Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love in Action

"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth"  
I John 3:18

I saw this verse in action this morning at a coffee shop that I frequent.  When I arrived, there was a man sitting at one of the tables outside, yelling and muttering to anyone who was around.  All I could understand of his Visayan was "don't enter" after that I was lost.  I gathered my backpack and my computer, ignored him and walked into the coffee shop and began to set up at a table.  I could still hear him as I was inside as could the employees.  As I watched, one of the employees went over to the window to take a look at him and then did something that surprised me - he walked outside and gave the man a coffee.  I have to admit that I thought he was going to tell him to leave the area or something similar, but instead he chose to show love to this man by his actions. 

It was a good reminder to me of the importance of showing Jesus to those around me through both my actions and my words.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Pursuit of Slurpee-ness

If you have been paying any attention to my blog posts, Facebook status updates, newsletters, etc, you may have noticed a slight trend in my train of thought.  Since moving to the Philippines I have developed a bit of an obsession...with Slurpees, or more specifically the severe lack of Slurpees in Davao City.

I have had a few comments in my discussion of Slurpees which make me feel that I need to clarify a basic Slurpee truth.  For those of you who are not familiar with Slurpees, the simplest way to explain a Slurpee is to say that a Slurpee is a blend of crushed ice and pop syrup.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  One would think so.

A true Slurpee is not quite that simple.  It is more than just some ice and pop thrown into a glass garnished with a straw for ease of consumption.  This is no Sno-Cone.  No, a Slurpee is so much more than that.  A Slurpee is a perfect blend of ice which has been lovingly shaved by a Slurpee machine off of a chilled stainless steel core, which is done continuously in order to attain the proper size and consistency of the ice particles in the Slurpee.  The rotating drum, in addition to shaving the ice perfectly, also performs the task of mixing the exact proportion of pop syrup into the shaved ice.  It is a delicate balance which can only be attained through the use of modern technology.

There are a wide variety of Slurpee-type drinks available from various convenience stores and gas stations around the world.  They may go by a variety of names, such as Slushie, Icee, Froster, and a plethora of others.  However, for me, there is only one true Slurpee.  And it can only be found at 7-Eleven stores.  That is a Slurpee.

I wouldn't say that I was addicted to Slurpees back in Canada.  I actually was able to moderate my Slurpee cravings quite well and was able to live a normal life in spite of only having a Slurpee once a week or so.  I just really liked them.  Trust me, there is nothing better after a long hot day working construction to take a really big drink of ice cold Slurpee to cool you off (Ow, ow, ow.  Brain Freeze!).  The problem came when I was faced with the reality of not being able to indulge in one of my favorite summertime (or springtime, wintertime, or autumntime (?)) activities; a trip to the store for a Slurpee.  I was cut off, forced to go cold turkey.

To make matters worse, I was relocated to a hot, humid climate which would perfectly lend itself to Slurpee consumption.  For the first 6 months I craved the cold sweet perfection that is a Slurpee.  I searched for one.  I consulted people who have lived here for years as to where I could locate one.  No luck.

So I tried to make my own.  I tried every combination of Coke, ice and water I could think of trying to find that magical formula which would yield homemade Slurpee perfection.  I tried grinding up ice and adding Coke, I tried freezing Coke into icecubes and grinding those up, I tried adding a bit of water to make the consistency better, I added extra Coke to improve the taste.  All those attempts resulted in bitter disappointment.

I eventually searched the internet, hoping that the geniuses at Google would be able to tell me where I could go to satisfy my longings.

I was hopeful when I discovered that they do in fact have 7-Eleven stores in the Philippines.  My heart raced as I waited for our painfully slow internet connection to give me a list of store locations, only to have my hopes dashed when it revealed that there were none on this island.  I tried to figure out how to justify a weekend trip to Manila to get a Slurpee.  But the costs were too much.  To buy a plane ticket, to fly there, to hire a taxi, to search out a 7-Eleven store - it was just too much.  I was distraught.

Then it seemed like my prayers were answered.  I was required to make a trip to Manila to go to Immigration.  Hurray!  So off I went to Manila, accompanied by a couple of other guys.  Our first day there I was pleased to see about half a dozen 7-Elevens in a fairly short time.  I could almost taste that Slurpee.  I decided to wait until the next day to get one though.  The next day we got up, went and did our stuff at Immigration, and then had a bit of time to kill before we headed back to Davao.  So we looked for a 7-Eleven.  And couldn't find any.  After a bit of driving around we found one.  So we stopped, I ran in, anticipating the icy bliss that can only be found in a Slurpee.  What did I see?

Needless to say I was a bit disappointed.

Unfortunately we did not have a chance to continue to search out other 7-Eleven stores, so I was denied my Slurpee.

I was coming to the realization that I simply was not going to have a Slurpee the entire time we were here.  So I found an alternative.  Instead of the cold, refreshing goodness of a Slurpee, instead I began to drink iced coffee type drinks.  While it was still cold and contained more than its fair share of caffeine, it lacked in the ability to satisfy my Slurpee cravings.  But it worked.

The sympathy which was shown to me from friends and family was great.  People made suggestions for Slurpee making and offered to send me one in the mail.  Oh, how I wish that would work!  I even received a big refillable Slurpee cup from my nieces and nephews back in Canada, which I use every day for water or Coke.  Not quite a Slurpee, but that's okay.

Fast forward a couple of months later, when out of the blue Kerri was informed from a reliable source that there were indeed Slurpee-type beverages to be had in Davao.  Our friend happened to be in a local convenience store and noticed a Slurpee-type machine.  She immediately thought of me and let Kerri know what she had discovered.

I was intrigued and made a plan to investigate.  I was told that the supposed Slurpees could be found at a particular location of the Central Convenience Store chain.  I did not know exactly which one, so I needed to investigate a bit more.  I narrowed the possibilities down to two likely locations, and Daniel and I set out to discover this secret bounty of icy joy.

The first store we went into was a bust.  No Slurpees to be found there.  I was banking on the next location to have the long anticipated beverage.  As soon as we walked in it was like a light shone down from Heaven, illuminating the treasure that I had long dreamed of finding.  King Arthur, upon discovering the resting place of Excalibur, could not have felt more elation and satisfaction than I did in that moment.  My quest was at an end!

(Oh, and it was right around the corner from our community the whole time.  Less than a 10 minute walk and I would have been there.  Ironic, no?)

Our choices for flavor were a bit lacking, only orange or mocha, but I certainly wasn't complaining.  We bought a couple of orange Freezes (their name for a Slurpee-like drink) and headed home.  I wish I could say that it was the best Slurpee I have ever had, but that would not be true.  It was pretty good (especially for orange), but it failed to live up to the expectation I had for it.  I have resigned myself that I will not get a really good Slurpee until I get back to Canada, but at least in the meantime I have found a decent imitation.

And I still managed to give myself a pretty severe brain freeze!