All posts by dbarfield

David and Cathy’s 30th anniversary trip to the Philippines

Arriving in the Philippines and initial days, December 16, 2008

Cathy and I just arrived in the Philippines for our 30th wedding anniversary vacation and to see our daughter who is teaching here. We arrived late Sunday night.

The trip involved flights from Kansas City to Minneapolis, a 13.5-hour flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo and 5-hour flight from Tokyo to Manila with some time to transition from one plane to the other. A lot of sitting time over the 20 hours of flying.

In Manila getting through immigration and customs went fine. The only snag in our trip was connecting with Betsy in the mayhem at the place where people get picked up at the airport as we did not have any way of contacting each other.  We did not get to bed until 3:30 am local time, almost 30 hours since we left our home.

At the Manila airport
At the Manila airport

One first impression of Manila: its transportation.

Manila is city of about 10,000,000. The number of modes of transportation is very diverse. In additions to cars, trucks, buses and the like, there are a great number of small motor cycles, often with multiple passengers, and a form of transportation that is unique to the Philippines but used extensive: the Jeepney. They were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II and are flamboyantly decorated, with many passengers. They are somewhat a symbol of the culture here.

the Jeepney

While here, we will leave the driving to others as the rules of the road here are also a bit unique. Their road capacity is much less than they need and so the rules of the road are fluid to maximize carrying capacity. The bigger the vehicle, the more space it takes and the greater priority it has. The small forms use about any available space, yielding to larger vehicles as required. So where they are 4 marked lanes, you might have 5 or 6 actually lanes of traffic – the shoulders are fair gain as well. They use their horns very regularly to make their presence and intention known. So you must be constantly paying attention. I am amazed there are not more accidents but they are quite careful to avoid this.

The view from where we are staying

We are staying in an apartment next to Betsy’s that is near her school. It is outside the main city in an area that is a mixture of city and country. Attached is a photo of the view outside our window the morning after we got here.

Manila view from our apartment
Manila view from our apartment

Betsy – teaching at Faith Academy

Betsy is our oldest of three daughters. After graduating with a degree in elementary education from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe in May 2007, she decided that her first year teaching (and then subsequently her second year) would overseas before getting settled into American life. She has been at Faith Academy here in Manila teaching Kindergartens of missionary families.

Betsy teaching her class
Betsy teaching her class

She loves to teach these young students. While challenging at times, she has found it rewarding and also enjoys her fellow teachers and experiencing another part of the world. For more, see her blog at:

More from the Philippines, December 21, 2008

We had a great week with Betsy in Manila. Cathy spent two and half days helping her in her classroom. I was able to go up for much of a day and to get a tour of the school. We also spent some time visiting one of the ministries that Betsy and others there have participating in area squatters that includes a children’s home for orphans and neglected children, a school for these children and other needy children of the area, and more.

Overall, the week in Manila was very relaxing.

On Saturday we traveled to one of the favorite island resorts of the Philippines, Boracay. It is known for its beautiful beaches and excellent snorkeling/scuba diving.

Sorry to be so fixated on modes of transportation but it is one of the more interesting differences with this part of the world and most others. To get to Boracay, in addition to a taxi and plane ride, we had two “trike” rides (it is basically a side car for passengers and luggage strapped to motorcycle) and a ride on a Bangka boat.

David, Cathy and Betsy being transported by "trike"
David, Cathy and Betsy being transported by "trike"
Bangka boat
Bangka boat

It is beautiful here. We spent some time on the beach yesterday and today. We used sunscreen liberally, not wanting to repeat a mistake of our honeymoon when we got sun burnt the first day on the beach, esp. as we are very near the equator here.

Boracay Beach in the morning
Boracay Beach in the morning

Tomorrow Cathy and Betsy are going to do some para-sailing and then we are taking a sailboat ride to a location where I can some snorkeling. There are about 30 scuba diving companies here. I plan to do what is called a “discovery dive” where they teach you to scuba dive and take you on a first dive in a relatively shallow water (30 feet).

David and Cathy in Boracay

There is a lot of great food here as well. It was great having breakfast on the beach this morning.

Breakfast on the beach
Breakfast on the beach

We will be here 4 nights and then go back to Manila for part of a day and then go north to the rice terraces. More on that later.

Fun on the beach at Boracay, December 24, 2008

We have had a couple of great, active days here in Boracay on Monday and Tuesday.


In addition relaxing, the enjoying the beach, eating some good food, shopping, etc, we decided each of us would do one thing we had never done before. Cathy and Betsy preferred to stay above the water whereas I wanted to do underneath of it.

Monday was Cathy’s birthday and she decided her special adventure for the time here would be para-sailing on her birthday. Betsy joined here as well. While they were a bit apprehensive of being lifted 300 feet into the air and held up with a sail, they did beautifully and enjoyed the 15 minutes in the air without getting wet during take off or landing.


After this we rented a sailboat with crew and had a very enjoyable 2 hours cruise around the western side of the island and stopping at a two areas good for snorkeling. David greatly enjoyed this first underwater adventure, seeing a significant number of different small and colorful fish species as well as various plants on the rocks on the floor at these locations.


For supper on her birthday we enjoyed a meal at a nice Indian restaurant.

Boracay is known for its scuba diving, with 30 scuba shops on the relatively small island.  On Tuesday, I had my big adventure, a “discovery dive”, a first adventure in scuba diving.  The instruction and experience was great! It may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. The pictures below show me ready to go, practicing our skills in the shallow water before going deeper (which we did a lot of), and at the conclusion of my first 30 minute dive.  It was incredible; like being in a large salt water aquarium.  There were so many different fish species I could not keep them all in my head.




I enjoyed it so much I did a second dive in the afternoon. This time I bought an underwater camera so I could capture some of what I saw (although I know it will not do it any justice).

Today we returned to Manila. Tomorrow we go off to the northern  part of Philippines known for its rice terraces. More on this later.

Hiking in the mountains of Banaue, December 29, 2008


On Thursday we headed to the northern part of the island that includes Manila to the rice terraces. They are spectacular. As is often the case, our pictures don’t really give you much idea of the scope and beauty of the area. I am not sure that anyone really knows for sure but the locals say they have been here for about 2000 years, used to grow rice (and at times, other crops) over the centuries.


You don’t build rice terraces in dry places. So as we started off on our hike, there was a light rain.


Unfortunately, Cathy slipped, fell and sprained her ankle. The injury was complicated by the need to climb back up the way we came. Even with my help and the help of one of our guides, it took us a while to return to the top where we could get a ride back to our hotel.


We have an appointment with the doctor when we get home to see what the damage is. The rest of the group continued on with the other guide we had hired (they suggested two in case something like this might happen).


Despite the injury, it was still an unforgettable time.


On returning to Manila, Betsy and I did some final shopping at the Green Hills shopping area.


As I write this, I am taking a break from packing (after finding some crutches and ACE bandage for Cathy, no small feat in this part of the world (no pun intended), as well as getting us better seats on the plane, ordering wheelchairs at the airport, etc).

It has been great trip. We hope to see many of you soon.


Balancing Work and Rest

Like many others, my life has been out-of-balance for many years, working too much. In taking the chief engineer position last year, I only complicated matters even more. When I volunteered to teach for my pastor during his Thanksgiving vacation, I decided to spend some time on a study of the Scripture’s perspective on balancing work and rest. Below is a summary of what I found and a link to the sermon on my church’s web site.


A summary of “Balancing Work and Rest”
A sermon for December 7, 2008
David Barfield, Community Bible Church, Lawrence, KS

  • To listen or download the sermon
  • Disclosure: The insights of Steve & Mary Farrar’s Overcoming Overload was helpful in my study. It is a good read if you want more on this topic.]

Introduction – This teaching was motivated my need to deal with my own imbalance. I love to do worthwhile work and have overfilled my life. So this sermon is for the overwhelmed. I believe it is also significant implications for the distracted, those who overfilled their life with other things.

We live in a unique day: “24/7; always on” society. A day that always offers “more”: more choices everywhere, more activities, endless entertainment, endless pursuits of whatever your interests.

The danger: squeezed out of our lives is time to rest and reflect, making it is easy Continue reading Balancing Work and Rest

Promoted to Chief Engineer

In June, my boss of 23 years, the chief engineer of the Division of Water Resource, retired rather suddenly when a great opportunity came his way (and being ready for a break from the responsibility to spend more time with his family) .  The  day he retired  they asked me to be acting chief engineer while they did a national search for a permanent chief engineer.

I never aspired to be chief engineer as it is a very big job. But the months of serving as acting chief has changed my mind as a result of the many who encouraged me that I could do the job, thegreat support from our central office, and the DWR’s great staff.  So I applied.

On November  19,  2007, it was announced that I had been selected to serve as Kansas 5th chief engineer (since the position was established in 1927). Below is a link to the press release.

Continue reading Promoted to Chief Engineer

Accepting and rejecting limitless opportunities

[This is an update of an earlier post; I keep reflecting on it]

Here is a quote worth reflecting on (from an article by Jeff Jones entitled “Getting With the Program” in the Center for Church Based Training’s Life Development Planner that our church’s elders and wives have been doing together):

“Each of us can invest our time, talents, and treasure in many ways. Life involves a process of accepting and rejecting limitless time-consuming opportunities. The same is true of money and the use of talents. We cannot do it all. Those who are effective for God and are actively used by Him to further his mission are those who focus the energy and resources on the Church’s mission.”

I can identify with the quote as I am sure you can. I am continually being invited to almost innumerable opportunities.

The Barfields’ transitions, summer 2007

This spring I noted that all three of our girls were graduating, Betsy and Amy from college and Megan from high school. Helping them each figure out and prepare for their next steps has been one focus of summer.

Betsy is now in the Philippines in her first year of teaching, teaching Kindergarten (as she wanted to do) at Faith Academy. See her blog for much more (

Amy is an piano accompanist at Olathe North High school. She is living with her friend Molly Jensen and 4 other young women at a house in Lawrence.

Megan is attending Washburn University in Topeka, while living at home. She is taking Biology, Chemistry, Writing, and College Algebra this first semester.

Cathy is teaching two science classes to homeschool students and transitioning to a quieter home life. She has been spending more time with church and is helping get a number of the homeschool activities off the ground for the new school year.

I am going through my own transitions. During late May, my boss of 24 years, the Chief Engineer of the Kansas Division of Water Resources, suddenly retired as a result of a special opportunity that came up. I was asked to be acting Chief Engineer while they search for a permanent chief engineer. I have been acting CE for three months now (they are saying it could be as much as six months as they do a national search). I never aspired to the job as it always seemed too much for me in light of the priorities of home and ministry to my life. Yet after doing it for three months, it seems more doable due to the competent staff at DWR, esp. with the girls transitioning out of our home.  So I am now an applicant for the job. Stay tuned.

Values-based financial planning for my graduates

Here is a note to my two daughters who are preparing to graduate from college on financial planning and goal setting.

David Barfield, March 2007

We have been working with a financial planner (Walt) to help us determine how best to use the financial resource given to us in Mom’s Dad’s estate. Below is an abbreviated version of what the planning took us through that I recommend you work through as you consider your financial future. You have been blessed with a college education without any debt, a good career for the days ahead, and a decent car to start off life. This can be a great launching pad for your financial life or can be wasted depending on what you do now.

Walt brought us through something called value-based financial planning.

1) Draft your financial values (which you should revisit annually) – He asked us to write down values we had that money would help to accomplish. Think about this question long and hard. Again, what do you want to do that money will help you with? Write them first broadly as values. Then think about the specifics of how money can help you accomplish this list.

Here is our initial list of values (in no particular order):    Continue reading Values-based financial planning for my graduates

Book review: Achieving Optimal Memory

Achieving Optimal Memory by Aaron Nelson

Review by David Barfield, March 2007. Based on a brief review including the big ideas and a few specific that caught my attention (including e.g. the SQ3R method for study below).

Optimal Memory is a function of optimum health (exercise, good nutrition, be active, etc). See list below.

  • It is normal to worry if forgetfulness is a problem.
  • Current memory medications. No cure alls. Slight improvements. More promising things on the horizon.

Aging mostly effects working memory, processing speed, attention to detail, remember specific facts and special information Continue reading Book review: Achieving Optimal Memory

Dad’s job interview thoughts to Betsy and Amy

David Barfield job interview thoughts

March 2007. Advice to my girls as they prepare for teaching interviews.

Work hard on your resume. It is the first thing they will see and may be the only thing if not done well.

What are they looking for:

  • Credentials are important. So work hard in school. Work hard on your resume.
  • They want someone who will get along and work with others. Demonstrate it somehow (might be one of your key messages to map, see below)

Preparing for the interview    Continue reading Dad’s job interview thoughts to Betsy and Amy

Devotion – Not delaying in doing good

Last week I was reading a book called Your Money Counts by Howard Dayton of Crown Ministries. It is a good read..

Much of the material is familiar to me but I wanted to share one new concept that is challenged me. Below is the verse:

Pr 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you.

The verse is from a chapter of the book on debt. Their application is as follows: “Godly people should pay their debts and bills as promptly as they can. We have a policy of trying to pay each bill the same day we receive it to demonstrate to others that Continue reading Devotion – Not delaying in doing good