Wednesday, January 6, 2016

God Even Cares About Dowels

You may think that the above title is a little odd, but you won't after you hear this story.  I love God's sense of humor and how every little thing matters to Him; how He answers even the seemingly insignificant prayers.

The story begins in about February of 2015.

I had been cooling down on the beach to the left of Tamaraw after walking/running on White Beach.  I do that on a semi-regular basis.  The shells seem to be more plentiful on that beach, so I look forward to the treasures that will be discovered with every walk.

On that particular day, I came across a nice amount of driftwood.  That is something that is not so regular.  After having visited Pinterest months before and seeing the wonderful ideas posted there on how to make a driftwood table top Christmas tree I was excited to pick just the right pieces of driftwood to make my dream a reality.  The pieces were selected with care but quickly because it was starting to get dark.  Once home again, the collection was put into a plastic bag in our apartment for safekeeping until Christmas became much closer.

I was usually looking for just the right shells to make clear acrylic ornaments. The balls would be slightly filled with beach sand, then with an array of shells to imitate a beach scene.  The collar of the acrylic ball would be decorated with a ribbon or a piece of jute tied into a bow.  This was another Pinterest idea that intrigued me.  Simple and inexpensive, yet elegant and meaningful.  Just my style. Both projects should be easy to complete, right?

While back in the States over the summer, I wandered into a Hobby Lobby in search of clear balls.  They had only glass at that point in time.  Considering the million pieces they would most likely be in by the time they reached Manila on our return trip to Puerto Galera, I chose against buying the glass version.  A clerk informed me that the acrylic ones would start to be stocked closer to Christmas.  I therefore left the store thinking that I might be able to get some before we returned...BUT, I forgot. 

In late November, early December I started thinking about Christmas projects again.  We had some visiting missionaries here who did some mini conferences for the men and women.  The gal had a myriad of craft supplies.  She told us she could get anything near where she lives south west of Manila in the garment district.  I asked her about acrylic balls.  She already had some that she would give me!  She sent them to me via Pastor Al and family because they have a house near her.  I was so excited to have those balls so I could get started on making some ornaments this year.

When I did a little studying of how to make the ornaments and went to the box and closely scrutinized them, I realized that the opening to fill the balls was less than a half inch in diameter.  There went my dreams of getting some ornaments made. Only the tiniest of shells would fit through that opening.  That would not suffice. My hopes of having tropical Christmas ornament for 2015 Christmas were suddenly dashed.

Around the same time I acquired the clear acrylic balls I started contemplating what I needed to acquire to create my driftwood, table top tree.  All of the driftwood that I collected in early 2015 was taken out and arranged on the floor to create the shape of a Christmas tree.  

The only thing I still needed to complete the project was the dowel.

During a normal trip to Calapan (someday I will do a blog post on that weekly event) to do some banking and shopping I started visiting the hardware stores asking for a wooden dowel that was 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch in diameter and maybe up to a meter long.  I started sensing I was in trouble when the people didn't even know what a dowel was.  This little acquisition could be harder than I thought.  Of course, what I am used to is finding them in abundance of size and length in every hardware store in America.  But that was a quick reminder that "I am not in Kansas anymore, Toto!"

Because taking "no" for an answer is not my strong suit (sorry Lord!), I decided I needed to step up the search and take it to Manila.  Being determined to find this lonely little dowel I took a shot at searching online to see if any options surfaced at places that I shop when we go there.  To my delight, there was a store that looked like it was near the train station that we get off at when we go to Divisoria.  Marina was heading there in a matter of days and it was only a couple of blocks off of her normal path.  I explained to her what a dowel was and she agreed to go to that store and check when she was shopping for gifts and food for the Christmas party the next day.

In the meantime, I would try to check hardware stores that I came across while Jojo and I went in another direction to do some business errands and stock up on things we can't get anywhere but Manila.  We had some World Racers coming in the next day that we needed to pick up at the airport, so we had one day to shop.  We checked the hardware store at Mega Mall.  No deal.  We checked Ace Hardware at Tiendasitas. No deal.  We stopped at Wilcon, which is the biggest hardware store around.  It is similar to a Menards or Home Depot or Lowes.  The cabbie pulled over while I RAN in to see if they had them.  The stored had CLOSED 20 minutes earlier.  Bummer!  We had just exhausted all of the options for this trip because our time was up to shop.

The next day, while retrieving the World Racers from the airport and trying repeatedly to find our way back to the southbound side of the expressway to get back to Batangas to catch a ferry to Ballatero or Calapan we drove past several Wilcon stores.  All of them were already closed for hours by then and with a fully packed van with duffle bags on the roof and very tired Racers in the back, it wouldn't have been the appropriate thing to do anyway, even if we could find our way into the parking lot.  Each store we drove past was a constant reminder that I still did not have a dowel to make my tree.

My only hope was if Marina was able to get one at the store she was checking.  I wouldn't know the result of that attempt until she returned via bus and bangka the next day.  So, again, we wait.  When she returned she told me that she did indeed check that store and that they didn't have any in stock (we have determined that OUT OF STOCK is the national motto).  And because of the holidays and them having many orders to fill they didn't have time to MAKE me one. At least now we know where we can get one in the future, perhaps? "Curses, foiled again!"

I think by now you can already determine the results of this search.  NOW I was willing to accept the fact that I was not going to have ornaments or a driftwood Christmas tree before Christmas.  I didn't go down without a fight.  Then I thought, "Perhaps, Alex and Chris could bring one with them from the States when they return in January".  Better late than never, right? I didn't ask them to do that because it didn't seem practical to carry a long skinny 12 cent object with them on an 8000 mile journey.  I guess I will work on it when I go to Manila next time and see if we can have a few made near Divisoria.  If I am going to order them I should have a few extra for the next project.  Lord willing.

We have WAY too many things that need to be accomplished to be spending any more time trying to find a dowel in this country, at the moment.  So onto more pressing things.  I give up! 

In light of that, this is what my Christmas decorations consisted of this year...and last year. Actually these were gifts from last Christmas, except the wreath on the door which we purchased this year.

Then...yesterday, while walking across the parking area on the newly laid layer of stones; leftovers from what the sea spit out onto the beach, during a storm, 

Can you see it?

you guessed it...there was ONE 1/4 inch wooden dowel just the right length to make my tree.  

It seems that I was just looking in the wrong places all along.  God wasn't saying "NO" he was saying "WAIT".  

Now can you see it?

He loves us so much that He will lay dowels in our path in the most unexpected places.  THANK YOU, LORD!

I laid the dowel next to the staged tree to see the length of dowel I needed. I don't even need to cut it!  I guess you know what I will be doing, hopefully, in the not too distant future.  At least now there is no rush to get the project done. God is good...all of the time.

Thanks for tuning in to Marsh Mission Memos and sharing the journey with me. It is an adventure for sure.

A thankful servant,
Grateful for His love and provision,


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