Thursday, June 07, 2007

Betty Crocker visits ABP1

In the month of May Ang Bahay Parola 1- the girls home, had a special visit from Betty Crocker (aka. Deborah Scott) During the week the home was hosting a skills camp for all the girls. They were taught jewelry making by our resident intern Loretta Russell. They were also taught each day a different recipe to cook. Some were Filipino and some were foreign. The goal of the skills camp was to give the girls knowledge and skills that they could use to make a living. Through out the week different visitors came to teach the girls new skills.
This special week our resident Betty Crocker (aka Deborah) came to visit and teach the girls some good American home cooking. She had her recipes ready along with all the necessary ingredients to make wonderful cookies and rice krispy treats. And of course there were little girls there with big appetites ready to eat whatever they made! As she instructed the girls they measured, mixed, and baked the cookies and treats. They loved the sugary treats, and ate them all up as fast as they were ready.
Also each day a visitor came to the home to teach the girls some Bible truth. So on this special Wednesday, Betty Crocker's faithful assistant Lindsey came along to do the morning devotion for the girls. She was able to teach the girls about God's love being their completion and satisfaction. The importance of God's love was taught from 1 John 4:10 - 'In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.'
After the morning devotion the camp was kicked off and fun was had by all the girls! At the end of the day there were smiles, laughter, and full bellies all around.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Japan & Taiwan Visit the Philippines

In the month of March we had two teams to visit us and work along side us in the ministry. The team from Japan came first, led by veteran missionary Mrs. Amy Newsome. She, Pastor Alki and wife, Michiyo, and seven youth came ready to focus on ministry. They were constantly on the go involved in ministry. They began with adapting to culture, and then they were off! They helped Pastor Gerry in Santa Rosa with construction of his new church and ABP4. The boys only (as it is not culturally proper for women to work in construction) slaved under the hot Philippine sun loading rocks into bags to make concrete. The women of the team stayed behind at the temporary church site to clean, decorate, and teach oragami. The day ended with a seminar at a local pavillion. They performed skits, gave testimonies, and taught the Word of God. They also held a seminar at Pastor Larry's church in Calamba, teaching, sharing, and encouraging the leaders of their church. They held a street outreach, making contacts and bringing awareness to the community in Sta. Rosa of the upcoming ABP4. They didn't stop there; They visited the Muntinlupa Maximum Security Prison, where they performed they shared their testimonies and witnessed to the inmates. It was their second time to minister at the prison. They worked long days in ABP2 painting the inside of the home, and then did several street outreaches with children in impoverished areas, using their skits, testimonies, and teaching to reach the children, and afterwards distributed food. Needless to say they were hard workers, willing to do whatever it took to reach the Filipino people with the truth of the Gospel. It was a first for us, as we heard the Gospel translated from Japanese into English, then from English to Tagalog :o) They were a fun team, and also very encouraging to our family. God is good to send laborers into His harvest!

Our next visiting team was from Taiwan during Holy Week. The two teams were completely different in make up and ministry. The team from Taiwan was composed of nine young Taiwanese girls and two leaders. Their focus was mainly on the ABP kids in the short time they were here. They were able to learn more about the Filipino culture from a local museum telling of Philippines history. After that they immersed themselves in the ABP homes. Most of the ABP children are dispersed among the church and missionary families over the Easter holiday. But there were several children at ABP1 and ABP3 that were left at the home. So the team was able to minister to them, and make them feel special, cared for, and loved during Holy Week, before Easter. Their first stop was at ABP3 with the young boys. They had the day planned out and scheduled to a Tee! All we had to do was point them in the right direction, help them with meals and logistics, and they were good to go. They had story times, songs of praise, crafts, activities, and many more things to fill the days. They began the day with getting to know the boys, and then moved into a time of singing and praising the Lord. They held a story time and sang songs teaching them different things in English. It was such a surprise to us that they were so fluent in English. It turns out that they were all teachers of English as a second language. So all of their activities really benefitted the kids in learning basic English skills.
They came prepared to bake cookies, dye Easter eggs, and play tons of fun games with the kids. After baking delicious choco oatmeal cookies together they all went outside to dye Easter eggs. This was a new experience for the kids, and they loved it. They took precious time to color designs on the eggs, then had so much fun dipping them in the dye. They were amazed at how the eggs turned colors. After they had finished and the eggs dried, they held a big Easter egg hunt. The kids were like little ants scurrying around to find their beautiful eggs. Then before dinner time came, they had devoured every egg that they made!
They went to ABP1, the girls' home, the next day and held the same program and activities with them. They enjoyed every minute of fun, games, and activities. The team did face painting at each home, and the kids came out looking so cute, colorful, and original. The team not only had fun and games with the kids, they also taught the Easter story to them. They came prepared with 12 plastic eggs, each containing a significant part of the story of Easter. One contained the colt that Jesus rode into town on. Another held a stone representing the stone that was rolled over Jesus' tomb.
Another contained a cotton ball representing Jesus' burial clothes. As the kids held the eggs and opened each one at the right time, the story of Jesus death and resurrection was told. Their excitement grew as they knew the story, but wanted to see what was going to be in the next egg to remind them of the story. At the end as the last child opened his/her egg...... there was nothing there. The egg was empty, because Jesus had risen again and is alive. The kids loved it, they all wanted it repeated and done again. It was such an interesting and refreshing way for the children to hear the story and truth of Easter. We are so thankful for this team of beautiful and sweet women that came to serve and care for the ABP children. The kids soaked up every minute of fun and specialized attention. They felt so loved and important, because a team had come all the way from Taiwan to visit them and spend time with them.
Please continue to pray for the ABP children as their lives are impacted and invested in by precious people who come to visit and work among them. Praise God that He takes care of and provides for the orphans and the fatherless. Pray with us that the work that these teams do will make an impact, not only in the lives of the ABP children, but also in the lives of the Filipinos. We are thankful for the commond bond of the Spirit that brings Christians from every country together to serve under one Name
. We praise God that no matter what nation, tongue, or tribe.... God's gospel and love continue to go forth here in the Philippines! Thank you for your labor, service, encouragement, and prayers! Your labor is not in vain.

The Cutest Lil' Graduates

Marlon and Bong were all smiles the day they graduated and moved up one grade. They were so excited during all the festivities, that were held at the local SM Mall in Molino. They looked just adorable in the little white caps & gowns. We could in no way coax those empty diploma folders out of their hands. They were proud of their accomplishments, and of course we were all beaming as proud representative parents!

Deborah was able to be Marlon's representing mother. As of now both his parents were not able to be involved in the ceremonies. He was very excited and happy that Ate Deborah was able to walk with him down the aisle and share in his graduation. His face lit up that he had a 'mother' there with him that was proud of him, and excited in the accomplishments that he had done!

After the ceremony cafe lunches were provided for the children. We were also able to treat them to ride on some mobile animals, and after that treated them to ice cream. They wasted no time in devouring the ice cream cones and letting the other children at ABP3 know of the treat that they got for graduating.

A week later Apol and Richard graduated from the Little Angels Learning Center. They will move on from there to attend the private Christian school that Marlon & Bong are students of. They were thrilled as well to have Ate Deborah to be involved in their graduation. She was able to be the representing 'mother' for Apol, walking with him, pinning on his ribbons, making him feel speical, and giving him the love and encouragement that a wonderful mother would. She as well as all of us were blessed by these cute little graduates and the hard work they had put into their school work. Please continue to pray for them, as MTW continues to support them through their schooling, in order to better their chances and hopes for the future. Pray not only that they will have the determination in their hearts to excel in school, but also to excel in learning about the knowledge of the Lord God our Savior. Pray that God would impress on their hearts the knowledge of the Lord and His love for them. Please continue to pray with us for these little angels...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Beauty of Banaue

As we work here in the Philippines, we are constantly amazed at the beauty of God's creation. The Philippine Islands are full of God's creativity, glory, beauty, and magnificence. We were so delighted to have the once in a life time opportunity to take a trip up to the Banaue Rice Terraces, in Banaue Philippines.
The occasion for going was sad, as it was our despadida (going away party) for Harvey & Joan Helm. They wanted to see the Terraces before they went back home to the States. We were all excited and ready to take in the beauty with them, this being their final hoora.
It was a long drive from Manila to Banaue, but it was well worth it! We arrived in Banaue one evening, and just a little too late to see the Terraces. As we looked out the window of our hotel, we were anything but disappointed in not seeing the mountains. We could not take our eyes of the gorgeous sunset the Lord had painted before us. Lindsey always says, "Look at God's watercolor for today." What an amazing watercolor it was. No painter or brush could have captured what those bright orange skies were singing - the praises and wonders of the Lord our God!
As the sun sank out of sight it seemed to be giving all its effort to glorify God in its last laboring minutes of it's course. We all watched speechless as it set behind a mountain, and left only rays of God's glory remaining in the sky. The colors and His glory seemed to burst forth into the dusky night sky from behind the mountain. The sun set and the beautiful colors faded into the night, and the clear, bright stars took their place, it now being their turn to shout forth God's praises. The stars seemed, clearer, closer, and bigger than they had ever appeared before against the backdrop of the lightless mountains. As the stars took their place we were reminded, the Artist was and will remain the same yesterday, today, and forever! We were all thrilled to know that the next day we would witness even more of the Artist's work.

We woke the next morning, ate hurriedly, and jumped in the van to behold Banaue. We circled and wound around several mountains, and emptied out on top of a canyon that overlooked mountain upon mountain, layers upon layers of terraces! It was breath taking, almost too much to absorb at one time! Lindsey's trigger finger on her camera never stopped clicking. We were in awe and amazed at the beauty, the detail, the presicion, as it all seemed to go on forever. As we peered into the distance it just kept going. Each terrace, etched into God's earth so precisely, so carefully. Some layers flourished with rice, while some floated with water, and others over flowed with lush greenery. It was amazing, and it got better the further we went. We drove for hours upon hours, the whole time Deborah saying, "Oh! Oh! Look at that! Oh! Oh! Look at this!" We were all overwhelmed and captivated by the beauty of God's creation! We all felt privileged to behold one of the 'wonders of His world.' It was an unforgettable journey, and an impressive view of His majesty. God's beauty crashed into our hearts as we took it in with our eyes; like wave upon wave of wonder that we could not absorb all at once. Our hearts, like a sponge, seemed to swell with joy, awe, and adoration as we soaked in the beauty of Banaue. After all we knew the amazing Creator who's words brought it all into existence! Praise the Lord that He reveals Himself to us; wooing our hearts toward Him and His love, through his creation! He truly is a great and glorious God, worthy of all of our praise!

A Camechile Christmas

On December 19 a Christmas party was held at Holiness in Jesus Christian Church in San Pedro, Philippines. This church has an amazing and thriving outreach to a squatter village just near them. The squatter village is called Camechile. The outreach targets children and their mothers, in hopes to bring the Gospel of Christ into their homes. There is a continuing Bible study & feeding program that the Church invests in to do word and deed ministry. All 230+ chldren from Camechile were gathered around ready to begin the festivities for their Christmas party. The mothers were separated, sitting inside the church, listening to the sermon and watching the puppet show. The puppet show was performed by youth from a sister MTW church, Grace Covenant Church in Lipa. The kids were all gathered outside and began with singing songs to the Lord. What an amazing, joyful sound it was to hear 230+ children singing praise songs to our God! After singing there were fun and games to entertain them. They began with a water balloon toss, then balloon pop, and followed by a creative Filipino game. The kids were singing, laughing, and enjoying every moment. After the games, the children were settled into listening to the Bible lesson. Lindsey taught the kids as Pastor Christopher Sablay translated it into Tagalog. The kids learned about the true meaning of Christmas, which is found in John 1:9-12. The kids were suprisingly attentive, they listened, and even answered questions... yet all the while waiting patiently to receive their Christmas gifts. After the lesson was finished they filed into the Church sanctuary one by one, where they then enjoyed the puppet show that had been performed earlier for their mothers. They enjoyed the wonderful performance, which captured their attention and held it off of the gifts that were being prepared. :o)
After the performance the children were waiting with baited breath. Each child's name was called, and they came to the front one by one to receive their gifts. MTW Philippines had graciously put together small gift bags for each child. Just enough to make each child feel important, loved, and cared about. The gift bags included: peanuts, raisins, candy, a banana, marbles, crayons, a color sheet, also a little truck or watch game. As each little one received their gifts their faces were aglow with excitement and joy! As we walked outside with them we found them all ripping into their gift bags and digging out all the food. Our hearts went from sheer joy to broken sadness as we watched each child desperately and quickly eat all their food from their bags. It was if they hadn't eaten in so long, and were not assured of their next meal. Once again we were reminded of the reason we are here, to preach Jesus, the Bread of Life, to the hungry in Spirit, and to feed those who are physically hungry.

God's grace continues to sustain them as well as our hearts, as we continue to reach out to them with the love of the Lord. The Camechile outreach continues every Thursday and Saturday. The children and mothers feast, as the Word is taught and their hunger pains eased. Our prayer for their daily lives is that the pull of the world, Santa Claus, hunger pains, sickness, and death will not drown out the true reason and purpose for life, which is only to enjoy God and glorify Him forever. That is why we continue to minister and press on in the work here. Please pray with us for the Camechile families. Pray that they will seek God's face and peace in their daily lives, which are anything but easy. Pray that the teaching the children and mothers receive will also penetrate into their homes, drawing fathers and families alike into the Kingdom. Pray that God's Word will not return unto Him void, and will penetrate their hearts with His love, and hope for an eternity with Him!