Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thank You for your Prayers!! Don't stop :)

I promised you an update on what we were going to do for Mari's education.....
We have been working hard trying to figure out what direction we are to go.  We have had many meetings, lots of phone conversations, and visits to different schools.  Here in the Philippines, there is no government subsidy for the education of the handicapped.  We have found that special education here is very expensive and not what Mari needs.
After a LOT of prayer and discussion, we have made the decision that we need to return to the US.
Since making this decision, we have had several confirmations from the Lord that we are doing the right thing.
Please be praying for us as we make this transition.  It effects our family, our work and ministry environments, and our friendships.  Transitioning internationally is never easy.  We plan to be back in the states by the end of July, in time to enroll the kids in school for the up-coming fall semester.  We will be moving back to Redding, CA, and remaining on Nazarene contract through the end of October.  We are praying that God will unveil the future for Eric's work in His perfect timing.  Eric's dream is to continue to work with APRC and the Global Church of the Nazarene, via virtual connections, but we are not sure that will be possible.  Staying on contract until the end of October should give us time to seek out options to make that dream become reality.
The boys have said and are saying good-bye to all their friends, and it is so hard.  They are in agreement with the change, but they will miss their school very much and the incredible friendships that they have had there.
We thank you for your prayers for us.  We know that without the support of our prayer warriors back home, we would have never made it this far.
We are very grateful for the time we were given here in the Philippines, and will cherish, always, the opportunities for ministry, friendships, and for the spiritual growth we have had while we have been here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Alay Lakad

Tonight here in Manila, there are millions of people making a long pilgrimage up the hillside to the catholic church that houses the shrine of "Our lady of peace and good voyage."  It is an amazing event and the throngs of people walking the streets to the cathedral is an unbelievable sight.  Most of the people are doing so just because so many others are doing it.  Some are taking the pilgrimage because they want to experience some measure of a sacrifice or a penitence.  Some walk bare foot.  Some carry their statue of baby Jesus.  Some carry a cross.  Some are laughing and not serious about the walk.  Others are very serious and sincere.  They believe that their "lady of peace and good voyage" will take care of them.

Here is a short video that our communications department made.  I hope you can watch it and learn a little about Filipino customs for Holy Week.  Just click on this link  Panata "Alay Lakad"

Please pray for all of these people.  Some of them know that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father.  Some of them believe that they have to earn their way through their religious actions.  My heart aches for that misunderstanding, but yet, I myself fall into the trap of thinking I can earn the love of the Father.  My prayer for all of us this Easter is that we would learn in a new way, how the Father loves us as we are, not because of what we do.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."

I am so thankful for the Grace that has saved me, and continues to save me.  I am thankful that I don't have to take that trek up the hill with all those millions of people to be saved.  Christ is RISEN!!!

We pray you have a wonderful Easter!

Stay tuned for a shadow teacher update.....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shadow Teacher Update

We have been working hard at trying to find a shadow teacher for Mari, specifically one to shadow her next year so we can enroll her in the Kindergarten class.  We were pleasantly surprised at the response we got from our advertisement at the University of the Philippines.  We looked through lots of resumes and then narrowed it down to about 8 women.  We ended up interviewing four, with one yet to happen.  God is helping us fine tune our selection.  This week is a big part of the selection process.  All potential kindergarten students come for 3 days of "pre-kindergarten."  This enables the kindergarten teacher to evaluate the children and for basic readiness testing to be completed.  This week is "pre-kindergarten" and Mari went today for her first day.  She did great!  What a huge blessing and answer to prayer.  She wasn't intimidated by the other kids, even though she didn't know them.  Thursday and Friday of this week, we will have two separate ladies come and "shadow" her for the day.  This will give us opportunity to see how Mari reacts to them, and to see how they work with the Kindergarten teacher.

Our prayer is that the Lord will very clearly help us see who is the best shadow teacher for Mari at this time.  We feel like the Lord is giving us some good direction, but want to complete the process before we make our decision.  We know that as long as the Lord wants us here, he will provide what Mari needs. 

Will you please be praying with us, especially Thursday and Friday (your Wednesday and Thursday) for us to be wise in this decision process.  Will you also join us in praying for the Special Education departmental needs at our school, that God would raise up special education teachers and therapists to fill this void.

We love you all!  Thanks for sharing this journey with us!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Are You Living?

As I was heading up to the seminary, slowly weaving through the traffic, I caught the words to the song...

Today I found myself,
After searching all these years,
And the man that I saw,
He wasn't at all who I'd thought He'd be,
I was lost when You found me here,
And I was broken beyond repair,
Then You came along and sang Your song over me

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time,
In my life
(Third Day, Born Again)

It was so appropriate for the moment.  The service I was heading to was about re-birth.  It was about getting a new body.

My colleague and friend, Dr. Rio, had a radical transformation in 2005.  He had slipped into a coma because his kidneys were failing.  While in the coma, God clearly called him.  Dr. Rio heard God say to him "everything you have heard and read about me is TRUE."  Dr. Rio miraculously came out of the coma, and had an intense hunger and thirst to seek God.  He took his family to the church on the seminary campus and that began his transformation.  Dr. Rio fell head over heel for God and served him with all his might, doing medical missions, offering free clinics to his people, and going to seminary to become a preacher, all the while, going three times every week for dialysis. 

This past Monday, Dr. Rio had yet another radical transformation.  Dr. Rio was completely healed, and he received his new body.  Jesus called him home.

As I was going to his service, listening to this song, I couldn't help but think about each one of us.  We have the opportunity to really live, or to walk around like the dead. 

We had another tragedy this week in our Nazarene schools here in the Philippines.  The president of our Visayan Nazarene Bible College also got called home to her perfectly healed, new body.  She was just diagnosed in January with cancer, and is now free and clear. 

This has been a difficult week with all the trauma in Japan, the fighting in the middle east, and right here in our community, the passing of two very prominent people of our body.

But......God comes along and sings his song over us, we can be born again, we get to live despite our circumstances.  He is God, and He is offering us life!  WOW! 

Dr. Rio knew that he was going to lose the battle with his kidneys eventually, yet it didn't stop him from living.  All of us are going to lose this battle with our earthly bodies eventually, yet, that doesn't have to keep us from really living now....with peace.....with joy.....with God singing over us.

I hope you can sing that song with all your heart.  If you cant, seek God....he promises to show himself to those who seek him.  He loves us so very, very much!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Please Pray With Us

We are at an exciting place with Mari!  She is really wanting to learn, and wanting to be in school :)  She will be six years old on the 18th of this month.  She is acting just like all six year-olds in that she is like a sponge, taking in and soaking up the things she is taught.  We are so excited about where she is.  It is by far greater than what we expected when the doctor first told us she had Down Syndrome.

We have spent several hours in meetings and in discussions with the administration of the kids school about the possibilities of Mari continuing to be educated there.  She has been in the 3 year old class this past year and has loved it.  The school has never educated a child with Down Syndrome before, so we are, yet again, in new territory.

What we have come up with is a plan that will require a great miracle.  That is where we really need you all to join with us in prayer.  We are going to pursue enrolling Mari in the kindergarden class this coming August, but she will need to have a shadow teacher.   Eric and I need to find the shadow teacher, and pay for her.  She will also have to go through the schools approval process.

So, here is how we are asking for you to join us in prayer.....

1. That we will completely rest in the fact that God knows exactly what Mari needs and that we just need to allow him to be God and take care of his precious daughter.
2. That God will raise up someone with experience with Down Syndrome, whose native language is English, or who has mastery over the Engish language.
3.  That this person would be a perfect fit with Mari, with the Kindergarten teacher, and with the class as a whole.
4.  That God would provide the necessary funds to compensate this portion of her education.

We know that God is going to continue to take care of what she needs.  We also know that he could totally surprise us and do something totally different than what we are praying for.

Thank you for praying with us.  Your prayers are essential in the battle that rages.

I would also like to give you a little follow up on...

1.  Luke is doing just fine and has healed wonderfully from his concussion :)  He spent a couple of very "boring" weeks taking it very easy and not doing much of anything, but he is back at life, full speed.  Thank you for praying for him during his healing.

2.  The monitor lizard wouldn't eat, so we let him go :)  He was pretty scary anyway.  Luke said a couple days later that he only had one more creature he needed to catch....a python.  Lucky for him we have seen them around.  Oh dear!

May God bless you today on your journey.  He is beautiful beyond what we ever deserve!  Rest in his grace today!  I will leave you with some words from a song that I pray ministers to you today as much as they have ministered to me....

Sparks will fly as grace colides
With the dark inside of us
So please don't fight
This coming light
Let this blood come over us
His blood can cover us!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The boys played their last rugby games for the season on Saturday.  They both enjoy it so much.  It really is a good sport for all that testosterone.  I really am not sure what we will do without practice everyday.  This last game was at a school south of Manila, about an hour and a half away from our house (on a good travel day).  Unfortunately, both teams lost their games, and it was a bummer of a way to end the season, but none the less, they enjoyed every game they played.

Luke unfortunately did not get to finish his last game.  During the first half, he was hit in his temple by someones knee while in some sort of dog pile tackle.  He got up and continued to play.  When half-time came and Luke went over to the side-line, he had significant gaps in his memory.  The coach caught on and realized that Luke was quite upset by this and started asking questions.  They came and got me and told me what he had figured out, but at this point, Luke had no memory of even playing in the game, let alone where he was or what the day, month or year was.  Coach told me he was not going out again and we could do whatever we needed to do for him.

After about 30 minutes, things started to come back, slowly he began to remember what he was doing and what month it was etc.  We took him to the doctor who did a CAT scan, and admitted him overnight for observation.  The CAT scan did show some bleeding, but not an extreme amount.  We were discharged the next day and told to take it easy and the doctor ordered limited activities. 

We are so grateful that it wasn't any worse.  God continues to keep all of us in his tender loving care.  So if for some reason, you were prompted to pray for us on Saturday (your Friday night) or Sunday (your Saturday), now you know why.  We always appreciate how God puts us on your hearts and minds.

May the Lord bless you and keep you today as He shines His face upon you!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Strengths, Dinners, Dragons, and Teachers

If I said, "empathy, developer, connectedness, belief, and restorative," would you know what I was talking about? These are my strengths according to the Clifton Strength Finders Assessment :)

Strength Finders is an assessment of personality from the perspective of Positive Psychology. Instead of telling you your weaknesses, it helps you identify your strengths. Last February, Eric and I went through this assessment and then some training. We recognized some great new things about ourselves and the way we interact together. Our organization has started using it to identify who are best suited to do certain tasks and who fits where best. It has been a fun thing to discover.

Saturday, we had the opportunity to do this discovery and training with our group of 20 from APRC. All 20 of them took the assessment and found out their strengths, then we spent all day discussing how our strengths interact, with others, and within ourselves. It was a great time of team bonding and gaining understanding of the group dynamics! We are excited to see how this furthers our ministry and our work environment.

Last week we had the honor of hosting our team at our home for dinner with our Regional Director(RD) and with one of our General Superintendents(GS) and his wife. We had a wonderful time together, eating and sharing some encouraging stories. Our GS encouraged us to be aware of two things. First that Satan wants to discourage us, and second that Satan wants to divide us. He challenged us to choose to be always encouraging to one another, and to avoid any kind of criticism. I see this happen so often, we cover up our criticism in all kinds of mischievous ways so we don't have to admit that we are criticizing. Ouch. It was a great challenge to us as we are trying our best to be disciple makers. Really, who wants to be discipled by someone who is divided and discouraged. It is not an easy quest, but with the help of our Lord, we can do it! I am really enjoying taking on this challenge, and I hope you will think about taking it on also....just say "no" to discouragement and to division. Say "yes" to encouraging one another, and that in itself will eliminate any criticism :)

Sunday we all went on a walk around our neighborhood and Luke returned to the house first. As he approached the gate, he saw a 3 foot monitor lizard (dragon) sunning himself in front of our gate. As the dragon realized that Luke was threatening him, he ran into the drain pipe in our driveway. Luke ripped off his shoe to plug one end and plugged the other end with a stone. About that time Jon arrived and ran inside the house, per his brothers orders, to get a pillow case. Then they got the garden hose and turned it on, threading it into the drain pipe. Eventually, the dragon came out the end that Luke was hovering over with the pillow case. Luke grabbed his head as he came out and threw him into the pillow case. The hunters in the family were quite excited about this little adventure, and all ended up involved in this. Needless to say, we now have a new pet....a scary one!

Eric and I realized in December that Mari was ready for more schooling. Even though she is in Pre-School twice a week and in her specific therapy four hours every week, she is needing more. Her age is almost six, and she has the desire to learn and understand, but her developmental age being 4, makes it a challenge. We have been praying about this, and trying to figure out what we can do for her to contribute to her education. There are schools here for special education, but trying to find the right combination of teaching, location and cost has proven to be very difficult. The good news is that for a few months, we have a visiting Professor and his wife here teaching. "Miss Kay," the professors wife, just happens to be a retired school teacher who works with pre-school children in the states, helping them to read. YEAH! So Miss Kay is coming to spend time with Mari on her off school days to work with her! It is a great answer to our current problem. God really is the best at providing for our needs!!