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