Over five long years. FIVE! =O
Honestly, I had given up all but a glimmer of hope that I would ever be able to return to my beloved Cebu and the Filipino people that the Lord had put so deeply into my heart so many years ago now. I won't try to candy-coat it; it's been a very steep and arduous uphill climb - sometimes I even despaired of surviving it all - but in the end result, these 3 great truths have remained in my heart:
~God is faithful - He is exactly Who He says He is.
~I have no regrets in answering His call to the Philippines - I've always said that if He ever opened up another door, I would go with no hesitation.
~There is still no price too high to serve Him and He is still worthy of my all.
The short story is that I have been blessed with a plane ticket and I'm set to fly on Saturday, September 13th for a surprise visit to all my "beautiful brown kids" who are all grown up already! (More details about the wonderful way that the Lord provided it still to come.) After having lived and worked and shared together for 10 years, I am anxious to see how each of them is doing in their walk with the Lord and to encourage them in any way I can while I'm there.
But the bottom line for now is that after spending almost a year having my hands full working at 5 different part-time jobs, and having had 3 of them peel away in a very short period of time, the door seemed to be opening to make this trip. After a further series of events that also seemed to confirm that this was, indeed, the right time to return, Steph & Ryan helped me book my ticket.
I marvel at the way that the Lord has slowly but steadily restored my health in order to have sustained that hectic schedule! (For those who have asked and prayed, I'd say I'm about 85-90% health-wise and doing quite well compared to when I arrived Stateside back in 2009 - I'm just SO grateful.)
And all this brings me to you - many of you as long-time faithful mission supporters and some of you as new friends and brothers/sisters in Christ - asking you to prayerfully consider helping me to see this trip through!
***** In-Country Details & Financial Needs *****
At present, I am working within the standard 21-day tourist visa time frame, but it is truly my heart's desire to stay a minimum of 5 - 6 weeks. My bases are all covered at my 2 remaining jobs and my overseas plans can be easily re-arranged to accomodate extending my stay. All that's holding me up at this point are the needed funds to know if it's possible!
I am currently in the process of finding out what's involved financially to either restore my "PRV" (Permanent Residency Visa - I do have dual citizenship there but it will need to be renewed after my long absence), or to simply extend my regular visa for 2 or 3 more weeks, and which is most expedient at this point.
Along with funds for my trip and covering my expenses while I'm there, I will need to ensure that my living expenses back here are also covered while I'm out. I live very simply so not much is needed and thankfully, in God's providence, my rent for both months is already taken care of. =)
While I've been grateful for the jobs I've been provided and the way they keep me going from month-to-month, that income has left no room for putting anything aside for anything else. If the Lord is really in this, I know He is well able to cover my bases on both sides of the ocean so I'm prayerfully watching it unfold as I go along...
***** Goals/Prayer Requests for Trip *****
The goals that are on my heart for this trip are as follows:
~Follow-up and discipleship with my former Youth/Young Adults, families, and friends with whom I shared God's love. (The Apostle Paul set our example for this when he took Mission Trips to do just that in the areas where he had previously shared the Gospel.)
~In addition to encouraging them in their day-to-day walk with the Lord and equipping them to share the Word with their families - many of them are married with children of their own now! - it is heavy on my heart to also encourage them about standing strong in the face of potential persecution in these uncertain times we are now living in as Believers world-wide.
~One of my "adopted daughters" is set to get married soon and this trip will coincide with that wonderful event! She lost her dear Mama to breast cancer recently and due to the circumstances that caused her to need an alternative place to stay to begin with, she is alone at this important time in her life. She has been fervently praying that I could be there with her as have I.
~Depending on the funds that come in, there are so many who still struggle in such poverty and despair - it would be wonderful to be able to purchase some goods and prepare some "Bundles of Joy" to bless those who are so in need of God's love in tangible ways.
~And lastly for now, with much of my heart still so vested in Cebu, I will be assessing things there to see if the Lord might perhaps have a new work of any kind that could use some on-going assistance or whatever else He has in mind for the future.
***** Final Thoughts *****
Many have asked if I would ever consider moving back to the Philippines to live again, and my general response is that while I've learned to never say never with the Lord ;) I don't really see that in my future. Rather, I could see perhaps a series of "longer-short-term trips" in the upcoming years to assist in any way the Lord could use me, hopefully with an indigenous work, either new or existing. Once they are equipped with the Gospel and the necessary tools to do so, Filipinos are still the most effective in reaching their fellow Filipinos! =)
***** Time is of the essence *****
It is still a mystery to me why the Lord so often moves at the "11th hour" like He does, but this trip is no exception! This week - starting now on Aug. 29 through next Friday, Sept. 5 - will be crucial in raising the balance of the needed funds to see this mission through. That allows for about a 7-day margin for the transfer of any funds raised here via GoFundMe into my account for the trip. Funds can still be given here and will still go toward the trip, but I'll really need to know what the numbers look like especially during this first week to know where things stand.
May God bless you richly as you prayerfully consider being a part of this work, remembering that the missionary is only one part of the mission - it takes praying, sending, giving, and going in order to make it happen. Those who contribute in those ways have an equal share of the work in Heaven's eyes! Love you all bunches! ='D *hugz*
- Kevin, Jeanie & Brandon Bock
- Amy Petro
- Jackson Family
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