Thursday, July 09, 2009

Kids Korner

A lot has happened since our last update... the biggest event being David's graduation from Faith Academy Manila. It seems just like yesterday when we put him on the plane to go to Manila to begin high school. His future plans include college but he has chosen to stay at home for this next year. He'll be a full-time volunteer at Faith Academy Mindanao (school where Krysten & Betsy attend) this school year, helping with the PE and sports program. He's enjoying spending time with friends and playing lots of basketball.

Krysten "graduated" from 8th grade and is excited about high school. She's also enjoying spending time with friends this summer. She decided she wanted to learn to play the flute over the summer so is taking weekly lessons. She continues to develop her piano skills and singing... I'm sure our neighbors wonder sometimes what type of concerts we hold in our living room! She had a great time with the team from FBCFP this past month. Connecting with friends and being a part of their ministry made for a great week.

Betsy finished 3rd grade and is looking forward to 4th! She loves spending time with her dog, Bravo, and playing with our neighbor, Jessica. She's enjoying sleepovers with friends, swimming, and some trips to the beach- she & Jess are snorkeling buddies! Betsy is also taking piano lessons and is doing great! She asked me the other day if it was okay if she practiced twice a day instead of just once... of course!!

This has turned into a summer of visitors. Not only the friends who came with FBC Ft. Payne, but also family. Wendy's sister, Jeanna, and a friend surprised the kids when they showed up for end of the school year activities. It was a great surprise for the kids and made some great memories! They were able to attend Krysten's closing program, go with Betsy on a field trip to the beach, and attend David's graduation. They also stayed with the girls while Jess & Wendy went to Manila early for other graduation events. It was great to have Jeanna here!

A couple of days before David's graduation, niece Kate Vincent arrived. Kate is a recent graduate of the University of Louisville and will be with us until the end of August. She has jumped right in and been involved in whatever was going on. She's also spent some time with several of the Nehemiah Teams, getting involved in their on-going ministries.
With the team from FBCFP arrived nephew Luke Jennings. It was great to see him & David play ball together for the week. Although he didn't get to visit where we live now, he did get to see where the kids lived while we were in the Butuan City area, meeting some of David & Krysten's childhood friends.

But that's not the last one, Kate's younger brother, Josh arrives this Sunday! He'll be here through the end of the month. We're looking forward to showing him the sights of Davao City. Kate is excited to have him here too!

It has been great to have the entire family involved in several aspects of ministry this summer. David was in charge of "transportation" at our Nehemiah Teams orientation at the beginning of June. Coordinating the arrival & pick-up of almost 100 participants went off without a hitch! David, Krysten, & Kate were also a big help during orientation with "office type" tasks. David also helped set up the "adventure rec" courses used for team building.

Again during the week of ministry with the team from Ft. Payne... David coordinating the basketball games, Krysten being in drama presentations & helping with the dental presentations... while both of them begin able to serve as translators and guides as needed. What about Betsy? Her love of playing and making new friends is always an instant draw. She isn't shy to acquaint herself with other children and involve them in games to gather them together. She also acted as score keeper for a couple of the games.

The end of July we'll all head back to Manila for de-brief with the teams. Again, each of us will have our responsibilities to make sure everything runs smoothly. The body at work!
  • Pray for us as we have this next year together as a complete family.
  • Pray for David as he continues to seek where the Lord would have him for college. Pray for God's timing in his decision making.
  • Pray for Krysten as she begins high school. It's our desire that the Lord will mold her into the young lady He desires.
  • Pray for Betsy to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit working in her heart.

Sonlight 2009

It's always great when friends come to visit!! A team of 18 youth & adults from our home church, First Baptist Church of Fort Payne, Alabama, spent 10 days in the Agusan River Valley working with the local association. Actually 2 teams in 1, these 18 were joined by Nehemiah Teams members and local believers to complete a vast array of ministries. You can see pictures and read updates from their ministry on our personal blog:

Ministry started out with a half-day work day with the Nehemiah Teams Habitat for Humanity team. The guys helped build the walls for the house while the gals painted roofing supports. The ride to the worksite in a dump truck gave the team a quick introduction to Butuan City... they were kinda like an impromptu parade going down the road! After lunch, the youth team headed out for an overnight associational youth fellowship. While the association planned the logistics for the event, the FBCFP team led the program which consisted of games, food, worship, & just having fun together. The next day, the team was divided into groups of 3-4 and went for an overnight "homestay." Hosted by local churches & families, the team members spent the night in the Filipino homes, experiencing a day, and night, living as they lived. The next day was Sunday and most members were involved in local worship services- sharing testimonies, singing, "preaching", and being an encouragement to local believers. Other, including the medical team, attended a local wedding and got to experience this part of local culture.

The medical arm of the team, led by Dr. Mike Story and Dra. Glee Dacanay-Velenzona conducted free medical clinics in 6 sites with a total of 1319 patients. As families came through the clinic they experienced Christ's love through meeting their physical needs as well as hearing the gospel shared through scripture and personal testimonies.

The youth team, led by Student Minister Jeff Ford, focused on local elementary & high schools. In 4 different villages, they visited the elementary schools in the morning, presenting a short dental hygiene program in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. The program ended with a gospel presentation and the distribution of toothbrushes to the kids. After a sack lunch (lots of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches!), they spent the afternoon at the high schools playing games with the students and sharing one on one with students using tracts and storytelling (salvation) bracelets.

Another component of the week's ministry were late afternoon basketball games. Organized by our son, David, "Team USA" (composed of David, cousin Luke Jennings, Doug Mackey, and several Nehemiah Teams members) played local village teams in exhibition games. During half time of each of the games, the youth team shared testimonies & drama followed by a clear verbal explanation of the gospel. The team also distributed tracts to many watching the games.

Some stats from the week:
Tracts distributed: 1800
Story-telling (salvation) bracelets shared: 750
Basketball games: 5
Total attendance at games: 2000
Schools visited: 4
Dental hygiene presentations: Done 12 times for around 400 children, preschool-3rd grade

Korean Nehemiah Teams

This is the third year in the development of Korean Nehemiah Teams. A team of four Korean students (mainly seminary students) have been in the Philippines since mid-June. This team has been working with a Korean Foreign Mission Board missionary in Davao City for the past several weeks. This week they are working alongside the American Habitat for Humanity team in Butuan City.
  • Pray for these students as they complete their ministry and return to Korea on July 19th.
  • Pray as they continue their studies in preparation to be fulltime cross-cultural workers.

American Nehemiah Teams

American Nehemiah Teams have now been on the field for a little over a month. 40 teams in 8 countries including the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Argentina, & others! It has been exciting for us to visit teams on the field, talk to team leaders on the phone, hear reports through local supervisors, and read about their adventures on the blog. ( All I can say is that the bar has been raised this summer and students are rising to the challenge. They are acting like adults! Churches are being started! Children are being rescued! Prostitutes are hearing the Good News. Orphans are being loved. Homes are being built. People are receiving clean drinking water. The gospel is penetrating into some hard places.

However, half-way through a task can sometimes be tough. Nehemiah and his volunteers almost quit from threats, exhaustion and discouragement. For our volunteers, things are no different. The adventure has worn off. Sickness has visited some of the team members. Floors are now very hard. Rice is now very bland. The language barrier is now a nuisance, not a novelty.

We covet your prayers for the teams as they continue their ministry for these last few weeks.
  • Pray for continued unity among team members.
  • Pray for good health.
  • Pray for new opportunities & places to open up for sharing the gospel.
  • Pray for the persons of peace that they have found... pray for fruit to be produced.. fruit that will last!
  • As they prepare to say good-bye to national partners, pray for all to be encouraged that they have been a part of kingdom work
  • As teams gather for debrief on July 26th, pray for the Lord to speak to them in unique ways about their next steps as a World Christian.
Read about their ministries and see pictures of them in action on our blog. You can also see links on the right side of the blog for the other blogs being maintained by media team members in other countries.
  • As we are developing job requests for summer 2010, pray that we will be led to the right partners to enable teams to be present in strategic places.

Filipino Nehemiah Teams: Reporting what God has done

April & May saw 13 teams with a total of 80+ Filipino members going to 11 areas of the Philippines to share the Good News among the unreached and hard to reach. These teams spent 3-5 weeks going door-to-door distributing almost 2500 tracts, 300 New Testaments, and 80+ evangelistic DVD's. But more important than these stats are the lives that were changed by having an opportunity to respond to the Gospel that was shared. Over 500 indicated a decision to follow Christ and 40 were baptized. 30 VBS/Health Camps were conducted with over 1200 children enrolled. Other outreach ministries included: drama, community/home film showings, community cleaning, teaching moral values in local schools, sports programs, True Love Waits, jail ministry, hospital visitation, and free medical services.
  • Pray for the follow up in each of the areas where the teams ministered.
  • Pray for national partners who will disciple the new believers.
  • As the new believers grow in their new faith, pray for encouragers to come into their lives.
  • Pray for the franchise leaders as they have begun planning and setting up for 2010 teams.