Thursday, July 31, 2014

BEYOND THE NORM

When you're a passenger in the back of the multicab there's never a dull moment. There's always something going on in every which way that it's definitely a rarity to travel somewhere and not see something…well, not quite within the ordinary. Take for example the other day when there was a man and two goats sandwiched between another man on a white motorcycle careening around a bend in the mountain road. It hit me two seconds later that I sincerely think that is normal. Another example, today there was a man walking by our parked vehicle selling a single toy blue car and a giant toy army tank he was leading by a string in downtown Lutopan, like a walking garage sale. It's neat, though, having the ability now to see past the excitement of being in another country (with all of its unique scenes) and to have eyes and ears open to what God sees and hears here. Now instead of strangers, we daily pass our neighbors leading up to Shofar and call them by name (I think that's just about the neatest thing). Plus, the Shofar kids now are way over 'us' (i.e. the buzz surrounding a bunch of foreigners) and we've been getting to know their truer selves and they ours. Putting off thoughts of leaving, though it's just around the corner, and putting on the full armor of God to complete everything He would have us to do yet this last week and a half. Your prayers and thoughts are so deeply appreciated.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

SHOFAR GOT TALENT 2014!!!!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words....

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

STEP ASIDE, VAN GOGH

Shofar's talented artists put the finishing touches on their flower paintings today and some of them even opted to get their artist photo taken with a (painted on) French mustache. The kids also began work on cultural exchange postcards that they'll be sending to Glenwood City students. The loved the pictures of cheese, trucks and cows that the GC kids drew for them. 
Erik and Tiff spent the day busy in the city while the Lauras and Susie worked in the school. We got to finish the day by walking to the local basketball court to watch the Shofar boys play a pick-up game with some local kids. We're really thankful to God that this summer's trip has been so full of open doors to minister to and build relationships with our neighbors around Shofar. P.S...please pray...things could get scary in these last couple of weeks... Erik's running low on dark chocolate...

Monday, July 28, 2014

From the perspective of an outsider looking in, today at Shofar Learning Center would appear to have been a normal Monday of learning. The third graders had home ec class, in which the learned to make a stitch. The fourth graders had library time. Susie brought out the boom-wackers in music class.

However, today was in fact not a normal day. Shofar Got Talent is right around the corner and today the students were buzzing with excitement. Auditions were held. Seating and stage plans were discussed. Certificates were created.
Shofar Got Talent will be taking place, this Wednesday, July 30th. This is extra special because our neighbors were invited. Please keep the kids in prayer as they perform their special numbers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

TIME…

Along with preparing to leave and finishing up projects, we will also be judging Shofar's Got Talent this Wednesday and going on a field trip with the students Friday.  Today, we had the opportunity to spend the afternoon visiting a Children's Ministry near Toledo.  Some of the older kids also attended the Discipleship Camp this year at Shofar.    


Saturday, July 26, 2014

GETTIN' THINGS DONE

Got some odds and ends done around Shofar today as we took advantage of the empty grounds. It's always bizarre being here without the kids though (so quiet!), and we look forward to having them back on Monday. One project completed today included installing shelves in the school storage area for their various supplies. It was neat to be able to have a slower day here to hang out just with each other as a team and tackle some much needed tasks. God continues to blow us away with how awesome He is. It's great to be doing His work here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

THERE AND BACK AGAIN

Today the whole team got up early this morning in order to head to Bethany Christian school to do devotions with the high school aged kids. The kids were a lot of fun to work with and seemed to enjoy our time together almost as much as we did. We used some of the material that previous teams had used for the youth retreats that happen at Shofar.  We watched a Francis Chan video and then broke up into four different groups to do follow up discussion.  After Bethany we did some shopping in Tabunok and then headed back up to Shofar to finish up the day with some work here and the Friday English class that the teams have been doing for the local community. 

It was a busy but good day and we were blessed to be part of the work that continues here at Shofar.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

SOAKING IT IN

With a mere 2 weeks and a few days left in our trip here, we've been talking a lot lately as a team about the importance of appreciating all that God's allowed us be a part of here, and making the most of every opportunity before we come home. Today that included taking time to get to know the the kids and parents at Shofar better, spending more time with the teachers, following through on tasks around Shofar and running to Topes. The kids are planting an awesome garden outside of the school, so they were busy at work until it started pouring after school... (Rainy season indeed.) We've also been taking in the beauty of this part of the world... truly one of the prettiest places on earth.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Let's Get Funky

Today at school we had P.E. class.  We taught two different dances: The Funky Cowboy and The Cha-Cha Slide.  The Funky Cowboy is a fairly easy, kid-friendly dance that involves grape-vining, wiping the dust from your chaps and lassoing, among other dance moves.  The Cha-Cha Slide involves sliding to the left and right, and stomping and hopping, as well as a small "how low can you go" part.   

Also, Erik was able have some guy time with Jeff and Junrey today.  The three went to Balamban to visit ATD, the cable TV station that plays JFB teachings.  Please pray for this station and the people who are watching it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today Laura taught art classes and the students continued painting the native Philippine flowers with water colors they started last week. Since the weather was calmer today we were able to take care of a few outdoor tasks  as well as work on some inventory and other paperwork.  Thanks for praying......God is doing amazing things here! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

KARATE MONDAY

Today at Shofar during music class we rocked out to different worship music while learning what musical form was and then broke up into small groups to work towards earning belts for Recorder Karate. The above photo goes without saying that it was fun. This particular recorder karate team was from the 400 level and they called themselves The Eagles. Some of our gang also got to go down to Toledo to run various errands. While it was a light rain down there and mostly cloudy, it was epically windy up on the mountaintop. God's so good...these kids we get to know and interact with at school are a lot of fun and a joy to be around.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

WEEKEND ROUNDUP

While some of the team here spent part of this past weekend having a workshop for Word on the street we also spent some time over this weekend working on a few projects around Shofar.  There was some tech work that we did to help things run better for the school and some other minor building projects around Shofar.

Sometimes travel can be a bit of an adventure here as traffic tends to be a bit busier then what we are used to. Lots more cars, trucks, and motorcycles on the road. The above picture is an example of the type of traffic we see in Cebu.  One of the things that is nice about coming back to Shofar is that it's quiet up here... well except the barking dogs. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

WOTS UP, CEBU CITY?

After a year of praying and planning, today brought the blessing of being able to do the first WOTS writer's workshop in Cebu City. Few would have dreamed 15 years ago that an event like this would have ever happened as the first issue of WOTS was cranked out on a copy machine. God works in truly amazing ways! We had the joy of meeting some of our Philippines writing staff and also some new writers looking to hop aboard. They are a really fun group of college students who love Jesus and want to share Him with college students in their city. We downed coffee and passed on some writing tips as well as vision for the magazine. We'll be bringing home some short video introductions so you guys can meet them too!

Friday, July 18, 2014

At this point team three here has about three weeks left to go. While we have been working with the school, doing some projects around Shofar, and teaching the weekly English class during the week, the weekends tend to vary in what we spend our time doing. This weekend some of the team is doing a Word on the Street magazine workshop with the Filipino writers. The attached pictures are of the area we drive through a couple of times each week.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

SKYPE CALLS AND MORE

Today the team split up again...some of us taxied into the city from Tabinuk early this morning while a couple stayed home to work on a few things and help in the school.  School started this morning with a few students getting to talk with their sponsors after the Wednesday night service at JFB.  During Special Focus Class, Teacher Jayne used the Read Naturally material to work with the third graders. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SECOND BUS


We've gotten to know the second bus riders quite well since they wait to leave school until past 5pm every school day, whereas the first bus riders are always a bit of a blur when they leave school to board their ride home. The kids pictured above are some of the crew from the former group. Normally there's a lot of balls being thrown about and kids running around, but today most of the second bus kids were hanging out in clumps talking to one another and "keeping warm." We gotta give them credit though, even us Wisconsinites were donning long sleeves and pants. It's neat to observe though, their exercise in patience and willingness to wait. That's not something we're always so good at, and there's a lot to be learned from their daily wait commute.
During the school day, Tiff had the fun of teaching all the kids Old Maid, Uno, and other common games that aren't quite as familiar here in the Philippines. There was a lot of laughter and shouting echoing all about the grounds from that endeavor.
This evening we also hosted another English class. Really, truly awesome to be getting to know them, watching them progress, and most of all to recognize their faces and houses when we drive past on the road home!
God is doing much here. Can't believe He uses us the way that He does! Thank you thank you for praying...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WIND AND RAIN

The weather today has been cloudy with a bit of rain for the entire day. There is a typhoon that is hitting the north part of the Philippines which is far from us but enough to keep the sun away for the day. Despite the weather we continued with working with the school. Laura did art classes today with each of the grade levels. They sketched native Philippine flowers and then painted them with water colors. The kids really enjoy being able to paint. Tiff also spent time working with the kids by helping out with the computer based classes. The wind outside tonight almost sounds like a Wisconsin blizzard but without the snow or cold part. The rest of the group also spent time prepping for the rest of the week. The English class meets tomorrow night.

Attached is a picture of the kids working on their paintings. The paintings are part of an ongoing project so we hope to post pictures of the finished projects once they are done.

Monday, July 14, 2014

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

The whole team hit the road today in one way or another. After a morning filled with cleaning, laundry, painting, prepping upcoming teachings and Susie teaching music class, Tiff and Erik took the bike to a few local towns to hang some posters. The rest of the girls walked to Loay to hang posters there. The walk to Loay was extra awesome because we got to walk with the students from Shofar who live there as they headed home from school. We've been continually blessed as God teaches us how to depend on him and wait for him to act. We're praying for the Sonshine gang as they begin their missions trip this week!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

SUNDAY IN CEBU

Today we visited Jeff's (our mission coodinator at Shofar) church in Cebu City.  It was a special celebration there; the church was having its 25 year anniversary of the church being founded.  What was usually a small crowd was overflowing with people.  They had an outreach church from another community join them as well as people from Singapore and Korea.  A missionary couple from America (but living overseas) gave the message.  The Koreans did a special number, so we got to hear Amazing Grace in Korean.  After, we all feasted on rice, chicken and Lechon Baboy (a full pig made on a spit over a fire).  I failed to take a picture of the actual pig we ate, so I had to find one online (thank you google).  In the other picture you will see Jeff.  He is great and Erik especially enjoys having a guy to talk to at Shofar during the week.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

GOD IS GOOD!

Today started off with all five of us climbing into one taxi and heading out to minister at the landfill. Our projects included:  putting library books back on shelves, moving more books to tables an available shelf space to get them off of the floor, creating a work space/lounge for the teachers and organizing the arts and crafts supplies. While we were working the children from Inayowan were there so some of us took the opportunity to watch them sing during worship time.  The children and other volunteers had a going away party for Ella and Martin two volunteers from Germany that have been there for 10 months and are leaving this week.  We also had an opportunity to eat lunch with some of the staff and volunteers before leaving.  I played "hackysack" (the hackysack was homemade...a coin, string and something that looked like a hair binder) with a girl named Gretchen.  Nancy also spent some time talking about school (they teach kindergarten). After the landfill we did some shopping for the week before heading home to finish painting one of the rooms with blue floor paint.  

Please continue to pray for us...God continues to show us new challenges, etc. daily.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

HAPPY FRIDAY

Today we split up and half of us spent time in Toledo and the other half at Shofar. We bopped around in Toledo in covered side cars attached to scooter bikes (aka hobble-hobbles) while running errands as we waited for repairs to be complete for our multi cab. Our Shofar half taught discovery classes and did other odds and ends projects. All of us returned late afternoon and hosted the eighth adult English class (meaning it's already half way through!). The hit of the evening was a rousing game of "Laura says..." which got the whole class rolling with laughter when we tricked them into jumping and pretending to read a book when Laura hadn't really told them to do that...
All in all, it's awesome to be here and especially to see relationships forming and kids laughing and another day finished well. We're thankful for the time here and thankful for you prayers. Maayong gabii!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

THURSDAY AT SHOFAR

As I type this on our Thursday evening it is raining outside with a bit of lightening and thunder.  The weather has been a bit cooler then normal lately but today was pretty warm.  Every day a couple of us spend part of our day with the school.  It is always a blessing to be able to be part of what God is doing at this school.  The kids seem to really love being here and we love being able to see it.  One of the things going on lately in the school is work on the school garden.  Laura helped the kids work on that today.  We also made a short trip to Lutopan to do some shopping and drop some stuff off at the local dump. 

This upcoming weekend we hope to visit the landfill ministry in Cebu to work with the kids there and also attend church on Sunday.  Plans tend to change here often and you have to be ready to roll with the changes.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

DRILLIN' AND CHILLIN'

In our quest to produce the first ever Filipino football team, Tiffany continued to teach the Shofar students about American football in Phy Ed class. She even explained what a Cheesehead is.
Erik and Laura H. started work on shelving outside the radio room to add some extra storage space.
The rest of the day was spent in the school, cleaning, and planning lessons for weekend outreach ministry at Bethany school and the Inayawan dump.
After dinner, Erik pulled out a secret stash of dark chocolate which we were all pretty grateful for!
God's teaching us how to keep in communication with each other, and continuing to bless us by being able to laugh together.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE

Life at Shofar has been going really well. Most of the time, the same things happen day after day (laundry, cooking rice, making nescafe 3-in-1, painting, just to name a few). To be honest, its been pretty fun with the 5 of us learning how to do the above activities of daily living together. God has certainly been good to us on this trip.

Mornings are filled with the Filipino national anthem that usually happen while we are eating breakfast. At lunchtime we get to hear the sound of kids running and yelling about during recess. Throughout the afternoon, we hear the clanging of little shoes on the stairwell as they change classes. Just before dinner, the last motor of the jeepney/bus disappears in the distance. All these sounds are just what makes it paradise here.

Today Erik did techy stuff (that happens most days), Laura S. did a watercolor lesson in art and the rest of us did a little more painting. Some of the kids had library time. It was neat to see them reading books that were donated in the past couple years.

In the last picture there is a ship. I think its awesome that we can see it from all the way up here.

Oh, by the way, the kids got the letters that their youth group pen pals sent over. They loved and cherished them.

Monday, July 07, 2014

TO THE CITY...

Today started off with a trip to Cebu for Laura H, Laura S, and Susie while Tiff and Erik worked on projects around Shofar.  On our way home from Cebu we stopped at the Market in Tabunok to pick up a few groceries for the week.  This afternoon we spent some time with the kids after school and as you can see from the picture they are gearing up for the talent show happening at the end of the month.  Thanks for praying for us. 

Sunday, July 06, 2014

HOW ARE YOU? NOT BAAAAAAD.

Today we spent painting and catching up after all of the hello's and good bye's to finally sit together and plan out our week ahead. Before dinner we also got the chance to walk down to some of the local villages in search of bananas. What was supposed to be a 20 minute "run to town" turned into a 90 minute adventure as not only were there not bananas readily available, but two of the adult students from our English class asked to join our walking crew. It was neat to interact with them outside of the classroom setting and get to know them better. We finished the day off with a hearty meal of tocino and rice. Please pray for Tim and Sharon's flight tonight, for safe travels and a good flight home. We miss them already, but we're glad they're heading back to all y'all!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

DOWN TO FIVE

As of today we have the five of us staying at Shofar that will be here for about the next 5 weeks.  There is a lot of cool stuff yet to come and we are excited to see how it goes. Most likely it will not go as we think but that seems to be the way God does things. So we will do some planning this weekend to put some things on the schedule for the rest of the time here.

This weekend we spent some time doing some painting and trying to avoid Suzie with the video camera. As always a few geckos showed up. We always appreciate your prayers and hope all is going well back at home. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

MEET THE PARENTS

Happy 4th of July everyone! The Shofar students had a half day today and their parents were invited to a meeting with the teachers. We enjoyed meeting the parents and learning which kids were theirs. God's doing really great things at Shofar school. The kids are excelling academically and being challenged to grow spiritually.
Today was a flurry of activity as we painted, cleaned, did some maintenance work, did laundry, and prepared for Tim and Sharon to head home... We want to keep them, but I suppose you guys really want them back as well...