Saturday, July 14, 2007

friday the 13th... the day I was born (maybe that's why I'm a bit abnormal)

There have been a list of things to accomplish before heading home and the final one is tomorrow but it's been on my mind for a few weeks now. I'm leading worship for the first time in front of the church and I just did it for the first time ever while in the Philippines last week. So needless to say... this is a big time stress for me and all I've been thinking about. I knew Sunday was the 15th but because I was so focused on that particular day... I honestly didn't even remember that yesterday was my birthday (well until Mike pointed it out on Wed or Thursday I can't remember exactly what day). I know that's hard to believe but it's true.

So anyway... the day was pretty normal (a trip to the pool, cleaning, etc...) but the evening was awesome. Mike made plans with our friends Nick and Adelina to have dinner and they even arranged the babysitting. Poor Wanda (Adelina's mom who's visiting) had all 4 little ones.. two crazy toddlers and not even two month old twins. I knew we were having dinner but I didn't know where and I didn't know that Wanda was making me authentic tiramisu. I think I've only had one taste of tiramisu before and I don't recall liking it but this... this was absolutely AMAZING. I was so honored that they'd go to all this effort for me because I know with the twins, life has just been crazy for them. They got me this absolutely beautiful bowl and candle as well and even gave us a old Vietnamese painting that they didn't have room for. I felt like a princess. And then Mike pulls out his gifts and they were just perfect. He got me some shorts and shirts and a special foot scrub/lotion thing that my poor running feet need. I loved it and can't wait until tomorrow to wear one of the shirts.

So about 8ish we headed out to my favorite Malaysian restaurant where I thoroughly enjoyed some satay, roti and pak choy...yumm! Then we hit a little place to just sit and talk. It was so nice to get together without children because we were able to concentrate on each other and we had some intense, incredible conversations. We made it home just in time to catch the last train, walking in the door about 1am. It was SOOOO much fun and I'm really thankful that Mike thought to invite them along. Adelina has been one of the best friends I have here and it's just amazing how well the 4 of us get along and enjoy each other. In talking with others, it seems that either the wives or husbands get along but not always all four or they may get along but it's not a totally comfortable situation but I'm so thankful that God has blessed us with several of these types of relationships both here and actually all the places we've lived. It's just so much fun.

Oh yeah... even before the evening began... I hit the salon one more time. I told Mike that this is it... no more dying my hair until it totally grows out and then I'll just go back to highlights. I was just too uncomfortable with how the red looked and so I went to Mike's guy (yes.. Mike could do his 'I told you so' dance). He was actually a different guy (the one I saw there was a bit rude and I didn't want to go back to him) but Mike's guy was great... even gave me a discount because he knows Mike. :) So I told him what I wanted, what had happened, etc... and he picked the colors and just did everything. So my hair is now a dark, dark brown (that still sparkles a bit with the red) with blondish highlights. I've always wanted to try a dark color but was too afraid. Now I have and know that it doesn't look so good on me. LOL But it'll work for now.

So anyway....
Although it was a wonderful evening, I'm feeling a bit blue the past few days. I think it's a mix of just needing a break, the disappointment of the hair situation, waking up to another swollen eye today, etc... but I'm just a bit of a glum chum as Mike would say. :)

So now I'm going try and catch a short nap and figure out dinner plans. Have a great day and thanks to all of the wonderful birthday wishes!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

francis chan

So I love this guy... he's an amazing preacher full of passion and a love for the Lord that's contagious. I didn't realize I could download his weekly sermons so when I was just waiting for LIfE to happen so I could download his messages from there. LIfE is a Christian and Missionary Alliance (the denomination I belong to) youth event every 3yrs. So anyway....

I was listening to his first message this afternoon and I love his bluntness and just calling it as it is. One of the things he questioned was... (and I'm simply summarizing not quoting) 'How many of you are really for real in your relationship with the Lord? How many of you are really pursuing your relationship with the Lord? Or how many of you think you have a relatioship because your parents do?' That's a great question not just for youth but for everyone to ask themselves on a regular basis because it's so easy to fall into a routine or get caught up in the daily aspects of life and forget that our relationship with the Lord takes work like any relationship with a person. It takes time, it takes pursuing God to learn more about Him and draw closer to God.

And he then he went on to ask something that has stuck with me and really made me think. He said, 'If you were to leave LIfE (the conferene) and all your friends and family decided to totally walk away from God... what would you do?' If everyone you are close to walked away from the Lord... what would you do?' He asked that question because God wants a relationship with you.. it's not you and your parents/friends, etc... it's you. And individual thing... you pursuing God. You can't depend on your family, your friends... you can't blame how your parents/friends have acted, etc.... God will ask YOU... 'Did you pursue me?'

What a powerful, thought-provoking question... we probably know what we'd hope we'd do but if you really think about it... be honest with yourself.... what would you do?

Can't wait till nap time tomorrow to hear what he has to say next!
I'm going a bit backwards but sometimes it's easier to talk about the fun things while processing what has happened in your heart.

DABC gaves us a most memorable rest on Saturday of our trip. They took us to an island called "Paradise" and paradise it was... especially for me after the week I had with Izzy. Paradise Island has white sandy beaches and clear beautiful water... a zoo, playground, sand volleyball... it was great. And DABC made it even special by bringing food... the special roasted pig and their amazing fruit salads. Seriously... the filippinos know how to cook. Their food is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!

It was the staff and our group and they just wanted us to have fun so we did. We swam, played volleyball, napped (well Izzy did anyway), some played music, billiards and Mike and I scoped out all the prices because we are seriously considering skipping Dolphin Bay next year and coming back here and if you know how we feel about Dolphin Bay... you know this place has to be amazing! The only negative is that Izzy is still afraid of the sand and I'm not sure if there is a pool. But anyway....

Yes... we suffered for the Lord this day. :) Actually it was very refreshing and I think it was great for our students to have a day to enjoy life with no pressure but to have fun.

Most of the day was free and I finally took Izzy to the hotel pool which she would declare as her 'paradise.' This kid LOVES her pools. And in the evening we ate at Aries' (our filippino pastor's son) favorite restaurant and Toby cleaned up everybody's leftovers. LOL Sometimes teenagers get the craziest ideas and yes he did pay for it later. :) Some of the boys went to see Transformers again (yes a second time in one week... when Mike heard it was out in the Philippines... he made sure we could all go see it and they all loved it!) and the rest of us just hung out at the mall and had the most adventurous time finding a taxi and getting home.

We did have a brief meeting with the Pastor of the Gospel Alliance Church and it was awesome to hear how God is working within that church. In 3yrs they have planted 6 churches! And they were excited to hear that we will return next year and begin sharing ways in which we can get involved more next year. What a great partnership that has been started between AIC and DABC and Davao city churches.

So anyway... Saturday was a fabulous day full of great memories but in the midst of all the fun, I was still challenged in my heart about how I approach the blessings that God has given me. There were two particular instances where I was reminded that while I may not be wealthy, I am able to live comfortably, I don't have to worry about where my food will come from and that maybe I'm not as good of a steward with my money as I should be. Once again in that one week I saw how people can be totally content and happy with little material items... that it's about family, friends and serving the Lord and that challenged my heart.

Can you say gorgeous...

Here's the yummy, yummy food we ate... Sarah with our pig before and Pastor Wilmar getting ready to chop it up.

Sidetrack post... Another hairy experience

I'm so disappointed. My hair desperately needed a new dye job from the last disaster and I finally took the time to do it this evening. I went back to the guy that Noel took me to in Jan when I got green highlights thinking they would remember me (they are a very small salon in a highly Chinese populated area so I doubt they get many foreigners) and would do their best to help me despite the language barrier. (they speak no English) I knew exactly what I wanted (a dark brown with some slight reddish highlights) and I wanted it on my whole head so I figured this should be pretty easy. I went in and noone spoke any English to me at all so I just pointed and decided that I would be happy whatever happened. And then it happened and I got frustrated. Just as they were about to take off the wrap, one guy looked at me and said... 'Will be lighter than what you picked because your hair was lighter.' Okay not such a big deal and then the other man walked in and showed me what the difference would be using the book with the little pieces of hair and it was a total shade lighter! I was so frustrated that they didn't think of this before hand especially since last time they were SO good about helping me get the perfect color. So my dark brown with red highlights is simply red though a dark red. I like the color but I don't think it looks all that good on me... my eyebrows seem to be too light for the color but alas... what's a girl to do. I'm thinking off going next week to get some dark brown highlights/lowlights whatever it is to try and offset the color a bit but we'll see. Maybe I'll just go buy something cheap and dye it myself. Why can't I ever get this right? ( I can't do much with my hair because of the curls so I like to dye it but that's not been working so well lately. :)

Okay... just had to get that off my chest. Now I can whine about having to get up early to run. LOL

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My favorite group Photo

left to right:

Ben, Daniel (behind Ben), Aries, David (in blue), Miguel (behind David), Toby, Justin, Angela, Nathania, Sarah (in front of Nathania) and Mike

I don't know what it was about this particular church location but I loved... LOVED taking photos against this background and I thought it would be fun to take this group picture. They all were yelling at me because they were directly in the sun and it was HOT but once I showed them the pic they all agreed it was worthwhile. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

DABC and answered prayer

Since our trip to Thailand and reading 'Little Angels,' I've had this desire to support in some way a ministry that helps others break out of the cycle of poverty. Something that I don't just give money to and hope it all goes to the right place.. but something that I can give to and know who is receiving it and that they are using the money not to just survive one more day but that it's helping them to build a future. I know it seems like I'm putting a lot of demands on how I give but this is what I believe the Lord has laid on my heart. I also wanted to be able to be involved somehow in the actual ministry that is taking place if that was at all possible. So I began praying and praying but God never seemed to answer and I never felt comfortable just giving any money away. My MIL sent me all this info on the 'remember nu' ministry and while I loved the idea of being involved with this... I just never felt God saying... 'Yes this is it... this is what I want you to be involved with.'

And I was starting to get frustrated because I felt like I had been doing a lot of talking about it but doing nothing and I didn't want this passion to just dwindle. And then we left for the Philippines.

We served at Davao Alliance Bible College. There are about 90 students from ages of 17+... all desiring to serve the Lord. This is not a typical college that most of us would expect. They don't offer a variety of majors.. just two basic tracks... Pastoring/Missions and Music and actually I don't believe that music is it's own major in itself. I believe they can get (on top of the Bible courses) a 2yr Music diploma but anyway... you get the idea. They don't have a cafe but the students are expected to cook in a very primitive way so that they will be able to go wherever the Lord calls them since not all of the Philippines (or world) have stove tops. Their chapel is a room that has been creatively decorated (sheet is their screen for the projector) and they use plastic chairs (like we would buy for an outdoor table) for seating. That same room is separated into multiple rooms for classes and they have a little canteen with snacks and drinks. Students don't have cars and most depend upon scholarships to attend.

Okay... so that's just a brief explanation of the school. So as the week went on... Mike was able to ask a lot of questions about the school, students, etc.. and one day he came running up to me saying, 'Guess how much it costs for one student to attend a full year at DABC? About 3000HK (about 390 us).' And I said, 'God just answered my prayers.' We're by no means made of money but it's hard for me to know that with a little sacrifice... one more person could be trained to go out into the world to share the love of God. And so I've decided that with the little bit of money I make from my digital designing.. I'm going to support one student at DABC. And Mike decided that to help our students remain missions focused... he wants the youthgroup to also support a student. This is SOOOOO exciting to me!!!!

And the coolest thing about this is that most likely (as long as the Lord allows) we will be able to serve at DABC each year and so I'll be able to be directly involved with the ministry too!

Wow... I'm kinda speechless on how this all worked out.

And as the week went on... I began to realize how much stuff that we have, how much more well off even we are compared to the students/families there and I began thinking of other ways that we might be able to share a little of what God has blessed us with. So in this one area alone... God really worked in my heart in a million and one ways that I will share over the next few days.

Where are you from?

We were asked this question several times this past week and I never know how to answer. I'm always like, 'Well, I grew up in PA but moved from MN but before that we lived in AL... and then I think... oh wait... maybe they were just asking what country I'm from and so I say... America and if I'm in HK and someone asks that I then question... well maybe they just mean what area... aka Ma On Shan.' Crazy... so when we were asked in the Philippines... I looked at Mike, we both smiled and said... "Wherever the Lord leads us and currently... our 'home' is Hong Kong.

It was an absolutely amazing trip. I feel weird even saying that because my opportunities to be involved as much as I would have liked to been where limited by a very tired, sick and even a bit confused little girl. It wasn't until the last few days that I was really able to interact with many people but even in my observing, the contact I did have, the conversations I had, learning about the culture and seeing the passion to serve Christ brought tears to my eyes when we were sent off this morning. The Philippines is an amazing place... I probably will never be able to explain/express exactly how I feel and it will probably even take some time to digest this past week.. but we left excited about the next time we can serve there. I personally saw God answer a prayer request of mine that I've had for several months but I'll leave that for tomorrow when it's a decent hour.

I should really hit the hay.

Thank you to everyone who kept us in your prayers... they were answered many times!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bad, bad blogger

Wow... I've been a slacker and will be for the next week! :)

We're off to the Philippines for our missions trip. I'm so excited.. it's going to be a fun and interesting week. Please pray for our safety, health, attitudes, but most importantly that we and those we come in contact with will have soft hearts in order to hear and respond to what God has in store for us.

Will return with tons of pictures and stories!