A Bit About Life and Ministry Over the Past Number of Months:
“I’m really so excited,” “This is so cool” and numerous other new phrases, an occasional song and dance, showing us his excited face (eyebrows raised, eyes wide open and a cheesy smile on his face), and tackling his brother Asher have become Sam’s new ways of expressing excitement. These have definitely been exciting days over the past few months since we sent out an update. You know, it’s really hard to believe that we have been here for 9 months already! A lot has happened since then. I did not realise how busy and mentally exhausting taking on this new leadership role, and experiencing so much change has been. The week before Christmas break is when I did realise this. My heart was heavy, and I was carrying a huge burden of stress caused by everything we were experiencing as a family who moved halfway across the world with two young children, and the responsibility of adjusting to a new role of leading a ministry (I cannot begin to explain everything that has entailed over the past nine months). Then there is the emotional drain that can come with working with guys who come from difficult backgrounds. Carl, the former director gave me this insight, “the ministry at HH is one that can shift in an instant from joy to frustrations or intense concerns.” Because of what I was experiencing, I wasn’t looking forward to what was supposed to be one of the most fun and exciting weeks of the program. I sat down with Sarah, who happens to be God’s gift of stability and calmness in my life, and we prayed about what I was experiencing. What was happening was that I was trying to carry the entire load, and putting the pressure on myself. God helped me come to the realisation that it isn’t mine to carry! The success of the program and the life change that needs to occur in the guys’ lives is not my responsibility. All I have to do is do my best and let God do the rest (sorry, I know that’s a little cliche!). Our prayer for all of you is that you realise the same as you begin 2015. May the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 have the same impact on you as they did me recently: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Honest Hands Ministry Summary
Lot’s has happened at Honest Hands since we last sent out an update. We finished two Bible teaching semesters: KNOW – basic Christian doctrines, and theology that would help the students have an understanding of who God is and the plan he has for their lives; and GROW – looking at different Bible characters and events in the Bible so we can learn from them and apply people’s obedience to our lives and try to avoid the mistakes they made. Now we move onto our last semester: GO – preparing the guys to live in Christian maturity and to reach out to those around them with the Gospel. Please pray for safety and many growing experiences on our missions trip to an orphanage north of Manila lead by an ACTION missionary. The staff have also continued to face the challenge of teaching academics to the guys who all happen to be at different learning levels. We have also had a lot of activities with the guys. Here’s a bit of a list of what we’ve done and below will be a few pictures: educational trip to a historical site/museum and a dairy farm that is also a Christian foundation; being given tickets to a professional league (Philippine Basketball Association) basketball game (we sat about five rows up, behind the net); taking the guys shopping for new clothes; baking Christmas cookies with Sarah and Sam; having a Canadian Christmas dinner together; going to a theme park; Christmas party where we gave the guys a new polo shirt and a food hamper to share with their family at home.
We have also faced some challenges with the guys. We had to dismiss one student from the program because he didn’t attend 7 weeks of the program. This was a hard decision, but we feel we made the right decision with God’s leading. We threw a party for Tim, and gave him a recognition of participation certificate to recognise his participation in the program. Please pray that God would continue the work that he has started in Tim’s life even though he will not graduate from Honest Hands. Another student, Jabar is really struggling and hasn’t been back since the break. There are many factors at home, and also we believe spiritual warfare that is keeping him from growing at Honest Hands and that will most likely hinder him from graduating. Jabar really needs your prayers!
As for the remaining 8 students, this is a crucial semester for them. We want to see them finish strong and graduate with an unending passion to live for Christ and follow His plan for their lives. Pray that this will happen in their lives, and also that they will develop lasting relationships with one another.
Family Update from Mommy-o
“I must be a farmer!” “Let’s go check it out.” These are just a couple of the fun sayings that we hear from Sam. Both his vocabulary and imagination is expanding tremendously. Aside from his english vocabulary expanding, Sam is also learning many Tagalog words. He often surprises me with the words that he knows. Sometimes I think that he can learn new words faster than I can. Sam takes pride in his new abilities to dribble a basketball with one hand, climb all the way around the monkey bars (with me spotting him of course), and getting onto the swing all by himself. It is amazing how much he has grown since we’ve arrived here. Asher is also growing up quite fast. He loves to walk around everywhere (with my assistance) or crawl all over the basketball court or ground outside. He likes to test me to see how much dirt, stones and sticks he can get in his mouth. When we are out he likes to smile and wave hi to everyone or try to give them a hi-five, including security guards.
Both Sam and Asher love to go to the Honest Hands house and visit the students or watch them play basketball in the afternoons. They especially like the times when we eat meals or celebrate birthdays at Honest Hands. Sam has his place now at the head of the table and all the guys love it. It has been really neat for us to see the extreme kindness and interest that the Honest Hands students show towards Sam and Asher. They play with them often and are always trying to make them smile and laugh. We can see how they have a unique role in the ministry even at such a young age.
Although we missed family and friends at Christmas time it was fun making our own new family traditions here in the Philippines. I had a fun time teaching Sam all about Christmas by doing lessons by “Truth in the Tinsel” for the month of December. Sam looked forward each day to his “Christmas lesson” where he learned a piece of the Christmas story and did a corresponding craft that was hung on our tree.
We are thankful for the health that we have had lately either than the bad allergies that Sarah gets here and there. Please pray for continual health especially for Sarah’s allergies.
We are honestly finding it difficult to stay on top of communication and support development…hence this very late update. Please pray also for wisdom for managing our time wisely. as we lead and minister at Honest Hands discipleship home.
Thank you dearly for your prayers and support!!!
By the way, Mommy-o, along with Daddy-o, Asherly (that came randomly) or Ash and Puppy-o (Sam’s little dog he sleeps with or snuggles when he get’s hurt) are all of our nicknames that Sam gave us! What a little character and handful this little guy is!