Eight Years

Eight Years

"Emotionally healthy spirituality requires you to go through the pain of the Wall - or, as the ancients called it, "the dark night of the soul" p 117 Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Pete Scazzero.

I sit here on the morning of the 8th year anniversary of being here in the Philippines and I wonder if the journey has been worth it.

And, not to keep you in suspense, yes, it has been worth it.

It's been a hard 8 years. There is no turning back the hands of time. We made our decisions, buggered on through really tough times, and here we are. Stronger, wiser, more sobered, more in love with Christ than ever before.

Seasons happen to us. I've been through a long season of winter. I feel tired, worn out, yet deeply centered in the love of Christ. A solemness has settled - not a despairing, but a soberness.

Sober. 1. quiet, serious, solemn, grave or sedate 2. characterized by reason, sanity or self-control; showing mental and emotional balance. (Webster's New World Dictionary)

Hope springs eternal and there is hope. Spring follows winter, hope swells anew. I am reminded "be sober, be alert" - the new testament exhorts that at least ten times.

1 Peter 1 tells us "13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I have changed - overall for the better - my faith in Christ solid-built in fires, furnances, pressures, crushings.
My love for Him deep. Not an emotional display of fake smiles and insincere "all is well" , but a deep, abiding peace and assurance; a settled contentedness in His hand, a peace in the eye of the storm.

Yet, at times, a 'why' whispers, arises, wants an answer to all the hard. But knowing an answer won't come. Just reminders - Jospeh sold into slavery, Jacob wrestling with an angel, Jesus beaten and crucified - - - - His love constantly whispering, "rest".

Like a dad leading a child by the hand through a busy airport or train station - "hold my hand and trust me, I'll get you there" he says to the child; this my Heavenly Dad says to me.

I was naive when we moved here - ignorant of all the transitional changes, hidden motives and pressures felt, cultural differences, the hardness - even a trip to the grocery store here not easy - laundry, noise, dirt, poverty, interactions with others - taking in two orphan boys, Jerard with so many health problems; family dischord, a personal journey dealing with painful events from childhood, marital issues, communication issues - daily life the threshing floor to winnow out the chaff.

I wouldn't trade it - this journey. I am so thankful to be here. Yes, it has been bone wearying, hard; and yet filled with grace, joy, thankfulness, love, hope; learning contentment. Our family is closer together.

We are more honest.

Poverty, heat, injustice, dirt, despair, facing "the dark night of the soul" bring greater joy, rest, unshakeable confidence in Christ and His leading. There is a gift in the hard time, the dark night of the soul. Christian life is a journey - a path involving movement, action, stops, starts, detours, delays and trips into the unknown.
The hard times are like seasons. They happen to us. Walls happen and only by journeying in and through the wall can one find true freedom, rest, confidence in Christ.

I'm reminded of a song I've sung "There's a peace I've come
to know though my heart and flesh may fail.
There's an anchor for my soul, I can say it is well." (Chris Tomlin, I will Rise)

And it is.

It is well.

Our son, Jerard, taught me much about resting in my Saviour. I am thankful for the years we were parents to him.

All is well. It is well with my soul. This journey has changed me. I'm not who I was eight years ago. I am stronger, more sober-minded, resting in deep, unshakeable abiding confidence in the love of Christ - knowing nothing can separate me from Him, knowing He loves me. This is not just head knowledge like it used to be. This is deep heart speak. I am loved. All the way my Saviour leads me. It is well, it is well with my soul.

"The difference is that now we give out of a new, grounded center of ourselves in God. We have rediscovered God's profound, deep, accepting love for us. A deep, inner stillness begins to characterize our work for God." p120 Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Pete Scazzero.

I'm thankful for these eight years here.

Part of me wants to stay longer, but another part pulls to get back to the USA, to reconnect with family, friends, to help our children learn a new culture. While their passport country is the USA, three of them have spent more time here in the Philippines than in the USA. Moving there will be another foreign country to them; and for us. We are not up on current trends, tv shows, fashions, etc. And really, in the face of poverty and need what matter is it what the latest fashion, movie star, sports icon is. It seems like superficial drival.
What really matters is building for His kingdom.

This journey has changed me and I thank God for calling our family overseas on this journey. Lead on, Dad.

International Day 2014

Every other year the school our kids attends hosts an International Day afternoon to celebrate the diverse cultures at the school. It is always an enjoyable afternoon of sampling various foods, watching cultural dances and chatting with others.


Last night, Kurt and I were guests at the 34th Founder's Day celebration of the only government run orphanage here in Davao.

Venus, the social worker who worked with us in the adoption
of James.

some of the children dancing for the guests.

We were blessed to see how well the children are cared for, yet saddened at the many children abandoned. We heard stories from the social worker that some of the children had been exploited by parents in cybersex human trafficking, one child was found in a plastic grocery sack, another left in a church. Many of the children we saw had histories of abuse. Some of the children are unable to walk due to clubbed foot and other orthopaedic issues.

Founder's Day guests

The staff that works with the over 50 orphans in their care.

This is the orphanage that James and Jerard could've been placed in had we not taken them in. I am thankful we took them. While the children are well cared for at the orphanage, there is a lack of ability to provide as much one on one stimulation as each child needs for language development, etc.

The kids having a special visit from a McDonald's character.

James 1:27 reminds us Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.


Mikayla turned 20 on November 6th.

We celebrated with calamansi pie, ice cream, 20 candles - quite the fire!!!

Mikayla has been busy volunteering at Faith Academy and tutoring adults in English and students in subjects. She will be taking her sophmore year of college courses on line while she stays here with us. Pray for her as she continues to grow in her Christian walk and life. She is a blessing.

All Saint's Day in the Philippines 2014

November 1 and 2 are huge holidays here. This morning we walked around the cemetery that Jerard is buried in. It's busy already and will get busier as the day goes on.

Our friend, Tomas, who works at the cemetery

more info on all saints day.................
Filipinos pay their respects to their departed loved ones on All Saints' Day, a liturgical celebration that begins at Vespers on the evening of October 31 and ends at the close of November 1. They offer flowers, food baskets, and prayers and light candles in cemeteries, memorial parks, mausoleums and columbariums nationwide where they gather with friends and relatives, say prayers together, and share food and memories.

Hallowmas or All Hallows is a term for All Saints' Day. In the Philippines, it is called "Undas," "Todos los Santos," or "Araw ng mga Patay." The celebration is similar to Mexico's "Dia de los Muertos." For Catholics, it is a holy day of obligation, when they go to Mass and participate in ceremonies for the dead.

Government agencies, assisted by private groups and individuals, help ensure that the traditional event is peaceful and orderly. The Department of Transportation and Communications activates "Lakbay Alalay" to ensure that roads and highways are in good shape for safe and comfortable travel, while Department of Health places medical personnel on standby in strategic areas. The Philippine National Police and Metro Manila Development Authority beef up their security in crowded public cemeteries, bus terminals, air and sea ports. The Bureau of Fire Protection is on alert to safeguard lives and properties.

In Catholic theology, the day memorializes those who have attained the saintly vision in between. In New Zealand, Catholics build altars to pray, hold vigil, light candles, and offer flowers, to honor Christian martyrs. In Lisbon, Portugal, children mark Papor-Deus, and go door-to-door where they receive cakes, nuts, and pomegranates. In France, church celebration memorializes all the saints.

The first All Saints' Day occurred on May 13, 609, when Pope Boniface IV accepted the Pantheon in Rome as a gift from Emperor Phocas. He dedicated the day to honor the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. During the reign of Pope Gregory III, the festival was moved to November 1 to include the honoring of all saints. He consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in St. Peter's Basilica.