Over the past two years, even though we have been largely residing in Australia, we have continued to have significant input into the ministry in Guiuan. Since last writing (in June 2015) Paul has continued to have two months at a time in the Philippines. He has made seven trips back and forth during that time.
Each trip is a mix of practical tasks, administrative consultation and pastoral care, including three weddings, regular Bible teaching, and encouraging and advising the four young men who are responsible for the work here.
Rebuilding from the November 2013 super-typhoon also gets a fair slab of my time. A little more progress happens each time. Most of the major reconstruction has been completed except for our original student centre and workshop.
Grace Christian School has grown out of the kindergarten that Gerrah and I ran for 17 years. In March 2016 we re-commenced a church plant on the adjoining island where Sulangan is located. These are two examples of visions that we both had as a couple and which we couldn’t see our way clearly to bring to fruition. With our transitory status it appears that the local folk have picked up these two things and run with them.
Grace Christian School begins its new school year in mid-June with 93 students enrolled and possibly more in the pipeline. It will be running grade 2 for the first time. It is providing a Christian education for the kids, but also ties in well with the local church whose facilities they are using. It is providing employment for several people and is a great training ground for our young church leaders who are having to move up to the next level with running a registered educational institution. There is growing support from a couple of people back in Australia who give of their time to coach these guys in financial management, advertising, organisation and policy-writing. We are pushing the boundaries in many areas, which grows faith.
The Sulangan church plant has also yielded another village church that has been in desperate need of someone to minister the Word. So our guys have been sharing the ministry to this very out-of-the-way place. Paul recently spent a month there. Their small rural chapel was blown down, and so we are in the process of trying to get some materials together to help them rebuild it.
On the family front, being away from home so often has its challenges and costs, but we are thankful to the Lord for continued provision through your support and Gerrah’s part-time work as a cleaner at an aged care facility in Adelaide. Thalia has finished her enrolled nursing diploma and has recently scored work as a carer with Resthaven aged care facilities.
Sheena, our second daughter, was at GLO Smithton last year and met Andrew Guy, another student from Tasmania. Their wedding is scheduled for July 8. She is currently doing a traineeship in business administration and law, with what used to be Family First (now Australian Conservatives).
Ivan is in year 12, hoping to do further studies next year. He continues to do part-time work at Hungry Jack’s. He has been involved with kids’ ministries at our home church and CYC camps over the past couple of years.