As our last newsletter explained, we are returning to North America for the sake of Sora’s health and our kids’ education and well-being. But we are stopping in Davao until the 3rd of February to see old friends, resume old ministries, and enjoy a place that is full of happy memories for our family.
We worshipped with Davao Covenant Reformed Church on Sunday. Hosanna was glad to see Ate Flor and Ate Juvie, and they were happy to see her:
Matt got together with some of his former Greek students. They plan to meet five or six times while we are in Davao. Here they are reading Romans 3 and 4 together in Greek:
Hosanna loves Abreeza Mall, so we took her there. She has a big heart:
Matt has been asked to preach at Davao Covenant Reformed Church next Sunday. He’ll be preaching on the book of Jonah.
Sora also is back in the saddle. She’s teaching a class on herbs to the student midwives at the clinic where she used to work.
As we prepare to leave the mission field for the foreseeable future, we are delighted to be here in Davao, and fully expect to return again in later years.
One of the things Sora and I sought to do in Davao was to labor in such a way that what we did would not cease with our departure. Knowing that our term in the Philippines was likely to be limited to three years, we wanted to leverage our gifts so that they would be multiplied and continue to have effects for years after we left.
The power of missionary work is in the formation of relationships. And in the Internet age, these can continue to be effective.
One of my Greek students, Wayne Dimaano, is teaching a Greek class via his church’s Bible institute. He keeps in touch by FB messenger with questions about grammar:
As you can see from the mention of Quizlet, we also share flashcards and other teaching materials.
Pastor Wayne forwarded this photo of the large number of students who showed up for his first Greek class:
(I recall a similar huge turnout for my first Greek class. There will always be some attrition when it becomes clear that there is no royal road to the knowledge of Greek, but with that many students, Wayne will surely have a good number left.)
Wayne and I continue to share books and discuss exegetical questions and theology. Now that I’m in the same time zone (in Singapore and soon in Indonesia), I can respond quickly while we are both awake.
Our family is back together in Ohio again after spending the first half of April on the road. Our first stop was All Saints REC IN Raleigh, where we were graciously hosted by Fr Ian MacGregor. He also took me on a visit to St Andrew’s mission about 90 minutes away in nearby Asheboro. From there, our family headed to Asheville for the SAMS retreat and 40th anniversary celebration at the Ridgecrest Conference Center and the ensuing New Wineskins for Global Mission conference.
We were blessed by the small group meetings at the SAMS retreat, where I benefited from the prayers and advice of Philip Mounstephen, the director of the Church Mission Society in the Church of England, and was able to give care and prayer to other missionaries in turn.
Matt with CMS director Philip Mounstephen
The main prayer request I shared with the group was my concern to do a good job of learning Bahasa Indonesia, a language that will be critical to the success of my work in Bandung.
The very next day, Sora and I had a meeting with Singapore’s Bishop for the mission deaneries, the Rt. Rev. Kuan Kim Seng and the Dean of Indonesia, the Rev. Timothy Chong. It was an immediate answer to my prayers when Bp. Kuan told us that we would have at least a year to work on language learning. Praise God!
It was a pleasure to spend time with the Singapore clergy at New Wineskins. Bp. Rennis Ponniah also prayed for us and gave us the right hand of fellowship.
From left: Assistant Bp. Kuan Kim Seng, Dean of Indonesia Timothy Chong, our family, and Bp. of Singapore Rennis Ponniah
The biggest news coming out of the New Wineskins conference is that we have a planned departure date now…and we have purchased one-way airplane tickets for us to arrive in Singapore on June 27. (From there, we’ll head to Bandung in early July.)
At New Wineskins, Sora and I enjoyed talks by Bp. Felix Orji of CANA West (ACNA) and by Bp. Rennis Ponniah of Singapore. It was also good to enjoy fellowship with other missionaries from SAMS, and to see friends from the REC and other Anglican churches.
On the last day of the New Wineskins conference, Sora and I participated in workshops with Stewart Wicker, the director of SAMS-USA, discussing how we were called to go to the Philippines and then to Indonesia.
We were blessed by our time in NC, and we left feeling encouraged and eager to go to the mission field again soon. Thank you, SAMS, and especially Nita Dempsey, for arranging for our participation in these two conferences.
Thanks to Fr. Carl Lund for inviting Matt to visit Holy Trinity in Houston TX on Feb. 28, right after the Synod for the REC Diocese of Mid-America. It is a blessing to be able to combine trips, and it will be a pleasure to see Fr. Carl again.