We spent the evening of Christmas Eve at a party thrown by some of our friends (Edwin and Charlyne) who used to live under Manalo Bridge. This faithful couple now hosts bible studies in their home and reach out to the children and families living in their building. They offered us the opportunity to provide Christmas presents for the kids as they hosted the party. It was a joy to give gifts to these kids who have been faithfully attending the studies. We had Grace, Tyler and Isabella handing out the gifts to give them an opportunity to be a blessing to others and to remind them of how much God has blessed them.
Below is a portion of the kids who attended and helped with the party. We gave out 31 gifts, while Edwin, Charlyne and their kids hosted and served the party for their neighbors in their community. I gave them the curriculum FOF (Fundamentals of the Faith), which was produced by John MacArthur and Grace Community Church and has since been translated into Tagalog. Lord willing, they will use it for their bible studies this year.
Last Friday night we took our kids with us to the airport to pick up Kian, who had left home for college last July. This was made possible by some dear ladies from our home Church, The Bridge Bible Fellowship. The Lord put it on their hearts to send Kian home for the Christmas and New Year holidays. As much as we wanted him to come home, we couldn't afford it. Jessica teared up when she read the email explaining how the Women's Morning Support Circle wanted to send him home. I'm not sure what excited the kids more, seeing their big brother again or the Christmas presents that they were anticipating getting from him. Although Isabella was so excited to be with Kian that she had him promise that he would spend time with her every day, it didn't take her long to ask about those presents.
Even though Kian's flight didn't get in till after 10pm, Josiah stayed up till after 11pm to see his big brother (he usually goes to bed between 7:30 and 8pm). Kian was happy to see that Josiah still seems to remember him and was quickly playing with him. We are all happy to have him with us again for a few weeks and will try to spend a few days at the beach together before he returns to the U.S. and schools starts up again for the rest of the kids.
Grace was also pleased to see Kian who gave her a computer game that seems to be her favorite Christmas gift this year (and Christian's). We all got to enjoy watching fireworks together at Faith Academy and Kian is been catching up with good friends of his who are still living here or visiting their families. They even managed to set off a few fireworks themselves.
He really enjoyed his first semester at The Master's College and his mom and I are pleased to see growth in him both his maturity as a young man and in his spiritual life. He is making good choices as he processes the world more and more through biblical lenses. Currently, he is pursing business and is enjoying music on the side. He is on the worship team at our home church as well as playing with other musicians.
We were also blessed by Calvary Bible Church who sent presents for the whole family. That was a blessing as our limited budget makes it a bit challenging to buy Christmas presents for six kids. It is a good things that our kids have learned to be content with a modest amount to gifts. Even knowing the reason for the season, it can be disappointing for kids (especially American kids like ours) not to get anything or much for Christmas. Before we opened any gifts on Christmas morning we sat around our table with our kids and discussed the real reason we celebrate Christmas. We talked about the many symbols of Christmas, like the Christmas tree, lights, bells, presents, wreaths, candy canes, etc. and the realities that these symbols point to Jesus Christ.
All in all, we are having a great Christmas season and a New Year. Thanks so much to all of you who support us in prayer and financially. We couldn't be serving our Lord in the Philippines without you. We continue to pray for all of you. God bless and happy new year.