I realized that I haven't updated in over a week, and I want to be diligent to post a bit more often. A lot has happened in the couple weeks.
For the kids, they have started into their new school. It was a bit tough at the start, especially for Daniel. It can be hard to feel comfortable in a new situation, and it was even more so because they were starting into it a couple months late. The school year runs a bit different here, the summer break being a couple months earlier and school starting back earlier as well. So for Julia and Daniel to start in August, they were coming in as the new kids after everyone else had settled in. Thankfully, they have both settled in pretty good, made some friends, and have enjoyed it overall.
But then there was our cat, Mango. We got Mango from a friend of a friend. He was a kitten, born a stray, with a mother either unable or unwilling to care for him. He was very young when we got him, probably too young to be away from his mother. We took him to the vet to get him checked out. He had some worms, so he was given deworming stuff, and the vet told us to feed him as much as he would eat in order to help him to put some weight on. Over the next week we saw an improvement, but then he got sick. Again, we took him to the vet, who decided to keep him overnight for observation. He never came home. He died on a Tuesday, the second day of school for the kids.
As you could imagine, they were absolutely crushed by the news. So suddenly they were dealing with a new school and a pet that died. A tough week to say the least.
Thankfully, God cares about the little things in life, and He again provided us with a kitten. This time it is one who is a bit older and a lot healthier. Kerri was at a team building exercise with the other volunteers at the clinic, and there happened to be this kitten there that the staff had been kind of looking after. They were excited to find out that we were looking for a kitten, and they were thankful to know that it was going to a good home. So we now have a new kitten. This one, in keeping with the tropical fruit theme, is named Coconut.
As for Kerri, she has been quite busy with her work with the clinic. She has started helping in the clinic and the birth room, learning Visayan (the local dialect), as well as going to multiple orientations and team building opportunities. She is beginning to feel the pressure of being a missionary, a wife, and a mom. There are a lot of demands on her time, and the biggest struggle right now is figuring out how to balance everything. I know that she will get it figures out, even if it takes a while!
For me, the last couple weeks have been filled with lots of everyday things, with a few big tasks thrown in. I have been adjusting to being the "primary" parent to the kids; packing lunches, getting them to school, picking them up, grocery shopping, paying bills, and lots of other little jobs. In addition to this I have been trying to get our banking streamlined (working with two Canadian banks, a Filipino bank, and an online bank is not fun, especially when they all have different systems and different time zones!), and trying to find a vehicle.
I know that before we came we had told people that we did not plan to purchase a vehicle here, but after six weeks of walking (lots!), jeepneys and taxis, and bumming rides from our very hospitable and patient friends, we have come to the conclusion that if we are going to be here for 2+ years, that it sure would be nice to have our own transportation. It has been a personal struggle, because we came over with this preconceived notion that as missionaries we should give up all the comforts that we have been accustomed to in Canada. The thought of having our own vehicle was preposterous! Missionaries should not be middle class in the society that they are going into! Looking at it now, I realize how ridiculous this is. Like it or not, in Filipino society we ARE the "rich" foreigners. We will never be Filipinos, and not driving a car will not improve our chances of becoming Filipino.
Now, there is also the sense of guilt that comes along with it. It may sound crazy, but there is a sense of obligation to you, our supporters, to use the finances which YOU have so graciously given to us for more noble things than buying a car. There is a real sense of responsibility to use the money we have in the best way possible. We don't want anyone to think that we were frivolous with YOUR generosity.
But, after some good discussion and some good advice from some friends, we have come to the realization that this self-imposed ascetic lifestyle is not necessarily beneficial. While walking half an hour to take the kids to school, then walking back, then walking to pick them up, then walking back has been great exercise, doing it because there are few jeepneys that go that way, or because I am too cheap to pay for a taxi, are not really the best reasons to walk. It has also been extremely frustrating to not have a car to be able to pick stuff up from the store. Instead I have had to plan out my shopping trips so that I make sure to finish with the place where I will be purchasing the most stuff, so that I can get a taxi immediately. I am slowly going insane because of it.
So, for the past week I have been scouring the internet, making trips to used car lots (often by walking! Again - too cheap to take a taxi!), and meeting up with people all over the city to test drive vehicles. The issue I keep coming back to is that I am trying to be very responsible with the money we have, so I am trying to find the impossible - a newer model vehicle in great shape that runs very well with low km's and maybe a few power options (I still like conveniences) all at a price which fits quite easily into our budget. I am discovering that getting a car like that is like catching a unicorn - if it even exists, good luck finding it! I know that something has to give, either I need to set my standards lower and accept something that runs (barely), or I need to get past my sense of frugality and be willing to spend a bit more of what God has provided (through you!) to get something half decent.
This is what I am dealing with right now.
I could probably go on for another couple thousand words of what is going on over here for us, but I think I will end it there for now. I promise to try my best to update regularly, because I have lots of other things to say. For now, please pray for all of us, as we are settling in still. And please pray that I can catch my unicorn.