October 16th, 2012
Dear friends in Christ!
Often in our news letter, we share about church and ministry things on what God is doing here in the Philippines. This time, however, I want to tell you a short story about a recent Saturday event.
Much of our time is spent traveling to visit various churches on both sides of the mountain. The main roads are mostly paved but many of the rural roads are unpaved and very muddy during the rainy season. In many places, the roads are mainly traveled by the big sugar cane trucks that leave very deep ruts and are only passable during a few months of the year.
Recently, one of our young pastors asked us to attend and be a sponsor at his wedding. Weddings are not cancelled during the rainy season so you must drive until the road become too difficult and then walk in over the muddy roads or trails. This time, I became stuck twice while getting there before deciding it was “far enough.” We then walked in over a mile on a very slick road/trail to find the wedding location. There was no electricity or running water (unless someone ran to the well) no plumbing , and the mud was very deep and everywhere. The wedding guests were dressed very nice but often standing in mud with their pants rolled up and most were barefooted. In this sea of mud, entered the beautiful bride dressed in a gorgeous white dress. Before coming out the house, a large pile of rice grass was put down deeply on the aisle where the bride and wedding party would walk. So with the family and guests watching from under a tarp, a couple were joined together in marriage under a small bamboo and grass covered wedding chapel , specially built for this important day!
Observation: The whiteness and colors of a wedding are so much more splendid and awesome when you are standing in and surrounded by mud. It will forever be a memory of a “beautiful wedding day!”
Special Wedding Recipe: Mix together fireworks, abundant food (including a roasted pig and delicious goat), smiling guests, proud parents, a radiant bride, colorful flower girls, bridesmaids, a nervous groom and LOTS of MUD, and you get one special day in my life as a missionary!
Later, we walked back to my vehicle, got stuck two more times and had to be pushed, and then finally returned to the paved road to go home. The sugar cane roads are very slick and mostly one lane that have deep ruts down the middle. The vehicle isn’t a four wheel-drive and its center height is slightly taller than a mini-van. The ruts are too deep for my vehicle and the mud is often deep in the ruts. So you try to drive on the slippery roads without falling into the ruts, going around the big rocks that are put into the mud, and hope you will not “high center” your vehicle because the ruts are too deep are the rocks are not to big! You don’t want to get stuck!
Later the next week, I was out visiting two other places and again the roads were too muddy to drive. I had to park, walk in and out over a mile and be pushed again because of vehicle electrical problems. Why do I tell you this story? Your prayers are what we need to keep us going. Not only for the growth and starting of new churches but for travel mercies on roads that are muddy or long trips on narrow highways that are often long and across the mountains. Our vehicle is starting to need more repairs and it is nine years old. Your support makes it possible to keep going and going! Thank you for praying for not just the lost to be saved, but for us as we live and travel here in the Philippines!
In His service,
P.S. We are excited that one new outreach last week had 10 adult baptisms. (You may have seen some of the pictures on face book.) Today, we were asked for help on diesel as another church has a baptismal service planned this Saturday for several to be baptized and needs money for fuel. Last Friday, a professional architect who accepted the Lord, was baptized. Praise God for the growth of His kingdom!
We rejoiced last Saturday as about 125 pastors/wives/workers joined in an area wide meeting to honor one of our pastors who is 80 years old and still preaching. Earnesto Sanao has been preaching mainly here on Negros for over 51 years!
On a sober note, we have been looking for three years for a property for a church camp location for our churches of Negros Island. Several of you have given to help us buy such a place recently for leadership training. Several pastors expressed concern to me, and our Philippine board of advisors recommended that we not purchase the place that we had hoped to buy. The concerns were because of the difficult access to the location of the proposed property and also current political problems. I was disappointed that we could not get this property and finally have a place of our own but we have peace that this is the right decision to make. Please continue to pray for us to have wisdom from God as we minister and serve here, and that God will open the door of opportunity for us to have a camp land if that is His will.
Next month we are planning to have another VFM sponsored seminar on “Churches Starting Churches” for training of more pastors here and on other islands. We expect to have about 30 leaders at this next training session. This is only one of several training sessions that we hope to have in the next several months.
Printing……. Yes, we continue to prepare booklets, materials and tracts for use with our churches. We are hoping to start printing on our fifth book in the TEE series for the training of church leadership. We must soon start the printing of VBS materials for about 150 churches. Thanks for making this printing ministry possible.
Ouch…… The US Dollar fell again today to a new record low. When we came here 6 years ago, it was P50 to $1USD. Now it is P41 to $1USD. What does that mean? Your dollars given for our ministry here, is now 20% less in what we can buy then when we came in 2006. All the same time inflation is hitting our VFM budget.
Family, Prayer, and Praises! Our daughter, Lydia Smith, is our forwarding agent. They had a major house fire last April that destroyed most of their home (and VFM office.) They are in temporary housing now that the insurance company is trying to cancel and still the insurance company has not approved the repairs to their house. Please pray for Lydia & Josh Smith and our grandson Caleb, for patience while waiting! PRAISE….. Landon our son, and his wife Jessica, announced that we will again be GRANDPARENTS in May of 2013! Praise…. My mother, Ruby Wilson, celebrated another birthday and enjoys such good health. (She won’t let me say how many)