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!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

COVID-19 and Lent

    This year has been a roller coaster of ups and downs and we haven’t even made it halfway through!  January and February were super busy maintaining a class schedule, planning a wedding, and hosting guests from across the Philippines and USA.  March was full of more classes, putting regular life back in order, and figuring out married life. Amidst all of this COVID-19 arose. One day in Sunday service the pastor asked us, “Kinsay ang ‘korona’?” (Who has ‘corona’?)  The people looked at each other nervously. He then proclaimed loudly that he had hoped everyone did because of having the ‘korona’ of life in their hearts. Everyone had a good laugh and “Amen!”
    Last night I read Nehemiah 8 and verse 11 says: “So the Levites quieted all the people saying, ‘Be still, for the day is holy.  And do not be grieved and sad’.” Now this is in light of Ezra reading the Book of the Law of Moses but over the last few weeks I have often thought, “Is God telling the world ‘Be Still!’?”  I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but here in the Philippines most things are closed until April 14th.  That is 2 days following Resurrection Sunday.  Is God making us remember to give up thing things of this world and remember what he said, “Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)
    Believe me I understand this is a depressing time.  I cannot see, much less teach my precious students in this time, but I am doing what I can to still be the light to the world.  When reading last night I was using the Amplified Bible. Psalm 37 begins: “Fret not yourself … Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.  Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart … Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself … (1a, 3, 4, and 7a)
    The inner teacher in me brings out one of my many dictionaries…
rely = to depend confidently; put trust in. (trust = reliance on the integrity, justice, etc., of a person)
truly = 1. in a true manner; faithfully 2. legitimately.
fret = 1. to give oneself up to feelings of irritation, resentful discontent, regret, worry, or the like 2. to cause corrosion; gnaw.
delight = a high degree of please or enjoyment; joy; rapture (= ecstatic joy or delight; joyful ecstacy)
also = in addition; too; further
Rely on and be confident in the Lord AND do goodThese are hard things to remember to do all the time, but if we remember to then we truly shall be fed.  I am trying to fret not as the world changes around me.  I DO NOT want my life to be full of corrosion.  It is easy to know God will provide for us, but it is another to depend confidently and trust that he will do so faithfully and legitimately!  And then we have delight yourself ALSO in the Lord.  Why ALSO and what exactly does it mean to delight yourself?  We cannot just rely on God, WE MUST FIND PLEASURE IN DOING SO!  I’ll be honest, I am not there yet. Oh I put my trust in God alright and depend on Him.  However, I’m certainly not confident about it because I’m pretty sure it won’t turn out how I would like.  I am most certainly not in ecstasy over what God is doing in my life.  I have a lot to work on if I want not just to be fed, but achieve the desires and secret petitions of my heart
I am going to make the effort to remember to “Be Still” and rest this Holy Week.  Often we cause our own stresses, but the next 10 days I want to forget everything else and REMEMBER who God is and what he did for ME (and YOU!) through his son.  I leave you with Zechariah 2:13 “Be still, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused and risen from His holy habitation.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Reflections fro Visitors

As most of you know this February my family was here for our wedding.  I asked my sister-in-law if she and or her girls would lile to write a reflection of their visit for our March blog.  She and Evelyn wrote the following....

To reflect on our special February trip to Juagdan now, in this time of global crisis, feels surreal. How much more thankful we have grown that we were able to safely travel and be present for Christine and Jun’s wedding. Our time in Juagdan and on Bohol was incredibly sweet and we pray our many new friends will stay healthy during this time of uncertainty. Of course, our world has always been uncertain, and now that some of the illusion of control has dissipated for us we can see a bit more clearly how the hope we have in Christ is a good gift to us today and has been every day.

While we were with Christine and Jun we enjoyed so many things: the incredible hospitality from every member of the community-young to old, the beautiful creation, the satisfying food prepared by Kuya Jun’s sister and other friends, the pure water from the Cajigas family business, the delight of basketball games, the happy squeals of children, the wonder of discovered critters, the joy of shared interests and faith, the splashing waves and bouncy roads we traveled over, and I could go on and on. We were so very blessed by everyone we met, the love and care were incredibly humbling. We are already dreaming and planning of when we will go again.

But as the days and weeks have gone past since we arrived home, one impression has resonated deeply in me: the value of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s good work for the Lord.

In the Philippines the national language is Tagalog but in the southern part of the Philippines, where Bohol is, Visayan (also called Cebuano) is spoken. However, in order to conduct business, apply for a job, and do many other things you must have functional English. My impression is that in order to truly be free, in order to not be beholden to someone else or dependent on another’s trustworthy interpretation, you must know English. As many of us in America know acquiring a language solely in school is difficult, it must be practiced and used somewhere else for it to be useful, but these opportunities can be hard to find and in remote areas, such as Juagdan, the barriers to continuing with one’s education are layered and many.

Christine and Jun have a vision for empowering the next generation through education, life-skills, and a life-informing faith that excites me and I want it to excite you too! This is because it is a worthwhile cause and their vision is able to be realized through our support. Christine was always able to stretch a dollar and in the Philippines that is even more true with the current exchange rate! Her sensible frugal way and proven integrity make her a trustworthy partner. Jun is a genuinely loving and capable hard-working man who we are honored to call brother. They make quite a team! So truly this is not “just” learning English, this is freedom to empower our fellow image-bearers, enabling them to make their own choices in this life and to be discipled in Christ by a man and wife who love the Lord fiercely and firstly and take that commitment to serve all. We can’t wait to be part of this growing ministry. And we have now seen how even one extra dollar a month can literally change lives!

By: Evelyn Teresa Davenport
For: Aunt Christine and Tiyo Jun

God Shows His Creation
I think God was trying to show off (In a good way) the Philippines creation.
By going to the wild life place I got to experience standing behind an owl, talking to a parrot, staring straight at tarsiers, and many other things.

The People
In the Philippines you will find the nicest people in the world. When I was there they went out of their way so my family and I could have a good time.

Amazing Things
When I was in the Philippines I saw things I never thought I would see. I saw men scaling coconut trees, waves taller than I will ever be and many other things.

Yummy food
There were many yummy foods. I do not know what they were called but I do know they were scrumptious. I loved that there was rice every day and I loved the pork.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

December and January

First off apologies for taking so long to communicate.  December and January have been crazier than I expected. I got the chance to see so many people in person on my US visit that I didn't actually have much time online!  Now my time has been filled with preparing for my wedding and family and friends visiting. All of that while also having four classes every week still๐Ÿ˜

My visit to the states was very full with stop overs in 5 different states.  It was kind of funny to me, but my family asked the least number of questions about Jun and life here.  I realized that is because I generally get to either call or text them at least once a week. Often it is frustrating and only 5 minutes of conversation over the course of an hour though.  It was nice to just spend time sitting together talking, playing games, and eating meals. I also spend some time sorting through the rest of my personal things and sent several boxes of supplies and donations via balikbayan boxes.  The first set sent from my parents place the week of Thanksgiving and I told them it will be a race to see who arrived first them or the boxes. I was sort of joking, but now it is true! The boxes made it to Manila on the 23rd, but are yet to arrive in Juagdan.  Mom and Dad arrive in the Philippines on Sunday night, but we will stay in Cebu for a little bit…. which will get to Juagdan first?

It was a joy to meet with so many of my supporters during such a short visit.  It helped me remember how much I love what I do even if the day to day gets overwhelming.  I know I tried to get one pals going, but I haven't had much luck getting people to keep up.  Maybe after all the visitors and interactions for the wedding here it will make people more excited to do it.  Two of the best visits with supporters was the layover in Seattle, WA and my home church missions team. In Seattle I got to be treated to lunch on the water by my sister in laws parents.  Her mom had so many questions I was glad to hear and answer. It reminded me that peop!e are curious but often don't think to ask questions unless they see me. Meeting with my church had me excited to see how much it means for them to personally meet and know the missionaries they are supporting.  It was also good to start communicating about the potential additions to ministry with Jun joining me.

I returned to Juagdan in time to have Christmas with my local community.  I had a couple people try to get me to wait until after visitors and my wedding to start class, but it had already been a month of no classes so upon my return we just waited for the Christmas and New Year celebrations to end then we got going during the first full week of January.  Tomorrow will be four complete weeks for each class and I have still been averaging 50 students each week. They are very excited to meet my family. My mom wants to join class so we have been working on question asking and answering as well as short autobiographies. This week the assignment is to write out at least one question on a note card to ask my mom.  I had one student so excited he wrote 5 questions! In March I hope to add back the two other classes which includes my advanced high school students that were working on reading and writing.

As I already said, my parents are arriving in Cebu on Sunday night so Jun and I will head over there after church.  Perhaps when we are there I will be able to add some pictures and share a little more information…. perhaps, but no promises!

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!)