Saturday, April 3, 2010

HE IS RISEN!

Happy Easter!

I hope to pump out this blog before Tim needs my computer again....his has bit the dust and as many of you know. So much of what he does requires him to use his much fancier computer. Alas, the poor computer is tuckered out and Tim, as a result, is very stressed. So....here I go...

We were strangely awakened on Good Friday at 4:30 am. In the Philippines, it is tradition to create a funeral procession for Jesus on Good Friday and everything is shut down for the day. No one works and no one goes outside after the procession. They believe that because Jesus dies every year on this day, if something were to happen, such as a death in the family, this poor family member would go directly to hell because Jesus has not risen, yet. You don't want to commit a sin on Good Friday, either, because it will not be forgiven until Sunday....however, there seems to be less "procession" and celebration on Easter Sunday than on Good Friday.....Mmmm. So Good Friday, at 4:30 am, a funeral procession came down our street blaring sad, remorseful music with a very heavy, dark voice speaking Visayan over the top, proclaiming that "He was marred for our transgressions." Thought-provoking, indeed, but I think they missed the point.

It has certainly been a while since we have blogged. Everyday seems riddled with change and I barely remembered it was Easter until Holy Week came upon us. Yes, I had heard others saying they had given up "this" or "that" for Lent and facebook was full of people saying "goodbye" for Lent. But somehow, Lent seemed to pass so quickly and my best intentions of starting an Easter tradition failed.

Maybe it was the lack of bunnies, plastic eggs, and pastel colored Easter candy in the supermarket like I am familiar with at home. There are no "Cadbury" eggs or speckled malt eggs here....nothing to tell you Easter is coming, funny how those things are "Eastery" ha ha ha.... and there were no crosses or pictures of Jesus around, either. The days have seemed to run together like a watercolor painting gone wrong.

And yet, God is clearly speaking.

Three weeks ago, I met a very special person. Her name is Sherry. She's come to the Philippines from California to acquire more birth experience. As a nurse in her 50s, she came to a place of desiring to practice the Gospel in a very tangible way through serving the poor. And in the last 3 weeks, she has ministered to me immensely. She is only here until the end of May, but I know her impact on my life will last much longer.

In the last year, I have grown very tired. Worn. Lonely. Hungry for deep spiritual connections...relationships....longing to be filled up, as I have felt that the last 3 years have emptied me totally. I think about all that has happened in 3 short years and I am thoroughly amazed at the faithfulness and power of God....in a nutshell, Tim and I moved to the Philippines, I became a certified professional midwife, had our first baby, Tim discovered his passion and calling, and we got preggo with our second baby....we've missed many weddings, births of family members, funerals of precious loved ones....all while living in an unfamiliar country, culture, and living daily by God's gracious provision alone. I'd say that's quite a bit for 3 years. Probably more action than some and certainly not near as much as others.

Meeting Sherry this past month gave me the IV infusion of perspective from the Holy Spirit that I desperately needed. While I feel as though our time in the Philippines is starting to wind down, I feel as though another journey of equal difficulty and equal grace is on the not-too-distant horizon. If it's okay, I would like to share what plans we feel the Lord has laid for us in this season of change....

Let me start by saying that our passion, as a family, is to tangibly act out the Gospel of Christ through practical service to the poor and broken. Narrowing it down, Tim's demonstration of this passion is bringing clean, safe drinking water to the poor for life. My demonstration is through tending to the physical and emotional needs of women and children living in poverty through midwifery and health education. Meanwhile, a new passion that the Lord has unveiled is that of raising our children to desire Christ in every part of their lives...this includes a life of service. However, we feel strongly that hands-on parenting of our children does not include putting service to the poor above their discipling. Yes, I know it's not really a word, but I say "discipling" over discipline because parenting is truly discipleship. Serving the poor overseas is certainly a part of this new passion of discipleship. Okay...with that thought in mind....we feel as though we will be vagabonds for most of our lives (Lord-willing and guiding), but we also feel as though so much has happened in the last 3 years, that we need a time of "refilling" and rest as a family...surrounded by family....

We are coming home....but not permanently. :)

In the meantime, God has opened the door for us to house-sit for a missionary family who will be going on a 6-month furlough to the US starting at the end of May. This is an incredible blessing to us as we will not have to pay for rent, but rather just utilities allowing us to (hopefully) save some money for flights home. At the same time this opportunity came, another couple received acceptance into the Newlife International School of Midwifery program here. This allows us to pass on our apartment and all our belongings to the couple serving the poor in Mercy Maternity Center in July! (Yes, this does mean that baby Stewart #2 will be born in the Philippines; hopefully at our new place of house-sitting!) I cannot begin to tell you how the pieces have fallen into place regarding the timing of everything.

You see, Tim and I have had a deep desire to go back to Canada to spend Christmas with our families. It may seem trivial, but having spent the last 3 Christmases here and now having two children...well, it has been a desire to experience Christmas with our kiddos with their extended family.....so the missionary family that we are house-sitting for will be returning to Davao the end of November leaving us without a place to live. This is a good thing. This sealed the deal for us that God was setting up the opportunity to come home for Christmas. So our current plan is to arrive in Vancouver the end of November and hope to stay for as little as 6 months while we prepare for the next move. Tim will continue to oversee the water project in the Philippines while creating international partnerships with and for Impact Nations through the provision of safe, clean drinking water......

This creates a whole new set of transition....we have no place to live, no winter clothes for the kiddos, no furniture, no vehicle...no equity...you get the idea. But just as God prepared for us a place (a beautiful and peaceful place) for us here in the Philippines after selling everything we had, we have no doubt that He will continue to pave the way for us, though we are treading carefully and submitting every detail to Him....

Toti, Tim's right arm man, will continue the water project here with Tim communicating with him frequently. There is so much happening with the water project now and Tim is confident that helping manage it from afar will not be a problem come November. I will be supporting him while beginning to plan for the next place of residence....whatever country that will be in...while learning to parent two toddlers.

I know without a doubt that I am leaving out a whole bunch of details and thoughts. I am aware that I have followed a few too many rabbit trails in this post. Just blame it on me being 27 weeks pregnant. :)

Back to Sherry. She challenged me this month with the story of a gal who "left it all behind" for the passion of Christ. If you get a chance, read the blog postings from www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com and perhaps listen to the podcasts she recommends from www.brookhills.org/media/series/radical. I guarantee it will challenge and maybe encourage you....I would love to hear some of your thoughts or comments on the subjects shared....honestly, I am shaken by their challenges and I am encouraged that our calling as a family has not changed.....and will not change, though I look forward to His rest and refilling in November.

Be blessed. I leave you with the Bird sitting on our front step awaiting another adventure.....
PS. Please keep us in your prayers as there is a LOT to plan and think about. THANKS!!!

3 comments:

~*Beth Durden*~ said...

Bethany, Bethany, Bethany...you are awesome! All that you've experienced in 3 years!!! 3 years... That's so crazy. Moving overseas, becoming a midwife, having a baby, and getting preggo again!...it makes me tired just thinking about it, haha ;o) I feel so blessed that God brought you into my life sister. I have loved watching how God moves, guides, and shapes you this past (almost) year. And how He brings everything together so smoothly (it's very encouraging as I make the steps to come to the Philippines!). I know that you and your life have encouraged me so much. I am so happy that Sherri is in your life right now and can minister to you in the ways that you need! I'm looking forward to checking out that blog link!
Talk to ya soon!

p.s: Selfishly I'm so excited that you will be in Davao until November ;p

Irun4fun said...

Wow. What an amazing blog-writer you are, B. I am so thrilled to be a part of your life--watching the incredible work of God in your life. YOU ARE SO INSPIRING!!!

Christina said...

Thank you, Bethany. I'm sitting in the freezing cold in the lobby of my building in Korea, but so thankful to find an internet connection. I am not surprised, but definitely thrilled with God's answers to our prayers with you when we were there, just a month ago. I was very confident that when I said you needed an exit strategy and a date, that God would lead the way. He'll take care of the rest of the details as well. I feel great peace for you, both for the next 7 months, as well as the season to follow.
I hope we can Skype soon so I can get more of those wonderful kisses that Promise blows to me. We're almost on the same time zone till the 14th. sorry about Tim's computer; we'll figure something out. Love to all of you, Mum