I've been enjoying attending a Wednesday lunch time Bible study with women colleagues here. It is a great study on the life of Paul.
"O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
(For All The Saints)
"I'm getting better and better at being on my hands and knees
to crawl, but when I move my hands forward I usually fall on my
face! Thanks for all your prayers for me!" Jerard
"I really like to play with these fish. My Mom says someday I'll
use them to spell words, but right now I like to pretend I'm
fishing! Come visit us sometime!" James
James says, "Hi everybody! I'm starting to get potty trained!"
Jerard says, "Hi everybody! I love rolling around on the bedroom floor exploring!"
Sunday we took an afternoon excursion to the Eagle Sanctuary. It's only about 45 minutes from our house, it is peaceful, not expensive, and 'cooler' than the city!
It was fun to spend time as a family enjoying nature.
A Philippine Eagle
This is a banyan tree with a vine growing around it.
A pretty flower
a weird seed. At first we thought someone had dropped
plastic candy wrappers on the ground. But there were so many
of them we picked one up and realized it was a seed. The
creativity of God is amazing!
Mikayla showing how big this flower blossom is
Mikayla, Ben and Kirsten being silly infront of tall grass!
Did you know bamboo is considered a grass?
Feeding a deer. Deer in the Philippines are small...more like
the size of a goat.
A warty hog. We decided he was not pretty at all!
Mikayla showing the size of a leaf!
On our way out of the Eagle Sanctuary, a host of native tribal representatives were coming in for a convention. Many of them had native costumes on and were from the west side of the island - Zamboanga, as well as other places. It was fun to talk
with them and take pictures of each other!
And on the way home we followed a small pickup with about 4 or 5 people sitting under the tarp and these 4 guys standing behind them in the bed of the truck. Don't know how many were in the cab!
Living in the Philippines has given us a lot of opportunities to see poverty up close. We have a community living next door to our house who most Americans would classify as extremely poor. We see the poor daily. There is a woman and her child who lives out of a wheelchair that she pushes around the neighborhoods near our house (the child walks, the wheelchair just holds all that they own). We sometimes see them walking down the street, sometimes eating rice on the street that people have given to them, sometimes looking through garbage bins for things to sell for money.
The view from our back window.
But we have also learned that alleviating poverty is not a simple problem, even if we had unlimited funds at our disposal. So often, except in the case of emergencies, simply giving money to the poor can foster dependence upon the giver as opposed to freeing the poor from the cycle of poverty. In fact, giving sometimes does more damage than good if it is given unwisely.
To help many of us understand these issues, another missionary and myself have started a small group dealing with the issue of poverty. We are using materials from Food for the Hungry that give a broad overview of what poverty alleviation looks like from a biblical perspective. Between 20 and 30 people have been coming to each meeting so far, many of them missionaries and some of them Filipinos who are working with the poor. Everyone is hungry for a better way to help the poor, for a better way to make a real lasting impact in the lives of the poor.
We are asking for your prayers. Poverty for us is "in your face" and very real. It does not go away easily. Yet, as Christians we know that we are called to address the issue because we are called to care like God himself cares. We want to help the poor -- but real help is often harder than it looks. Pray that we may put what we are learning into real, practical help for the poor.