Thursday, January 31, 2008

Be Blessed!

I pray that you will be blessed by these two friends from Kakabay.


video



Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Things NOT to Pack

Sunday, I was hoping to make a short ice fishing escapade with the kids at the pond in the neighborhood. After lunch I went over and checked the ice. Unfortunately, while some areas were good, others were not. If it was just me I would have gone for it, but with the kids out running around it did not seem like a wise decision. Another favorite lake in the area had similar conditions. Since then the temperatures have been too high. Add in the wind and rain and I would be surprised if either is still completely covered.

Anyway, after coming back, there were a number of things I thought of that would not be getting packed with the luggage when we finally get to leave for Bontoc. So here is a sampling...




There may be more later, but since the snow has melted to slop now it wouldn't make such a nice wintry backdrop. (Although since I initiated this entry a couple hours ago, the thundershower we had earlier has transformed to a light snow and everything is once again white - as it should be.)

For those friends who have rarely, if ever, experienced snow you may not know what some of these items are. So for your benefit, from top to bottom:

  • Ice Auger - used to make a hole in the ice so you can stand on the ice looking into a hole watching for something to happen to your bobber. If you can't understand fishing, you'll never understand ice fishing.
  • Snow Shovel - designed as much for scraping and pushing the snow as for heaving it.
  • Snow Brush - once you dig the snow out of your driveway, you can then begin to brush the snow and scrape the ice from your windshield. Credit cards are often used as a substitute. This generally wreaks havoc on your credit card, which in turn helps your financial situation.
  • Cross-Country Skis - skis designed for going for a walk, of sorts, over the snow. They are a great way to explore the fields and woods when there is a fresh blanket of snow.
  • Sorel boots - the boots I have found to be the best blend of comfort, warmth, and economy. Playing outside is not fun when you are cold.

I am still holding out hope for an ice fishing excursion. A few years ago, my Dad and I took my kids and my sister's kids out on the pond in our neighborhood. It was a lot of fun. Maybe if we get the chance again before winter is over, we will actually catch something. (While it is always fun to do so, fishing is not about catching fish!)

Grace,

Tom

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What We Have Learned

Thomas and I sat down to write what the most important thing we had learned without any knowledge of what the other was thinking. We did this for Adriana's birthday book. Here's what we wrote:

The most important thing I have learned is I am deeply loved by my Heavenly Father. His love is not dependent on what I do or don't do. His love is not only unconditional, it is eternal. He loves me because I am His child.
Lisa

Probably the most important thing I have learned in my life is that God loves me. He loves me the way I am, not just for who He desires me to become. He loves the way I talk. He loves the way I think. He enjoys the silly songs and the most beautiful of my artwork. He is eager to hear what is on my heart, even when it is not all good and pure. He loved me for who I have been and He loves me for who I am. But He loves me so much that He will not leave me the way I am now; He sees who I can become.
Thomas

I share these because it is our heart that everyone know this. Yes, our 13-year-old and all our other daughters too. But if you were to ask me what my heart for our ministry in the Philippines was it would be this message of God's love. So many are trying to appease the gods. In their fear, they offer various sacrifices. Many others, even in their worship of the true God, are caught up in a religion of works constantly striving to earn rather than accepting the gift God offers. This too seems motivated by fear. Our prayer is that all would be released from this bondage...



Sunday, January 27, 2008

School Days


This week was especially interesting as our science studies involved some subjects the girls had been able to experience in our last year of travels. The first was geysers. In our time at Yellowstone, we wandered around taking in the sights while waiting for the next anticipated display of Old Faithful. We were able to see spouters, fumaroles, hot pools, and mud pots, before experiencing the famous geyser. In the Philippines, we enjoyed a few hot springs. The first I still chuckle when I think of the time spent on the jeepney then walking through the village to get to this tourist attraction. The only place I remember being bold enough to post a higher fee for foreigners. It wasn't all we were expecting but as we hadn't had hot showers, it sure was nice to relax in a big warm bathtub.









Later in the week we did some experiments about soil erosion. We got to create our own terraces, proving that is the best way to control erosion. Of course, in the Philippines we saw many rice terraces, and walked along the terrace walls (well most of the time, I do remember one small detour). It is not all the time you get to experience school like this. But we always say "Life is school and school is life."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Where in the World!

In case you wondered where in the world we are eager to go, we thought we would help you find where Bontoc is in the world. You can click on the maps to get a better view. It is about a 6 hour drive from Baguio; there are no straight roads in the mountains.

Grace,
Tom

Life Goes On

While it is difficult to be here, when we are wanting to be in the Philippines, we believe God has something here for us while we wait. Thomas has put his application in to work the spring outage at the nuclear plant. This would mean working many hours for about a month. We are hoping to earn enough to cover our travel and visa expenses. We also signed up Annalise, Alayna, and Alexie for soccer, volunteering to coach. Me heading up Annalise's kindergarten team and Thomas the Keepsake team he has coached for the last 4 years. Our Garden of Grace Girls Academy has been busy with hopes of completing the year's coursework before we get on the airplane.

Lisa

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lisa's Top-ten List

  1. God, He is the solid foundation of my life and my hope
  2. Thomas, God's greatest gift on earth to me
  3. Adriana, Alexie, Alayna, and Annalise, gave me the career I'd always dreamed of-motherhood, each is so special to me
  4. Time with loved ones, I enjoy sharing my life with others
  5. Photographs capturing all the memories on the journey of life
  6. Home is the place I like best
  7. Sunshine, golden warm rays always make me feel happier
  8. A hot shower and a good night's sleep, so relaxing and refreshing
  9. Snuggling under a blanket with a good book
  10. Music, songs are like stories- I can sing along, they remind me of important truths and special memories.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

13 years ago, God blessed Thomas with the best birthday present ever, Adriana Kaylie. Today she went on a date with the only man allowed...her daddy. They got all dressed up, he even put on a tie for the special occasion, and went to a nice restaurant. While there, he surprised her with a gift of a necklace we had specially designed for her. Afterwards we had a surprise party for her at her grandparents' home. She loved the birthday book. Thanks to all of you who took the time to write her a note, it is a keepsake she is sure to cherish.

So today is a big milestone in our house...we are now parents of a teenager!

Lisa

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Teddy Bear Tea


The fun of kindergarten, my very favorite grade to teach! Annalise and I have been enjoying school with a bear theme for the last two weeks. We've read many bear books, written about bears, used bears for math (the favorite lesson being graphing gummy bears for obvious perks), and did various bear art projects. We ended our bear theme with a teddy bear tea. We even made invitations for the rest of the family so they could share in the fun. So Annalise was the first to bake in our new oven and the results were yummy brownies!
Lisa

Friday, January 18, 2008

Baking 101

Yesterday, Annalise boldly proclaimed "I'm ready to go. Let's pack up." We share her eagerness to return to the Philippines. There is a wee bit more involved than a 5-year-old thinks though!

After about a year without an oven, we purchased a new range. We had been getting along fine with our microwave, grill, crock-pot and stove-top and knowing we probably wouldn't have an oven in the Philippines hadn't been in a hurry to replace it. But we thought whoever rents our house would expect to be able to have an oven, so we might as well use one for the time being. Annalise said "That's great...so when we come back in two years you can bake me a birthday cake since you won't be able to in the Philippines."

If you hadn't had an oven for about a year and had a new one, what would be the first thing you would bake?

Love to hear your ideas and recipes too...

I'll let you know what we decide to bake first.

Lisa

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eagerly awaiting...

video

We eagerly await the time we can return to the Philippines. The video is a short synopsis of our time there. Each picture has a story. For every picture included, thousands were not.

Grace,

Tom

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Memoirs

Saturday afternoon, my brother and sister braved dangers of childcare while Lisa and I met with my Dad, his brothers, and their wives. I was eager to get the three brothers together to share their stories of life in my grandparents' home. While they shared story after story, I had the video recording the whole conversation. It is interesting to hear them share and seeing how they interact with one another. Genealogy is not too interesting to me when it consists of dates and titles, but I love to hear stories.



My dad and uncles grew up on a farm. They did not have much, but they did have family around. Their work was hard, but when talking about favorite things on the farm, it was usually related to a season of work: harvesting mint, haying, etc. Pressing further you would find that the enjoyment of this work came from the friends and family that would join in and the meals that would be shared.

I am blessed with a good heritage of hardworking, loving, and faithful people.

Grace,
Tom

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cloud of Witnesses

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews talks about heroes of the faith. People, often martyrs, who gave everything to follow the Lord. I am thankful that, in addition to these well-known heores, God blessed me with a number of people who guided me along the way and lived their life as an example of true faith and godliness. These people become a cloud of witnesses here on earth. I am sure few of them understand the role they played in my discipleship. Most of them never sat down with me and talked about discipling me. They just went about their Christian walk, trying to serve God faithfully and love the people around them. By God's grace, I happened to be in the vicinity of their walk. Whether they were Sunday School teachers, pastors, teachers, parents of friends, or people who did not fit into any of those categories but still touched my life, God used them to shape who I have become.

Today our family was able to testify of God's work at another church, the church I grew up in. I met with Pastor Jeff for breakfast yesterday and was so encouraged by our conversation. I was really looking forward to returning to the church today. It has been years since I last attended a service there.

So many memories of my youth flooded back as I walked around the building. It was even more so, as I saw people I had not seen in years. From junior high until after our marriage, the people and activities of that fellowship were a huge part of my life. I even went to school and worked there until I completed high school.

Throughout this time I was so blessed by these people. I really do have such a great cloud of witnesses. As I shared, I looked around and saw them. I remember serving with them, serving them, and being served by them. Of course there are others who are not part of that fellowship who have been used by God to shape who I have become. But there is, perhaps, no other place with such a concentration of people and memories associated with my discipleship as that church.

But God reminds us not to dwell on the past. He uses Hebrews 11 to say, "Keep these examples in mind." He uses this passage to say, "Now get moving!" I pray that as I strive to follow after my Lord, I will please Him. But I also desire to run a good race for the sakes of those who have given of themselves on my behalf.

Okay, I am not quite done. I also pray that along the way I can be counted among this cloud of witnesses for others.

Grace,
Tom

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Co-workers

Tuesday morning I was able to join my dad at the weekly Bible study he attends. He led a study of the word "work." One passage in particular stood out to me:

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
Genesis 2:19

I can picture God making this new animal with a really long neck and long legs, then taking it to Adam. All the while, He waits with anticipation as to what Adam may call this gangly critter. He is just beside Himself with pride for the creature He has made. He can think of some wonderful names for it - creative names, scholarly names, silly names, even nicknames - but He doesn't even whisper these names. It is not His job to do; that responsibility belongs to Adam. He knows Adam will one day fall for the snake's deception. He knows Adam could choose a goofy name. Adam could have even been lazy and called the animals all the same name - or even Animal #1, Animal #2, Animal #3, etc. And here He sits with this incredible beast - the first of its kind - waiting for this man, this being that He created, to name it.

Adam sees God walking up with this unique creature. He stares up at the...well he stares up at everything, it is really tall. This is different than anything he has ever seen before. He smiles, in admiration of God's creativity. And with that, he says, "Giraffe." God looks at the animal again and for all time it is a giraffe.

As I thought about this passage I was struck by the invitation we have to participate with God. For reasons that are beyond me, He limits Himself and allows us authority. We see a foreshadow of it in this passage. But do we live it everyday? Most of us will never have the opportunity to participate in the naming of newly discovered species. But aren't we invited to be part of something much more? Adam was told to name the animals. We are told to make disciples, to share the Good News of His redemption. Then He stands in anticipation of us doing just that. Why does He invite us and not do it Himself so we don't mess it up? I don't know. But He did and it is unbelieveable when I accept the invitation and participate with Him.

Grace,
Tom

Friday, January 11, 2008

All Smiles!

Today Adriana got an early birthday present...




She completed her new look with a stylin' new do!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Decisions, decisions

We are in the process of making many decisions. Please pray with us for God's clear direction. Afterall it's not about us...it's about Him. We want to do what He wants, in His timing. Often, His timing is different than our timing. Yes, we are still preparing for ministry in the Philippines but it is becoming clear we will not be ready to make the move in February as we had hoped. It is January 10 and we have many items still on our "to do" list and about one-third of our monthly support. So we are spending time praying and more importantly, listening...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Winter Rain

Below are some pictures of what winter is supposed to be like. Right now as I type, the remnants of our snowmen, the evidence of hours spent moving snow from the driveway to the side of the driveway (kind of a weird ritual, huh), and the beautiful blanket that makes my yard look as nice as any of my neighbor's yards (we never got the leaves raked - another weird seasonal ritual - before it was either raining or snowing) is being washed away by a thunderstorm.

Thunderstorms and January are not supposed to be synonymous in this part of the world. I expect a severe absence of sledding, snowball fights, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing while in the Philippines, but until this point I have chosen to live in the north. I like the white stuff. Those of you who live in the north then complain about the snow and cold need to stop praying for global warming and what-not. MOVE SOUTH!

Anyway, to remind myself of the best parts of winter, here are some pictures from a sledding adventure a few days ago when all was as it should be in the neighborhood - white. My sister and her kids came and played at the park with us. And although she was able to avoid hitting a tree this time - something she always says is my fault - we did spend some time getting her out of the parking lot. (Jordan got her first chance to drive while Rhonda and I pushed the car.)




No, I didn't push her into a tree. I didn't the other time either. It is not my fault she can't steer.







Yesterday we shared at Lisa's aunt's church. It has been interesting to hear the girls' impressions as we have visited so many different churches over the past 6 months. They have really gotten an education of what a church service can look like. Yesterday was the first time they have seen a choir and a pastor wearing robes. While it has been good to visit other churches, we are eager to find our way back to Cornerstone and our friends there.

After dinner we went to Lisa's parents to celebrate her brother's birthday. We enjoyed standard fare at Grammie's: good food, games with cousins, and a little football to fill in the gaps.
Grace,
Tom

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bontoc by Adriana, age 12

This is an exerpt of Adriana's description of the Philippines. Bontoc is the place we will be moving to.

The capital of Mountain Province, Bontoc, is a small city. You could walk to the market, the playground, or the museum. As you're walking, you might see some rice terraces and some caribou. A river flows through the middle of Bontoc. You might take a trike if you don't want to walk. Because it is higher than Baguio, Bontoc is a little cooler than Baguio. I once saw a pig tied to a trike in Bontoc. Its squeals gave me a headache.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Philippines by Alayna, age 8

I went to the hot Philippines and I saw that there is muddy green rice fields. I saw that there is a rock wall to walk on that divides the rice fields. The Philippines has lots and lots of mountains. There is trees but not all bunched together more apart. The Philippines has lots of cool and amazing waterfalls.

The people of the Philippines have light brown skin and dark black hair. Generally they are shorter than the Americans. Some old ladies had tattoos all the way up their arm. The old ladies also loved my blond hair.

P.S. The last two postings are from a writing assignment we gave the girls when we arrived home from our two months in the Philippines. We asked them to describe the Philippines and the people. Fred has been asking after I posted Annalise's weeks ago..."Where's the rest?" Maybe tomorrow I'll post the 12-year-old's point of view.

Lisa

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Philippines by Alexie, age 10

Up in the mountains the temperature is cool. At first glance of the rice terraces you might think they are stairs going up the mountain, because of the stone wall around the terraces. Lots of waterfalls are by the road that you drive on to get to Baguio or Bontoc. The roads are very bumpy. Luckily they are putting concrete in.

When there is a lot of rain they often have mudslides and the roads are closed.

Down near Manila and Naic, it is very hot.

There are 3 main types of trees: bamboo, banana, and palm trees.

Most of the dogs we saw were starving. Chickens ran all around. In every village we went to they had pigs.

The Philippino people are very beautiful. They all have brown skin and black hair. They are small people. They are very kind. If you say you like something, they will give it to you. They are very easy to become friends with.

Some of the highlights of my time in the Philippines...

This young Philippino girl that my sisters had been playing with put her arms up to me and called me Momma (or some word like that.)

I felt special because I was not her mother. Plus, I enjoy carrying people. I want to be a Mommy.

At Valley Cathedral there was a 3-year-old girl, that I enjoyed tutoring. I got to read books with her. I enjoyed carrying her. Jenny wanted to go to Baguio with me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Yes, we all stayed up. Thomas' parents invited us over for some snacks and games. We even did a toast of sparkling juice. This is the first time our whole family was up to see the new year in. Of course back in 2000, we let the girls think they stayed up but as our oldest was just shy of 5 she wasn't proficient at telling time. At 9 p.m. gold and silver balloons started pouring down the stairs, and the girls got to blow their little party horns.

Looking forward to all God has planned for us in 2008...
Lisa

Growing Pains

Alayna has suffered from leg cramps off and on for some time now. We tell her she must be growing. I was thinking of this and my experiences of this last year. I am not sure you can grow without experiencing some pain or at least some discomfort. I am so thankful for what God has been doing in me over this last year. At times I will admit I did not enjoy the process but the result is worth it. Hopefully I will continue to grow in 2008... Really I don't need to hope because God made a promise:

...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

I am sure glad it is He who is doing the work because I know I am not able to!
Lisa