Monday, 29 August 2016

Reg and Mel's wedding

The day we landed in Manila, just over 4 years ago now, Reg instantly became part of our family. Its like we had already known her forever- we just fit together like old friends. She has been our host, our cultural mentor, our babysitter, our advisor and our best friend since that very first day. She is such a special part of our family, and we love her so dearly. This past weekend she married a most wonderful man and we couldn't be happier for her. When we flew her to Tacloban to do relief work after Typhoon Haiyan, little did we know, she'd be finding the love of her life. We wish Reg and Mel so much joy in their marriage, as they serve God and others together. We know they will do amazing things and continue to be a huge blessing to so many!

A highlight for me was driving the beautiful bride to the wedding. Just 10 minutes before the wedding was supposed to start, Darnell got a call and was asked to go pick up the bride from the other end of the resort. He hurried out the door but I chased after and told him that I wanted to do it! How special that I had five minutes alone with my sister before show time! I prayed for her and we cried together (but tried not to wreck the make-up!). It was a moment I'll always cherish.

Here's some special pictures to share.....

Bonding the night before the wedding at dinner with Reg and Mel's families. These two are so sweet together. Just ask Makai who is best friend is and you'll know how special Reg is to him :)

Makai walked down the isle with this sign.  Cody's sign said, "Here comes the bride!" And Teyah had flower petals but was too shy to throw them on the isle. They all did so well though! 
This is the bridal party. We were sponsors with a few other couples but forgot to ask someone to take a photo of us- we'll have to wait for the professional ones. 

The kids in the bridal party! Nieces, a nephew, Mel's younger (adopted) brothers and the Barkman kids!

My dress was supposed to look like the bridesmaids dresses, and I found a close match.... except showing a little more legs :)

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Mr President, Please Stop this Bloodbath You've Started

While campaigning for president just prior to the May 9th elections, the now President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte said, “All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you.” Sadly, this is a promise he’s not backing down on. Since the Election Day, over 800 drug-related killings have taken place.

While most of these killings have been committed by police (who claim the victims resisted), about 40% of the victims were killed my unidentified gunmen and many were brutally salvaged. Unfortunately, this comes by no surprise, as Duterte himself, after being elected, told the public in a televised speech, “Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have a gun. You have my support. You can kill him. Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal.”

We at Peace Church lament, grieve and cry out for change. These extra-judicial killings of poverty-stricken drug users and dealers (wealthy drug users and dealers aren’t being killed) are tearing families apart, creating fear and distrust and not at all getting to the root of the drug problem. Politicians, the general public, and even Christian leaders are supporting Duterte’s War on Drugs. How can this be? Do we really value life that little that we can support this type of mass killing? And how can we allow anyone with a gun to decide who the criminal is? The injustice of it all just baffles me. I am still in shock that this brutal leader became President on a campaign that promised to kill.

Besides the injustice of president-sanctioned extra-judicial killings, the global War on Drugs itself, has recently been deemed ineffective. The UN is adopting a new framework on drug control, which puts people first. The Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said, “Putting people first means balanced approaches that are based on health and human rights, and promote the safety and security of all our societies. Drug policies must most of all protect the potential of young people and foster their healthy styles of life and safe development.” 

President Duterte, you’re fighting the wrong battle and you’re creating a cylce of violence in this country that’s now spinning madly. You're putting the entire justice system in the hands of corrupt police and civilians and calling for a bloodbath. Instead of caring for your constituents by addressing health and poverty issues, you're killing your people. Please stop now, for every single life matters.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

How to Create That Much Needed Village

I sadly keep hearing that my fellow mom friends back in Canada feel worn out and alone. As one article that’s circulating said, “It takes a village, but there are no villages.” Our friends are crying out for community, but they all seem to be in the same boat and are hardly able to help each other practically with watching kids or sharing the dinner-making load.

As I hear of these struggles, I can’t help look at my own life and realize I DO have a village- they’re in my home everyday! I think there’s no better way to create that village of shared parenting and housework than to plant a church in your home!

Besides hosting Peace Church gatherings at our house, our community is in and out of our house all week, especially the ones without children of their own. Today Fread was over for a meeting with Darnell, which also meant he played with the boys for a few hours and entertained all 3 kids while I made dinner. Yesterday Kathleen stayed the night and played with the kids while I did some laundry and then she did the dinner dishes for us while we put the kids to bed. Reg was here all weekend and read countless books to the kids and did dishes all weekend.

Friends at home are often surprised by how much I host, but I can honestly say that it doesn’t feel like “work” but actually means the parenting and household load is shared. It’s not a fancy type of hosting or “entertaining,” its just about continuously opening our home to all kinds of friends despite the messy house and tantruming children. It’s about making extra food at dinner in case a friend pops by but not apologizing for a messy kitchen!

It really does take a village to raise our kids and I am so thankful that we have that village here in our home- and more than the practical help they offer, I’m thankful for the friendships we have with these dear friends and the way our children are shaped by all the amazing big brothers and sisters who have become our family.