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July 2012

Baptisms and The Encouragement They Bring

Today, we went to Wesley United Methodist Church, here in Macomb, IL. I sat in the pews and witnessed new members being accepted. One infant was baptized. The proud parents and grandparents were up front to present their child to the Lord. It was a great moment to see.

Carmen and I are back from Denver, CO. We came in last Thursday. On Friday afternoon, our whole family went to Rushville, IL, about an hour away from this city of Macomb, and visited the Rushville Family Camp of the Gateway Conference of the Free Methodist Church. It was a wonderful time of fellowship. We sat around the courtyard beside the tabernacle and chatted. Carmen and Jacob went about playing carpet ball with some of the kids. At some point, I threw around some water balloons with Les and a few adults. I talked to Blanch, Sawanna, Kathy, Denny, Tim, Martin and numerous other old friends whose names I cannot remember. I also had a great conversation with Randy.

Randy is a middle-aged man who was recently baptized in the Rushville Free Methodist Church. He shared to me his life story and the various crises in his life. I asked him: "What made you finally decide to go through the rite of baptism?" His response was a long story of God's gracious ways in his life and his family. It was encouraging to hear Randy's story.

In this time of Partnership Building, I look forward to meeting with our friends and chatting with them. Most of all, I eagerly anticipate the encouragement I will receive when they tell me their stories of how God's grace is abundant in their lives. Whether it is the child baptism of their grandchildren or their own personal baptism, I know I will be blessed. I love being present at Baptism Services. I love listening to the testimonies of God's people when they make that decision to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Tonight, we will be going to Avon United Methodist Church (Avon, IL) where a lot of our prayer warriors and friends are located. We will have a time of encouragement. I cannot wait!

Praying For Missionaries

How do we pray for missionaries? Some days the urge to pray for missionaries comes in most unusual ways. You might be standing in line to pay for your groceries or waiting for your doctor in a clinic somewhere, when the desire to pray comes. You know then that it is time to pray. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night and feel this heavy burden to pray for your missionaries. At times, it comes when you are in the middle of doing something and you know for sure that your missionary is in dire need. You just have to drop everything and find a place of solace and pray. You know you have to intercede for your friends working in the Lord's harvest.

How do you pray for your missionaries? Whether it is a quick short prayer or an intense focused intercession, it is prayer all the same. Prayer books help. Newsletters, Facebook postings, prayer cards, or stories from missionary blogs encourage us to lift our missionaries up to the Lord. What is important is that we get down on our knees and participate in the Lord's harvest through the act of prayer. We pray because Jesus has commanded us to pray for more laborers in the harvest field (Matthew 9:38). We pray because we want to contribute to the Lord's work.

How do we pray for missionaries? We pray at all times (I Thessalonians 5:17). We pray where ever we are (Philippians 4:6). We pray with all our being using all available resources. Why do we pray like these ways? It is mainly because God desires that His people come to Him in prayer (Matt. 6:7-13). When God's children join hands in prayer, then God is pleased.

Yes, we pray because we have needs. Yes, we pray because we want to support each other. But most important of all, we pray because God desires for all of us to participate in His work through prayer. We pray because they make God happy. When we are interceding for the many Christian workers out there, then we are putting a smile in God's face. We honor God when we pray.

Praying for missionaries is a great opportunity to forget about ourselves and all our attending needs and concerns. It is a time to focus on God, to implore the Lord of the harvest to bring in more workers for the harvest. We pray because our Heavenly Father wants us to pray to Him. When we pray, we see a little bit of God's heart and His compassion for this lost world. Go ahead and pray for your missionaries. And when you do, imagine the world as God sees it.

A New Day, Sort Of

Gorgeous 70-degree weather. Enjoying the cool breeze. Pine trees all around. This mountain vacation house here in Florissant, CO is wonderful. I am sitting here in the open deck area of this house viewing the green valley below. Carmen is sitting here with me reading her book. Oh, wait! No, she has left her book and is wandering out by herself by the side of the mountain enjoying the sun and the pleasant cool evening. I just feel like blogging right this very moment.

I am here in Colorado with Carmen visiting my sister Cora and her family from Denver. We decided to rent a house here in Florissant, CO, and have a time of relaxation and get-a-away. Sarah is still back in Illinois with Jacob and enjoying her time with her parents, John and Judy. She is finally completing her time of recovery and rest. She should be ready for our church visits by the time Carmen and I are back in Illinois next week. Everything is working out according to God's plan.

Today, I just received an email announcing the new "boss" for our Asia region. As I was reading it, I felt God's prodding me, coaching me that this will be a "new day," not too different from the last one, but sort of veering into a different direction for God's kingdom building work. I felt a little tinge of apprehension, but more like an excitement for the new things that will come. I pray that I will be ready for God's surprises. It will be a new day because God will be there.

Simply Thankful Here in Michigan

Manton Family Camp, 2012. "Thank you for the popcorn. Thank you for the memories." This is a time to say thank you. I have many opportunities to come up in front of many people and express my gratitude for their support and prayers for my family. There are also many moments when I get to meet with certain individuals, old friends from when we started in 2005, and tell them how much they mean to us. There is Grandma Olga. There is Grandma Lorraine. There are many others whom I cannot remember but all the same I appreciate them for their love for us and God’s work in Taiwan.

Yesterday, I talked to Ellen, and I thanked her. I thank her for her compassion and love for her husband who went through cancer this year. She was there for him. Even with all the support and love of many friends and families, still there were many times she felt alone and helpless. She stayed on. I thanked her. I am grateful that she kept pressing on to stand by her husband and support him in those times of trials and pain.

Today, I heard the beautiful voice of one lady as she led in worship during our evening service. She is from one of our churches here in the North Michigan conference. God used her to bring His message of salvation. During the altar call, we witnessed several people respond to God’s call. I came over to Josh, the husband of that lady who led in worship. He was sitting way back at the place of worship. I thanked him for his support for his wife. I told him that many Christian musicians are who they are because of the encouragement of their spouses and their families. I appreciated his role in this music ministry. Josh mentioned to me that he was not musical. Nonetheless, God is blessing them. God is blessing Josh’s ministry of encouragement. I thank God for people like Josh.

This evening, I met with Lyle over a bag of popcorn sitting on a garden bench under an outdoor tent. I thanked Lyle for having a family like he has now. I appreciated his choice to adopt six children and to bless under-privileged children, and give them the opportunity to experience a Christian home. I told him that there are people like us who want to adopt children but because of our jobs and other circumstances, we cannot qualify for adoption. I thanked him for what he and his wife are doing.

Here in Manton Family Camp, there are many opportunities to thank people. I am thankful, not only because they are giving to our missionary support, but more so because they are living a life of Christian ministry and encouragement. I am grateful to God for Ellen, Josh, and Lyle. There are many more, but as of today, I am simply thankful.

Family Connections

Today is the Fourth of July, 2012. We are here with Grandma Judy and Grandpa John, in their home at a little town called Macomb (Illinois). We will be going out to watch the little parade at the town square and experience some small-town American culture. In the afternoon, we will go see Grandma's sister and visit with them. This 4th of July holiday is always a good time to strengthen our connections with our family here in the USA. Hot dogs and hamburgers. Fireworks and flag waving. All these experiences remind us that we are Americans, well, mostly Sarah and the kids. I am just another Filipino American (Fil-Am) enjoying the ride, and savoring the burgers and the Kitchen Cooked potato chips, the world famous potato chips that every person in Illinois knows.

Carmen and Jacob are enjoying every little moment with Grandma and Grandpa. we are staying in their house for the moment. Auntie Susan from Chicago is here, so the whole Mowery gang is complete. The house is getting smaller every day. Most especially when the kids start wrestling and running around. And of course, the adults chorus out their: "No  running please!" Oh well, this just reminds me of my time in the Philippines, living in a small house with ten siblings and relatives and helpers and . . . you do get the picture, right?

Sarah is not feeling well. So, she will stay here in Macomb while I go to Michigan for our annual Conference and Family Camp. Many of our friends in MI will be disappointed. They are looking forward to seeing our children and talking to Sarah. I am disappointed that Carmen and Jacob won't be able to try out our new pool in Manton Camp. However, we will see them again, when we come around and visit our churches in MI these months of August and September. It will be a different experience driving to MI alone. I am hoping that I do not run over a racoon, again, just like the last time. Remember that? Overall, this visit will be a great experience for me to reconnect with our MI friends. They have always been our vigilant prayer warriors. They are our spiritual family.

We are getting ready to leave for Aunt Bonnie's (Sarah's Aunt) house and fellowship there. I heard she was getting things ready to host all of us. She mentioned in her Facebook posting that she learned to play Angry Birds so she will know how to entertain Jacob, our ever full-of-energy 7-year old boy. I appreciate this. Imagine an almost seventy grandmother learning how to play Angry Birds! That is a great effort to get connected to our son Jacob. Way to go for family connections!