Saturday, July 4, 2015

Becoming Family

We have become a family: living under the same roof, cooking meals together, and serving the same amazing God. We have seen each other fail and succeed, cry and smile, and have challenges and victories. But most importantly, we have seen how God has changed our lives and the Filipinos surrounding us.

Batangas City, Philippines is where we have called home the last four weeks. About an hour and a half south of the nation’s capitol, Manila, Batangas is a thriving providence dominated by the Catholic faith. Different universities and colleges are scattered throughout the city, producing many students and our tool to go on campus. The 5 of us are split into 2 teams. Caroline & I teach at BSU and STI, while Alainna, Jen, & Leah teach at CLB. We are teaching conversational English to about 8 classes per week. Along with teaching English we have been given the opportunity to grow relationships with students outside of the classroom. We spend our days on campus, meeting students and sharing the Gospel. Our lesson plans for class include scripture, Christian songs, and parables from the Bible. Through this we have been able to share our testimonies and what God has done through our lives within the classroom. We have also incorporated Bible studies and what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. Through these English lessons we have been able to show the love of Christ and shine a light on the truth.

Pray for the students in our classes as their hear scriptural truths on a regular basis. Pray that these truths will create a thirst to know more.

Names

In Thailand, people's given names are too long so they give each other shorter nicknames to say instead.  We have been learning a lot of names the past month. There are many kids' names at the dorm we have learned,  as well as some of our students and the teachers at the school where we teach.  The children at the dorm have even given us nicknames.  My nickname is "Elsa." Abby's nickname is "Baby" or "Rabbit." It's so sweet to hear the kids call out our nicknames!  We were also given Thai nicknames by a little girl: Ma-Now and Ma-Noy. Abby is Ma-Now (which means lemon) and I am Ma-Noy (which is a vegetable like a cucumber that grows wild in the jungle).  It's really fun to hear them call us by our Thai nicknames too!

All this thought about names got me thinking about God's different names.

Lord of Lords, Holy One, Exalted One, Father, Jesus, Jehovah, Lord, Light of the World, Prince of Peace,
The Light of Life, Son of God, and
The Way, the Truth, the Life.

There is power in His name - in His names.  This summer so far hasn't always been easy, but when it does get hard, the best place to turn to... and the only name to cry out is His.  I am so thankful for His constant presence and the fact that all we have to do is cry out His name - the sweet name of Jesus.

"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Philippians 2:10-11

Father, let us always remember to cry out your name and remember the power in Your name.

-Alyssa

Teaching the kids vocabulary about the Bible Story when Jesus calmed the storm


Perseverance & Patience


A few days ago, we had to go get supplies from the city near us. I made my list and budgeted what we need and how much we could spend without spending too much. (I love schedules, routines, and planning... none of which are really part of the Filipino culture.) After we got the packed grocery store, I began to feel overwhelmed with the amount of chaos. I wanted to freak out because so much was happening at once, but like so many others times this summer, I was reminded that I must be patient. After reminding myself f this multiple times in the grocery store, I finally made it outside only to find it raining. 

Motorcycle travel in the Philippines: always room for 1 more!
After my 100 lb.. translator, our 50 lb. bag of rice, the next weeks worth of food, and my 6'2" 190 lb. self get onto this motorbike, we proceeded to drive 20 minutes in the rain up a mountain road to our village... I began to reflect on what I've been learning. Perseverance and patience blasted in my thoughts the entire ride. 

James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything." 

Just like I experienced the pain of growing into my 6'2" frame, I am now experiencing some pain of growing into the man of God that God has intended me to become. Like the missionaries we read about all summer, patience and perseverance are key components to living for and following the Lord wherever he guides you. 

Pray for our team as we grow through perseverance & patience this summer.

-Zach

University Cultural Exchange


Our team went to an Islamic University and shared a presentation about ourselves. We then broke into groups and were able to share more intimately about who we are while giving the students opportunity to share a little bit about themselves and ask questions. They asked questions about our culture, continuing education in America, and what was our favorite food to eat here. The best question asked was concerning our religion. This opened an opportunity for me to share the Gospel with 12 of the female students. They were very receptive and asked meaningful questions. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in these girl's lives. 

After our Cultural Exchange we met with a student from the Islamic University and had coffee with him at a local coffee shop. Kathryn and I were able to hear from him what he considers to be truth in the Islamic religion. To listen to him speak of what he believes to be true was very hard to hear. We could feel the darkness surrounding us in that coffee shop. We respected him sharing with us and saw that as an opportunity to shed some "light" on the situation. We shared the truth that we know to believe is the way, truth, and light. He wasn't as willing to listen to what we had to say but we were able to plant a seed which we trust the Holy Spirit will continue to nurture. 

Growing Pains

We have said goodbye to one village and hello to another. However, God has renewed my strength in the middle of a tough time. Last week on our R&R day, we went to a fish farm. I walked up expecting to catch a few fish and move on with my day; however, God had other plans.

I began to get discouraged about not feeling like I was actually sharing the gospel since I can only share so much before my translators are given leeway to share it in the heart language of our lovely people. I had found a sweet spot for fishing, and per the rules of the fish farms, a worker had to take the fish my hook for me. This girl named Josie just stayed beside me as I caught fish after fish. While we were waiting for me to catch the next fish, she began to ask me questions (IN ENGLISH!) about me and where I was from. After a few minutes of back and forth conversation, the conversation just died. As soon as the silence fell, I knew that not sharing the gospel with Josie would be direct disobedience to the Lord and my purpose for being in Cebu. So, I started the conversation back up talking about her brother, whom she had already talked about being a Christian. After asking her what she believed and if her brother had ever shared his beliefs with her, I laid the gospel out in simple terms. Her response to me was, "I can't be forgiven because I've done too much bad." This broke my heart. At that moment, it began to rain and we had to leave, so our conversation ended with my last words of, "God will still forgive you of what you've done." I felt a weight lifted from me as I was shown that I must be patient and let the Lord work.

-Zach
   
Things to pray for our team:
  • Patience
  • Perseverance
  • Continued unity in our team
  • People of Peace
  • Good health as we play basketball everyday
  • People who truly understand their need for the gospel!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Student at the Coffee Shop


My supervisor's wife and I met a college student at a coffee shop tonight who has been studying with her every week since April. Someone shared the Gospel with her then and she has been eagerly studying through the Torah ever since. On our first meeting, we studied Genesis 12 about Abraham. Despite her broken English, and my virtually non-existent knowledge of her language, (luckily my supervisor's wife can translate most things) we talked for almost an hour about Abraham, Jesus, and the Gospel. Her innocent questions reminded me why I was here:  to help people like her enter the Kingdom of God. 

The next week, I met with her alone, and she walked right up to me, and said "I have so many questions for you." What a blessing! I've never met anyone so open and seeking. 

Pray for this student.
Pray that her thirst for knowing God will drive her desire to continue to study God's word.
Pray that her questions will be answered & she will understand accept God's unconditional love for her.