I (Leah) am from a land of four seasons, and my soul has taught me that hearts and nature grow and flourish through seasons and not in spite of them.
I've felt the biting-cold grip of death in winter seasons of my soul, when it feels as though the sun will never shine again, and hope is thin that anything green could possibly spring up from these dark places.
I've tasted spring, when green shoots of new life break through the frozen ground and teach me to breathe again.
I've felt the sun on my face in the summer season, when life is a dance of joy, and laughter bursts and bubbles from deep wells.
I've walked mountain roads in Autumn seasons, when loves, lives, and relationships are drawing to a close, and they float down on the wind like crimson leaves saying goodbye.
Here in the Philippines, there are two seasons: Amihan and Habagat-- the Northeast Monsoon and the Southwest Monsoon-- both marked by shifting wind patterns that bring rain and cooler air, or humid hotter air currents.
This time of year the winds are shifting, the sea currents become tumultuous and collide with each other, and where the tide was once still, it now crashes on the rocks with fury. The winds collide at night and roar over the tops of Palm trees, and we lay in bed wondering if we will wake to a roof over our heads.
As with nature, so it is with souls. Right now our souls, our lives, feel a lot like we're in the middle of waves and wind.
I love our life. I full-on love the wackadoo circus of family and learning, serving, and all the fullness of the beautiful people God has given us in this land that is now home.
We continue to go deeper into relationship with the local Mangyan tribal people, and partner with them through discipleship, empowerment, community development, health care, and learning together how to find sustainable ways of rising out of cycles of poverty. Francis spends time daily with Mangyan leaders and the beauty of this partnership is that it is coming out of love relationship, honor and respect. All serving must begin there.
We are planning towards building a birth center more central to many of the Mangyan villages that have no access to maternity or health care.
Poverty is a spirit and a mindset, and we have come to learn that our Mangyan friends are some of the richest on earth, and we learn from them.
We are also continuing to lead our incredible team of midwives and medical assistants, going into mountain villages with them to build relationship and do checkups, as well as prenatal checks and births in our 24-hour clinic.
Francis partners with local pastors and we're working together with them to serve and love our community.
We have weekly bible studies in our home as well as Sunday worship gathering, where we love each other in deep and messy ways, and over pots of rice and soup, we share, pray and speak life and truth into each others souls.
As I (Leah) focus on homeschooling Julia (8), Avea (7), and Justice (5), I'm spending less time in the mountains and more time in the living room... our home has an open door policy and people trickle in, often drawn by a desire to take of their masks; a space to let the hurt out and healing in. We've asked the Holy Spirit to make our home an oasis of peace, a place where He hovers and meets with broken hearts. Over cups of coffee, with kids flying paper airplanes over our heads, more and more people are learning friendship with the Holy Spirit and their identities as sons and daughters who belong to the Good Father. Parents who have lost babies, men and women who have lost spouses, those who have had childhood trauma are coming to stay in our home, and somehow God is pouring out healing while they are here and letting us be part of what He is doing. This is what I love.
We're hosting mission teams regularly and the walls seem to stretch to accommodate teams of 5 or 25. There is beauty, airbeds, and peaceful pandemonium.
We are seeing healing in bodies and souls, and love being even a small part of it.
In the middle of all this wonderful, we are migrating though deserts in our own hearts, fighting for deeper unity in marriage, being attacked spiritually, and through seeming unending sickness and health issues. Our hearts and bodies are tired.
Justice was diagnosed with Tuberculosis last year and he has finished his 6-month treatment. This week he has Pneumonia again, and as I hold him at night, nebulizing, back-rubbing, singing softy, he struggles to breathe and I realize that so do I because I have seen those pale lips before. Avea is also sick, with a White blood cell count of 22,000 (high normal is 10,000), and suspicious white lung areas on X-ray. We'll be doing further testing for TB this coming week.
Migraines and chronic fatigue pull me low, and my mind and heart sometimes feel tsunami-waves of fear casting shadows that I'm tempted to try to outrun. The bank account is low and the needs are mountainous.
This past week I've been on my face as every. single. pressure that has been humming is now a roar in my ears... I feel that waves are crashing and my chin is hovering above them.
But then The Holy Spirit speaks to me from Isaiah 432 When you pass through the deep, stormy sea,
you can count on me to be there with you.
When you pass through raging rivers,
You will not drown.
When you walk through persecution like fiery flames,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not harm you,
3 for I am your Savior, Yahweh, your mighty God,
the Holy One of Israel!
I give up Egypt as the price to set you free,
Cush and Seba in exchange to bring you back.
4 Since you are cherished and precious in my eyes,
and because I love you dearly and want to honor you,
I willingly give up nations in exchange for you--
a man to save your life.
He meets us in the middle of the deep....We will not drown. We will not be overcome. This season of wind and waves is not evidence that He does not hear or care for us, but proof that He does. He is taking us through deep waters to pull us into the Deep places of His love that we've never even imagined. I'm thirsty and I'm ready for the More.
There is a Poverty Spirit all around us, that says "There will never be enough. I must hoard and hold-tightly and fight for what I need, but it will never be enough."
God is my Father and He gives me Himself, the Spirit of Sonship that says "Even when I possess nothing, I have My Father and He has me, and with Him there is always enough. There is plenty."
He is taking us on a journey through the waves, not around them, so we can taste and see and deeply experience His heart and what it means to be His Son and daughter, not His slaves. To intimately understand in our core that He is good.
If I am weary, wrung-out, striving to keep working hard enough, then I am walking as a Daughter who's working for the love of a fickle Father, instead of living from the Love of my accepting Father.
Francis, the kids and I are today asking the Holy Spirit to clear the clutter and wrong-thinking from our hearts, and pour rest, healing, freedom, and the Truth into every space.
Only then we will be able to love each other, parent, lead, give, and serve well.
Please pray for us.
Thank you to those who have stuck close even when we have not communicated or responded well, to those who continue to pray, encourage and support the ministry here.
Thank you with everything in our hearts. We need you, we love you, and we have not forgotten even one of you. We pray for you by name and thank God for you.