Didn’t notice you were crying too…

One of my favorite David Crowder Band songs is “All I Can Say” The bridge goes like this:

“I didn’t notice You were standing here
I didn’t know that
That was You holding me
I didn’t notice You were cry’n too
I didn’t know that
That was You washing my feet”

This song sums up how I have been feeling over the past month. Between having a high fever for over a week and then being better but exhausted for a week. Then the following week having a upper respiratory bug. In the middle of feeling very poorly my aunt died.

Being so far from home while my family was going through this trying time was difficult. I am thankful for Margie’s friendship because that has really helped me keep my focus and releasing the repressed emotions.

I find that I have spent a great deal of time with the lyrics to this song running through my head as a constant prayer to God in order to make it through my days. “This is all that I can say right now and I know its not much”

All I Can Say

In October the people of Leyte remember the Battle of Leyte, the day during WWII where General MacArthur landed here liberating the Philippines. MacArthur brought with him troops and some of those troops died in the effort. Charles Goldberg was one of the young men fighting in that beach battle. He was injured and went on to live a long life. He died last November and his last wish was to return to Leyte and have his ashes spread where his comrades in arms lost their lives.

Paul wrote Mr. Goldberg’s name in the sand and poured the ashes into the letters. Paul then spread some flower petals around the name. While waiting for the waves to wash the name away Paul shared the story of the gentleman’s life and read a couple of poems. The ceremony was witnessed by the committee that arranged Leyte Landing Day. There were construction works near by and they stopped and respectfully witnessed the events. The military band played Taps and saluted a fellow soldier.

I cried because while I was standing there I was thinking about my aunt how I would not be with my family for her funeral service. There was something cathartic about participating in Charles Goldberg’s send off in lieu of my aunt’s.

I was already feeling homesick and missing my friends and family. I miss being a part of a community where I am so well known and understood. I miss big salads and coffee with friends. I miss being around people who unconditionally love me and who always have a hug for me when I need one. As you might expect these feelings have intensified and I am finding myself opting to spend time alone when I don’t HAVE to be interacting with others. It is good for my introverted soul to be alone and seek comfort from God.

Habakkuk 3:17-19New International Version (NIV)

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

My joy is not dependent on my circumstances but on my God, He called me here and I serve with a joyful heart even while I grieve.

I do have many more pictures to share but that is a challenge for another day. After Mr. Goldberg’s ashes had washed away we stopped by the pool of the hotel that shares the beach we used. We enjoyed the view and a little of the floor show before heading home.

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Rainbow Joy’s school day adventure


Rainbow Joy made it to school on Friday, she has found my backpack a bit overloaded earlier in the week and opted to stay home rather than get squeezed into an over crowded pack!

The first class she met was my CF 7 class, CF stands for Christian Formation and 7 is because they are in the 7th grade. The class is studying wisdom, AKA Proverbs this year. The class loved meeting her and she loved meeting them. 20160812_134341 The first thing they did was teach her how to solve “cubes” The girl in the front right is an amazing puzzle solver. She can solve them in seconds without looking! 20160812_134512 Next Rainbow Joy read to them from the bible. She felt sure this is what Thad and Ada would want her to do. They gathered around close to hear what she had to say.


Next we had Academic and Professional Writing with Grade 11. Rainbow Joy was a bit nervous meeting them because they are the oldest students in the school. They look more like grown ups than children. Once she met them it was a different story.

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Then we had fifth grade language. Hopefully this weekend I will be scanning and sending their letters to American.

Family Day

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Bethel celebrated Family Day in the beginning of September. Which came right on the heels of the culmination of Buwan ng Wika. This made for a very busy week! Slideshow of the Family Day fun!



Things that are not like home

You may have heard about the bombing in a Davao market a couple of weeks ago. While the bombing is no where near where I am, the effects can be felt throughout the Philippines.

I have often thought that I have a false sense of security here because of the level of security I see all around me. As an American I do not expect to walk through a metal detector and bag search just to enter the mall, but here that is normal. There is a list of banned items from the mall, this includes explosives, guns, and hand grenades. I am glad that they are careful to ensure no one brings these items into the mall and I am surprised at how quickly this became this became normal for me. I didn’t even flinch when Margie and I went down town and before we could pull into the parking garage we had to stop for security to run a mirror under the car.

Since the bombing and the recent bomb threats the security has increased even more. There are now check points along the road and I noticed today as we passed through the check point that there was a member of the military with an automatic weapon at the ready. Even in the mall I saw officers with obvious weapons. Do I feel safer? I am not sure if I do or not. The increased security made me think about the things going on in the larger world around me and not just in the very nice little circle I live in.

Here is what I do know. I really enjoyed this trip to the mall and my friend Mariles is an amazing at parking her car! After the football game, aka soccer game, Luchie, Mariles and I went to introduce me to a treat called Halo Halo. Mariles did an impressive job maneuvering her car into a spot in a very crowded area.

Halo Halo is shaved ice with evaporated milk served in a bowl with toppings. There was some bean, coconut, and well I am not entirely sure what I was eating but it was good with the exceptions of the beans.


Learning from the exam

This week is Quarter Final exams, which my American brain has translated into Mid-Terms. Exam time is an interesting time because of all that goes into making them and taking them. The students poor themselves into memorizing everything you have every said to them, while the teacher tries to recall everything they have taught and decide what are the key elements we want to access.

What I have realized this week is that it really isn’t about how much the students will show me they have learned but how much I will learn from the exam. The process of deciding what to put on the exam is the first step of the battle and took a great deal of time. You have to make sure that the assessment has something for all learning styles and is a fair assessment for every student.

The process of grading the test will show me where I have been successful as a teacher and where I have fallen short.  Did I provide what each student needed to be successful at taking my exam? Did I make the instructions clear enough? Do my special needs students have their needs met? Do I need to cover any of the material again?

Two out of three days of exams are done. My first exam was with my fifth grade language class and I have learned a great deal from their exam. First thing I notice is that I gave the right amount of questions for their exam. A couple of students finished a little early and a couple of students worked to the last possible second. Most of the students finish with a few minutes to spare.

The students with time to spare where told to read a book, write a story, or draw me a picture. I received some great pictures at the end of class.

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The most important lesson I learned from their exam time is that my students know that I care about them and that they care about me as well.I hope I learn as much from the rest of the exams.


Bethel is 15 years old

September 7th is an important day around here, it is the day they honor the Founding Father’s of this school and sing happy birthday to Bethel. This year is the 15th year the school has been in operation and let me tell you Filipino’s know how to celebrate!

First classes were canceled and jubilation abound as the day of fun activities were revealed to the students. The morning started with a prayer walk. We walked around the soccer field singing Thank you Lord then we all stopped at prayer stations and and prayed in small groups. Some groups prayed for the students, some for the community, some for the parents, some of the the teachers and staff.

After the prayer we went on to form the number 15 and posed for the picture. Paul Varberg used a ladder to climb a light pole and take the picture. Getting the lower school to form a straight number one was quite the under taking! Eventually all was right and the photo was taken. If you are wondering, I am at the first corner in the five, where the horizontal meets the vertical. I am the first vertical.

And then it was time for games! The upper school competed in volleyball and basketball while the lower school competed in fun games. I was the light in red light green light. The pictures of students walking with great difficulty were taken by the fifth grade homeroom teacher. Ms. Ambal kindly took pictures for me. It was hysterical to watch! They had to walk across the field picking up paper plates and walking with them held by various body parts. None of those parts intended for holding anything!

Recess time and then back to their homerooms for doughnut! Compliments of Mr. Doughnut. They have some interesting flavors here and all the students were excited to have the special treat.

At 2pm there was a assembly with some entertainment and some business. The new PTA Board was sworn in, and the new Student Counsel officers also took their oath of office. I am proud of those officers since several of them are in my 11th grade classes. The dance club treated us to a performance and the school choir gave their debut performance! The assembly ended with the giving of gifts to the founders and singing happy birthday to the school. Then the candles on the cake were blown out and all of the students received a cupcake on their way out the door.

The students headed home allowing the teachers to clean up and slap themselves with a pretty stick or the handsome stick as the case may be. The board, teachers, PTA and staff were treated to a wonderful catered dinner. The auditorium was transformed in a few short hours from the scene described above to wonderful dining hall. There are pictures of the chair covers and table decorations above. I intended to take pictures of the food but to be honest I was having so much fun with my table mates that I forgot!

It was an exhausting day but a wonderful day.