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.