December 2016 I met with a best friend. A year later I am married to her, and we are on the mission field together. We still remember our deep friendship, our talks, and our expressed goals to walk with Jesus Christ on the mission field during that December 2016 meeting. So, twelve months later our mission quarters are frequented with people a half a world away from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Our doors are open most of the time. Children and staff visit, then linger with us as we have fellowship together. We are writing, posting, and completing curriculum. Our home is in the Philippines.
Four children regularly run up to me to get gently thrown in the air because it is their customary greeting with me at the IFL Compound. I see their faces and faces of many others here — even when I am not with them. Some of the staff are close enough that it seems odd not to give a hug or receive one at least once a day. We worshipped this morning with our friends — lifting up our hands and voices to the One who has given us life. We lingered afterward to greet and talk to couples, children, and staff. Tonight we will meet most of them again as we gather for fellowship, worship, and food to begin the New Year together. Faylene and I are here to serve, but it’s a labor of love. We love our friends and are here to do whatever we can to encourage them.
I observed the moon and sketched on Christmas evening. Some of the boys living in the children’s homes came by to look. Faylene looked at the craters, too. The little telescope is just an 80mm refractor with barely enough magnification and ability to catch the biggest craters. As I started, the boys huddled close as the craters took shape on my black sketch paper. They asked questions; they always do. I answered them and kept drawing.
The next day I took the two “grandchildren” ice skating. I had promised to go with them January 2017. That was the trip I took alone to this mission station in Cabuyao, Laguna, Philippines — fully intending to be single and probably on the mission field some of the time. Oh, my goodness! What things can change when the Spirit of God begins to work! I never expected to be married at that point, and did not expect to be in the Philippines most of the time.
The skating time with boys on Dec 26 got them started skating backwards. Five falls later I had to quit, but they were excited. Their older sister came up to tell me how different it was when I was there — so much more exciting and fun when I could be with them. My Bride occasionally watched me from some bleachers, since she was concerned that I might injure my body. I did, but it was recoverable. A little later the boys, the girls, their Mom (director of IFL), and I watched the sunset as we ate nearby. The colors at sunset, along with the Christmas lights on the street, were beautiful and became part of the combined sketch with the lunar craters I had sketched the day before.
Now we are in the final hours of 2017. God has clearly marked a path for Faylene and me, and it includes some direction for 2018. We have been honored to witness His personal unfailing love in the process. Some of our path forward is defined, but much of it is not. Our confidence is in our relationship with the God of the Bible — the One who oversees peoples’ affairs, if they will let him. By His grace, He has let us know Him, and has drawn close to us.
My prayer for my friends — some believers but some not — is to know the One whom we are talking about. When all the commotion of New Year’s Eve is over, the parties have left a mess, the drinking is done, and realities come alive the following month, what do you have to show for it? What gain has there been? Is the soul still adrift and looking for an anchor? Is a nice time with family really enough in the face of eternity? Are a few titillations of the flesh enough to bury the thought of what might be ahead when the body is worn out?
We have an Anchor, and we recommend Him. People only have so much time to eek out one sort of life or another. Some have it good. Some have it bad. It’s long for some but short for others. In any case, life was never meant to be disjointed from the Creator of heaven and earth. He is not a myth. The stories are not fake. His nature has not changed. He still oversees, beckons, judges, and will judge in finality. Further, He has made provision for forgiveness of sin for those who call on Him. It can change a soul, a life’s direction, replace destruction with fruit, and have eternal implications. For us personally, it led to our friendship, our recent but seemingly “out of season” marriage, and another home half way around the world. We would not trade the walk with Him for anything.