We had been warned by the Holy Spirit in October 2019 in the Philippines that we would not be returning to our loved ones in the Philippines for a year. We had no idea what was coming.
By early 2020 we were praying in our West Virginia cabin for a daughter, son-in-law, and three little children, so they would be able to make an emergency return to the United States, having been stranded in the Philippines doing mission work because of conditions onset by the COVID-19 virus. The COVID lockdown began in the Philippines suddenly, and had cancelled all Philippine domestic and international flights. Their chances of returning were small, but a plan came together with emergency flights. They returned safely and healthy a few weeks later than originally scheduled. After that, it became nearly impossible to return to the US if you were stranded there.
We had made an early 2020 trip to a sister ministry in Arizona, whose director wanted to assist us in our publishing the newly edited version of A Study of God’s Creation Filled with Purpose, Direction, and Consequence. By early summer the book was out and the free Android APP was completed. We had hoped it would begin to spread among developing regions around the world where English was a second language, but part of that plan hinged on our sharing it overseas. That was not possible due to COVID. A federation of Christian schools in the Philippines was beginning to use an early Philippine printed version, but conditions due to COVID had slowed its introduction as teachers and staffs struggled to go online with students in communities that had never done such a thing before. COVID restrictions had changed everything. It was a struggle for many of our friends at the Institute of Foundational Learning, where we still have quarters awaiting our return.
Our home country seemed to stagger with fear in many areas, including many churches. Our chances of returning to the Philippines dwindled to zero. We began our trip around the US in the summer to visit a handful of ministry contacts and introduce the resource as a potential help to those they served overseas. We never had a problem on the 8000 mile trip due to COVID, but we did exercise caution and new procedures as we entered public places and hotels. People were friendly and the roads were quiet for a normal peak travel time. It gave us good opportunity to visit areas of geologic significance due to their tell-tale signs of the receding period of the Genesis Flood. Several lessons in the newly published resource cover the Flood but there is nothing like seeing the dramatic layers of sedimentary rock, bent rock layers (pliable when laid down), mountain, and plains features that relate to the period.
After the trip, with restrictions due to the virus still increasing, we spent more time writing blog posts for the cwm4him.org site and brushing up on observing the heavens. By late 2020 we were averaging several hours a week messaging loved ones in the Philippines. Many of them consider us a Nanay and Tatay (mom and dad), so contact under COVID restrictions became more important to maintain as their lives were more significantly disrupted than ours. Our heart strings became accustomed to being pulled on a regular basis. A return is still not possible; visas for US citizens without relatives in the Philippines remain very restricted.
So, our Christmas and New Years sketch and card is comprised of scenes from our backyard observation of the heavens, trip stops in the desert and mountains of the West, the waters of SE Virginia, and the blue ridges of the Appalachians that we see all the time near home. The Creator’s hand has been very evident to us in our travels through what we see, including those things in the heavens that we observe from our West Virginia cabin location. The creation is meant to get our attention. Our Savior created them so we could live, observe, and perhaps reach out to Him, which is the point of Acts 17:24-29, the last chapters of Job, and various other Bible verses. Won’t you consider Him at such a time as this?
We hope this traditional holiday period will be peaceful because of the realization that He came to rescue us from our sins. He has made a way for us, having humbled Himself in the very world He created and upholds (John 1:3 and Hebrews 1:2-3).
His actions (birth, life, death, and resurrection) are cause for celebration.