Saturday, January 27, 2007

In Singapore you turn on a light switch by flipping it down. We've lived in Manila for a long time, but have seen very little of the rest of Asia. So this trip was a good insight into how diverse a continent Asia really is.

Singapore is definitely not like the Philippines. We were struck by the differences in the way politicians relate to their constituents. While we were there they were announcing an increase in the GST. The prime minister invited representatives from different lifestyles to talk with him on a TV show about the changes.

There was an air of confidence and openness. I have lived in the Philippines for a long time, but I've never heard politicians here speak with such genuine concern for the poorer of their constituents. It's what Mencius calls an 'unbearing heart.'
The current prime minister's father, Lee Kuan Yew, who was prime minister from 1965 to 1990, writes in his memiors about feeling downhearted, driving past a school as children came streaming out, 'wondering how to find jobs for them when they left school.'
Small wonder that he was able almost single handedly to bring his country from the third world to the first in such a short span of time.

Friday, January 19, 2007

You'll never guess where we are writing from. When our good friends left Manila, Isabel said to Aubrey, 'If you come visit me in Singapore you will see the white tiger.' That's not something a young boy easily forgets. So when Raphael texted last week and said, 'Hey, do you want to come celebrate Eila's birthday with us next week?' that was one of the first things Aubrey said.

We arrived here last night, a birthday present for Eila. Our families are very close, having formed a relationship when Deborah helped deliver Niko in their home in Manila.

Today we went to the zoo.
Here are Aubrey and Isable, fast friends, looking on at the famous white tigers, the fulfilment of a promise and of months of missing one another.

Aubrey and dad look on at the Elephants of Asia show.

It doesn't snow very much in North Carolina, so this is the first time Lemuel and Kyle have ever seen it. Lemuel is from the little children's home, and Kyle is from another home here in the Philippines.

Their mom writes, Today we got the first snow of 2007! We don't get many so, we have to run outside and enjoy the snow we DO get. This is the first time Kyle or Lemuel has seen or played in the snow. They made up for all the years without it by jumping on the snow-covered trampoline, sledding down our property and having a little snowball fight.

Just 2 hours after this picture was taken, the rain came and melted the snow away. I'm sure glad we got them out there in time!

Monday, January 15, 2007

This is all that's left of the truck that picks up the garbage in our sub-division. There's a quarry up the road from us, and big trucks come down the hill full of rocks. One of them lost their brakes the other night and slammed into the two barangay trucks that were parked on the side of the road.
The scary thing is that we missed the accident by about twenty minutes; it happened right where we would have been turning into our subdivision, within walking distance from our house.
The good thing is that, while the driver didn't live , he made the right choice in hitting empty, parked trucks rather than trying to make it through the busy intersection only a hundred yards away. Another truck tried that a while ago, with disastrous results.

This one totally flattened the first truck, totalled the second, and smashed up a third before flipping over on its side.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

We've just spent the loveliest two days with Alvin and his new family.
Adonika was asking if she could play with Aubrey. So they invited us to the hotel where they are staying in Manila to go swimming.
We spent literally the whole day beside the pool, and had such a nice time. Aubrey and Adonika shared their toys and played as if by a script. Adonika told her mom, 'I like Aubrey. I could marry him. I just have to learn English and then we can talk.'
Today we picked them up at their hotel for breakfast before bringing them to Union Church with us. After church we did some shopping and then went out to the Gunderson's house for a barbecue.
On the way down to the hotel, Adonika was singing, making up her own lyrics. Her mom translated some of them,
'In my eyes there's Alvin; the world is full of wonder.'
She was very proud that he had put his hand in his as he went to sleep.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Deborah had another special birth last night. Emmanuel, rightly named ('God-with-us'), was born two years ago on the day before Christmas. And his little sister, Grace, was born last night to Decha and Panasda, theology students here from Thailand.

No signs of a long labor in Panasda's smile, right after the birth, when she was sharing the good news with friends on the cell phone. They gave birth in our birthing home (Emmanuel was actually born in another missionary's home, where they were house sitting at the time), in a small pool. It's the same way that Deborah birthed Auden and we are big advocates of water births.

Here's the proud papa (also about to graduate with an Masters of Divinity at the Asian Pacific Nazareen Theological Seminary) with his new-born daughter.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Turkka and Seija-Maria have adopted from us before. Andonika Amorfi left the little children's home in 2002. She is four-and-a-half now, and speaks beautiful Finish. Today they all arrived to pick up Alvin.

Seija-Maria told us that Andonika woke up during the flight over and said, 'Mommy, when I was in my beginning-mommy's tummy, you didn't even know about me. And you were crying because you didn't have a baby. Then you cried because of joy. And now you're crying because we're going back to the Philippines.'
This is a lot for a 4-year-old to process, so she went right back to sleep after offering her pronouncement.
For not having a language in common, Aubrey and Andonika were instantly thick as thieves. Aubrey said on the way up to dinner, 'Mom, we're already friends. Well, part-friends.'
Seija-Maria told us that she asked a friend of hers who has adopted a child from each: Indonesia, China and now the Philippines, 'What's the important thing to do for your first-adopted children when you adopt another?'
And her friend told her it's important to have your first-adopted feed the new child. Not just help mom and dad, but actually be the one. So, Andonika's been practicing with her dolls, and is very accomplished. She is very proud of her little brother and I don't think they're going to have jealousy issues at all.
Not to be outdone, here's grandpa Dennis showing off his stuff.

We took them over to Shiphrah Paanakan (Exodus 1 Birthing Home), right next to the baby home, where Alvin was born. And this is a picture with Grace, the midwife who delivered him.

Monday, January 08, 2007

We cellebrated King's Day this year with a Christmas story book reading. Book readings are something we really like to do, inviting a few friends over to read something together. We haven't managed one recently as having young children doesn't make extensive reading any easier. But we also like to celebrate the day when traditionally the wise men made their visit to Jesus' manger-crib.

Calah (Who-ever-would-have-guessed-she's-a-preschool-teacher) reading 'Moosletoe'

The night before, the boys filled their boots with straw and left water out for the wise men's camels.

In the morning they were miracu-lously emptied, and replaced with presents. After dinner we invited a few friends over for dessert and asked them to bring with them a favorite Christmas story. Deborah is a Christmas fanatic and collects Christmas stories. We had a great time together and several people read stories, while others just told about favorite Christmas memories.

We're always reluctant to see the season go, so we hold onto it for as long as possible.

Friday, January 05, 2007

(For Kevin and Amanda)

We have contrived
All manner of stories
For our love.

Stories for our love--
That make us true and bold,
Good and kind.

Courage to face the day together,
To face ourselves in one another,
and one another in ourselves.

But the best
Is still,
Because I will.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christmas presents from Grandma: Aubrey this year did a very good job of being sensitive to his little brother's (bunso) angst over wanting whatever his older brother had. Fortunately, in this case, they got exactly the same thing. Wise Grandma. You can already see the look of where's-mine on Auden's face.

A number of times Aubrey would let Auden play with his present before he'd even had a chance himself. We were very proud of him. But here's Auden tearing wrapping paper.

You can't really see the whole of this smile, but he was a very happy boy.
Wouldn't take his jersey off all day long.
We had a very happy Christmas day. The boys got tons of great stuff, and we all enjoyed one another.