One of the questions that we were asked frequently before we came to the Philippines was whether Kerri was going to have any holiday time from clinic shifts, birth room shifts, and all the other stuff that would keep her occupied during our time here. The answer was (and still is) yes, she has the whole month of July off from all her various responsibilities here in Davao.
The next question we would be asked was whether we would come back to Canada during that month off. Our answer, invariably was that we would not be coming back for the month, for several reasons. The biggest reason was the cost of travel. For one person it is not too bad, but for a family of four it gets quite pricey. The other reason was that we would be in ASIA! This would be our opportunity to see a part of the world that we may never be back to, so why wouldn't we want to take that time to check out some of the other fascinating places nearby?
So after arriving here, getting settled in, dealing with culture shock and the busyness of a really intense program, we began to really miss home, and to think about how nice it would be to be able to go back in July. The thought of relaxation while surrounded by friends and family and familiar places was quite tempting. Kerri mentioned to me offhandedly one day that she was really hoping to be able to go back to visit in the summer. My reaction was to kind of ignore the suggestion. I didn't want to get her hopes up with the idea of going back.
Finances. I have been looking after our finances during our time here, and I knew very well that coming up with the thousands of dollars that we would need just for plane tickets was pretty unlikely. At the time we were getting by. The bills were getting paid. We could eat. We managed to come up with the money when we were faced with a larger expense that we hadn't been counting on. But to try to save up approximately $6000 we would need for plane tickets? Unlikely.
But Kerri was persistent about it, and I began to see how a trip back to Canada would be a great chance for us to recharge to be able to push through the rest of our time here. We have seen over and over how God has provided for our financial needs. But was this a need or a want? Would God really provide that kind of money just for us to take a holiday? I wasn't sure. So I prayed about it.
I had mentioned to Kerri that if there was any way that we were going to do it, it would have to be a case where we were in a better monthly financial situation, and that we would have to be given the money over and above what we needed for our monthly expenses. So I prayed (and I know that Kerri was praying for it as well!) that somehow we would be given the money to buy plane tickets, and it would have to happen pretty fast so we could book tickets and make some plans. And I wanted to have the money in-hand before we went ahead with booking anything. The last thing I wanted was to have to carry a balance on our credit card and try to pay it off when we got back here. Oh, and I wasn't going to ask anyone for the money to do it. It had to be a totally voluntary thing.
So what happened? Well, God really does listen when we pray. Sometimes He says no, and sometimes He says yes. This time He said yes.
Very soon after we received notification that our monthly support was going to increase to an amount that would make us more comfortable financially here. Now instead of having to watch every peso, wondering if we would be able to afford to stay here for the whole time, we have a little bit of breathing space.
Then the extra donations started to come in. Over the space of the next couple of months we were given several sizable donations which were totally unexpected. As the finances came in we started to look more seriously at the possibility. We checked out prices of plane tickets so we had an estimate in mind. Then we looked at the extra donations we had received and the amount we had in our bank accounts. Somehow the numbers worked out. We actually had the money. After picking ourselves up off the floor we decided to go for it. We booked the tickets the week before Christmas.
Then, for a Christmas present for the kids, we sent them on a scavenger hunt through the house, collecting puzzle pieces from a puzzle we had made up. When assembled, the puzzle was a note informing them that we were going back to Canada for a whole month. They didn't really get it right away, but once they finally realized what it was they were both absolutely thrilled with the idea.
So anyways, that was a really long way to say that we are coming back to Canada for our holiday! And we are really looking forward to it. A month of relaxing, Slurpees, visiting with friends and family, going for Slurpees, lots of rock climbing, post-climbing Slurpees, taking the kids to a park, getting Slurpees, going on dates with Kerri (like going for a walk by the river with a Slurpee...), and lots more stuff that we used to do and have been missing since coming here. (Can you tell what I have been missing?)
And speaking of Slurpees, I received what I think is one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received:
A great big refillable Slurpee cup! I love it! I use it pretty much every day (but unfortunately have to fill it with Coke or water, not Slurpee!).
This was a gift from my nieces and nephews back in Canada. How did they know that I would like it? Hmm...