Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back in the States

We recently arrived back in the States for our first furlough. We will be here till July 8th to report to our supports, raise some support that we are lacking, get some training, attend a few conferences, promote the Master's Academy International, recruit more workers, and visit with friends and family. We just spent Christmas with our family for the first time in four years. In addition to bringing our two new kids, we also got to see 3 new nephew/nieces. We are a growing family! I was also quickly reminded of how painful Christmas can be to the wallet. I'm writing from Kansas where our families came together to reunite. We went from this:

To this:

One reality that made things interesting is the fact that we no longer own any winter clothes. We were able to borrow from relatives to get by. Kian basically came here with all shorts and no pants. Thank God for central heat. I no longer have a good winter jacket, but the thin jacket that I still have coupled with a few layers of other clothes is getting me by. It is a real treat for our little one to have snow. Grace, Tyler, and Isabella have either never seen snow, or have no recollection of it. I was asked if it ever snows in the Philippines. Not even close. I think that the coldest it gets is somewhere around 60 degrees.

We will be back in California on January 3. Then it will be back to work speaking in churches, making phone calls and visits, working on my doctorate, and writing curriculum for the Master's Academy (the training center that we started in the Philippines. I am in the process of writing a blog about that and will post it soon).

Some of the challenges that we are facing right now are what schools to place our three school aged kids in. One kindergartner, one middle-schooler, and one High Schooler. We are also finding the cost of living in California today to be tough on a missionary budget. We are staying with family right now, (I am blessed with great parents in-law and I love them both) and most likely will stay with them till we return to the Philippines, but it is possible to stay in the valley with the help of our home church. Pray for us as week seek the Lord's directing in these decisions.

I have mixed emotions about being here. It is great to see friends and family. The need to raise more support and continued work on a doctorate in preaching are other good reasons to be here. Yet, at the same time the training center is just getting off the ground. My partner Mark Macatangay is keeping things going in the Philippines while continue to expand and support our work from here. I also worry about our friends living under the bridge. We prepared some people to minister to them in our absence so I believe that we left them in good hands, but there are many unfinished situations going on. Chariel needs to get heart surgery (as soon as possible), many of the people there are dealing with various illnesses, and they are all scheduled to have their homes demolished in August so they need to help build their relation homes or face living on the streets. Like the apostle Paul, I will entrust them to the care of God who loves them infinitely more than I ever could.

So it's good to be here, but I am anxious to get back. While we are here we hope to see all of you. Just email if you would like to arrange a time to get together. We don't have cell phones yet, but we should soon so leave your number with us too. I hope you all had a great time celebrating God's gift to the world, His Son Jesus Christ. We also hope that you have a happy New Year and give God the glory for the one he just gave you. Be blessed and enjoy knowing and serving Him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Peace at the Bridge

The sign said that all of their homes would be demolished and that they must all move out by Nov. 22. I got a text message on my phone from one of our friends from the bridge on the night of Nov. 22 that said, "Pastor, we have peace." Our friends at the bridge are rejoicing! In response to the threat of their homes being demolished and having no where to go they prayed and God listened. I learned that at their meeting with the Department of Urban Poor, they were told that there homes (100 plus families including our friends from the bridge and also those living along the sides of the river) will be demolished, but that they extended the deadline to August of 08. That's good news, but the better news is that they will be the first group in their city that will be relocated into new apartment type homes that they will own. They said many other groups were not given this opportunity, even others who lived near by. It appears that God is showing favor to these people. I pray that they will see His hand in this and that they will praise Him for it. My fellow workers and I will surely point this out to them.These new homes will have luxuries in them that our friends from the bridge don't currently have. These luxuries are pre-wired electricity, running water, and a toilet. Kuya Edwin shared with me earlier in the month how he was concerned about a relocation plan that required every family to pay a down payment on the home and a monthly payments of just over $20 a month (which is tough when you only make about a dollar a day and have a family to cloth and feed). This problem has been solved by a program that has all the families who receive the homes work 1000 hours each at helping to build their homes. In exchange, there will be no down payment and the month payment will instead be about $10 a month. This will be tough for some, but should be do able.My friend Obet is a little concerned about this because his handicap will probably prevent him from being able to work. I am hoping that short term construction teams from the U.S. and our local church here can assist by working for Obet and helping our friends from the bridge in the construction to speed up the time for families to move in. I will check into the details to see if this is possible, but if anyone has interest in helping or sending a team between next January and August, please let men know. Continue to pray for our friends at the bridge and in the surrounding area. Pray that they will recognize God's mercy and kindness to them, not only in their temporary needs, but in their eternal needs through the sacrifice of His Son so that their sins can be forgiven.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Banished from the Bridge?

Through my car windows I could see people on the sides of the road huddling together where ever they could find a dry spot. It was raining hard on my way to the meeting. Just a few days earlier I received a text message on my cell phone that said, "Kuya Sean, the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) posted a sign that said all of us at Manalo Bridge must move out by Nov. 21 and that they would be demolishing our homes." A meeting was set for today, Nov. 20 to discuss the possibility for relocation to government housing. After Kuya Edwin shared the news of possible government housing I thought, great! that means they could actually own their own homes. Even if they were small, these potential homes would be theirs and they would have running water and electricity. Then Kuya Edwin told me that they would have to pay about P1000 pesos a month (about $24 a month) which means that the deal was not as good as it sounded at first because most of them can not afford that.

When I got to the meeting at about 9am, the rain had stopped and I was greeted by many people from Manalo Bridge and the surrounding community. I learned that not only were the people from the bridge threatened with being kicked out (about 25 families), but also the people living along side of the river banks (about 75 more families). Since the meeting started later than expected I was not able to stay till the end of it. I will find out what happened later and relay what I learn.
I understand that squatting on some else's property is illegal and I can sympathize with both the property owner and the poor person who is squatting because they have nowhere else to go. However, these people are squatting on government land. Land that is not really used by the government or the general public. As you can see in the picture above, they are living on the side of the river where no strip mall or housing track will ever be built. Their homes are built against the back of some businesses or other squatter houses.

Some of my friends had been waiting there since 7am and the meeting didn't even start till about 10am. I could see the concern in the faces of the people who already had so much to worry about. Many of them were unemployed and didn't know how they were going to pay for food, water, medicine, school supplies for their children, etc. Now they have to worry about weather they will have a roof over their heads. Most people I know are worrying about what they are going to buy for their kids, friends, and family for Christmas not where will they sleep.
One neat result of this trial is that our friends from Manalo Bridge are praying like they have never prayed before. We just got a text from them that they are organizing their first prayer meeting. Please pray for our friends that the government will give them an extension so that the children will at least be able to finish the semester at their schools. Also pray that affordable housing will be found for them to relocate to. Personally, I pray that if they are relocated they will be near enough for us to continue to minister to them. I will keep you posted on what God is doing with our friends at the bridge.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moving Beyond the Bridge

For almost two years now I have been building friendships at the bridge, helping to start bible studies for all, for women, children, and youth. Those helping me include my wife Jessica, our friends Meriam and Sheryl, pastor Rick, and now pastor Richard and Ate Cecil. Last Friday and Saturday nights we moved beyond the bridge to reach out to the community. The city where the bridge is located is called Manggahan. We had our first out reach event to that community so that we could share the gospel with them and invite them to be a part of existing bible studies or to start new ones in their homes.We showed movies, gave testimonies, performed special music, and shared the gospel message. It all took place in the basketball court of the town center. Our supporters provided the equipment which included a P.A. system and a projector to show the movie. We showed the movie "The Cross and the Switch Blade" in Tagalog. This is a film about Nickie Cruz a former gang leader turned evangelist. The evening started with a focus on the family cartoon for the kids and ended with snacks. It was such a joy to see many of our friends from the bridge serving the community for Christ. A few years ago there only concern was getting by in life. Now they are serving others and taking part in sharing real life - eternal life. Someone donated 200 pieces of sweet bread, Jess and I provided juice (which our friends from the bridge prepared and served), and 6 other men volunteered to help with music, testimonies, and teaching. Over a fifteen people/families signed up to join bible studies and many bowed the knee to pray after hearing the good news that Jesus forgives the sins of those who trust in Him alone. It was truly a privilege to help prepare and empower my Filipino friends and co-workers to do the work of the ministry. I was intentionally not a speaker at the event and I keep deferring decisions to those I entrusted to lead. They kept asking me to help make decisions on things like, "What movie do you think we should show?" "What should the order of the service be?" "What type of training should we provide the workers?" My answer was almost always the same. It may have even puzzled some, but I would say
something like, "It's up to you" or "What do you think?" However, I think that they are starting to get that I trust them, their abilities and judgment and that I want them to lead rather than be dependent on me.
We learned a lot this first time and look forward to our next opportunity to reach out beyond the bridge and into the community of Manggahan Pasig.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


The Masters Academy International:

The ground work for the Master's Academy International has began in the Philippines. I am currently teaching three groups of pastors, ministers, and bible college students hermeneutics (how to interpret the bible) and Old Testament survey. My wife Jessica is teaching some of them how to improve their English speaking ability. I am also partnering with fellow TMS graduate Mark Macatangay who is one of the pastors at Green Hills Christian Fellowship.

The first group that I started to teach are 15 men who are involved with ministering to the provincial poor. They reach the poor in their community teaching and connecting them with established local churches or helping to plant new ones among them.

The second group that I am teaching are bible students and a few local pastors. Many of them came to Christ while in prison and are now focusing on reaching the urban poor. All of them are involved in local ministry and several of them are traveling evangelist who love to share how Christ has changed their lives.

Mark and I co teach a third group of men who minister to the Filipine Army and national police. Students include a navy admiral, military colonel, businessmen, engineers, and bankers who are now pastors and ministers hungering for training. This particular class started with about 30 students and through word of mouth has increased to just over 40.

Partnership with White Fields:
This month I spoke at a conference sponsored by a missions organization called White Fields. The executive director, Stephen Lonetti is a friend and former teacher of mine from the Master's Seminary. Stephen, Leo Ordialles (the Philippines field director for White Fields) and I are looking forward to working together and increasing our involvement in training men in expository preaching and church planting.

Home assignment
The Ransom family will be going back to California from mid-December until July of 2008. We are returning to share what God has been doing in and through us as well as working on raising support that we are lacking, recruiting co workers, and attending a class at Talbot Theological seminary. We hope to see all of you while we are there. Contact us if you would like to arrange a time to get together.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Held for Ransom in the Hospital

In the past I wrote about a 3 year old little boy named Chariel who has a heart defect. At the Philippine heart center we learned that he has to has to have two corrective surgeries, but before this can happen we had to get dental work done. This little boys teeth were so rotten that they posed a potential danger to his heart. The doctors were worried that an infection in his mouth could cause problems with his future heart surgeries. Apparently, since Chariel has trouble eating and basically lives off of powdered milk all that was left of his brittle teeth were broken stumps.

This set Jessica on a search for a dentist who do the work pro-bono or at least at a discounted rate. The Lord was gracious in providing a dentist who specialized in children and who was willing to do the work free. However, due to his condition, she said that he needed to have his heart monitored during the procedure and due to his age she recommended that he be anesthetized so that he can sleep the the long and painful procedure.

This started our second search. This time we needed to find a hospital room with heart monitoring equipment and an anesthesiologist so that the dentist could do her work. Jessica arranged a room at the Philippine heart center. They told us that they were comping the room to us and that the anesthesiologist would wave her professional fees and perform her services for free. We thanked the Lord and set a date. After a cancellation or two due Chariel being sick the big day came. At first we were worried that we would not be able to go through with it because Chariel's blood platelets were low. They gave him a blood transfusion and retested his blood. As you can imagine, non of this went well for our little 3 year old who found the whole ordeal quite traumatic. Jessica played with him a bit, which seemed to at least temporarily get his mind off of all the poking and prodding.

Just before Jessica and I left the hospital we decided to get an estimate on our share of the costs so that we would know how much money to bring on the following day when we checked them out of the hospital. We were told that although the doctors services were free, we would need to cover the costs of the medicine and the over night stay for Chariel. Initially, they told us that we would have to pay around 5,000 pesos (about $100 US). We agreed to that since we had the funds in our budget. A nurse called billing for our estimate and told us that it would cost about 10,000 pesos. We were surprised and the cost doubling and were considering stopping the procedure yet again. First, we went to talk to the billing department in person. They told us that since we Chariel was put in a semi private room (at about $16 a day) that put him in a new category with new prices. After we shared his story and ours, they realized that he was a charity case and that we don't have a limitless supply of money. They assured us that except for the room cost, they would bill us the rates for a charity patient and that our cost would only be about 5,000 pesos. After much struggling, we were again joyful and gave the go ahead for Chariel. Latter that evening he passed all the test and was finally ready. The dental work went smoothly and the dentist pulled all 20 of his teeth.

This is where things began to get interesting. We showed up the next day to pay the bill and bring Chariel and his parents Charita and Ariel home. Looking at the last line of the bill we didn't see the word TOTAL followed by the number P5,000 like we expected. Instead we saw
the number P43,000 and change. Really shocked, we began to investigate. We learned several things. First, a complimentary operating room and use of equipment doesn't mean free. It means that they are allowing outsiders or non-staff members the privilege of renting their stuff. We also learned that this was not a bait and switch. It is just different here, they use different terminology and certain things are understood here that are not in the US. No one was trying to deceive us, in fact they were going out of their way to help Chariel and us, but the misunderstanding was a costly one.

We began the process of appeal in the hopes that the hospital would at least give us a substantial discount. However, the doctor in charge was not there so we could not settle the bill that day. Since the bill was not settled they would not let Chariel and his family go home, they had to stay another night and we had to pay for it. The doctor in charge gave a few thousand pesos off, but the price was still almost 8 times what they originally told us. Their advice was to return the next day to see if social services could help us. They said they would help for the heart surgery, but that they could not help with the dental work. The two day dental procedure end up being a almost a week stay in the hospital. Each day we tried to negotiate the bill cost us another 800 pesos. The resolution ended up being that the doctor said he would help us to recuperate some of our cost by discounting the heart surgeries. Lord willing this may end up working in our favor as a percentage discount of the much more expensive heart surgery could be a larger overall saving. We finally paid the ransom and brought Chariel and his family home. The Lord in His kindness has already provided the money for the dental work. We are hoping that we can get the first of his two heart surgeries done before the end of this year. Pray for God's will and timing in this situation.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

To Jessica on our 18th Wedding Anniversary

Drawn to her...

Maybe its her smile that lights up places,
maybe its her laugh that brings joy to many faces.
Perhaps its her tireless giving of her heart,
perhaps its the emptiness I feel when we're apart.
Could it be from time together watching our children grow?
Could it be from the love we share and the way she lets it show?
Am I drawn to her because of the devotion she shows to me?
Am I drawn to her because of the commitment she has for our family?
I'm surely drawn by her words of grace,
surely drawn by the smiles that are always on her face.
I'm drawn to her by her passion and her affections,
I'm also drawn to her by our spiritual connection.
Its been eighteen years and the sparks remains,
I'm drawn to her more now,
more than when we first began.
Happy anniversary Jess,
I will always love you,


Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Weight of Poverty

Kuya Tony's familiar smile was gone. He would hardly lift his head as I looked at him through the bars of his cell. He was not in jail or under formal arrest, but he was being held in a local city detention center. I believe that the pressures of living under a bridge and caring for a wife and 7 children was taking its toll on him. Tony was working in our neighborhood driving a pedicab (a bicycle with a side car). The $5-$6 a day that he makes is not an uncommon salary here and one in which he and his family are grateful for. However, Tony's bike has been broken for almost a month and the owner of it was not taking care of the repairs. These problems and a fight between Tony and his older children proved to be more than Tony could take.
I got a text message on my phone that Tony had a break down. He was walking naked in the middle of the street before they locked him up. We I got to the lock up he was dressed and in his right mind, but I could tell that he was agitated. I was speaking fast Tagalog to me so I could n't get all that he was saying. He said, "Pastor, maraming kasalanan sa tulay" (there are a lot of sins at the bridge). He continued to tell me that some of his children did not respect him. I sat on the floor outside of the cell and tried to give him some hope. I told him that i would try to help him get his bike fixed so that he could work again. That seemed to cheer him up some. The barangay captain (a city employee) released him to us so that we could take him to the hospital.
As we were taking him to the doctor I learned that he had numerous episodes like this. He was actually on medication, but He said because he was feeling so good (physically and psychologically) and because of the expense of the medicine he decided to stop taking it. The nurse checked his records and scolded him for not coming in for regular check-ups or taking his medicine. She gave him a dose and set an appointment with the doctor for the following day. I bought him a 3 month supply of his medication and we returned him to his family at the bridge. I saw him again a few days later and he looked really good. Pastor Rick is taking him under his wing and I was really nice to see them bond through these events. Pray for Tony and that he will trust in God as he struggles to survive with his family in such hard circumstances. Handling such a hard life under our own strength is more than most of us can bare. I pray that as he trusts God more and becomes more satisfied in his circumstances that he will even be able to get off his medications. Lastly, pray that he will be able to work again as a pedicab driver and that he will have a more responsible employer.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sharpening our ministry focus

With our ministries of teaching increasing, Jessica and I are forces to make some tough choices for some ministry transitions. Starting the first week of August I'm teaching a group of men who minister to the Philippines military on Mondays. On Tuesdays I teach a group of men who minister to the poor living south of Manila. On Thursdays Jessica and I will teach a group of bible students. I will teach them the basics of how to interpret the bible and Jessica will help them to sharpen their English. We also meet others throughout the week for bible studies, mentoring and discipleship.
In addition to the above ministries I am preparing and improve syllabuses for several classes, (how to interpret the bible, Old Testament Survey and preaching). Jessica continues to work on material for teaching English as a second language. Lastly, I have to continue working on my studies for the doctoral program in taking at Talbot.

With all these ministries and a few others not mentioned we are finding ourselves having to cut out some ministries that are not essential to the vision that God has given us. So after two and a half years we are stopping our home bible study. We had a great time taking our friends through Luke and Acts and were blessed to see them grow in the Lord. We will still see many of them as we encourage and counsel them. A few others we will try to integrate into a cell group we work with.

The other area of transition is my involvement at the bridge. I will still be involved in ministry there, but the way I have been doing it will change. I will be more involved with mentoring pastor Rick and developing leaders there. I will be less involved with the day to day ministries at the Bridge and the surrounding area. Even things like giving medicine to the sick or rides to the doctor will be done through pastor Rick whenever possible.
I met with pastor Rick yesterday to discus future plans for out reach to Manalo Bridge and the surrounding Manggahan area. We are planning to do a monthly outreach where we will show films like the Jesus Film, cartoons for the kids, testimonies, drama, and a gospel message. We hope that this will give us more opportunities to start new bible studies in the area. Pray for God's favor as we ask local businesses and land owners to let us use their property for free or a small price for these events.
Pastor Rick and I also began planning his preaching schedule. Pastor Rick has not taken any formal training for preaching and does that best he can, but I believe that I can help him a lot in this area. I gave him two books for us to study together ( "How to read the bible for all its worth" by Fee and Stuart, and "Biblical Preaching" by Haddon Robinson). In addition to these books we are outlining the Gospel of John together and writing out its main preaching ideas. I am going to help pastor Rick (for the first time) preach through a whole book of the bible. I believe that this will greatly help him and the biblically illiterate people that he is teaching. I will keep you posted on his progress. Please pray for us all.

Monday, June 18, 2007

No more avioding eye contact for Jerwin

It was a long process, but it was worth the wait. Jerwin may no longer feel the need to let his hair hang down over his right eye now that we were finally able to get a prosthetic eye implanted. His implant was relatively cheap; $60 plus about $100 for medications. Although 160 dollars may not be a lot of money for you or I, it is a lot for Jerwin and his family. Perhaps that is why they never dreamed that they could do anything for his damaged eye. His mom earns about 3 dollars a day and at that rate it would take over 50 days of her small earnings to pay for the implant. That makes it basically impossible for her and her four children to survive. Thanks to all our supporters, we were able to minister to them by covering their expenses and shuttling him back and forth to the hospital. The picture below is of Jerwin a few months ago. After they scraped off several layers of his eye. His eye lids began so drop making it look like he was squinting. I posted this picture on an earlier blog. This is Jerwin and his older brother JR at the East Ave. Medical Center where he was going in almost weekly to prepare his eye for the implant.

They finished Jerwin's eye while I was in California for some studies. Here is a picture that Jessica emailed me of how Jerwin looks today.

I hope that this will increase his confidence, but more importantly I pray that it will be a testimony of God's love for him and his family. I just learned that Jerwin's brother Oliver wants to start bible college which we about and we are excited to support him through. I will write more about that later.

A Room for Pastor Rick

This post originally appeared in our newsletter, but I thought that I would post it on my blog as well...

If I had opened that door three years ago I probably would have jumped at the sight of what I saw. The small room greeted me with about a half dozen flying roaches. These were big ones, not like the vertically challenged ones I’ve seen in the U.S. Like their cousins from the States, they took off running when the lights came on and they were fast. I stepped in the 9 X 6 foot room (approximately) followed by Pastor Rick. Even with its one florescent light it seemed kind of dark. The cement floor is uneven, it has a low ceiling, no bath room and the kitchen consists of a small 1 X 2 foot shelf looking thing sticking out of a wall with a drain tube running from the bottom of it and outside through a small hole in the wall.

Inside I was feeling bad about the question I was about to ask. “Pastor Rick, is this room okay for you then?” He had called me the day before to let me know that he found a room and wanted me to check it out. He told me that the rent is $32 dollars a month including electricity and water. That is actually $18 a month less than our budget. In answer to my questions about the room Pastor Rick said that the room would be fine. I reminded him that our budget allows for a little better room, but he said this will do for now, maybe we will find a better one latter. I paid his first month rent and a security deposit. We bought him some plates, dishes, cups, eating utensils, a fan, a pot and pan, a gas cooking stove, a foldable foam sleeping mat, and a few plastic chairs and table.

When I asked where the bathroom is located, I learned that he has to share one with four families (probably large families) and that it is located somewhere outside. I suspect that one of the reasons that he wants that particular room is not only that it is located just around the block from the bridge, but that it is situated in a large community of squatters. Although it is a relatively small area, maybe a couple of city blocks, there has to be easily a thousand people living there. I was surprised when several of the residents there recognized me.

We plan to have Pastor Rick start another bible study by his rented room along with another one in a near by neighborhood. We will also have monthly outreaches like showing the Jesus film and other movies with my projector and a generator that we plan on buying soon. Pastor Rick and I also plan on training up some of the faithful at the bridge to helping us in reaching out to the surrounding communities for Christ.

Even though poverty is all around us in the Philippines, many Filipino pastors are not moved by it and would rather minister in more comfortable circumstances. They might reason that, “I can reach the poor better from an affluent church”, but it’s not getting done. I am challenged by Pastor Rick’s commitment to love those who are harder to love and to go to those who most are afraid or unwilling to go to. Continue to pray for us, and especially for this brother who is willing to carry his cross daily and to give his life for the sake of the gospel.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Let There Be Light

They have been without electricity for several years, but that was about to change on this day. Jessica and I were on our way to the bridge with a gift that the Lord enabled us to give. A few years ago, being a part of providing a gift like this would have been much more difficult (we chipped in with a few kind hearts). In the States we were a middle class family at best. However, even with less than half the income we had when we lived in the U.S., we are able to do a lot more with less and we find ourselves in about the upper middle class here in the Philippines. It is in that position that we have been learning the joys of being able to use God's resources to bless others beyond what we were able to before. Since we moved here, we started a savings account for ministry and God gave us a great opportunity to use some of that savings (along with the help from others) to buy a generator for our friends at the Bridge.

One of the men there said to me that in the past, they tapped into the near by power lines, (which is illegal and dangerous) for electricity until the power company cut all their lines. Since then they have been living in the dark, except for some glass bottles filled with some sort of flammable liquid and a rag/wick for light. They never complained about a lack of light. What disturbs them more than the darkness are the mosquitoes that come at night.

We pulled up to a group of excited men when we arrived with the generator. They greeted us and then quickly went to work. Lifting the bulky generator, which weighs about 100 pounds, they carried it down a little homemade wooden ladder and through the dark passage leading to their homes under the bridge. The usual curious little heads began poking out and looking at the big brown box. The children wouldn't understand what this clunky little machine is till after the sun sets.

As soon as the men set the generator in place, Kuya Edwin pulled out a box of wire. They began unraveling and straightening it.
Both young and old were involved as they stretched the wire that looked like it could run the length of a football field.

Edwin pulled out an old florescent light that he used to use when they had electricity. He wiped away what looked like years of dust and corrosion and prepared the wires, hoping that the it would still work. They pulled wire throughout the make-shift homes so that every family could enjoy the light. Jessica and I had to leave before they finished the job.

We dropped Kuyas Edwin and Tony and the hardware store to pick up a few more needed supplies. On our way to a bible study later that night, Jessica and I got a text message on my cell phone saying, "Kuya Sean, thanks, we all have light now. The kids are so happy playing in the light."

This generator will not only give them light and perhaps keep the mosquitoes off them at night, but it will also aid in teaching under the bridge and enable us to do film showings. We are planning on having a monthly movie night and a Bible message. We will invite the whole community, including their neighbors to share the gospel with them as well. With the generator, we can now bring in our own power wherever we go so that we can use our computer, projector, T.V. and P.A. system to share the good news that Jesus Christ forgives the sins of those who trust in Him alone.

I'm am excited that God allowed us to bring physical light into their lives, but I am even more excited that God has allowed us to bring the light of His Word into their lives. Many of our friends under the bridge have received Jesus as Lord and Savior. We are seeing lives change and generations who used to live in darkness, now living and growing in the true light. Please pray that God would continue to be gloried in their midst and for their continual growth, health, protection, work and sustenance. Thank you to all of you who make it possible for us to show them love through your prayers and support.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sometimes Mother's day can cost a pretty penny

Mother's day turned out to be an expensive day for us. After church we took Jessica out to a nice Italian restaurant for lunch. It was a bit upscale for the Philippines and cost us around $30 to feed our family of 7. Afterwards, we went to get some tea. Kian was carrying the baby (Isabella) in her car seat and I was carrying my book bag on my shoulder. We set my bag under the table and Bella next to it. Soon after, Jessica, Grace and Tyler sat in chairs around the table. Kian, Christian and I went to the counter to order our drinks. We sat down and sipped our teas, read and chatted till the little ones got bored. When we decided to leave we packed up the baby and our things, but noticed that my bag was gone. I never even saw anyone near our table. Jessica figured that they must have grabbed my bag while I was ordering and she was distracted with reading or the kids. Inside my bag was my bible, a book for school and my PDA, (a little handheld computer) ouch! Perhaps worse than the value of the PDA is all of my information on it; including our phone numbers and addresses. I have copies on my computer, but we pray that we will not get another visit from the thief who took my bag. It is possible that he saw and white guys carrying a bag on the street and followed us into the coffee shop hoping he might get a computer. This is the kind of thing that can happen in any big city. I am just glad that the two times we have been robbed in the Philippines were not in our home. That seems scarier to me. I also praise God that my family is safe. I know this picture of Isabella is not related to this particular story, but I took it today and I just couldn't resist posting it.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Happy to Bid the Tarp Farewell

The tarp had had it. It was only about 6 months old, but between the heat, pollution, and heavy rains it was falling apart and could no longer shade us or keep us dry. During the rainy season the water would fill the tarp like a balloon till it gave way under the weight and pour out on some body's head. The last time I saw it, it was in shreds and could not longer be nailed to the block wall from which it used to hang. Some of brothers from Manalo bridge were more than willing to build a stronger, semi-permanent roof to keep us cool (as cool as you can get in the Philippines) and dry.

So Jessica and I jumped in our van along with Kuya Edwin and Kuya Tony to go the a local hardware store. We bought the metal sheets for the roof, nails and some wood for the frame. The men quickly built the frame, fastened it to the block walls and placed the roof on it. This has made our bible studies and fellowship time at the bridge much more enjoyable. It is also a testimony to the community. Next month I plan on getting more material so that we can extend the roof even further.

Just the month before we added some concrete steps to make the climb down the dirt embankment safer. Soon we will have a generator to power lights and a projector so we can show movies (like the Jesus film) for monthly out reach events. God is continuing to move and bless this community and as it responds to the gospel. Pray that leaders will continue to emerge and grow and that God will give me wisdom in shepherding them and loving these precious people.