Indian Food

Sora and I have found a favorite restaurant: “Singh is King”, located near the Medical School Foundation Hospital, conveniently on the way to Faith Academy from our house. The food is very good, if a bit spicy for my palate. The proprietors are from India, so they’re keeping it authentic.

It’s not a fancy building, without even a front wall, just an open air roof, with the usual plastic chairs:


Note the motorcycles parked out front. Singh is King also delivers if you order more than P200 of food (=$5), though we haven’t tried that. Portions are quite generous, and you can get a good lunch for two people for that price or less.

Inside, a flat-screen TV shows Indian soap operas. These are hilarious. Although we Americans can understand none of the words, the shots of the characters’ faces convey all we need to know about the plot:


We always end up draining the provided pitcher of water (orange lid, above) in a futile effort to quell the fire of the spices. I love eating spicy food, but I’m not good at it.


We’ve been so busy that it’s hard to find time to blog. But our cell phones are always at the ready, so I’ll share some random photos from the past month:


Hosanna helping with snacks after worship at UCRC Davao.


A newspaper shows the mayor of Davao facepalming after the twin theatre bombings at the Gaisano and SM City malls. There were no serious injuries, and there were reports of men preventing theatregoers from sitting in rows too close to the bombs. Still, a bit of wakeup call and a salutary reminder to pray for peace and safety.


Inside the Enak shop where Matt buys liempo (pork bellies) and lechon manok (rotisserie chicken).


This wiseacre has a very Davao message on his bumper. “I’m not drunk, just avoiding potholes.”


A carabao seeks refuge from the heat in a small pond just off the driveway leading to SIL and Faith Academy Mindanao.


Naomi’s first piano lesson with Ms. Wendy in her oh-so-romantic teaching studio. (More on this later.)


Since the island we live on is inclined by nature to be a tropical rainforest, teeming with life, it has considerable powers that war against the ephemeral structures which humans erect against the elements. Buildings are eroded by rain and humidity, despite being constructed almost invariably of concrete. A North American stick frame house wouldn’t last long very long here. If the moisture didn’t destroy the wood, the insects would. They are nature’s army, dedicated to the relentless return of wood to the rich soil of what ought to be the forest floor.

Since we moved into our apartment in January, we have fought a ceaseless battle against wood-boring beetles, which produce detritus known as bok-bok. It looks like this:


(Bok-bok on the stairs of our apartment.)

More aggravating is when it falls from the crown molding at the wall-to-ceiling seam, landing in a layer of little beetle pellets on the counters of the kitchen; or when the beetles eat away so much of the back door of the house that a little shower of bok-bok coats the arm of anyone who shuts it too hard; or when one of the stairs becomes so rotten that it isnt really safe anymore. We finally persuaded our landlord to send the carpenter (Cebuano: “panday”) to replace the bad wood.

The panday – I called him the Kung Fu Panday – arrived to do what most American carpenters could never do: install a new door, a new stair step, and new crown molding with nothing but hand tools. Here he is using a plane on the edges of the door:


The new door ready to install:


We are told that this is a fairly good door, not made out of low-grade coco lumber like so much of the wood in this city. So our door should last probably…5 years!

Cabinets have been repainted in the kitchen and we haven’t seen any more bok-bok on the counters. It just makes life a little bit nicer.

Baby check!

The guard holds open the door of the birth room, a chart in his hand, announcing cheerfully, “Baby check!” as a smiling new mother walks in with her baby in her arms.

Post-partum follow-up for both moms and babies is an important part of the midwifery care offered at the birth center. If everything is normal after the birth, patients usually go home within 6-8 hours. The mothers return for check-ups several times during the first week, and again at three and six weeks after the birth.


Sleeping peacefully during the three-day baby check… until it’s time for the heel prick!

During these visits, we make sure everything is going well with the mother’s healing, breastfeeding and the baby’s weight gain, monitor for jaundice and signs of infection, and answer questions. We take a blood sample from the baby’s heel to test for disorders like PKU, congenital hypothyroidism, galactosemia, and G6PD defficiency (this last is fairly common here.) And of course, at each visit the midwife prays with the mother and baby.


Waiting for baby checks on BCG day.

Twice a month, we hold BCG clinic, providing tuberculosis vaccination for the newborns who were born in the previous two weeks. We usually have at least 40 and sometimes more than 60 babies come in for their BCG vaccine, so these are always the busiest days of the month for baby checks!

Christmas in September

This past Sunday was September 1st, and our pastor here ended the church service with, “Merry Christmas!” (The saying in the Philippines is that the Christmas season includes all the months that end in “-ber”.)

Being an Anglican, I have had too many years of the liturgical calendar to feel very Christmassy at the beginning of September. But on Monday, something happened to change that: a balikbayan box arrived from our beloved Trinity REC back in Cincinnati, full of good things.


The box was packed by our friends Jay and Mira Sol Eppinga. Mrs. Eppinga is Filipina herself, and has family living here, so she knows all about how to pack a balikbayan box. Everything was very snug and secure, and protected from damage and moisture by the careful use of plastic bags. Daghang salamat sa inyo, Eppingas!

On the top of the box were all the baby clothes and washcloths for use at the birth clinic.


I won’t list everything here, but there were homeschooling math books, tennis racquets, salsa, Crayola markers, a huge container of mixed nuts, a salad spinner, and a new logic board for our old broken MacBook.

I am especially delighted with the books. These will help immensely with my prep for teaching my next class at the Reformed Institute of Ministry: Jewish Background of the New Testament.



The kids were delighted to see that all their friends back at Trinity REC had made handmade cards for them. There must have been 20 of them!