Sunday, January 24, 2010

First 'regular' week, settling in...

Monday, 18 January 2010
Up at 6 a.m., it’s time to start our new routine.  We need to be at work by 9 this morning (just working the morning today), but 8 a.m. starting tomorrow.  This is such a nice house, with 3 bedrooms (obviously we only need 1 of them) and 2 baths upstairs.  After showers, we began to get acquainted with the kitchen. For now we’ve got Terri’s French press to make coffee and we have cereal and juice to get us going.  Dan is brave to drive in the Manila traffic! 
In our subdivision alone, there are lots of tri-bikes (bicycles with side-cars) and trikes (motorcycles) and people on foot, not to mention the winding streets with lots of speed bumps!  Out of our subdivision, onto Ortigas, one of the main arteries, it takes concentration to navigate with all the jeepnies and trikes, along with cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and people…

At APNTS, we’re allowed in by the gate guard and see that Danny Macabuhay, our boss, has just arrived also. He escorted us up the hillside stairs to the IT department, where Dan will work, and introduced us to Herald and DJ (Daniel Jim), the programmers.  So, besides Dan Reinhart, there‘s Danny and Daniel Jim!  DJ and Herald are smart and personable young men!  Danny walked us around where my desk will be, in the 4-story Nelson Center next door, down to the lowest level but up again in the mezzanine area over the World Mission Communications studios and offices.  My co-workers here are Marnie, Judy, Olive, and Faith.  This building is absolutely beautiful in its design and décor.  We’ll take photos as descriptions cannot do it justice!

Our department has devotions each Monday morning; it’s a privilege to participate as Olive leads for our first time. She’s the new HR/Accounting manager and does a fine job (even though she says she’s nervous) of leading a discussion about submission to God and to authority in the flow of work and our everyday lives.  They’ve ordered out from KFC (!) so we can enjoy a lunch together and, except for the inclusion of rice instead of biscuits, it’s just like at home, with sides of mashed potatoes and gravy, salads, buttered corn.

Terri and I have plans to go shopping this afternoon - to really get groceries and a few household items. She promptly arrived at the end of our lunch, at 1 p.m. and I took off with her, with Dan planning to go back to the house.  We’re off to Santa Lucia SM.  Terri has been given permission to buy us a microwave (yes!) and several other things for us to use during our stay.  The grocery store is in the lowest level of the mall and we’ll do that last, so we took the escalator up to an appliance store to pick out the microwave.  Even though there were quite a number of different models (and the prices looked huge in Filipino pesos since the conversion right now is about P46/$1USD), it was not difficult to choose an economical model.  There’s a special place at the entrance to the grocery store for large packages to be held while we do more shopping, so we have that done, then go back upstairs to a department store to choose some more house stuff.  Terri got us a couple of pans and a mattress pad, while I bought washcloths, colander, veggie peeler, can opener, etc.  Then, we got to explore the grocery store, which has a huge variety of everything!  It was so fun to find out what a large grocery store stocks and feel like I’ve made huge strides in managing our everyday needs.   Terri was so incredibly helpful, giving guidance when needed, but letting me really get to know how to shop here.

Almost P3700 (3700 pesos = $80USD) later, we emerged from the mall and it was raining.  Terri went after the car while I waited with the young man from the store who helped us with so many grocer bags, along with the retrieved microwave and other purchases).  With Terri’s advice, I tipped him 20 pesos for his help and we went on our way back to our house.  I spent the rest of the evening putting away groceries and pots & pans, washing things up, cooking our first dinner (garlic chicken breasts, wilted spinach with onion, and corn on the cob with instant mango iced tea), and cleaning up from all that.  Time for bed!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Up early again, we’re getting a routine in place, up at 6, shower, dress, fix breakfast together.
Mid-morning, our boss Danny took us to the conference room near my office to have a video conference with Kevin Brunk, who is the Asia Pacific Regional Finance Director.  Since he works at the  AP regional office in Singapore and we may not meet him, it’s good to have a face-to-face (screen?) conversation as we’ll be communicating with him about the accounting software.

At noon, everyone stops for an hour.  The cafeteria on campus (the “canteen”) provides hot meals for very little.  We can get rice with a choice of dishes that include meat and vegetables and sometimes dessert for the two of us, for between $1.75 and $4. 

I spent the afternoon reading and marking some things I want to ask about in the accounting manual that I’ll need to teach/work from.  Dan and I now have e-mail addresses for our work here in addition to Skype and our home e-mail that we can access - no excuses for not communicating, unless the power is out, at which time we‘ll just text on our borrowed local cell phones!

At 5:00, Dan and I met outside my building to run home before joining Daniel & Melissa Pape at their home in our subdivision for dinner!  They have a great house and 3 beautiful children and 2 friendly cats!  (Most of the cats we see here are wild and very thin, scrounging on the streets and in garbage to survive.)  Melissa has prepared a wonderful spicy soup with corn chips crumbled on top and veggies with dip.  They are from the Northwest US and have been here for 5 years.  Melissa is an artist - she’s painted trees on each of 2 walls of their living room; I’ll have to take a photo!  Daniel has been a potter and is equally creative; he works for World Mission Communications with an office on the floor below mine.  We enjoyed a relaxing evening with them! 

Wednesday, 20 January 2010
It feels like we’re starting to “get our act together” as we get ourselves through the Filipino traffic and get to our desks to again work on our projects. In the meantime, I’m still making lists as to what groceries and kitchen tools I’d like to have to finish stocking our cabinets and drawers.   The missionaries who we’re responsible to are very responsive to providing all we need to work effectively and enjoy our time here.  We’re borrowing plates and utensils from David & Naomi Phillips, towels from Timothy & Lydia Kim, and many things from Greg & Terry Taylor (including Work & Witness supplies of pans, hangers, cookie sheet, hand mixer, etc.). We also received gifts of handmade potholders from Rovina Hatcher (APNTS professor) and kitchen towels from Beverly Gruver (APNTS Dean of Students).  What a wonderful and generous bunch of people!

Thursday, 21 January 2010
 After some conversations with the Phillipses yesterday, we got our “helper” today!  Celia arrived as we were finishing breakfast, so we could give her some instruction.  She knows this house much better than we do, as she’s been the Zanes’ helper for a couple of years.  We were coached that she would need pesos today for the trike, to take our laundry to the Kims’ home (a few blocks away, in our subdivision) since our washer and dryer haven’t worked since Typhoon Ondoy covered them with mud almost 3 months ago.  Celia will come to clean the house tomorrow; we’ll get her help on Tuesdays and Thursdays from now on.

I spent a little time with Faith this morning, the young woman who enters most of the accounting data for APRC. She showed me some of what she does with the payroll software and admitted that she doesn’t understand the accounting; she wants to learn it so she is not simply doing a rote task, but understanding why she’s doing it.

In the afternoon, after a nice lunch of rice and tuna steak, DJ showed me and Dan some of the accounting software screens on a large monitor in the IT office and I was given technical permission for “playing” in a test version of the software that I can access from my own computer.

Home that evening, Dan and I found lots of clean laundry, nicely folded on our bed. It is nice to have some help!

Friday, 22 January 2010
We’ve been invited to the Taylors’ for dinner and Terri’s fixing curry! She’s a fabulous cook and we’re excited!
But we have to get through this work day first and I spent some time in the morning with Olive, who checks and approves Faith’s work, in addition to being in charge of HR. She was hired in early December, so she’s still learning “the ropes,” but has much accounting experience if not with QuickBooks, which is what is being used currently.  We spent much of our time working through a detailed spreadsheet that takes into account all aspects of what it costs to have any particular employee, for billing purposes.  It was good to discuss the details together; we both gained insights.

Dinner at Taylors’ was such a nice evening!  We almost didn’t recognize their son Zach; he’s had his long, curly hair cut off!  We weren’t the only guests either - Dee, a teacher at Faith Academy was also invited, as well as Rovina (who showed up later after a meal/meeting).  After Terri’s incredible curry dinner followed by chocolate dump cake with coconut ice cream, we got to see Dee’s photos of a recent scuba trip taken. The colorful fish, slugs, shrimp, and coral were so interesting and beautiful!  We could have stayed long into the evening, but Dan still needed some rest and we knew we’d be getting up early to attend another rugby game!

Saturday, 23 January 2010
Since the Papes are also going to Zach Taylor’s (Faith Academy) rugby games this morning, the 5 of them are riding with us so Dan can continue to find his way around Manila.  This week’s games are at IS Manila. Rugby is so fast and keeps your attention, so much more interesting than American football.  Zach played so well too; he made 3 goals, due (at least in part, according to his Facebook status) to his haircut -- less wind resistance!  What fun!  At this beautiful international school for all grade levels, we found a playground for Isaiah and Ian and Ella to release some of their natural energy.  After Faith Academy won all their games, we piled in the car again and met the Taylors at a nearby mall at Johnny Rocket’s for big burgers and fries!  Back in Brookside Hills subdivision, we dropped off the Pape family and headed home for a nap. Dan’s still not feeling up to par; the cough that developed after our H1N1 shots is not getting any better.

What a busy day!  After an afternoon rest, we followed the Kims to Faith Academy to attend an annual Talent Show. The show was very well staged and handled in the new, state-of-the-art Cadd Auditorium, from the acts to the lights, and even the meal for sale before the event. The Taylors, Phillipses, and Kims were all there as they have (or have had) children attend this school for (incredibly talented!) children of missionaries. 

Sunday, 24 January 2010
We’ve decided to “try out” another of the Nazarene churches that offers some or all of their service in English. The chapel on APNTS’s campus is the home of International Christian Fellowship congregation, so we headed there this morning. The worship music is already underway and we slid into the back row of wooden pews.  (This building had suffered several feet of mud during Ondoy in September as the creek next to it rose during that typhoon, but was totally cleaned and restored.  We had seen it being used for relief items distribution when we returned to Manila after traveling to Legazpi and Cebu for Bible Quiz training.)  It was a great service with Pastor Jason delivering an effective message about “Dynamic Discipleship.”  Sunday School followed, with about a dozen of us in the Owens Building (where Dan works), with a further discussion about discipleship.

After a quick stop at Tropical Hut, a mid-sized grocery store on our way home, we knew we just had to get some rest or down time today!  So, after a lunch of chicken salad and fruit, Dan laid down and I spent some time reading a new book and knitting.  But we also needed to help Pastor Orlando and Pastor Elmo, the ministers who use our back yard for a youth group meeting each Sunday afternoon.  They knew what they needed: access through the back gate, water dispenser, their Bibles, the plastic lawn chairs; so they were in and out a little, getting set up for the meeting. There were 8 or 9 teens this week since some were attending the funeral of the father of one of the youth, but there will be a larger group next Sunday afternoon. We heard them singing and understand that they had some discussion and some Bible verse memorization time.

After they cleaned up and left, I cooked up some ground beef and onion and added some store-bought spaghetti sauce and cooked some penne pasta.  The sauce is pretty close to what we’re used to and, paired with a salad, we ate and cleaned up to get to bed early for another week!

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