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!

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.

Surprises

So, the last time we sent out a ministry related email update (if you don’t get it and want to, email us at dennis_easton@ntm.org) we tried to outline what the next few months or so were going to look like as we prepared to move into the Ga’dang village.  
Originally we had thought we’d be in Manila for only a month and then would make our way to the village via helicopter.  Dennis would be taking several trips in June to prepare our little borrowed two bedroom house and arrange to get some of our belongings to be brought in while the road to the village is still passable (aka, not muddy).
We’ve been learning the importance of holding our plans with open hands.  Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  About two weeks after we arrived in Manila we were told that our mission pilot found a major engine repair that needs to be done on the helicopter that we were planning to use to fly in and out of the village.  The helicopter will be down for approximately 2-3 months for these repairs. 
The only way to get into the village right now is to fly 1 hour from Manila to a city up north.  From there it is another hour to a small town and yet another hour down a very windy, mountainous, partially paved road to “The Waiting Shed,” a little shelter built in the corner of a cornfield that marks the trailhead going into the village where we are going.  From there it is a 10 km hike up and down several large hills to reach the village.  The trail is often washed out and muddy- impassable by vehicles for most of the year.
What does this mean for us?  Dennis has still been able to go in and out of the village twice this past month using this method.  He and our co-worker, Chuck, were also able to get quite a few supplies and some of our larger household goods most of the way in on a truck before the rains came.  They were able to get started on some of the house repairs and other projects that needed to happen before our families move back in, and plan to make more trips in the future.
Although we hiked in to the village as a family back in 2010, we’ve decided that we will not be doing so again in the next few months.  We are expecting a baby to join our family in October and will be waiting mainly in Manila for his or her arrival.  (Can you imagine the shock waves in our home if this baby is a boy!?)

Dennis and his princesses.  Will there be a prince in the future?

All of this has thrown us back on trusting the Lord’s timing and direction.  It is interesting to note that the helicopter situation was not known until after we got here, further verifying to us that for some reason the Lord is giving us several months to slow down and wait.  Please be praying with us that this time would be useful and that the Lord would use it to grow us up in Him as we prepare for what He has in store for us.

Get used to disappointment…

I had two things I wanted to do this week while Dennis is up north checking out our home in the village.  Dentist visits for the girls, and a doctor’s appointment for me.

Dennis and I have this joke.  He says that if I lower my expectations until they are already met then I won’t ever be disappointed.  Sounds like a phlegmatic thing to say, doesn’t it?  It works, but it is also boring.

However, I’m considering taking Dennis’ advice again.

Twice now I’ve tried to get my kids in to the dentist and have failed.  I started by going to the office to figure out the procedure for getting in.  I was told the dentist’s hours start at 10:30 am every day, but they only take walk-ins.  Ok.  Sure.

So, two days ago, at 10 am we showed up. “Sorry, the dentist won’t be here until 1 pm, ma’am.  But normally the dentist arrives at 10:30 every day.”  Having kids that were tired and hungry, I decided to just go home.

This morning I was smart and called ahead at 10 am, just to be sure.  “Yes ma’am.  We don’t make appointments, but the dentist might come at 11:30.  You must come to the office at 11 because it is first come, first serve.  Today, ma’am, maybe the dentist will get here by 1 pm.  But if you come at 11 then you will be first on the list.”

Two hours early just so I hopefully will be first in the queue?  There’s got to be a better way.

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment, just for me.  I had called ahead on Monday and scheduled it.  “Yes, we have you down for 2:30 on Wed.”

I get my kids watched so that I can go.  In a taxi at 1:30, fighting heavy traffic the whole way there, I arrive at 2:15 at the doctor’s office.  “Oh!  Valerie Easton!  I’m so sorry, but the doctor is at a convention today.”  At least I could enjoy the air conditioning in the taxis there and back again.

So, if I followed Dennis’ advice I guess I would just never make an appointment, or maybe just expect that it won’t happen the way I want it to?

Things I like about the Philippines, #12

Wow, so it has been awhile- but I’m not without a really great excuse!  🙂  My mom came over from the U.S. and visited us for a month.  We had so much fun showing her around the Philippines.  It was delightful to watch her take it all in.  She was such a good sport and let us drag her all over the place.  We went to malls, parks, historical places, restaurants and the beach.  She got to ride in a jeepney a few times and loved it.
Here are some pictures of the fun things we did here in the Philippines and of her enjoying a few of my favorite things that I’ve already blogged about.

 Checking out the rice delicacies:

Enjoying biko- my favorite!

Trying out halo-halo:

Visiting beautiful and historic Intramuros:

The beach!

Checking out Greenhills market:

And saying goodbye (not my favorite thing!) with a big hug after a wonderful, fun-filled month: