Monday, July 26, 2010

Iloilo is Home

We are all safely back home in Iloilo. We are starting to get settled back into our Filipino routine. It is always bittersweet to leave one home for another. It is, however, good to be back in our home in Iloilo. We are almost over jet lag, but this always takes time, having to endure some pretty rough days.

Also some of you may not be aware of this, Chris and the kids flew on a different flight than I. I flew on air miles, my tickets was very cheap. Because of this, they had a completely different flight plan. So that means Chris flew with all FOUR of our kids on the way back to the Philippines. Most of you know already that my wife is absolutely amazing. Praise God that all things worked out. We met in Hong Kong, then we were to fly to Manila together. Her flight was delayed so we had to overnight in Hong Kong instead of Manila, but this was a blessing in disguise for several reasons, not to mention that the airline paid for the hotel. Chris and the kids also got bulkhead seating on the long haul flight so they had more room and even a bassinet for Gabriella. God's favor continued to go before us when we landed in Manila. We all received a free one year visa, usually we get tourist visas that we have to renew every two months. Getting this one year visa will save us nearly $3,000!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for our travels. Thank to you to all who are continuing to hold us tightly in prayer as we adjust back to Filipino life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Guilty of This?

Number 815 from the Stuff that Christians Like:

Becoming an expert on Africa (or whatever country you recently visited) after a 6-day missions trip.

“Please tell everyone that our streets are not chock full of lions.”

That’s the sentiment a reader in South Africa wanted me to share. Apparently, he felt like Christians in America sometimes believe Africa is very similar to the Disney movie, “Swiss Family Robinson.”

Remember that one? They lived in a tree house and ate coconuts and zebra. They had monkey butlers and were constantly worried about wild animals and/or pirates.

Although the pirate phenomenon is making a spirited comeback, I’m almost positive some of us have some backwards opinions of Africa. But you know what’s even worse?

People who become experts on Africa after a 6-day mission trip.

This is the time of year when they start coming back from trips and regaling us with their tales of massive missionary magnitude. Soon they will return from a short hop overseas. How do you spot them in your church? How do you see them coming? Here’s how:

6 ways to tell your friend has become an “overnight missionary expert.”

1. They temporarily wear some wicked awesome sandals.

Mission trip sandals, something I’ve chronicled before, come in two varieties: woven and rubber. The woven ones appear to made of some sort of rope and actually look painful. My wife and I saw a guy with bloody feet wearing these the other night. He was limping. The rubber ones are more comfortable but only come in two colors: rainbow and bright rainbow.

2. They use the phrase, “So American.”

This might be the worst one on the list because it attempts to shame you for something you’ve done. Sometimes you’ll see it in the comments on SCL. I’ll write about money and then someone will immediately say, “That is so American to think that way.” Or they might use the variation, “Well, in the West …” What they usually don’t tell you is that they spent all 32 years of their life, minus the six days they were on a mission trip, living in Ohio. Which is in America.

3. They pretend there’s a household need for a machete.

87% of all men who go on mission trips buy machetes. Like how I felt when I saw two Lamborghinis racing on the highway the other night, something about a machete makes you feel like an 8-year old little boy again. You get giddy with the possibility of actually owning a sword. But if your friend starts using it to whack away at yard work, they might be taking it a little too far.

4. They convert everything into foreign currency.

Never go to a Starbucks with a mission trip expert. They will inevitably look at your four dollar coffee and mumble, “Hope that week’s worth of wages is delicious.” To be kind, respond with a simple, “I’ll pray for you.” To be a jerk say, “I’ll stop drinking coffee when your wife stops wearing that blood diamond.” (That’s a horrible thing to say, because ultimately both issues need to be addressed.)

5. They use the phrase, “used to live.”

I spent about 25 days or so in Costa Rica. Once at a dinner party, I told someone I used to “live in Costa Rica.” My wife, who was unfortunately within hearing distance, burst into laughter. I hadn’t lived there. I had visited there. Briefly. If your friend uses weird math to pretend they were on the trip for a long time, like when the ex-coach of Tennessee said he really enjoyed “the 13 months at Tennessee,” you know someone is faking it. (As if saying “13 months” makes folks feel less like you were jumping ship after a year. Might as well convert it into weeks and say “I was a great coach here for 56 weeks.”)

6. They are constantly dragging you out to restaurants.

My wife and I once lived in a fancy neighborhood outside of Boston. On our first day there, our neighbor, a professor, came over and said, “Do you guys like Southern Cambodian cuisine.” Now clearly, if you know me, you know I prefer Southeastern Cambodian. I actually just order by longitude and latitude, I am that cultured. Not really, but if your friend suddenly refuses to go to Applebee’s because “they don’t have good breadfruit,” be worried.

I write this list not because I hate missionary experts, but because I’ve been this guy. I went to Dominica once, probably one of my top three favorite Lesser Antilles, and that entire list happened except for number 6. I had rainbow sandals. I found three machetes in my garage yesterday. And I once said, “Our Western culture doesn’t have a mourning process that leads to real healing.” I wrote this list because I am this list.

But it’s incomplete. Honestly, what self-respecting Christian blogger ends a list with six items?

How about you? Got the seventh idea?

Have you ever known a missionary expert?

Have you ever been one?

I find this hilarious because this is so true, and I am guilty of several of these and more.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There is a Cost

In the Fall of 2003, about six months before we left for the mission field, I was driving with my then four year old son, Eric. Our family had already made the decision to make the leap to full time missions, departure date was June of 2004.

He was asking me about this next big thing in our family's life. He asked about his friends. Eric has been blessed with several lifelong friends--they are all still really close. He asked, "So when will they (his friends) be moving to the Philippines?"

Of course I told him that we were the only ones moving, that his friends and their families will remain in the Untied States. This was a cold dose of reality for him, realizing that his life-long, best friends would not be with him in the Philippines. With that realization, he began to cry . . . and cry . . . and cry. He did not want to leave his best friends.

Here we are again, getting ready to return to the Philippines, and the goodbyes are starting. Tonight Faithy started to get sad, faced with the fact that yet again she was going to have to leave her friends. She said she was looking forward to seeing her dog, Sam, but she did not want to leave her friends. She kept asking if there was some way we could have Sam sent here, and then we could remain in America, so she would not have to say goodbye again to her friends.

This breaks my heart.

This is part of the cost.

God give us all the grace and strength to count the cost.

(Thankfully our kids have some good friends in Iloilo.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Happy Independence Day

From a letter of John Adams to his wife:
"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.- I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by Solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfire and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Happy 2nd of July, on this day in 1776 the unanimous vote for the declaration of independence from the empire of Great Britain was voted and agreed upon. On that day, according to John Adams:

"the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony 'that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do.' "

In memory and in honor of John Adams, Happy Second of July.