our work

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year in Review

If anyone had told me five years ago that I would be celebrating my 2014 New Year's Eve at my own house in The Philippines, I would have told him he was crazy AND that it's not nice to give false hope.

And yet, I did.

At the beginning of 2013, we were just starting to make preparations to sell most of our worldly goods and head over here to The Philippines in service of orphans and the poor.   Just like in most  scenarios, we had no REAL idea of what we were embarking on.

We were just grateful all of our children were supportive, our extended families were warming up to the notion and we had a loosely outlined plan for ministry.

But when we arrived here in July 10th, 2013, everything looked so much different than we expected.   You've all heard the expression "the devil is in the details".   Well, we took TWO vans from the airport to our new home, unlocked the door and had a nice little dose of reality.

The house was dirty from sitting empty for so long.  We did not have one stick of furniture, one plate or cup or even water we could safely drink.

We locked the house back up, got onto a jeepney (public transportation) and headed to the grocery store.  We bought water, noodles, a hot pot and some plastic dishes.  We came back to the house and slept on snuggies with our suitcases as pillows.

And I was utterly content . . . home,  and where I was meant to be. . .

Fast forward just six months.   We are serving children in our center weekly, have sponsored a major surgery, doctor visits and eye glasses for needy children.  We have been able to support and work in cooperation with several other local ministries in service of children and teens.  

We have hosted several people interested in Philippine missions and conducted a neighborhood health screening clinic, all  when we, ourselves, are still learning the ropes.
One of our family members visiting and playing with some local children at an orphanage

God took us from sleeping-on-our-suitcases to digging in deep in a very VERY short time.   We are blessed, humbled and in awe of Him using us, flaws and all. 

We eagerly await 2014.  We ask him to keep us close to Him so we hear His voice when needs arise.  We are dreaming BIG for 2014. My prayer is that, when I look back on this blog entry in 12 months time:
1. We are directing a Special Needs orphanage
2. We have added to our own family through adoption
3. We have helped at least 10 additional children have surgery to save or restore vision
4. We can rest and relax in terms of fund raising because others have come forward to handle that aspect of the ministry in a huge way
5.  We have prayed with many to receive Christ and been able to disciple others
6. Our whole family is serving boldly, walking in the truth and being lights for him.

That list looks "too big" for one family, for one year and for one ministry, huh?  We know that.   We understand that with US, all of this is impossible but HE does more than we ask or imagine.

So in 2014, we are asking and imagining and looking forward to infinitely more.

Because He IS ABLE.

Lunch with Children's Garden

Our 19 year old has moved here to CG to serve and we love to come visit and enjoy the boys who find refuge there

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

For The Sake of The Call

If the title of this blog post sounds familiar to any of you, it should.  It is the name of a song written by Steven Curtis Chapman in the early 90s, I believe.   It impacted me so greatly that I still sing it from time to time, some 18 years later.

The chorus says "we will abandon it all, for the sake of The Call.
                            no other reason at all, but the sake of The Call.
                            Wholly devoted to live and to die for the sake
                            of The Call . . . " 

And sometimes, as I live here in the mission field, I feel sold out to The Call.
But other times,  I wish I'd never heard it.

I read an article recently that talked about an interesting timeline for people who live outside their countries of origin. This article stated that the first two to three months are filled with "wonder" at all the new experiences.  The fourth to sixth months start to get difficult as the novelty wears off.  The sixth through ninth months are characterized by finding  a "new normal" and the ninth month on marks the time when the new destination becomes as much "home" as the former.

I don't know what kind of scientific research went into this article but yes, we are in the 4-6 month zone for sure.  I love this place but it is not new and exciting anymore.  It is a dichotomy of beautiful and terrible.  The landscape is gorgeous. The people are strong, resilient and amazing.  The poverty is crushing and the needs are overwhelming.  I am getting emotional whiplash from the desperate needs I see on every side, all the time.

I never want to leave and yet, I sometimes wish I could run away.   Am I even making sense?   Probably not.   That happens after "year 40", in the life cycle of a human female, I'm afraid.

I remember blogging, years ago,  that for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus, I will walk a hard path if I'm called to.  I wrote those words in reference to parenting one of our very difficult children - that for HIM, I would do it.    I say it again now.  If living here and doing the work we do points anyone to HIM, I will do it.  And gladly.  But, make no mistake, it's getting tough.

We shared so very excitedly with all of you about the provision for the surgery of Reymart, a beautiful two-year-old boy from an impoverished family who had a huge tumor between his eyes.  Remember him? Here is his update!


This sweet boy endured a serious procedure and was such a trooper!  His shy, quiet mother prayed to receive Christ as her savior during this process.  If THAT is the ONLY sinner's prayer I ever witness during this entire ministry in this country, it was worth it.  It was worth the selling and the coming and the stepping out.  "For the sake of The Call." 

There isn't much in life that is more humbling than listening to a woman in tears give her heart to Jesus in her own language while you pray silently in yours.  

And the thing is, I know there are other "Reymarts" out there - kids who need surgery to save or restore their vision and change their lives.  Kids from broken homes, orphaned or fatherless.  Kids who need to know how much Jesus loves them and that they are worth investing in.

I realize He can do all of this without me.  There are others, probably more qualified and more faithful, that could fill my spot on this mission field in the blink of an eye.  

But after getting a glimpse of His hand at work, I never want to be anywhere else! 

Yes the "novelty" has worn off.  I am aching with how much I miss my family and friends in the states.  

But I got to be in on THIS boy having surgery that will change his life.  I got to hear his mother pray to receive Christ. I got to hug and kiss these people and  remind them of how much they matter.  

I think I'm the spiritual equivalent of an "adrenaline junkie"!  After seeing what God has done for this little family, I am afraid to miss seeing it again.  And again.  And again.

So, until He draws us away, we are here.  For the sake of The Call. 

We covet your prayers, as always!  Please pray for our own children - that this calling of their parents draws them closer to Him and that they grow spiritually richer for having been here. 
Please pray for the child we are serving now, a gorgeous little girl who is smart, sassy and precious - that the spots of her cornea do not hold her back from seeing or from being adopted! Pray for protection for our family from the diseases that we see here: diphtheria, tuberculosis, hepatitis, water-born  amoeba  and others.

But most of all, we ask for prayer that God would keep using us up and then refilling us as He has so faithfully done thus far. When we are weak, He is strong!  That rings of more truth now than it ever has before.

We ARE weak.
He IS strong.

For The Sake of The Call.