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!

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.


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

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.

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

May in Review

Another month is gone.  Where does the time go?  It has been so hot and humid that most days I feel like nothing is getting done because we are all so exhausted just from the heat.  I don't have air conditioning and most if the time that is okay, but I'll tell you this month I've wished I did have it!

I also don't remember if I shared this yet, but I have two roommates now.  One is just for the summer until she goes back to college, but the other will be for a while as she is still at the local high school.   At first it was an adjustment for all three of us.  Me getting used to sharing my private space, but for them living with an American makes them nervous.  It's been a month now and I'd say we are used to each other.  The younger one shares the bed with me and this week she has been gone for a youth camp.  I miss her and am so excited she will be back tonight!

I have also learned that if you ever want to visit me on Bohol you should not come in May.  Not only is it the hottest month, but it is Fiesta month.  That means travel to get here can be very difficult because the boats fill up fast!  I have never seen the ports so busy.  I knew what I was doing and barely caught a ticket arriving at the ticket office 6 hours before departure!

So, why was I off Bohol and needing to return?  I went to immigration in Cebu City to collect my Missionary Visa!  I have been approved to stay until next April!  It is so exciting I can hardly contain it!!! This means I shouldn't have to go back to immigration for about 6 months!

This week has also been exciting as the youth are finishing up their summer they have been doing a lot of fun activities. One of which is my class closing tonight 😀  Another is an all day event some of us are hosting.

All in all, life us good and God is amazing!  Maybe I'll post some pictures next week.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Summer is HERE!

I really do try to post more often, but the thing is the internet isn't so kind to me.  Sometimes I have enough patience to spend an hour trying to load one page, but other times 5 minutes and I give up!  Sometimes it takes only two tries and I accomplish something.  Other times it takes weeks to complete a task.  I had found a sweet spot to sit in that received excellent signal most of the time (except for trying to upload videos...), it was such a sweet spot that if I moved just six inches one way or the other I would complete loose signal.  Now in the past two weeks I have run into two issues:  That spot is in direct sunlight so it's beastly hot AND it doesn't seem to be receiving such great signal anymore.

Being honest, I've mostly reverted to the stone age of handwriting my drafts for everything!  If I don't write it down then it doesn't happen.  By the time I get signal to work I generally forget things even if I do have them written down because I get so frustrated.  For the first time in my teaching career my lesson plans are handwritten instead of typewritten!  I should probably scan them and to save them, but oh well.  I am glad I've had more than 5 years of practice teaching so that I'm not as dependent on doing research because I don't even have a team of teachers to check in with unless I have internet!

With the beginning of April the kids finished the school year and I got to attend several closing ceremonies and experienced many firsts.  Catholic mass at a public university graduation.  Watching parents get to process with their graduates into the room.  Seeing proud parents given the opportunity to publicly don their children with the awards they have just received.  Many group songs and dances.  I even had the opportunity to be the "proud parent" for one of the young men in the compound as he was awarded honors for high marks and participating in Boy Scouts of the Philippines.

With school being out the kids are also around a lot more.  It got me to thinking and so this week we started some new classes just for the summer months.  The first is simply an hour class to come and play word games.  I have Scrabble, Bananagrams, and Quiddler to start.  We also had word searches and played hangman.  I will be doing some research to find more games as well... feel free to share if you have ideas.

A second option for the summer is the idea of pen pals.  I will take a month or so this summer to teach the idea and give them practice.  We will cover the basics of what writing a letter takes as well as what is appropriate to share and ask.  After this I will need help from my sponsors to match students here with people back in the US.  If you are interested please e-mail me for more details at: juagdanenglish@gmail.com

I also recruited two of the young people to help teach the little kids.  They will meet twice a week and cover basic English and Visayan for things like colors, shapes, parts of the body, and animals.  The first class we a hit and they ended up spending two hours together instead of my expected one!

Tomorrow I will be spending a day at a higher elevation in which I hope to be able to post more pictures... be on the look out!  (Again, being honest it might take two weeks even though I already know which pictures I want to post!)

Hope you had a blessed Holy Week.  Kristos Anesti!  Alithos Anesti!  Our Savior Reigns on High!