Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Do You Serve Others?

Our company is gone now, so I'm back to my blogging schedule (as if there ever was one).

If you've received an email from me, you have seen the following quote:
"The world cannot always understand one's profession of faith, but it can understand service." --Ian MacLaren

On Saturday, my family and I went on one of the best day trips since living in the Philippines. We met some of the most amazing people living in an amazing corner of the world doing an amazing job. What motivates them? The love of JESUS!

Before moving here, I was given the name of a couple here that we needed to meet. I conversed with this couple via email for a few months. Finally, they planned a trip to Manila to pick up supplies and we arranged to meet one another. So, in mid-January, I finally met Jim and Moni Webb. My Fondren friends should know who I'm talking about. They were two of the most passionate, friendly, humble people I've ever met. Dwayne wasn't with me when we met but I told him I was really interested in visiting them.

For a little background, Jim and Moni are an older couple who donated financially to missionary work for most of their lives. After retirement, they were asked to go to the Philippines for 6-9 months to assist with work there. They've been here almost 10 years now and live in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. They live and work with the indigenous Filipino people and most of you probably have no idea who I'm talking about. The Filipinos that we are familiar with are mostly descendants of Chinese or Malay immigrants to the Philippines. The indigenous group of people are much darker and smaller. They have been pushed farther and farther away from the cities here; many have to live in the mountainous terrain which offers a much harder way of life. These people have been purposely left out in terms of education, employment, technological advances, etc. Their life span is about 30 years shorter than the average Filipino.

To get to Mamburao, we had to ride by car about 2 hours to Batangas, then ride by ferry for 2 1/2 hours to Abra de Ilog in Occidental Mindoro, then another 45 minute ride to Mamburao. This just got us to Jim and Moni's house. To get to the villages they serve would have taken either a 6 hour hike or another boat ride.

Last year, they built a huge house that serves as an administrative building for the missionary work, a dormitory for the transitioning missionaries, provides jobs for the villagers, has a garden for food, and is basically a place where the villagers know they can get help or feel loved or anything else that's necessary. They have taught basic hygiene like bathing, brushing teeth, proper disposal of feces (ugh, I know), eating healthier, proper rest, and probably much more. They have instilled the importance of education which proved to be difficult because these people weren't allowed to learn and didn't really understand the importance. So far, they have built 3 elementary school and have plans to build a high school.

Most of the missionaries are very young people from the Philippines, American, and Australia. They have the most colorful stories to tell. They have the maturity of people twice their ages. Most of all, they possess such humility and love that it's almost tangible.

So, this all led Dwayne and I to question ourselves. How do I serve? What more can I do? We used to do a lot more like feeding the homeless, working in food banks, donating time. Now, we primarily donate money but it doesn't offer the same satisfaction as when we donate ourselves. Granted, money is definitely necessary because it allows the work to grow but we can do more than that. When our children were born, it definitely slowed us. You can't take them everywhere and there's not always a babysitter available. I believe God has been showing me ways that we can serve with them. The main thing that keeps coming to mind is visiting the elderly in nursing homes. So many have been forgotten and abandoned. I know my babies can bring a smile to their faces and I'm sure the elderly will bring a smile to ours as well. This is something I plan to begin next month when we go back home.

Now, I ask you all. What do you do? How do you make a difference? If you don't now, I'm not trying to pass judgment because I'm not doing much myself. But, I do ask that you think about it because there are so many people in our own cities that need our love.

As always, here are pictures.

The little boy is the son of Filipino missionaries. The lady is a high school teacher, named Lisa.

This couple are missionaries. He was telling us an interesting story about the 6 hour hike to take a little girl to a doctor. During the hike, they were literally covered by leeches.

Horrible picture but this was a Black guy from Atlanta named Leroy. He came over at the young age of 17 to teach the village children. He told us about the cobra snakes.

These two young ladies are both elementary school teachers. They had very touching stories about how they've seen beautiful changes in the lives of their young pupils.

This lady is an elementary teacher who is also teaching the mothers to read in the evenings. The little boy in the first picture is her son.

Husband of lady above. He's also a teacher and he was asked by the men in the village to teach them mathematics. This family is Filipino.

Brayden sitting on Jim's shoulder as he takes us on a tour of the property.

The vegetable garden.

Jim and Moni's house/Dormitory/Administrative building.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Danae - The Chef

Today, the chefs in our building held a 2 hour cooking class for the children here. It was a lot of fun! Here's what they made:

One thing I don't understand is why more parents didn't join the festivities. Most dropped their kids off and left. A lot of kids were under the age of 5 and really needed one-on-one adult supervision. I've noticed that some expat parents here seem to consider their children a bother and want to get rid of them whenever possible. Sad!

Anyway, Danae had fun. Her partner was a 7 year old named Conrad. He was very sweet and got over his disappointment of being paired with a 3 year old.

As usual, here are a few pics from the event.

Danae "reading" the recipe

Waiting for instructions

Danae and Conrad heating up the cream for the truffles

Mixing cookie dough (Isn't he the cutest little boy?)

Danae eating the truffle mixture

They got to take home their hat, apron, and a wooden spoon. Fun times!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Please forgive my absence

My inlaws have been here since March 8th and I've been spending time with them. I'll get back on it though, I promise.

In the meanwhile, I just wanted to let you guys know that we're moving back to Houston. We just don't know the exact date yet but it should be in April. Now, we're a little sad about leaving the Philippines. Just a little. It's not enough to keep us here though. It's been a fun ride!

I'll post more later.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Happy Birthday to Dwayne!

Today is Dwayne's 32nd birthday. This post is just to wish him a happy and wonderful birthday. He was only 20 when we met and started dating. Where has the time gone?

I am blessed to have a very wonderful husband. I hope he celebrates many, many more.

I love you, Dwayne.

To Keisha - Happy birthday to you too, girlie! I hope your day is fabulous!!!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Javares Washington's Children

I'm sure you guys remember that I just went home for my cousin's funeral. I thought I would post a couple of pictures of his beautiful children.

As some of you know, I'm really not very good at keeping in touch with anyone. Of course, I talk to my dad and aunts regularly. The only cousin I kept in touch with regularly was Javares. My friends and I keep in touch through email. I know it's something I need to work on and I will. For now, I am really putting forth the effort to stay in contact with his children. So, I have to go home in May for his son's kindergarten graduation and his daughter will turn 1 year old in April so I'm going to try to make that as well. If not, I'll definitely send a nice gift.

Anyway, here are the pics. I hope you're all having a fabulous day.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Taste of Heaven on Earth

Yeap……Yeap…….Yeap……… is the maestro sitting at the keyboard informing you of another place that figuratively gave me a little taste of Heaven on Earth. Recently, my wife has been begging me to blog about something that has happened to us in the Philippines, but there is no need for me to blog about anything because she has always been involved with and captured in her blogspot just about all the activities that we engaged in except for one. While my wife and children were on an unexpected trip to the USA (Pensacola, FL) for a funeral, I decided to take advantage of a long weekend and took a journey to another beautiful part of the Philippines. This place is called Palawan.

The memories of our visit to Boracay have been forever etched in my brain; however, the most exotic and gorgeous place that I have been to in the world is a place found in Southeast Asia. In order to travel to this place you must take a chartered plane from a hangar that is not connected to the main airport terminal. Interesting………but scary!

Yes, this plane was an old unpressurized propeller jet where the passenger in the first seat could literally touch the pilot on the shoulder if he/she desired and commandeer the plane without any resistance. Also, you could feel every time the wind changed direction or the slightest air pocket (very bumpy ride). I am so glad that God is in control! Take a look at a couple of aerial pictures of God’s creation tainted by sin.


Upon arrival at El Nido, Palawan (75 minute flight from Manila), the local natives serenaded the tourists with a greeting song
and then we were escorted to the airport terminal which was located within 25 yards of the dirt landing strip. WOW! Next, you are then asked to board a jeepney and take a 15 minute ride to El Nido town to get on a boat. I must mention that the total population of El Nido is about 11,000 people. The boat ride to the resort is about 50 minutes. During your time on the boat, the activities coordinator engages you in a conversation about things to do while staying at the resort. By the time the boat reaches the resort, they have a rough draft of your itinerary of activities for the next day or two based on your interest. This is El Nido resort!

This place is carved into the side of a limestone island located in the middle of nowhere. There is no television, no radio signal and no cell phone signal on this island. You are expected to commune with nature! Did I mention that I went to this place by myself? What was I thinking!?

The resort amazing……the view spectacular……the food plentiful……and the people hospitable. What else can a Brother ask for? The only thing that was missing was Bridgette. Darn!

During my stay at this luxurious place, I learned how to wind surf, hobbiecat (never heard of it), play badminton and scuba dive (I love it!). I took a picture of my Discovery Scuba Diving Certificate but I will not post it because I do not want to disclose my full name to the world. This was probably the most memorable and exciting vacation that I have ever had in my life. Did I mention, the only thing that was missing was Bridgette. Darn…Darn!

I took advantage of the opportunity to snorkel with a school of Jack fish and other wild and hungry aquarium like fish. Some of these fish were as big as my son Brayden! Unfortunately, I did not have an underwater camera during my snorkeling experience to capture on film these majestic creatures. Bummer dude!

Enjoy the pictures!

I can go on and on about my vacation in Palawan, but my suggestion is if you for some unknown reason are in the vicinity of the Philippines or you need to get away from life and enjoy nature, you should make plans to visit one of the secret pearls of Southeast Asia. Later!!