Why We Didn’t Celebrate Easter….

Crosshttp://www.southlandscs.com/high-school/easter-at-southlands/

….well actually, this year, we DID celebrate Easter.

And it was special.

We attended a moving Service of Shadows on Thursday night, followed by a sobering Good Friday service.

It was delightful to have our young-adult children stay with us over the Easter weekend.  Together we went to watch the outstanding movie Risen in our little local theatre.

Risen

Then a joyous Resurrection Sunday worshiping with our lovely home church.

He is risen indeed!

Christ’s death and resurrection.

The cornerstone of our faith.

The reason we have hope.

God’s mind-boggling plan from the beginning of time.

For us.

And yet, amidst the joy of celebrating Easter with our parents, children and church family, there lingered a sense of unease.  How DO we as Christians reconcile the massive onslaught of commercialism?  Chocolate eggs, cute bunnies, more chocolate, Easter markets, Easter hat parades at school.

It’s confusing.

Cross and bunnyhttp://eastercoloringpages.blogspot.com.au/2010_08_01_archive.html

Do people, whether Christian or not, even stop and think about WHY we happily pay ridiculous prices for fancily wrapped eggs or rabbits?

Why are there eggs or rabbits anyway?

And if these things truly originated with worship of a pagan goddess of fertility and/or worship of the sun, should we have a part in it? Continue reading

Australia!

We are currently in Australia for some big family events – 50th wedding anniversaries, 80th birthdays, graduations, our son’s wedding!  All very exciting.

While we’re here we’ll continue working on the Bible translation into the Banwaon language.  Albert has already started on the book of Philippians.

Blessings!

Albert & Lynne

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Safely Home!

P1090369 - CopySafely back in our jungle home ….

Happy reunions

Happy Reunion Jan 2015But while we were away …

Rats chewed through solid wooden walls and held Party Central in our cupboards (we’re still dealing with the aftermath).

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Termites infiltrated the house in a major way (we were able to fly a reliable termite exterminator in from town to help deal with the problem).

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Thanks to previous project donations, village houses and community projects have been completed.

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Precious Banwaon friends (below) went ahead of us to Heaven (tears and laughter mingled last week as their stories were told).

2014 Gone ahead

The Banwaon church is as strong as ever. They met faithfully, teaching through Romans which Albert finished translating late 2013. (Every day we’ve heard story after story of the believers trusting God in difficult circumstances, seeing Him faithfully provide, protect or guide).

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Last April fifty two Banwaon believers expressed their faith publicly in baptism. The Bible teachers taught them in depth about its significance, then held a baptism at the river.

Baptisms May 2014

A village up the road agreed to start listening to the chronological Bible teaching. A number in the village were saved and are now growing and excited about their faith. (They want to build a church meeting house. The Christians in our village are going to help them physically and financially).

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Phone signal improved slightly in our remote jungle location. We can now get one bar if we hang the phone on a wire half a metre out our top bedroom window! (But not enough signal for internet.  See the “Helping – Current Projects” page for details).

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If you have been praying for the Banwaon tribal church while we were away …

 THANK YOU!

 God has been at work!

 Our hearts are full.

 “This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world.

It is changing lives everywhere,

just as it changed yours that very first day you heard and understood the truth about God’s great kindness to sinners.”

Colossians 1:6

Beginnings – One Wedding and a Pilot in the Making

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Sara and André

A beautiful wedding

Sunday, 21st September, 2014

Thank you God!

For a day full of sunshine…

Loads of friends and family to join the celebration …

A ceremony that beautifully reflected God’s heart for marriage.

Castelijn family

Phillip – Missionary Pilot

A lifetime dream

Thank you God!

 …. For Your amazing provision of funds in just two weeks for our son Phillip’s training …

….. For faithful, generous friends who gave sacrificially …

….. That ACMA (Australian Centre for Missionary Aviation) said “Yes – come!” and four days later Phillip was on the road to Melbourne to begin training in mission aviation and mechanics …

… That Phillip’s old 1980 Toyota Corolla made the 1000km journey to Melbourne … only just!

… That Phillip has already begun his apprenticeship with ACMA in aeronautical mechanics – the first step to becoming a fully-fledged missionary pilot.

Phillip at ACMA

On beginnings …

 Take the first step in faith.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase

Just take the first step.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ebola and the Banwaon

Nothing “just happens”

If you were a Banwaon tribal person living in the humid Philippines jungle some years ago, you would know quite well that nothing “just happens”.

A branch does not fall from a tree hitting your brother on the head and injuring him because the branch was old and it was a windy day.

No, the branch fell because your brother offended the spirits, or broke a taboo or maybe someone from a rival clan put a curse on him.

Boy in tree

Ebola and the Banwaon

Ebola is a terrible viral disease….. Continue reading

Inay Umbahi

Inay Umbahi cutoutInay Umbahi has died.

A beautiful, quiet lady with her gentle spirit and dignified demeanour, she can still fill my heart with warmth just by looking at her photo.

One of the traditional gems of the Banwaon people … Sadly, one by one they pass away … Another generation, another time, a culture changing as “civilization” intrudes.

Every time we leave the village for an extended period of time we wonder who will be missing when we come back.

One of my favourite things in the Banwaon church meetings was surreptitiously watching Inay Umbahi sitting on the split palm floor, always up the front, sometimes cuddling a small grandchild on her lap, her face alert and intent as she chewed red betelnut and focused on the words of the Bible teachers.

The tangle of beloved beads hanging from her neck … the old-style earrings with little pompoms or bells … the fascinating intricate tattooed design on her arms, hands and legs.

I’m so sad she won’t be there when we go back. We don’t know what caused her death, just that she died.

What colossal changes Inay Umbahi must have seen in her lifetime –

from nomadic, jungle dwelling, fear-filled, spirit-worshipping, animal sacrificing lifestyle –

to hearing the Gospel and accepting freedom in Christ, settled in a village surrounded by family.

We pay tribute to this lovely woman of God.

She will be missed, but because missionaries before us came to the Banwaon and shared the Gospel, Inay Umbahi had a chance to hear and accept the message of Life …

And so we will see her again.

Inay Umbahi backPhotos: Janet Banks

The night that we received the text message saying Inay Umbahi had died, I couldn’t sleep.

This is what I wrote that night …

Continue reading

Super Typhoon Yolanda

We appreciate your prayers for Albert (who arrived in the village on Tuesday), the Banwaon and the whole of the Philippines as what is being calledan Extremely Catastrophic Super Typhoon and is considered as the most powerful of all Super Typhoons for 2013, HAIYAN (YOLANDA) rapidly approaches Central and Southern Philippines.

This typhoon/cyclone is reportedly worse than Cyclone Pablu/Bopha which decimated much of eastern Mindanao in December last year and left over 2000 people dead.

Destroyed Banwaon House Dec 2012

If it keeps to its current path, where Albert and the Banwaon are will catch the edge of the cyclone.  Albert wrote last night that the people are taking the warning very seriously and building shelters and even cutting down trees that are near houses.

But, he writes, “So cool to hear them so often mention that ‘the Lord is in control’ and ‘we just have to trust Him with it’.”

Pablu Banwaon shelters

The cyclone is due to go right over the area of Bohol and Cebu that just a few short weeks ago experienced a severe earthquake.

Pray for safety for all people of the Philippines.