month old boy!

We enjoyed this crowded, city view for 4 months…

…and have now exchanged it for a more rustic one.

In January we finally moved in to our little house in the village, tucked away in a remote corner of the world.

We’re excited to look back and see how God has led us to this point, and look ahead confidently as we know He goes before us too!  We hope to share some of our adventures in our new home and community with you soon.

When the power goes out- an impromtu lesson in trust

Late last night two scared little girls gathered around me in the dark.  Our power went out around 10:30 pm and it was immediately stuffy and hot.  When the power is out we can’t run the pump to have water to flush, wash our hands or bathe.  The girls wandered out of their room, scared because of the dark, the heat and the quiet.

After a day of no power the first week they were here, and after an afternoon of no electricity on Thursday due to a large truck failing to get around a tight corner and taking out a power pole, our girls know what a power outage means-

Rule #1: Don’t put your TP in the toilet.
Rule #2: Don’t flush.
Rule #3: Don’t wash your hands.
Rule #4: Don’t open the fridge.

And the Fact the remains in the forefront of everyone’s mind: IT IS GOING TO BE HOT.

As they clamored for attention I felt myself getting snippy with them- I was sweating and harried, and I didn’t really relish the idea of enduring a hot night myself, especially if it was going to be fraught with interruptions.

Realizing that my own attitude was going to escalate the problem, we sat down to pray.  First, I explained to the girls what a privilege having electricity is, and how many, many, many people go through their lives without it.  I explained how it has only been in the last century and a half that people have gotten used to it, and how for years and years little girls just like them have been sleeping in the Philippines without air conditioning or even fans.

I could tell they were calming down.  I heard Button’s little voice that had been so worried and cross before say cheerfully, “Yes!  People have lived like this for a long time!  It’s ok.”

I reminded the girls of a devotion that we read recently that encouraged us to find something good that God might be doing even when things look bad.

We took turns praying.  Squeaky started off by asking for God’s help to trust Him even when bad things happen.  Button continued, offering up her little voice in petition to God that He would perhaps allow the electricity to come back on but help her trust Him in the meantime.  They both thanked God for all the times we’ve had electricity and didn’t appreciate it enough.

As we finished praying we sat quietly chatting in the dark.  Their voices were more cheerful now and even though the sweat was dripping down my face I felt a tiny breeze float in through the window and as I thanked the Lord for it my spirit was lifted.

Just as I was settling the girls on the living room floor where they’d catch a bit of a breeze the power came back on.  Oh, that moment when the power comes back on.  It brings a huge feeling of tentative relief- tentative because often it will roar to life only to go off again moments later and plunge everything in darkness again.  We collectively held our breath for a moment or two, then sighed with relief as it stayed on.  The girls were cheering and praising God for His answer to prayer.

They bounced off to bed, delighted.  I returned to my room, relishing the cool air drifting down from the noisy air conditioner.  As I climbed into bed I prayed and thanked the Lord for God’s loving hand that allowed the electricity to come back on just as two little girls and one mommy prayed for more faith to trust Him.

I thought of this verse, especially the part that says, “When he calls to me, I will answer him:”

Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.  Psalm 91:14-15

This time His answer was, “Yes, right away.”

Date Night

The evening began at a restaurant where Dennis and I enjoyed an American-style burger and fries, or in Dennis’ case, onion rings.  After that we wandered to the hardware store, where we admired the shiny shelving units that were priced triple the amount that they were at the last store in which we had shopped- in Canada.

After watching a rousing movie during which the baby jumped at every bass noise, we made our way down to the taxi line.  Not wishing to stand behind 40 other people who were already there waiting for the slowly trickling-in taxis, we walked out to the busy street to try to catch something there instead.

We happily joined the crowd on the sidewalk and walked toward the corner to cross the busy street- affectionately referred to by us as “Killer Corner.”  Suddenly our sidewalk was illuminated by bright lights; a cube truck was also inhabiting the path and was slowly moving toward us!  We stepped to one side to allow him to pass but the driver, surely a gentleman of the first degree, motioned for us to shimmy our way past him before he moved.

There were wooden crates stacked along the sidewalk as well, and finding that we only had a small amount of clearance we had to turn sideways to get through the crack between the back of the cube truck and the crates.  Unfortunately, my shirt managed to get caught on a strategically stacked broken crate and a hole ripped open right on the front of me.

Not as discouraged by this turn of events as I was, Dennis convinced me to sling my purse over my other arm to conceal the hole and accompany him to the nearby Chow King for some halo-halo.  As we  crossed Killer Corner I managed to scurry ahead of the gaggle of motorcycles but poor Dennis, who thought I was on his left, was stranded in the middle of the intersection frantically looking around for his wife as the taxis and motorcycles honked their displeasure.

We sat down in the murky air of Chow King to enjoy our ice-cream-less halo-halo (out of stock, ma’am).  I was happily recounting the now hilarious incongruity of ripping my shirt on our date night when suddenly I witnessed a man smacking himself directly into the glass wall of the restaurant near the door, knocking his glasses to the ground and leaving a wet grease-smudge on the window.  He quickly found his glasses and scurried away, deciding that saving face was more honorable at that moment than actually entering the real door of the restaurant and ordering his nightly snack of noodles.

We ended our nice evening out with Dennis trying to board the same taxi twice, only to discover after each failed attempt that there were not one, but two ladies lurking in the shadows inside.

Sweet Reunions

One little perk of living in two or even three locations is that when we move around we usually leave a little box of toys behind.  Now, the leaving behind part is not the perk (just ask my kids), but the finding of the box upon return is wonderful!

This week our girls were reacquainted with a few special things they said goodbye to about 10 months ago.

Miss Muffet was super excited to see her talking photo album from her Easton relatives.

Winnie really wanted to see her “little blue drawers” again and her mouse family.

Button received Elizabeth the cat as a gift from the her doctor when she was hospitalized for dengue.
Squeaky was reunited with her beloved Baby Bear (who is quickly becoming a favorite with Miss Muffet)!