Now I Remember

“Remember me?” Rose asks me this question. She is a youth leader from Cambodia. Back then, she was an eight-year old girl when I visited Phnom Penh with a mission team from Taiwan. “My father is Pastor Joseph,” she continues. That is when I remember her. We chat a little bit and we both agree that the 15 years or so went by so fast.

I am in our Better Together Converge 2023, here in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is a gathering of our leaders from many countries in Asia. Several participants are youth leaders. Rose is one of them. We are gathering for a time of encouragement and revisiting our vision of “influencing a million for Jesus.”

The first day of our BTC23 conference, I was asked the same question by many of the youth leaders. Amos from South Asia, Jacob from Myanmar, Pastor Pen from Thailand, they all came to me and asked me the question. After a few pauses and puzzled look, I remembered.

It is a rewarding time to be here at BTC23. I am seeing God’s work among our Asian churches, especially among the youth. Now, they are the leaders in our communities. God is answering the prayers of His children.

Already, God Is Here

I came to Fiji four days ago, and already, I witnessed three ceremonies involving the traditional Fijian ways and customs. Two were the traditional Kava ceremony of welcoming visitors. These involved words of gratitude and greetings, as well as the ceremonial Kava grass presented to the host. The third ceremony was the celebration of life of a family who passed away. Usually, this is done at the 50-days or one year death anniversary. Last Saturday, I was invited to a one-year death anniversary of a family member, the village chief. It was such a privilege to be present at these important occasions. I am so honored to have witnessed these cultural events.

And of course, the food was good. We had a lot of taro, cassava, and greens. Fresh water eel and shrimps cooked in coconut cream. Lamb meat and chicken prepared with curry. The cassava cake was a hit. We had good conversations and a full belly.

In a few days from now, I will join our leaders of the Fiji Free Methodist Church in a week-long church retreat and leadership training. Pastors and members from three different locations will come and participate. Already, I sense God’s preparations for everyone to receive our time in the word of God. I look forward to celebrating God’s presence in our midst. He is God with us.

Learning From The Ground Up

How do you say “hello” in Burmese? What about “Good morning!”? Can you please write these down for me? One, two, three. What are the Burmese words for these numbers? How do you pronounce these words?

Rebekah Liou is a high school student from Cornerstone Church in Taiwan. She is asking all these questions (above) requesting the help of another high school student from Rong Guang Church here in Yangon. Rebekah is here with our seminary mission trip Myanmar. We are all encountering this new culture, very different from what we know in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Let me back up a little bit.

We are in a ferry boat traversing the Yangon river on our way to visit a Free Methodist church outreach called Dala Church.  There are 20 of us from Taiwan and a few leaders from the Rong Guang  (FM Chinese) Church under the leadership of Rev. Esther Huang. At Dala Church, our Taiwan team is supposed to lead an evangelistic program with elementary age children. We are grateful that Pastor Esther’s team has several leaders who are able to help us interpret our gospel presentation from Chinese to Burmese.

So, we are on this ferry with three hundred or so people crossing the river. In front of me are several monks feeding the seagulls that are flying beside the boat. We are all trying to entertain ourselves watching the seagulls shriek and catch the food thrown at them by the monks. After about twenty minutes or so, we dock into a wharf and the multitude line in to disembark. I notice a few yards ahead of me three Western tourists taking pictures of everyone. They are constantly standing in front of the monks and without asking permission take several close-up photos of the monks. I feel a little awkward. Okay. To be honest, I feel anger. They are disrespecting the monks. They are treating these religious people like objects—as subjects of the tourists’ camera to be later displayed in someone’s living room with no regard for their humanity. They did not even pause to ask their names, or smile and carry on a courteous chit-chat. No matter if they do not know the local language, they should have at least stopped taking pictures and just stand with the monks, like the rest of the people moving towards to the exit doors. I think these tourists are very rude. Now, why am I sharing this experience with you? Let me explain.

Do you remember Rebekah’s questions above? Now, compare her approach to the tourists’ way of documenting Yangon life. Which one gives respect to the local people? The answer is obvious. Rebekah with her pen and paper is the clear winner over the tourist with her camera. I share these two contrasting experiences to illustrate the fact that mission trips can sometimes be offensive. They can bring damage rather than help to the local people. On the other hand, I share these encounters because I am very proud of our Taiwan mission team members. They came with a heart willing to learn from the Burmese people. When we visited the FM Chin Church and painted the Bible college dormitory walls, Supt. Pakep noticed how the team worked together as one group. When the team served at the Rong Guang Chinese Church, Rev. Huang mentioned to me how efficient everyone was in doing their assigned tasks. Of course, there were set-backs and other minor snafus, but overall the team was incredible. We were invited to come back next year. Already, we are talking about 2016.

Pastor Paul Siwei Lo, the Outreach Pastor for Cornerstone Church is encouraging his church members to join the seminary mission trip to Myanmar this 2016. (Pastor Paul was with us in Yangon.) I am sure Rebekah, a member of Cornerstone Church, is already getting ready for this trip. I am also encouraged because Pastor Paul is a recent graduate of our Holy Light seminary. And now, he is leading his church members to participate in missions trips like this one. We look forward to more local church members joining our annual seminary mission trips.

I do not have a photo of Rebekah with her pen and paper talking to one of the local Burmese youth. However, that scene is very clear in my mind. I remember on another occasion Pastor Paul going around with a pencil and notebook asking questions about Burmese life and language. In other instances, I recall team members playing soccer with the kids on the street or playing the guitar with church youth members. We experience God with the local people. We learn their ways. We experience learning from the ground up.

Good Morning Osaka

Typhoon Talas, with its gust wind speed of 175 km/h (110 mph), is here in Japan. It is rattling the windows of this guesthouse where I am staying. I am grateful for the hospitality of my friends from Osaka Christian College and Seminary (OCCS). They let me stay here in this guesthouse for free. It is a small but beautiful campus, right in the middle of Osaka City. I still have to explore the streets of this city. Maybe, after writing this Blog, I will walk outside and go the nearest 7-11 convenient store and get some coffee and breakfast. If there is no rain, I will walk around and explore some more.

This is my fourth day and already my friend, Rev. Katsumi Shigetomi, one of the professors here at OCCS, have brought me to seven different Free Methodist local churches. Last Wednesday, after Katsumi picked me up from the airport, we visited four different church one after another. I met Rev. Seto Yashiyoki, Pastor of Sakai Free Methodist Church (FMC), Rev. Azuma, Takashi, Pastor of Hanan FMC, Rev. Tomohisa, Kogure, Pastor of Higashisumiyoshi FMC, and Rev. Junichi, Hatano, Pastor of Kishinosato FMC. Most of these local churches are more than 50 years old. The last one I visited, the Kishinosato FMC, just celebrated its 90th year anniversary. At this church, I also visited its Seika Hoikuen Nursery School. I had so much fun taking pictures of the children, most especially the 2-year old toddlers. The pastor, who is also the Principal of this school, told me that they have 230 children serving about 180 families from the surrounding neighborhood. Almost all of these families are non-Christians. The school has 28 teachers and 4 office personnel. What a great time of ministry. I saw some of the parents of these small children coming to pick up their kids using their bicycles. I was impressed with this outreach ministry. Many families are given the opportunity to hear the gospel through the Hoikuen Nursery School.

Wednesday evening, Katsumi and I went back to the Hanan FMC and visited its evening prayer meeting group. I shared a Bible study about loving the foreigners around us. Pastor Azuma is the former pastor of Pastor Shigetomi. Pastor Azuma is in his late seventies. He has been around for a long time and has pastored many churches of the Japan FMC. A great man of God! Thursday morning, we visited the Sakai FMC. Pastor Seto is the brother in-law of my friend Pastor Shigetomi. I shared the same devotional talk that I shared the day before. (You can scroll down to my earlier blog postings.) I also met Rev. Jim Nakae, the Pastor of the OCCS College Church. Most of the college students of OCCS are non-Christians. Pastor Jim leads this group of students and their families. The church also has non-OCCS members from the nearby localities.

Beautiful countryside scenery. (Reminds me of the movies 'Shogun' and 'The Last Samurai.') Rice fields ready for harvest. We stopped at a grape vineyard and bought fresh and sweet grapes. Katsumi and I are on our way to a mountainside resort for the OCCS seminary students and faculty retreat, which is located in the Nara Prefecture. Katsumi told me that this area is the location and home of the first Dynasty of Japan. A lot of history here. Took us about three hours. It is a good break from watching city streets and the concrete jungle of Osaka. I love walking under the canopies of large mountains trees. I am not sure what kinds of trees they were.

I switched from English to Chinese there in the mountains of Japan. It was kind of ironic. English in the cities, Chinese in the mountains. I joined the seminary students' evening activities. Katsumi went to a faculty meeting, so I was by myself with the students without my able interpreter, Pastor Katsumi Shigetomi. One of the students tried to help me with translation, but his English was not very good, I ended up missing a lot of the social exchange. During the second part, one of the students, Miss Jin, jumped in and helped with the translation. She interpreted for me from Japanese to Chinese. It was great! I was able to participate with them and understand all of the dialogues and sharing.

Miss Jin is from the Mainland. She is Chinese and is married to a local Japanese from Tokyo. Her husband is still not yet a Christian, but he is willing and supportive of her going to seminary to get her training and education. She came to Japan, first as a migrant worker, later becoming integrated to Japanese society through her marriage. She has been here for eleven years now. I am so grateful for her help. It makes my time with the students a little more meaningful and engaging.

Friday morning, I woke up refreshed and ready for the day. It took me a while to get started. I missed my two cups of hot brewed black Americano coffee. OCCS leaders gave me an hour and a half of time for sharing. I shared about my work in Taiwan and my role as an FMWM missionary and my relationship with the FM churches of Michigan and Illinois. I also shared about the "Raging River of God" from Ezekiel 47:1-12. (You can read this devotional talk. Just click here.) After my  talk, Rev. Dr. Haruhide, Tsumura, the President of OCCS, mentioned that there is a standing invitation for me to visit OCCS again next year, together with students from Holy Light Theological Seminary (HLTS) of Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I am so grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to be a bridge between these two seminaries. I am looking forward to that day next year when I will be bringing Taiwanese students to Osaka, Japan. Pray for me. Pray with us. Pray for all the Free Methodist connections happening in this part of the world.

We drove some more around the mountainside of the Nara Prefecture. Katsumi brought me to two more FM churches. I met Mr. Kumagai, Naoya, a Ministerial Candidate and pastor of Gojo FMC and Rev. Takafumi, Motoi, Pastor of Iwade FMC. I prayed for them, and pronounced God's blessings over them. I prayed a special prayer of guidance for Brother Naoya. The Gojo church is Naoya's first pastoral appointment. He just graduated from the seminary this year. He is single, and he needs a life partner who can stand by him and co-pastor churches for God. I told him, half-seriously that if he were in Taiwan, he won't have difficulty finding a good wife. Naoya is a very musical person. He plays the drums, guitar, and sings. I heard him sing when I visited with him. He also does calligraphy, beautiful writings of Asian characters. I am sure many Taiwanese ladies would fall in love with this artistic and committed Japanese Christian young man. Tall, muscular, you know what I mean. On top of that, he drives a Yamaha 500 cc. bike, the ones that look like Harley Davidson bikes in the USA. You get the picture now, right? (Oh, by the way, I am a pastor and not a matchmaker.) Pray for Brother Naoya.

Good morning Osaka! It is still windy outside. No rains yet, so I think I am ready for my walk. The streets of Osaka City is not too different from the city streets of Kaohsiung. Minus the ubiquitous scooter of Taiwan, I feel like I am still in Kaohsiung. I left Taiwan when Typhoon Nanmadol was still around. I am now here in Japan, and another typhoon is with us, Typhoon Talas. I guess, this is what I get for traveling during the months of August and September, the time of the year when Pacific typhoons come and visit many Asian countries. At least today, it is a beautiful windy and cloudy day. Perfect for walking, that is if you like your hair being blown randomly by this gusty winds.

Today, we will go to Kobe. I will be speaking at the Kobe FMC tomorrow morning. Katsumi and I will take the train to Kobe. Pray for my time at this church. Pray for the "connections" for the sake of God's Kingdom here in Asia. More stories from Osaka on my next Blog.

Sakai Free Methodist Church

Fifteen beautiful Japanese ladies. There are only three of us men. I am sharing about "Loving the Foreigners Around us." I am the only foreigner in the group. I am hoping all these lovely women will love me even more after this time of sharing. Pastor Seto, the local church pastor, graciously introduced me to the ladies. Pastor Shigetomi, my friend and host for this trip, is helping me and translating for me. I share my talk and challenge everyone to look for foreigners in their area and love them from the heart. After my talk the ladies were very courteous and gave me their best smiles and endearing thank you's. I am enjoying all this attention.

This was this morning on my way to a college retreat in a mountain resort somewhere in Nara Prefecture. I visited the Sakai Free Methodist Church. I was impressed with the members' hospitality. It was not only of their age and experience, but I sensed a Divine influence in their lives. There was a 2-year-old girl and her 20-something mother, but most of the 15 beauties were mature mothers and grandmothers, probably between the ages of 55 to 65 years old. I was blessed by their love. They all reminded me of some of my friends from Michigan--all beautiful mature mothers and grandmothers, who faithfully pray for me and my family. Both of them, Michigan and Sakai ladies, expressed their desire to help missionaries and to participate in missions activities.

You can always rely on the grandmothers of the world, whether they are from Japan or USA. They are beautiful people, beaming with love. They are full of prayer and commitment. They're giving the angels of heaven a work out. (Angels are working overtime to find answers to their prayers, everyday).

Visit to Osaka, Japan (God is here)

Sunrise is early today. 4:45 am, maybe? I cannot remember. All I remember is waking up too early because the sunlight was coming through the window of this guesthouse. I am enjoying my stay here in Osaka Christian College and Seminary (OCCS), here in Osaka, Japan. 

I flew in yesterday, and my friend and colleague, Rev. Katsumi Shigetomi, picked me up at the airport and straight away we went and visited with five different Free Methodist pastors and I saw four different Free Methodist Church (FMC). Yesterday evening, I shared at the prayer meeting of Hanan FMC and this morning I will be sharing at a Bible study group of the Sakai FMC. I love it. I shared and will be sharing about loving the foreigners in our locality. (If you want to see this devotional talk, please click here) I felt like it was a whirlwind kind of activity. Straight from the airport and, in less five hours I saw four FM churches. I am not tired, but I am still confused with which pastor pastors which local church. Oh well, I can always look at the photographs that I took.

I sense God's presence among our FM pastors here in Japan. They are constantly finding out new ways to make the Christian gospel relevant to the people of Japan, including the non-Japanese living here. I pray that, during my short stay here, I can get a glimpse of the Holy Spirit's activity among our local churches. God is here, but I have this urge to see in person what the Spirit of God is actually doing.

Today, after visiting Sakai FMC in the morning, Katsumi and I will join the retreat of the faculty and students of OCCS. I have one hour to share. Pray for me. Pray that I will experience God in a very personal way here in Osaka amongst the Free Methodist people of Japan. 

Kenting, Typhoon Meari, and Family Vacation

Drinking Coke Zero. Staring out the second floor window. Watching the trees sway to the strong breeze brought about by this typhoon. I just had my three cups of black coffee for this morning courtesy of Chuck and the staff of the Oasis Retreat Center. The good breakfast was a good way to sooth my disappointment. My whole family were looking forward to this vacation here in the southern parts of Taiwan. Thanks to Typhoon Meari we are stuck here for the rest of the day.

We are staying here in Heng Chun and visiting different places in the nearby Kenting area. Despite the presence of Meari, we were able to squeeze in a visit to the White Sand Beach and a trip to the Sheding Forest Park. We came last Thursday and spent the whole afternoon at the beach. Carmen and Jacob had a blast. The beach security were there and because of the high waves, they forbid people from playing in the water. We were allowed to stay on the beach and waddle on the seashore. That was enough for my two children. They were in heaven! Jacob even had the time to meet new friends--he played with four college-aged young people. I think, judging from the photos I took, they all had a good time.

Yesterday, we went to the Sheding Forest Park and took a four-kilometer hike around one of the mountain trails. We saw crabs, the mangrove forest variety and the famous land crabs (the ones that needed human help when they come down from the forest to spawn in the ocean). These land crabs are the ones that get run over by motorist during their annual trip to the ocean. They usually come down in droves and about ten percent of them die, if not aided by volunteers and nature-loving Taiwanese.

The family highlight was going through the Big Gorge, a split on one of the rock formation in the park. It doubles as a fun trail. It cuts through the rock mountain side running for about 40-50 meters long (maybe), and 2-3 feet wide, just enough to allow one person to walk through it. On rainy days, it really gets slippery. We were so glad the rain came after our hiking. My 9-year old daughter and 6-year old son absolutely love this part of the vacation. I took a video of the whole descent and ascent through the gorge. Sarah, my wife, did not like some parts of the adventure. Overall though, it was a blast!

I read today's news and it says, "Six dead in Vietnam and 11 fishermen missing in the Philippines." I should be thankful that I am safe here. All that Typhoon Meari did to me was ruin my family's vacation. But for some people in Asia, this typhoon has brought loss of lives and tragic devastation. I am praying for God's mercy for the people who have been affected by this typhoon.

Speaking of Asian people, we just meet Karen, a Filipino migrant worker employed here in Kenting at a restaurant we visited last Thursday. We also meet two other Vietnamese ladies from this same restaurant. I forgot their names. One of them spoke English. (Although, we understand their Chinese very well.) It was a good place to be, good food prepared in Vietnamese and Southeast Asian fashion. Not too spicy, just enough to make you smack your lips for the dainty after taste. Service was excellent. The food came in fast. If you are in Kenting some time, visit this restaurant located right across the street off McDonald's. And please say hello to Karen, the Filipino lady from Iloilo, as well as to the two Vietnamese ladies. And if you do not speak Chinese, do not worry, they have an English menu. besides, you can speak to the English-speaking Vietnamese lady (let us just call her Mary) and give her the opportunity to practice her English. She told me she studied English in a university in Vietnam. She worked at a bank before she migrated to Taiwan as a "foreign spouse" married into a Taiwanese family. I think Taiwan is fortunate to have people like Mary. Their contributions to Taiwan life and society can never be quantified in terms money or some other governmental statistics or figures. But everyone who eats at this Kenting restaurant knows why Kenting is a good place to visit.

Yesterday, we went back there, ate lunch, and talked to Karen and Mary. It was a busy day for them, for all the Kenting establishments, because it was a weekend, a Friday, when most people from Taiwan come and visit Kenting. We gave them a Christian literature written in Vietnamese. (I did not have a Tagalog or Ilonggo Christian reading material with me.) After we left, I thought: "Was that the best I could do? Shouldn't I stay for an hour with them and explain the contents of that Christian literature? Should I stay for a day or two and sit with them and explain the story of Jesus and God's salvation for all peoples of the world?"

I am staring at the dark clouds rolling into Kenting outside my second-floor window here in the Oasis Christian Retreat Center. I keep wondering how much opportunity do these Asian migrant workers have to hear the Christian gospel. Maybe, the question should be: How much are the Taiwanese Christians doing to witness to these Asian migrant workers among them? I do not know the answer to this question. I am just a foreign missionary here. But one thing I do is I make the most of the times I meet an Asian worker here in Taiwan and share the story of Jesus, the Giver of life and peace. I know giving a piece of Christian literature is not enough, but my prayer is that God will send another Christian to Karen, Mary, and other similar Asian workers, so they will have the opportunity to hear Jesus say, "I love you my child. Come and follow me. Receive my peace and joy." Will you join me and say this prayer with me?

Easter Greetings From Up in a Mountain

The angels said, "Why do you stand here looking into the sky?" (Acts 1:11) Here in this biblical account, the angels are simply reminding the disciples that Jesus is coming back again. They left the Mount of Olives and went to the Upper Room to pray. It is at this point that the Holy Spirit came in mighty power, giving the gift of tongues to the disciples that resulted in many people coming to God in salvation and repentance. But first things first--they had to leave the mountain where Jesus was taken up into heaven right before their very eyes.

This week is holy week. Back in the Philippines during this whole week, time comes to a stand still. Holy Week traditions abound in this country, some not so good but a few brings the Filipino Christians to remember Jesus' sacrifice in the cross and His glorious resurrection. This week here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, here in the seminary, nothing much is happening. We have a little worship service tomorrow, full of Easter liturgy commemorating Christ' death and rising from the dead. I am playing the guitar in one of the songs. Very simple. It is not really a big holiday. Unlike the Philippines and the USA with its Easter bunnies, egg hunts, and, in some large churches, a grandiose choral presentation--the Easter Cantata.

Today, we are going to start a Worship Band here in the seminary. Not a grandiose musical production, just a little band of 6-8 students deciding to get together to play music and sing songs. I have no high expectations. We will see what we can do. We do not have any music genius among us. We only have Christians who have a heart for worship and a desire to assist local churches in their music ministries.

This coming Monday, I am going with a bunch of students to climb Ali Shan, or Mount Ali, here in central Taiwan. Next week is the seminary's Spring Break vacation. The mountain is about 2663 meters above sea level. I doubt if we ever will go up that high. At least we will be in out of the city and into nature for two whole days. There are three students who are coming with me. I want to make it clear to them that this is my personal retreat, a time to focus on God and in prayer. I think they will understand. Maybe, up there in Ali Shan, I will hear God's voice in a fresh way. I pray that His Spirit will visit me in His mighty power . . . I can only wait on Him. He will do whatever He wants to do with me. One thing I know is that I will see God in Ali Shan, "right before my very eyes" (Acts 1:9).

True Colors Shining Through

On Michigan Highway 131, I see some trees already changing colors. We are coming up to Michigan Highway 10 and will be headed north to Sault Ste. Marie to visit a Free Methodist church there. I have heard that it is a pretty drive. We are coming into 10 now. I am so glad we have internet access using my Blackberry here in the car. God bless technology. I am enjoying the sight and reveling in God's wonderful creation. Wait! I see some more colors. . . there is bright red, orange, crimson red, yellow orange. The trees are not yet in their full colors. But we see that some have already started changing their foliage. There is opaque yellow, copper orange, and some are in golden brown. Even some parts of the field have some beautiful pink color on the grass. I wonder what kind of grass those are. We need to take a break . . . .

We are back and right now we are already on Michigan Highway 127. We are headed to I-75 and will go straight north and hope to be in St. Ignace for a day of vacation. We are looking forward to this. Sarah especially is and she keeps saying, "When I was ten years old, we use to visit Mackinac Bridge and cross the ferry into Mackinac Island. I am so excited." Carmen and Jacob are listening attentively. More colors! Some trees on this Interstate is already in full colors. I see a few trees standing out because of their bright red purple leaves. It is kind of funny to see them in the midst of all the green trees. "I am so excited!" Sarah continues, "I think I see Mackinac Bridge." We are now approaching Mackinaw City, MI. It is gorgeous watching Lake Michigan from the road, wait . . . that is not Lake Michigan. It is just one of those small lakes scattered all over the state. They are aplenty here.

"Did you know that I was here at Mackinac Bridge when I was a small child?" Sarah keeps telling everyone in the van. "Yeah, yeah, we know," Carmen quips sarcastically. "Stop it, please!" Jacob states his disposition in a very straight forward way. I guess we are all getting irritated with Sarah's excited repeated expression of her joy. She must be down in memory lane. We see the bridge now. I can almost feel Sarah's heart beating a little bit faster than usual. "There's the bridge," Sarah declares. "We know," Carmen and I chorus. "Stop it!" Jacob complains. I feel that we all need a break. We head out for the next exit that leads to the beach front overlooking the bridge.

Inspiring Moments

Last weekend, we went to Mt. Pleasant FMC in the morning and to South Evart FMC in the evening. Both visits were very inspiring. The people accommodated us very graciously. Carmen and Jacob had a blast with Moses, Aisa, Avaris and Kyrie, the children of Jason, pastor of Mt. Pleasant FMC, and Anna. One of the highlights was their play time at the yard after church service was over. Jason drove the tractor with a wagon behind it. Carmen, Jacob and Avaris were delighted with this ride. All the adults noticed how Carmen and Aisa, both seven-year-olds, were two pieces of a pod. Although Aisa is a boy, they got along very well. They both liked the same toys. They were inseparable.  They were almost like twins. It was amazing to see two children, very different in gender and background, but quite similar in disposition and choice of things.  Again, I saw God’s creative wonders unraveling in our midst.

Right now, I am here in this dining table writing some of my thoughts. Carmen is doing her Science lessons. Jacob is drawing some pictures of images he saw from the movie, The Prince of Egypt, just a few minutes ago. Sarah is on the other computer making arrangement for our stay in a hotel in Upper Peninsula this coming few days when we visit Sault Ste. Marie. I praise God for His guidance. He has paired us with brothers and sisters here in the North Michigan Conference. Although, we, the Clementes, are very different from them (in terms of exposure and convictions), we are two pieces of the same pod. Our love for cross cultural missions unites us in God. I praise God for Jason, Anna, David, Wendy, Linda, Jim, Ryan, Adrian, Paul, Cheryl, Martha, Dick, Rich and other Michigan friends. They pray for us and support God's work in Asia. We are in the same "pod" because we have the same God. These thoughts keep me going in the Lord's work. Tonight, we will be visiting the Big Rapids FMC for their Wednesday Prayer Meeting. The Clementes will be sharing about cross cultural missions. I am looking forward to God's inspiration--again.

Yesterday, we took a day off and went to Ludington to visit the beach by Lake Michigan. It was a grandiose view of the ocean, I mean, the lake. This body of fresh water lake is so huge that one cannot see the other side of the lake. It was spectacular. The beauty of God's wonders. We had a good time relaxing. Sarah and I had so much fun watching Carmen and Jacob play on the beach and with the waves. We praised God for moments of downtime such as yesterday. It was inspiring.