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The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. I’m pretty happy with it. I am inspired to finish my book in 2013—once I awake from zombie mode because of the recent birth of my baby girl! Yes, there’s a lot of sleep deprivation going on around the Joannes household right now, but there are glimpses of deep inspiration as well. I hope to draw on that inspiration to create a book that satisfies your craving for unique missionary stories.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.



I have been chasing Lorna for 15 years. The moment I laid eyes on her in the old Hong Kong airport in 1997, I was love struck.

There are a million details between the time when I met her in 1997 until we got married in 2003, but this blog will just relive our wedding and anniversaries.

Here’s a yearly look at our lives.

2003: Joannes Wedding
After 7 years of pursuing her, Lorna and I were married in Puerto Real, Intramuros in Manila, Philippines. December was dry from the 1st to the 12th, and the 14th till the 31st. But our outdoor wedding was drowned in a heavy downpour until all the decorations were soaked. It was terrible at the time, but such a fun story as we look back. We had our honeymoon in Boracay Island.

2004: 1st Year Anniversary
We went to the ancient city of Lijiang, where I proposed to Lorna in January 2003. We enjoyed getting lost in the labyrinth of cobblestone paths that spiderweb through the old city. We hiked up Lion Mountain for a view of the ancient city and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance. We had a Korean dinner at Sakura along the riverbank.

2005: 2nd Year Anniversary
We went back to Manila for our first Christmas season since we were married. Makati is the perfect date place. We walked around the malls and gardens in Greenbelt 3, and ended that warm Manila evening at Bubba Gump.

2006: 3rd Year Anniversary
The Christian community at our church in Kunming, China had a Christmas party that doubled as our anniversary. We hung out with close missionary friends, danced, and had a wonderful evening at Harbor Plaza Hotel near Green Lake Park.

2007: 4th Year Anniversary
It was a simple and relaxing morning in our new apartment in Kunming, China. I made breakfast for Lorna, and she gave me the comics of our marriage that she had made the week before. We walked across Beijing Road to Silver Spoon, and had a great lunch together in the cool China weather.

2008: 5th Year Anniversary
After a week of heavy Christian training and underground meetings in China, I surprised Lorna with a trip to Xi’an to see the Terra Cotta soldiers. We flew up to the historic city with our local missionary and partner pastor from the Philippines, then checked in to our own hotel so we could finally be alone. We dressed up like Terra Cotta soldiers, visited the Drum Tower, and ate some incredible food. All around great date!

2009: 6th Year Anniversary
Our one and only anniversary in America was in Prescott, AZ, my hometown. We couldn’t pass up a cozy breakfast at St. Michael’s Cafe on a cold winter day. It was a nostalgic moment looking across the park where I had penned many letters to Lorna while we were dating. And now there she was, looking across the table at me, my beautiful wife.

2010: 7th Year Anniversary
After sharing the gospel at a Within Reach Global English Camp with over 80 Chinese college students, we drove 3 hours west to a natural spring that was recommended to us. When we arrived, we were surprised to find a dirty, dilapidated hotel overrun with a million Chinese tourists. We were so tired after 3 days of ministry, and decided to head back to Kunming. We got stuck in traffic, and ended up at Grand Park Hotel late at night. But we were comforted by the beautiful hotel and each others’ presence. The next day we fed the thousands of seagulls that flock to Southwest China to escape the freezing winters of Siberia.

2011: 8th Year Anniversary
It was our first anniversary after moving from China to Manila. We needed medical help after years of stomach problems, and stage four endometriosis (the cause of our infertility) that Lorna had developed over the years. We had a fun time writing letters to each other, having afternoon dessert, drinking coconut juice, and watching a movie together.

2012: 9th Year Anniversary
After 9 years of a marriage filled with adventure, we looked at each on the 27th floor of Diamond Hotel—where we spent our first night of marriage—and giggled with delight. Our baby girl was finally here, kicking inside Lorna’s belly. Our miracle baby brought us new joy, and we felt like this was a new season of blessing for us. We were thrilled to have spent so many memorable years together before our child arrived, but the thought of our family growing brought us greater joy.

Happy anniversary, Lorna! We have many more years of making memories ahead, and each year will only get better. I love you with all my heart. Thank you for taking this journey with me.


“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ~King David

September has arrived in Manila, Philippines, and I am already hearing Christmas tunes around the city. Which mean time is flying. Which means my daughter will be born within 12 weeks. Wow! Time does fly. So with that in mind, Here’s a note that I wrote Lorna for our 5th month anniversary.

May 13, 2004

Time is to me a strange thing.

I once wished for nothing more than my favorite cartoon to be on. And it came on Saturday at 8:30am. But it went away so quickly that I could not focus on it the next time, thinking, “Oh no. It will be over too quickly!” And so I would make my mind busy with something else to ease the thought of losing that which I sought to carry with me. “Baseball season is coming soon,” I told myself. “We made the all stars last year. I wonder if we have a chance again.” As I stepped up to the plate with my blue helmet on, swung, struck the ball to left field, and ran like crazy to first base, the dirt diamond faded, and the grass withered. It was fall. The games were over and I was sitting in my room listening to Petra singing More Power To Ya. The little red lights flickered up now down. They bounced to the beat on my black equalizer, until I fell asleep on my bed. The curtains were swaying. I dreamt I was at Huntington Beach, California. “I love it here!” I was making a sandcastle. First, scoop the grains into a bucket. Pack it down hard. Flip it over quickly, but don’t slap it to the earth so fast that it breaks apart. “There is an art to this, and I have it down.” The towers of my castle were getting higher, and I dug the moat three feet away, towards the ocean, so that the water would not wash my work away the next time it ebbed closer. But as I looked away for a moment, and took a scoop of sand for one more tower, the wave fell on me. It slapped me to the earth till I was coughing the salt and sand out of my mouth. I sat up in my bed with a start, sweating. I hated that dream. The curtains were still swaying, and it was summer. I ran outside to jump in the pile of leaves under our cherry trees. “We sold all our cherries this year!” I would tell them. “We made enough money to go to Disneyland!” I played in the leaves dreaming about Disneyland. Pirates of the Caribbean was my favorite ride. I hated Star Tours because one time I got so sick to my stomach that I puked and felt terrible the rest of the day. “Don’t be a baby!” Katie said. “It’s just a roller coaster!” Shutup. I left my pile of yellow and orange leaves on my way to work. “The sun is a killer today,” my boss, Casey Taylor commented. It was. Almost 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix. “I gotta get outa this work.” I wrote a lot, and dreamt more. Usually at coffee shops. I missed those countries I visited. (In Russia a group of men kept crowding so close to me that I felt uncomfortable talking to them. But for some reason I enjoyed it because I felt like I was a part of them. In India I got food poisoning three days before we were supposed to leave. I passed out over the squatty potty at 3:am. They found me there at seven o’clock.) “No one here in Prescott understands me.” Maybe that was true. They had never been out of America. So I bought a plane ticket to China. When I arrived at the Minorities Institute, Mr. Chen said, “Nide bao hen zhong,” but it took me a couple months to figure out what that meant. Mandarin was difficult, but fun. “My life is so different than the average American boy!” I told myself that so I wouldn’t go crazy. I studied hard and thought a lot about you. There is a huge stack of used phone cards in my computer desk. They are wrapped in a rubber band. Sometimes I think they say something about my love for you, but I think funny things like that. I would dial and dial and dial, until finally something in the phone line would click and let me through to your voice. I melted then. Atop a mountain I said, “Will you marry me?” The answer made my arms tingle. So I kissed you a long time. And we would watch the sun set over Manila Bay, while Louis Armstrong sang What A Wonderful World. It was wonderful there with you in the snow. It was late for Kunming, but secretly I had hoped that it would happen so I could see the reaction on your face. I accidently hit you on top of your head with a big snowball. Norah Jones’s voice came from the other room, “Come away with me my love.” We kissed. After all it was our fifth month anniversary of being married.

Time is to me a strange thing. It merges and tangles into one long ball of thought, and I have a difficult time unraveling the string of events. No matter. I know that yesterday ended last night at midnight. I know that to be with you now is enough. And I can sense that even though we sometimes cannot figure out what will come next, my goodness, it must be decent!

The new blue curtains in our office are swaying. It is chilly outside, maybe about to rain. Can I tell you something that will be true throughout all of this strange thing that we call time? “I love you, Lorna.”


lornapoetry by davidjoannes, december, 2007

that explains it
how i so often feel:
     secluded or
          caught inbetween

i’m in limbo

.fuzzy static i want to be clear
but it all is fuddled and foggy:
                        until you appear


there is a long path
there is a longer journey
there is destination?

i grew up far from here. there
in a place (impossibly)foreign
to me is it that every
where i am transforms into the


i am foreign. it defines me.

     in the folding of your softly
     hands around my face slender
     fingers on my face your
     eyes embrace me
     you are my…

.i am home.