As exciting as it was for our family being back on Philippine soil during our first week spent in Manila, nothing topped our joy in finally returning home to our city of Silay on August 2. Home . . . after two long years. We had a sweet and tearful welcome with our church family. Our house and belongings were in quite a state, and it took a lot of cleanup, repairs, and new paint to make home feel like home again. We also had some unpleasant surprise meetings with some unwelcome guests: four tuckos (“large lizards”), enormous huntsman spiders, and head lice shared to one of our daughters, as well as all-day power outages. Thankfully, the tuckos have been caught and relocated outside, and the spiders and lice were eradicated quickly. None of these stressful situations and minor irritations can quell our absolute thrill and gratitude to be home again here, serving on the mission field.
During the month of September, our church plant an hour south of us in Bago City celebrated their one-year anniversary. This church was started by Pastor Jesse Leones and greatly encouraged along by the Boltons. The very next Sunday, our main church celebrated her seven-year anniversary. We had over 40 visitors, half of whom called on Jesus Christ for salvation. Ten or more of them have returned in recent weeks; please be in prayer for their growth and baptism. We were blessed to honor the Boltons during the anniversary service, as God used them greatly in carrying on the ministry the past two years.
We conducted an off-site staff- and leadership-training retreat during the month of September and put the next 16 months of ministry on the calendar. We are so blessed to work with our two assistant pastors, Mhel Veloso and Chris Pattison. Due to our sudden emergency exit from the field two years ago, I am fully aware of just how expendable I am as a pastor and missionary. I share nearly every responsibility with these men, as it is good for all of us, especially for the stability of the long-term ministry. It is also important to equip them should the Lord lead any of us on to start a new church in the future. In the end, we are all simply interim pastors, and it’s good to know that it’s not all about any one person—it’s all about Jesus!
• Working on the ministry processes that we might do better work in the ministry as a whole
• For laborers and funds to arrive for our Sunday-school-facility construction—working on nursery and first floor now
• Jonathan’s every-three-month follow-up MRI in the Philippines this October—for his safety under anesthesia and for him to continue to be cancer-free
• Please pray that Hussein, a Syrian refugee we have been helping, will make a clear public profession of his faith
in Christ, as we are not certain of his conversion.