Immigration and the Mall

Today we had an appointment at Immigration at 9:00 AM. This was to be the day we finally got our I-9 visas. We brought all the kids down to the Immigration office, about a quarter mile away from our house. The NBA finals were on a TV in the waiting room. We got to see the whole thing. Unfortunately, not even Ezekiel was interested in the game (he likes to play basketball, but not to watch it). So the kids were bored:


After about an hour and a half, we were invited back and made small talk with an official who asked us what mission we were with, and identified each of our kids. He signed some papers.

And more papers. And more papers. Visas for a family of 6 means a lot of papers for everyone at Immigration:


An hour later, it was time for fingerprinting, a messy process:


At this point, we needed to go to Victoria Plaza Mall to make a bunch of photocopies of various forms and print new Visa photos of each of us. We got the photos at a tiny shop:


Hosanna decided to hide behind her mother while Sora was being photographed:


Then, after a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, we parted ways: Sora went to get the forms copied, while I took the kids to the toy section of Victoria department store. I told the kids they could each get something, provided it was less than 100 pesos. Our kids are so stereotypical. Ezekiel and Isaiah looked at toy weapons, Lego, and remote control helicopters. Hosanna and Naomi looked at dolls:


There were some pretty amusing toys at Victoria. The kids and I had recently watched Toy Story 3, so we were amused to find Lotso among the stuffed animals. There was also a very cool plush Yoda in bodhisattva pose. Isaiah, however, was more interested in the squirrel on the same shelf, probably because of his memories of Jack-Jack, pet squirrel of our friend Erin.


There are certain benefits to being in a country that doesn’t enforce trademarks very well. One is that you can buy faux Nike basketball shoes for cheap. Another is that you can get Batman, Superman, the Incredible Hulk, and the Avengers all in the same package, without shelling out for separate DC and Marvel merchandise:


In the end, Ezekiel got some batteries for a remote control car he already owned. Isaiah and Naomi got small bags of marbles, and Hosanna opted for a silver tiara bedecked with blue jewels. It will probably break by next Monday.

Sora still wasn’t quite finished, so the younger three kids got one ride on the carousel while Ezekiel stood outside the railing and mocked in the way only a superior elder brother can.


Rejoining Sora, we returned to Immigration — no small feat crossing busy four-lane JP Laurel with four kids, dodging jeepneys as though in a game of Frogger. Once across the street, we discovered that Immigration’s photo system was down for the day, so they wouldn’t be able to produce our I-cards today. So we’ll have to come back to get those. They will allow us to get drivers’ licenses and open a Filipino bank account, thus avoiding a bunch of fees every time we get money at an ATM (hitherto the only way to do it).

Upshot: we are now legal for the next year, and don’t need to file for renewal until February.

Thanks for your prayers!

Eden Nature Park

I’m on summer break from teaching at Faith, which gives us a little more flexibility for June and July. Two weeks ago, we decided to beat the heat by getting out of Davao and heading for the mountains, where the air is less humid and the temperature seemed downright cool. We went to Eden Nature Park and had a fun and relaxing time. Just what we needed to recharge our batteries and keep from getting too stressed out in the city.

The views are amazing, and there is vegetation everywhere:



It is a place of flowers…


Wooden saints:


“Indiana Jones” ziplines:


Horseback rides:


The obstacle course:


And the quondam “infinite” pool (the trees have since spoiled the illusion of connection with the horizon):


Here’s Isaiah with a statue of a carabao:


We enjoyed a tour of the park, conducted on a shuttle jeepney whose operator had evidently been a Davao City taxi driver in a previous career. We saw the hydroponic greenhouses where Eden grows lettuce and carrots, and the vast mangosteen groves. (Sadly, not in season.)

Two days of cool, fresh, mountain air is helpful for keeping missionaries looking this happy:


Around the House

Nothing terribly exciting this week. I’ll upload photos from our trip to the nature park later today. In the meantime, here are some photos of what goes on in our apartment every day:

Flor peeling a pomelo for our girls:


Brothers of Latin students reading Calvin and Hobbes while their siblings have class with me in the kitchen:


Ezekiel, who hates to have his picture taken, was unaware that I caught him smiling while reading Howard Pyle’s King Arthur series on the iPad:



On the way to church, we stopped at the Sandawa traffic light, behind this traysikad and its unusual passenger.


She wasn’t too happy about being in the traysi (preferred a taxi, maybe?), and was expressing her nervousness by dancing around a bit, but the driver reached over and gave her a few affectionate pats, so that she calmed down and lay down on the floor for the rest of the ride.

Babies, babies, babies!

Photo May 31, 2 47 37 PM

Pretty sure they don’t come much cuter than this!

Naomi has been with me on 6 shifts now and is making friends with all the other midwives. She had quite the streak of quiet shifts, but finally on her 5th shift she got to see a birth. It was a fairly complicated and difficult one but she took it in stride. She also delighted the Filipina midwives (who already think she’s pretty cute) by saying, as we were discussing things after the birth, “It’s important not to panic when there’s an emergency because you’ll just make things worse!” (One of the Filipina midwives now refers to her as “my wise friend Naomi” because of this remark.)

On Sunday evening Naomi got to see me “catch” a baby for a very sweet young couple.

Photo Jun 02, 8 38 59 PM

Happy first-time mama!

Naomi also got to help two of the other midwives with baby baths. She’s still a little bit nervous about handling newborns and doesn’t like it at all when they cry.

Photo May 31, 4 45 44 PM

Washing all the birth goop out of baby’s hair.

I started at the clinic at the beginning of February, taking the first month we were here to get settled in. In four months, I’ve already attended over 40 births — as many as I usually did in a year in Ohio!

Later this month or early next month, I will have my first “repeat” — the chance to deliver the younger brother or sister of a now four-year-old little girl named Tweety Jane who was born into my hands when I was here in 2009! Her mother remembered me and asked me to be her midwife again. Here we are at her prenatal check-up today.

Photo Jun 04, 9 53 44 AM

My first repeat patient in the Philippines.

I have the best job in the world.

Sermon on Ruth 4

I have mostly relegated my sermons to the Colvinism blog, but since this one was delivered for our church here in Davao, I thought I should post it here.

Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah, by William Blake

Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah, by William Blake

Pastor Vic is in the middle of a series on Exodus right now. I preached last time on the time Sarah and Abraham went down to Egypt, and pharaoh took Sarah, and God brought them out again. My point with that sermon was that the Exodus motif is everywhere in the Bible: God the creator rescues His people, defeats their enemies, delivers them from all their sins and misery, and condescends to dwell with them and be their God. He gives them laws to live by and promises for their future. That is the story of the Exodus. It is also our story, so that we may live in terms of it.

Today, I want us to look at another instance of this Exodus motif, in the book of Ruth, which is one of my favorite books of the Bible. From a literary perspective, it shows an economy, a tight-knitness of plot, that is without comparison. All the characters have significant names: Elimelech (“My God is king”) takes Naomi (“the pleasant one”) to Moab. He dies, and so do his two sons, Mahlon (“Sickly”) and Qilyon (“Weak”). Of the two sons’ wives, Orpah, “the turner-back” goes back to Moab, while Ruth, “the friend”, insists on throwing her lot in with Naomi. Once back in the land, they find a relative, Boaz, “the Pillar” and seek to redeem their family’s property.

Ruth starts, as does the book of Exodus, with the chosen seed in a foreign land: just as Jacob’s family came down to Egypt because of a famine, so here, an Israelite family has moved to Moab, because of a famine. Affliction and trouble have removed them from Israel. They are in exile, just like Israel in the book of Exodus. They need to be redeemed and brought back to the land, to live with God again.

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