Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Well into my 4th week away from home

I'm having a great time traveling. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for the "basics" like safe travel and health and other logistics involved in my being away from home for 5 weeks -- in multiple countries on two continents and eleven airplanes and more busses/vans/tricycles, tuk tuks/cars than I can count.

I have to say that with all the places I've brushed teeth and eaten and hydrated (trying to be wise but not OC about biological enemies), I feel extraordinarily blessed to have had nearly NO sickness on this trip. Nothing more than a normal 3+ week period of time anywhere. Yippee.

I also must stay that at each step along this journey, God has provided little things that I greatly enjoy at just the right time. I try to not seek out all the luxuries of home when I travel -- it takes too much energy and is a set up for disappointment. But once in a while a cold Diet Coke is such a treat. I can get them here in Thailand for a reasonable price and the cans are gorgeous -- a bonus for me personally.

But all this stuff I'd give up in a heartbeat if I had to choose between these "incidental" provisions of God and the ones that really blow me away -- like laughter and beauty and hope and truth shared with brothers and sisters. Oh, that is the sweet provision of God, by his grace, so beyond what I usually remember to ask for. I'm so glad He knows me well and loves me well just the same.

2008 Vision Trip: Philippines - PHOTO ALBUM

2008 Vision Trip: Philippines

Click on the above image and you'll be transported to my Picassa photo album where you can view and comment on over 100 images from my recent adventure in the Philippines.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Shop 'til you Drop"

Before you get too excited thinking that this blog will be another account of how I did something unfortunate like falling off a curb into a hole or down an well-used but non-functioning escalator, I'll tell you up front, it is not. No punch line to this story. :)

I wrote yesterday that on Saturday I "followed" Cat and Faith around Chiang Mai shopping for the various elements needed so the tailor can make Faith's prom dress. We had a couple other things on our shopping list and then -- you'll not be surprised -- occiasionally I got "distracted" by things and we just had to look. Cat and Faith were very patient and gracious.

This photo shows the lower level of a multi-level indoor market -- one of the places we shopped. Most of the food items were on this level. We hiked up to the upper most level looking for "prince pants" that some of Cat's friends in Australia want for their production of the King and I. While there, I found a jacket that I think will come in handy when the AC gets too cold at the hotel this next week and that I'll use as a travel jacket on planes for the same reason. The price was right.

While we shopped I discovered that stores here that carry merchandize from India and Nepal and other near-by countries are way cooler than the ones in the States that carry the same. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the babies napping on cots between racks of clothing. Maybe it's the fact that the prices are in a currency which forces me to do math and there is something about that which is good fun. Maybe it's the fact that I'm more convinced that these things are made by hand when I occasionally see the hands that make them. The colors and textures were breathtaking. Thanks to many well-positioned electric fans, I could endure the heat long enough to enjoy these things.

We purchased juice along the way from a street vendor -- some sort of orange juice which was fantastic and refreshing.

I was happy to be with people who could take me to the market area where locals shop rather than only seeing the markets that are geared for the tourists. This means I saw stores that sell pots and pans, underwear, face creams (almost all with "whitening" ingredients), and school uniforms.

Because I have been in the Philippines for a couple of weeks already, I am greatly enjoying this venture NOT under the influence of jetlag. This is the first time since my summer in China that I've been in Asia without a travel hang-over and it makes a good bit of difference in what I can absorbe. Still, the HEAT and the CLOSE QUARTERS and the "unpredictable" TRAFFIC did eventually have me longing to put my feet up in a quiet place.

Well, we found one. While Faith did homework in the lobby, Cat and I enjoyed a Thai massage. My first. Interesting experience. My western brain has a hard time understanding how what they did to my not-so flexible body -- applying pressure here, stretching there -- cleared my sinuses and took the swelling in my ankles down. But, it did. I'll simply say that I was surprised at how very strong the gentle-speaking, small Thai woman was who pretzled and poked me proved to be.

So, we shopped and then dropped and it was delightful all around.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Beautiful Fruits

As we have wandered through the streets and into indoor markets as well a very modern supermarket this evening, I've been oogling the beautiful fruits. I've had many of these at different times and in different places -- and admittedly like some more than others for eating. But I love LOOKING at all of them.

The 'hairy leeche" (center, back -- red with green) are delicious! I enjoyed those in Indonesia and Costa Rica/Panama though I've not had them on this trip yet. They are refreshing and good.

Thanks to flickr, I can find images like this one online to illustrate my blogging when I forget to take my own camera with me -- or just chose to not take pictures all day.

Fitting and Not Fitting

Saturday's activities included a variety of things toward the goal of Faith having a prom dress that she will enjoy. We visited the tailor twice (the second time only to deliver fabric and notions). It was fun watching Faith work with the designer to design the dress -- using a photo from a magazine and other images and dresses and drawings to establish a plan.

Faith has chosen a periwinkle blue color that is just beautiful. Her design dream will soon be a dress intestead of an idea -- and that is so cool.

My favorite part of the experience was searching for the right lace and the right beads in a variety of stores.

The most uncomfortable part was being in the tailor shop where some of the workers are in the midst of gender transition and it's just hard to not stare. I saw some of this in the Philippines, too. It is apparently fairly common in Asia. But I digress once again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

1 more PASSPORT stamp

This evening I arrived in Thailand -- my first time to this country and I am rather excited to be here.

Yes, excited to get one more stamp in my passport because I still travel infrequently enough to still get a kick out of that. Maybe I always will.

Yes, excited to be a part of something bigger than myself in the meetings I'll be attending as an "official guest" (read that as NO VOTE).

And YES, excited to get to see Cat and Scott Cougill and their kids in the place they currently call "home. I've only seen Tim so far (he is towering over his mom -- and gaining on his dad in height) -- will see Faith in the morning when she and Cat pick me up for breakfast.
I'm staying in the YFC guesthouse. Very convenient. And...SO QUIET after the past few nights in Manila. I may not sleep for the quiet. No, I think that won't be a problem.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Little Princess @ Faith Academy

Tonight I attended the Spring theater production at Faith Academy outside Manila. Kelly Chesnut mentioned that their daughter (and son) were to be in the production and I think I invited myself to come and see.

That turned into lunch at TGIFriday's at the Galleria (near the church were BSF was) and then the journey out to the school for a carpool pick up before hanging out at their house for a few hours.

Those of you who know me well know that this was just about a perfect day for me -- a great way to spend an "extra day" in Manila. I'm so grateful for John and Kelly's WARM hospitality.

So, not only was it fun to see their son David playing the part of a "Child in London" but also their daughter, Melissa (on the right) in the role of Miss Amelia. She played along side Miss Minchin (on the left), portrayed by Alyssa Hause.

Come to find out that Alyssa is the granddaughter of someone I know - Aretta Loving. So fun!

Bible Study Fellowship

Today I attended the Thursday Morning Women's BSF Class in Manila. It was so cool to be with these women in a brand new environment to me but that also felt completely familiar. For those in BSF, you'll understand when I say that the following was "the same" as we are used to:
  1. nametags
  2. two hymns
  3. a visit by the regional leadership team
  4. prayer
  5. small groups
  6. answers with references
  7. everyone prepared shares
  8. announcements about seminars
  9. challenging lecture with clear application points
  10. the sound of dozens and dozens of women talking together -- so glad to be together
  11. the Word of God
  12. the joy of fellowship that rests on the foundation of Christ

The photo is fuzzy. I didn't use the flash as I didn't want to disturb the other groups -- we all met in one room for small group time. Going to BSF was great -- but it made me miss being in my regular group for all these weeks while I'm traveling.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

duck, duck, baalut

(More to come soon...including video of my baalut eating experience if Sandy will share. I think she will.)

Tricycles in the Philippines

While there is a growing number of Filippinos who can afford to own a small motorcycle as a form of personal transportation, most of these vehicles are used as a form of income -- offered for hire.
A motorbike can be a taxi itself (with an extended seat, one can easily hold 5 or 6 Filippinos) or can be fitted with a side-car when it becomes a tricycle.

You see these most on the side streets in Manila where taxis and busses dominate the main roads (but not exclusively there) and in smaller cities. I love them -- they provide inexpensive and relatively reliable transportion from place to place.

Mostly they are used for shorter trips. Depending on your size (these were not designed for Americans in general, and certainly not for those of us who are larger), you can faily comfortably ride 3 to 7 people in one of these vehicles (plus the driver).

The tricycles and jeepnees are all named. On Saturday, Sandy and I found one which shares my name -- and, since we were thinking about hailing one for a trip back to the hotel, we hopped in. The driver told us that his wife's name is Ruth.

I've talked before about getting a golf cart for the transport from home to work in Orlando. I'd love one of these. I won't hold my breath -- we have too many regulatory bodies in the States to ever tolerate the "risk" of this type of transportion system. Too bad. These and jeepnees are really rather efficient and fun.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Underground River, Monkey Trail, and the Beach

On Monday, we had the choice of either going Island Hopping in Honda Bay or of touring the world's longest navigable underground river. A third choice -- a bus tour of historical sites in PPC -- didn't get enough takers to happen mostly because these other two things were so cool and because there were two differnet flights out and back to Cagoncillo island (where Jacqueline lived for most of her time working with the KAgayanan) and many people took that opporutnity.

The journey was long and had it's ups and downs. Lots of them, actully. It was a journey over and thorugh the mountains and thecsecond part of the journey was over a road that is under construction. Our van was as comfortable as it could be -- not crowded and reliably airconditioned with a good driver and able tour guide -- and still we were flung around a good bit. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again. Yes.

So, let me give you a brief outline of the day:
  • breakfast and early departure from the hotel

  • 2 hour van trip over the mountains and through the forrests (Dex was our guide)

  • motorized boat trip out to the island

  • boat ride into the underground river (with a guide who paddled the boat)

  • a "walk" on the monkey trail (that included steep, wooden stairs and then cement stairs)

  • motorized boat trip to the beach back on the main island

  • lunch on the beach (tuna, pork, salad, rice, soup, soda)

  • 2 hour van trip back over the mountains

  • quick stop at a Vietnamese refugee community with few inhabitants

  • hotel for a shower and pre-packing before the evening banquet

I traveled with Sandy, Cory, Kristy, Donna, and Jeanne. Great group. We laughed...a lot.

And, for me personally, after a week of GREAT events held mostly in hotels and other buildings and in the city... I was SO READY for some outdoor time. I needed to see trees and sand and sunshine and flowers and critters of all different sorts. This was a very refreshing day for me. Yeah, nature and time with smart, fun, women who like to laugh a lot -- a very good day.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ask for a vehicle with 4 wheels

On Sunday morning each of the guests on this Vision Trip had an opportunity to "go to church" with a local congregation. Some, who had prior relationships with various ones of the translators naturally joined them. For the remainder of us, we were divided between many of the local churhes who participated in the Friday Papalangga events -- churches with whom Lloyd and Dahl Estrada are working to increase their engagement with various aspects of the Bible translation movements in the Philippines and around the world.

I was paired with Cory (who had come to serve as part of the staff for this week-long event as a friend of Wycliffe) for our Sunday morning advanture. (Cory has lived in the Philippines for 16 years and is engaged an a camping ministry here.)

Pastor Mario del Barrio picked us up at the hotel in his very own tricycle and we traveled the 12k out to his little church that lies just on the edge of the propety of the "prison without walls" I'd visited on Friday.

We arrived in time for the end of Sunday School. The transiton to church was quick and easy. I was only in the building for 2 seconds before I had fond memories of another Pastor Mario and alittle church in San Jose, Costa Rica. While this particular church was a bit more rural, the similarites were uncanny in a very good way.

This church is part of the Assemblies of God denomination -- a fast growing denomination in the Philippines we were told.

Cory and I were both asked to share a testimony, which we gladly did. We might have been asked for more if there had not been a guest speaker: an evangelist from the US who was in the area doing ministry. Who knows. Many from the group were asked to preach at the churches they attended -- and did. I'm hoping to hear more of those stories myself as time goes on.

After the services (which included enthusiastic singing which I greatly enjoyed), the pastor and his wife provided a delicious meal. We sat and talked for a while as a tire on the tricycle needed to be reinflated/fixed before we could make our return trip to PPC and the hotel.

I asked this pastor who had given leadership to the Tree Planting aspect of the Papalangga events and who demonstrated in many ways that he is visionary how I could pray for him and his church and family. He shared many things; I want to pass one along to you and ask you to pray with me for this.

"Pray the God will provide us with a vehicle with 4 wheels."

When Pastor Barrio and his wife were first married (they met at Bible school) God provided a bicycle for their transportation needs. Later, he privded a larget bicycle. As their family grew, they trusted God to provide for thier needs and he came through with a motorcycle (125cc). As needs increased (larger and growing family and more ministry opportunities) they began to pray for a tricycle and, once again, God provided. The pastor shared with us that his youngest daughter recently encouraged (more like admonished, a he tells it) her parents to pray for a larger and more reliable vehicle. Will you pray with me that God will continue to supply all that Pastor Barrio needs and that our Father will specifically continue to interceed in the lives of the pastor's entire family in ways that will increase their faith and that will propell them into further ministry?

Mayor's Banquet: a Celebration of Culture and Conservation

The Most Honorable Mayor of Puerto Princesa City honored us with a delightful meal and celebration of both the cultures of Palawan Island and his city's commitment to conservation and restoration of natural resources.
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Kagayanen Celebration in Puerto Princesa City

This, the fourth of the Kagayanen New Testament + Genesis Scripture Celebrations, is the first urban event of it's kind in the history of Wycliffe's primary strategic partnter's Philippines Branch. While SIL has been working in the Philippines for over 50 years, serving dozens upon dozens of minority language communities in language development, those communities have been rurual, remote even. While the primary islands which are home to the Kagayanen speaking Filippinos are somewhat remote (1 hour by plane from Puerto Princesa City -- which used to be 25 hours by boat), many Kagayanen now live on the island of Palawan, including in the city of PPC. The first Celebration was on the small island home of this language community -- the last was in the city in an air conditioned coluseium. (One of the reasons Wycliffe was able to invite so many guests to join us for this event was precisely because it was held in the city were there is infrastructure to host so many foreigners.)

Those who came from the States all seemed to share common favorite parts of the event, with the highest markes going to the Kagayanen music and dance (espcially an dance that seemed to spontaneously involved many members of the audience), Jo-Ann Richards' song (she is an ethnomusichologist serving in the Americas), and time spent with some of the Kagayanen people before and after the formal event.

I will readily admit that I am not very used to the formalities of events governed by protocol -- which this one was -- and found SOME of that tiresom while other of it was fascinating. I am amazed by how difficult it can be to be comfortable in a culture that is not my own. (More about that in another post.)

We traveled to and fro in busses and tricycles. We started the day in casual dress and, at each event, stepped up our attire until we were rather lovely for our evening banquet. It was a LONG and EXHAUSTING and WONDERFUL day. What a privildge to be able to honor the Kagayanen and the Wycliffe translators who have served in this work along side national translators and assistants for many years.
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Friday, April 18, 2008


This Kagayanen word means “to love” and it stood as the theme for our day which began early with breakfast and a devotional by Dr. Tony Evans. He enthusiastically spoke of the critical work of Bible translation and the foundational role of God’s Word in the heart language. He did not, however, stop there – rather, he reminded us that until God’s Word has done its work in the life of a believer and is manifesting itself in obedience, the translation is incomplete.

Interesting that he chose this topic on a day set aside for practical demonstrations of the love which Christ has for the people of Palawan province. Sa Bawa Wika’s leadership along with Filipino pastors and church leaders from Palawan prepared and lead six different events. Each of us who came to Puerto Princesa City for the Kagayanen dedication had the opportunity to choose one of these ventures and join in the fun.

The Kagayanen speaking community in PPC through a medical mission made possible because of a number of volunteer doctors and nurses, the donation of medicines and medical supplies from a variety of drug companies in the Philippines, and a host of volunteers. Guests were among those volunteers.

Another group was joined by nearly 200 youth of the area and, together, they planted cashew and jack fruit trees. Besides that, under the conviction that God desires to do a new thing in this area, they prayed that God would break the curse of the bole weevil that is infecting the mango trees here, making that crop impossible to export.

Children at two different day care facilities that serve the fishermen of Palawan were visited by a fourth group who prayed for children and parents and teachers, brought many appropriate gifts for the facility, and shared together in a simple program.

Another ministry to children that benefitted from a visit was one serving special needs children who are picked up at their homes, cared for and taught, and returned home again by a group of faithful volunteers. Some from our group joined then for the morning and connected with them through song, puppets, story and lots of hugs.

The final group who ministered to children joined women from a local church and served the children of prison staff and prisoners from a local penal colony. They shared games, story, craft, song and many giggles. I loved participating in this activity. The children – as I have found any group of healthy, happy children, were engaging and creative and delightful.

Also at the prison, a group helped disassemble a bamboo wall, participated in the ceremony to turn over soil and hand over a water filtration system to the prison authorities and then toured the prison and met many of the minimum and medium security inmates.

These two groups who served at the prison and the tree planters gathered at the prison for a lunch prepared by a pastor in that prison community where families live with the inmates (this was started early last century by the US as an experiment – turned over the Filipino government and which continues to run with good success. Our lunch included small crabs, coconut milk through a straw stuck into the coconuts freshly picked, and a salad made from a large flower-bud like “heart” of banana. And rice, there is always rice.

There were a few free hours in the afternoon – different people took naps, explored the crocodile center, shopped at a cultural craft fair at a local church and sat in the lobby and drank coffee.

The day had been HOT and full of energy-draining activity which was also energizing – so most of us needed some kind of rest in the afternoon before the evening banquet where celebrated the day with testimonies and photos and a great meal (as they all have been).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Celebration has Continued

Nearly one month ago, the Kagayanen-speaking Filipinos began celebrating the fact that God's Word (New Testament + Genesis) has been translated into their mother tongue -- the language they understand best.

The language they use at home -- with family and beloved friends.

Not only does this mean that God's Word is more intellectually accessible to them, it means that God connects with them like their most intimate family -- at the heart.

The celebrations began on Cagancillo island -- a place where Kagayaen is spoken by all of the 6500 residents. The celebrations have moved, week by week, to cities where many Kagayan-speakers live on the island of Palawan. This weekend will be the final official celebration.

The festivities began with an event tonight, but really began as family, friends, colleagues, prayer and financial partners and the translation team began to gather in this place. People have come from around the world to be here.

Tonight we dined together (the buffet included a deliciou tofu dish, a meatball in cream sauce dish, and a Vietnamese style chili squig dish along with rice and for dessert: FRESH FRUIT) and then enjoyed a program presented by the Kagayanen translation team that told the story of God's working through them to do this work.

Dinner was delayed as we waited for the last plane to arrive with passangers from Manila (including some who had been traveling for more than 36 hours already from as far away as Orlando). Everyone easily agreed that it was more important to have everyone present than to start on time.

Tonight I am tired, but filled with gratitude for the ways that God engages people in the building of his Kingdom.

Tomorrow is a ministry day. I'm going to prison....but that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hey look, its, me, me

(Before I start...if anyone can tell me why blogger sometimes adds extra lines between paragraphs and sometimes removes all of the lines I add between paragraphs, I'll be very grateful. I give up for today. The one-time English teacher in me is made nutso by the fact that I can't get the formatting to work properly in this. Maybe I need to learn HTML so I can control the universe. Take over the world. Yes, that's it!!)

Okay, sitting at lunch on Sunday, someone who will go unnamed (but really, the options are somewhat limited by where I am and how few people I know here) asked me why a person would have both a Blog and a FaceBook page. She had just set up her first blog and was wondering if she really wanted to take the FB plunge.

My response -- at least the short and first one -- was simple: narcissism.

Okay, I'm not talking about clinical narcissim as described in this interesting article in Psychology Today. I'm talking about the tendency some of us have to need to connect to people and the strategy that seems to say that if I put myself out there, others will reciprocate by offering some of themselves in return. It is a relational exchange gone cyber. It is web 2.0 at its simplest common denominator. (And blogging and FB, along with the evil twin MySpace, are basic 2.0 environs.)

So, to illustrate I took a photo of myself in the mirror of myself on the screen with my webcam. Being a "half" art major in college, I sat in enough early morning critiques to know that I could find all sorts of other symbolism in the photo -- symbolism that is there, but that I didn't intend.

I have a word for that...placing prior intentionality on current reality. Shoot...Heather? Aileen? Can either of you remember what I called that?

The point of all this? You tell me.

Yesterday, my friend -- the with whom I'd had lunch and who was wondering whether she should jump into 2.0 with both feet or just one -- she took the plunge. So, if you've recently recived a friend request by a FB newbie who happens to be in Manila right now...yeah, it's probably her. You could be Jessica Fletcher with all that deductivity.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I may not catch up on my work today, but I am working at it. Mozart is playing from iTunes on my laptop and I've been working through email. The sound of Manila traffic in the background is...un-ignorable.

Most recently I have been filling out my registration form for Leadership Rising (a course I'll be taking in August) which is requiring me to update my resume and then describe what aspects of each of my jobs I found most satisfying. I've chosen to only highlight those jobs I've had beginning with teaching in 1986 or I'd need another day to fill in the details of all those short-term, part-time employment challenges.

I've got a "meeting" scheduled for this afternoon to talk about multi-cultural/diversity stuff, about Facebook and Blogging, and whatever else we decide is critical.

Even later this afternoon, I have an "appointment" for a manicure & pedicure. I'm splurging and having this done at the hotel in my room rather than wandering the streets looking for something. That means it will cost $10 total instead of $6 or $7.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

From one Place to Another

(This is a longer-than-usual rambling with too much detail and no real point at all. Just want to give you fair warning. Really...there is still time to click away.)

Friday morning I woke up in Lisse, Netherlands where I had breakfast, finished packing and checked out of the Golden Tulip. I caught the #61 bus to the Int'l Airport in Amsterdam and checked in and waited for departure. Great...HUGE...busy, busy airport.

Malaysian Airlines is a decent carrier from my limited experience. I was fortunate to have a window seat in a "3" with no one in the other 2 seats until a man came up and took the aisle seat (he'd probably been in a less-roomy place and couldn't resist). He slept and watched a movie. I watched more than my share of movies on this 12 hour flight -- including Enchanted (pretty cute, entertaining) and Kite Runner (great story, well-filmed, consider it recommended - though not for children).

We landed in Kuala Lumpur just before 6 am. The aiport was quiet at that hour, but by 7 things were hopping. I walked and walked, sat a snoozed, had "breakfast" and walked some more. This next flight was on a smaller plane but my seat situation was the same as on the first flight -- window seat with no one else in the "3." By this flight I was TIRED and a little fuzzy. I read some and did BSF "homework." I started to listen to the Chronicles of Narnia, but I think I fell asleep.

Now, here is where the story gets a little complicated. I was scheduled to arrive in Manila at 2:30 pm. The flight left KL at 9:15 am. When we got on the plane the pilot said that the flight would last 2 hours and 25 minutes. This should have been a clue, but I was too fuzzed to comprehend.
Just befor noon we landed. I remember thinking that the airport was smaller than I'd remembered, but last time I was here I'd arrived in the middle of the night and things look different in the middle of the day (clue 2). Announcements are being made in Maylay and English (with accent) and I'm not sure what they said. (I wasn't really paying attention - pretty typical for people who fly a lot I'm afraid.) I disembarked into a terminal and followed the signs to IMMIGRATION. Along the way it was evident that they were doing construction and so when things didn't look familiar (clue 3) I determined that jet lag (then and now) and construction made it so.

The lines for IMMIGRATION were short. When I approached the officer there, she asked why I had not gotten an immigration stamp in KL and I explained that I was checked directly through from Amsterdam to Manila and didn't go through immigration in KL. She took my passport and ticket receipt (e-tickets, so that's all I had) to an office and came back and stamped my passport and told me to have a nice stay.

I went down the stairs to baggage claim, mentally planning how I would exit to the Coupon Cab stand and catch a taxi to the hotel. So glad to be nearly "there." But the baggage claim didn't look right. At all. Not anything close. It looked familiar, but it looked like the baggage claim in Jamaica - not Manila. I began to look around and realized that all the tourism signage was talking about Maylaisa. Hmmmm (clues 4 and 5).

It was at this moment that I relized that I was NOT IN MANILA. (Apparently we'd stopped in "KK" in eastern Malaysia on our way and I had no idea.) I about-faced and headed back up the stairs, wondering if I could get arrested for entering IMMIGRATION from the back side, and asking God to please give me favor and HELP! :)

I returned to the immigration officer I'd worked with the first time and she engaged the supervisor and then went with me to a Malaysian Airlines counter to at least start the process of getting me back where I belonged. After a few conversations and a mad dash through the airport through which I'd just come and with no certainly of when the flight I was supposed to be on was scheduled to leave, I arrived at Gate A4 where the airline personnel smiled and handed me a TRANSFER TICKET and told me we'd be boarding in a few mintues...after I told them a fast version of my story.

The rest of the journey looks rather boring from there. I had my same seat with no one anywhere close. I snoozed. We landed (and it looked like I remembered it) and I stood in line in immigration (I was in line 16 of 20 lines open) for 40 minutes or so, was granted admission on a 21-day tourist visa, grabbed my bags and exited through customs without incident. I crossed the street to the Coupon Cab building and had a simple 530.00 peso ride to the Villa.

I checked in and the bellhop brought me to my suite. It is LOVELY! I was here long enough test the facilities, drink some water and check the WiFi before Sandy Gould called with supper plans. That put me into gear to shower/dress before she and the Gammons picked me up for Indian food. Delicious. (Photo at the right -- it was empty when we arrived for dinner because this was disco night and the fun wouldn't be starting until later. We didn't stay for that.) We wandered around the "mall" where that place was, had ice cream and I was home by 9 and in bed by 9:30 pm. That would be 3:30 pm the day after I left the Netherlands.

So, here is the deal: it was fun. Oh, I sweat too much when I was running through the airport and I felt a little stupid when I realized that "I'm not in Manila" of course -- but mostly it was fun. Maybe it's the jet lag.

Friday, April 11, 2008

POSTCARD: Netherlands

Okay, I could have purchased a bunch of cheesey (and lovely) tourist postcards and postage (and it's not all about this, but it would be cost about 3.50 Euros each for that combo and that's even more that Dollars and well, SOME of the time, electronic communication is just plain the best option), but instead I made this from photos from our garden tour and emailed it to a bunch of folk who get regular email updates from me (regular is loosely defined here).

Want to have these delivered direct to your in box? Write and ask to be added to the list.

If you usually receive these emails from me but did not get this one, I apologize. I was working from my work laptop and didn't have the full list with me.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ten Boom House in Haarlem

The Ten Boom's family lived here in the city of Haarlem when the German occupation began during WWII. For generations, this family's home served as a refuge for those in need -- orphans, immigrants, neighbors. For generations, this family's life found purpose, direction and peace in a vibrant relationship with God -- through prayer, through the Word, and in commuity with others who loved and served Him. They didn't just wake up one morning and decide to hide Jews in their home because Hitler was acting badly. The story that made this family known to so many of us was a season of sacrifice that represented a lifetime of the same.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

I'm not sure there is much to write that will make this say more than it says already.

We wandered through the Keukenfhof gardens for about 90 minutes on Wednesday evening and probably saw about 1/3 of all there was to see. Open from March 20 through May 18 this year, the Keukenhof is a historic park full of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and all the other Spring bulbs. I the midst of all of this are also exquisite works of art. (Can you imagine how much I enjoyed this?)

The sights. The scents. The sounds. It was extraordinary.

My favorites were the crocus. These "first" Spring blooms hold such hope of thing to come that are "better" at the end of a long winter.

I wish you could have all been here with me.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

::Chew on this Noodle::

I heard someone say this just now:
Doing more of what isn't working won't get anything done.

So, do you have any examples that demonstrate the truth of this?

I was thinking about the simple stuff like when I've gotten my car stuck in the mud or snow and somehow thought gunning the engine and spinning the wheel would make the unmoving car actually move. It rarely doesn. Usually, it makes my situation worse.

Beyond that, though, I was thinking about how I've done it with cross-language communication. Really, how many of us have spoken to someone only to find out that the person doens't speak the language we speak. Our solution: LOUDER.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

GET UP & EAT (liminality, part 2)

So, I ask again (a few hours later, after eating dinner -- I mean, I had to be obedient to the command to "get up and eat" didn't I?, ): What kind of message is that from a holy, mighty, all-knowing God in either of these circumstances? And what does this have to do with me?

Before I begin answer that, let me clarify that I'm not going to wade through the whole teaching -- so I'm not going to even attempt the first question; rather, I'm going straight to the application and the second question. What does this have to do with me?

When I'm in a betwixt and between place in my own life, what must I consider? Where must I direct my thinking and for what things must I seek? Gerald suggested four things that resonated with me and my own recent liminary places/times.

ONE: What is the NEW CHAPTER of God's mission for me? When I can tell that something has ended (and we sometime, maybe even often, know this before it literally ends), what am I doing to identify the new thing that is next? And am I doing this is a way that is unrushed and at peace -- resting in the assurance that God has had a plan all along and it's good?

TWO: What new destination is emerging? "Get up and eat" is good avice especially when I am preparing for a journey that will be long and for which I need to prepare myself. Can I see anything on the horizon? Any cues that would suggest I should start moving in a direction?

THREE: What baggage must I leave behind? Like Elijah who was nearly undone by the reality that some just couldn't see GOD, even when God demonstrated his power in huge ways, must I let go of my sense that there are formulas that govern the universe and that like a vending machine I can put in certian coin and pull certain levers and be assured of certain outcome? Or, like Peter, must I be willing for God to move me in a totally opposite direction and set aside the baggage of a life-long commitment and what any would agree are good habits or customs?

FOUR: What new partnerships -- holy alliances -- are ready for engagement? Is there someone God is brining into my life for just this season? Am I willing for this person to NOT be who I expected? AM I willing for this person to be my ultimate "replacement" in something I feel a little bit like I own?

And finally, a few nuggets that I wrote in the margins:
  • Change has always been normal.
  • God usually speaks to me with a message that is FOR me and not with a message for someone else.
  • God is relentlessly committed to doing what He is doing.


Main Entry: liminality
Part of Speech: n
Definition: the condition of being on a threshold or at the beginning of a process
Etymology: Latin limen 'threshold'

Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7)Copyright © 2003-2008 Lexico Publishing Group, LLC

This morning Gerald Kelly (pastor of Crossroads International Church in Amsterdam) helped us look at the stories of Elijah (recorded in 1 Kings 19) and Peter (recorded in Acts 10) noting that each of these were liminal experiences -- times when they were "betwixt and between" what had been before and what was about to come next.

This liminality is often associated with that state between dreaming and being awake. In a Celtic culture, dusk was considered luminal. In many more primative cultures, the rites of passage for an adolescent are states of luminality. Interesting concept of "between."

One of the suggestions Gerald made is that God speaks to us in these threshold moments -- and I have to admit that it's true in my own life and I see it in Scripture. When the old thing has just ended (perhaps because of a choice or because of an epiphany of some sort -- and the new thing has not at all become clear. When our eyes are still adjusting to the new light having just come from a different light altogether. When we are filled with the most inconvenient emotions and cluttered thoughts and that odd feeling it the gut that might be bad pizza or fear.

  • exhausted
  • isolated
  • alienated
  • in a culture that has changed (or, more correctly, did not change) in ways he is struggling to understand
  • just after a HUGE demonstration of the POWER of GOD, the king and queen do not repent
  • and Elijah is thrown into a rather deep depression


  • overwhelmed by change
  • growing in God
  • new to leadership
  • in a context in which God was doing things he struggled to understand -- God asking him to DO things Peter had never done out of obedience to God who had told him not to do them
  • just after a HUGE demonstration of the POWER of GOD, thousands repent
  • and Peter knows he is in over his head


In both cases, God says "GET UP AND EAT."

What kind of message is that from a holy, mighty, all-knowing God in either of these circumstances? And what does this have to do with me?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Your Postcard from Lisse

Notes of interest (in my opinion, at least):
1. This photo was not taken in holland, but rather in oregon and sent to me by Dorothea last week as she knows how much I love SPRING flowers and she was reporting on the progress of this annual miracle.
2. Clicking on the image able will open the full-size image in your browser -- making it readable.
3. Chocolate sprinkles are quite popular here. They taste more like chocolate than the "chocolate flavored" sprinkles you get in the States most of the time.
4. We are on our own for dinner. I love the adventure. No kidding.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

"How was your flight?"


I was in Detroit, at the gate early for my second flight of the day. I asked the airline desk person to check for an aisle seat for me which I was willing to trade for a window seat. She said she found me one and I took it -- only to find out she'd moved me to the center seat of 3 in the middle, third from the last row on the plane. Yes, this was for my Detriot to Amsterdam leg.


I had a seat between two friendly, healthy human beings on a flight that left on time and arrived early. My seat reclined as it is designed to do. The tray table worked. The in-flight entertainment system worked and offered movies I was interested in seeing. Unlike many colleagues here, I was not stuck at Heathrow for HOURS because of snow and other issues and my luggage arrived with me. It was a pretty good flight.

Friday, April 04, 2008

10:44 PM and I'm finally packed

It always takes longer than I expect, unless I expect it to take a long time and then it's over before you know it. 

Small confession: I have more stuff packed than I wanted to be packing.  Still, it's a not-full backpack and two "carry on" sized roller bags of which I'll check one.  

I'll climb in bed shortly and sleep pretty well, I hope. While I sleep, my ipod and phone are charging.  Ah, technology.

My next entry should be from Amsterdam...or, more correctly, Lisse. 

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wycliffe Needs Teachers!!

On Monday a group of us met and commissioned over 1000 boxes (before carrying them down and loading them on a truck to go to the Post Office) carrying information about MISSION: TEACH to over 1000 colleges and universities. 

We prayed for the biology teacher who will one day serve in a missionary school in Asia and the 2nd grade teacher who will one day serve in an international school in the Pacific and the grade school teacher who will thrive an itinerant role  serving  home school students in Africa -- teachers who are now students in these 1000+ schools who will hear about MISSION: TEACH from a placement counselor.

MISSION: TEACH is actually a website that pulls job opening positions from over 100 schools around the world into a single database rather than being posted "a dozen here and a dozen there" on mission organization websites and school websites. 

As I understand there are at least 300 openings for the 2008-2009 school year waiting for qualified teachers to fill them. Check it out for yourself by following the links in this blog. If you know teachers who would be interested, send them a link to this blob using the "envelope" icon below. They'll thank you. Or smack you with their red pen... but you're not afraid of no teacher's red pen are you?

If those teachers go through Wycliffe -- develop a partnership team that prays and sends them, including financial support -- then some Wycliffe MK's (Missionary Kids) will get tuition breaks (significant, make-private-school-affordable kind of breaks) at the school where the Wycliffe teacher teaches. How cool is that?!  


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Kube of PNG receive God's Word

On March 21, the 10,000 Kube people of Papua New Guinea received the New Testament in the language they understand best -- their own mother tongue. This photo shows a procession of men carrying the 74 boxes of the New Testaments to the dedication service. During the service a pastor shared that God's Word is food -- necessary for life.  1,200 copies of the Kube New Testament were sold that day while the people danced for joy.  (Photo by Doug & Jan Hanson)

a poem about tulips that my momma taught me

I'm quite excited that next week at this time I'll be having dinner in a HUGE tulip garden. I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE Spring flowers (tulips, crocus, lilac, iris, daffodils) and the only way to have those here in Florida is inside, from a florist, or I've heard that you can "fake" them out by putting them in the freezer for part of the last part of the summer and then make them think that Fall is Spring. Or something like that.  Anyhow, that's not the point. The point is that when I see tulips I almost always think of the poem my momma used to say about these Spring wonders. I thought you'd like me to share:

Tulips in the garden
Tulips in the park
But my favorite Tulips
Are two lips in the dark

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

travel challenges AND solutions

TRAVEL CHALLENGE #82: the feeling that i will FORGET something
  • forget to pack something critical that i need there and can't get there unless i took it with me in the first place which i did not
  • forget to do something here before  i am there and can't do it here any more until too late
  • forget to put things i need with me on the plane into my carry-on or things i can't take with me on the plane in the checked bag and that i'll be in a fix in security or something like that
  • forget my passport and thereby miss my flight
SOLUTION TO TRAVEL CHALLENGE #82: lists, lots and lots of lists 

TRAVEL CHALLENGE #147: multiple event types and limited luggage
  • a celebration banquet hosted by the city mayor on an island with VIP's from multiple countries and cultures
  • business meetings in a hotel in the Netherlands with more CEO's than any other species 
  • a day serving the practical needs of a community
  • an elephant ride (or monkey encounter or river raft excursion)
  • a conference in a WELL air conditioned hotel in a HOT climate
  • pedicures (I'll be in Asia for 4 weeks and I'm sure there will be a pedicure or two in my near future)
  • international flights with minimal (thank you!) airport time
  • hanging out with friends
SOLUTION TO TRAVEL CHALLENGE #147: clothes that dress up or down with accessories, hotel laundry service, and that flashy pen from MIB so at least "I" can forget I've worn this outfit 6 times already on this trip

TRAVEL CHALLENGE #231: weeds -- in Florida in April my garden will have opportunity to grow a LOT of weeks

SOLUTION TO TRAVEL CHALLENGE #231: plant flowers -- 5 weeks ago I put SEEDS into the ground and this is the perfect time to NOT be PULLING WEEDS because I don't want to disturb the new plants until they have a chance to establish themselves