Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Summer Camp Results

Dear Family and Friends,

Howdy! Thank you, thank you for all your prayers for the Summer Meeting! We had an incredible turnout. Considering that many of the churches and Christians were still struggling from the earthquake that happened in our neck of the woods the first of Feb., we were not sure who would be able to attend. The Ayungon Church of Christ, in the town next to Calag Calag, where our place is located, was hosting for the very first time. Richard had offered our place as the venue. We have close to 2.5 acres on the beach. This was the 26th Summer Meeting, it was held April 5-8. We had 480 adults and 80 children register. People came from seven differnet islands: Negros, Cebu, Leyte, Bohol, Masbate, Siquijor, and Mindanao. We think the folks present represented 40 different congregations. We were blessed with no rain during the days, and only light rain 2 nights. The turnout was amazing. I never thought I would see close to 600 people singing, praying, fellowshipping, playing and eating inside our property. The whole Summer Meeting is run by donations, there is no registration fee to attend. Members of the host church, and surrounding churches in Negros plan all year long what they will donate to help make it a success--rather it be cash gifts from individuals or churches, 100 lbs. bags of rice, pigs, goats, vegetables, tarps to make tents, firewood, and many other things. The theme this year was "Unity in the Church of Christ", and to me, the cooperation that the churches share in making the Summer Meeting a reality each year-- is a true example of unity in action!

We have attached a short video that shares the good news about the Summer Meeting--that 14 young people made their choice to obey the Gospel and were baptized. The video was done quickly by Richard's brother, Orwen. His video says 12 were baptized, but he didn't know two more came to Richard that last night they were swimming in the ocean in the full moonlight, and asked to be baptized. Orwen will be making another video that shows more details of the camp, which are a sight to see. You might be wondering how did we feed close to 600 people 10 meals and 6 snacks? How many pigs and goats took their last walks when they entered our gates? Where did everybody sleep? How do you cook 100lbs of rice over an open fire? Orwen took a lot of great pictures...he and Richard will try and get the second video done this week.

Our Filipino brethren are just amazing when it comes to planning and handling crowds. The ladies would cook all day, and the men would work all night butchering and preparing the meat for the next day. It was something to see, sitting in class the second day, and see brothers arrive from the mountains walking their pigs or goats over to the kitchen area. To see men carry the largest trash can I ever seen-- and it be full of cooked rice, that they would refill again, and again each meal. The noise of 600 people standing patiently in three lines for food. 5:30am devotional each morning! People sitting 3 & 4 people deep on wooden plank benches we built outside the pavilion for lectures and classes. We had only 72 song books for the group to share, but that didn't slow them down...Filipinos love to sing. Friday and Sat. nights, after the preaching, different churches took turns getting up and singing to the group, or doing a skit, or reciting memory verses. Sat.night we had a big bonfire down on the beach after the baptisms--more than half of the group was young people- they sang, and recited ballads and poems until the wee hours. The only major problem we had, were bathroom problems! We had added 3 new bathrooms, and renovated 4--doubling the number of flushing toilets & showers on the place. We had to pray that the 3 septic tanks would not overflow.

We had lectures and group classes in the morning, and then the afternoons were free for recreation and sports. We had groups playing basketball on two courts, volleyball down by the beach, kids playing soccer & badminton. Older people playing chess and checkers. Poor Grant--he walked around trying to find someone to play football with him. He had a few takers. We also had lively hood classes in the afternoon. Richard and Ryan shared about making noodles they call miki here, they made about 30 lbs. in the class, which was used for breakfast the next morning. Also had brothers sharing about goat raising, and organic farming, and worm dirt. Never a dull moment! Activities going on all over the place.

I am glad we were able to help host the event. There were moments when I wasn't sure my Hollywood was going to survive me wanting to pinch him in a bad way! There was just so much to get done in a month's time since we got back, and on top of dealing with the after effects of the earthquake. We could not have gotten things ready without the help of the guys in the Seyer Training Center, Brother Satur, and Brother Danny. It really was a big team effort to get everything done. I am so thankful for Ryan & Jun Mark, who helped hunt for things I needed that was packed away in storage. Everyday, we were all looking for something. We have boxes, crates, and furniture stored all over the property. The guys have moved most of them at least twice since moving to Negros.

I have been writing this letter up in the food court here at the mall in Dumaguete while Richard and Danny have been out buying a chainsaw to help with earthquake relief-- too help members cut down trees to use in rebuilding. Finding the woods for rebuilding is the hardest part right now. Now that the Summer Meeting is over, we will focus on helping members and churches with materials to rebuild. We are also planning to host a small new members seminar for the young Christians that were baptized at the Summer Meeting next Monday. We are also having graduation from the Seyer Training Center this coming Sat. We butchered Grant's pig, Charlotte, for the graduation. Grant says he is going to eat a sandwich that day. Well, must stop for now, almost out of battery and want to get this sent while I have free Wi-fi. Please pray for the 14 new Christians. Please pray for young men graduating from the Seyer Training Center. Please pray for us, and we try our best to help our brethren and churches rebuild. Please pray for our three kids, as we struggle to get school finished with all the things going on around us. Thank you all for the part you play in partnering and helping us with the work God has given us to do here! We love and miss you all!

In Him,
Becky, Richard, and kids


Dear Family and Friends,

Howdy! We have been home almost 3 weeks today! We feel so blessed to be able to be home, to be with the brethren, to see their needs, to hear of their challenges and triumphs while gone. There is much to do...because of the earthquakes, churches are full of people, hurting and wanting some comfort and reassurance. We started with fixing up our house--the kids and Becky spent a week in Cebu, while I checked on things there and made sure the house was safe for all of us to stay in. We still have some minor repairs, that we are slowly working on while trying to get our place ready to help the Ayungnon Church host the Summer Meeting over Easter weekend. We have come up with a name for our place, " R & B Green Haven Retreat". We are expecting around 400 campers for the weekend. The theme is "Unity in the Body of Christ". Richard will be one of the speakers.

Last weekend, the MOSES classes where hosted by the Matauta Church of Christ. They had about 50 attend the classes, which were on "How to Study the Bible", and they had door to door evangelism. They had one baptism from the classes. They also spent time visiting church members, who haven't been coming. Their building was badly damaged by the earthquake. The MOSES classes were held under a tarp at the elementary school. The attached video is about last weekend. The Matauta church will be one of the churches that we are able to help them rebuild their building. We are so thankful for all the generous funds that have come in to help with the earthquake relief in Negros. We have already been able to assist several members with funds to repair their homes. We are working on buying cement, GI sheets, and procuring woods. We will use our dump truck to carry materials to remote places that need help. We will even buy a chainsaw to help members be able to cut down trees to use for rebuilding- finding the woods is the hardest part. I am in the process of hiring a team of carpenters to help. We will get started after Easter weekend and the Summer Meeting. Again, we are so thankful for all the help coming from our supporting churches--we are going to be able to help so many. The work is overwhelming, the needs are so great. It hurts to see so many brethren hurting and helpless--and yet it is so comforting and encouraging to know that because of your love and support, we, the MOSES team, and the Seyer guys will be able to be the hands of Christ- to love and comfort, and help ease burdens. The body here and abroad, is working together to help each other--may God be glorified much thru all our efforts. Please pray for healing and comfort to come to the Christians here...please pray for the success of the Summer Meeting--that it will help meet many of those needs. We love you all, and appreciate your sacrifices to help us help others!

In Him,

Emperado Update & Earthquake Needs

Dear Family and Friends,

Howdy! We know many of you have heard of the 6.9 earthquake that struck the Philippines last Monday, Feb. 6. The epicenter was just miles from our place in Calag Calag, on the island of Negros. Before we left on furlough in November, we had just finished moving from Cebu, to our place near the beach. We were wanting to relocate so that we could be nearer to the Seyer Training Center, that is located on our property, and the many works we have going on in Negros. The earthquake caused wide spread damage to the northern Negros Oriental section of the island, from the coast up into the mountains. There are many bridges destroyed, and parts of the main coastal highway are only passable by motorcycles, as well as mountain roads, where landslides occurred. We know of one preacher who was hurt severely, along with his daughter, and a child killed when a wall of the church fell while the preacher was conducting a funeral. We know of at least 8 churches so far, many of them churches that host our monthly MOSES classes, whose buildings were damaged or destroyed. There are also many Christians who have lost their homes. Aftershocks are continuing, so people are sleeping in tents and vehicles in open areas. We have been in daily contact, using Skype, with several of our MOSES workers. Food and water is becoming scarce, due to the impassable roads. The price of gas doubled overnight. Many homes were buried in landslides. The army has come in to help keep peace and order. There are many in the church who are suffering and need help. The immediate need is food, water, medicines, and tarps to use as tents. The churches will need help to rebuild, as well as many brethren. Richard's brother, Orwen, has been traveling around taking pictures, visiting churches, and members. Brother Steve Loomis, in Enid, Ok., took those pictures and put together a little 3 minute video. A picture tells a 1,000 words.

If you would like to help those hurt by the earthquake, funds can be sent to our new sponsoring church:

Austin Avenue Church of Christ
1020 Austin Avenue
Brownwood, TX 76801

Please earmark those funds "Earthquake Relief". We ask that you continue to pray for our family, loved ones, and coworkers as we try to minister to each other, and those in need.

Our family will be returning to the Philippines next month. We leave on March 1, and arrive in Cebu on March 3. We have seen some pictures of the damage to our house, and the Seyer Training Center, and other buildings on the property. We have so many rooms packed to the ceiling with boxes, crates, and furnitures, our guys can not get in to really check for structural damage. We are very fortunate, the damages could have been much worst. I sure do appreciate my brother-in-law sending us so many pictures.

We have enjoyed the last six weeks here in Brownwood. Austin Avenue Church of Christ took over our sponsorship Jan. 1, 2012. We have spent the last six weeks getting to know many members, having many meals in their homes, and sharing about our work & family. My family has all "cowboyed" up while being in the heart of Texas--cowboy boots and hats have become their new norm. I think Richard has enjoyed it the most. He even preached last Sunday night in his jeans, boots, and hat. He started with a big "Howdy!" Grant and Richard shared many new experiences while being here. They went fishing for three days with an elder. They caught 162 fish, over 300 lbs of fillet meat. The church had a big fish fry after Richard preached. They got to help a rancher move and feed cattle. Some other members took them out to a church member's ranch to fire guns at his range. Jennylou wants to be a veterinarian, and she was able to go visit and help out 2 members in their clinics. The girls and I have enjoyed being able to attend ladies bible classes. Richard was able to teach each Sunday in a different adult Bible class, and speak on Wed. to their Hope outreach class. I was the only one who had big struggles here--my allergies DO NOT like cedar! I sit here now, sniffling and coughing.

The last weekend in Jan., we drove over to Kingsland and visited the Highland Lakes Church of Christ. Highland Lakes has helped us for many years with funds for the MOSES classes and workers. Five members from Austin Avenue church, who are on the mission committee, and were in the Philippines last Aug. to help us plant the 27th church in Bato, Leyte, traveled with us. The men taught the Bible class and shared their experiences with the church and many were encouraged. Richard was thankful for the opportunity to preach and share more that morning.

Tomorrow will be our last day here. We will head out to Fredricksburg on Thur., the 16th. That is our anniversary. We are going to take the kids to the Nimitz Pacific War Museum. On Friday, we will go on to Boerne. We are looking forward to having a great weekend in Boerne visiting the church and sharing about the work. Richard will be preaching there on Sunday morning.

There will be a lot to do in the next two weeks. Many people to visit and see. A few trips to Chuy's and Chik-fila before we go. Shopping and packing! It will all be blur before we know it. We have had a good furlough. This is the first furlough since I lost both my parents in 2010, we really miss them. Last November, we had a good month visiting with our North Garland church family, in Enid, Ok. We got to see snow and celebrate Thanksgiving with them, and rejoice over so many things God has helped us do together over the years. We had a wonderful time with family in Sugar Land for the holidays.

We thought we had a set plan about what we would be doing this next month, when we first arrived back home. The earthquake has shaken all those plans up. We were supposed to be hosting the Summer Meeting at our place over Easter Weekend the first of April, with anywhere from 200-400 campers coming from Negros. Not sure if that will pan out. The Seyer Training Center classes had been ongoing while we were here. Not sure how many weeks it will take to get things back up and running. The monthly MOSES classes were being held in different churches. We are not sure about the status of the March or April classes. Electricity is still sporadic, well water is not potable. I know many of the young men have probably gone home by now to try and check on their families in the mountains. The Dolino orphans are doing well. Orwen has visited them twice since the earthquake. Their new house made it thru the earthquake with only a couple of small cracks in the floor. I don't think the house we had them living in last Jan, would still be standing after the earthquake. God provided what they needed when they needed it. We were making plans to have the 28th church planting in Surigao City, down in Mindanao in May. It is being sponsored by the Sugar Grove Church of Christ. That might have to be postponed for awhile. There are many unknowns, and those are hard to handle sometimes, but knowing that God is in control, and He will guide us and direct us in how best to share Jesus in these trying times.

Richard, Becky, and Kids