Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Month: December, 2005

extra pan de sal

Well, I guess I’m a regular enough customer at the bakery now that the girl can just say, “How many?” And I answer “5” as I do most mornings. But, as always, when I get home, there are 6 pan de sal in the bag. I guess that’s one of the benefits of having a suki (sp?).

Today, Mdm. Merly asked me to be involved in tonight’s school promotion at the CLD youth camp.

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This is non-involvement?

Tiffany went to Manang Rebecca’s today to explain to her that we were willing to be her companions to the youth convention in NWLD tomorrow but that we didn’t want to have a high level of involvement. This is because we’ve never done school promotions like this, nor have we ever been in a gathering like this. Tiffany returned to the house with the news that Rebecca wanted me to preach the sermon. She told Manang Becca that I might be over shortly to protest.

Shortly, I was. Manang Becca was visiting the Bermudezes and was sitting in their front yard.

massage appointment

It’s Christmas Eve, and there’s not too much happening on the campus. I thought it might be a good day to get a massage. I called the fitness center for an appointment, because the receptionist told me yesterday that they only have one therapist. I couldn’t really tell if the receptionist on the phone was telling me that the therapist was available or not. She kept saying something about the masseuse going to Manila to celebrate.

test preparation

This morning, I wrote my pre-lim exam for my missions 2 class. I’m always “hard up,” as they say here, when it is time to write the exam. The students do best at recognition tests or at memorizing lists, but I can’t help but challenge them to critical thinking. So, I’ve written the exams as mostly short answer and essay, which I may yet regret. I copied the exam to a disk and took it to Mayette, the helper for the blind students. Within a few hours, she had returned the disk along with two copies of the exam in braille.

Madam Virgie was the speaker in chapel this morning. She gave her personal testimony. When she came here as a student, she came against her father’s wishes and with no financial support. She talked about how she could not even afford soap to wash her clothes. Still, her bill was always paid, although she never knew who was paying it. She also told about how Pastor Alex had chosen to marry her, even though the doctor said she could never have children. God has blessed their marriage with three kids. It’s always funny to see the students’ reactions when anyone talks about boyfriends and girlfriends, even when Virgie talked about God giving her Pastor Alex. There are always giggles and little shrieks and the obligatory “Wooooooowwww!”

Waiting

Here’s a little piece I wrote for our school newsletter:

Waiting. I’m not very good at it. Waiting for the bus, waiting in traffic, waiting for the salesman to test and package the item I’m trying to buy. I don’t like to wait. I come from America, where time is very important, and when I’m waiting, I can almost feel the seconds being stolen from me. In fact, I have a friend named Darrell, who absolutely refuses to wait. He says that he waited in so many lines when he was in the army that he won’t stand in any line again . . . ever. Any place that requires you to stand in line, he stays away from it.
But waiting is what the Advent season is all about. We love to focus on the story of Christmas Day, with the Christ child and the shepherds and the angels. But we often forget about the waiting. You see, hundreds of years had passed since God promised in the Garden of Eden that he would send One who would crush Satan under his heel. And all that time, Israel (and the rest of humankind) had been waiting. For ninety years, Sarah waited for the child she was almost sure would never come. For forty years in the desert, Moses waited to see if God could do anything with a man who had thrown his future away. For another forty years, Israel wandered in the wilderness, waiting to see if God would really bring them into the land he had promised. And for a thousand years, Israel continued to wait as prophet after prophet foretold the coming of a Messiah. I’m sure that many echoed the psalmists and the prophets who moaned, “How long, O Lord? How long?”
Until finally, “in the fullness of time,” the Scriptures tell us, there was just one more wait. An unmarried teenager named Mary was waiting nine months to see what God would look like as a baby. Of course, the waiting ended in a way that nobody expected. Everyone was waiting for a king; few noticed the baby born in a manger. Everyone was waiting for the warrior who would overthrow the Roman Empire; it was easy to overlook the humble Jesus.
But a few did notice. I think especially of Simeon in the temple. “He was waiting for the consolation of Israel,” Luke tells us. God had shown Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Messiah. When he looked at Jesus, only eight days old, Simeon knew that God’s promise had been fulfilled—the wait was over.
Or was it? After Jesus had been on earth for 33 years, his disciples were ready to crown him king. He had been crucified, resurrected—surely, the time had come. The disciples asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus’ response: “Wait! Stay in Jerusalem until you receive the Holy Spirit.” And then he returned to his Father, leaving the disciples waiting for the Comforter.
No, the wait was far from over; in fact, it was only beginning. We are still waiting. We are waiting for Christmas. Like little children, we look forward to celebrating that most amazing miracle—God putting on human flesh, lying down in the animals’ food trough, and beginning the awesome task of redeeming the world.
But we also wait for the return of Jesus in glory. When he came the first time, Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God, but “this present evil age” did not end. So, we live in an “in-between” period. We are members of the kingdom but we’re surrounded by a world that is an enemy to that kingdom. We wait for God to come and set things right. The eighth chapter of Romans reminds us that even “creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” And we also “groan inwardly as we wait for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Even the last chapter of the Bible reminds us of Jesus’ words, “Yes, I am coming soon.” And with John, we say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
Jesus could come back today; he could have come back a thousand years ago. Why does he keep us waiting? First, waiting teaches us to patiently trust God. Peter reminds us that God is not slow in keeping his promises; he is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish. Can we trust God that his timing is better than ours? Can we remember that while we only see what is right in front of us, he sees the whole parade? Can we be patient enough to wait for God’s calling, to wait for God’s choice of partners for us, to wait for God’s provision for our needs?
Waiting also teaches us both confidence and humility. It helps us to remember how small we are; we cannot make time move by one second faster. We have no power over history’s timetable. But waiting also reminds us of how big our God is. Remembering that God is in charge of this world’s “game clock” gives us a positive outlook on life and an eager anticipation of the future he has planned for us.
Finally, waiting teaches us to hear God’s voice. When we are trying to control the circumstances of our lives, we get so easily distracted by the size of the task, by the advice of others, by the worry that we will not be able to accomplish our goals. But when we are forced to wait, we begin to get quiet before God. And once we are quiet, he can speak to us and know that we will hear his voice.
In this holiday season, we can get overwhelmed by busyness, and that can make us cynical, or worried, or even apathetic about the whole story. Or we can wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. When we maintain that joyful attitude, welcoming Jesus into our hearts and our homes, it keeps us ready for Christmas; it keeps us ready for Christ’s return.

car repairs

We had our 5:00 a.m. core group meeting again this week. They seemed to participate a little better in the singing. Someone even mentioned how things had picked up as they learned the new songs. They used it as an example as to how we ought to introduce new songs to our congregation. I think we made some strides this morning, if any action is taken on the things we came up with. I need to figure out some way to encourage greater training efforts; I did push them a little today toward greater organization of the worship program and greater emphasis on the monthly themes.

Saturday afternoon, I noticed that the right CV boot on our vehicle was torn. Pastor Alex looked at it yesterday and said that I should take it to the dealership. I was pretty scared about what it was going to cost me, but Pastor Alex said nobody around here would know how to replace that. Madam Becca suggested that I have a Filipino take the vehicle to the dealership, so that I wouldn’t get ripped off. So this morning, I headed over to Pastor Gacal’s house. I called out “Apo,” was invited in and told to take my seat. I started right in to the topic at hand then interrupted myself to ask Pastor Gacal about his weekend, what classes he was teaching, etc. He actually seemed anxious for me to get to the point. (Maybe he’s used to dealing with Americans, who don’t know any better). So I told him the situation. He said he would take it to the dealership for me but could look at it to see if he could fix it himself. I assured him that it would be best to just take it to the dealer. In retrospect, that may have seemed insulting. I was really trying to save him the trouble of getting into a very difficult job. He said he would come soon to get the vehicle. I asked permission to leave and headed back to the house. Soon the pastor was there for the car. I showed him the problem. He acted like it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I kept arguing that it would be a difficult job. I told him to just drop the vehicle off and I would pay his fare back. He said he would just stay if the job could be finished before 5:00 today. I gave him 21000 pesos to make sure there was plenty for the bill. He looked at me like I was crazy and peeled off only 2000. He said it wasn’t safe to carry that much. I finally convinced him to take 5000. Sure enough, it cost less than 2000 and only took an hour or so. Live and learn, or live and just keep being stupid (as I generally choose).