A colleague pointed out today that some people groups this Christmas will celebrate the holiday understanding its true meaning for the first time due to getting the scripture in their own language and/or seeing the Jesus film in their own language.
What an amazing thought!

Acts 19:20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

Our Thanksgiving Week

Our week has been filled with activities and sick kids.

For 3 or 4 days James and Jerard were running temperatures. James' got quite high. They were both started on antibiotics and have improved tremendously since then.

Ben was also diagnosed with an ear infection and is on antibiotics for that as well.

We had planned a weekend get-away this weekend since the kids have a four-day weekend, but with illnesses running, we postponed it for a month.

On Thanksgiving day we hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for about 22 people. It was also Kurt's birthday.

The Birthday guy - Kurt!

Two of Kirsten's Korean friends joined us for the American Thanksgiving meal as they'd never had one before. They liked all the food!

Here are some pictures from our week!

Mikayla is playing on the girls High School Basketball team. Their team won this game!

James loves to wear hats.

A picture of the photographer!

Kurt was serenaded on his birthday morning by some of our Filipino colleagues!

Kirten and Ben setting up our Christmas tree. We put it in the hallway again this year to keep toddlers from dismantling it to much!

Mikayla putting a decoration on it. She commented it still doesn't really 'feel' like Christmas due to the heat. Some of us do miss snow around this time of year.

Kirsten helping James put an ornament on.

Finished tree!

Mikayla and James washing Bear.

Kurt and Ben playing lazer tag.

Chaim, Ben and James playing computer games.

Thanksgiving, Mourning, and a Birthday

Today is a day of mixed emotions. For the US, it is Thanksgiving, which we are celebrating here in the Philippines by inviting a bunch of the singles over for dinner tonight. We are thankful for all of the blessings that God has shown us through the year.

I have the additional joy of having my birthday fall on Thanksgiving this year and my family is making sure that I feel loved and appreciated. I am doubly blessed.

Yet, with the rest of the Philippines, we mourn today. Today was declared a day of mourning here because of the massacre that occurred in the neighboring province of Maguindanao on Monday. 57 people were slaughtered consisting of a large number of women, about 17 journalists, and some lawyers as they went as a group to file the candidacy of a local politician for office. Before they arrived at the office they were reportedly surrounded by about 100 gunman and executed. Many think that the opposing candidate is behind the massacre.

Politics has usually been violent here in the Philippines and we are just entering the election season. Yet this event has exceeded all prior events in terms of sheer outrageous brutality.

So, I mourn today as I have all week. I also look forward to that day when Christ comes in all of his glory to set all things right. Those who have carried out such atrocities will answer for their crimes. God will not allow the injustices of this life to remain unaccounted for forever.

Is that such a strange thought? To some Christians, such talk probably sounds odd and out of place. I don't think that it is unbiblical though. Take so many of the Psalms, for instance, where God's people long for God's justice.

The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. (Psalm 9:16)

O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:17-18)

It would take pages to list all of the passages wherein God's people long for the justice of God to come and make things right. Longing for God's justice is part of the Christian's hope.

So I find that mourning is a part of what it means to be a Christian living in today's world (c.f. Romans 8:18-25) because mourning is an expression of hope. We hope for God's kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and we mourn in hope that the justice which we don't see today, we will see someday.

Therefore, for me, mourning is part of a well rounded trust and hope in the God who promises to bring all of history to a perfect completion.

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13)

Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

November 22

This date marks our 3rd year anniversary of arriving in the Philippines.

In reflecting on this my summary thoughts of our move over here are this:

Never in my life have I felt so weary, so rested, so quiet, so
sorrowful, so blessed, so satisfied and so thankful.
Despite all the hardships, I will stay the course.
I am deeper in love with my Saviour. I know deeply the love of my
Heavenly Father. Words don't begin to describe the joy, the quiet,
the resting even in the hard times, the knowing that He has
everything in control.

I am truly thankful to be in full-time missions. I thank God for our supporters and prayer partners who faithfully support and pray for us.

When Helping Hurts Small Group

Our four session high-level small group about poverty has ended and we are planning for our next small group. There already is strong interest here in our next topic starting in January, God willing, when we will be studying the book, When Helping Hurts - How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor ... and Yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

The authors are associated with Covenant College through the Chalmers Center. They bring a solid biblical foundation and years of practical experience to the problem of poverty alleviation.

The premise of their book is that there are quite a few pitfalls that we can easily fall into when we try to help the poor. If we truly care about helping the poor, we as Christians need to be informed and aware of how to provide help that actually is help.

What I really appreciated about the book is that it shattered some of my assumptions about what really helps and what doesn't. I would recommend this book to anyone who really has a heart to help people and wants to make the best use of their time and resources ... and who does not want to hurt anyone in the process.