It might be an axiom that the two certainties in life are death and taxes, but right now my biggest fear is "death in taxis." We have now been in Baguio for over a month and I have had my share of experiences with the taxi. I would like to share some observations regarding the "rules (and I use that term lightly) of the road." In drivers education as a young man I learned that when at an intersection with no stoplights the person on the right has the right-of-way. This is not the case in Baguio. I believe that most of the taxi drivers must have gone to church for their drivers ed classes because most of the road rules are closely linked to theology. For example, he who has the greatest assurance of eternal security has the right of way. This includes turning left across oncoming traffic. I have also noticed that the color red does not necessitate stopping. It seems to me a more suggestive kind of color. The great thing about taking a cab in Baguio is that you not only get where you are going, you get the joy (or sickness depending on your constitution) of a theme park ride. The hills, sharp corners, massive potholes and roads that turn into rivers during rainstorms provide an atmosphere not unlike what some people pay hundreds of dollars for at Disneyland for only a few pesos. Of all the things that mystify me about the taxi system here is the sophisticated language that has developed with the horn. In the States I would rarely use my horn. On occasion I would attempt to get someone's attention but really that was about it. In the Philippines however I have noticed several ways to use the car horn. Here are a few I have picked up.
The Honking Rules:
1. Saying hi to a taxi driver who is your friend
2. Asking a pedestrian if he/she needs a lift
3. Allowing someone to merge
4. Thanking someone for allowing you merge
5. Showing displeasure for someone merging without an invitation
6. Showing displeasure for someone not moving when a ray of light is able to pass between their front bumper and the rear bumper ahead of them.
7. Warning someone walking on the street that they are coming close.
8. And my favorite: Warning pedestrians on a crosswalk that a taxi is coming through and not slowing down.
Today was the first day of school and the beginning of Spiritual Emphasis week. Here at Union School International (USI) I am learning to wear many hats. My primary calling is to preach the Gospel so I consider my work as the school chaplain my primary job. It was such a joy to have the head of the school sit me down a couple weeks ago and explain to me that his vision for USI is that it would not be a Christian school in name only. He wants the primary focus of the school to be encouraging young people to grow up and serve Christ in whatever their calling is and has asked for my leadership in that. I am so thankful and energized by this task. This week I'm leading a team of Bible teachers in a week of spiritual emphasis. Our theme for this year is Gospel Power and we will be teaching out of Roman's chapter one. I want to encourage both the staff and students that the power of the gospel works its way into every aspect of our lives. It is always fresh and new to those who are being saved.
As we began work here at USI both Heidi and I started full time. However, as we began looking at our schedules and workloads we realized that the amount of time Heidi and I both had to be at work while the kids were free was going to create a conflict for us. The school was gracious enough to allow Heidi to teach part time. Heidi is currently teaching kindergarten in the mornings and is able to stay on the kid's schedule better. While we are excited and really felt led in this direction it also provides us with more steps of faith as we follow God on this journey.
We realize that we officially are no longer under the mission umbrella of the Free Methodist Church but our calling has not changed. The school we are at is small and is working hard to provide for our in country needs, but we are facing a financial shortfall between what we are making and what we need to live here without digging ourselves a financial hole. God has been so good and provided everything we have needed up until this point. We have our house in order and we have what we need so we are thankful for God's daily provisions. Currently we are praying about trying to join a mission organization where we could raise some support for ministry funds.
Please pray for Calvin and Muriel. This is another new school, and another new country. We believe God has provided a wonderful educational opportunity for them but it does not make the culture shock and adjustment easier when I try to explain long-term advantages. Please pray that God would use this time to draw our kids toward Himself. Pray that they would be a light here at USI.
Please pray for Heidi. Teaching kindergarten is new for her, and she is busy trying to adjust and take on a new home and new way of life. (i.e. shopping, cooking, school, and everything else in a new foreign context.) We have experienced one of the worst rainy spells in the past few years here in the Philippines. It poured buckets for almost three weeks straight. This has been a hard transition for her from the hot, dry and sunny climate of Kalocsa. She has already built some neat relationships with some of the Korean students and other teachers. Pray that God would grant her strength and endurance.
Please pray for Eric. I have been approached by two pastors who want to meet and talk about youth ministry opportunities in Baguio. I also have been helping lead a Sunday School study and will be preaching again at the end of August. Staff devotions, spiritual emphasis week and weekly chapels for the students here are giving me lots of opportunity to study and teach. While I am excited about the doors God opens please pray that I would have wisdom and clarity on what God would have me commit to. Also pray I would have strength to say no to things that are taking me away from the family when I should be at home.
Please pray for USI. That God would be working in the teacher's and student's hearts.
We miss everyone both at home and in Kalocsa. We feel a level of tiredness from all the changes and stress from new jobs and new culture. Although we wish we could be with you all at times, we feel a deep sense of gratitude for your prayers and support. We would not be here if it weren't for the amazing love from our friends and family back home. Our hope would be to return to Washington next summer for a visit, God willing. Until then, keep us in your prayers and know we are praying for you as well.