Pebrero sa Pilipinas!
We started off our month with a lot of anticipation. First, our friends and TREK leaders would be visiting from Canada for a whole week! We were excited to see them, show them our new home and join them on a mid-term retreat. We began our time with them four and half hours east of Baguio in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. A 2 day Pastor’s conference brought Filipino leaders from all over the Philippines to this place. We were blessed to be a part of it. The theme was Ministry of Reconciliation. I was especially excited about this since my first year of graduate school taught me a lot about the work we are called to do as the body of Christ in regards to reconciliation. It was a great reminder to me that conflict shouldn’t be avoided, it should be met with reconciliation in mind. Conflict presents us with opportunities of growth, forgiveness, love and humility. After our time here we headed back to Baguio. A couple of days there provided us the opportunity to show Lisa, Sam, Steve and Jon our stomping grounds. They were a full 2 days and they set us up nicely for a time of rest and refreshment in San Juan.
For our mid-term retreat we stayed at Awesome Hotel and boy was it awesome! Everything was perfect, the beach, the food, our rooms, the staff, I could not have asked for anything better. During this time Steve and Lisa led us in times of worship, reflection and prayer. It was here I recognized how blessed I was to have the team that I do. Our mid-term retreat was not about fixing anything broken but about making something good even better. We encouraged each other a lot and returned with so much love for the ministry we’ve been given in Baguio.
Not long after we arrived in Baguio we were packing our bags again for a week-long stay in Laoag. In Laoag we were welcomed by the Disciple Making International team. This team was made up of 8 people, and the youngest person on their team was in his 60’s. The purpose of the DMI trips are purely for evangelism. They pair up with local pastor’s and visit their barangay’s to share the gospel with people. This DMI team had already been working in Laoag for a week with local Pastor’s so they were pretty much experts. We didn’t really know what to expect but we knew this week would be stretching us for the better. This was the first time we worked apart from each other and the first time we would be presenting the gospel using a different approach then what we were used to in Baguio. Timo was paired with a pastor who felt highly encouraged by the fact that Timo was so young. Juliana was paired with a sweet women pastor who despite being very poor gave so much of herself to the ministry and to others. Braden and I were paired with different pastors but our work overlapped quite a bit. We got to share at a High School and even at a wake! Our Pastors were incredibly hard working people with a big heart for the Lord. I don’t have all the numbers but I believe we visited with over 150 people that week! Aside from being blessed by these pastor’s and the people we visited we felt equally blessed by our interactions with the DMI team. Hearing some of their life stories and witnessing how much energy and vigor they had for sharing the gospel was inspiring. Our time in Laoag provided us with lots to think about in regards to evangelism. I look forward to unfolding everything I learned and applying some of those things to my life back home.
In between both these big events we still did many of our normal activities. We led Bible studies, went to prayer meetings, led worship, hung out with people and did our chores. A highlight for me this month was the hike we went on during our mid-term retreat. It was incredibly beautiful and it ended at a natural rock pool with waterfalls and high rocks people could jump off of. I jumped of two little ones (don’t tell my mom) but had it not been for Juliana holding my hand while we jumped off the first one I would still be on top of that rock frozen in fear.
That brings me to a reflection that’s a bit more personal. At the start of February I began my job search. I am not in any way wanting for my time to end here, nor am I wanting to check out but I felt prompted by God to begin searching and praying. If you know me you know I am always looking for work in Higher Education, specifically in Residence Life. In mid-February a job I had lots of interest in became available so I applied. Shortly after 3 more jobs I felt suited for presented themselves and I applied as well. At times fear of not being hired comes knocking and I begin to feel un-qualified and panic. I praise God that each time the Lord has met me with words of comfort and peace. I am learning how to trust God in a new kind of way. I am excited to know what he has in store for me and I can’t wait to find out what it is! But for now he is teaching me to act and pray in faith, wait and trust in him and continue being present with where I am at. These four jobs are pretty great and while some seem to be a better fit for me they all interest me and I would be happy doing anyone of them. What’s crazy are the locations of each of these; Canada, Kansas, Southern and Northern California, four VERY different places. I’m not going to lie, I’m very excited and full of hope and anticipation. Please pray the Lord leads me and provides the job he’s called me to for the next season of my life. Also, please don’t forget to keep my team and I in your prayers as well as all the people we’ve met so far. Many people heard about Jesus this past month, we pray the seed planted would be cared for by the Lord and would bear fruit for the kingdom. Thanks for reading. I appreciate you and can’t wait to hug you this summer! Blessings to you!