Meet the Greek Students

Everyone was present for Greek last week, and we had two new students. These men are leaders in three of the more evangelical churches here in Davao City (most of them from Continental Reformed and Calvinistic Baptist denominations).

Please pray for our studies, and for all the students. It is hard work, especially because we are not using a watered down textbook or taking shortcuts. As far as in me lies, I want these men to be ready and able to read the GNT for themselves at the end of this year.


A little more about the students:

At either end are Yuri B. and his father Pr. Vic, who has been a great help to me in arranging opportunities for me to teach Latin, Greek, and theology here in Davao. I have tremendous respect for his preaching and teaching. He’s a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana, and the pastor of United Covenant Reformed Church in the Ecoland neighborhood of town.

Next to Yuri is Carl A., who has recently been involved in relief efforts and church rebuilding in Tacloban. He is also a keen student of the Scriptures, and I have been delighted to have him in all the theology and church history classes I taught last year.

The next two men from left are Mario A and his friend Wayne. Mario is from Immanuel Baptist Church near Torres Street, where he is involved in Christian education.

In front of me is Ojie B., who is an elder at UCRC, which he also pastored while Vic was attending seminary in the States. Ojie graduated last year with an MDiv from Koinonia Theological Seminary here in Davao.

Pastor Jurem Ramos, in the center with the heavenly light coming from behind him, is the head pastor of Soli Deo Gloria church, which kindly hosts the Greek class and provides me with a whiteboard with which to teach. SDG has a school, and Pr. Ramos can be heard preaching and teaching on the radio as well. (Our Cebuano teacher, who listens to his show, says that he is “really maayo kaayo”, and that he always gives her much to think about.)

The next two men are also from SDG. Allan W. is an elder at SDG, and Gener L. works at the SDG school.

Not pictured is Pr. Ramos’ son Abraham, who teaches at the school and recently graduated from college with a degree in a Biblical studies. He was operating the camera for this photo.

One of the really neat things about this class is that everyone is multilingual already, which gives them a major advantage in assimilating another language. The two pastors’ sons especially are among the brightest language students I have ever taught.

Therapeutic Art workshop in Isla Verde


My parents’ visit wasn’t all beaches and board games. My mother is a registered art therapist who has worked in private practice, school, and hospital settings as well as teaching classes at the BC School of Art Therapy. She had asked me when she was planning the trip whether I could arrange for her to do any volunteer work while she was in Davao. Art therapy didn’t seem like the best fit for a maternity clinic, so I talked to my friend Charlyn about possibilities. Charlyn leads an NGO, Family Care and Community Development Initiatives, started by a local evangelical church to work with families in one of the poorest slum communities in Davao. She hosts the prenatal outreach clinic that I attend regularly in Isla Verde as well as many other health and education-related initiatives for this disadvantaged community. When I explained what my mother does and asked if maybe she could do an art therapy group session with the children who attend Isla Verde’s preschool or feeding program, Charlyn had a better idea: “Could she teach our volunteers instead?” So the plan was tentatively formed to have a introductory workshop on facilitating therapeutic art-making in early January. Charlyn thought there might be as many as 20 people who would be interested.

In addition to her work with the NGO and caring for her two children, Charlyn is also attending school to become a social worker. She talked to her professor about the planned workshop and the response was very enthusiastic, suddenly we had a large number of social work students (and their teacher) who were also planning to attend! We ended up with 30 participants after setting a firm limit on the number of students who could come because of the participatory nature of the workshop and space considerations.

When the kids went back to school, my mom and I started preparing materials and planning for the workshop (she brought the outside expertise, and my job was chauffeur, facilitator, and photographer!) This involved making large quantities of playdough, much to my children’s delight.

The multi-purpose community building where we held the workshop, in the Isla Verde Badjao village (on the right side of the walkway):


My mom teaching:


Enthusiastic participants:



Everyone got very involved in their art-making:



Hanging the art on the walls:



Very pleased with the certificates they received at the end of the workshop!


Charlyn and my mom:

IMG_2881The workshop was a great success and very well received. The students and volunteers had the opportunity to learn some basic principles for facilitating therapeutic art-making, explore how different art activities helped them express their own feelings, practice using active listening in discussing other participants’ art-work, and learn some simple therapeutic art activities that can be used with children or families. They will all be in a position to use these new tools in the future. It was fun for me to see my mom in action in her area of expertise and to have been able to arrange for a teaching / learning opportunity that would not otherwise have been available. Thanks to Charlyn for making it possible!

Greek for Pastors and Elders

The students in my Greek class are doing excellent work. Their pronunciation was already great after just 3 meetings, and they are asking very good questions about syntax and morphology. It will likely take most of a year to finish all of Greek grammar with them, but they seem to be ready and eager for it.

At the end of the 90 minute session today, we looked at Pr. Vic’s copy of Nestle-Aland 27 and discussed the use of the apparatus criticus. There was a moment of amusement when, in an effort to show Pr. Jurem what some of the signs mean, I asked Pr. Vic to pull out the insert card of sigla, which is in German. “That’s OK, though, they’re all in the book too. See?” – and confronted him with another page of explanation, this time in Latin. (Of the learning of languages there is no end.)

My goal of the class is that faithful men who are already leaders in the evangelical churches here in Davao might be able to handle the Word in the original Greek. That doesn’t just mean giving them a knowledge of Greek so that they can read the GNT, but also actually putting the book into their hands. Pr. Vic is a scholar already, with a copy of Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27) that is more well-worn than mine. But, as he explained today, the Greek New Testament is not available in Davao, and is actually pretty hard to find anywhere in the Philippines.


To that end, when my students are nearing the end of their introductory Greek training, I would very much like to give each of them their own copy of the Novum Testamentum Graece (Nestle-Aland 27 or 28, preferably the editions with the dictionary at the back). It’s not beyond our means to buy them ourselves, but some of our senders may want to share in this very literal equipping of the saints. If you’re interested, please email me ( ). We will only need maybe 6 or so, and not until later this year.

We’re on chapter 5 of 80 right now, and I’ve never been more excited to teach Greek.

More fun in the Philippines

It’s been over a year now since we came to Davao, and far too long since I’ve updated the blog! After a busy and hectic December our family enjoyed a lovely break from work and school after Christmas. My parents came to visit us for a couple of weeks, and we took the opportunity to do some of the more “touristy” things that we have not really had time for over the past year. It was a lot of fun!


I lost track of the number of board games played over break…

Games were played.


Isaiah playing chess with Nana at Paradise Island Beach Resort.

Pools were swum in.

IMG_1711Waterfalls were splashed in.


Isaiah at Hagimit Falls on Samal Island.

Beaches were basked on.


Babu Santa Beach on Talikud Island.

The highlight of Nana and Grandpa’s visit was our trip to Oslob on Cebu Island to snorkel with the butanding (whale sharks). Naomi has wanted to do this ever since she read an article about whale sharks in National Geographic, more than a year before we moved to the Philippines. The experience was amazing!


The view from the boat (Sora and Naomi, snorkels on, in the water.)

We were instructed to stay at least 3 meters away from the whale sharks while in the water. The whale sharks, apparently, had not received the same instructions.


Wow, that’s close!

They swam right up to us, and we could see their gills moving and watch them sucking in water and tiny shrimp.


The view from under the water!

All in all, it was a great vacation! With the exception of the trip to Cebu Island to see the whale sharks, everything we did was very close to home, mostly on the islands in the Davao Gulf. We often get so busy with our day to day work that we stay in the city and forget how lucky we are to live within an hour or two of so many beautiful islands and beaches and fantastic gardens of coral for snorkeling. I think Isaiah would be happy to spend all day, every day on a beach and Naomi and Ezekiel love to snorkel. Hosanna isn’t quite as comfortable in the deep water yet but she’s getting better.

My parents left yesterday and now we’re all back in the swing of prenatals, meetings, teaching, grading, and birth room shifts, refreshed and ready for another busy year!