6.10.13

Follow the Philippines Journey Team

Follow the Journey Team to the Philippines

6.10.13

Before I share today's with you, would you take a few minutes to pray very specifically for a few requests:

* Pray for a few specific team members ... nothing is terribly wrong, but your prayers would be appreciated for ... Scott, Eric, Christina, Heather, Ally, Kurt & Micah ... pray that they would feel strengthened for the next 2 days.

* Pray for the weather to clear up - it's been pretty rainy tonight.  In fact, it down-poured!  Right now, it is a very light shower.  We need to cross to the other island in the morning around 7 am to catch our flight to Manila later in the day.

* Pray for good travels - we start our journey home on Tues.  We will stay in Manila Tues night and fly on Wed to Tokyo and then onto JFK.  Our first flight is around 9:15 am on Wed - so we will have an early morning on Wed.

Thanks for praying!

Now for today's update:

----------------------------

Dear Friends and Family,

First, may I start by thanking you for your continued support and prayers over the duration of our trip. We have shared many tears and laughs together from the many emails that were sent to us. Though we were only away for two shorts weeks, you will never know the great blessing and encouragement your emails were to us. To hear from home after a long day was so precious for each one of us.

As many of you know, today was our final day on this beautiful island of Boracay, Philippines. We were so blessed to have the opportunity to spend today enjoying the company of our team and seeing the island in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Unlike the majority of mornings on this trip, we were given the enormous blessing of eating a late breakfast/brunch at 10:30 a.m. and being able to spend our morning how we desired. Two of our team members, Evelyn and Hannah, were quietly enjoying the beach front as they got into the Word this morning while a few others headed over to the Agape School to see the children on their first day of classes. To see the school that we have been doing endless days of construction on fully functioning and being used to serve children was such a rewarding feeling. I also believe a few of our team members were incredibly excited to catch some of the Heat/Spurs game early this morning!

After breakfast, our team was able to split into a few different groups and go to the beach, go shopping at the market and spend some quality time together. I personally was blessed by the people I was with and would not have desired to spend my last day here any other way. Bob, Scott, Monique, Jordan, Eric, Liv, Kurt, Micah and myself were able to sit down on the beach for some time just talking and enjoying the view. We then got milkshakes and headed over to the market for a few hours of shopping. Though simple things, the time spent laughing and sharing life was so amazing.

At breakfast this morning, the only thing Bob requested of our team was that each of us takes a half hour or more to get into the Word and spend some time with the Lord. This is something I was able to do later in the day when I returned from shopping. I have been reading a Proverb a day while on this trip and today I was on Proverbs 10. I can hardly begin to explain all that the LORD spoke to me through this passage, but I will give you a brief insight to my heart. This trip was supposed to be a pre-trip to my moving to the Philippines. However, things changed and I felt that my leading was to remain in Lancaster for a bit longer. I am a proud graduate of LBC as of this past May and I truly have no idea what is next. As Jordan said to me today, I am truly resting in the palm of God’s Hand right now. Though I am not overly thrilled to not know what life looks like come July, I am blessed to know where I am resting. Proverbs 10 definitely sparked my heart in many ways and if you get the chance to read it, start seeking out all the promises that rest in the words. As many Proverbs go, there is a comparison being made between the righteous man and the fool. As I evaluated my own life, I am striving to be a righteous woman of God who is obedient in leaving a legacy that reflects Christ, so I could but only find hope in the words of Solomon this afternoon.

As each of us pack our suitcases from this trip, my prayer is that we not only tuck in the souvenirs and gifts that we bought, but that we also make room for the memories and passions that the LORD has so deeply stirred within us. I know personally that so many of my passions have been stirred and I trust that the LORD has a purpose in doing that.

I thank each of you for your continued support; I challenge you to not stop here. Each of us is coming home with an excitement to share what the LORD is doing. Please ask us, get involved in it with us and encourage us to keep the fire burning over the next year. We are a body of believers for a reason and you are just as much a part of this team as we are.

Thank you so much for journeying through these weeks with us and we look forward to seeing you all soon!!!

In Christ, Christina Elizabeth

----------------------------

Tonight we also had a great time with our missionaries, Dan & Tori Beaver and also Olivia Bauman. It was great to hear their hearts and stories and to also share with them how God has been working in our lives.

Pray that our team would realize the trip is not yet over.  They are a great group of individuals that are one team serving God and being challenged by Him!

Thanks for all your support, words of encouragement and prayers!

For the team, Bob

6.9.13

Good morning to you all back in the States! We had another wonderful, uplifting and long day on the islands. 

We started our day off early … waking up at 4:45 a.m. to down pouring rain and no power.  Breakfast was at 5:15 a.m. and after many prayers, the power came back on shortly before breakfast. 

The church service we attended today was on Panay Island and it started at 7:00 a.m. meaning we had to leave by 6:00 a.m. to ride the boat over to the island.  Pastor Peter and the congregation warmly welcomed us when we arrived at the church.  After introducing our group in front of the congregation, our very own Scott Harrison was able to preach to the congregation what God had been recently laying on his heart. 

During the sermon, a few people from our group were able to lead the Children’s Ministry for the morning where we read the story of Noah and sang our favorite Filipino songs. The children loved every minute of it! 

After the service was over, our entire group gathered in the front of the church for snacks that had been provided by the church … a second breakfast.  They even had soda for us, which is something we have not had since we have been here! 

We said our goodbyes to the children (Joseph, an adorable six year old boy who loved the ladies on our team) and congregation at the church and walked down the road to the basketball court where a big game was about to take place … Americans vs. Filipinos.  Our boys were ready to go.  There was a big crowd attending the games and a surprise visit from Joseph the ladies man. 

After many long games, Darrell was able to share his testimony with the Filipinos and spoke so much truth to them.  Our boys were so great with the way they interacted with the boys and the positive attitudes that were brought to the court. 

After basketball, we climbed into an air-conditioned van, yes air-conditioned, and went up the mountain to the Ati tribe.  The drive up the mountain was very eventful … having to switch vans in order to even make it up the entire way. 

When we got there, we were greeted with fresh coconuts/coconut milk and pineapple served on banana leaves. 

As we walked into the village, we all felt like we were on display, or the main event in a parade waving to people on the sides of the street with their eyes following our every move.  I later found out that this was because we were probably some of the first white people they had even seen!

Smiles and laughter filled everyone as our boys started up another basketball game against the Ati tribe boys.  So many people of all ages gathered around the court to watch the main event of the day.  Raeanne, Ellen and I painted all of the girls’ nails and (even some of the guys’ nails). 

We remained in that village for a while, loving on the children and people there.  Side note: when I first walked into the village, I saw a tiny little boy who I thought was about 2 years old, and he was smiling from ear to ear.  I walked up to him and tickled his belly and he immediately threw both of his arms up in the air and wanted me to hold him.  I picked him up and walked over to his mother and she told me his name was Christian … he was so precious.  I held him for a while and then passed him to Meredith so I could paint the girls’ nails.  When we left the tribe and were walking back to the vans, I found out that he was 7 years old and most likely had downs syndrome.  Obviously he does not have the specific care that he needs … say a special prayer for Christian before you go to bed tonight! 

We left the tribe and walked back to the vans.  It was about 3:00 p.m. and our team was exhausted.  We had a long day, fighting sickness and tiredness, but still remembered to keep a positive attitude throughout the entire day.  From there we started our trek down the mountain and to the port where we would take the boat back to Boracay. 

We arrived back to the island, completely exhausted but overfilled with joy and love after the day we had just experienced. 

Our team had some free time before dinner.  Brit and I were planning on using that time to go shopping with a few people from our group.  While we were waiting for them, we had the privilege of watching a wedding on the beach with some of the other guys … it was mangalo (beautiful). 

After shopping, we had a wonderful dinner awaiting us back at the Vista House. Tonight we also had the privilege of listening to Emily and Melanie’s testimonies after dinner. 

As we wrap up our second to last night here at Boracay, please remember to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. There are many emotions running through us as we think of leaving what has been our home the past two weeks.  In specific, Eric Flick’s sunburn, different team member’s not feeling good and Scott’s shoulder are the top requests on our prayer list. In closing, we love you and appreciate you all so much back at home.  Thank you so much for all of the support and prayers. 

With love from Boracay, Hannah Metzler

P.S. Quick shout out to Momma Metzler, Momma Good, and Momma Stout. We love and miss you!

----------------------------------------------------

Our trip is coming to an end quickly.  It is hard to believe how fast time flies.  It is a privilege to minister with each person on this team, here the story of God's grace in their life and experience the Philippines with each one of them.  

Pray for the things that Hannah mentioned specifically.  Pray also for each team member as they now have to process all they have seen, heard & experienced.  A friend of mine once said, " with knowledge comes responsibility."  I've asked them all to think about how they will finish this sentence, "so now what ..."  What will God call them to do?  What is God calling me to do?  What is God calling you to do (so many of you have said that this trip has impacted you back in the USA as much as it has impacted those of us who have come to the Philippines)?

Bob

6.8.13

Our trip is quickly coming to an end ... amazing how the time has flown.  We have a huge day on Sunday.  The day will begin with breakfast at 5:15 am, travel to Panay island at 6 am, church service at 7 am; basketball ministry at 10 am; 12 noon, head to a feeding/basketball; 2:30 pm, head to a second feeding/basketball; visit a waterfalls; return to Boracay around 5 or 6 pm.  Please pray for strength & energy ... that the team would be able to give it there all.

-------------------------------------------------

Today began like every other day on this island has begun – to the sounds of roosters crowing and the aroma of breakfast wafting up to my 4rd floor sleeping quarters. The plethora of roosters here does not confine their crowing to the morning hours. Their cackles and crows have become a constant backdrop to our lives here, to the point where our homes will probably seem very quiet when we return. My roomies and I quickly dressed and clambered down from our loft (don’t worry Dad, it’s air-conditioned!) and joined the team for a breakfast of lemon rice soup, hard-boiled eggs, watermelon and assorted breads. We’ve definitely been blessed with excellent cooks and have gotten to try a variety of new foods.

Bob read our emails from home, which are always greatly appreciated and occasionally result in a few tears, and then gave us our plan for the day.

Instead of all heading out to do construction and tutoring, we separated into 3 teams: a basketball team, construction team, and VBS team. The basketball team left first and had the opportunity to do a basketball clinic in Cubay, a nearby town. The construction team headed off to Agape around 9, and the VBS team prepped for the day before heading off as well.

I had the opportunity to go with the VBS team, led by Shannon (the principal at Agape Boracay Academy), Monique, Scott and Eric. Since one of our primary vans was out of commission, we had to take a minivan, which meant that 11 of us squeezed into a van that probably would only have accommodated six people in the US, just part of the Philippine experience!

When we arrived in the village, I quickly realized that it was the same village my team had visited on our first full day here a week ago. Two children instantly ran up to me and began yelling “Ellen! Ellen!”, excited to see that we had returned and quite proud of the fact that they had remembered my name. I could have just melted.

Fifty children quickly gathered in the open-air community building, barely the size of an average US classroom. We started off with a quick prayer. The Filipino leaders typically have the children repeat the prayer phrase by phrase after them, which I think is a great way to help the children feel involved in the prayer. We sang a few songs with them. They LOVE songs with motions, so we did Making Melodies in my Heart, the Banana Song, The Moose Song (which they all find extremely hilarious), and Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes.

After that cardio workout, we separated the children into four groups and set up stations around the area. It was tough getting the children to remember their numbers and go to the appropriate stations. We made sure they all held up their hands and showed their numbers. We had a story time station, a color station, a glitter station and a balloon station. Meredith and I took charge of the story station and told the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den with the help of a translator, adding some dramatic voices and motions for additional effect.

As you can imagine, they LOVED the balloon station. Monique had shared her balloon-making prowess with some of our team members and they made everything from dogs to flowers to swords for the children. I’m sure they’ll be enjoying their balloons for days and weeks to come, except perhaps for the zealous little boys whose swords will inevitably be popped within a day or two.

A few on our team also did some first aid on the children with various scratches, wounds and infections. So often, a scratch or cut that should only take a few days to heal can quickly become infected without the proper care and medication, which the villagers are sadly lacking. One little boy in particular had quite a few wounds that needed treatment and Meredith gently stroked his back while Christina treated the wounds. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference to these children.

We also gave the children a simple snack of bread rolls and juice, which the children quickly wolfed down. One little boy came up to me and asked for another, simply saying, “I’m hungry,” which broke my heart, since we only had enough for one per child and the chances of these children getting a solid meal on a regular basis is slim to none. All too soon it was time to leave, and we all said our goodbyes. Several of the children hung on to my arms as we walked down the pathway, repeating over and over, “Goodbye Ellen! Goodbye Ellen! See you tomorrow!” I knew, however, that I would probably never see those children again, although they will forever remain in my prayers.

We traveled back to the Vista House and chilled for an hour before lunch. The construction and basketball teams arrived back before lunch as well. The construction team worked hard all morning, learning how to make stucco and moving more of that never-ending pile of dirt, which had been hardened by the rain and required quite a bit of muscle power. We’re all going to be so fit when we return!

The basketball team had a bit more of an exciting morning, playing basketball and running drills with the local teams. They had a prayer time at the end of the morning and Stefan and Emily had the incredible opportunity to lead a young boy named Larry to Christ! While we don’t always reap the seeds that we sow right away, it is nonetheless encouraging to see the tangible results of our witness to the people here. Please keep Larry in your prayers as he begins this new journey.

We ate a delicious lunch of beef, rice, vegetables, fresh mangoes and assorted breads. We had a free afternoon to do as we pleased. Several people headed off to go swimming, others decided to use the time to journal and rest, a few went off to play basketball with a local missionary and the rest of us headed off for a bit of shopping. One group headed off to the market on trikes (a motorcycle with a side car containing 6 additional seats – QUITE the experience) and my group (Hannah G., Melanie, Jade and I) decided to just walk down the beach and hit up the many little vendors and shops anxious to sell their wares. After finding some gifts for our family members and friends back home, we headed back to the Vista House, stopping for ice cream on the way back, which we all enjoyed immensely.

Back at the house, we all gathered together at 3:45 pm to divide into groups for our evening activities. The soccer players headed off to the beach to play some beach soccer with the local teens and the rest of us divided into two groups to go to the feeding sites. My group hopped into the van again; this time twelve of us managed to squeeze inside for the twenty minute ride to the other side of the island. When we arrived at the site, the children were ready and waiting for us, sitting on the grass next to a small church, with their thatch-roofed houses surrounding the area. The teachers from Agape Boracay Academy had already sang with them, so we ended with the banana song and then settled down for the story of Jonah, told in dramatic detail by Nick Monroe, resulting in many giggles from the children.

We passed out the coloring pages and crayons. I once asked a child what his favorite thing to do was and he quickly responded with “Color!”. These children just love to color, an activity that would probably bore American children their age within five minutes. We played some games with the children, including Tyler’s now-famous animal game, which the children absolutely love. He tells the children which animal sound to make and we all run from one side of the yard to the other, making the appropriate animal sounds and motions. It’s quite a site to watch.

We also made balloon animals for them, which they all loved. We then did first aid, gave out vitamins and passed out food to the children. They’re always eager to receive their bowl of soup and typically wolf it down within a few minutes. When it was time to leave, several of the children gathered around me and said, “Goodbye Ellen! Goodbye ma’am! (They’re always very polite), We’ll miss you! See you tomorrow?” Once again I knew I would probably never see these children again, which was very difficult.

Back at the Vista House, the groups gathered back together and enjoyed a delicious supper of fried chicken, rice, coleslaw, and bread. We had our daily debriefing time, sharing our experiences from the day. It’s always great to hear the different perspectives and see how God is using each and every team member for His glory. Scottie shared his testimony and we prayed together and dispersed for the evening. Since we’re eating breakfast at 5:15 am tomorrow morning, Bob encouraged us to head off to bed as soon as possible, though several of us remained downstairs for some fellowship time before hitting the sack.

Thank-you all so much for your prayers and support! Special shout-out to my Mom and Dad and my sibs: Bethann, Anthony, and Daniel. I love and miss you all and am looking forward to St. Louis! See you in a few days!

So sorry for the length of this letter! I was never very good at summarizing. Blessings to all!

In Christ, Ellen Watkins

6.7.13

Magandang Umaga (Good Morning) from beautiful Boracay Island! It is hard to believe that we have been on the island for a week now and that there are only four days remaining.

Our morning began just as every other morning with breakfast, devotions and email from home. The cooks have discovered that pancakes are our favorite breakfast food, so they have made them two days in a row for us. They have treated us so well and we have much to be thankful for!

Hearing the testimonies of each member of the team starts our day off on the right foot as we bond as a team and reflect on how God has worked in the individual’s life.

Our projects for the day at the Agape Ministry Center involved pouring concrete, moving more dirt and tutoring in the classrooms. A few of us were able to experience how they mix and pour concrete in the Philippines. It was a lot of hard dirty labor that resulted in a wall being completely poured! The remainder of the team moved yet ANOTHER dirt pile and we seem to continually get more productive as the days go on. Praise the Lord that He has given us positive attitudes each and every day that we arrive at the construction site! One of the most encouraging things is to see the work that we complete in a short amount time and the great impact it has on the missionaries and the school staff.

The individuals who tutor in the classrooms always have many different stories to share when they return from their tutor sessions. Today Scott and Alex fully taught their preschoolers how to write the number 1, even though it took them the full hour, we are very certain these kids have learned this number in completion! It is neat to see the relationships that Meredith and Ellen have built with the students they have tutored all week long. What great things are happening at the Agape Ministry Center!

Afternoons are always an encouraging time to rest and refresh before our evening feeding sites. Today, many of us spent our afternoon shopping at the local market and along the beach. Friends and family members can be ensured that there were many conversations about what items should be purchased to bring home!

Tonight, two groups headed out to feeding sites and Monique’s group got to experience the sunset sail. They returned with comments about how relaxing and beautiful the sail was!

For the groups that went to feeding sites, we were blessed to return to the feeding sites that we did a week ago when we first arrived. Every feeding site involves lots of singing and dancing —make sure to ask your son/daughter or friend to sing the Banana Song or Making Melodies when we return home!

Our craft tonight was balloon animals with the children and the joy on their faces is simply unexplainable. These children would crowd around us and wait until we would happily give them the balloon dog that we had created for them!

Feeding sites have become the highlight for our team, as there is no greater joy than loving these children with the love of Christ. What a great opportunity we have to fully love these children, teach them about Christ and feed them a simple meal!

This team of 27 members has become a very close-knit family in just a short amount of time! It is so neat to see how God is working in and through us. We are starting to realize that our time is soon finished here and that we will all be returning to our homes in the United States. Please be praying as we finish out these last few days. Pray for strength, energy and opportunities to share the Gospel. Even though we still have four more days on the island, please be praying that we would begin processing how to take this life-changing experience home and to not return to our old habits and lukewarm faith!

Thank you for your daily prayers and encouragement. Please keep the email updates coming as we enjoy listening to them as a team each morning at breakfast and they provide a great source of encouragement as we begin our day! I can wholeheartedly say that our team is thankful for the many people that are praying for us at home and we can feel those prayers each and every day.

With love from the team, Jade

PS … just wanted to give a little shout out to my family! Kale—I am so proud of you for graduating from LAMS and I hope you have begun work at the farm! Kam and Kegan—tonight as you walk across the stage to receive your high school diploma, know that I am praying and thinking of you here in the Philippines. This year is not how we would have planned it to go, but I am so thankful for the ways you have grown through these trials and how our relationship has changed for the better. What a blessing it is to know that God has brought you to and through high school graduation! I wish I could be there tonight; love you both lots! Dad and Mom—I miss you both so much and am sending lots of love! Thank you for raising me to love the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. Love you all and can’t wait to see each of you!

-------------------------------------------------------------

One other thing that happened since Jade wrote, Scott Harrison was invited to go and share with the teachers at the Agape Ministry Center.  There are 16 teachers for 290 students.  It was truly a blessing that he was able to share with them and learn more about the ministry they have with many of the students ... many of whom are of the Muslim faith.  Pray for them as they get to share the Gospel in many different ways.  School starts on Mon, June 10 at 7 am.

Individual testimonies have truly been a highlight of our team.  Hearing the story of God’s grace in each one’s life is simply the best.  Tonight, Darrell shared his story.  He gave us all a challenge at the end with a poem/rap he had written earlier in the day.  I’ve included it below.  May it be a blessing to you! 

I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve beside you all

I have learned a lot from everyone since the plane ride and the mal

The love you give to one another continues to blow my mind

Your encouraging words never end I hear them time after time

I’ve been encouraged and challenged by what you all say and do

Since Bob told me I had to now here’s my challenge to you

Roses are red violets are blue

If you were stuck in the Philippines what would you do?

Two more weeks 2 more months or maybe 2 more years

Would you pray for God to help you get home? Or would you adjust and face your fears

I believe fear is a choice a very easy one at that

So be courageous and bold in whatever you do no matter where you are at

I believe Christ lives in each of us here

But if we really believe in Jesus Christ there is nothing in this world that we should fear

6.6.13

Melanie and Emily reporting live from the Philippines!

Synopsis

Today was an adventurous day, to say the very least. It was our day of rest & relaxation! We started off the morning with breakfast and devotions led by Hannah Graham. She challenged us to make the most of our opportunities here in the Philippines.

After devotions we headed straight to the beach and boarded the Good Shepherd Banka Boat for snorkeling and island hopping. We arrived at our first snorkeling destination and strapped on our life vests and jumped in the water! From the time our heads went under the water and came up, we were at least 500 feet away from our boat! We quickly realized that the current was too strong for us to handle.

This became extremely evident when Larry Scott Harrison II, one of our group leaders, began to scream “HELP!” We knew he was in trouble, but our trusty lifeguard, Jordan “Jimmer” Harbin came to the rescue in a matter of seconds. After the boat captain threw out a rope, we pulled ourselves in.

Once we were safely in our boat, Scott informed us that he had some pain in his right shoulder and was unable to swim, lift his arm far or continue snorkeling.

We continued on to our next location and snorkeled for roughly half an hour. Next up was our pit stop at Puka Beach where we relaxed and worked on our tans.

Last but not least, was our final destination for snorkeling. At this particular site, one of our leaders, Clod, swam deep down into the water and captured some sea urchins! (They are the ugliest things I’ve ever seen!) After this, we headed back to Boracay for lunch.

This just in: Scott went to a local clinic and had x-rays taken. They informed him that he has a hairline fracture in a bone in his right shoulder. He was given an arm sling, some ace bandages and a prescription.

At 3:00 pm, we headed to Manoc Manoc Elementary School, a public school, for our feeding site. The team was split up into 5 groups and each team had their own classroom of 50 kids. We were told that this was a normal size for each elementary class with one teacher, then once they reached 7th grade there are possibly up to 100 kids to one teacher.

Our lessons consisted of songs, a Bible story, crafts, vitamins and then some food. After all of this, all the kids went out to the playground and we played games with them.

We headed back to the beach for some fruit shakes, from the famous Jonah’s Shake Shack. We enjoyed this refreshing treat while we waited for the sun to set and take some group photos. This concludes our relaxing day while we anxiously a wait dinner to be served.

From the Heart

After seeing everything that God has so beautifully created, it really impacted both of us. It’s amazing to stand on a white beach and see 5-star resorts and walk one street over and see so much poverty and need. Our guide showed us some beach houses that were anywhere from $500-$1,000/night. It’s breaks our hearts to realize that this is going on and often times the tourists don’t even realize it.

One of the feeding sites that Emily went to was at a place called Laguna Beach. It’s basically a little community on the opposite side of the island that is located right next to the beach. The people don’t own the land that their houses are on, generations ago their families just built houses and have lived there ever since. The people told us that at any minute their houses could be destroyed because a resort/hotel has purchased the land and can bulldoze their houses whenever they’re ready to start building. Many of the resorts don’t value the poor people; they would rather build resorts and make this “a better place.” Please keep the people of the country in your prayers; I’m sure this is taking place on many of the other islands as well.

Prayer Requests

--Our poor Larry Scott

--Strength and energy for construction tomorrow

--Recovery from sunburnt skin

For the team, Melanie Cherry & Emily Martz

Shout Outs from Melanie

Mom and Dad: I miss you both so much and cannot wait to share everything that I have experienced with you! Thank you for the emails and for supporting me on this trip. I hope you are enjoying your last bit of peace and quiet before I return home for the summer! See you in a few days! I love you both!

Melissa and Colin: Thanks for the support! I hope you are enjoying the email updates! I got you guys some cool gifts! I hope you have been practicing mini-golf! I’ll be back soon to continue my winning streak! I miss you and love you both so much!

Corey: I’m still alive here in Africa, I mean the Philippines! I can’t wait to get back and share all the exciting things that happened here! God has truly blessed us back in the States! I hope my notes are helping you miss me a little less! I’ll be back on Wednesday, start counting down! I love you to the moon and back! =)

Shout Outs from Emily

Mom: I promise that I will come back, don’t worry about that! Thank you for keeping the team and me in your prayers. I appreciate it more than you know. Please tell Amanda and Jake that I love them and that I miss them so much! I know that you’re probably counting down the days and looking forward to your notes, and I’ve been journaling so I’ll be able to tell you as much as I possibly can. Hang in there, and ill be back soon! Tell Jymiah that I miss him so much and I cannot wait to see him again. I love you and I’ll talk to you soon!

Dad: Thank you for keeping up to date on the trip! I can’t wait to get back and tell you all about this trip. It’s definitely changed my life and I can’t wait to tell you everything that I am experiencing. Thank you for always supporting in what I decide to do. I love you!

Frankie: I miss you so much! I can’t wait to see you and I just know that you are taking such great care of my boy, Rico. I’m sure by now that you two are best friends and you are going to want to keep him forever. I can’t wait to get back and tell you everything that I have been experiencing! Tell your mom and dad that I said hi and I miss them too! I’ll see you soon J!

6.5.13

Happy Wednesday morning back in the States!  The sun has already set here in Boracay, and yet again we have had an incredible day on the island.

After a night full of thunder and lightning, our day started at 8 am for a breakfast complimented with a challenging devotional that reminded us to stay thankful. Soon after, we geared up for another morning at the Agape Center to assist in construction and teaching. I believe that we have all become professionals at moving dirt. As pictures will show, we were able to make a tremendous amount of progress with the remaining dirt on the second floor of the school. 

While a majority of the team shoveled and passed along buckets, a few of us had the opportunity to teach the students who had showed up for tutoring. I had the opportunity to teach about twenty 1st and 2nd grade students. Their passion and eagerness to learn is something that I wish you all had the opportunity to witness. I encourage you to pray for these students and their teachers as the start of their school year is just a few days away.

After dismissing the children, we left the construction site and headed back to our resort and Vista House for lunch.  As hot as it was today, we all ate quickly so we could spend an afternoon on the beach or rest up for the remainder of the day. There were several of us that played the “Red Pirate” sailing team in an intense game of beach volleyball, and after a few discrepancies in the score we lost 2 games to 1. I’m pretty sure that the Boracay rules that we didn’t understand were a major factor in the loss.

All rested up and having spent enough time in the sun, the team met back up to conquer the rest of the day. One group had the opportunity to go sunset sailing and swim with various kinds of tropical fish. The other two teams headed out to feeding sites. Due to an impending storm, our time spent at the sites went quickly. Despite the limited time, we still had an awesome opportunity to once again discuss with them the love of God and share with them the story of Daniel and the lion’s den.

One of the most impactful ministries of these feeding sites has been our ability to administer first aid to children that are lacking the basic necessities that would prevent infections. Today, one of our team members even had the opportunity to treat a mother who has been unable to work and support her family due to an injury on her foot. It has been so humbling to see team members step in to uncomfortable and heart-wrenching situations like this without hesitation. Continue to keep the children and their parents in your prayers as they are in desperate need of various medical treatments they cannot afford.

After a short trip back to the Vista House, we ate dinner as a team and listened to another eye-opening testimony that left us closer as a team. We were able to celebrate Kurt Keltner’s birthday as well with a cake and we are going out tonight as a team for pizza.

Please continue to pray for our team’s health, energy, patience and composure as we are confronted with situations that have left us with an incredible amount of respect for the missionaries who have made this their life-long ministry. Also, please keep the emails coming as they are providing us all with a much needed reminder that home may be halfway around the world, but the people we care and love are covering us with prayer and encouragement.

Through Him who strengthens me, Tyler Smith

-----------------------------------------------

Continue to pray for the team.  Everyone is doing great.  You would all be so proud of this team.  They are representing God so well - working hard ... caring and encouraging one another, the missionaries that are here and the Filipinos ... not complaining ... having fun serving God!

6.4.13

Hello to all of our beloved friends and family from sunny, hot Boracay! It is Tuesday night and I am just sitting here after dinner starting to reflect on what our day has been like.

We woke up this morning to another gorgeous sunny day. We had team breakfast and were so excited that it was an American classic, French Toast! The team got ready and started heading to the Agape Center to do some more construction and teaching. I was extremely excited for today because I am studying to be a teacher. The opportunity to teach overseas is something I have been really looking forward to. We arrived at the Agape Center and I persuaded Raeanne to come teach with me; I knew she would love the students. Raeanne and I started off in the Kindergarten 1 class, which are little four and five year olds.

No sooner did we arrive in the classroom, the principal came in and asked for a volunteer to head to the sixth grade. I felt my hand slip up, which was surprising because if any of you know me, I am not usually a fan of the older kids. Well, God definitely opened my eyes and heart this morning because I fell in love with every single one of those sixth graders. I walked in and asked the Filipino teacher what I should go over, and he looked at me and said, “Whatever you like” There was no time for lesson planning or thinking up objectives. Dr. Clawson, I had to truly think on my feet! (I like to think that you would have been proud!) We went over addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The students loved coming up to the board and solving the problems. They also had really neat desks that had a white board top, so when they practiced spelling they could do it with dry erase markers. It was truly so impactful to see young children excited to learn even with minimal supplies and materials. We read a story that referenced Hershey’s chocolate, so it was really neat to be able to explain to them that I live right by where they make that delicious chocolate!  Let’s just say, I left that classroom with my heart completely full.

While I was in the classroom, my teammates were working so hard moving MORE dirt! The piles we move from the days before seem to grow again over night! The spirit of this team is absolutely amazing! There is never complaining, or any negative comments. Up in my classroom, I could hear the team singing away as they worked and could picture their smiling faces, even amidst the sweat and dirt.

After we completed all of our tasks at Agape, we headed home for lunch and some free time in the afternoon. When this team hears “break”, the first word that comes to mind is “beach!”   We got ourselves dressed and enjoyed the beautiful, crystal clear water (you can all wipe the drool off your faces now! Ha!).  

After our break we got ready to head to the feeding sites again. I went to a site where some of the girls I had met earlier in the week came. Their names are Alache and Avageil and they are beautiful, big-hearted, young girls. Walking down the path and hearing them shout my name and their eyes light up when they saw me, was something I will treasure forever. Feeding sites are always so much fun, especially for me. My team includes Stefan Smith and Scott Harrison – these two people alone could entertain anyone! The feeding site is an opportunity for all of us to see the deep poverty on this island, yet the light of Jesus is shining through! This one is for you Dad: a little girl ran into her house to show us her pet bird and when she brought it out, it was literally some sort of wild bird that just perched right on our fingers! I took a picture … you’re going to love it!       

Please keep praying for our whole team as some of our team are not feeling the greatest and we all are exhausted. It is so encouraging to hear you all write to us each morning and to know that we are being prayed for fervently and consistently. On behalf of our entire team, thank you so much for that and please keep it up!  I miss you Mom, Dad, and Gram! (My teammates love to hear from you Gram, they really get a kick out of the fact that my grand mom is writing. I love it!)

A note from Raeanne: So you heard how I got deserted in the Kindergarten classroom? When Meredith raised her hand, fear swept over me … this is not what I was expecting! I love children, do not get me wrong, but it is clear that I am not meant to be a teacher. Right away I started praying that God would give me words to say and wisdom with what to teach the children. We practiced our alphabet and the children got to spell my name. I tried leading songs and if you know me, singing is not necessarily my strong point, but it was great! Loving on the children was an awesome, yet very humbling experience.

Instead of going to a feeding site, I went to a soccer clinic. Like I said, it was a VERY humbling day! (I do not have one athletic bone in my body, ha!) I did learn some of the drills because Evelyn graciously taught me. After we set up, the kids weren’t really coming and I didn’t know what was going to happen. We started playing some pick-up and the kids started coming out and the whole experience was just really fun.

A missionary, Elisa, showed up at the games and after talking with her for a little, we realized that we both had a passion for those affected by sex trafficking. Throughout our conversation, God reignited the flame of this passion and I know that this is what I will be working with someday.  Overall this experience has been really encouraging, seeing the missionaries and how much they love God and are obedient to his calling.

We have an absolutely incredible team. One of my favorite things has been seeing how God has worked in every single one of our lives and to experience this with some of my closest friends, like Meredith and Christina, and how God has worked in their lives as well. Pray that God will continue to stretch us and make us uncomfortable to learn to rely more on him.

Thank you for your prayers, please keep them coming! Mom and Dad, I love you and thank you for always supporting me in my adventures! Also a special shout out to Mr. and Mrs. Brown, Ally says she misses you and loves you very much! 

-------------------------------------------------

Some things to pray/praise God for:

- another great day in Boracay ... God is so faithful

- continued opportunities with children and other Filipinos

- for good health for the team ... nothing major happening, just little things

- for continued strength & endurance ... we have a week to go!

- that God will continue to stretch & challenge each one of us

- that some might be called into full-time Christian ministry

6.3.13

Magandang umaga sa lahat!  For those of you who have not been living with us for the past few days in Boracay, that means good morning to all!

Being in the Philippines has been such a blessing to me. Today the team and I had so many amazing opportunities to show the people here the love of the Lord.

After breakfast we walked down to the Agape Center that we have been doing some construction at. Once we arrived we found out that there were 50 students waiting to be tutored! About 7 of us got to go into classrooms and teach the kids English, math, and spelling. Britany and I had 5th & 6th graders and they really struggled with spelling; it was such a heartwarming experience when they finally knew how to spell certain words from memory that we had been working on most of the class period.

The rest of the group was down below working so hard passing buckets of rock back and forth and putting them into bags. After a few hours of hard work, we came back and had yet another amazing lunch. The people here have fed us so well!

After lunch, we hopped on a boat and headed to Panay Island to do some sports ministry and go to their feeding sights. To do the sports ministry, we first had to round up some kids, so we set off in pairs and explored the village looking for children and asking them to come play games with us “at the big blue church”. At first, a lot of them were very hesitant, but after a few smiles and some loving on one another, they were holding our hands, jumping on our backs and laughing along with us as we played games like Red Light Green Light and circle soccer. They were having such a blast, which made us smile and love the island.

Soon after, we headed to the feeding sights. We spent time with the Ati tribe and loved on the children there. We got to teach them about David and Goliath, sing songs with them and even teach them new songs. They also were very shy at first, but by the end of our time, they were running around with us and we were receiving many hugs as we said our goodbyes.

I had an amazing opportunity to sit and talk with a 20-year-old girl named Rain. She is a resident here and was asking me so many questions about my life in the States and my walk with God.  I asked her if I could pray with her and she said yes and begged us to come back next year. It’s experiences like these that are changing not only my life, but also the lives of our entire team. It is so amazing how God is stretching all of us and I am so thankful that I get to see my teammates hearts be broken for God. 

As much as I (and a lot of our team members) are missing home, I am constantly thanking God for the opportunity to be in this country and serving alongside these great people. We are being so blessed by every person we come to meet here, and I know that as the week goes on we will continue to be blessed.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers and support. You all are a huge reason as to why we are here and I cannot begin to explain how thankful we all are. We miss you guys and are looking forward to seeing you all in a few days!

With love, Heather Good and the LBC Philippines Journey Team.

PS - Momma Good and Momma Metzler, your girls are looking forward to hugging you!

-------------------------------------------------

Some things to pray for:

- Continued strength & energy ... we all worked very hard today and are very tired.  The humidity is so high ... and the heat zaps the energy right out of you.

- For good health - several are feeling tired, sick, and minor tweaks in injuries - nothing major; some of the sickness is from going from the heat to air conditioned rooms.  Pray for good rest tonight.  Everyone is heading to bed early!

- We have over a week of ministry left - and we are excited to be here.

6.2.13

I am so pumped that I am getting to write to you all tonight because today was a day that I won’t ever forget. From the moment we woke up, God was intricately weaving specific opportunities in each of our lives for today. 

We woke up this morning ready to go and experience church here in the Philippines. I don’t know if anyone could have guessed what was going to take place. We walked into this concrete building that we were told would have a “few” spots that the fans would actually reach amidst the humidity. We all anticipated a long, hot, sweaty, nasty, and did I mention hot? church service. The worship band started playing a call to worship and ushered us into an unspeakable experience. Going from dreading the imminent sweat waterfalls that were soon to come, to praising God at the top of our lungs was astonishing. We were all overwhelming blessed by the passion of the believers here. We were drawn into this amazing experience of the sweet unity amid the wonderful adversity in the body of Christ. Praising the Lord together, while not caring a bit about the sweat dripping off our chins showed us that we serve a gloriously worthy God. Needless to say, this was the start of an awesome day.

We couldn’t stop talking about the powerful worship service as we went to a local restaurant for lunch. We were given some time off and a bunch chose to relax on the beach for a while (which by the way is probably the most awesome thing to ever grace my eyes). While the majority of us basked in the luscious waters of the Pacific, Kurt Keltner was busy witnessing to a local soldier (Michael) in the Philippine army. Kurt and Michael hit it off when they started sharing their different experiences as military men. The Holy Spirit interceded into Kurt’s heart to tell this man that he was also in another army … the army of the Lord. Michael was so moved by Kurt’s boldness to share his faith that he unhesitatingly asked him how he could have this relationship with Christ. Kurt helped Michael enlist in the only eternally valuable army of God; yet another testament to God working in and through our team today.

We then went to some more feeding sites on the island. My group went to a small village just a couple of minutes away from where we are staying. As we walked through the village, we came upon this little hut filled with kids who were teeming with excitement. We started to sing songs, recite bible verses, and listen to a Bible story. We then transitioned to playing some games and hanging with the kids outside the hut. The guys in our group were playing this semi-violent game of keep-away with the boys. I had one boy especially who started running around me and hanging all over me. He looked at me and told me that he liked my hat (it was truly an awesome hat). The Spirit was at work in my heart and I spurted out almost as a knee-jerk reaction, “Take it!”. I loved that hat; it was definitely my favorite one that I have ever owned. I don’t really fully understand why I just gave it away like that, but I believe it was the interjection of the Holy Spirit in my heart. He looked up at me with tears welling up in his eyes and shouted out, “thank you!”. He couldn’t believe that I just gave it to him. He almost didn’t believe me. He handed it back to me, and I told him no and that it was his to keep. I can’t tell you how many times he said thank you to me. The kids normally say goodbye to us as we leave by telling us “thank you” several times. The boy kept looking at me with his arm wrapped around mine saying “for this!” after every thank you that they shouted to us. That broke me apart. That broke me apart quick. I hugged him as we said goodbye and turned around to wave one last time as we left (which totally felt as if we were in a movie), and the joy from that boy’s face pierced me. It made his life. He never took it off after I gave it to him. I can’t explain to you how that really felt in my heart with words.

To end the night we went back to our main house, which we’re staying at. We ate dinner and then spoke with the pastor of the church and his wife who founded the feeding site ministry. We went around the room thanking and sharing our deepest encouragement to them for what they have already done in our lives. We all ended with everyone almost being brought to tears at the hearing of the passion our leader Bob McMichael had to even get us to go to the Philippines. We are blessed. We are truly blessed to be in such a tight-knit group that has now come together as a family.

God is beyond good is all I can conjure up at this point. Today was a day that I truly won’t ever forget.

~Jordan Harbin

-----------------------------------------

Some things to pray/praise God for:

- for Michael, the man that received the good news of Jesus Christ today! 

- for an amazing church service

- for a great team - and the family that is building

- for Pastor Rolando and his wife, Teresa - they are the ones that started the feeding site program

- for energy and strength for a full week ahead of ministry

- for tomorrow's opportunities: work project in the morning, travel to Panay Island to work with the Ati Tribe ... soccer and feeding sites

6.1.13

Thank you all for your constant prayers for our team! God is definitely working in the lives of our team and through the lives of the Filipino people. 

Today was a long and grueling day. The one thing that stood out to me and most of our team was how God moved in our lives today by giving us physical strength through the Spirit.

We got up and ate breakfast today at 7:00 a.m. and then 5 of our guys went out to play basketball with the Filipinos. They did some drills with the kids and had a 5 v 5 tournament and also played a local Filipino team. The guys pulled out a win against them! Go Chargers Go!

The rest of us went down the street to do construction. The building we were working on was called the “Agape Center.” The Agape Center is a school and a ministry center. We shoveled a lot of stone and sand and also mixed concrete.  We did it for about 4 hours and by the end we were all very tired, but it was amazing to see the amount of strength that God gave us to get through the day. We accomplished our task and I can speak on behalf of the team that we had great attitudes and a fun time doing it.

After we worked, we jumped into the beautiful clear ocean to rinse off and then rested for about 45 min before we headed out to more feeding sites. Three groups from our team went out to three different feeding sites to feed and play with the children.

My team’s experience at the feeding site went a little like this: we arrived and the kids immediately jumped on us. We then gave a short lesson on Adam and Eve, sang some songs, played with the kids and then fed the children.

We all gave every ounce of energy today from construction to playing basketball to feeding children. It was a great day and we all give the glory to God.

We also believe that your prayers are valued and without all of you, we could not be doing what we are doing. Please continue to pray for all of us that God would teach us and grow us and do as He pleases with us. We all want to follow the Lord and want to do His Will. Thank you for all of your prayers! “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. –James 5:16

For Him, Micah McClay

---------------------------------------------

Some things to pray/praise God about:

- for continued energy & strength

- Sunday services and another visit to 3 more feeding sites on Sunday

- praise for amazing attitudes and hard work

- praise for great opportunities to love on children

5.30.13

God is good! We made it safely to Manila around 9 pm on Wed night. Everything went extremely smooth in the airport going through customs and immigration. We gathered our 41 checked bags - they all made it - and met up with Clod & Olivia.  

For Wed night, we stayed in Manila at the CEF guest house; we finally were able to get some showers, sleep and rest after 24 hours of traveling. Most everyone was asleep by midnight or 12:15 am.  

We also tried to sleep as long as we could, but most of the guys were up and getting ready by 5:30 am. Around 7:30 am, Tori Beaver met us at the guest house with some breakfast and had the chance to talk about what we would do for the day.  

So far today, we went to see Faith Academy, a K-12 international MK school; also spent a good bit of time at the USA WWII Memorial. It was very sobering and humbling to see the cemetery of crosses & Jewish stars along with the memorial of thousands of names of those individuals whose remains were never found. So thankful for our military servicemen who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.

After a stop for lunch in a mall, we are now on a coach bus heading to the port to catch a boat ride from Manila to Boracay. It is about a 10-11 boat ferry that we will be able to sleep on and wake-up in Boracay.

Everyone is doing great - continue to pray for good health and team unity. We have an amazing team that is working really well together getting from one place to another.

Pray also for our upcoming ministry to the children in the villages of Boracay and also for our sports outreach opportunities. Everyone is excited to participate in the various ministry opportunities we will have to participate in.

Thanks for praying! For the team, Bob McMichael

5.29.13

We are off! We left Tues, May 28 from Lancaster Bible College around 6:15 am. Thanks to our great drivers - Scott Boyer, Jared Yoder & David Burge for getting us to Dulles Airport safely (thanks Keith Keltner for riding along, too!). For a while, it didn't seem like we would make it on time. The radio station we were listening to in the van said, "95 South is really bad - just like a parking lot and nothing is moving!" Not what you want to hear when you need to make a flight. That was at 9 am - and our flight was at 12:20 pm - and the gps said we still had 2 hours to go to get to Dulles and we were only on 695 at that time - and it was like a parking lot, too! Fortunately, we did find an alternate route via 70 and some other roads and we made it to the airport around 10:10 am!

Everyone is doing well - we have made it to Tokyo and our waiting for our next flight to Manila! Thanks for your prayers. We are still in need of some finances - and I believe that God is going to meet that need yet before we get home! The number is down to about $5500 (maybe even a little less!).

Pray for us as we arrive in the Philippines - we have to claim all of our bags, exchange some money, and then we are getting on a boat for an overnight trip to Boracay! Should be another great adventure!

One last thing - one of our team members (Jon Bird) was unable to come on the trip because he had surgery on his knee - not an emergency, but a correction surgery. We weren't sure when the surgery was going to be and it was finally scheduled for Tues, May 28 - so he didn't make the trip. 

The other young man that I had mentioned earlier (Tyler Smith) - he is along on the trip!  And his health is doing great! Definitely a God thing for him to be with us!  Thanks for praying for him.

Thanks for your prayers & support! The team appreciates it. We'll be getting on a plane in about an hour!

For the team, Bob McMichael

5.28.13

The team is currently on their way to the Dulles/Washington airport for their 12:20 PM flight.

5.28.13 - 6.12.13

Leaders: Bob McMichael, Monique Burge, Scott Harrison, Jade Landis

Team Members: Raeanne Brouse, Ally Brown, Melanie Cherry, Darrell Epps, Eric Flick, Heather Good, Hannah Graham, Jordan Harbin, Scottie Harrison, Kurt Keltner, Emily Martz, Christina McLaughlin, Micah McClay, Jordan Mellinger, Hannah Metzler, Nick Monroe, Meredith Powell, Stefan Smith, Tyler Smith, Evelyn Stauffer, Britany Stout, Ellen Watkins, Alex Vocature