Dear Calvary Family,
We send our love and greetings to all of you from the beautiful, sunny, and very hot Philippines! The April heat has arrived, and most days we are between 95 and 98 degrees…usually it’s already 94 or 95 degrees by 9am! So much has happened since our last update letter, and our trip seems to be flying by. I presently have internet for the first time in two weeks. Also, I finally have a couple hours to be able to sit down to compose this letter, and to choose update photos for you to see from among the hundreds of pictures that we’ve taken from the recent mission events and outreaches. There is so much to tell, and it would take hours and hours to write…and since a picture is worth a thousand words…this update will be mostly pictures with bullet points and short paragraphs of information.
Our days have been filled with wonderful church and other ministry services, preparation and outreaches, study and then more study, missionary fellowship, lots and lots of travel…getting up at 4am many times…one day we were up at 1:30am to get ready to head to the airport, Rose of Sharon meetings and jobsite reviews, many trips to the Manila International airport to pick up and drop off, and thankfully, God’s daily blessing and grace on the kingdom labor in the Philippines. Partnering with Pastor Nelson and Sister Ellaine Praxidio, and Pastor Luke and Sister Annie Pearson has been a true honor, and the times of fellowship and loving friendship has been one of the greatest highlights of this ministry trip.
I would love to go into interesting stories, and details of the past four weeks, but I had better get started with pictures and pertinent information…this will be a long one! (Keep scrolling down…it’s 50+ pages long!!!)
With much love…David, Ronda, Adriel, Lucas, & Emma
(Update-photos to follow soon: Before I was able to get this email off we had:
a Rose of Sharon Fundraising dinner, an ordination service on Sunday to designate new pastors to join the ministry team of Calvary-Pasig, spent a day in downtown Manila buying fabric for the RoS and souvenirs for the sewing team to take home, and just wrapped up the first day of the Pasig sewing livelihood start-up. Pray for our sewing instructors and the students as they continue this week.)
Philippine Christian Fellowship Pastor’s Seminar:
- Up at 3am to head to the airport, and after several events outside of our control…we missed our flight! We were able to get on an afternoon flight and finally arrived on Palawan late in the afternoon and headed to the Door of Hope.
- Saturday, Sunday, and part of Monday was spent getting settled in our quarters, preaching at the Sunday morning service, three prayer services for the graduates, and more study for the classes on Rock Music that I would be teaching to the pastors.
The seminar started Monday night and we shared 16 hours of teaching in three and a half days…four hours in the morning split up into two sessions, and two hours each night. What amazing hunger and endurance of the pastors, their wives, and the Bible school students that sat on hand sawn benches, with no back supports, in an open chapel with temps in the 90’s. How humbling to think how American Christians get upset and indignant when the Sunday sermon goes just a little too long while we sit listening to God’s Word in air conditioned churches on padded pews…and how many think it a travesty if the service should go past two hours. Oh, how we desperately need God to grant us mercy that we would have more hunger and thirst for Him like never before!
CCS Recognition & Graduation Days:
– We traveled back to Pasig for the CCS recognition and graduation ceremonies. They were split up with two sessions on Monday, and two session on Tuesday because of limited space for the audience.
– There were a total of eleven hours of Recognition and Graduation ceremonies in two days, and since we were involved with giving awards, congratulating students and parents, and speaking at each of the four events, we have very limited photos. Thankfully, there was a photographer that was hired, and he’ll be forwarding some photos to me soon.
Pastor Nelson and I spent the rest of the week meeting with our new contractors, Bro. Ronnie and Bro. Lito, working out the details of a new contract, and visiting the Rose of Sharon to meet the new construction crew and review the work. There is a RoS pictorial update at the end of this letter.
We spent part of Friday picking up the new mission team at the airport…David and Cynthia Pearson in the afternoon, and then back again in the evening to pick up Pastor Bob and our son, Lucas.
On Saturday we had another missionary couple join us for dinner, Bob and Darlene McCoy, both friends that I’ve known since we were around seven or eight years old!
It was a great evening of catching up, reminiscing, and fellowship with the Praxidios, Pearsons, McCoys, Pastor Bob, and Ronda, Lucas, Emma and myself.
Sunday, Pastor Bob spoke for the morning service, and then Sis. Ellaine’s family surprised us all when they showed up at the church with Easter lunch…squid adobo, pig’s blood curd, Kentucky fried chicken, macaroni salad, fruit salad, and Sis. Ellaine’s mom’s famous flan. It was the most interesting Easter dinner we have ever eaten to say the least!!!
Water Outreach – Taytay, Laguna, and Tanay:
Thank you David and Cynthia Pearson for providing the Sawyer water filters for these outreaches, and showing us the process of distribution!
Taytay – this is a new outreach area, and there is already a wonderful fruit from the water filter outreach. There has been a few people meeting for a Bible study in one of the church member’s home. The first Bible study following our visit and the water filter distribution had twenty people attend! It’s amazing how providing natural water can open the door for the water of life!!! Pray for this Bible study and the group meeting there each week.
Laguna – Pastor Nelson spent some time first thing in the morning showing the Pearsons all of the livelihood projects, and we participated in the feeding ministry again…I cry every time I see these malnourished, precious little one’s praying and waiting patiently for their food. Remind our children at Calvary Christian Church how privileged and blessed they are to have an abundance of food every day! David Pearson then demonstrated the water filters. We visited the Laguna facility again yesterday and I’ve included a picture of one of the little girls in the feeding program getting water from one of the jugs of water that was purified with a new filter.
Tanay – This is a relocation area that is just opening up to Calvary here in the Philippines. Around two hundred kids showed up for the feeding program and Cynthia Pearson shared the gospel with them through a story. Following the story, they ate a bowl of their favorite rice treat, and then we passed out tooth brushes provided by a dentist friend of Darlene Dunn’s. We also passed out toys and gifts provided by Alfred and Beverly Thomas. Then Pastor Nelson demonstrated the water filters, and the team met with the housing association officials to set up the filter usage for the surrounding neighbors. The Praxidios are working very hard to get a full time feeding program and local church started here as the Lord is providing a wide open door!
Teacher’s Seminar at Rizal Re-Creation Center with the teachers, administration staff, and support staff of Calvary Christian School:
Second Palawan Trip:
Sunday service: I led worship and Pastor Bob spoke the morning message, we passed out gifts to the Door of Hope, we visited the Rubber Farm, we visited and shared messages at a PCF Youth Camp, Pastor Bob headed back to Pasig to finish his teaching series with the CCS staff, and Lucas, Emma, and I headed back to the DoH to spend time with the Pearsons to work on the plans and details for our Summer 2016 Mission Trip, and also to work with the kids at the Door of Hope – repairing, cleaning, and organizing the trumpets, then teaching trumpet lessons to the older boys a couple times each day Thursday and Friday, playing soccer with the DoH boys and teaching them to surf with boogie boards that I purchased for them in Puerto Pricessa, pulling the fish net with the staff and pastors who work at the rubber farm, and whenever there was time I joined Pastor Luke doing errands in preparation for their furlough trip back to the States at the end of this month…all in all, a very busy week that went by too fast!
Even though Pastor Luke’s house hasn’t started yet…here are two new buildings that were made with the recycled lumber that we salvaged from the house our Mission Team demolished in July 2015.
Mountain Path Ministries & Laguna Sewing Livelihood Training, and a New Shuttle Van:
Sister Donna Allison and Sister Vicki Petersmarck arrived in the Philippines last Friday for the sewing livelihood start-ups. They are such a breath of fresh air…what a pair of godly, loving women who burn with a passion for missions! We have been enjoying great spiritual fellowship with them, and we’re already planning their visit for next Spring 2017!
The first sewing livelihood has started here in Laguna, and the students far surpassed what we thought they’d be able to learn in such a short time. Here are a few pictures of the group that is the first fruits of our upcoming garment factory, and the fun, useful projects that Donna and Vicki use to train them how to sew on their new machines.
The students stand next to the new sewing machines while Donna and Vicki show them some of the items that they’ll make over the next two and a half days. The trainees were excited, but very nervous…one of the women later told us that her hands were shaking that first afternoon! Only two of them had any sewing experience…and they had only used a manual machine. The one man that joined the group is a tailor and barber by trade. Once he became familiar with the machine he was off and running, and often helped out teaching the other trainees…
The new Tailor and Seamstresses show off their last day’s work: A hat, bib, and pair of pants made from one T-Shirt, a sundress made from a pillow case (they made the pillow case), and a cloth diaper with a soaker insert.
Bbot and Kora – the two students who had previous experience…
We had a delicious celebration dinner with the teachers and trainees at the end of the livelihood project training…
Pastor Nelson, Pastor Melbien, Brother Bbot (who we’re planning to be the foreman at the garment factory), and teenagers from the Calvary Laguna Youth Group, standing on the new property where the garment factory will be built for the sewing livelihood program. This group has cleared the property and installed a fence around it to keep it clean from debris…
At the future garment factory site – the Praxidio family with Donna Allison and Vicki Petersmarck, the sewing missionaries from Mountain Path Ministries. You can see the new fence behind the group that the Calvary-Laguna youth group boys built and installed.
Also, this week the Lord has blessed Calvary Christian Pasig with a brand new Toyota Shuttle Van, and we broke it in by using it for the first time on this livelihood/ministry trip to Laguna. Just a few of the things this van will be used for will be transportation for our mission team each summer and for the medical mission team that visits each year from Australia, and shuttling missionaries back and forth from the RoS. It’s a great tool for all of the work and projects that Calvary Philippines is involved in. We’ve been using it non-stop since the purchase!
Laguna Calvary Christian School Kinder Graduation Ceremony:
The Calvary Laguna Youth Group wanted a picture with those two tall Americans! Adriel and Lucas are good sports and seem to be always patiently posing for photos with their Filipino friends. The youth group joined us the following evening for food and a swim party at the resort where we held the sewing classes …
Rose of Sharon Update:
The renovation project is now moving at an amazing speed. As a matter of fact, the pool is being filled as I’m writing this! Seeing as it’s 97 degrees today, I think we’ll have to go for a swim tonight! The McCoys are presently staying at the facility in room #2, and there will be a church group of sixty renting the facility at the end of May.
We are planning our Grand Opening ceremony in July when our Mission Team is here. By the time we host the grand opening in July the Rose of Sharon Mission House will have: six rooms that house 4 to 6 people each with their own bathroom…shower and air conditioning, a bunk house for ten persons with two bathrooms two showers and a/c, two open terraces for events and fellowship with a full service snack bar, the pool with a toddler area and swim outs, a second floor multi-purpose conference room with a food service area and bathroom with shower and a/c and a beautiful view of the pool and terraces, a full service commercial kitchen, a game area, as well as eight other bathrooms and two other three person shower rooms all conveniently dispersed around the facility. It is truly a marvelous place, and the transformation is nothing short of amazing!!!
We’re so glad that the Lord directed us to purchase this property, and that He has blessed the ministry here with this place that, by His grace, will soon house not only many missionaries, mission teams, and host local church ministries for meetings and getaways, but will include a Bible School, a local church, and a Christian school.
Sometimes when we visit the property, I stand looking around in wonder at what God has done, and recently I stood crying as I thought how this gift of God is named after my Mom, and how I wish she could see and visit it. I hope the Lord allows her to know how this little piece of property, named after an amazing woman, will eventually bless so many lives!
I have hundreds of pictures of the RoS renovation that I wish I could share, but here are a few great before and afters…
Fun & Interesting:
Thought you might like some of these photos…
Rice drying on a tarp, and milled each day. Then, it was cooked and served for our three meals at the resort where we stayed for the Laguna sewing livelihood classes. It’s the freshest rice we’ve every eaten!
Just in case you’re worried that we won’t be able to cope with rice three times a day…here is the view from the Praxidios fourth floor patio. We’re safe…American fast food is within walking distance!
…caught these three guys sleeping on the back of a flatbed trailer as it was driving down the road during morning, rush hour traffic!
We laughed our heads off!!!
Dear Calvary Family,
I’ve been meaning to send another update, but we’ve been running like mad! Every day seems to fly by, and it’s hard to believe that it’s already time to leave for Palawan and the pastor’s convention. We head out tomorrow morning at 4am, and Lord willing, we will meet Pastor Luke Pearson and his family at the airport in Puerto Princessa around 6:40am. Please be in prayer for the upcoming convention! I’ll be sharing about sacred worship in nine, one hour sessions, over a three and a half day period. I’ve been studying most of the day each day now for a week, and still wish I had more time to study. Not only do I know that I’ll need the Lord’s daily strength, but I’m aware that many of the examples and readings that I have to share are difficult to translate into Tagalog. So, I’ll be reading from my notes and exchanging difficult English words for simpler English words on the fly…all the while trying to keep focused on what comes next in my notes, and trying to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that I say what He wants me to say. I greatly covet your prayers for God’s enabling grace! I don’t have time to share the examples in this letter, but the enemy has been attacking in an effort to discourage and hinder my study times the last few days. Although, all it has done was to encourage me that the Lord has something that He wants to share with the pastors from Palawan, and that’s why the devil is worried. Pray for an open heaven, my voice to be used of the Lord, and for the hearers – ears to hear what the Lord has to say.
Rose of Sharon: things have been moving at a snail’s pace, and both Pastor Nelson and I have been really frustrated with the contractor and his subcontracting crew. We met a week ago with the contractor here at the church office and really pressed him to get control of the project. Between now and the end of April we have over 20 missionaries that will be passing through, and we were planning to put them up in the guest rooms at the resort, and…the project is way off schedule. I’ve been trying to visit the project every other day so that I could keep a pulse of the progress. While I was there last Thursday, one “skilled” laborer/painter spent the entire time I was there, around 2 ½ hours, sanding a single door…and he was still sanding when we left. To make matters worse, there had been hardly any progress at all on the rest of the areas of work. On the way home I decided with Pastor Nelson that we had to end the contract with the contractor and let all the trades go on Saturday. I was able to meet with the contractor on Tuesday, and let him know that we had to bring everything to a close. My main objective was to make sure it was an equitable parting because he is a Christian brother. It was a difficult thing to do, but I feel the Lord gave grace, and the brother thanked us for letting him be a part of the work till now, and agreed with us that he was not a good fit for the project.
You would hardly believe how fast things have started to move in one day’s time! A paint crew is starting tomorrow, subcontractors have been visiting all day yesterday and today and preparing bids, windows will be in by next Friday, and in anticipation of the some of the guest areas being completed we spent time yesterday and today ordering furniture that will start to arrive at the end of this week. All in all, because of the mess with the previous contractor and crew, we didn’t think we would be able to move in to our apartment until toward the middle to end of April. Now, we are planning to move in when we get back from Palawan on the 19th.
The past two weeks have been wonderful living with the Praxidios, and we have grown very close to them. It is amazing to see how much we even think alike, and we truly love them dearly. Nelson and I are always together working on something or other, and Ronda and Ellaine have enjoyed each other’s company. Ronda has made homemade banana bread, and her mom’s famous cinnamon buns…which Ellaine and the housekeeper really enjoyed watching. I even broke down and made some good old American grilled cheese one night for everyone. Emma and Paula have become like sisters, and it make both families happy to see the two of them laughing and spending time together. Whenever we head to the store for supplies, the two of them disappear, and we all know where we’ll be able to find them…at the make-up counter. Girls!…what are you going to do?! The Praxidios are feeding us amazing Filipino dishes, and of course, it’s accompanied with rice three times a day. Not sure what we’re going to do when we get home…meals won’t seem like meals without rice! There’s so much more to tell, but we’re getting up at 3am and it’s 10pm already. So, it’s off to bed…
Enjoy the few pictures…I’ll have tons more to show when we get home! I’ll try to do a nice pictorial update once we’re back from Palawan and have a little time to take a breather.
We love you all, and are so grateful for the opportunity to represent Calvary Michigan here with our brothers and sisters in the Philippines. I’ll tell you this, they pray often for you!
David, Ronda, and Emma
Dear Calvary Family,
Hello from the Philippines! We had a very long and exhausting flight over, but thankfully we were safe, and also, we knew that so many of you were praying for us. We met some very friendly Filipino folks on the flight, and they kept thanking us for visiting the Philippines to minister, and we kept telling them how blessed and honored we feel to have the opportunity to come and serve the Lord among such loving people!
We got into Manila about 10pm Tuesday evening, and after meeting the Praxidios at the airport, and then getting a Filipino SIM card installed in my phone (they have little stands at the airport to install the SIM card and then you can purchase prepaid minutes), we headed to Pasig City, a suburb of Manila, where Calvary Christian Fellowship is located. It’s a little over an hour drive if traffic is light, but it can be up to two hours or more if the traffic is heavy. Thankfully, the traffic was pretty light. Once we arrived at the church facility and the Praxidio’s home we fellowshipped until 1am as we and the Praxidios were very happy to see each other again. The next morning, Wednesday, I woke up around 7am to a beautiful sunny day, and all I could think about was getting ready so we could go to see the Rose of Sharon and get to see the renovations in person.
After a great Filipino breakfast, which always has rice, we all headed over to the RoS property. It was pretty amazing to see the difference from when we first laid eyes on the property in August 2015. The overgrowth and weeds are gone, the roof system and gutters and overhangs are fixed and replaced, stairways are being repaired, the mission team dorm areas and meeting hall is under renovations, the resort guest rooms are getting the final coats of paint and cleaning and light and electrical fixtures, the bathrooms are being cleaned and the plumbing fixtures replaced, light fixtures are being installed everywhere you look, tile is being laid in the pool and bathrooms and patios, and our apartment is ready for windows and final paint. There is so much work happening all at once, and at the helm of it all is Pastor Nelson; overseeing the daily punch lists for the workers, meeting with the architect and foreman, and making sure that there are materials on sight for each day’s projects.
We spent a few hours looking around the Rose of Sharon, enjoying the work progress, and then headed back to the Praxidios for lunch…and a much needed nap. We are pretty jetlagged…I think Emma slept most of the day Wednesday, and Ronda and I wished we could have! After a short rest, Ronda, Sis. Ellaine, and I unpacked the three suitcases that had the gift items that we brought for the Door of Hope Orphanage and Laguna outreach programs, as well as, some personal gifts for the Praxidios, and utensils and other items for the RoS. Our suitcases are going to be almost empty for our return trip to the U.S.! Pastor Nelson and I then went to get a truck load of tile mortar and adhesive and other construction items, and headed back to the RoS to drop it off. The electrician had installed most of the soffit lights during the day and the buildings were all lit up and looked so beautiful and inviting in the dark.
After taking some pictures and talking with the laborers that spend the night there, we returned for dinner, and fellowship…Pastor Nelson and I talking and looking at the construction pictures until midnight. A refreshing, cool breeze was blowing across their home’s patio on the fourth floor of the Calvary building, and believe it or not, I actually was a little cold in my T-shirt and shorts!
Amazingly, I’m able to log in to the church cameras all the way over here in the Philippines, so I can see that we are getting a “nice” little winter snow at home…and I also see that our new website service cancellation alert is working perfectly – LOL! At any rate, I don’t want to rub it in or anything, but as I’m writing this letter a slight breeze is blowing, and combined with the fact that it’s 81 degrees right now, the weather is about as perfect as anything gets!
Today, Thursday, was a holiday in the Philippines celebrating the People’s Revolution and liberation from the dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in 1987. It is called the world’s only peaceful revolution, and even though the populace and mass protestors did not take up arms to fight, the army laid down their arms and the Marcos’ fled the country. So, school was out today and many people had work off. We spent the morning having breakfast and fellowshipping with our kind hosts, the Praxidios, and then they took us out for the afternoon. We bought them lunch at a delicious noodle restaurant – the Mission Team will remember eating there and watching the chef “pull” noodles by hand.
Then it was off to the money exchange, and then while the ladies did some grocery shopping, Pastor Nelson and I went to Home Depot…I don’t think it is owned by the same U.S. Home Depot, but it is a huge store nonetheless, and we purchased more construction materials that the workers need for tomorrow.
Then, it was back to the Church and the Praxidio’s fourth floor home again. While Pastor Nelson took the supplies to the RoS, I spent time studying for a couples dinner and fellowship that would take place in the evening around 4:30pm. We had a great time with the brothers and sisters that attended. We started the evening with “Ice Breaker” games, and everyone had a good time laughing and getting introduced to us and us to them. Next we ate some flavorful Filipino dishes.
You all remember how our family found 30 plus pairs of reading glasses that my Mom had accumulated before she went home to be with our Lord? Well, we found some very grateful folks to give them to, and even some of the men were able to get a pair from some of the ones that didn’t look feminine. It really touch our hearts to see their excitement trying them on, and to hear them thank us for the gift.
We told them it was a gift form Sister Sharon. Then I shared a marriage message with the group, most of them from the Floodway area, and Pastor Nelson translated:
Galatians 6:9 – So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Plant the good seeds in your marriage of:
- Compassion: Let your spouse be who God created them to be, NOT who we want them to be. Loving acceptance, or compassion, is the bridge over our differences as spouses.
- Being Genuine and Sincere: It’s not WHAT we say, but HOW we say it; It’s not WHAT we do, but HOW we do it!
- Empathy: Understand and share the feelings of your spouse; When was the last time you tried to imagine what it was like to walk in your spouse’s shoes?
Finally, look in the mirror and ask: 1) What does my spouse see when they look at me? 2) What are my actions and words really saying to them? 3) What do I need to change? Sow compassion, sincerity, and empathy and you will reap the harvest of a wonderful marriage!
Following the exhortation we had a time of discussion and sharing, and eventually we came around to Love and Respect. As we sat and talked about these two Biblical marriage commands, the Lord used these truths to open up the group that was gathered, and during the open discussion they testified that it helped them begin to understand what their spouse really needs from them. Finally, it was clean-up and back to the Praxidio’s to write this update to all of you, our loved ones back home at Calvary Christian Church. We miss all of you, and ask that you remember us often in prayer. Although the natural beauty and weather in the Philippines are wonderful, there is much spiritual and natural need. We are very aware that we’re not here to soak in, but to pour out! To do that, we need the Lord’s daily grace, wisdom, and direction, and protection. We trust you enjoy the photos, and I hope I’m not too long winded in this update! We’ll try to get the mission video blog up and running soon, but until then we’ll email written updates with pictures. We want you all to feel truly connected to the trip. It’s because of Calvary Christian Church that we can do this trip, and every one of you shares in any reward the Lord graciously, and mercifully pours out.
With much love, David, Ronda and Emma