Friday, November 18, 2016

Some Recent Thoughts

We've been traveling a lot this fall visiting different areas to make new friends! We've met a lot of alumni who have participated in Nehemiah Teams before...some have done it many, many times! And we've also had opportunities to speak at churches and campuses to mobilize as well as teaching some classes to explain the gospel. Whew! What a fall full of travels...and more to come! But it's been good. I wanted to share some thoughts and some notes I've been writing in my journal lately that might be a glimpse into what our lives have been like lately.

Sometimes I just want sleep in my own bed.
Sometimes I want to eat something different.
Sometimes I want to stay home and not go out.
Sometimes I don't want to sweat anymore...


All the time God has been with me.
All the time God has helped me with the task.
All the time I have food to eat and a place to sleep.
All the time I am amazed at how God's work is not as difficult as I thought it would be because God has equipped me.
All the time I am amazed at God's people who are serving Him faithfully and have a heart for God's name to be spread across this country and the world.

So after, I wonder why I thought it would be so hard. God gives wisdom. God gives words, energy and joy in His work. This is worth it because Jesus is worth it. He is worthy of all my time and energy; He is worth long days, dusty streets, hungry stomachs, tired eyes. It's not about what I lose, but about what I gain - a better picture of my God, a closer relationship with Him, a better understanding of His love.


Mobilization done here in this church! Thankful for their enthusiasm about Nehemiah Teams and missions!

Spent the morning before our all day training to swim at this beautiful beach!

Beautiful matter where we travel to!

Joe playing life sized chess with Pastor!

Teaching classes to share the gospel with high school and college students.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Family Time!

Recently my parents and all but one of my siblings were able to come visit us here in the Philippines! It was a great to see them for the first time in almost a year and to be able to show them our home here in the Philippines.

Not only did we get to go to the beach and other tourist locations, but we also were able to go to the local markets to show them how life is here in Southeast Asia. They really enjoyed the heat and no air conditioning in our apartment! We had a wonderful time and were so encouraged that they came to visit us. We miss them already!

Check out some pictures from their visit below!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Feels Like Home!

We're back home! We've been back in our house for about 2 weeks now and have really enjoyed getting to cook in our own kitchen, do laundry regularly and spend time with our friends. Here are some stats from the past few months:

3 months & 3 weeks - Time away from home
4850 - Kilometers driven (that's about 3013 miles!)
16 - Villages/Towns slept in the Philippines
3 - New countries visited
1 - Flat tire
175 - Bibles given out by the teams
11 - Modes of transportation: car, airplane, motor tricycle, motorcycle, pedicab, boat, van, jeepney, tractor jeep, ferry, feet

Many new friends!
Many times sharing the gospel in English and Tagalog!

Thanks for following along on our journey and for your prayers! We were blessed to spend so much time ministering to the Waray-Waray people and getting to learn from our fellow Filipino Christians.

Tractor jeepney! Not sure of its real name, but definitely the most unique mode of transportation we've encountered so far!

Receiving Bibles after trusting in Jesus Christ!

A friend of Nehemiah Teams 2012, Dolores Team!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Don't Waste Your Accidents

Last week as I was pulling into a parking spot I turned too sharply, and my back tire cover broke the plastic on a pickup truck in the space next to me. Face palm. Due to various complications it cost not only the money for the tail light replacement, but multiple hours and meetings with the other party and the traffic police to figure out the solution.  I found myself frustrated and thinking that the problem could have been easily fixed in 15-20 minutes if I had my way.

While sitting with the other driver and the traffic officer in the station I told them that I was a missionary in the area. They asked the normal questions like how long have you been here and where have you gone. However, when we were almost done the officer asked me, “Since you are a missionary, do you have any words of wisdom from God to share with us?” I replied that I did and proceeded to share the gospel with them, which led to the officer asking 3 questions related to salvation that he had clearly been wondering about before. The next day we gave him a gospel tract and he sent me a friend request on Facebook.

1 Peter 3:15 says “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” God continues to teach me about this. I was frustrated over some lost time and money, which in the grand scheme mean nothing. He has greater and eternal purposes He wants to use us for.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ministry in the Past Months

It is God who saves, not us. It is God who leads us to the people who are ready to hear and accept.

Recently, we were able to spend some time with the different teams that we are supervising and join them in their ministry. In one barangay (village), I joined some of the team going house to house to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and inviting the people to accept the free gift of salvation that God offers to all people. At one house in particular, I was reminded about how God brings us to the right people who are ready to hear and accept the good news. We approached an older lady gardening outside of her house and she invited us in. She sat and listened for a short time while her husband came in from the back. Eventually, the older woman left and we ended up just talking with the old man. As our translator was continuing to share with him, he had tears in his eyes and by the end of the conversation, he wanted to put his faith and trust in Jesus to be his Savior. He prayed to confess his sin to the Lord and tell Jesus that he was putting his trust in Him for his salvation. At the end of our time with him, the old man had only one prayer request: that his family would also know Jesus as their Savior. I left that house encouraged. It is God who saves, not us. It is God who leads us to people who are ready to hear and accept.

Later that evening, we had Bible study with a woman and her daughter who are Christians. We studied about the parable of the sower in Mark 4. God reminded me through that passage that we need to continue to share with everyone because we do not know what kind of soil the seed in falling on when we share. Like with the old man earlier in the day, he seemed not interested at first, but eventually came to accept Jesus with tears in his eyes. It is not up to me to find good soil but to share with all people.

Our salvation in Jesus Christ is sure.

Joining another team in ministry, I shared with a younger woman in the national language, Tagalog. Thankfully, I had a translator with me to help with anything I could not express clearly. After sharing, I asked if she knew where she would go after she died – would she be in Heaven with Jesus or in Hell apart from God? She began to reply but stopped speaking as she began to cry. Her response was that she did not know where she would go because of her sin. She wanted to go to Heaven but was unsure if she could. I explained to her again that Jesus paid for all of her sin on the cross and by returning to life 3 days later, Jesus conquered death and gives eternal life for all who confess their sin to Him and trust in Him alone as their Savior. Our salvation in Jesus Christ is sure. Jesus says in John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” The genuine response from this woman gave me the desire to continue to share this. There are people who need to know that Jesus brings salvation and once they believe in Him, they have eternal life that cannot be taken from them. They can know they will be Heaven with Him.

Thank you for praying alongside of us as we and the teams have shared the Good News of Jesus. Continue to pray that the seeds that were sown will grow and those people who have accepted Jesus will continue to grow in their faith.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sheep Without a Shepherd

We recently visited one of the Riverboat teams and were able to join them in ministry. One particular Bible study had multiple participants. We were meeting outside and by the time everyone was gathered and ready to begin, it was 2 hours past the scheduled starting time and it was starting to get dark outside.

The people listened intently and used flashlights to read their Bibles. We read the parable of the sower and explained the Gospel. The people shared their questions and we responded through a translator as best we could. The only known believer in the village shared passionately in their own language and many understood for the first time and others were assured in their salvation. 

As I sat there, God brought a verse to my mind. Mark 6:34 says "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things."

That night I was reminded that this is what anyone who is going to the unreached and hard to reach  is doing, just showing the way. God had already been working and the people were hungry and ready for the truth found in God's Word. They just needed someone to point them to it. His sheep know His voice and God will do the rest.


What have we been up to lately?

It's been some time since we've added pictures to our what have we been doing lately?

We have been traveling a lot! These past months have taken us to new islands in the Philippines as well as to new countries! American Nehemiah Teams is happening now and we have been busy traveling to visit the 4 teams to encourage them and join them in ministry. We have made new friends, both American and Filipino, and have had a good time getting to know them and hearing all that God is doing through them. Here are some random pictures...enjoy!

Visiting Elizabeth's parents (and pandas!) on mainland Asia

Monkeys love orange slices...who knew?!

Great photobomb Vincent...

Enjoying God's creation with NT 2016! Thankful for the short break before sending them back out for ministry.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Recent Ministry and Encouragement

The past few weeks we have been travelling through Samar and Leyte visiting and ministering with Filipino Nehemiah teams as well visiting and encouraging believers in different villages. We just wanted to share some quick stories of what God has allowed us to see and what He is teaching us.

Not a Religion to Join
We also visited a team in a village off of the Jipapad river in Northern Samar. The team was doing a great job sharing and engaging the community using what they had learned in their training. The team allowed us to join and lead one of their Bible Studies. One woman said many people of different religions come to their village trying to convince them to join, but that we were different. We told her that we weren’t trying to bring a religion, but that someone had once shared the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with us and now we have new life and eternal life through a relationship with Him. We explained that since someone had once shared this with us we now wanted now wanted to share it with them. She replied “Thank you, we have never heard anything like this before.”

God Uses our Obedience
God has been teaching us that He uses our obedience in ways we can’t always see. We had been in a village visiting and encouraging believers, but God lead us to leave one day early to go to the next village. We arrived at the house we would be staying at and the believers there were overjoyed to see us. We found out that the next day was Nanay’s 62nd birthday. We had a small, simple celebration with 3 small fudge cakes with candles and singing. She shared with us that she had been feeling lonely with all 7 of her children now out of the house, but that God was so good for sending her “children from the Lord.”  God also used this beautiful family to encourage and refresh us through their love and hospitality.
Also God allowed us to see how greatly He can use the prolonged obedience of just 1 person. Luigi Almine has been working doing follow up in Eastern Samar for the past 5 years. Every village we visited, people were asking “Where is Kuya Luigi? Is he coming back soon?” Even in Northern Samar, the prayer request of the believers there was for Luigi to come visit them soon and to continue teaching them how to share with their friends and family. God showed us again and again the eternal impact Kuya Luigi has made in these places that will last until long after he is gone. Please join us in praising God for how He has worked through Luigi and for Luigi’s next steps as he gets married and moves to a new country.

The Power of God to Save
We visited a team out on beautiful Hilabaan Island. We found the team there hard at work each day out sharing the good news of the Gospel. There is no church on Hilabaan and many have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ before. We joined the team in sharing, gaining experience in sharing in Tagalog (with a little help from our Filipino teammates).
At times it is hard to tell if the people are understanding our message, but God reminded us that the power is in the gospel, and not in our sharing abilities. Romans 1:16 says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

Later on in our journey, we visited a village on the Oras river and got to stay with a family that my team in 2012 shared the gospel with. When we shared the gospel with them for the first time, the family seemed confused and even disinterested. God reminded us that only He sees the hearts of men, as this family was baptized in 2012 and are still following Him today and sharing with others in their village.

Written by Joe

Monday, April 25, 2016

Island Hopping!

It's summertime now in the Philippines are schools are out! We are enjoying ourselves working with young people to share the gospel on different places and islands throughout the Philippines! So far we've traveled to 4 new islands! Here are some fun pictures to share with you...

Delicious sweet pineapple! This is known as the sweetest pineapple in the Philippines...and it really is!
 It's also really small compared to other pineapples. Cut in a swirly pattern for easy eating ;)

Driving over he longest bridge in the Philippines, the San Juanico Bridge

The memorial in MacArthur Park in Tacloban, Leyte.
This is to remember the landing of MacArthur in the Philippines and all the soldiers who fought here in WWII.

Joe and I helped at orientation for the teams going out this summer to share the gospel with the unreached and hard to reach!
We made new friends and are excited about all that God is doing in the Philippines!
Our new friends we made during orientation!

Going out to another island with one of the summer teams to share the good new of Jesus Christ!

The Dolores river at sunset

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fun-day Monday!

Here are some pictures of Fun-day Monday!! Monday is usually rest day for the trainees out at the camp, but last Monday we decided to have some extra fun instead! We have really enjoyed getting to know all of the participants as we have helped with the training and simply hung out with them all. The 11 week training will end soon and the participants will go separate directions to put into practice what they have learned. We will miss them a lot!

Climbing in the balete tree with everyone!

Next, we went to see the waterfalls and cool off by swimming in them!

Who doesn't want to journal with a chicken?!

Waiting for the sunset...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Philippine Eagle

Last week we enjoyed getting to know many new friends! We helped to host a retreat to encourage and challenge the leaders of Nehemiah Teams here in the Philippines. God is doing great things here and we are privileged to be a part of it!

One of our afternoons during the retreat was spent at the Philippine Eagle Center. The national bird of the Philippines is the Philippine Eagle, also known as the Monkey-Eating Eagle. These are endangered birds with great hair! And their wingspan can be up to 7 feet!