Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So many of us have prayed and held our breath for this (re)union, I thought you might like to hear a first-person narrative Tracey sent to us when they first got home:

"As soon as we walked through the doors at the airport with Liezel I heard Criza scream out 'there they are ... there's mum ... there's Liezel!' followed by video cameras and cameras clicking. I felt a bit like a celebrity.

"When Criza and Christian came running up to me holding Liezel, I just lost it and howled like a baby. It was incredible, how much emotion poured forth, at missing my babies and uniting them all as we hugged on the floor. I get choked up just thinking about it."
In a way, it's hard to believe how quickly all of this has come together. Just last Christmas Paul and Tracey had one child: Criza (middle).
Christian (right) joined them just after Christmas last year, and Liezel (left) completed the picture just before Christmas this year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

There's just no way, short of a helicopter, to get a shot of the whole crowd. This is from the top of the roof, and it's a tip of the iceberg.

I wouldn't even hazard a guess at how many people were there this morning, but WAY more than we estimated. We'll have to up the ante for next year.

This is our annual "Merry Christmas," a Christmas give-away at the Gunderson's house, widely partici-pated in by the other missionaries in the area.

Every Christmas people knock on your door and say, "Merry Christmas." Meaning, "What can you give us."

So it was Dennis who started the idea, years ago, of organizing ourselves together so we can do more than a piece of candy or a peso per kid.

This year gifts were shipped in from Singapore, contri-butions were made from people around the world, to give away more toys to children and more food packages to families than we have ever done before.

And the mission-aries showed up in droves to organize it and help give it all away. A great way to start your Christmas Day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our staff Christmas party falling in the third week of Advent this year, our theme was joy.

These are always joyous occassions for us, but did it maybe seem that this year was more joyful than ever?

There was certainly an abundance of thanks-giving.
With fun games.

Lots of great gifts.

Big, beautiful prizes.

Food and lots of fun.

We read together Isaiah 35:

They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Thank you to all who contributed to make this this joyful celebration possible.

(For some fun videos and a little more of the spirit of the Filipino Christmas Party go to: http://helpchristmasvideos.blogspot.com/)

Friday, December 12, 2008

If a picture says a thousand words, these pictures take a few words to explain. Paul and Tracey have been eagerly awaiting the phone call to come pick up Leizel Joy for nearly six months now. It has been a soap opera of expectation and disappointment.

Yesterday morning they called early to say that, again, it looked hopeless. And then by eight-thirty, only three hours later, they called back to say they were in the car on the way to the airport.

We have the joy of hosting them in our home, and it is a cherished privilege--they, having already adopted Leizel Joy's older brother from us this time a year ago, have become dear friends. You can't help, with the time of year and the miraculous way that this adoption has come together, but analogize with the birth of Jesus--the unlikely fulfilment of every expectation.

This is really for Camille's mom and dad, Mark and Regina, waiting breathlessly in California for word that they can come pick her up...but also for the rest of us who are praying for that miraculous first meeting.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

If no one's told you yet, Christmas is here.

We've had a blast today, with more than 30 volunteers from the US Embassy Club, and contri-butions from a very special Santa...

...throwing our best yet, but annual Christmas party for the families of the staff at Shiphrah Birthing Home and the little children's home.

We chatted with Santa...

...played games...

...ate LOTS of food...

...and glistened in the sun.

I think it would be a safe summary to say that there are about 115 sedate, exhausted, but very happy children right now. And a few parents.

Thank you so much to all those who contributed to make this Christmas season special for others.