Friday, December 30, 2011

Pictorial Year in Review

Our family continues to have an amazing time serving in the Philippines.

We started the year on vacation in Tagaytay, Philippines. What you see in the picture above is a volcano inside a lake. 

Of course our kids continued to grow

. . . and grow.

In March we completed our third Timothy Internship Program, training six new missionaries.

It is an honor and privilege to work with the Sonshine Center and Pastor Chris Patricio. He is an amazing man of God, and good friend.

Of course one of the biggest ministries of the Sonshine Center is Summer camps, 
which began in April.

This year the Summer camps were directed by Go To Nations missionaries Nomil and Valerie Adorada. As always they did an excellent job running the camps.

This year Danny was a camper.

So many children were touched.

We ended up ministering to over one thousand kids.

This Summer Eric (and Faithy and even Danny) got in on the action, serving as assistant counselors.

In 2011 our last baby had her first birthday.

This is a thirty-two inch pizza. It almost doesn't fit on my dining room table. In 2011 we ate plenty (Chris thinks too many) of these.

Ministry continued throughout the year at the Sonshine Center.

In 2011 we enjoyed some visiting missions teams, and some returning teams, like Tim Tardibono (above) and his team from Capital LIfe Church.

We were Stateside for most of the American Summer, and my Mom took us to Walt Disney World.

Where Dannny faced the Dark Side.

In the Fall of 2011 Go To Nations held their first ever Affiliate Missionary Preparation training outside the United States. We trained twenty-one Filipino missionaries.

Several of the trainees joined our agency, like Peter (above). Here he makes it "officially" official, by signing on the bottom line. He and other Filipino nationals will one day serve abroad as full time missionaries.

In November we enjoyed a visit by the GTN President, Jerry Williamson. Here we are about to take a ride on the wild side, riding on the back of the Sonshine Center jeepney.

The GTN Asia-Pacific Team at our 2011 Annual Meeting. World changers, history makers.

From our family to yours, Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lego Thanksgiving Story

Building on the success of last December's Lego Christmas Story, Eric got his creative juices flowing again, this time retelling the Thanksgiving Story with Legos.

All pictures and captions by Eric.

The Mayflower arrives at Plymouth Rock in the New World.

The pilgrims begin to explore the new world.

The pilgrims build houses to prepare for the coming winter.

The Native American Squanto greets the pilgrims . . . 

and introduces them to Chief Massasoit.

Squanto teaches them farming techniques.

So, after a hard but prosperous year the pilgrims prepared a thanksgiving feast and invited the Native Americans to join them in celebration.

The Native Americans brought food for the feast.

The pilgrims gave thanks to God for providing them all that they needed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"When I realized that men were made in God's image, I could no longer kill them and eat them."

"When I realized that men were made in God's image, I could no longer kill them and eat them."  These are the words of a tribal leader who is now a pastoring a church among his native people.

Last week Go To Nations held a pastor's conference in Davao, Philippines ministering specifically to pastors and church leaders of tribal groups in Mindanao. Over 400 church leaders from 20 tribes (pictured below) were in attendance.

One of the most moving parts of the conference was when several groups sang the great hymn "How Great Thou Art" in their tribal dialect. Native peoples who once practiced cannibalism are now singing praises to God, starting churches, and reaching the unreached.

The team who came to minister to these church leaders was made up of pastors and missionaries from the United States, the Philippines and Latvia. This team also included GTN president Jerry Williamson and Asia-Pacific regional director Craig Kuehn (pictured below in tribal gear). For these tribal pastors, church leaders, and ministers, it was their time to receive ministry and equipping.  Among the team of pastors from the States, I was blessed to have Dr. Richard Perinchief on the team, a dear friend in ministry from Spirit Life of Ocala (FL) church.  Also on this team was my life-long friend Jason Branch. He was just here in July.  He has been to the Philippines now five times.

This conference is a part of the ministry of veteran GTN missionaries Ken and Cris Sandberg.  Among their many ministry projects in Davao, Mindanao, they run a Bible school specifically ministering to tribal pastors and church leaders. Many of these tribes were once considered unreached. Thanks to the churches planted by the graduates of this Bible school, these tribes are unreached no longer.

Pictures from the conference, all taken by Latvian missionary Juris Grikis:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Changing Lives Who Will Change Nations

People ask us what is our main job or ministry on the mission field. My answer, developing leaders. Training up the next generation of missionaries.

Last week we had an incredible opportunity to train twenty one Filipino missionaries.

In order to become a full-time missionary with our agency, you must first complete Missionary Preparation Orientation at the Go To Nations world headquarters in Jacksonville, FL. Chris and I completed this training back in 2003.

This week Go To Nations held their first ever Missionary Preparation Orientation outside of their world headquarters, actually their first ever orientation outside of the United States. At the Sonshine Center, here in Iloilo, we held Missionary (Affiliate) Preparation Orientation with twenty one candidates.

Cities, regions, nations and continents were represented by this class. I believe history was made this week. I also believe that this will be the first of many such missionary trainings to come.

For decades missionary work has been poured into the Philippines. Now I see God is getting a return on that investment with Filipinos becoming full time missionaries to other nations.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Give Unto Caesar What is Caesar's

"You mean the Filipino government doesn't give you a free visa to stay here and do missionary work, you actually have to PAY the government to remain in the Philippines, even though you are ministering to Filipinos?"

Incredulously this question was posed to my wife by a local pastor's wife. She couldn't believe that we had to pay the Filipino government visa fees to stay in the country to do missionary work.

Actually it costs around $1,000 a year for a single missionary to remain in the Philippines, even though they are here to do missionary work. It's just part of the cost of doing missions. So do the math, there are six of us in our family--no small amount.

Jesus did say, "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's."

We recently had a major miracle with our visa status. We received a heritage visa, reserved for the children and grand children of Filipinos who come back to the Philippines to visit. Because of my Filipino parents and grand parents, my family and I received this heritage visa.

This amazing act of God's favor is saving our family around $6,000. We can now remain in the Philippines without having to renew visas for this year.

No matter what, we fully expected God to provide, as He always has. He would either give us the finances needed to "give unto Caesar," or we would be blessed with heritage visa status. Either way, it is the Lord Who provides, as He always does, as He always will.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Just Getting Started

This picture was taken on this date seven years ago, here is Eric and Faith, watching a Veggie Tales DVD on my Powerbook at LAX.

We are getting ready to take our Air China flight across the Pacific Ocean and begin our full-time missionary career.

Seven years (and two more kids) later, we are still serving in Asia. This continues to be an amazing adventure.

We are about to make a similar journey.  

Our flight plan:
Tuesday October 4
Baltimore-Washington International to Pearson International (Toronto)
Air Canada flight 7927 departing 6:30a arriving 8:12a

Pearson International to Hong Kong
Air Canada flight 15 departing 10a arriving 1:15p Wednesday October 5.

Hong Kong to Manila
Cebu Pacific flight 119 departing 7:30p arriving 9:30p

Overnight in Manila

Thursday October 6, Manila to Iloilo
Cebu Pacific flight 457 departing 4:50p arriving 5:15p

Please bathe our travels in prayer. We are hoping for peaceful and uneventful travels at all points. Please also pray for a quick transition to back to life in Iloilo.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

This P.S. Changed My Life.

As I type these lines I am sitting at a coffee shop window with a view of my alma mater Oral Roberts University.  Seeing ORU for the first time in almost fifteen years puts me in a reflective mood. Read on . . .

Camp Sonshine has changed my life. I met my wife there, I did my first children's ministry there. Chris and I still work there (at Camp Sonshine Philippines), and so do our children.

I almost did not go.

In the Summer of 1991 I was planning to go on a missions trip to France.  ORU Summer Missions organizes trips each year, and I was on the France team. I spent the entire year raising funds, meeting with my team members, and learning French (actually took two semesters).

But I did not make it to France.

I was not able to raise the funds. Eventually I got THE LETTER from the Summer Missions department. I got it in early April. You know the letter, "The Hook"--basically telling me "since you did not raise enough funds for this trip, you will not be going to France with the rest of your team."

I read those lines and was very disappointed, but I sort of already saw this coming, because I got such a paltry response from my fund raising efforts.

"The Hook" letter concluded with this post script:

"P.S. There is a ministry in Silver Spring, Maryland called Camp Sonshine run by Oral Roberts University alumni, David Black. They are looking for Summer staff to work at their camp. You can contact them at 301-989-CAMP."

Well since my summer was suddenly wide open, I called them, and the rest is history. That little P.S. changed my life dramatically, it was instrumental in ordering my steps, and was a major force directing me to were I am today.

I can only imagine how different my life would have been if I had actually raised the funds and gone to France. I can only imagine how different my life would have been if "the hook" letter didn't have that postscript about Camp Sonshine.

Christ does not deal in "I wonders" or "imagine ifs." He deals in purpose and destiny. France was not my destiny. I still have yet to travel to Europe. Camp Sonshine was (and still is) my destiny. I know that right now I am living my purpose. I am fulfilling my destiny.

"The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way."
Psalm 37:23 NASB

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Five, Five, Five, Five, Five!!!

Daniel is five years old! It is hard to believe that this day was so long ago. He is our only child born overseas in the Philippines. The story of his birth is an amazing testimony of God's faithfulness.

Just a few minutes old.

He's one! His first birthday.

Second birthday, at the playground at the Sonshine Center.

Third birthday, opening his huge present, a bike!

Fourth birthday.

Fifth birthday at Chuck E. Cheese, earlier today.

If you are fortunate to know this amazing kid, then I know you are celebrating his birth with us.