The central Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful. Friends and family from Virginia and other states are in our hearts. But the Lord made a large deep room inside us for our Philippine family and gave us tasks to accomplish that can make a difference. Flying to our IFL home at the Institute of Foundational Learning (IFL) in Laguna, then, was with joyful anticipation.
Our permanent quarters had Christmas decorations. One of the young ladies, who also went on the Cambodia medical mission with us on the last trip, had done the work to ready the room for the season with door decorations and a lighted tree. I could not sleep very long. My first walks around the compound a few hours later were filled with greetings and hugs. One little girl remembered that I always said good morning by lifting her above my head — twice. She waited with open arms to get slung in the air. As I toured the school, teachers and children, whom I know the best, went out of their way to greet me.
Some of the young girls and boys we love crowded in our quarters to see us after school. Actually, the girls came a couple times to get a chance to talk to Faylene. Some of them brought new friends. The first thing one of them wanted to know is if we had read the personal letters they wrote to us when we left. We had, and spoke of how it affected us.
The couples ministry group had made a place for us in their Christmas celebration on our second day and wanted us to share. I marveled at our entrance to the large room as several ladies crowded around Faylene to hug her. They chattered for ten minutes before the program started. While still exhausted from our flight from the US, we laughed, ate, and had fellowship for several hours. One couple brought us one of our favorites: fresh duck eggs. Faylene is the same Bride who told me she was not sure she had room for any more people in her heart just before her first trip a few months ago. Before we left for airport this time, she danced up to me with excitement to say, “we are going home.”
We’ve already met a couple times with the director, our friend, “Tita” Pat. With a bit of jest but also serious, she explained that we can relax this week, but next week will be very different because there is a lot of work to do. We are anxious to get started on it.
I have already toured the IFL compound many times, passed the children’s homes, ducked into classrooms, checked on the lives of several staff, and continue to love my friends as I see them. I have already heard of other mission work to the mountains of other provinces, parts of trips to villages in Thailand, visits to the local jail, and various ways how the Lord is challenging many to move forward to help others and share the Gospel. It is just what we are doing: leaning forward, ready to put pen to paper, prepared to show hospitality to whomever comes to the door, and see what God may do.
It’s home, and it’s our calling.