No matter where I am I have friends who are half a world away. I want to stay connected and keep my supporters informed. Some times I will be very busy and only update once in a while. Other times I might bore you with how much I have to say :) Just check back once in a while when you are thinking of me and see what I'm up to!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

October and November

Okay, so this once a month posting is harder than it seems with the lack of internet stability.  Sometimes it takes me an hour and eight tries before getting 5 minutes with my mom or my mentor.
For those of you who haven't heard yet I am coming to the US for a visit.  Most of my time is already booked because it's a short visit and I'll be in 4 different states (maybe even 5) over just 4 weeks.  I'm going to be with my parents for their 40th wedding anniversary and American Thanksgiving will also include my brother's family.
My family will likely feel like I'm ignoring them because I'm going to be internet crazy!  I hope to upload a bunch of pictures both here and in the Facebook group.  There will also be some things to accomplish for my marriage and wedding.  Just 100 days and yes, I'm counting!
For now, just continue to be patient with me and enjoy the newsletter that should be arriving in your mailbox any day now.
Some of the Pastors from CGMII.
W. Magaso, M. Castro, my Jun, Jun Bulawan
Some of the pigs we are raising for pork when we have so many visitors in February.
Manang Lydia (Jun's oldest sister), Jun, me, Jun's niece-in-law.
A common sight every place we travelled in Mindanao especially in Arakan Valley.
Ninang Elizabet, me, Josephine, Elena, and  
Poblacion of many Municapilities look similar to this... lots of traffic, jeepnies(public transportation that is totally tricked out with paint and other decor), and lots of motorcycles!
Jun being himself and joking around while pruning the plants around.
I don't remember this cute kids name, but apparently he is my grandson... yep, just because he is of that generation of Jun's family he gets that name.  He is the son of one of Jun's nieces via his second oldest sister (Mama Phoebe.)

Photos posted courtesy of being stranded in the port of Cebu City while a strong wind storm passes before the Coast Guard releases the boats again.  Excellent WiFi signal in the terminal!  Thank you Lord!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

September - A lot of firsts.

This month has been filled with many new things. Jun and I are experiencing most of these new things together.  We have found two major differences that will forever be a struggle for both of us.  He has a hard time making firm decisions and I have a hard time when decisions aren't being made.  I do better when there is a set plan I can follow and he is better at taking it one moment at a time.
Being totally honest, the next few months will be more stress for me because of these differences.  I am trying to make plans for my furlough and our wedding.  Furlough is all on me and that's good this time because I can make plans without having to check with him first.  On the other hand I don't feel like I can make decisions about our wedding without him.  Less than 140 days... I think there are more decisions than either of us understand yet.  Please pray that we can find balance of making decisions to calm me but not so much it makes him crazy.
Early this month he took me with him to Mindanao. His Bible School has their annual foundation conference in September and he wanted us to meet each other.  It was amazing and tiring at the same time.  It was really good to meet so many important people in his life, but we traveled by motor and often spent hours traveling from one place to another.  10 days and we only stayed in one place for more than a night.  So many people were surprised and his best friend even told me, "I didn't think he would be able to get married anymore."  As soon as he knew the date he called his wife to get permission to attend our wedding.  Of course she said yes!
I also got to spend some time with family.  We stayed at a sister's house and his brother's house.  I had met his sister before, but just as a missionary from the church when she visited here.  This time was different and she greeted us with tears in her eyes because she is so excited for this and us.  It is crazy for me to have nieces and nephews that are my age and a few older ones.  There are many people for me to learn who they are yet.
This month we also started a weekly drive to a neighboring municipality.  There is a fellow CTEN missionary that lives about 30 minutes away and she has a facility that works with high school kids and supporting house churches.  I am teaching English to a group on Wednesday evenings and he is helping do some odd jobs during the day.  The hope would be to eventually find someone who wants to live with them and be in community as well as teaching English.  It is much more beneficial that way.  If you are one of my fellow ESL teachers and this sounds intriguing let me know and I can share more details.
Over all life is good and productive.  This month I celebrated 1 year in the Philippines and I'm most likely at 200 direct contacts now.  It amazes me how God works in the little things.  I am not preaching the word from a pulpit, but I am watering seeds planted by others.  I can tell how much braver the locals are with communication directly to me even if it is in Visayan.  They are understanding me more and I am understanding them more.  I'm excited for the day I surprise them and can share testimony in Visayan.  Unfortunately, that is likely a long way off yet.
(Sorry for the late post, but I was busy experiencing another first... manual planting of corn!)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Classes and That Man

I'm settling back into a pattern.  It seems like every few momths there is a change in my regular activities, but the past month has been pretty steady.  Classes continue strong with at least 50 if not 60 students every week.  The advanced classes started this month and although the groups are small I think it will be enjoyable.   I just did a document to track my attendance and I had 77 students last term and have had over 100 students already this term.  Total points of direct classroom contact is over 150 as only about 20 students have returned.  This time there are also a lot of Juagdan and Guintaboan community people instead of just from the church.  I'm excited to see where that goes in the future.

Now I'd like to share some about Kuya Jun.  He and I first met in 2004 the first time I visited Juagdan. Even then I thought he was handsome and fun to be around.
Unfortunately, at the time I was in a relationship.  He often wonders aloud what difference it would be if he had known then and started courting me when we first met.  Then he admits it wouldn't have been the right timing, but now is and God knew that truth.  There are lots of good things to share about him so it is hard to know where to start... two really big things include his family and education.
His parents had 10 children and he is the youngest of those.  Two of them passed away young.  Two of his sisters are students of mine :)  Other siblings live in Mindanao and Metro Manila.  His father passed away when he was only 12 years old.  His mom passed away when he was only 21.
Around the time his father died he graduated grade 6, but the family could not afford to continue his education.  Here even government schooling costs something.  About a year later he moved on his own to Mindanao to join the ECCU Bible school.  Due to some internal disputes he ended up changing to a different training program.  It was with this program (Christian Gathering Ministries International Inc.) that he spent another 3 years learning and one teaching.  He explains that they had to work to earn their shelter and food at the same time they were studying and that is why his mom chose to send him so he could continue getting an education.  Although he would deny being a pastor he is accredited with an ordination from Word International Ministries.  He served as pastor to a congregation in Leyte for a little over a year and realized he is not gifted in the administration skills it takes to be a lead pastor.  Last night I heard him "preach" for the first time.  It was more of an informal gathering and so it was a more interactive conversation style than regular preaching, but I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing him in action again someday.  He is really more gifted in mentoring and one on one pastoring.  We are talking about how that can become a part of our ministry in the future.  There are lots of ideas, but we are waiting on the Lord to know what comes next.

Coming back to the present day...
Aside from the time I am in classes Kuya Jun and I spend a lot of time together. Sometimes he even sticks around to help woth some of the classes.  He has a farm that he has planted a lot of banana trees on and some other things.  He regularly takes me there so it's a good chance for us to be away from the ever watching eyes and listening ears of the compound. It has given us the opportunity to have a lot of discussions.  We talk about our future and how we will continue to work at loving each other as well as how our family might look.  So far we have agreed on all the big things so keep praying for us that the big discussions keep coming out.  There have only been small things we disagree on and it's not life altering things.  The biggest discussion was about language difference.  It is something we both need to work on.  He has been studying and using my language for 50 years.  I have only been studying and using his for a few years.  He has a major advantage in that and I'm dependant on him for my translation needs most of the time.  It is something that frustrates me more than him.  Actually, I don't think it's frustrated him at all... He like to take advantage of it sometimes a d teases me by using Visayan he knows I don't understand!

Prayer Requests:
1. Students continue to return
2. Future expansion of ministry
3. Kuya Jun and I's relationship
4. Future building/projects
5. My furlough planning
6. Travel next month for his organizations annual Thanksgiving and meeting some additional family

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

New Beginnings

A change in routine.  That is what the past two months has been for me. It has been wonderful and exhausting all at the same time.  To explain this a bit more you need to know I started a new personal relationship last month as well as classes starting again this month.

We hope to share more of our relationship as time goes on, but this is the basics:
We both argued with God about each other.
Neither of us wanted to start a relationship just because other people said we would be good together.
On our first date we were already talking about this being a decision to love because we felt God brought us together for the purpose of marriage.
It's very difficult explaining us in a way that people understand because we aren't following the typical "first come love" pattern.
After just 2 weeks he officially proposed and I said yes.
We are living in faith and cultivating love for each other.
We both understand that God comes first and he is why we are marrying.
He is my new ministry partner because one of our confirmations that God brought us together is that our visions for ministry are so complimentary.
His name is Jun Apatan, he is Filipino, and he is a child of God.

I  hope to share more details about Kuya Jun throughout the next few posts, but here I want to share about the start up of new classes.  As I shared last time there is a new class on the beach front of the neighboring barangay.  It was a suggestion from Kuya Jun and it has been a big success so far.  The first week I had 24 students when I was expecting only about 6 or 8!  I was gone the second week and was nervous they would all forget and not come back, but I had 22 this past week😆  There are so many I might have to talk to the barangay Captain about using the barangay hall instead of the little cottage on the shore.
I also have a strong showing for my Thursday night intermediate class.  My Saturday morning ladies haven't returned,  but instead I have a small group of young girls that are doing beautifully with vocabulary expansion.  The Saturday evening group returned the first week with some new people as well. They didn't all return the next time, but the new people brought friends so it was still a good size class.
I tried to add a weekday evening basic class, but I only had one person show up and she wasn't really basic so she joined the Thursday crew.  The last classes are the new advanced ones.  We will meet once a month for reading and once for writing. I was prepared to start with reading,  but it overlapped with a trip to Leyte so we postponed the start to August.  The first writing class is in two days... I'm excited and nervous at the same time.
Overall I have had more than 50 student each week.  I've been glad to have Kuya Jun around to help and lend support.  He is my walking Visayan dictionary!  He can be a distraction at times, but also beneficial as a test subject for my activities and source for new ideas.

1. Students continue to return
2. Future expansion of ministry
3. Kuya Jun and I's relationship
4. Future building/projects
5. My furlough planning

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Month of Relaxation

June has been a month of rest and relaxation with a bit of travel too.  I taught through the summer and most of my students were going to be busy with the start up of regular school so this teach decided to take a break from lesson planning for the month of June.  I'm glad I did!

I got to visit some new friends in Tagbilaran City and Panglao on the other side of the island.  I got to spend some days with my goddaughters.  I even travelled all the way to Manila to visit fellow CTEN missionaries. Then I spent some time meeting pastors from another Christian orginazation based in Cebu and Leyte.  It is nice to be able to expand my circle of friends.  I now have places I can go to take a break from direct ministry.

If you were to ask me which part of these visits was my favorite I could choose.  Each had it's blessing and renewing factor.   I have been feeling lazy as I go through these things so I am glad it is now July.  I will be starting classes again next week!  People are excited and I am hopeful for some new students😀

As of right now there is a vague plan for 7 class times they can choose from.  Two new ones are only once a month for my advanced student to practice reading and writing.  I will also try a new location for one of my Saturday classes.  It is exciting to think about how this semester will turn out because I was so blessed last semester.

Also, keep a look out for some additions to the ministry.  I am starting a partnership with one of the locals that will potentially lead to a new branch of supporting education for the local high school kids.  Sponsorship is a big thing, but we will be looking to see how we can physically help them as well as financially.

1. Classes starting
2. Future expansion of ministry
3. New partnership
4. Future building/projects