Sunday, March 30, 2008


One of the things we have had to get use to here in the Philippines is ants. They are EVERYWHERE! It was really frustrating when we first got here, finding foods we had to throw away because the ants got into them. Eventually you get to the point where you just pick the ants out and eat the food anyway. It's amazing how quickly they find any available food. If any crumbs are left on the table at all, ants will find them in a matter of minutes. It's amazing. So, everything in our kitchen is in ziplock bags or plastic storage containers. One of the ways we have learned to keep ants out of our food is this: This is what you do: You get a plate and put water in it. Then you put a cup on top of the plate and the food on the cups! When I first saw this, it made me laugh! But it really works. The ants can't swim through the water! The things you learn as a missionary...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lessons from our Househelper

One of the cultural things we have had to adjust to is having a househelper. Things take quite a bit longer to do here than they do in the States. Instead of just mailing in a check to pay for your electric and water bill, you actually have to go to a location where you can pay. We have a side-by-side washing machine, which means that almost everything is manual. We can't just put to clothes in the washer and they come out clean and spun. It's a lot more time consuming. And we don't have a dryer, so we line dry our clothes and then a lot of them need to be ironed. Many American foods need to be made from scratch. You can't buy them ready-made at the grocery store like you can in the States (for example, floured tortillas). Things are a bit slower here as well. If we go to the grocery store, we have to leave the house, walk a few blocks to where we can hail a taxi (sometimes it takes awhile to get a taxi). The taxi takes us to the mall, where our first stop is the ATM (Everywhere you go, you have to pay in cash. There are hardly any places that take credit cards and debt cards). Then we have to go to 3 different stores: the main grocery store, the meat store, and the bread store. Then we have to hail a taxi to get home. I could go on and on, but you get the idea, things take longer here.
So, needless to say, as both Rob and I are teaching, it is the culture here to have househelpers, not only because it takes a lot of time to just do daily activities, but also because it gives someone a job (this is the BIGGEST reason, in my mind, we have a helper). We have recently hired a new helper in the past month, whom money is very hard to come by. I pay her weekly so that she can buy food for her family that week. On Monday, I had her pay our water bill and there was some change P100 (about $2.50 USD). I was not at home when she was there, so she left me this note:
"Maam Johnson I take advance of P100 because I don't have money for our supper today. I'm sorry that I did this because my husband left us and had work to Cagayan 2 weeks ago and I am the one to feed my kids. Please forgive me to do this. I hope you won't get mad. Just deduct it on my wage on Friday. Thank you."
She works for us on Monday and Friday afternoons and Wednesday all day. This was on Monday that she left this note. So when she came on Wednesday, I left her a note that said it was ok and that I understood. I gave her some canned goods and a kilo of rice. She left me this message, "Maam I don't know how to express my gratitude of saying THANK YOU SO MUCH. You don't know how happy we are and my kids of what you have given to us." She was so grateful for a kilo of rice, $2.50, and a few canned goods. WOW! How much more should we be thankful for all those things that we are blessed with everyday. There are people who don't know where their next meal will come from, and we have our fridges and pantries full. Be grateful today of all the blessing the Lord has given you, even down to the fact that you could eat breakfast this morning.

Monday, March 24, 2008


So, the other day Rob and I were reading in bed before we were going to go to sleep and the bed started swaying back and forth. Rob said "Christina, stop shaking the bed." But I wasn't moving. I thought he was shaking the bed. Weird. And then we looked around and the door to the bathroom was moving back and forth and things were rattling a little. We experienced our first earthquake. It wasn't that big, and lasted only about 30 seconds, but it was an earthquake. It wasn't how I imagined it would be. I thought it would feel like everything was shaking, but it was more like everything was rocking back and forth. Interesting!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

High School OE

We had a great time! I am not really sure where to begin! We were in Nasuli for 10 days! On December 27, 2007, there was a great flood in this town that swept away many houses. There were a few people that died and many who spent the night in trees, while the water subsided. This is the reason the administration picked Nasuli as our location for OE. There were still quite a few very poor families that have not been able to build their houses again, so we can with our truck full of eager students to help build them a home.

Throughout our time there, we built 7 houses (6 cement houses and 1 wooden house), built 4 CRs (bathrooms), built a shade/classroom (that will be used to give literacy classes and to build relationship so that they might present the gospel), painted 14 classrooms at the local High School, and did 8 kid's clubs, where we presented the gospel!! Our schedule was usually get up at 6:30 am, go to the worksites from 8am to 4:30 pm, go back to where we were staying, wash-up, eat dinner, then have a group meeting at 7pm to talk about the day, sing songs, and listen to a speaker. Needless to say, our days were packed. On the weekend, we were able to go to the Kaamulaan festival, which happens every year. During this festival, there is a parade from people groups all over the Philippines. They wear the traditional dress and do traditional dance. It was so amazing to see. It was one of those "I can't believe I get to experience this" things! On Sunday, we split up and went to different churches, some smaller churches that had services in Cebuano, and one larger church that has services in English. Rob and I took a group of students to a smaller Cebuano church. As is the culture here, when we arrived, we were asked to lead songs for the children's Sunday School class! My favorite thing we did was on Friday bnefore we left. We went to each of the houses we had built and dedcated those houses to the families by praying for them, giving them Bibles in Cebuano, housewarming gifts, and writing Scripture on their walls! At each one that I went to, the women were crying! It was so sweet to see how thankful they were for the small houses we built them. Not only that, but I think this helps in the healing process that they are going through after the storm (Those from New Ortleans know exactly what I am talking about!) The family that we built a house for, the wife is 18 and the husband is 19. She was 9 months pregnant when the flood happened and spent all night hanging to a peice of bamboo. Praise the Lord that she was saved and had a healthy little girl (there is a picture of her in the slideshow).

It was a great week, although, as you can imagine, we came back very tired! We are so thankful that we had this opportunity. Please pray for the families we helped. Some are Christians and some are not. There are missionaries working with all the different people groups we ministered to during this trip. I think pictures speak louder than words, so here goes...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We're Back...

Well, we survived!! We are back from the High School OE. We had a great time! It was fun getting to know the students better and building homes for those that really need it. We are at home right now, where the internet is really slow, so I am not going to bother trying to post pictures and all the things we did over our trip. I will try to make it to school soon to post! Hope you are all doing well. Just wanted to let you all know that we are back!

Monday, March 03, 2008

High School OE

If you read my blog regularly, you know that Rob and I recently went on the Middle School OE (Outdoor Education). Have no fear, the high school goes on OE too!!! From what I hear, the high school OE is a lot different from the middle school OE. The High school OE is more like a mission's trip, where we go into a village and help build things, do kid's club stuff, etc. This one is also 10 days long, twice as long as the middle school one. This year, we are going to Nasuli, where there was a big flood in December. Many of the houses in the surrounding village were completely destroyed in the flood. So, we are going to help rebuild some houses, build CRs (bathroom... they are just like an outhouse), dig a well, paint a school, etc. I am really excited about it! I LOVE trips like this. Each teacher is incharge of a group of students. Unfortunately Rob and I are not together this time. We each have our own group, so I am not sure how much I will actually get to see him! This is a picture of my group... We are minus one, Diego, because he recently got really sick. Well, we leave tomorrow (March 5th) and will be back on March 14th. We would appreciate your prayers over this trip. Just pray for the people we will be ministering to, that they would see the love of Christ through us. Please also pray for the students, that this trip would impact their lives in a way where they learn to LOVE God above all else. Also, there are a few students who are not Christians, please pray for their slavation. We will have no internet access... so there will be no bloging while we are gone. But don't worry, as soon as we get back, I will have plenty of pictures to share with you!

Water Fun!

Last Friday after school, the middle school had a water day. Rob could not resist joining. Of course, all the kids loved throwing water ballons at Mr. Johnson....