Saturday, February 27, 2010

Riding the Trikes

These motorcycles with attached little cab were our main mode of transportation while we were in Boracay. We fit quite a few people in each one; we could get three in the front, if one of them was Gwen, one on the seat behind the driver, and four on the two little bench seats in back. Amazing!
The ride was slightly harrowing at first, but became more and more fun as we got used to it. The dust that was kicked up and the exhaust from all the trikes made the air quality a bit poor, but overall it was pretty cool to ride this way.

Seth took this video while we were on a trike one day. This is on the main road that runs the length of the island. You'll see when you watch it that he has sped it up just a tad... makes it more fun to watch!
video

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On the Outside!


Look who's here! Naomi Avigail, our newest niece, was born to Scott's sister Jenna and her husband Andrew on February 24th. With three big sisters, this little girl will be well loved and mothered! Our arms will be aching until we can hold you this summer, Avi!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

At the Construction Site

While we were in Boracay, we worked at the construction site for the new ministry center (medical and dental clinics, Christian school, adult Bible classes) for four days. The couple of Filipino men who are in charge of the project took pity on the women and gave us the least strenuous job, cutting and twisting wire for tying re-bar joints. Here we are in action, and below are the guys using the wires we'd cut to secure the re-bar frames for cement pillars on the second level of the structure.
I mentioned in an earlier post that there was a group of students and faculty from a Christian school in Korea that were also working at the site. Our kids joined them in shoveling sand and gravel for concrete into buckets to haul up to the second level, where the cement for the new pillars was to be mixed and poured.

Madelyn was pleased to get a chance to be part of the bucket brigade.The guys may have had the most fun on the demolition aspects at the construction site. A portion of an old building remained on the site that needed to be removed in order to complete the second level of the new structure. Sledge hammer, jack hammer... they were all over it! Pretty cool to get to try these things and see real demolition happen.

Gwen did amazingly well for all the hours we were at the site. She did try her hand at wire cutting, pictured here, but it was really pretty tough to do, especially for her. We used her services as a runner, to carry completed twists of wire up to those who needed it on the second level. Gwen makes friends wherever she goes, and she quickly had several of the high school students from the Korean school wrapped around her little finger. She also found some local kids who hung out around the site to be good playmates.
Ah, one more task. The guys worked together to coil this re-bar into a spring-like shape to create the framework for additional pillars.
It was pretty cool to work at this site and see that we really did help make progress. I loved that our boys got to do some pretty strenuous physical labor... that's got to be good for character development, I think! Before we left Boracay, we stopped back at the site to see the completed pillars with the frames removed. We'd love to help organize some teams from Concordia and our church to go to Boracay to help further the progress on this much-needed facility. Who knows, maybe our family will even get to go again. It was indeed a privilege.

Cuddle Crazy

Madelyn has started a blog by this name, Cuddle Crazy. She intends it to be all pictures she has taken of pets. :-) Click here to get to it or find the link in my sidebar. She is super excited for someone to comment on her first post... can some of you oblige her? Thanks!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Babies


We went to six feeding centers for impoverished children while we were in Boracay. At each one, Madelyn and Elise looked for babies to cuddle and care for while we were there. Sometimes the babies had been brought by older siblings, who were happy to have a break from caring for the little one so that they could play with the other children.
At this site, the girls actually got to feed this sweet little one. It was a big treat for them to do!

It was fun for Scott and I to watch Madelyn with the babies. In the past, although she loves her baby cousins and has occasionally fed them bottles or tickled them, she hasn't paid that much attention to babies. In recent months she's become more and more interested in them. Her Aunt Jenna is expecting our newest niece or nephew any day now, and Madelyn has been talking about how fun it will be to have a baby to care for when we're in the US this summer.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Seth and Water

Can you believe this Boracay water? It is such a beautiful, clear color! We couldn't get enough of it... probably why I have about 1200 pictures to sort through this week. :-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jewels


We've been in Boracay for five days now, and I'm posting here for the first time. Frankly, we've been too busy for me to sit down and do this, but I've also been struggling to process this whole experience.

Boracay is one of God's jewels, I think... an amazingly beautiful, tiny (1 mile by 7 miles) island in the Philippines. The water is a crystal clear vivid aqua color, the sky a deep blue, the sand on the beaches is pure white and powdery soft. The temperature is perfectly warm and not at all humid. The nearby islands are mountainous and green, creating a lovely, picturesque backdrop. The stars in the sky at night are countless. The natural beauty of Boracay is amazing.

And then there are the people. The people we've encountered here are the children of the poor and the poorest of the poor. We're working with a ministry here that has feeding sites located in the most impoverished areas of the island, providing meals to well over a thousand children each week. They come for a Bible story and songs, first aid, a vitamin, and a meal. We've been privileged to be a part of five feeding sites now, and our eyes have been opened to need like we've not ever seen first hand. Chickens, pigs, and mangy dogs roam around. Homes are literal huts. Garbage strewn everywhere. Little children with their teeth rotting in their mouths. Children with no shoes and even some with no pants. Children thrilled to get a sticker on their hand and a bowl of rice porridge. Children smiling and singing about Jesus inspite of their dire circumstances. A fifteen year old the size of an eight year old, probably from lack of nutrition, and unable to go to school because he must care for siblings. A little one I pulled onto my lap for a quick snuggle who stayed and stayed... we are told that many of these children's parents have no time or inclination to provide even basic care for their children. Children who are also God's jewels.

We are trying to process all of this that we've seen and experienced, rolling it all around in our heads and hearts, along with Jesus' words about "the least of these."

The feeding sites operate in the late afternoon. For a few hours each morning and early afternoon, we've been able to join with an international school group from Korea in working at a construction site where the ministry is building on a structure that will eventually house a medical and dental clinic, Christian school, and adult Bible training classes for the needy. The building has been in process since May 2007. They build as funds and workers are available. We've been shoveling sand and gravel for cement, cutting and twisting wire to secure re-bar, applying the wire to the re-bar joints, and even doing a bit of jackhammering. Tomorrow several cement pillars on the second level will be poured; we're all excited to help make that happen and know that it is due in some small part to our efforts.

In between construction and feeding sites, we've done a little swimming at the beach that is less than a hundred yards from the doors to our rooms in our spartan little hotel that faces the azure water. We've had long, relaxed dinners at restaurants with tables set up on the sand, under the starry sky.

Tomorrow we will go to the construction site again. We will go to yet another destitute area of this beautiful island and feed the children that gather there. And then for the next two days before we leave, we will not go. We might go on a snorkeling excursion to another island. We'll play at the beach. We'll eat in another restaurant. We might go sailing at sunset. But the children will still be hungry. They will lack options in their little lives. But because of the wonderful people here who have committed their lives to serving the least of these, they will hear about Jesus and experience His love.

And we will go home changed. And then what?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ballon Animals For Boracay

Tonight Seth and I are learning how to make balloon animals from an internet tutorial... little dogs to be exact. We've found we can make a dog look like a giraffe if we adjust the sizes of the neck and ears. Seth is a natural; I am a bit more cautious, fearing the inevitable "POP" that we've experienced on several attempts. I think our balloons are a bit cheaply made, too, as we've torn the necks of quite a few just getting them on or off of the pump that we have to blow them up.

We're not just making balloon animals for fun, although it is fun. We're learning how to make them so we can make them in the coming days for the children of Boracay, in the Philippines, the poor children that come to the feeding centers run by Boracay For Christ. We're leaving tomorrow morning to spend a week in Boracay helping the couple that runs this organization. We will make balloon animals, sing songs, put band-aids on boo-boos, serve meals, help with construction on a minstry center, and maybe play on the beach a bit too.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chinese New Year Decoration


I found this bunch of curly bamboo with the tiny Chinese lanterns tied to the stalks at a street flower vendor yesterday. I have the bunch of bamboo in a vase on our dining room table. Aren't the tiny lanterns cute? :-)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Basketball Tournament

Caleb's basketball season ended on Saturday with a final three game tournament. They lost the first game, but played just about the best basketball of their season to win the second two games, putting their team in fifth place overall.

I mentioned before that the father of one of Caleb's teammates has an amazing camera and takes exceptional sports photographs. These are a sampling of the 500 pictures he took during the three games the guys played Saturday.
I love the intensity this photo captures.

Check out this great block!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 06, 2010

I've been wanting to take a picture like this...

...since we've lived here! It is a fairly common site where we live, these bicycle carts loaded with impossibly large loads of styrofoam or empty bottles for recycling, but I've rarely seen one when I had my camera with me. Today as I was walking back from Concordia with the girls, we saw this one coming from a ways down the street. I had the camera because we had come from a basketball game, so I stood the girls on the far side of the street and ran back to the middle of the street for a good shot.
There is a famous photographer here in China, known for capturing shots of daily life, who has a well-known print very similar to this one... his is of a load of empty bottles, but is a similar size load to my photo. I'm pretty pleased to have captured this China scene with my own camera!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Resemblance

Last night Gwen and I were reading an adoption themed book before bed entitled, "Every Year On Your Birthday", by Rose Lewis. The author is recounting what she and her adopted Chinese daughter have done on each of the little girl's birthdays and telling how they remember her Chinese family with love, especially at birthday time.

We came to this illustration, (on the left) and Gwen, who often wonders when we read adoption themed books if the story is about her, said, "Is that me? It looks like me." As I looked at it, I realized that we had this photo of her (on the right) in a family photo book that did look remarkably similar. I got it out and she and I compared the two. Amazing! Even down to the little ponytail on the same side and the fact that both pictures are on stairs.

The photo of Gwen was taken in the late spring after her second birthday, just about six months after she joined our family. She is wearing a sweet little Laura Ashley dress that my dear friend Rebecca bought in a second hand shop for Madelyn, right after we found out during my pregnancy with her that we were expecting a girl. :-) Both Madelyn and Rebecca's daughter Emma Grace wore the dress before it was passed down to Gwen.

This isn't the first time that Gwen "saw herself" in a story book. A couple of years ago she was sure that the illustration in a particular book was of her and Seth. Click here to see the post I wrote about it in November 2006.
Posted by Picasa