Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Terrific Tuesday

We had a bustling day at Shofar today. Team 2 is rapping up their time here which means lots of lasts, but there is much work yet to be done. The day began in the school with Susan, Karla, Faye, and Nate doing devotions with the kids.
Mandie was able to teach one last photography class. This included giving the students a printed laminated photo from the photos they each took a couple weeks ago. The students did a fantastic job and enjoyed seeing what all the students captured.
We also had the wonderful treat of showing the students the video we made of Wisconsin. The video had scenes of Wisconsin landscape, documentary had Mandie milking her first cow, footage of Karla and Jason J. walking on frozen Lake Superior, and the JFB church sledding event! It was awesome to hear the kids yell out the names of the people they knew (and to hear the laughter).
We also cleaned vehicles, inventoried many things, and even had our first Adult English class where 7 students attended. The Third Team will continue on with the Adult English Class. We're looking forward to what God has in store for that class.

 Keep praying for the work to be done. Continued team unity, safety, wisdom, and clear thinking.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Return to Shofar Mountain

Today, we headed back to Cebu Island from Negros Island on the ferry. We stopped for our last time at Jessica's Chicken to eat some great fried chicken and lumpia and cold Pepsi. We did some grocery shopping and dropped off some posters in Toledo and the surrounding area. It was nice to return to Shofar Mountain tonight. We met the Shofar School Bus on the way back up the mountain, and we were excited to wave at the kids and say hi. They were also excited to see us. We were able to greet the rest of the kids when we returned home to Shofar. Tonight we tackled some remaining projects around Shofar and are gearing up for the rest of our time here.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Today we had another full day on the island of Negros. For the uninformed, Negros is an island near Cebu Island and San Carlos is a city on that island. We take a ferry across from Toledo to get to San Carlos. There are various outreaches on the island that are connected to a church in San Carlos that we have been privileged to be a part of.

This morning we attended Church in San Carlos. Jason G guest taught, and some of the team attended the service while the rest of the team taught the Good Samaritan lesson to the children.
We were then able to have lunch with some of those from the church.

From there, we all picked up (along with some of the church staff) and headed up into the village of Nataban, where we again split up.  This time Nate guest taught the message, with some of us attending the service and the others teaching the children.
It was a very good experience. It was also a big blessing to see some of our brothers and sisters across the world and get to know them a bit better and learn about some of their lives.

It really opens your eyes to the fact that God is very large and the people here go through  some of the same kinds of struggles and challenges we do. It’s easy to become nearsighted and get lost in the day to day and lose perspective of God doing a much bigger work around the world. At the same time seeing people go through their day to day here is a good encouragement and reminder to be faithful in our day to day things we are called to, because the things we do in our day to day matter even when we don't always see it.  It is a good encouragement to keep going, and I hope we were able to encourage our brothers and sisters here in that as well.
All in all it was a great privilege that God has allowed us to play a small part in all this.

It’s not all fun and games here, there are plenty of hard times and difficulties as well, but with the trials come great blessings as well, today was one of those.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Traveling and Kids Ministry on Negros Island

It all started with a petty cab ride.  In groups of two and three, we sat in the side cars of the motor taxi vehicles that zipped in and out through traffic in San Carlos to bring us to meet with a pastor and his associates.  From there, we traveled to two outreaches – one in Pana Oolan another in San Jose.  Over the past few days we teamed up to prepare a Bible lesson based on the parable of the good Samaritan.  When we arrived at Pana Oolan, kids were already there.   They were shy at first, but we introduced ourselves and tried to get to know some of their names and a little bit about them.  Most only spoke a little English, so conversations were limited, but friendly.  Several parents and neighbors were there, too, lined up around the edges of the yard we stood in.  Having a translator helped enormously.  The kids were able to follow along with us in a time machine to travel back to 2000 years ago and see Jesus’ conversation with a lawyer (Nate and Mike teamed up with some kids to do a skit).  The hour with the kids went by super fast, and we waved goodbye to head to the next outreach.  This pastor and comrades typically run three of these groups on Saturday.  It was a blessing to be able to jump in and see the families he visits, hopefully watering the seeds he’s planted.  Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

When the lights... go down... in the city...

Every Wednesday night in Cebu City, in a small upstairs room, 100+ college students meet for PAW Nyt. PAW stands for Prayer, Adoration and Worship. A couple of our team members got to join them last night for the experience. It was great to see them worshiping loud, welcoming new college students, and enjoying one another's company! Parts of the night really echoed the heart of what Street Level's about as a ministry, which was cool to see happening on the other side of the world. We also passed out some issues of WOTS, and met potential new WOTS writers. 

Today, Mike taught a lesson on engines, complete with simulated combustion explosions, which was, of course, a gigantic hit with the kids!
We also got to watch sponsor Skype calls today- the kids are so excited to talk to you guys! Thanks for your prayer support back home, and for your involvement in the lives of the Shofar students! 
Oh, and we saw a double rainbow. All the way across the sky!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Balamban here we come!

Today's adventure consisted of the team splitting into two groups. Nate and Laura stayed at Shofar school to help teach the students and work on various projects. The rest of the team decided to take a road trip to Balamban, which is north of Toledo, where we visited the cable TV company that plays many of our teaching and advertising videos in the surrounding Balamban region. We also stopped at a few locations around the TV station to advertise our TV channel by hanging up posters. We found a very peculiar picture marking the bathroom along one of our stops. Life in the Philippines can be very interesting indeed!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday Monday

Today was a great day here at Shofar. We are getting to know the kids more and more with each passing day and they are feeling more at home with us. That means getting to see more of their personalities which has been awesome. Faye got the opportunity to teach English classes today. This also included a new song called the "Verb Song" which we are all hoping will take over the noun song that has been stuck in our heads for the last week. Sometimes if you listen carefully you can catch one of the kids humming or softly singing the noun song while they are busy working on their computer lessons.
Along with teaching, we assisted the teachers in the computer classes, worked on the vehicles, painted more of the gate, and graveled the road that leads to shofar. Mike, Nate, and Jason got the opportunity to work alongside the men that were hired to help make the road that leads to shofar smoother.
There is a lot planned in the next week and a half. We are thankful for your continued prayers. Pray that we would continue to remain united as a team, that we would be alert, flexible, and ready for whatever it is that would God would have for us.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Into the City

Sunday: Happy Father's Day!  Today we all hopped into one vehicle and traveled down the mountain with our mission coordinator, Jeff, and his family into the bustling city of Cebu (bustling is a bit of an understatement).  We were able to visit Jeff's church, Metropolitan Christian Fellowship. Many of the people remembered Laura from when the team visited last year.  The church seems pretty close-knit, and they were very welcoming.  It was really refreshing to be able to worship in a group setting with other believers.  It makes us miss all of you back home.  The service ended with an ode to all of the fathers for Father's Day.  Each child presented their dad with a small gift they had made and spoke about what their dads meant to them (Pastor Fred is on the right and Jeff is in the green shirt).  Some people experienced rice burgers for the first time for lunch and then it was back up the mountain to Shofar.  We look forward to starting a new week with the school, projects around Shofar, and ministry opportunities outside of Shofar as well.  Lastly, please say hello to our neighborhood cow.  See, it really is just like the Midwest.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cabitoonan (Pronounced Cabby Two Oonan)

Today we were blessed to be able to spend the day with a ministry that had a childrens outreach in (you guessed it) Cabitoonan.  It was such an awesome day, we spent the afternoon getting to know the children, telling them a little about ourselves, how we came to know Jesus, and helped with the Bible studies.  Games insued, and it was just a blessing to be around these neighborhood kids who show up every Saturday.  We look forward to spending more time with the people who put on the event.  Jim and his ministry were a great refresher of seeing God work.  Its always nice to see God working all the way around the world, and especially for me, in places I haven't been. Keep praying for us, as we pray for you guys.

The answer to yesterdays trivia question, Jack Fruit. The winner gets something authentic from the Philippines! The Jack Fruit has some history with teams here at Shofar.  It all stems from the phrase forever burned in my head, "Tabi Lanka". Translated "Excuse me, Jack Fruit."  Thank you Ryan, it's a legacy that will continue on.

As for the winner, my father, who knows my email address, is the winner with bonus points because he nailed it with his research.  Thanks Dad.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Baboy and Beans

Today was another fun day of helping out in the school. The kids here are really great, each with their own unique personality. In music class the kids got to be life-size musical notes on a large music staff on the ground made out of black masking tape. It was good to hear that they (and members of our team) are still singing a song about nouns that we taught them on Monday. Noun, nah, nah, nah, nah....Names a person, place, or thing....Noun, nah, nah, nah! The fence painting around Shofar continued, but it was extra special today because it was on the comfort room hill. We also got to have our first pot of Filipino baboy (pork) and beans tonight for supper...very tasty! Can you guess which mystery fruit this is? I'll give you a hint: It tastes like Juicy Fruit gum. Mmmmm!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

....odds and ends

Today was a fun filled day of doing laundry, painting, and teaching computer classes around Shofar.Nate decided to "keep the termites out" by finishing the application of a bug repellant called Solignum on Shofar's new Ropes Course. Jason taught a course on computer hard drives and Mike was his assistant. The kids were infatuated with looking inside of a computer and holding an actual hard drive in their hands! The rest of the team did more painting on the fence around Shofar along with many other tasks that needed to be done including, cleaning, maintenance, landscaping and assisting else ware in the school. We even got involved in some card games, volleyball, and badminton with the students too!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Day of Leave-takings

On the first page of the Cebuano language learning material is a section called “Leave takings.”  It includes words and phrases like “I’ll see you” (Magkita na lang ta) and “Goodbye” (Babay).  After lunch today, team members got to say “Babay” to Shofar for a bit and go explore the area nearby.  After a morning of cooking, cleaning, teaching and other activities, Susan, Nate, Jason and Mike hopped into the multicab vehicle and took off with a load of trash for the dump.  After unloading tires, wood and metal objects, the four went into Lutopan to pick up some groceries and get a taste of local commerce.  They got coffee and vegetables at the market, dish soap at Lourdes grocery store, peanut butter and bread at Julie’s Bakery and water at Cathy’s Cash and Counter.  It was an eye opening experience for some of the newbies as daily life and habits here vary significantly from what we’re used to at home.  When they returned with their purchases some started dinner prep which gave Laura and Susan the opportunity to take a hike.  They wandered down to the local sari-sari (road-side convenience) store, meeting people on the way.  Several individuals who were part of last year’s adult English class live along that road and heard the word about the advanced class set to begin Thursday.  The girls picked up a few bottles of (real sugar!) Coca-Cola, talked with the shop keeper and headed back home in time for dinner.

In School today the students got to learn about photography and practice what they learned with digital cameras.  The results were amazing!  Many got very creative.  Some were deliberate and thoughtful; others got results through reckless abandon, but everyone seemed to enjoy the excursion from desk work.

Most of us have been here for about one week now and it’s still just sinking in the reality of being here.  Lots to adjust to and so little time!  Pray that we take full advantage of the gifts God’s presenting us with here: opportunities to know Him better, and see and be a tiny part of the work he’s doing here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lessons from the Rain

Hello again from the Philippines. Last night we had a pretty big thunderstorm and it rained pretty hard. Being here can change your perspective on a lot of things that you normally would take for granted at home in the States. For example, we generally tend to complain about rain in the states (though a select few of us like it for watering the plants), over here, we actually rely on rainwater in order to get most the water we need for daily things (such as cooking, coffee, toilets and showers). So it’s a totally different feeling wondering if the cistern is going to empty out, and there is actually a bit of rejoicing when it rains out (which is good because it seems to rain pretty much every day for a bit, I think the dew point level actually hit 6000% today).

Having school in session this week really brightens the place up. What seemed like just a big empty building with a few of us living in it when we got here, has turned around in a bustling place full of life and laughter of children and that is another thing that can change your perspective. It’s one thing to see from afar but it’s another thing to actually put a personality behind the names and faces of the children you see in the pictures.

Today the kids learned about tools. Mike brought a whole bunch of various tools together and demonstrated how to use them. Then the kids played “Tool Charades” where one of them would act out a tool while another would guess. The kids seemed to really enjoy this and it’s amazing how smart these kids really are; even the youngest ones were able to remember all of the tools.

There were many other various tasks to work around at Shofar, fences to paint, more computers to work on and more, as well as the usual fixing random things that break (like the clothesline), as well as playing with the children. (It was kind of funny to see the blank look on the children’s faces as we tried to explain the concept of “ice” to them and the fact that our lakes freeze over and we can drive trucks over them back home.)

We have plenty of things ahead of us and look forward to what God will bring us next. We definitely appreciate all prayers over here as there are many blessings and many difficulties. But God is good and that becomes clearer every day, not only in the blessings but also in the midst of difficulties.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Graduation, Grammar, Gears and Gym

Good thing we started out the day with some stretching!
Last year, 7 out of 7 Shofar students passed a test given by the national school system here that showed how they rank in knowledge. They did great on the test, and were the top scorers in the area. A large graduation ceremony was held in Toledo City today, so a gang traveled down with the kids to celebrate their success.They'll take this test now as 13+ year-olds, and a final test when they complete their high school curriculum at Shofar. The students at Shofar are not only using their God-given talents academically, but they're growing spiritually into men and women that want to follow Jesus, what an amazing opportunity we have to be a part of their lives!

Team 2 jumped into action today in the school and on the grounds, teaching English with songs and dancing, working on vehicles, and tweaking computers. It's been cool to see how everyone's gifts and abilities are playing a role in what God has planned for us during our time here!

Thank you for your prayer support! You're truly helping the ministry here continue.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Painting, sealing, prepping OH MY!

Not a bad view when one gets to paint a fence! Today was another great day of projects around Shofar. Some of us started painting the fence that encircles the school, there was computer tech work, brushing a protectant seal on the ropes course to protect from termites, and a few other little projects. A few headed to Toledo for another round of practice for tomorrow's A & E graduation ceremony. There was also a trip to Cebu City for others on the team.
We're all excited as tomorrow is the first day we get meet the students and the teachers! We are planning to help with the morning devotions and we've prepared to teach the students different subjects throughout the week. You can look forward to hearing about how teaching Music, English, Computer Science, Photography, and Auto mechanics to the students goes.