Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Desperatly seeking an activity at 39,000 feet

We have just had our lunch, well, they called it a lunch but Brenda and I find that these things are always more of an activity than a lunch. I will explain.
The very fact that we are so excited for them to start the in-flight service proves that we view this as as an activity and not lunch. We know it is food, and though we are absolutely positive we will not like any of it does not quell our excitement. There isn’t many things to do sitting around for 25 hours, so any distraction is welcomed.
But before the real activity gets here, they come by with a drink cart. Now at home, my drink selection varies between lemonade, water and sprite, sometimes tea. But since I am bored out of my mind, I never order the ordinary.
“Tomato juice please.” She hands that thick red substance to me. “You wan Sal and feffa
“Salt and Pepper? Sure why not?” This sounds interesting. The fact that I probably won’t like pepper in my juice only makes me even more interested. “Good, an activity.” I think to myself.
I found out that pepper doesn’t stir into tomato juice with much ease at all. The little black bits have tremendous floatation properties and the stir stick they provided for that purpose was planned perfectly for the “activity.” It is aerodynamically designed to pass through liquid without so much as causing a ripple. I had nothing else to do so it became my mission in life for the next 15 minutes to sink each and every one of those little black specks. They were determined to float, but I was more determined to blend them evenly throughout that beverage.
I was glad Brenda was asleep because she would not have understood the importance of this activity. I felt eyes watching me and looked around. An elderly Asian man one row back, across the aisle was watching and I suddenly saw myself from outside eyes.
I had my tongue protruding out the corner of my mouth and I was hunched over my little tray, and had been that way for much too long. I smiled at him and he didn’t return the favor. Cabin fever is an ugly thing I admit but I had to do SOMETHING.
I am happy to report that I was successful in spite of it all.
I took a few sips of my very well blended concoction and confirmed what I already knew, I didn’t like it. I don’t know if it was the “feffa” or if it was the thinly sliced lemon wedge that kept trying to sneak into my mouth when I took a sip. Even though I did not like the taste I came away from the experience with a measure of satisfaction. We have another flight from Tokyo to Houston and since it is a whopping 14 hours long, I think I will enjoy that activity on that flight as well.
Then the big activity is shortly following the drink activity so I am alert and eager.
I already know what they have to serve but before I tell her what I prefer, I wait so that she lets me in on the whole experience.
Herro. You wan pish or beef? Da pish have rice and the beef have noodle. Wa you lie?”
“I like beef please.” In my sensory deprived condition, this is absolutely riveting drama. I eagerly watch as she takes that tray out and begins to add all the various “activities” to the tray. For the briefest of moments I forget that I am trapped in an aluminum can at 39,000 feet with about 20 more hours of travel time ahead of me. My painful behind briefly loses its preeminence because I now have an activity.
Whoever designed these Japanese meals really knew what they were doing. Everything is packaged individually for our added recreation.
My first activity is to get the silverware out of the industrial quality packaging it is in. The first thing I try to do is to push the knife up through the plastic and thereby creating a weakness in the plastic from which, my experience teaches me, it will easily tear from there.
I am sad to say that I had underestimated the craftiness of these Japanese people. I am used to opening a bag of potato chips in the States and if you weren’t careful, the bag would just keep ripping all the way to the bottom. Not this stuff.
That knife was made of stainless steel but I could not get a good enough hold on it to get it pushed through the plastic. So I tried the next familiar tactic. I bit a small tear in the side of the bag and then proceeded to tear it along the minor incision I had created with me teeth. No luck there. This was turning out to be a great activity.
The plastic was stretchy and surprisingly stout. I looked over to see how Brenda was doing with her activity and she already had hers out. “How did you do that?” I asked impressed.
She showed me that on the other end, there was a flap that was folded over and stuck and all you had to do was peel it back and walla, that activity was finished.
I won’t tell you about the activity of trying to spread rock hard butter on surprisingly delicate bread but kept me entertained for a while.
The next container was a real puzzle. I never did figure out what was in it. I saw raisins and corn, but there were these vegetables that had eyes. I looked at them, and they just looked back at me. There was also a single piece of vary pale meat sitting beside the vegetable with eyes, and for the life of me I just couldn’t identify that either. In fact, I am not sure it was meat at all, come to think of it. But with the vegetable keeping watch, I decided not to try it.
I opened absolutely everything. It was great. I opened and studied every package trying to figure out what the activity was with that item.
By the time I handed that tray back it defiantly looked like it was an activity for a very bored person.
Oh, no, they are telling us to put everything up, because there is turbulence ahead. After hearing about the NW flight that had such a bad experience over Japan.
I had better heed the warning. That is an activity I can do without.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I have a thing about my feet.  I just don’t like people touching them, boy did that little boundary get trampled on today.

We have been on our feet for endless hours, you know, church, walking through malls, going up and down stairs and walking through airports.  So as we are strolling through the mall Brenda’s eyes are drawn to a sign, “Foot and leg massage.”  It was about 3 dollars for 30 minutes.

Without knowing what I was about to get myself into, I said, “Sure, we can afford $3.”  Thus began one of the most hilarious moments I have ever experienced. 

Brenda talked me into getting the massage also and I consented, because my feet really were very painful.

They lead us back into, what I thought would be a private place, so my ugly feet would be seen by the least number of people possible.  Oh no, they lead us into a circular shaped room, lined with chairs all around, filled by bare foot women and about 10 uniformed feet servers.

As I settled down into my chair I realized there was only one other male in the place, and it is possible he would have been offended if I called him one.

In spite of this, I think, “I will just close my eyes, endure this foot rub and then escape with my dignity intact.

Brenda leaned over to me and whispered, “They are all looking at us.”  It was true.  I mean, we are all in a circle and we were the only Americans.  It was though they were telepathically communicating with each other, “Say hello to the freaks.”

I leaned over to Brenda and quietly said, “I am doing this for you my love.  Appreciate is deeply.  Cherish this moment because it won’t ever come again.”

Brenda giggled.  I should have known right then and there that I was in trouble, but I had forgotten the fact that when Brenda knows she is not supposed to laugh, and something strikes her funny, it is all over.  There is something about that dynamic, the attempted repression of laughter just makes things funnier.  It was a quite as a library and there was just no place to hide.

The guy sat down at my feet, (yes, the guy) and pulled off my shoes and took off my socks.  I actually tried to get them off first, and we had a brief tug of war over my second shoe.  He finally wrested it from my hand, with a look that said, “Dis is my peet.”

So I sat back and tried to relax.  I asked for a magazine to read, but thumbing through the stack of mags they handed me, it only added to my growing knowledge that I was so totally out of my element.  Since I was not the least interested in “Ten Ways to Know Your Man is Cheating” I put the pile of magazines down and laid back with my eyes closed.  That lasted about 3 seconds.

That first touch almost weirded me out.  He was putting his fingers between my toes!  “Why?”  I thought, “Why does this guy need BETWEEN my toes?”

He washed my feet in a trap door and dried them off.

After he washed my feet he put them in a vibrating foot bath and then dried them off again.  He set them up on a little bench and to my horror, brought out tools!  I didn’t sign up for tools.  I just thought it was a foot massage, not all this.  First the between the toes thing, then this?

So I hesitantly said to the guy, “What is all of this?  I don’t want all of this.  I just want a foot massage.”

The giggles from the chair beside me were getting a little louder.  Brenda could see how uncomfortable I was and for some strange reason this made her merry.

“I just want a massage.”  I repeated and the guy just smiled at me and with his eyes locked on mine, “This IS a massage.”  And pulled out some sort of paddle.  It looked like a small ping pong paddle with sand paper on it.

Now, my toes are very sensitive.  They jump when they are touched, especially by a piece of sand paper.  He would drag that paddle across my toe and it would jump.  I tried to keep it still, but that little booger was twitching with every stroke and this guy had a pretty fast pace, so my toes, they were a dancin’.

A few of the foot people started talking in the Filipino, snickering.  They didn’t know that I could understand what they were saying.  One of them said, “This must be his first time.”

Brenda was watching my toes and still giggling.  I even chuckled a little bit, it was kind of funny.

It wasn’t long and the guy with the paddle stopped and said to the girl beside him.  “This won’t work for him.  I need …” I didn’t understand the word he used, but she looked at me and smiled.  I didn’t like that.

The guy got up and in a little while returned holding what I swear was a cheese slicer, or chocolate shaver, or a potato peeler.  Brenda whispered, “That is a razor blade on that thing.”

I started sweating.  What an unpredictable little place this was.

He put that thing to my heel and started shaving.  Now friends, I have Man heels.  Hoofs are close to the truth.  I could hear the chunks falling on the floor.

Men are from Mars, women like cheese graters on their feet.

I thought of just calling the whole thing off, but all those women were just sitting there, pretending to read a magazine but apparently magazines are used in foot places like a lion uses tall grass.  They can see you, but you can’t see them.

They could sense there was blood in the water so they began to circle me with their periodical stares.  I couldn’t quit now, they would all know I was a coward.

I would have given up government secrets if it would have gotten me out of there.

I should have kept my mouth shut but I leaned over to Brenda and said, “I am already the shortest one in my family.  If he keeps that up, I am going to be an inch shorter.”

It just struck her funny.  I mean real funny.  The laughter passed from her to the lady doing her feet, then the guy doing mine, and then some of the others in the room.   They were really laughing.

“One inch! Ha, ha, ha!” The Filipino lady said.  “Dat is berry punny!”  She said holding up her fingers about an inch apart.

I said, “My shoes won’t fit if you keep that up.”

The guy doing my feet let a finger slip between one of my toes again and I pulled my foot back and gave him a stare.

It didn’t even phase him and he picked up where he had left off.  My toes were still jumping and the razor was slicing.  I looked over at Brenda, “What have you gotten me into?”

Folks, things just went downhill from there.  Brenda laughed herself right into a Depend’s commercial.  “I wear depends because you never know when you will be in a foot place with your husband.”

    I told the guy, “Really, you don’t have to get my feet smooth.  That is already good enough.”

The lady doing Brenda’s feet said, “No sir, he will not stop.  He is a ferfectionist.”  And then took a break from Brenda’s feet to enjoy the humor of her statement.  And he didn’t stop either.

When he had carved the corners off of my feet he started with a series of files.  I was praying that eventually my feet would get used to the handling and would stop jumping, but they were apparently in on the joke too.

I didn’t feel like it, but I started laughing too.  By now Brenda was coughing with tears rolling down her cheeks.

“I am going to have to learn how to walk again on these new feet.”  I said. “ I am used to flat heels, but these new round ones… how do you stand on round heels?”

How women enjoy such an experience is beyond me.

When we finally walked out of that place I really did feel shorter.  I didn’t tell Brenda about that, but at the shoe store today, Brenda held up a pair of shoes and asked how I like them.

I just said no.  She put them down and showed me a few others.  She finally held up some flat ones and I said, “Those are the ones baby.”

I guess I have a thing about feet.


Two of my heroes.  Bruce Howell and Carlos Ecle.  Carlos Ecle is a pastor in the Philippines who broke his back when he was twelve and has not walked since.  That has never stopped him. He is a church planter and a great soul winner.  Ecle actually builds his churches with his bare hands even though he is paralyzed from the waist down.  Brother Howell was challenging the ministry to sacrifice and preached a great message about "Nevertheless..." No matter what my obstacles, I am going to keep on going on.
The platform is quite high and Ecle tried to "walk" up the stairs by himself.  He puts his hands on his feet and is actually walking on his hands.
In this photo they are both screaming, "Nevertheless!"

Then with the entire General Conference looking on, he refused the men who stood ready to help, and by himself walked down the steep steps illustrating for all of us, "Nevertheless."

Friday, February 20, 2009

ACTS compound. 
The concert had all styles of music.  This group is made up of pastors sons and the lead singer is in white and he is rapping.  It was really neat.  The crowd didn't know what to think of it.  We will post a video of them later.
This is Jose's family, friends, and Pastor.

This is Jose.  Amy Adams friend.  He was overjoyed to hear that Amy sent a little care package for him and his church.  We are giving it to him Sunday.  The thing he wanted the most was a picture of Amy and her family.
Good ole Manila traffic, can you believe this is a major improvement from the way it used to be?
Ely Go from ACTS and Jiji from Handumanan, they were headed to the market and were stopping by Dunkin Donuts for coffee.  They are childhood friends.  
This is the house we lived in 1996-1997, on the ACTS compound.   
That's not a vase, that is thousands of fresh red roses.

Our students from 1996

Thursday night at General Conference