November 7, 2014

The scariest thing I have ever done…twice!

Are y'all ready for this?  I should probably be horribly ashamed to admit this…but I must confess.  Before this trip to Manila, I have NEVER bought fresh (not frozen) chicken.  Never.  Not once.  I am terrified of salmonella, e. coli, and all the rest of the funky stuff just lurking in a person's home to contract.

Yet, of all places, I choose to be brave several thousand miles outside of my comfort zone to bite the bullet and buy chicken.  Crazy, right?  But, I'm glad I did!  I now have 3 new dishes to feed to my family and due to so much more time in the kitchen,  I have mastered the rice cooker.  Oh.  That's the other thing I have never used before in my life.  A rice cooker.  This trip, I learned how to cook rice (thank you Google!!) and I have mastered the art of fluffy rice in a rice cooker!  Let the angels rejoice!  I might actually be turning Filipina after all!

While I am serious about these two new things to add to my accomplishments in life, I am also struck with the thought about how much more brave a person can be when they are out of their comfort zone.

When things no longer feel safe and secure, you have to make adjustments.  You have to change your plans.  You have to change your thinking, your perspective.  Sure, you can stay inside that little safety zone, but you would be missing some pretty awesome things (hello!  fluffy rice anyone?!?!).

Living for God is like being brave enough to buy fresh chicken.  Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch, but sometimes living for God can be scary.  It can cause us to have tremendous faith.  Faith in the unseen.  Faith in God and faith in ourselves.  We have to trust that He will take care of us and trust that He has already spoken a word to us and equipped us with the tools and/or talent we will require to accomplish what He has called us to do.

It's not too hard to trust God, but it can be quite challenging to have faith in ourselves.  If you have ever felt a call of God on your life, then you already have been given everything you need to see the work fulfilled.  Oh sure, there may be a learning process along the way (how many TIMES did I allow the rice to burn before I realized you have to unplug it after it's finished cooking!!!!), but know that God's hand is leading you and guiding you into EXACTLY what He has planned for you and He has given you all the ability you need and is also capable of teaching you along the way!!!

Besides buying fresh chicken and mastering the rice cooker, I've also done a couple other scary things since being here in Manila.

The Lord gave me a dream not long after arriving here.  In my dream I was teaching the 2nd year class.  Since I do not have any classes with the 2nd year, I knew there was something special about this dream.  In my dream, I began to discuss "balance" with the students.  God gave me a visual and the 4 key points to the lesson and then I woke up. Well, I let it stir in my heart and my brain and finally, it came time for me to present it.  I was SO NERVOUS!!!  I do not know how my husband can repeatedly get up in front of a congregation with a word from God and deliver it with polish and confidence.  I suppose, after many years of "practice" it's easier for him, but I was a wreck.  However, I delivered my heart to them, and I believe they were blessed by it.  Today, I was able to share the same lesson with the 1st year class.  I was less nervous today, but still, trusting the voice of God and delivering what He has laid on your heart is not something for cowards.

I've also started some of my own personal development.  An opportunity opened up for me to take an online certificate course in counseling.  I've been praying about some things I've been feeling and talking things over with my husband and this seemed like a confirmation to what I felt.  It literally just kind of dropped into my lap.  So, I signed up, enrolled and took the plunge.  I am about halfway through the class and LOVING EVERY SECOND OF IT!  I feel challenged!!!  Part of the course work involves reading a book a week and so far, I've had to write two papers.  The reading part…I LOVE!  The writing part…I LOVE!  The submitting papers for grading…I HATE!  Oh, the agony.  Did I say everything I need to say?  Did I fully capture the essence of what the instructor asked for?  Did I use correct APA format?  I am sure that I will adjust and this anxiety will lessen over time, but until then, I will be biting my nails and questioning every little sentence.

So, there you have it.  A brief recap and a little inspiration for your day.  Doing scary things doesn't have to be scary, if you allow God to lead you and guide you through them.  Love y'all!  Hope you are all enjoying fall!  It's getting cooler here (yes…cool!!) and the wind is blowing and there has been a lovely breeze today.  While this weather is typical for Manila during this time of the year, I like to think that God is blessing me with my own personal fall/autumn here.  And I love it!


October 20, 2014

Living with a Lizard: Update from Manila

Y'all, I consider myself a tough kinda gal.  I am not too frou frou and even though I avoid it as much as possible, I don't get all bent out of shape about getting sweaty and dirty.

But living with a lizard is like living with a spring-loaded jack-in-the-box!  You never know when that stupid thing is going to turn up!  Good gravy!

No, they are not poisonous or dangerous.  They do not attack or bite or even hiss.  They just creep and crawl along the floor and the wall--at will!  They strut their stuff right in front of you without regard to your personal feelings.  They are very selfish and self-centered evil beady-eyed creatures.  *shudder*

I've been fighting the lizard battle NON-STOP since we arrived. It's ridiculous!  Last year, we had ONE lizard.  One.  Just ONE!  It lived in the closet and we rarely saw it (only flashes as it darted away) and it never bothered us.  We did manage to capture and "release" it (into the toilet), but prior to that we lived in complete harmony.

This year, totally different story. The lizards are taking over.  I imagine them darting to and fro as I see phantom images of them out of the corner of my eye.  I'm not even kidding.  I may need therapy after this trip.  I have a severe case of the heebie jeebies!

On top of the lizard infestation (yes, 3 is an infestation!), I have ant issues.  Ugh.  They wouldn't be so bad if we didn't get the mean ones that bite.

I feel like I'm living in the middle of the jungle!  I wouldn't be too surprised if a lion or zebra didn't walk through the living room!

Besides the pest control issues, life here is pretty routine, but more fun--because we are in the Philippines!  HA!  Everything is more fun in the Philippines!!

Trent and I have started taking Sir. Flowers' night school class on leadership.  We are studying leadership through the book of Nehemiah.

I recently enrolled in a certificate program through Apostolic School of Theology.  The certificate program is Congregational Counseling.  It has been a very LONG time since I was a student, but I have been feeling a nudge regarding going back to school and this opportunity opened up and it just seemed like the right fit and the right timing.  So, here we go!!

The first week, we were required to read an entire book.  Not a huge issue for me, because I am a total nerd about reading.  I also had to write a 3-page paper and that was a bit intimidating, as the only "writing" I've done is blogging (doesn't count) and changing my Facebook status (totally doesn't count).

It would appear for the time being that we are all healthy and happy.  I have a minor cold that sends me into coughing fits when I talk too much, but the rest of us are all feeling finer than a frog's hair.  FINALLY!!  Besides lizards, it seems we have battled illness or ailments galore this trip.

We are especially thankful to our partners, family and friends that have supported us and continue to support us!  We recently experienced a financial miracle/blessing!  We knew we would have to renew our visas for the remainder of our stay and it was our hopes to be able to do this for the same amount we paid last year and had budgeted for this year.  However, we were quoted a MUCH higher price.  The next day, a pastor friend of ours felt led to send money to our paypal account.  Thank you Lord for your provision!  I replied to the email thanking him for his support and prayers and told him that this money would help cover an unexpected expense.  He replied by sending an additional offering!  Thank you Jesus for your goodness and abundant blessings!  I am telling you this story because I recently taught my first year students about giving.  When we give, God WILL give back.  I have been faithful in my giving of offerings, even while here in the Philippines, and God has not held anything back from us, including this huge financial blessing!

Despite the creepy crawlies, we have been blessed and blessed more abundantly while we have been here.  God's hand upon us is evident and we are so thankful to be serving Him!

Much love from Manila--until next time,



September 27, 2014

Leaks, Lizards & Lysol

Long overdue update, I know.

Ok, first of all, we braved our first typhoon of the season here.  Torrential rains and flooding and although we did not have any flooding here, we did discover some leaks in the kitchen ceiling.  A tiny little river was running the length of the kitchen when I got up the next morning.  Thankfully, the rains stopped and the floods (in other parts of the city) subsided fairly quickly and so far, just "normal" rain and no more leaks.

We have a "pet" lizard.  Now, normally, I would be screaming and panicking about having a reptilian creature living in my home, but I am much more terrified of dengue fever (google it!) than a little 6 inch lizard.  I believe they are geckos and pretty harmless.  All I know is they eat mosquitoes, so I am ok with ONE living in my house.  As long as he/she stays hidden most of the time, we get along quite well.  The lizards are VERY common here and just yesterday, I noticed our lizard must be a "mommy lizard" as there were TWO babies under my sink.  Here I am, minding my own business, trying to get a trash bag from under the sink, and two teeny tiny lizards are just sitting there taunting me.  I forgave them for not knowing the "one lizard per household rule" and was quite pleased when Dodong (the resident driver, handyman & apparently exterminator) came to my rescue and captured the babies & set them free.  The mommy is still here…she escaped behind a cabinet.  Again, she and I have an unspoken agreement about staying hidden and just eating the mosquitoes (thankyouverymuch), so she can stay.

Which brings us to Lysol.  Oh, the wonders of Lysol.  Apparently, I ate something that did NOT agree with my US tummy and it sent me into one nightmare of a bellyache.  I have been either in bed, on the couch or in the CR (bathroom) for what seems like a miniature eternity.  After nearly a week of this nonsense, I stopped eating because I was SICK of visiting the CR after every meal.  Liquids seem to stay in place better, so for two days, I was liquids only.  I decided that since my stomach seemed to be cooperating better that it was time to return to class.  Trent (bless his heart!!!) had been teaching his classes AND taking my classes as well!  I felt sorry for him, and thought I could at least do this class and then get back downstairs, have some breakfast (dry toast) and be fine.  Totally totally totally NOT THE CASE.  I made it through the entire lesson, and was just wrapping things up when I began to see spots.  This was not my first rodeo with passing out, so I knew what was coming next, so I tried to excuse myself so I could get a seat in the office until my head felt better.  I never made it.  I woke up with the students hovering over me and Bro. Flowers fanning me with some papers.  Trent was there and I struggled to come to.  After several different people giving the account to different people, I finally figured out what happened.  I passed out, hit my chin (virtually knocking myself out) and then fell backwards & hit my head (possibly on the wall).  After getting me downstairs and tiny bit of food on my stomach, I STILL felt awful.  Nauseous and dizzy, I struggled to stay alert.  I went to the doc and he gave me meds for my stomach issues.  Now, I didn't know at the time I had hit my head, or likely I would have had to have further testing done.  I didn't find any of that out until several days later.  Anyway, the meds seem to help immediately (thank you JESUS!!!!) but I was still struggling with dizziness & being lightheaded & foggy brained.  I kept thinking:  "I wonder if I gave myself a concussion…"  Well, after hearing a more accurate account, I'm fairly certain I did just that.  Go me!!!

I have been doing my best to just lay low.  Resting and keeping my movements limited as much as possible.  No headaches and no nausea, so I'm pretty sure my head is gonna be OK soon.  I still have a bit of dizziness and fatigue, but next week is testing here at the school, so it will be a "light week" for me, and I believe after that I should be as good as new.

Today is Sunday, and I stayed home while the kids went to PARC with Grandee & Papa Flowers.  Trent is preaching out today in Cavite.

I know that a little network of prayer has been going up for me and my family while we are here and I am truly humbled by the support & love from everyone.  Y'all are the greatest!!!  Thank you so much for caring about us and I am truly sorry for all the worry this has caused.  Ugh…so not my style!

Much love to you all!!!!!


September 4, 2014

How to tell if you are part Filipino

So sorry for the delay in my first blog post.  As you know by now, we arrived safely in Manila late Thursday night.  Because of the routes we chose, it felt like a REALLY long day and we crashed in bed around 1 am.  After what seemed like a lightening fast weekend, we began our work here at the Bible School.  My class schedule looks like this:

Monday: 7:50 pm Life of Christ (1st yr night class)
Tuesday: 8:20 am Bible Intro (1st yr)
Wednesday: 7:30 am Life of Christ (1st yr)
Friday: 7:30 am Life of Christ and 9:10 Christian Education (1st yr)

Trent's class schedule looks like this:

Monday: 8:20 am Epistles and 8:40 pm Doctrine 1 (1st yr night class)
Tuesday: 11:00 am Doctrine/Epistles (1st yr) and 6:00 Spiritual Ministry (2nd yr night class)
Wednesday: 8:20 am Epistles
Thursday: 7:30 am Evangelism 2 (2nd yr) and 11:00 am Doctrine/Epistles (1st yr)

We will be VERY busy and I love it!

Tuesday, after class, we took our first trip to Divisoria.  Trent wanted to be able to look for barong fabric and I needed to pick up a few things for our guests that are here for Spiritual Emphasis Week and a Crusade.  Tuesday was also Ma'am Flowers birthday!  Wow!  I cannot wait to celebrate my birthday sometime in the PI!  It starts as early as you wake up and continues until you go to bed!  Greetings, cake, presents, love and attention are POURED out to honor you on your special day.  Sis. Flowers was serenaded at 5 am by the students who tried to surprise her with a cake, but she ended up surprising them and nearly lost her cake in the process!  HA!  The students were not expecting her to swing open her door at 5 am but she did and surprised/scared them before they could her!  Ella and I had a balloon bouquet made for her at National Bookstore!  Such a fun little idea and I believe she loved it.  Ella enjoyed bossing the girls around at the store telling them how she wanted it just so.

We are thrilled beyond measure to have Bro. Stephen Hill and his mother, Sis. Hill, here with us.  Bro. Hill has been preaching the Spiritual Emphasis Chapel services (to the students) and will be preaching a crusade service (supported by the local churches/pastors) on Friday & Sunday.

There are many things about living here that are a bit different than living in the US, but I am surprised at how easily I slipped back into the PI habit of doing things.  I know that when I return home, I will probably have to adjust back to life there, as well.  One of the first lessons you will learn in the PI is to buy it when you see it.  HA!!  I'm not sure if it's how they receive shipments or how things are imported (from Australia) but chances are you may never see that item or brand ever again.  I was surprised to find Kraft Macaroni & Cheese at Unimart.  Yes, I bought 2 boxes at P88 (About $2/box)!  I doubt I will see it again, unless I go to S&R (the PI Costco/Sams).

Trent is getting along pretty well here with the broken foot.  He is fighting wearing that big ol' heavy & hot boot, and no doubt counting down the days/weeks until he can take it off.  The students are very concerned for him and I've had several ask me about him and if there is anything he needs or that they can do for him.  I believe, if he needed a student to carry him up and down the steps at the school, there would be a little war as to who would get the honor.  Haha!!!

My kids are at home here.  Yes, despite the heat, they are playing hard and making new friends and re-aquainting themselves with the 2nd year students.  The girls are enamored with Ella and have spoiled her completely rotten!  She comes in from playing outside with candy, sweets, and has acquired 2 masks that she will wear to town!  Jon is teaching the boys how to ride skateboard.  He is able to skate a little here at the school and will practice his tricks and it is mesmerizing to the boys!  They also try to ride, but have not got the hang of it yet.

One of the most surprising things for me, is the heat.  I have been cold, yes COLD, here!!  I am not sure if I've just turned part Filipino or because it is the rainy season, but I've found myself shivering at times!  HA!!!  To clarify, I am only cold when we are indoors (in the apartment, the office or at the mall or restaurants).  The AirCon here is intense (which is lovely and quite refreshing!) but on damp skin can be very chilly.  It's ok.  I will take it!

That is enough rambling for one post.  I just wanted to give an update and brief glimpse of life so far.  Even though it is the first week of a totally new school year, it seems like very little time has passed since we were here last.

That's all for now!