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