Wednesday, December 24, 2003

It's not about the presents. It's about the sacrifice God made for us, giving us his son to be born as one of us, live among us, and die to save us. Alleluia!

I will be taking a break from blogging for Christmas (and maybe a few days past). I want to wish you the peace and joy that only God can give and share with you the words of Luke's account of Christ's birth:

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[1] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


2:11 Or Messiah. "The Christ" (Greek) and "the Messiah" (Hebrew) both mean "the Anointed One"; also in verse 26.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Philippines 1999--Entry #4 

My husband's fever went down quickly after starting the antibiotics. I was amazed at how little the medicine cost. It was priced so that the local people could afford such treatments. For us, it was more than reasonable. It was worth whatever it cost for my husband to get better.

Then, it was only an upper respiratory infection. Now, there would be concerns that it could be SARS. I hope we can avoid such health problems on our next trip to the Philippines. Thank God for his quick recovery. It only held us up two days.

We had spent a lot of time with one of my husband's cousins. We decided to invite him to join us for the rest of the trip. He had lived in Manila for a time and could serve as our guide and interpreter. His background made him an intriguing character. He spoke English very well and could tell a spellbinding story. Also, our son seemed very comfortable around him. He agreed to accompany us.

We said good bye to all the other relatives. It was sad to have to leave and know that we would only see them if and when we returned to the Philippines. They have a difficult time acquiring a visa for travel to the U.S. If educated, the Filipino government wants to make sure they have reason to return to the Philippines. Not to mention, the cost of a trip to the U.S. for them is too much for their budgets to bear.

The whole time we had been in Cagayan, we had been treated like special guests. The relatives there made only a meager living, were not at all rich, yet they had hired extra household help to prepare meals, do laundry, and help around the house while we were there. At mealtimes, they made certain they prepared the dishes that we fancied. I had complemented them on the blanched turnip top salad we had one time, and it was prepared especially for me at every meal. The only bedroom, only room, with an air conditioner was given to us to use. At the market, when we offered to buy items for meals, they would try to politely refuse our offers, saying we didn't have to go to the expense. They were hospitable to us to the highest degree. We loved our time with them.

Our next stop on our trip would be with my father-in-law's relatives, in a town some distance north of Manila. Our travel there started with a flight back to Manila and then a long drive with a rented van and driver to the town. It was nearing the start of the rainy season, and we encountered rain as we started driving out of Manila. The traffic in and heading north of Manila rivaled some of the worst traffic I had ever encountered. What made it so bad was that the cars do not maintain their lanes, rather everyone tries to take up whatever space is available between cars. If you put your arm out the window you might very well lose it when another car pulls up beside you.

We stopped at a restaurant just outside of Manila for dinner. I think we had intended to get to my father-in-law's relatives' home in time for dinner, but the traffic had thrown a wrench in our plans. The restaurant was crowded with travelers who had also just cleared the traffic from Manila. After too long of a stop, we were back on the road. The rain continued on our drive.

In fact, the rain continued for nearly two days straight. It wasn't a sprinkle, but a near constant downpour. When the sun finally peeked out, there were puddles the size of small lakes across the countryside.

More of the story another time...

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