Merry Christmas from the Philippines!
As I started writing this newsletter, a typhoon is coming! We planned to take a ship to Cebu for Mary’s birthday, but thought those plans would have to be changed. However, thanks to our Great God we were able to get to Cebu and visit Cebu Bible College again, where they surprised Mary with a birthday party including chocolate cake. Several miles behind our home in Bacolod is a beautiful mountain which has a sleeping volcano. It has been waking up and spewing some ash in the past few days. How awesome to witness the mighty power of God’s creation. Exciting times here in the Philippines!
During the last week of our VSL Bible College before the holiday break, the students did a wonderful Kids for Christ puppet program. During our Christmas break, the churches of the central Philippines will be having a large, annual youth gathering with several hundred youth in attendance. Many churches are having their special activities to celebrate Christmas. We are so thankful for the many faithful pastors who we are privileged to serve with in God’s kingdom work.
How many months are on your calendar? Here in the Philippines, there is much talk about the 13th month. Most employers pay their staff and employees an extra month’s pay during the month of December. This is a yearly expectation of everyone, but many don’t receive this help and have little reason to celebrate. A large percentage of people are marginally employed, self-employed, or unemployed and don’t have any extra for Christmas. The 13th month salary becomes a way people are blessed to have funds for the holidays. All of our staff look forward to receiving this extra 13th month gift. VFM also tries to help some of the pastors and their children with Christmas.
The streets are busy with traffic and people are out caroling hoping to get financial donations. There are so many needs during the holiday season for food, medicine, travel expenses, and many church activities. What is hard as missionaries here is to be surrounded by so many needs and not able to help with more. It is hard to say no, to know when to say yes, and to have wisdom to know what to do. Thank you for praying for us, as always we ask that you pray for us to have God’s wisdom. Thank you for allowing us to help others here in the name of Jesus. He is truly our reason for being here and for this great season called Christmas. We count it a privilege to give unto others from you there in America. Your help brings smiles and hope to many here in the Philippines.
Your giving to VFM has helped us buy land on Samar Island. You are helping build a church in the mountains above Tanjay City! This month, you are also helping a church build a classroom for their youth at Salong Church of Christ. Two churches are being helped with getting electricity on Panay Island. You have helped with medicine, clothing, and food to several pastors and families. Thank you for giving faithfully to the ministry of the Lord here in the Philippines!
Mary continues to teach Reading and English each week at Green Plains Education Center, help with the garden work, care for the animals, and remains a blessing to many here. I am so forgetful of names, dates, and many things, but she keeps me on track! Happy Birthday to my sweet wife, and our first grandson Caleb, who shares the very same birthday with Mary – December 17. We are so blessed to be your missionaries here and we want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year!
In His service,
Paul and Mary Wilson