For my little friends in the Philippines, I woke up this morning thinking about you. Most days I remember some of you or tell stories about our times together, but I also know that a new school year has begun. This is a good opportunity to tell you some news and tell you some people stories, because I want you to learn all you can as you grow. More than anything, like Tita Pat says, I want you to know Jesus Christ. So, with images of many of you in my heart, let’s tell a few stories:
A few of you (even some of the families) have wanted to know how Baxter, a little Terrier dog, is doing. I still remember Kyle looking at me ever so seriously and asking, “Will you bring Baxter when you come back?” As I explained, that would be very hard. However, I have good friends who called me a few months ago and asked to have him. So, Kyle, he is doing just great. Actually, he is more spoiled than he ever has been. When he saw me on a recent visit, he wrestled with me like he always did, but after a minute or two he snuggled up with his new masters and became a love sponge.
The biggest news, however, is not about Baxter but about people. You saw me in the past with Ma’am Linda, who went to heaven nearly a year ago. I was alone during the last trip to see you, and really never expected to be married again. But, God had other ideas, and His ideas are always the best. So, one of my best friends, Ma’am Faylene, will become my wife in less than two weeks. We have talked many times in the last few weeks as events unfolded. Like me, she has stories. Some of them are in Africa, some in Central or South America, and some are from the states. We both love children, find that our writing gets used in one way or another, and love mission work. I suppose that is why we were friends already, and good friendship, as I tell my friends, is a very good thing.
Ma’am Linda and I knew Ma’am Faylene and her husband, Gene, for many years. Gene died and went to be with the Lord about six years ago. Linda went to be with the Lord a little less than a year ago. Almost two decades ago I had hiked and kayaked many times with the four youngest Lawson children. Now they are married and have children of their own. I will bring pictures for you to see when Faylene and I come to the Philippines later this year. I think these grown children are nearly as excited about our upcoming marriage as Faylene and I are. One of the grown children has already come to the Philippines, and would like to come again.
I want to tell you another people story from two days ago. Five of us got together for a spaghetti meal, some fellowship, and some worship time. Ron, Dot, Sid, Faylene, and I spent four hours sharing and singing. Our common bond is Jesus Christ, and each of us knows the benefit and value of long-standing friendship. Each of them commented within a day of the event how much the time meant to them. Shouldn’t it be that way if you have chosen good friends and God is at the heart of them? We sang scripture songs, laughed together, and, of course, ate a good meal. It reminds me of similar times with you, when I would eat with you and your parents or house parents. Who would have thought a little man like me from one little state in the US would find himself good friends from people living in islands half way around the world?
So what is the lesson? In the end, you want to choose friends wisely, be able to be a friend to others, and make good stories of your own. I must be plain, however, the depth of good friendship is made really real when you know the One who made us all. The peace He brings cannot be duplicated by anything the world offers. And, He makes friendships go deep because of His life in us and His command to love one another. He truly is, as John 6:35 says, “the bread of life.” In another place (John 8:12) He says, “I am the light of life.”
So, learn well in your new school year, but be a friend and have good friends. Appreciate the One who made you and reach out to Him whenever you remember Him or see Him at work in circumstances around you. He can make friendships lasting and give them a quality that is special. Then, when Ma’am Faylene and I come, we can share stories about what has happened to you and to us. In the meantime, listen to the teachers, who love you, and those who give you a home, because they love you.
I included a few images in this little article. As I wrote it, I thought you would like them because they remind me of times with you. I will bring pictures with me so you can see the our wedding and some of those who came. In the meantime, take care. God bless you.