What a YEAR God had for us! A new ministry, multiple surgeries, living in two separate states, buying a house, losing a brother, finishing out a school year and raising fifty-four chickens!
My (Lynne) eyes were only part of the reason this blog was on hold and they still limit the time I can stare at a screen. With Chris working flat-out at Mercer Christian Academy as their new administrator and me flat on my back after 4 surgeries we failed all of you with our sad lack of communication!
But, NO MORE EXCUSES! Please forgive us and allow these photos to cause praise to the Lord for all He has done in our lives that we failed to share.
Please pray for us:
- to keep our focus on Christ
- trust Him in difficult situations ahead
- strive for better relationships
- to do better at communication
- to be open to new ministry opportunities
- for Chris in planning for the new school year
We so appreciate those of you who have kept in touch and prayed with us through the hardships and transitions we faced. We praise and thank the Lord for each and every one of you!
Camp Eating Frenzy!
Even (ahem) somewhat older folk get all “goose-bumpy” about summer camp! Chris is resident missionary for the week at Mount Hope Bible Camp tucked away near Wayne National Forest in Otway, Ohio.
Christian Camp is for EVERYONE! Most reading this post will be outside the “camper age” unless you are as fortunate as Chris. Some might be in the “camp leader age” and I’d like to encourage those to consider serving the Lord for a short time at Christian camp. And don’t feel too limited because many might not realize it, but Christian Camps are worldwide. When last I checked they are found on six continents. SIX! It is a very worthy service when your faithful commitment to the Lord impacts fellow counselors, kids from all over and their families. Very worthy service. For those readers whose children are in the fortunate “camper age” years – budget and plan Christian summer camp for some of their time this year. Go all out and plan for each year to follow. They are only kids once. Kids all out of the house? Consider donating a week of Christian Camp for some child that couldn’t otherwise attend. Involve your church group to get together and donate enough for a whole group! See? EVERYONE!
Christian Camping might be one of those few places left, at least here in the USA, where Christian kids are out of their comfort zones and free to encourage and support each other. Away from distractions like electronics, sport events and even family, the young camper can meet the Lord, or grow in Him and consider His plan for their life. Trained, cool, young people can come alongside to Biblically guide them through some pretty tough situations they face back home. Lifetime changes can occur. Testimony abounds that Christian camp is where decisions that alter the course of a life form and set up in the heart and mind. Many couples met under the stars at Christian camp.
We love when the young people we meet along our travels keep in touch. Our lives are enriched every single time without exception. We met Brett and Sara Wilson, the couple managing Mount Hope Bible Camp, before we left for field ministry. They were both single serving in music and cabin counselors that year. Sara made the long, expensive trip to the Philippines to help our church team rebuild our jungle home. On her return, she and Brett married and began ministry together in music and camp. Now they are intern-missionaries with InFaith at the camp where they met each other and us! As an added bonus, Chris made it to Christian camp this year :-)!
Oh I almost forgot – It’s loads of FUN!
A huge part of our joy in Home Assignment is the same as our joy in Field Assignment – PEOPLE! (and a couple of animals)
Here are just a few of the faces in our family and travels through forty-plus meetings and ten states thus far (added photos of family inserted without shame 🙂:
(some photos borrowed 😉 Thanks much!)
There are still so many missing ones of YOU! We look forward to visiting those that are in the future as the Lord wills!
We passed along our family tradition of MOVING!
Brent and Tonia had a move this year and God allowed us to help! We are so grateful to be in the States during family times of need. We travel so much for meetings we miss some of the events in our family, but this time we passed on an organizational retreat for some muscle-building.
While we would loved seeing everyone at the New Tribes Mission Refresher course, it was a case of “Home Assignment Calendar Madness” so the family won out (and GRANDdaughter time was had) in order to help Brent’s family hit the road to the mountains.
Please pray for them as they seek housing and employment in their new area! We so appreciate YOU, our partners’, for praying for our family.
A few photos from the day:
no doubt of need
We arrived early all smiling and without nerves on my part. At a friend’s suggestion, I found google-ly glasses so while I waited in the patient waiting area with Chris and Doris (my cousin/more like sister), we had a bit of fun before I headed back for preparations for my surgery. Once things began to move forward, it seemed a bit like the normal “hurry up and wait” hospital scene until they actually wheeled me back to the OR. I must add here that God wonderfully answered the prayers for my nerves as I felt absolutely calm the whole time. Thank you all praying friends so very much.
The nurse anesthetist asked me all about the Philippines which might have been a mistake because I stayed very awake in order to answer all his questions. Perhaps he should have picked a less favorite subject as he said, “Why are you so awake? You need to feel very sleepy and go on out for about two minutes so we can give you this shot in your eye. I’m giving you a bit more.” I remember seeing all sorts of colors and lights and also them asking me to stop moving my feet. After that I concentrated on keeping very still.
In recovery, the doctor came in and explained what he found: the membrane was clearly seen and a macular hole. He explained after he used tiny instruments to remove the membrane, he inserted a gas bubble into the eye to press against the retina so the hole would heal. This would change my next week as I had to remain face down to keep the bubble in the correct position until my next appointment. He also explained a guaranteed second surgery as this surgery damages the natural lens to my eye meaning cataract surgery is absolutely in my future. He then gave us prescriptions and a phone number for medical equipment rental to keep me in the face-down position.
Chris and Doris helped me dress and wheeled me to the car and home. I continually asked the Lord for the strength to properly hold my ever-increasing heavy head face down. Once home, with Chris’ help, we worked several pillows that kept me stay face down on the bed but sitting and walking around was murder as my muscles had to do that task alone. To say those muscles ached is truly an understatement. When the chair arrived that night I’m sure I heard my neck and shoulders shout for joy. The next day allowed for removal of the patch and antibiotic drops to begin. Pain relievers did their duty and I have not really had pain in my eye even after I stopped taking them – a praise! The bubble is slowly growing smaller and my only complaint is the bubble’s constant moving inside the eye makes me a bit sea-sick.
At this writing I had my first exam where he explained things are looking good and I expect to have the next exam on the 14th – Happy Valentine’s Day for me!
Here are a few of the photos from my experience so far:
Praises to God for:
- praying friends and His answers to all the prayers
- guiding the surgeon’s hands
- the gift of the wonderful doctors and staff involved in finding my need (three offices in two states!)
- the gift of an excellent surgeon and medical staff
- urging the prayers
- providing funds in advance for all the appointments
- providing great caregivers in Chris and Doris
- continued healing with very little discomfort
- chairs and sleeping devices designed for keeping one face-down
- continued healing inside the eye
- appointment on the 14th
- complete absorption of the air bubble very soon
- macular hole to heal completely and restored vision to same as before
- for the upcoming cataract surgery to go smoothly
We are blessed. God is our almighty and loving Father. He works His plan in our lives for our good and continues to forgive and mold us into the image of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
All praises to Him,
God’s timing didn’t allow for the great title, “The EYES of March” (get it? 🙂 so I took a bit of literary licence to fit the month. We’ve often thought about the amazing gift God gave our friends and brothers and sisters in the village and talked about it lots in these last weeks so I’m saving my eye a bit of over work and re-posting this one for our new readers and those who want to praise the Lord again for this special time in our village.
CATARACT SURGERY – JUNGLE STYLE God has wonderfully restored the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ here! Hearing the praises to the Lord for all He has done for them has been heart warming and we join our praises to Him for the answer to all the prayers and preparation for this rare event in the middle of the jungle.
THE HUMAN TEAM EFFORT (Tribal and Missionary)
- months of planning and adjusting schedules
- countless emails
- funds and medicine
- preparing and fueling generators
- purchasing equipment and supplies
- planning and scheduling meals
- flying the team of administrator, doctors, and nurses
- flying in all the medical equipment
- preparing rooms for the medical team
- transferring the dining room into an operating room
- adjusting the beds to operating table height
- draping off a ‘waiting room’ and ‘shower’ outside in a covered area
- attaching netting and laying brand new tarp in the room to make it as bug free and clean as possible
- scrubbing all surfaces with bleach
- screening patients for surgery and clinical checkups
- preparing and serving the meals for the whole medical team and missionary team
- the pre and post operative care
- the surgical procedures
- flying the medical team and equipment all out again
- returning the OR into a home
It has been thrilling to hear how appreciative our friends are of this amazing and historical event. They have praised the Lord for His wonderful gift and allowing them to have restored sight. Their comments have drawn us into praise along with them and true rejoicing! God gave them spiritual sight and a relationship with Himself. He has now restored physical sight and a visual relationship to their world again for so many. Again, we marvel that God allows us to be a small part in His work here among the Banwaon!
The day after surgery, a dear older man sat down beside me and with a twinkle in his eyes, said, “That dog there of yours sure has nice hair. Yesterday, I couldn’t even see the dog!”
One patient had congenital cataracts since birth and she described what she saw through clouds immediately after surgery. Then, on the third day, she gave a trembling smile as she could see for the first time in her young life. She is 15 years old and from another tribe living nearby (at least nearby in the jungle sense.) We all tried to imagine that moment when she opened her eyes and could see for the first time clearly. My guess is we won’t even come close until heaven!
Praise God for His alone is worthy!
A Christian news interview made about the surgery and can be found here:
Party is Pinoy!
Chris says, “Goodbyes are GOOD, because it’s always about people and that’s good.” No matter if make-up runs down the cheeks. No matter if the nose must be wiped with your shirt because there is no tissue. No matter that your face looks all screwed up with emotion.
So of course here, in the Philippines, goodbyes are a great reason for a party! That’s the despidida.
We have had a few. We cry at each. We hug. We laugh and eat. We fellowship. And Lord, please bless our dear neighbors with protected ears, because we sing. We sing of the Lord and how wonderful He is to bring us together as family. We’ve said “townie” good-byes in Manila, Butuan and Malaybalay.
Join the parties through these photos (had to borrow a few) of beautiful family God has joined by heart strings:
Amay Disi prayed for our flight.
The day came for our last flight out of the village before home assignment.
Silently the group moved to the landing and waited on the plane. The time had come. It was time to say good-bye.
Amay Disi, the main Bible teacher, prayed a sweet prayer for our flight.
We thank God that He gave us that time with the Banwaon. We thank God for the way He makes us all family. We thank God for allowing us to get back into the village together before we head to America. It’s a standing prayer that He might allow us to return.
Please pray for the Banwaon believers as they continue growing in the Lord and sharing the Gospel all throughout the jungle. Pray that the young ones who never worshiped the evil spirits catch the urgency of their parents’ and grandparents’ who easily remember the bondage, fear and lies of the evil one. Pray for the translation of the Banwaon Bible and for our partners, the Castelijn’s, and the tribal translators, Amay Duduy, Amay Isil, and Amay Tim, as they strive to finish the New Testament.
Pray for us as we make the adjustments back to America. We know there will be moments feeling dreadful loss mingled with the incredible joy of being back with dear family and friends in the States. We are already aware of feeling out of sync in our own culture as our home nation has changed so much.
We are changed.
Our pilot, Joel, was kind enough to take photos and give us these to remember and share. We have to grab a kleenex when we look at them. (Be glad there is no audio!)
We were so touched that our friends took up a collection for a big celebration to help make the sad good-byes go a bit easier. We pooled resources and bought twenty-seven roasted chickens, two sacks of rice, a cart load of noodles and countless cans of fish! Four hundred fifty to five hundred hungry people walked away well fed and extra to take home for the evening! Praise God the Provider!
Cooking and preparation for the celebration begins early in the jungle as two sacks of rice take time to cook over a fire. We’ve always loved the Banwaon spirit of work hard and have fun.
Hope you enjoy these photos of all the activity!
God fills our lives with good, no – excellent – gifts. They are almost always about people. Well, the best of them are.
This visit into the jungle was squished between all the arrangements of leaving the beautiful country that has become our second home. It’s no joke how packed our time is before the long flight back to the USA. The countdown is on.
List-making Chris has even made lists for me! We have lists to direct us to other lists so we will hopefully not forget anything which might cause our friends here trouble after we leave. We so want to depart with nothing for them to clean up after us. Lord willing, we will finish all our tasks. We appreciate your prayers with us on that!
Here are just a few snapshots of the memories He gave us among our Banwaon Family and Friends.
Visits and around the village: