Sunday, December 30, 2007

Come, baby, come!

Brian and Julie are officially ready to have this baby! Yes, it is still a week before the due date and yes, Julie and I were both 2-3 weeks late in our own advent into this world… It’s just we thought that the 100 steps from the classrooms to our apartment as well as our walk-heavy lifestyle might just encourage this baby to show up a bit sooner. I am trying to encourage the baby by both chanting and dancing ‘come baby come, come baby come’ as well as giving motivational phrases like, ‘Today’s a good day to be born!’ But all of this has not had a significant effect, as far as I can see.

The bags are packed, the baby room is set up, the camera has fresh batteries and an empty memory card, we even have fixed the holes in the kiddie pool in case we opt for a water-birth (in this case the baby might have gills). We’re ready! We’re waiting! ‘Come baby, come!’

Having our baby come so close to Christmas has made me think a bit about Mary and Joseph. Now I can’t work very well with wood, and Julie, though nearly perfect, is not immaculate (come to think of it, I don’t think Mary was either… I digress). It’s quite difficult for Julie to get in and out of public transportation, so I can’t even fathom putting her on a furry animal for an 80-mile trek! I think she’d die, or kill me… I’m not sure in which order. Did they know a ‘due date’? Were they as anxious as I am to have their child, with a bit of nervousness in the back of their minds of what exactly a child will mean to their lives? I’ve already started to wonder about our child’s future… what did Mary and Joseph think knowing what they did about their child? I do know that though there are uncertainties about the future, excitement and nervousness mixed, I can’t wait for our baby to come, no matter what it means for our lives and no matter what changes small or radical it might make. I also want to wait as expectantly for Jesus.

So ‘Come Jesus, come’ AND ‘come baby come!’

By the way, if any of you would like to bring us gold, frankincense, or myrrh you’re more than welcome. We’ll ebay it to buy more diapers.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Catching Up...

Well, somehow between taking classes, working, being pregnant, and trying to survive life in general, we haven't posted a blog in over 2 months!!!! Yikes! And I keep saying my blogging habits will get better, but we're about to add a baby into the mix, so we'll see what happens! :) Anyway, here's a brief recap of some of the more exciting things that have happened recently....

In September, Julie and our wonderful friend Melissa got to go to Singapore for a few days away. It was a great time to shop and see a new place before the baby comes. Another highlight was spending time with my cousin Angie and her 4 awesome kids... They were missionaries here in the Philippines for many years, but moved to Singapore only 2 weeks after we arrived in Manila. :( So, even though we're not in the same country, it's still great to see them occasionally.
Julie and Melissa
Chinatown in Singapore
Julie and Angie

October was busy with finals and moving to a new apartment! Because our family is expanding, we moved to a different apartment on campus. I have great plans of displaying pictures of our new place, but it's currently covered in dirty dishes and Christmas wrapping paper, so those pictures will come soon. :) Although we miss our neighbors from our old apartment, we're enjoying being in a bigger place where we can prepare for the baby.

In November, our wonderful friend Laura, from Micronesia, came to visit. We had a great time visiting Baguio, shopping in Manila, and spending time with friends from 3rd Wave (South Africa leadership conference in January 2007).
3rd wave reunion with Philippine and Japan participants

Of course, December has been filled with many Christmas parties and services, along with questions of when the baby will finally arrive, are we having twins, etc... :) Brian is still enjoying his work with NYI, and Julie is loving teaching English and giving piano lessons. Over the last few months we have continuously been overwhelmed by God's love and grace through our friendships and opportunities here in the Philippines. We are so blessed by our fellow students here at APNTS and our friendships with the Nazarene missionaries in Manila. It has been the most amazing environment to be pregnant in! We have soooo many people supporting us through gifts for the baby, daily encouragement, and numerous promises of babysitting and help after the baby comes! :) Please continue to pray for us as we look for ways to share Christ's love and prepare for this next adventure in our family. We will let you know as soon as anything happens... which could be sooner or later. :) Maligayang Pasko! (Merry Christmas, in Tagalog)
Baby Shower with Nazarene Missionaries
Recent pic taken at the APNTS Christmas Party

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pregnancy Pics... finally!

Here's a quick update from the Philippines... Life is super busy as we're nearing the end of the semester... We have 2 more weeks of classes and then finals, so in about 2 1/2 weeks, life will be quite wonderful, but right now we're overwhelmed with papers, projects, exams, etc. But, here are a few pics of the growing belly over the last couple months... hopefully you can see that the baby is growing at a rapid pace! A new friend moved here a month ago and couldn't tell by looking at me that I was pregnant, but now it's a different story... strangers are continuously asking me how far along I am, is it a boy or girl, etc.... it's kind of nice that people realize I'm pregnant... before, they just thought I was getting fat! ;) Anyways, here are the pics...
19 weeks

22 weeks

23 weeks... this was taken during a video chat with Jessica and Adam... Brian decided to add his belly... but his isn't growing, obviously :)

26 weeks - yikes!
AND, we do know the gender, but since a few special friends and family members (you two know who you are) want to be surprised, we won't spill the beans... about her... no, him.. well, just email us if you want to find out! ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Birthday Blessings

One of the greatest things about living on the APNTS campus is our incredible neighbors God has blessed us with. Right now, we're living in a building that houses the 'married without children' couples... Of course, we'll be moving in a few months to the 'married with children' housing, but we're really upset about leaving our neighbors. In July, four out of the twelve of us (6 couples) had birthdays, so everyone else conspired and threw us a surprise birthday party last month. It was great, because even though we live so close to each other, sometimes it takes a special occasion to bring us all together to just relax and forget about school and work for a few hours. Here's a picture from our July birthday party:
(Top row, left to right: Myong Suk (Ruth), Mari, Julie, Allaine, Lot, Mark, Sun Gi (Peter)
Bottom row: Lillian, Andy, Brian, Maria, Junichi)

But in August, Brian was the only person with a birthday, so they decided to do something extra special. There's a Filipino tradition of waking someone up on their birthday by all their friends and family coming to their house at 4:30 in the morning and serenading them with birthday songs. Well, our neighbors are Filipino, Korean, and Japanese, so we decided 6:00 am would be early enough, and I gave promises that Brian would still be asleep at that time. So, on Monday morning at 6am, there was a knock on the door, and Brian awoke to all of our neighbors standing outside our apartment with a guitar, singing birthday songs.

Of course, that was not all... everyone then came in for a pot-luck breakfast, and we ate, laughed, and talked for another few hours.... Here's Brian's version of the morning:

The night of August 19th Julie had not been feeling well. This is typical in our rainy season. For some reason whenever the rain starts her allergies also hit hyperdrive! She said she might not sleep well and might be getting up in the night. This has also been common during her pregnancy so I just agreed. Well sometime in the early morning I woke up and she was up and a light was on. She quickly came and told me 'Go back to sleep!' to which I readily agreed to!

The next thing I remember is being woken up to the sound of guitar and singing. I looked up and all our friends from our building were standing at the door singing birthday songs! Julie came and threw a pair of shorts and tshirt on the bed and said, 'Get dressed and come to the door.' I was, however, trapped because our whole house is one room and my smiling friends had a beeline view to me in the bed. Getting out of bed to put on clothes would be quite revealing and trying to put them on under the covers would be awkward, what with them all singing away and all. The culture here is fairly conservative so I sat up to show I was awake and appreciated the music but didn't know if I should hold a sheet up over myself. All this was compounded by my quite groggy brain which expected another hour of sleep. Finally I managed to slip out of bed and into my clothes while Julie was blocking their views. Thus all relationships were kept intact and I was not 'revealing'!

After about 4 songs and 10 minutes of singing we invited them all into our house and made as much coffee as we could possibly could. Everyone was up a bit earlier than normal! What was so neat is before we ate they all went around and gave a birthday wish, bible verse, and then we prayed together. It is sometimes easy when living in a Christian community to become unintentional about opportunities of speaking our faith to one another. It was really special to me to hear my friends share their prayers and hopes for what God is and will do in my life. After that we ate all the food and sat and talked for two hours. In the middle of a busy semester with lots of obligations it was so nice to just spend time with friends from many different countries. At 8am everyone's eyes were red and we decided to all go back to sleep, since it was a holiday and there were no classes.

This was the most unique birthday morning I can remember and was really special for me.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Guam Friends!

This weekend, we were privileged to reconnect with friends from Guam! One of the best things about being in the Philippines is that it's only a 3-hour flight from Guam and many of our Guam friends have family here or like to vacation here, so occasionally we get to see them! Our friend Nathan sent us an email last Monday saying he might come to the Philippines sometime and he arrived on Tuesday night. So we were able to see him and Mhay for dinner on Friday, and then Nathan has been hanging out with us all weekend. Nathan is a Pastor at the Church of God Andersen on Guam, and Mhay is the secretary at Nathan's church. Nathan was a great friend during our 3 years there, so we've had a blast showing him around Manila and introducing him to our new friends here. Here's a pic of us on Friday night:

We were also able to see the Senne family from Guam First Church of the Nazarene. They spend their summers in the Philippine province of Bohol and were in Manila for just a day before they returned from Guam. We had lunch with them on Saturday and had so much fun catching up on the last year and reminiscing about Guam for hours. We're so thankful for wonderful friends like Darrin and Jennifer - no matter how much time has gone by, it feels like we still live on the same island. Here's a pic of us with their family - the kids have grown SOOO much in the last year! :)

Brian and Isaiah

Friday, July 20, 2007

So I never write blogs....

So I (Brian) have gotten a bit of flack recently for not ever writing on our blog. For all those disappointed souls out there I must say that I have been writing. Actually, I have done a great job, blogging every week with highlights, poignant thoughts, and reflections over the past week's experiences in Julie's and my life. However I came to realize I was not posting them on our blog site but rather posting them to the garbage can.... Ok, that's not entirely true.

Usually I don't think that I have much to say. I did take a trip to Korea this summer but that's boring and nobody wants to hear about that. I could tell you about my classes but usually I have to either be reading for them or running off to them and cannot write. I meant to tell you about what life is like living with a pregnant wife, but Julie won't let me. That's private and censored.

So I will leave you with this one nugget to ponder until I actually get around to doing this again. This is a pearl of wisdom, like the beatitudes or parables that can be reflected upon one's whole life:
"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Ok, so I didn't make that up either. What? Are you going to sue me?

Dream Vacation Project

One of the new exciting things in my life (Julie) in the Philippines has been the opportunity to become trained as an ESL (English as a second language) instructor and teach some English classes. This is something I NEVER thought I would do, but I have found that I absolutely love it! So, last January, I taught my first class to some students from Korea, and I'm now teaching two classes and tutoring other students, also.
Twice a year students from Korea Nazarene University come to our seminary for a 6-week intensive English study program. We're in the middle of one of the sessions now, and I can't describe how much fun it is to have college students on campus and get to interact with them in the classroom every day. I recently gave them an assignment to do an oral presentation on a 'Dream Vacation.' As usual, they overwhelmed me with their creativity and hard work. I must admit my favorite part was when the group that presented a trip to Kenya had 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' playing during their oral presentation! It was so much fun! Here's a picture of my class and the posters they made for their projects...

Please pray for my students as they enjoy the last few weeks of their cross-cultural experience in the Philippines. Not all the students that come are Christians, so many times, this can be a life-changing experience! Pray also for myself, the other teachers and tutors, and students on campus as we interact with our Korean friends.

16 weeks....

Well, finally we are giving you a much-requested pregnancy update! Sorry our communication has been so pitiful recently. We have come through an absolutely crazy summer only to enter a much crazier school year. :) The school calendar in the Philippines is different from the states, so our semesters run from July-October and November-March. So, we are back in classes, working, and continuing to enjoy the exciting adventures God has for us this year!
Thankfully, morning sickness ended just as school was starting, so that part of the pregnancy is over. So now Julie is just tired and hungry ALL the time. :) And suddenly in the last 2 weeks, everyone has been exclaiming how she is 'starting to show!' so we figured we better start taking pictures and letting the rest of our friends and family see how things are progressing. So, here are a few baby pics from the last 16 weeks...
*6 weeks*

*16 weeks*

*Baby Woolery at 9 weeks*

So, one of our Korean professors told us the other day that it seems disturbing to refer to the baby as 'it' since we don't yet know the gender of the baby. As we were discussing, we decided it's much nicer to use Tagalog (Filipino) language in referring to the baby. In Tagalog, there is no difference between he and she, like we have in English. You use the word 'siya' (pronounced shya) as he or she, and it can mean either one. So, we now refer to the baby as 'siya'. :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

1st Trimester Cravings...

So, here's a quick update from the growing Woolery family. :) Pregnancy has definitely made life interesting. We're now in week 9 and are learning to manage the joys of morning/evening/all day sickness. Most of the time, it's not that bad, but we've definitely had some memorable days. :( But definitely worse than the nausea is the food cravings... I've been away from the U.S. for four years now and I have NEVER had cravings like this before! Now every day, I dream of my parents house, their refrigerator, and the meals they make. I also have very specific cravings like Lumpia, Beef Salad, and Crispy Noodles from Truong's in Guam, Vegetable Curry from Jamaican Grill in Guam, Tortillas and salsa from The Alamo Cafe in San Antonio, and Chicken soft tacos from Nopalito's in New Braunfels.... just to name a few... :) So, for those of you who are lucky to frequent those places, please eat some food for me and the baby. :)

Not that I'm going through withdrawal or anything... I LOVE Filipino food, and we have TONS of restaurant choices here, it's just that my hormones are going insane... so that's life these days... revolves around food, in addition to my summer class, volunteering in the field office, tutoring, piano lessons, etc.

Other than thinking about food 24/7, unfortunately our summer is rapidly coming to a close. I have 1 1/2 more weeks of my summer class left and then it's just 2 1/2 weeks till the regular semester starts! Brian will be gone for the rest of the summer... He's doing various NYI trainings and travels all over Asia, so please keep him in your prayers as he connects with youth leaders and seeks God's guidance for the youth on our region. But I'm definitely busy while he's gone... in addition to the numerous things listed above to fill my day, some of our dear friends are letting me borrow multiple t.v. show seasons to fill my nights while Brian is gone. So, I will frantically be filling my nights with as much 'veg' time as possible before school starts again. :)
Thanks always for your prayers - they're so needed... and keep the baby name suggestions coming!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

We're Pregnant!!!!!

Well, for those of you that haven't heard our news from our overly-excited family, WE'RE PREGNANT!!! Yes, much to our surprise, Baby Woolery is on the way and will enter the Philippines sometime around January 3, 2008! Of course we're very excited, but still a little shocked as we can't even begin to imagine the wonderful changes this will bring to life! Unfortunately there's not a lot of time to think about it right now, cause we're back in summer classes. So far, Julie's feeling fine, just a little tired. So, more updates will soon follow, but just wanted everyone to hear the good news! Please keep us in your prayers, and we welcome any and all name suggestions! :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Returning to my first loves

So, now that we've started this blog, it has me constantly thinking of things to add or stories to relate. While there are many we need to share from our first year in the Philippines, I thought I'd share what's on my mind today... and the fact that I feel like I'm 12 years old again...

If you didn't know, our school calendar here in the Philippines is quite different from the states, and we are currently on summer vacation. I will take a couple summer classes in May, but our next semester doesn't start until July. I'm realizing that I haven't really had a free summer vacation since high school, so it's a very different feeling. Before classes finished, I made long lists of all the things I wanted to accomplish this summer, and of course, now that we're in our second week of vacation, I haven't even come close to getting any of them completed. But, the thing I'm finding myself spending a lot of time doing and thinking about are the 2 things I couldn't get enough of when I was growing up: reading and playing the piano.

This wouldn't be a surprise to everyone that knew me before 2003, but my life has been void of these two loves significantly in the last few years. Yes, I played the piano for our church in Guam, but it was definitely more out of necessity than desire. My wonderful friend, Melissa, who is a talented artist, is about to start working with some Filipino street kids in teaching them art. She shared with me the other day that she was feeling convicted about starting to teach art when she feels like she hasn't been using her talent very much in the last year. And I realized that is exactly how I feel about my piano. About 2 months ago, I started teaching piano to one of our professor's 2 children, and I immediately felt convicted about my lack of playing and practicing since college graduation. But recently, I have been very inspired to start exercising my fingers again by practicing my scales and arpeggios and digging out my old pieces. And, for the first time in a long time, I'm playing the piano because I want to, not because I'm expected to or someone else needs me to. And I'm having such a blast teaching piano again... here's a pic of a keyboard I made that we're using to play games and help learn theory... it's just a plastic tablecloth and black duct tape, but it's tons of fun! :)

I've also been on a reading binge this last week. A few weeks ago I organized our bookshelf and placed all the books I have but haven't read on one shelf and was overwhelmed yet excited by the number! So many of my memories when I was growing up include getting lost in book after book during the summertime, and it's SOOO wonderful to have the opportunity to do that again. Of course, I should be finishing a curriculum project for a professor, volunteering in the field office, helping Brian prepare for a youth event next week, studying Tagalog, preparing for my teaching next semester, and numerous other things that are on my 'summer to do list'... but what am I doing instead? I bought an additional 3 books from a bargain sale at a bookstore yesterday to add to my collection of books to read! :) So, after I finish writing this, I'm going to start a new book and play the piano for a while... what a change from the last 5 years! Unfortunately, it won't last for long, but I'm going to enjoy it while I can. So let me know if you have any good book recommendations!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Life these days...

Well, since we've proven ourselves to be some of the worst friends in history at keeping in touch with people, we've decided to try a different approach... :) So, we're starting this blog where the goal is for us to post short updates on happenings in our lives as they occur... and not in a mass twice yearly email where only boring highlights are given. Having said that, here's the typical quick update of our lives in this last year....

In May 2006, we said a tearful goodbye to our beautiful island of Guam. After three of the most incredible years of our lives - filled with new friends that became family, experiences that ended in laughter and tears, and our amazing God stretching us and showing us His grace and love in ways we never dreamed - we felt God leading us to change direction in life and move to the Philippines to attend seminary. So, after a few weeks of visiting with family and friends in Texas, we arrived in Manila in the middle of June. Going from our home island of 150,000 people to a bustling city of around 13 million people was quite a change. But the biggest change came in leaving our jobs and beloved church to becoming students again and starting over with many relationships and adventures. In addition to starting school at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary, Brian was also offered a position with our church's regional staff as the Youth Coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene in the Asia-Pacific Region. After much prayer, he accepted and has immensely enjoyed this opportunity along with going to school full-time. APNTS has a policy that couples that live on campus must both enroll in classes, so since we felt we really needed to become as much a part of this unique cross-cultural community as possible, Julie is also pursuing a degree.

So, what has this new life been like for us in the last 9 months? Well, God is of course blessing us and stretching us again in ways we never imagined. Brian has been thrilled to get back in school (pursuing a Master's of Divinity degree) and has also fallen in love with the incredible youth leaders he is working with and learning from on a daily basis. He coordinated the participation of 36 youth leaders from our region to attend a global youth conference in South Africa in January (separate blog with those details soon to follow), and the impact of that experience on their lives and our region is immeasurable. Now that we're finished with our second semester, he is forging ahead with plans of visiting other countries on our region and continuing to coordinate communication, vision, and leadership between the youth in Asia-Pacific. Please pray for Brian as he seeks God's guidance for effective youth ministry on our region and as he balances responsibilities between work and school.

Julie has also found herself in much different roles compared to life in Guam. Being obligated to go back to school was quite difficult at first (pursuing a Master's of Religious Education degree), but God has blessed her with incredible classmates and professors that have given a renewed energy and motivation for being in the classroom. She has also had the opportunity to be trained in teaching English as a Second Language, and this has led to many exciting opportunities. Twice a year students from Korea Nazarene University come to APNTS to study English, so in January, Julie was asked to teach one of their classes, and after falling in love with them and teaching English, she was also asked to teach an undergraduate English course for APNTS next semester. Again, this is something we would have never envisioned, but God always knows what He's doing... :)

We've also been overwhelmed by an incredible new group of friends that are quickly becoming family. It's such a privilege to be on this campus where we live with other students from all over Asia-Pacific and learn from them in how they follow God to reach out to others. We've also been blessed with an incredible church family and friendships with other missionaries here in Manila. We're attending a Tagalog speaking church, so we won't get lazy in always speaking English, and have been blessed with many friendships with the young people at our church.

Well, of course there are many more stories to share, but that's what we'll do in separate entries with pictures! So, more stories and pictures to follow, but know that we miss and love dearly all of our friends in Guam, US, and around the world. We covet your prayers as we continue to learn how to live in the Philippines, speak Tagalog, and follow God's direction for our lives here. Please keep in touch and let us know how we can be praying for you!
tons of love,
julie and brian :)
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