Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday

It has been a blessed Easter Sunday. I am so grateful for good friends on days like these "family days." My good friend Sandra and her husband led a wonderful music worship service at their church. I joined Beka and Lauren for morning worship there. It will more than likely be my last time to hear them sing since they'll be taking a sabbatical in the UK coming up soon. After Sunday worship, we joined Diane and her family for a wonderful Easter brunch. It has been such a joy getting to know her family over the last few months. They are incredible. We hid Easter eggs and the girls took a dip in the pool afterwards. It was a piping hot day. Whew.

"May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!" Psalm 29:11

"He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities." Psalm 103:10

"A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back." Proverbs 29:11

Friday, March 29, 2013

Holy Week

Holy Week is a big deal in the Philippines. It is a time of strong tradition and family time. It is also one of the biggest vacation times of the year. People line up for busses to head out to the provinces and sometimes wait for hours to claim a seat.

I got together with two of my new friends, Lauren and Beka. We had a great time together in one of the nicest parts of town, Fort Bonifacio. We first visited the American Cemetery. It is such a peaceful place surrounding a busy city. After soaking up some rays, breathing some seemingly fresh air, and putting our toes in the well kept green grass, we walked over to High Street to have dinner. As we walked closer, we saw that in the middle of the shops, they had the stations of the cross set up. Although suspicious at first, we began to walk through, and we were pleasantly surprised by the display. It was a display that clearly laid out the gospel. I was certainly blessed. We ate dinner at TGI Fridays! It was a wonderful treat, and I had a delicious cheeseburger.

As we were on the way home, we passed hundreds of people participating in the Alay Lakad. I started talking to the taxi driver about it, and we had a good conversation about the traditions that surround Holy Week. He explained that he believed Jesus dies on Friday... and is dead every year from Friday to Sunday... that's why they can't get hurt or mess up on those days. I got to share with him what I believe, although he still insisted that his traditional belief trumps mine.

This year, I am celebrating that Jesus is alive. He is alive. That's the story of Easter. He is risen.

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:8-11

I love these ladies... new to the Manila area! 

deep blue sea

The past few weeks, Hannah and I have been going out to Faith Academy to attend a class to get our Open Water Certification for scuba diving. I love scuba diving, and I love exploring the deep blue sea. There's not much more that display's the glory of God in such a perfectly creative way. There are colors that I've never seen. There are patterns that we couldn't dream up if we tried. It's simply amazing.

On Monday, we drove to the coast to complete our tests. Ripping our masks off underwater, losing our regulators, buddy breathing... you know- going over all of the emergency protocols. Who doesn't love a challenge? Finally, Hannah and I are both certified. We had a blast together, and I couldn't have chosen a better buddy for the class.

What a blessing it is to see the Lord's creation under the water. He indeed is majestic in every way.

"For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Romans 1:20

Hannah was a great diving partner! We had a great time together! 

I love this house on the shore. So pretty... and in the middle of nowhere. Boat access only. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

a new heart

It is a beautiful sight to see someone's eyes opened to know and understand.

We were reading Ezekiel 36. "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."

After 7 months of studying God's Word together... it happened on my living room floor. She asked The Lord to give her a new heart. And she asked Him to put His Spirit within her.

It was a beautiful sight to see. Rebirth is a beautiful gift of grace.

Praise God for His faithfulness.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." John 16:12-15

Saturday, March 16, 2013

busy body

I love being a busy body. My aunt recently told me that my middle name should be "go." I can't say that I disagree. I love being on the move and on the cusp of adventure.

This week has been a busy one. Here are a few of the highlights.

Althea, Trish, and I had an awesome craft day. These girls are the epitome of artsy... I'm always stealing their cute ideas. Friday morning brought some of the Burgundy Family to my apartment to celebrate Bessie's birthday with a delicious breakfast... we stuck the candle in a blueberry muffin. In other exciting news, I'm on week two of my scuba class. Hannah and I have only a few more sessions until we're certified.

Filipino summer is coming fast. Seniors have finished their finals and they are awaiting graduation. The first-third year students are hustling through finals with the light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter and brighter as the hours pass.

"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13

"Oh, taste and see that The Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! " Psalm 34:8

"When a man's ways please The Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. " Proverbs 16:7

Althea is one of my most crafty friends! 

Celebrating Bessie's Birthday! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

americans and opened eyes

My good friend, Marla, asked me a few weeks ago if I would be willing to go around town with one of their volunteer teams. My goodness, you don't need to ask me a question like that twice. I'm always interested in some American contact and new adventures.

Marla is one of my favorite people in the Philippines. I attend an ex-pat Bible study at her house on Wednesday morning... a whole bunch of white skin in one room. She is the ultimate host and homemaker. Marla makes us all feel welcome and comfortable. During our discussion about the lesson, she's always got awesome wisdom to throw out onto the table of life and faith. Oh yeah, and did I mention that she has 13 kids? Well, she does. So, not only does Marla have all kinds of spiritual insight... she's got a whole dump truck load of everyday practical advice, too. We often tease that if we can't "google it" ... just "Marla it!" And, you might think we're kidding... but oh no. No joking here. Marla's family moved to the Philippines 20+ years ago. They moved back with the electricity was off half of the day, and you had to pray to keep the goods in the freezer frozen. She's got enough stories to fill up a book. While Marla was busy being a Mom to 13 kids, her husband was building up an organization called Resources for the Blind. They make a great team.

This week I got the opportunity to see what it's all about. What a privilege walk step-by-step around the city with two gals with visual impairment. Joyce is blind, and Jenne has low vision. We left their office Wednesday morning with open minds, a team of American volunteers, and a heart ready to learn. It was simply amazing. These two gals showed up my public transportation skills. I was impressed.

We visited a elementary school with 13,000 kids enrolled. 6,000 in the morning and 6,000 in the afternoon. It was unreal, honestly. We even got a special meeting with the principal. It's been a while since I walked down the hall to the principal's office.

We got to share Bible stories in classrooms, sing songs about Jesus, and love on the kids. What a wonderful day!

When we left the school, we went to visit some of the high school kids in their homes. It was truly a delight to meet them and spend time praying for their families. What a wonderful blessing!

"And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground." Isaiah 42:16

Sharing with students at Commonwealth Elementary school.

Isn't this precious? 

These remind me of Nandy... growing plants anywhere and everywhere! 

It's the volunteer group with the Principal... He's just a little bit shorter than me. 

Such a talented guy! It was truly amazing. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

resources for the blind

Sweat was dripping from his chin onto a paper with tiny dots raised from the surface like mountain peaks. These peaks were letters to one without sight. These peaks were knowledge and understanding. They were letters that formed words. The mountain peaks were stories of the Most High.

It was a beautiful sight to see a brother reading the Word with his fingertips. We were crammed into his tiny home sitting on a plastic stool bought from the market a couple of blocks away for a handful of pesos. The corrugated metal roof that blocked rain from entering the home also heated it up like an oven. We sat together and talked about school, family, and life. He is in his third year of High School and dreaming ahead to a bright future. He said he wants to learn about computers.

The wonderful part of this story is that his dream can come true. Resources for the Blind offers classes for blind filipinos to learn how to use the computer. They offer hope to the seemingly hopeless stories. Praise The Lord for such a wonderful organization.

House visit. 

Ateneo musicians pool

I love music. And, I love any reason to listen to music. It's almost always playing in my house.

Last week, Ateneo Musicians Pool hosted their end of the year recital. It was wonderful!

The students are so talented. And, it was really fun to know a few people that were performing. I snagged my friend Celeste, and we had a fun girls night eating pizza and going to the recital.

I'll listen to live music every night of the week... especially if it involves an acoustic guitar and a good looking guy.

"But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head." Psalm 3:3

"But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness." Psalm 69:13

Ateneo Musicians Pool Recital. 

Celeste was my date for the night... pizza hut and the recital. 

My friend Nico.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

cooking school

My friend Diane is a rockstar in the kitchen.

She's got all the tips and tricks any aspiring homemaker would need. I'm trying to soak up all the knowledge I can get.

My cooking skills are limited, but they are ever increasing since I moved overseas.

Sometimes I think back to kitchen disasters in my past when I added one cup of salt (instead of sugar) to a sweet potato soufflé. Idiot, I know. Go ahead and say it. Or maybe I remember the time I cooked pasta so much that it turned into one giant clump of mushy madness.

Here's the latest and greatest of them all.

I've been trying to make cinnamon rolls occasionally for an ex-pat Bible study that I'm attending. Finally a few weeks ago, I came in with a little frustration over my dough. Why is dough so hard to perfect? Why wouldn't my dough rise? Was my yeast old? Was I killing it with milk that was too hot? Diane offered to help a sister out. I scheduled an afternoon of cooking class to learn how to make her famous cinnamon rolls.

It was so excited. Finally, I could learn what in the world I was doing wrong. We weren't an hour into "cooking school: day 4" until I realized what might be wrong. Diane's yeast looked totally different than my yeast. That's when I discovered the problem.

My "yeast" was actually baking powder.

Let's just sprinkle a little grace on this catastrophic embarrassment of a story. Since I've lived here, I often shop at an import store. It's got food from all over the world; hence, a lot of the packages aren't in English. A few months ago when I bought my "yeast," I was scouring the baking isle for anything that resembeled the small square packet. I just assumed the writing on the front translated, "yeast." Next time I'll check an online translator.

After making the cinnamon rolls to perfection, we made pizza for dinner. It was awesome. I loved cooking with her girls and adding some delicious new recipes to my repertoire.

Slowly but surely, I'm learning.

My wonderful friend, Diane, and her beautiful daughter... cooking away in the kitchen. 

Girls with their Mom. 

Learning how to make homemade cinnamon rolls. 

Homemade Pizza... such a treat!