Saturday, April 29, 2006

Thought I'd share a few recent pics

We took a short working vacation on another island in the Philippines called Cebu. Here are some of my favoirte pictures from the trip.Click here if you would like to see more pictures from our trip

I Want a Sista - Part 2

Jessica and I were in our room talking while Grace was playing. I asked Jess, "If the baby is a boy, what do you want to name him?" As we thought about it I offered the name "Tommy (Thomas)." Grace, who seemed oblivious to our conversation before that, immediately stopped her playing and said, "Noooooo, that's a boys name. Were having a girl." I was laughing inside and I couldn't help teasing her a little bit. I responded by saying to Jess, "How about Mark?" Of course Grace yells, "NOOOOO! its a girl!"
A few days later while playing, Tyler hit Jessica's stomach. Of course she told Tyler, no we don't do that. I chimed in and said, "Tyler, don't hit your little brother like that." Grace unglued herself from her morning cartoons and again protested, "THE BABY IS NOT A BOY, IT'S A GIRL!" Jessica told her that she better keep praying then and ask God for a baby sister. If you feel for Grace's plight, then join her as she prays for a baby sister. Click here to read Part 3

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Robert's Second Birthday in Less Than a Month

I realized it was late when I saw my shadow glide across the wall in front of me because of the head lights from the cars passing behind me. I intended to leave an hour earlier, but Robert said, "Okay, one more question." I had brought my friend Wolfgang with me, a fellow missionary who has lived here for over ten years. Wolfgang loves the Lord and has a real heart for the poor. I had shared the gospel with Robert and Ate Sylvia before, but I wasn't sure how much they understood due to my limited Tagalog. Wolfgang would be able to answer their questions and make sure that they understand the (gospel) the good news that Jesus Christ forgives the sins of those who trust in Him.

I could tell that their hearts were softened and ready for the gospel, but Robert and Sylvia first had many questions. First, Robert wanted to know where Cain and Able got their wives from. Second, he wanted to know how Jonah could have survived in the belly of the great fish. These were great questions. It was encouraging to me that not only has Robert really been reading the Tagalog Bible I had given him, but that he actually understood what he was reading and was wrestling through it. Sylvia's questions included wanting to know what the bible said about worshiping Mary, saints, and various statues, and what is meant by being "born again". After satisfying their questions, Wolfgang shared the gospel with them again. We started with Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus in John Chapter 3. I was pleased to hear that they did understand what I had shared with them in previous conversations and that they were really tracking with what Wolfgang was sharing with them.

Wolfgang invited them to ask Jesus to save them from the penalty of their sins and to live in their hearts. He told them to only pray if they really, really want to follow Jesus. Praise, the Lord, they both wanted to! At first, I wasnt sure about Robert. As Wolfgang prayed, Ate Sylvia repeated after him, but Robert remained silent. As we were saying our goodbyes Robert said that he prayed in his heart.

The challenge now is finding a church within walking distance because the round trip cost of about 50¢ is a substantial expense for them. I'm praying that they will see that the sacrifice is worth it. I'm also hoping that the church itself would be able to send some of their members to my friends at the bridge to do bible studies. For now, we picked up Robert last Sunday and took him to the closest EFC church with us, about 15 minutes way. I was proud of him because his joy in knowing God was greater than his fear of what others might think about him and his wheel chair. Pray that Robert’s faith in God will grow and that a local church will show him and my other friends at the bridge love by regularly visiting them and teaching them the word of God.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Little Monster – Part 3

Now I still have to maintain that Tyler is not an overly curious little boy, but the predicaments that he has been getting into lately are funny. Well here is the latest escapade of Tyler. I got home from language school today as usual, but while getting out of my car in the garage I heard the faint sound of crying. When I started into the house I could hear that the crying was actually intense. I hurried to my room to find Jessica, Grace, and our friend Miriam huddled around our closet door with frantic looks on their faces. To add to this scene Jessica had a kitchen knife in one hand and a screw driver in the other. Then I heard the cries coming through the closet door. Tyler was again practicing his new ability of locking doors. Unfortunately, this was a bad day to be locked in a closet because it was a particularly hot and humid summer day in Manila. At least he could not reach the switch to turn off the light this time (See my little Monster – Part 1). Once I got MacGyver and her merry band out of the way, pulled the paper clips out of the door’s key hole and cleared Jessica’s credit card out of the crack in the door near the door knob, I assessed the situation. The door’s bolt was not budging, and my sons crying was growing more intense. Jessica, trying to keep calm, kept nervously saying (probably half a dozen times), “It’s okay, he’s just crying. He’s not going to die or anything.”I decided that it was time to do damage if I wanted to get him out any time soon. I figured that the money I had to pay in door and door knob repair would be far less in comparison to the years of therapy that Tyler would have to go through if I didn’t get him out soon. I ran to my tool box and grabbed a pry bar and mini sledge hammer (I can hear Tim Allen from tool time making ape sounds as I type, he would have been proud.) I wanted to just kick the door in, but I couldn’t because Tyler was sitting there crying on the other side. When I would hit the crow bar Tyler’s crying would increase and so did my determination. I beat the door, door jamb, and door knob into submission. Once I beat the door knob off I could see Tyler’s sweaty little head through the hole where the door knob used to be. I thought that would do the trick, but the bolt was stuck and the door still wouldn’t open. As I thought about what to do next Tyler’s little fingers poked out of the hole in an attempt to reach me. I decided to continue using my pry bar to force the door open. The door finally opened and I rescued my heaving and sobbing little monster. He quickly came to me and lay limply on my shoulder. I rubbed his back until he fell asleep on me. Ahhh! one of the greatest feelings in the world. I guess I will have to make a trip to the local hardware store now. It sure is fun watching kids grow up, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Little Monster Strikes Again! - Part 2

Well, I don't know how it happened, but someone left a small bottle of vaseline within the grasp of Tyler, my little monster. He walked into the kitchen where we all were and was very shiny. As we were trying to figure out what in the world he had gotten into, I noticed that he had a new rock star hair doo. He also had a thin coating around his neck, hands and in his ears. You could actually see the trails sculpted by his fingers across his neck. Shortly after we were reminded of how oil and water don't mix. A warm bath was not completely effective. We were able to get a lot of the vaseline off, but some of it is still lingering in his ears, the creases of his neck, and in his hair. Even after cleaning his ears with Q-tips, I can still see the residue in them. Tyler really is a sweetie and after having three other children I can say that he is not overly curious. These funny things just happen in the lives of our children. We just have to thank the Lord that he has not gotten into anything dangerous. I like to think that the reason that has not happened is because we are careful to put up the dangerous things. I think that I will have to make sure my shaving cream and stuff is out of his reach as he grows taller, learns to climb better, and gets more curious. Even as I'm writting this I can see about 20 feet of dental floss strung across the room. It will be fun watching this little boy grow up.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

An Interesting Conversation - Part 1

While visiting Robert on his birthday I had an interesting conversation. It started when Ate Sylvia asked, "What religion are you?" I told her that I am born again because that seems to be the best identifier for Christians to use here. This helps to keep Christian from being confused with false or non-Christian groups. However, saying that your 'born again' can get you confused with faith healers, which is what Sylvia did, because she then asked me, "Can you heal Robert?" I looked across at Robert as he sat near the railing of the bridge with his legs hanging limp. Now, I don’t believe that we can demand healing from God, or that the gift of healing at will is normal for today. However, I do know that God can heal anytime that He wants and does heal today when He wants to.

I was ready to pray for Robert’s healing and I confidently believe that if God wanted to, He would heal him. For some reason, I wasn’t even nervous at the thought. If it was not God’s will to heal Robert now, I would not be embarrassed to pray for it and find that the answer is no. It would be God who said no, not me. It would be God who chose not to demonstrate His power and not a failure on my part. I know that I am just the messenger and that He is in control and knows what He is doing. At the same time, I would not have been surprised if God decided to do a miracle and restore Roberts’s legs! I could see God using that circumstance to show the people of the bridge His power and His love for them. I could see God using that to draw attention to Himself so that they would pay attention to the gospel and believe.

Well, before I could agree to pray for Robert, Ate Sylvia just keep talking away about different beliefs. She seemed to forget her request and said that Robert told her that he had many questions for me, but was unable to ask them because of my limited ability to speak Tagalog. I believe my heart was right and that my faith wasn’t lacking, but we didn’t get the opportunity to see if God was going to grant a miracle that day. Perhaps He kept her talking because He has another plan other than healing to make Himself known to the people at the bridge. I was able to understand and discuss a few of their questions, but I told them that soon I would bring with me a friend who was fluent in Tagalog and who would answer all their questions. They were happy with that and proceeded into a second interesting conversation, which I will write about next time. Click here to read Part 2

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Robert's Birthday

On March 31 my friend Robert turned 34. I stopped by his place at the bridge bringing a chocolate cake, a bag of oranges and some fruit roll-ups for the kids who also live there. I was greeted with a wave and Roberts usual smile. I think I succeeded in my goal of making him feel cared for and special. He asked, "What's this?" as I put a box in from of him. He was happy at the sight of a chocolate cake with, "Happy Birthday Robert" written on it. Between Robert and his brother, who lives in the shanty across from him, they have one plate and three spoons.
We used one of the spoons to cut the cake and I brought a box of napkins to serve the rest of the cake on. We called on neighbors and friends who were passing by to join us in celebrating Roberts special day. A couple of little ones caught on to what was happening and soon there about over a dozen kids stopping by or calling out to us in hopes of sharing Roberts birthday cake and other goodies. Ate Sylvia, Melvin, Charlene, and many other friends stopped by. This time opened up a great conversation that I will share about in my next blog so check back later. Click here to read more.