Here We Go Again!

Take a look at those handsome/wacky looking youth in the picture above. Those are the 12 who are a part of Honest Hands Discipleship Home Batch 12 (“batch” is the common term used here for a class of students). This is our third group of guys since arriving here in 2014. We added a couple bunk beds in the rooms to be able to add two more guys to this group. Thank you for praying during the selection process. As you might imagine it takes more than just approaching youth on the street and saying “hey buddy, come join our discipleship program for nine months.” If you are interested to learn more about what the selection process looks like you can read more at the end of this update.
We appreciate your continued prayers for the guys in this batch and the Honest Hands team. We have already faced many challenges with these guys due to character and spiritual maturity issues, which has resulted in many group “talks” and some individual warnings. We know they are at Honest Hands because of their character issues and need for spiritual growth so we keep telling them that we will not give up on them, but being at Honest Hands won’t help them until they decide to make steps toward change and take their faith seriously. Despite the challenges, we have see some positive change as well, and we praise God for how he is working in their hearts!
Pray for wisdom, strength, patience and a heart of love to minister to this particularly challenging group. Pray also that the guys’ hearts would be softened, and they would have a deep desire to follow Christ and grow in him.

Honest Hands Batch 12 Update

We started this batch of HH on May 23. Eleven of the students are new. The other, J.A. is back again repeating another batch. He is mentally delayed possibly due to sniffing solvent and living on the street when he was young. We are glad to have him back to see how God will continue to work in his life and to see how he will continue to learn and progress. You need to understand where J.A. came from and what he was like when we first saw him last year to appreciate the growth he has experienced and understand why we want to have him back again. When we first met him last year, he would hardly look at and acknowledge us. We learned that he was abandoned and left on the steps of a Catholic church as a young child, and taken in by someone in a community nearby, but unfortunately he was not very well taken care of due to the family’s own poor living conditions. This resulted in him spending much of his time on the street scavenging for recyclables and spending time with other children and youth from whom he learned to sniff strong glues to overcome hunger and to get a high. After learning this, we began to understand his situation and give him some grace when it came to how he would function within the program. It was a difficult process to get him to just follow the simple aspects of the program like being on time for activities, teaching him to have manners, and taking care of himself hygienically. However, he has always been interested to learn to read and write, and he always shows interest in Bible sessions even though we don’t always know how much he takes in. After a lot of hard work from the HH team during the previous batch and continuing the teaching and growth process now, we see great progress in J.A.’s life. He can write and recognise all letters of the alphabet, is starting to read, has gained a new confidence and self respect which allows him to speak more confidently and express himself much better. He still needs to be reminded to do simple tasks, but has shown great progress in this area as well. Also, he is able to share what he has learned from Bible sessions and encourage his fellow students in a simple way to follow Christ! It’s amazing what God can do when we take the time to mentor and disciple someone even from a difficult and seemingly hopeless situation like J.A. Please pray that J.A. would continue to grow in his faith and develop in maturity and socially.

After the first week of this batch, one student, J.M. decided not to continue at Honest Hands, but instead work for a very small daily wage. It is unfortunate that he didn’t consider his long-term future which could have opened so many more doors for him, like the opportunity to be mentored and discipled at HH, and then possibly joining Working Hands discipleship and vocational school. Instead, he chose to give in to the freedom that money gives (no matter the amount) and possibly to family pressure for him to work. After confirming from his pastor that he decided not to continue at HH, we began to discuss if we would replace him with another youth that attended the discipleship and recruitment camps. After much discussion we invited another youth to join. We are glad to have him a part of this batch, and he shows a desire to grow spiritually.
Pray that all the guys would have a desire to “stick with it” at Honest Hands and will put nothing above their spiritual growth.

Some exciting news is that 6 of the graduates of Honest Hands Batch 11 are now in the Working Hands discipleship and vocational training program. Two are in the computer technology program and 4 in the wood technology program. Please pray that these guys would do well in their classes and that they would continue to grow in their relationship with Christ and love for others.

We’re trying something new at Honest Hands. To give the guys some practical life skills, we want to teach simple livelihood skills. So, we purchased an oven and had a day of training from friends here that own a bakery. We had a great day of training and tasting (of course) and we are learning along with the guys how to bake different breads. See pics below. Please pray that this will be an opportunity for the guys to expand their knowledge and skills, and also build self-confidence.

In June we had some visitors from Colorado. Paul Ortiz helped us get started on a small addition on the HH house, then we were able to hire some workers, one of which is a Working Hands grad to complete the project. It is a blessing to have this extra space outside! See picture below. Thank you Paul, Ruth, family and friends for visiting and being a blessing to our families and ministries here at 2nd Mile!

Other News

Canada bound! On Aug 9th we’ll be on a plane (for twelve hours straight…) headed to Canada! We will be spending one week in BC and then on Aug 16 we head to Ontario, where we will spend the next few months. We are all excited for our upcoming visit to Canada. We have been talking about it a lot with the boys to prepare them for going. The other night Sam said, “I’m excited to go to Canada, but I’m also nervous because we have to meet a lot of new people.” Although kids seem to adapt well, they do have some anxieties and hesitations. While in Canada, we will be staying with Greg’s parents in Elmira. We are looking forward to being close to all of our family and many of our friends. We will return to the Philippines on December 30.
Please pray for us as we make preparations for our time in Canada. Getting our house in order and the ministry prepared for us to leave for 5 months; scheduling in meetings, speaking engagements, seeing family and friends ect. are among the few things we need to work out. Please also pray for each of us especially Sam and Asher that we will be able to process our emotions and feelings well.

There has been a lot of change on our campus here. We’ve had to say goodbye to some people who are leaving the field and also welcome others who have moved from Manila. We are also excited to have Gary and Melita Root back living next-door and have the privilege of working alongside them as they assume leadership of Working Hands and overseeing operation of the entire campus. Sam and Asher love being able to invite themselves over to their place to play. Please pray for us as we go through this transition period here on our campus.

Recently, Greg was nominated and accepted to serve on the ACTION Philippines Council. This leadership team serves as an advisory council to the director of ACTION Philippines. He counts it a privilege to serve the Lord and the mission in this way. Pray for wisdom for Greg and the rest of the leadership team of ACTION Philippines as we seek to operate the mission in God honouring way.

Family Update

The summer months are coming to an end and we are enjoying rain and “cooler” temperatures. Highlights from the summer are: family vacation to a nearby beach, the boys doing swimming lessons and Sam’s 4th birthday party, with a superhero theme. We finished up Sam’s homeschooling at the end of April and started up again at the beginning of June. Sam is now doing a K4-5 homeschool program and Asher is doing some preschool lessons.

Third Culture Kids
If you have been following our updates, you will know that we have been including some information on Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and how to specifically pray for Sam and Asher. We can’t thank you enough for remembering Sam and Asher before our loving God in prayer. We realize that every child needs to be covered in prayer and that each one faces different challenges throughout their life. As TCKs there are some unique things that are faced as they grow up in different cultures.

“Bilingual”
It is such an amazing thing when a child starts to speak. It is exciting for parents to hear their children say their first words. It’s also very exciting for us to hear Sam and Asher learn not only English but also Tagalog. We live in a country where many people know at least basic English, however among the poor it is hard to get past a greeting in English. We therefore want Sam and Asher to learn Tagalog so they can communicate better and develop good relationships and friendships with others around us. We are so thankful that at this point they have been excited and somewhat eager to learn the language.

Please Pray:
That Sam and Asher will continue to have motivation and skill in learning Tagalog and the Filipino culture.
That Sam and Asher will make strong friendships here in the Philippines as well as in Canada.

“Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.” Psalm 139:4

Just Some More Cute Pics of the Boys!