Saturday, May 31, 2008

This is the way we wash our clothes...

Today I did laundry for the first time since our arrival. Our clothes are still hanging out on a line to dry. Just washing 6 sets of clothes really didn't take long at all. This was not due to my expertise or that many hands were helping me rather the automatic washing machine available for guests! Yes, I took full advantage of the handy Whirlpool appliance. They'll be plenty of time for me to do laundry by hand.

We are still jet lagged. All of us had to be woke up for tonight's supper of chicken stir-fry and rice. Three out of the four girls are already asleep for the night. If you know our girls it won't be hard to figure out the one still awake.

Visit the girls' blog to find out what else we did today.


Friday, May 30, 2008

More from Lisa

Good-byes are always hard. I see some of God's grace in that we were so busy that I had little time to dwell on the thought of leaving the only home our family has ever known. Of course, later sitting on the airplane, I had more than enough time for it to hit me. Kind of like jumping off the big swing on Salem's rope course, once you've stepped off the platform all you can do is hang on and try to enjoy the ride. Remember, my fear of heights? How could I do all those challenges was by trusting in Someone other than myself. Good thing to remember. I am a planner, an organizer, a writer of lists. In my mind, I had it all planned what our departure would look like. Our bags would all be neatly packed and ready by the door ready for our family to help load. We would walk through each empty room saying goodbye, reflecting on all the memories of the last 17 years. Nice plan but it was far from reality.

Our last days in the States were spent trying to finish all the preparations and spending time with family and friends. Monday night the girls spent the night at their grandparents and we worked until about 1 a.m. and got up again about 5:30 and started tackling more work. Even though we did not even pause to rest and worked all Tuesday night, the task before us became quickly evident to be impossible. Our carry-on luggage that was supposed to arrive on Sat., arrived at the UPS center on Wed. morning. The only way to get it in time was to go pick it up. Thomas' dad did that while my mom picked up some things we had forgot in our last trips to Wal-mart and took care of our banking. The girls packed their own bags for the airplane. We had little idea of their choices. My careful list, no time, no organization. You know those contests where you only so much time to load a shopping cart and cross a finish line. It was like that, Thomas and I frantically grabbing and stuffing into suitcases as the clock ticked on ready to signal your time is up. I ignored statements like 'That's never going to close." "You can't fit it all, your going to have to take some stuff out." Instead sitting on the lids and forcing them closed. In the chaos, and no I am not exaggerating, I am not sure what made it in the luggage in the end. I do know that I boarded the airplane with Thomas, Adriana, Alexie, Alayna, and Annalise by my side. I also know God made it as He will never leave me. The stuff that was forgotten or just really didn't fit and had to be left behind is just stuff. We have so much stuff that we think we need, but as I said what I really needed I have.

Here our some highlights of our many hours of travel time...

watched 4 movies.
colored, sketched, and did activity books
played with Silly Putty
wrote in journal
ate numerous snacks and meals, more Good and Plenty please from Annalise
listened to music
and even napped some

The girls did AMAZING travelling, really only showing signs of wear and tear once we made it to Manila and had to wait and wait and wait. You know, standing in line shoulder to shoulder when you would rather run around and play tag.

The Balut YWAM base is very nice. The girls have a spacious bedroom right next to the women's bathroom. Ours is across the hall. The girls have quickly made friends with the staff and their children. This morning the girls enjoyed helping do laundry with Penny. Hope they have as much fun when it's time to do ours! Their method was like stomping grapes.

After breakfast we had a time of worship. Great time and then a pastor spoke on making today a masterpiece. God is so good about speaking just what I need. The message was on focusing on today, as you can't do anything about yesterday and you don't know if you even have a tomorrow.

For those of you curious about food here, the menu of the day was...
Breakfast- rice porridge (a thick chicken and rice soup), hard-boiled eggs, and bread and jam
Lunch- curry chicken and potatoes, rice, and bananas
Supper-some kind of meat in red sauce, rice, and bananas

Thomas mentioned our trip to the visa offices. I learned politely standing in line doesn't get you anywhere. Better approach is like the way they drive hear, look for your opportunity and move quickly. It is also good to listen carefully to avoid standing in the wrong line as signs don't always reveal the correct line. I was able to leave with the needed paperwork in just a matter of minutes then it was time to exchange some money. We got 43 pesos to the dollar. Just a few months ago we got 47 pesos to the dollar. Then it was the search for the essential Filipino footwear. We were escorted to the closest resemblance of Wal-mart here. It took a long time for all 6 of us to select flip-flops from the many choices. Also sizes are not the same here. I usually where a size 7.5 or 8 but here need to buy a size 10. I was able to get 9 flip-flops, shampoo, laundry soap, and a razor all at the same store! All for 948.65 pesos.

It is hot here. We do have air-conditioning in our rooms and running water too. Internet on-site as well. Nice.

We napped after lunch and struggled to wake up in time to eat supper. But after my brisk shower, I'm wide awake. Thomas is at the airport trying to get the last of our luggage. All of the girls are peacefully sleeping.

Thomas just arrived back. We now have all of our luggage! Thomas got there, got his visitor pass and walked right up to the baggage carousel just as our 2 bags came up side by side. He was out the door with both bags very quickly. God is good.

Good night,

Balut - Slightly more awake

Now that we have removed a few hours from our sleep deficit, I would like to share a little more of the last few days.

While we have been preparing for quite some time, this weekend was when we really began to focus on packing up the house so it could be rented out and packing up the Maxwells so we could head out.

As stated in the previous blog, this was a lot of work in too short a period of time. Some friends of ours who attended CDTS with us last year mentioned the idea of "let the stripping begin". (No, they did not expect CDTS to be a nudist retreat.) The idea was that they wanted to allow God to strip them of the things that hold them back or are barriers between them and God. This last week, a lot of stripping was done.

The job was much larger than either of us had anticipated. Even with the help of our parents prior to the move, we were unable to complete the work we needed to do. We were both way out of our comfort zones. Lisa is normally very organized and her packing is no exception - except this time. I am not good at delegating work and struggle with the thought of failure.

Both of us were stripped of the "strengths" with which we are familiar. As we were trying to make it out the door, rather than having bags packed in such a way as to maximize space and have an idea of where to find things, we were shoving whatever we could grab into a bag. In the end, we left the house without a 3 month supply of a prescription we had just purchased. (Thanks to Lisa's Mom who drove back to the house to get it for us and bring it to the airport.) I am sure in the coming weeks and months we will be wondering where something is and need to wait until someone is able to send it to us. We also left the house trashed. All of the big items were moved out and put into storage but a lot of work ended up being left to our families. I am ashamed of the condition in which we left the house. (Thanks to both of our families who will spend a lot of time finishing what we left behind.)

I think that more time will be needed to truly reflect on what God may be showing and teaching us about ourselves and Him. It would be easy to jump to conclusions, but I will refrain - at least for right now.

Anyway, we made it out of the house and to the airport without needing to cause bodily injury to anyone along the way. We were escorted to the airport by some and met at the airport by others, and by all of them, we were blessed. We appreciate the expressions of love and support we have received as we prepared to leave this time.

The flights went well. Nothing was running late and connections were no problem. Unless you count the small detour we took in Detroit. It seems that when you are tired, gate A34 and C34 aren't that much different. Neither Lisa nor I noticed that we were heading to C when we should have been going towards A until we made it to C34. We still made it to A34 in time for Lisa to grab a snack for us from McDonald's before we boarded - just a little extra exercise to work of the fat of the fries. In Japan, we got off the plane, went through security (I guess just in case we found a gun on the plane or something), then waited at the gate to reboard the same plane.

We did not have any real issues until we were flying into Manila and they announced that 178 bags had been left in Detroit because there was a problem with the cargo bay of the plane and had to be unloaded. Fortunately, it was only two of our bags. They are supposed to arrive at the airport in 1.5 hours, but we are trying to arrange delivery to YWAM.

It took us over 1.5 hours to make it out of the airport. I was a little worried that the folks who were to pick us up would have given up. Thankfully, they were there waiting for us. Alayna shared her life story on the trip from the airport to YWAM. It is a good thing she is young or we may have had to drive around the block a few times.

Today, we went to the immigration office and the visa extension office. Did you know that shorts and sandals are not allowed inside these buildings? I didn't either. Fortunately, I was able to gain access at the first, but only Lisa could go into the second. We picked up the forms we need and hopefully we will have everything ready to submit on Monday morning.

The girls have enjoyed themselves. Penny, on staff here, gave them laundry lessons. They have also been making friends and playing games.

We are still pretty tired, but that is good as it will help us to make the shift to local time.


Balut YWAM

Just a quick update. (Lisa and I have gotten about 11 hours of sleep since we woke up Monday morning and need to get up in about 3.)

We have made it as far as Manila. The staff was patient as they waited for us to gather our baggage and leave the airport. Two of our bags did not make it. Which really was a good thing because they would not have fit in the vehicle anyway.
Anyway, we are here! God is good!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prayer Answered

We have been blessed that Rufina was able to find a home for us in Bontoc. But until yesterday, it was unclear what was going to happen between the time we arrived in Manila until we made it to Bontoc. Yesterday, we were contacted by the Balut YWAM base in Manila. So now that uncertainty is becoming more clear.

The YWAM staff at YWAM Balut will pick us up at the airport and take us to the base where we will be able to stay while we work out our visas in Manila. This is a huge relief for us. Honestly, we have been so busy here that we haven't been stressed about it. But the level of concern had been increasing over the past few days.

Praise the Lord! He is certainly guiding and directing this process.

Praise Him!

p.s. If you are interested, you can check out their website at:

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Friends

The past couple of weeks we have been blessed to be guests at the churches of friends I worked with at the plant. Both are small, country churches who are reaching out to their communities with the Gospel of Christ. We were warmly welcomed at both of these churches and are glad to have made new friends and partners in the work of the Kingdom.

The church we visited today is pastored by my friend who still works at the plant. Soon after we arrived, Lisa and I both felt that we were at one of the churches we visited in the Philippines. The people were so warm and friendly. The worship was exuberant and from the heart. The start and end times of the Sunday School and morning worship were flexible. But the real surprise that made it feel more like our experience in the Philippines was that the message was translated. It was a multi-cultural congregation. Besides the USA, there were people there from Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

We have enjoyed seeing how God is at work among so many different congregations. Because we have been blessed to have had a great church family for so many years, we had not visited other churches. While it is not something I would recommend to everyone, it has provided us a broader view of God at work in this area. But we are eager to be back at our home church next week. It will be good to see everyone, yet sad to say good-bye as that will be our last Sunday together with them for a few years.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Huge Moving Sale

Tomorrow starts our moving sale. If you are in the area tomorrow or Saturday, stop on by. We're sure there is something here for you...we've got lots and it needs to go because it won't fit in our suitcases!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Just two weeks before we board the airplane for the Philippines. Two years. That's a long time to be away from our family, friends, and the United States. We've been away the five months last year and I say to myself, "It's only five times that long." There are many questions, much that remains unknown. I do know that God has called us to go for these two years. I know that although we will be far from our loved ones, He will be with us. He is faithful to watch over us and care for us. He will lead, guide, and teach us as we go. It is easy to feel overwhelmed but each time I am flooded with these feelings I try to remind myself God knows everything that needs to be done for us to be ready. This is not something we are doing on our own. I pray that what needs to be done each day will. It is exhausting the many decisions that need to be made. God, speak to us clearly so we know what to do.

We have so much stuff! It is tasking going through it all. Sometimes just because it's a lot of work but usually because of the emotions involved. Memories hit like huge waves. Sometimes it is easy to say, "Let's get rid of this." Other times not so much. We as Americans can get easily entangled in the stuff that surrounds us. It can subtly become our security blanket. We forget everything is His. He has provided everything. We can trust Him to provide for our needs. Having grown up in a prosperous nation, we have so much that we get confused about what we need. Society is continually bombarding us with a list of things we "need." A bunch of wants disguised as needs. Our identity is in Christ, not our address, the clothes we wear or the stuff that fills our homes.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This passage in Philippians has been underlined in my Bible for a long time. This is important for me to remember even before I was moving halfway around the world.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I have not taken the opportunity to dedicate an entire post to my beloved bride before, so I will now.

Happy Mother's Day, Lisa!

By God's grace, I have been blessed to live with an incredible woman. She has been my best friend since we were juniors in high school. We have spent more of our lives together as a couple than we have apart from each other. I apologize to all of you other men out there who missed the opportunity to have her at your side.

Lisa is truly the compliment to who God has made me. She is a wonderful wife. She brings beauty and joy. She encourages me when I am down and listens when I need to talk. She knows my weaknesses and not only loves me anyway, but she covers the chinks in the armor and helps me shine.

Though Lisa is a wonderful friend and wife to me, her heart is to be a mother. Her thoughts and energies are centered on raising our girls. Most of the hours in her day are spent in some way teaching, mentoring, or otherwise caring for our daughters. No other purpose is so near to her heart than raising our girls and helping them become mature women who love our Lord sincerely.
This compassion and instinct towards our children is also something that God has used so many times for His glory. Lisa loves to be with young children. The orphanages we visited in the Philippines, the soccer teams she has coached and helped coach, AWANA, and Royal Rangers are examples of times that she has been doing what God has designed her for. I believe He will use Lisa to bless children wherever we go.
I love you Lisa,

Friday, May 9, 2008


Last night I read Adriana a story we have read together many, many times, All the Places to Love. It is a children's picture book Lisa got for me several years ago. The story is told through the eyes of a young boy growing up on the family farm. Each member of the family has a place on the farm that is nearest to their heart. The descriptions really give insight as to why each of those places is special. The illustrations are endearing as well.

Inside the cover, Lisa wrote, "Don't give up on your dream... Someday my love." You see, I have always dreamed of owning property that has places like those described in the book. I was surprised when Adriana said, "This is just like your hundred acres, Daddy." I was surprised because I guess she would have already made the connection to my having that book and the dream we have sometimes talked about. (She is my nature-loving girl, so we have spoken of it many times.)

We talked about how God knows our dreams. He knows what our heart desires. He also knows what is best for us. We need to trust Him with those dreams when we seem to be walking away from them. If we are following where He is leading us, it is the right place to be.

There are many good lines in the book, but I like to identify with Grandpa's journey best
Grandfather once lived in the city,
And once he lived by the sea;
But the barn is the place he loves most.
Where else, he says, can the soft sound of cows

Make all the difference in the world?

Someday I will enjoy property with All the Places to Love. Perhaps it will be on this side of eternity. Until that day comes, wherever it comes, I will enjoy the joy of the dream...


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Go Keepsakes!

I haven't taken the opportunity to brag on the Keepsakes soccer team yet. Alexie and Alayna both play while Lisa, my Dad, and our friend, Chriselda, and I all coach. Saturday was the first opportunity we have had to take pictures. I missed the first two games because of work and the sideline can be very busy so Lisa couldn't take any. Besides, this was the first game we have had where it was not raining. It was actually a beautiful morning.

The team is playing great. We have a number of strong players, even among our youngest girls. I love to see them working as a team. We define a win by whether the girls had fun and played their hardest, but it is also rewarding that the score has been in our favor at the end of each game as well.

Saturday, Alexie and Alayna both had a great game! Alexie was able to score a number of goals in the last period in order for us to secure a victory. She has become a real powerhouse on the field. Alayna is one of the youngest players on our team. I have enjoyed watching her blossom this year. Her skills and intensity have grown so much. In a recent game she was able to make an assist to Alexie - how cool is that for soccer coach parents?!

Our family really enjoys soccer. Through it, we have been blessed to get to know so many other families in the community.
Alayna moving the ball down the field.

Alexie on the move.

Alayna and Marjorie getting ready to kick-off.

Alayna putting the moves on an opponent.

SCORE! That's OUR #17!

Alayna and Alexie in control.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Annalise has verified that our new luggage is suitable!

She fits!