Hi Rock Church Family,

You may have heard Rachel and I got stuck in the Philippines due to the snowstorm y'all have been experiencing the last day or so.  Well I can't really call it stuck, let's just say delayed in this beautiful tropical paradise getting to spend time exploring Manila, meeting some great people and connecting as a couple. One thing that I have had interest in since arriving here is what is the history & culture of this nation of islands.  I knew very little, just that America had been here during World War II but was unsure of exactly what that looked like.  So yesterday we took a tour of the old and new parts of Manila and we were surprised to learn that America in the late 19th century (1898 or so) helped The Philippines gain freedom from the Spanish empire. We also then helped build a government and infrastructures to sustain this new liberated people.  Though there was some strife with some of the Filipinos over a perceived American occupation eventually we collaborated to build the Commonwealth of the Philippines with a scheduled transition of power in 1944.  That was interrupted by WWII and the Japanese attack & occupation of Manila in 1942.  American and Filipino forces combined to defeat the Japanese in 1945 and again free the Filipinos from a foreign tyrant. Rachel and I witnessed and walked among the 36,000 names and graves of the  brave soldiers that lost their lives fighting for freedom in Manila and the world.  After the war, America held true to its agreement and the Philippines had its independence on July 4th, 1946.  Our tour guide Flor told us that today Americans are missed by Filipinos and still held in high regard for the sacrifices we paid and groundwork we laid in their country to bring education, hope & opportunity.  Our relationship is continuing through military training, political alliance and missionary work.  
Rachel and I came to the Philippines to see our daughter Lily who has been in the mission field with Adventures in Missions (AIM) now in the Philippines, and previously in 4 other countries.  Her squad and about 40 of their parents met us in Manila, Philippines (their final country) to do mission together with a local organization, Wipe Every Tear (WET).  We had an amazing time hanging and connecting with Lily, parents, racers and AIM/WET staff.  Wipe Every Tear exists to rescue bar girls and lady boys from the trappings of the sex trade by going on the streets and into the bars they work and showing them a better way of life.  See we get to share the opportunity for them to move in a safe home (with their children), have all food and expenses paid for and even go to school for free with the goal of having a career and a future.   After 2 evenings of conversations & invitations, 22 girls have so far visited the safe homes and last we heard many of them (5-6) will soon be moving in.   God is so good and I am thankful for the parents & racers that served even though it was very uncomfortable and somewhat scary.  I am not sure of the rest of the world but Americans seem to have hearts for persons and peoples near and far.  I am proud that the majority of missionaries we have met have been from the USA.  Americans seem to serve not out of obligation or retribution but out of Love.  This love I believe comes from God and our foundation as a nation built upon His nature and truth of scripture.   Jesus commands us in Matthew 28:19 to 19” Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and in Mattew 25:40 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ I feel like as Americans most of us do this individually and as a nation or we have at times in our past.  We need to continue this great work of love and share the personal and national stories with our kids, neighbors and friends to inspire us to the call of American compassion and action because EVERYONE NEEDS JESUS.   When we do something to love on others at home, in our region, in our country or abroad we show God’s love and give others an amazing gift, the chance for hope.  This great hope is freedom in Jesus from the emptiness of this world and adoption by the King into the richness of His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.    I am proud our God has used the USA to Do Good in a sometimes hard world, and my prayer is he keeps asking us to go and we say yes! 


Pastor Jon (PJ)