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It’s a Process

July 26, 2014

It’s a Process…


I’d like to tell you about the process of publishing those last set of blogs. You see this is how it works… and not just one rare, random day, but a day similar to many. I am only going to tell you about this day, because I wondered, for a moment, if some of you might not understand why I haven’t written you back… or why my message was cut short in the midst of conversation… Here’s why… and please know that I sincerely and very close to desperately wanted to write you back…

John drove the jeepney for an hour down a narrow, bumpy, dusty, dirt rode as we bounced around in the back. After parking at the only ATM in the town, I jumped out to get money so we could buy some much needed supplies. But this ATM machine is very… oh what’s the word… Let’s just say that it has not worked more often than has. Usually, it is offline, for whatever reason, and we are told to come back at another time… or day… never mind that we live an hour away… and on this day, I walked into the little area that it is located in, and stepped right into a puddle of water. I mumbled under my breath, something about maybe that’s why this thing never works, after it told me funds were not available. The armed guard then told me it was out of money and to come back after two. It was only 8:30 in the morning… You have to get to the market early before the flies carry everything off… Then we drove down the road to the market place. Lee went out with the smaller of the two grocery lists. Toilet paper remained written on my much larger list, sitting lonely on the dashboard. His sister, who has also been staying with us, went with him along with Neely and Liam. They like accompanying their kuya and ate. (That means older brother and older sister and shows them respect.) John and I stayed in the hot, humid jeepney. He texted some code to get internet on the smart bro that plugs into the USB of the computer and handed it to me. I plugged it in and tried all that I knew to make it work but eventually had to pass it back to John so he could try his tricks. He was successful and I proceeded to type in our blog address and wait and wait. I kept bogging it down with my impatience, had to start all over, and breathe deeply. After a few attempts it said that my blog was posted, although it wouldn’t let me go to the main page to see it, and know for sure. Then it said it had to close due to some error. In the meantime John had texted some other code to get internet on his phone so that he could write back to people on facebook. He kept hearing my sighing, grunting and growling, and was offering suggestions from the front seat. The blog sight did not want to open again so I moved on to check my email, when I realized that it has been so long since I last checked my email, that I completely forgot my password, after several unsuccessful attempts. John reminded me that I never forget my password, that that was his job and my job to remind him… This is true. I think the heat was affecting my brain as I sat melting in the back seat, trying to be patient. I did remember my facebook password and got on to find several messages. I responded to the first few and kept going in order until I got to one from my good friend and churchmate back in Texas. I saw with excitement that she wrote me right back. So I wrote back again but kept accidentally hitting enter before I was done typing. So one complete thought was broke up into like five messages. She responded with a virtual laugh and I was writing her back when my screen turned black. The battery was dead! (Side note: the battery had a full charge before all of this… That is how long everything took. That is how utterly slow the internet is… granted, the battery doesn’t keep a charge as long anymore.) No, I didn’t throw the computer out the window… I simply closed the computer, laid back and shut my eyes, thankful that I was able to accomplish what I had, and even talk to a friend I hadn’t talked to in a long while. It’s just another day in the life of inconvenience, of going with the flow, of simplicity… the only other alternative is losing it completely. 😉 I have developed immeasurable patience, but I think even more so than me, my husband, who drove to town again the next day to try all over again… He came back with toilet paper. 😉



It Has a Name


At first we thought it was an ingrown toenail. Then we thought it was athlete’s foot. But John has had both enough to know that this was different. It proceeded to spread in between his toes and his entire foot swelled. He could hardly even walk on it. When he finally showed Lee, he said, “Oh we call that one Tarindanum .” He further explained that it is from the water… and a lot of water there is… (rainy season)… Lee said you get rid of it by scrubbing it with salt. John told Lee that he would have to knock him out if he were going to scrub it with salt. The next day John told me he had to go to town and I told him that he had better go to the doctor and get some antibiotics because we had done alcohol, athlete’s foot antifungal medicine, and Neosporin, and it was only getting worse. He assured me that he would and was gone for most of the day. When he got back he told me all the reasons why he didn’t have a prescription in hand. He said he found a doctor and waited in a long long line. Once he finally got to the front and filled out some paperwork, he realized it was a dentist and was told that the doctor and the dentist share that room and today was dentist day. They were trying to explain where the other doctor’s office was but it was too difficult so an elderly lady, who happened to be the dentist’s mother, got in the jeepney to show John how to get there. (How sweet was that?) He said he never would have found it without her, but when they got there, the line was only about three hundred people long.  Then he got the idea to just go to the hospital, so he took the elderly woman back and went to the hospital where there was another line with some very sick looking people coughing and that he probably would have gotten something worse than Tarindanum just by waiting in that line. I couldn’t get too mad at him, knowing that I wouldn’t have gone any further than the dentist.


That night John allowed Lee to scrub the infection with salt. I saw the look on John’s face and new that it was quite painful. I hid in my room for the remainder of the scrubbing. I just couldn’t watch. It hurt for a good while after that despite the Tylenol. Lee lovingly scrubbed some infected blisters on my kiddos as well… For some reason they would let him do it but not me. :-/ The kid’s got better quickly. The salt turned the blisters black but they looked considerably better than yellowy-green and leaky. John’s on the other hand, took a while to get better, but the wounds have now mostly closed and they still swell on occasion. We sometimes call Lee Dr. Lee. 🙂



No Walls


“Momma our house is too nice. Can’t we just live in a smaller one?”

“Two rooms isn’t small enough for you Kendall?” I asked a bit confused.

“Have you seen my classmate’s house? It doesn’t even have walls Momma. There’s like a bamboo table that has dishes on it and another one for the bed, and that’s it! A dirt floor and a thing above them, but not even any walls!”

She continued on about how she sees many of her friends having to carry water to their homes and it makes her feel bad. I told her if it makes her feel bad then maybe she should help them sometime.

One of her friends, that has been helping us with the kids on Sundays, and therefore getting the lessons too, wasn’t here because she had to go and help her parents make charcoal. Kendall asked, after church, if she could walk to where they were and help. So Riley walked with her but they weren’t where she thought they would be, so they came back.

Then, on another occasion, she told me she’s glad she has lice because it makes her feel like she fits in more.

In conclusion… my soon to be fourteen year old daughter wants a smaller house, preferably with no walls, and welcomes the lice for her birthday. She asked me to promise not to get her anything because she doesn’t want to look “rich.” Although I did get her to agree to let me at least make her some ice cream. Yep, I learned how to make it… As long as we have a freezer and no brownouts, I can get it pretty close to bluebell… or at least what I remember bluebell tasting like. 😉 She cracks me up that girl of mine.





His name is Lino and he is the same size as Liam even though he is nineteen years old. He has never been to school, and can’t write his name, but he is one of the hardest working young men I have ever seen… always hauling buckets of heavy water… often covered from head to toe in charcoal as he walks home carrying a shovel. I don’t think his feet have ever met a shoe. His characteristics resemble down syndrome. He never complains but smiles a lot. If we ever have food out, he looks at me, and back at the food longingly. I ask him, “Kayat mo?” “(You want or like?)” He answers with a nod and a hurried walk toward it, scarfing it down in one breath. One day John asked him if he wanted to play the guitar as he had been sitting and listening to John. He took it; not interested in keys or chords, or lyrics. He played it with all his heart and sang with all his voice until his grandmother called him home from the fence. Children have told us that he gets beaten a lot and is sometimes tied up. I have never seen this for myself and hope that it is not true, but admittedly it is very likely.  

            For two nights now, he has hung around at dinner time. We invited him to the table with us the first night, as we ate on the porch. I have never seen someone eat so much in my life… three heaping platefuls of rice with vegetable soup on top. He didn’t say much, only nodded when asked a question. When he was finished, he smiled, turned, left the table, and walked home in the dark. Liam said to me later that he remembers Angel eating like that at first, that she would eat so much he couldn’t believe it.  

On the second night he bowed his head with us as we prayed and then sat right at the table. I put a heaping plate of rice and pork in front of him and again he ate and ate. I think he wanted more rice but we ran out this time. He stayed for a while later as Lee’s sister, who is the same age as Lino, showed him how to write his name. He got a few of the letters down and then began drawing pictures. He drew a happy looking boy and a girl. Then he stood without a word and went home.



At Two O’Clock…


A loud speaker came on from somewhere down the street and it sounded different… important… but incomprehensible to me. It came from a vehicle slowly driving by. If you have ever seen that movie Robots, and remember the microphone robot, at the bus station that did the announcing, and you couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying… that’s what it sounded like to me. I could see people walking up to the road to listen. After the man quit speaking, I heard many voices yelling to each other, like they were clarifying the message to other family members or neighbors. Lee said they were warning us about a typhoon that was supposed to hit at 2:00 today, and that it is signal number 2.  No one seemed worried and Lee didn’t either, but my heart raced a little at the whole situation, as it was a first for me. I think John’s might have sputtered a little too because he started in on, “let’s fill all the barrels and buckets with water… charge all the flashlights…” etc… The first things I plugged into the outlet were the mosquito zappers. That is one thing I don’t want going dead on me. 🙂

That was this morning. It is 1:00 now and so far all is well. School has been cancelled and there are kids everywhere you turn… 🙂

Okay… it’s 1:21 now and the wind is picking up…

1:27… many of the kids are going to their homes…

1:40… brownout… lots of strong wind… signal 3 now…

2:56… still brownout… and strong wind but no rain…


Well… all in all it wasn’t that scary. The wind was nice and there was no rain. But it is still brownout and it is 1:00 the next day. At least there’s still a nice breeze. 🙂



How to Get Out of Eating Dog


Sunday was awesome… I counted twenty-eight children. Some came in nothing but their not-so-whitey tightys. One even carried a bottle with her. I think they were sisters and when I asked, “Manu taun mo?” (How old are you?), they held up three fingers. 🙂 The children are getting a clearer understanding, as they are getting more of the questions right. And we even had two mothers venture inside the gate to watch. One was carrying a baby, which I got to hold, and I was able to communicate small talk with them. 🙂 We had our first harvest from our garden… okra, corn, cucumbers, slauyot (not really sure how to spell that one), bitter melon, string beans… We made some deliveries. To one of the places that John went without me he said there were several men sitting around, drinking and eating dog. They invited John to eat. He said something just popped into his head that he said out loud… “My wife doesn’t like me to eat dog because it makes me bark in my sleep.” He said they all cracked up and it got him out of eating dog. 😉

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