Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Although we do not have many of the familiar sights of Christmas, (definitely not going to be a white one) it sounds like Christmas. Frequently in the evening, we can hear the joyous voices of carolers singing in our neighborhood.

Today my grade 5 Values Education class sang for me God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, Do You Hear What I Hear?, and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

I was thinking of my lesson about God fulfilling His promise made long before by His gift of Jesus and the beautiful music of the Christmas carols. I thought of how amazing it will sound when all of us from the east and west and north and south gather to sing in Heaven.

Looking forward to being in that choir. Hope you will be too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rosewood Jesus

This afternoon, Lisa and I went marketing, like usual. But as we were walking past the plaza, we were surprised to find that several booths were set up. Vendors were selling food, baskets, woven items, carvings, and even wooden furniture.

One booth had nativity sets. When we were packing things in the US before coming we left the Christmas decorations behind, but we had thought we might get one of the hand-carved sets here in the Philippines. We had always enjoyed how the girls play with the nativity figurines and act out different parts of the story. Well, we did not get one last year, but we both liked one set at the booth today.

As soon as we brought it home, we were glad we bought it. All of the girls were excited and Annalise and Alayna began playing with it immediately. (The older girls might have also, but we were trying to get supper made so there was a lot of vegetables being chopped at the moment.)

Fortunately, I was able to take a short break and join in the fun.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tis the Season to Shop?

"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;
a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
- Luke 12:15

The older girls and I are studying Luke this term and this verse seemed especially relevant for this time of year. While we miss being with family and friends and the snow, there are several aspects that we do not. We do not have television, sales ads, and store displays telling us all the things we need to have for a happy holiday. It is much easier to communicate to our girls that Christmas is not about shopping at the mall and stuff wrapped in bright paper.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Irritatation Level HIGH!

I am extremely frustrated right now! The other day somehow most of our digital photographs got deleted. "Fortunately," I thought to myself, "I have them all backed up on CD's and another external hard drive." So I put all (well most) of the pictures back in their appropriate folders.

Today I was working with the pictures and found that things were not as good as I had hoped. It seems that the CDs with most of November's pictures are corrupted. The files are there. Thumbnails of the photos show up. But the pictures will not open properly.

One of the disappointments is that the girls had done a dance at church that I was hoping to post. The video I was hoping to post of that is among the items that are cyber-scrambled.

Irritation level VERY HIGH!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

So There I Was... - 2

The trip home from Baguio was a nice change from the normal. We left early so if nothing unusual happened, we would make it home while there was still daylight. Also it was not raining. Often we arrive home after dark and often in the rain. Things were looking good.

So there I was on the bus home from Baguio... As usual, we stopped along the way to drop-off and pick-up passengers. We were about 30 minutes from Bontoc. At the previous stop we had taken on a loud and talkative older man. I had guessed that he was rather drunk. As we stopped again, he got off the bus. Immediately afterward, the man in the seat across from me jumped up and ran out of the bus. When I looked out, I saw the man had fallen. After making the large step down from the bus, it appears he kept on going and went off the edge of the pavement and down to the ground several feet below.

People were trying to get him up. My EMT training screamed, "Don't move him!" But it was too late for that. I got out of the bus in time to help lift him up to the pavement. He had some scrapes on his forehead and some skin on his nose had been scraped off. There were no marks on his hands, so it did not seem he had even tried to catch himself. We put him back on the bus for a trip to the hospital in Bontoc.

On the bus when I tried to assess him for injury, he became somewhat combative. Fortunately, because he was so drunk when he took a couple of swings at me I was able to dodge them. After a while, he settled down. Although the alcohol is probably the cause of his injury, it also kept him from feeling too much pain.

As the bus driver sped over the broken road and around the turns to get the man to the hospital, I sat next to the man. Based on the laughter, everyone on the bus enjoyed the conversation. Once I stopped trying to see how badly he might be hurt, he felt remorse for his earlier attempts to drain a little blood from my nose as well. He began to repeatedly and loudly say, "I'm sorry," and, "I love you!" He let me know he was drunk - painfully obvious at this point. He even wanted to sing a song with me - he sang the first line for me. He said of himself that he was a great drunk and the man across the aisle, his brother, was a great lover. The "brother" did not claim any relation to him. All of the threads of conversation were loud and repeated.

Well, we eventually got him to the hospital. He was not eager to accept any help off the bus. But he eventually let me help him down the steps and into the hands of those down below. I could not hear him anymore, but I could see he kept up the conversation with whoever was pushing his wheelchair into the hospital.


Friday, December 4, 2009

So There I Was - 1

Our whole family made the trip to Baguio this week. We left on Monday and returned on Wednesday. That allowed us to do our banking for November and December all in one trip as well as pick up things unavailable to us in Bontoc. Amidst the shopping, we enjoyed the familiar tastes of McDonald's and Pizza Hut.

So there I was... So there I was browsing in the men's clothing at a department store in the Baguio SM Mall. One of the characteristics of this particular store is the abundance of sales clerks. While in most stores in the US, you need to look for someone to help you, at this store I sometimes begin to understand the struggle famous people have with paparazzi; they are everywhere. So there I was trying to avoid sales clerks when one sneaked up on me to ask if she could help me find something. In an attempt to be friendly but not encourage a fashion show, I continued to flip through the shirts on a rack and asked her questions about herself instead.

So there I was not trying to be a missionary when she suddenly said, "Inglesia ni Cristo." Our discussion to that point had been about how long she had worked at the store and how many hours she had worked that day. This phrase was kind of surprising and got my attention off of t-shirts and into the discussion. (Inglesia ni Cristo is a religious group throughout the Philippines that you could liken to the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormons - appearing Christian until you actually learn about their beliefs.) I asked her whether she was saying she was Ingelsia ni Cristo or if she was asking if I was. English got in the way; the Ilocano language does not use pronouns and most of the Filipinos we talk with struggle to use them properly when speaking English.

To clarify, she asked what religion I was. I told her I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. "But what religion?" Because denominational tags carry so much baggage, I try hard to avoid them and focus on who Jesus is to me.

About that time, another sales clerk entered the conversation. This young lady was shocked when I mentioned that Inglesia ni Cristo was not really Christian because they do not believe Jesus is Lord. It was quickly apparent that she was INC. She invited me to join an INC Bible study so I could learn that Jesus was not God. Unfortunately, our conversation was very short because she had other customers she was helping. We tried to talk a couple more times, but she had to pay attention to her work so we did not get too far.

I never did discover anything about the faith of the first young lady. She watched and listened as her friend and I talked about who the Bible says Jesus is.

Knowing that God uses everything, I pray that He will in some way use the little bits of conversation we had to reveal the truth of the Gospel to both of these young ladies.