Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Greeting 2014

Maligayang Pasko!  Merry Christmas!


It is that time of year again, when we reflect on all of our past events and blessings of this year that is quickly coming to a close behind us.  2014, in particular, has been full of blessings, moments to remember, new challenges, much creativity, new perspectives, and great adventure; but with a bit of sadness.  We will begin our review of how we personally feel blessed as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who was the greatest gift the world has ever received.


But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for YOU a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:8-11 NASB


This was our first Christmas in the Philippines. It was quiet and rainy.  We tried to make sure that we spent time doing the things that we always do at Christmas even though it was just the two of us.

We started out with an extensive look at the story of Jesus' birth.  We read the accounts in Luke and Matthew.  Then we read pages and pages of commentary about that scripture.  The commentary said that Jesus was born to die...at the appointed time.  It also said "If you are walking in God's will then you are immortal until your work is finished."  It was referring to Jesus and His ministry, but it applies to all of us.  There is no safer place to be than in the center of God's will.  We feel blessed to be here serving with Threads of Hope doing His will.  We don't need to worry about anything because we are in His hands.  In our absence in the States He is taking care of our kids, family, etc.

We also worked out, took a walk on the beach, made a cheese cake and started a puzzle.  We talked with some friends who are taking a family holiday here from Faith Academy in Manila.  We closed the night with a long skype call with my sister Pam in Colorado, and started the 26th with a long skype call with our sons, Ben and Will (and Sydney) after they returned home from Grandma's house for the Christmas feast.  We gave out some Christmas gifts and received some as well.  It was a nice Christmas.

We came here to help Pastor Al, Ate Marina and Jojo.  Our job was to take over the bracelet making business with all of it tasks and take over the books for the church.  Our presence here frees them up to be able to shepherd their flock of people better and to host guests and events like AWANA meetings or holiday celebrations or weddings.  They seem to handle large groups of people with ease and grace.  Hospitality is not our gift, so we are very thankful that it is theirs.  We made this little video clip for North Pointe Church in Iowa. We thought you would appreciate the message. It is very short and sweet.



We recapped the entire year inside of one paragraph per month in a separate blog post.  If you would like to read it,it is named "A Review of 2014".

If you would like to read more about the other purposes God has revealed to us for being here go to our blog post entitled "God Reveals His Purpose--The Lives We Are To Touch".  We are honored to be helping the people showcased in that post.

We also have another post that includes an overview of the diversity in the lives of the Filipinos.  It is called "The View from the "Thoughtful Spot"-Beauty and Poverty".

 We would say the year has been very productive here, like our previous 4 years of working with Threads of Hope but the location is very different.  We have continued many of the tasks we were doing in the States with the books and business systems.  As long as we have internet we are good to go anywhere in the world.  When we return to the States over the summer we will continue to carry out our normal tasks for Threads of Hope, but we will be adding a few things as well.  There are festivals we will attend in order to continue to spread awareness about Threads of Hope and raise support for ourselves.

We will also be visiting with current and prospective supporters while raising more support so we will be able to return to the Philippines to continue our work here.  We are about 80% funded currently.  So, if God has laid it on your heart to help us financially for the year 2015, there is still time to get a tax deductible gift in before 2014 ends.  We are about $10,500 below our annual budget. We feel blessed to be supported and prayed over by each of you.  We can't do this without you.

You can donate online by going to www.firstloveinternational.com and rolling down until you see the DONATE button and click on it. Click on Support a Missionary or Ministry. Enter Philippines as the Country, Full-time Missionary and the Work Type and Marsh for the Name.  Our name will appear. Follow the prompts from there.  Call the support number if you have any questions.

There is also another MAJOR project scheduled for the summer we think.  Both of our sons are planning to move out of state relatively soon.  Therefore, our house will be unoccupied.  We are praying about whether to sell it or rent it.  It is a beautiful property with nice landscaping and big trees.  We are trying to decide how much time needs to be dedicated to that project in order to accomplish that task before we return to the Philippines while taking into account all of the other things we need to be doing over the summer.  The answer to that question will determine when I return.  Jim would stay behind until May or June.  So your prayers about that subject would be greatly appreciated.  Any ideas you may have in that regard would be very welcome.  We don’t want the house to sit empty, and we would be interested in other ideas regarding renting short term as well. We have no mortgage on the house, so that is a huge blessing.

One of the things we appreciate greatly is Skype.  It helps us stay in touch with people and makes it feel like we are right there with them.  Those 8000+ miles just disappear for a while.  We are thankful that God sent us to the other side of the world as missionaries during a time when technology is great and phone calls are free.  Our skype address is jim.julie.marsh if you  would like to catch up with us via skype.  We are 14 hours ahead of Central Standard Time.  Technology is yet another blessing.

If you would like to  contact us, you can do so by sending and email to jijumarsh@gmail.com.   May God's blessing be upon you as we start a new year.

We look forward to hearing from you.  Also please let us know if there is something we can be praying about for you.

We send you warmest wishes for 2015.














Julie and Jim Marsh

God Reveals His Purpose---The Lives We Are To Touch

Hello,

We wanted to compartmentalize our latest updates so you can read them at your leisure.  Thanks for taking the time to read this post.  Hopefully it will inspire you to look locally and see who you can help today even in what you think might be in the slightest way.  We never know how what we do will affect the lives of those around us who need our help.

Although our role in the Philippines is primarily business, God has chosen people for us to minister to in a few ways that we have been praying about for years.  Jim is much more of an evangelist than I am, so I have prayed that the way we live our lives would make a difference to the people who observe it. We have the opportunity several times a week to be amongst the masses here. It feels like we are living in a fish bowl sometimes.  We know that people are watching us everywhere we go and everything we do.  We have heard comments through the huge grapevine, and directly from the observer, that people are motivated by what they see in our marriage.  We are even the topic of the occasional sermon although just about all we understand of the message is our names.  Afterwards, we ask Pastor Al why our names were mentioned to get the English translation.  His first response is always entertaining.  Then he tells us the truth about our inclusion in his sermon.

There are also a handful of key people we spend time with that God has allowed us to minister to by being the hands and feet of Jesus. I must admit, sometimes it is them ministering to us as well.  A couple of them are vendors on the beach named Abdul and Gabby.  Both come from Muslim backgrounds.  Abdul makes and sells his own version of Gospel bracelets (as you can see on his wrist-->) and tries to share the Message of Hope with his fellow beach vendors.  Gabby has not made a decision for Christ, but he has heard the message and has people praying for his salvation.  He is a very sweet soul.

 Both men have families to support.  Abdul has 5 children and Gabby has 1 daughter.  They show up every day on the beach, rain or shine.  This week was rainy and they stood outside on the beach for hours hoping to find someone to sell their jewelry to.  We have been able to help both of them financially when they needed the help. Sometimes they ask for help and sometime the Holy Spirit tells us to help them today.  For Abdul he has needed money for rice and a headlight for his motorcycle when there were no tourists to sell to.  For Gabby he was building a house and we gave him money for building materials.  He gave us free Tagalog lessons when we first got here.

Around 6 months ago, Pastor Al introduced us to a gal named Marilyn who's husband, Ed, was ill. He was having heart and lung issues.  He was a Pastor without a church.  His medical expenses were high and he didn't always get the treatments he needed because he didn't have the money. We have found that to be a very common occurrence here.  It happens every day.  Ed was doing OK for a while and then he developed a sore on his leg and it started turning black.  Again there was no money for medical expenses and they contacted family members to help.

The family didn't send money, instead they sent for Ed.  So, we made a bed up for him in the back of the church van, drove to Calapan, which is 48 kilometers of switch backs over several mountains.  We then boarded a ferry to get to the island of Luzon.  We took him, Marilyn and baby Timothy to Laguna, to his family, which is on the way to Manila.  Lola (Grandmother) Choling had the two older boys with her here. By that point Ed was yellow and delirious. He passed away 2 days later, on September 25, leaving Marilyn, 39, with no income and three young sons with no father.  The oldest, John Jacob, is 7. (not in this picture)  The middle son, John Napthali, is 5 and the youngest one, John Timothy is 2.  They all live together with Marilyn's mother Choling.  Ed had previously already incurred a large medical debt with Pastor Al that still remains.  Choling forfeited the title to her land to cover the debt to pay his medical bills.  A motorcycle was forfeited to cover the debt as well.  The family would like to pay off the debt and regain the title.  They have not been able to make a dent in the outstanding amount and it has been over two years already since those medical expenses were incurred.  This is the property Pastor Al holds the title for.




Since being introduced to Marilyn and Ed we have tried to come up with creative ways for her to help us so that we could pay her for her services.  She started by making Gospel bracelets, and for a short while she was giving us Tagalog lessons.  Now she cleans our apartment (very well I might add).  We also order bracelets from her to create some more income. Recently, we starting having her come clean the Threads of Hope store and storage room.  She is also wanting to restart a business that her family used to do making rice cake and banana chips.  We bought her a couple of essential tools to get the business going again as a Christmas gift.  This is a little stove they call a kalan used for steaming the rice cakes.  They are not like the rice cakes we are used to in the States.  They are like mini rice muffins I think.  We are waiting to try them.

Please pray for Marilyn and the boys.  She is trying to find a job.  She is even considering going overseas so she can make some decent money.  That is another common occurrence with the people of the Philippines.  The wages are not good so they are willing to break up their family if it means a chance to improve their financial situation for a while.  If the Holy Spirit moves you to make a donation to their family you can go to the Threads of Hope site and make a donation in Marilyn's name.  It would be awesome if we could help her pay off that debt to get the title to the land back!
See the link at the bottom to make a donation.

The needs are great here, as you can see.  They are not so great in the fact that they require a large sum of money.  They are great in the sense that there are MANY who have needs.  That is why Threads of Hope is such a vital part of this community.  Everyone wants a roof over their head and food to eat, a bed to sleep in and clothes to wear, of course.  This livelihood project helps provide for their basic needs.

We have found that we are doing a good job, but can do it better.  So we are gathering the data that we need in order to provide more fully for the families who have Threads of Hope as their only income. We are working on starting extra funds for medical expenses and also for school expenses for the high school and college student.  We will also be revamping the criteria we use for handing out orders starting with the widows and working down the list through single moms and those married with no other income, etc.  Those changes will go into effect gradually.

Time to sign off of this post.  Thanks for tuning in.
Blessings,
Julie and Jim

The link is www.threadsofhope.com.ph/payment.htm
 to go directly to the payment/donation page.  Please put "Marilyn-Land Debt" in the memo/purpose for donation area.


Monday, December 22, 2014

A Review of 2014

Hello again,

Ok, so I have come to the conclusion that blogging is not my strong point.  In fact getting myself to prioritize correspondence is quite difficult.  We are always in the middle of something that seems to take precedents over being still and documenting/journaling our lives.  But the holidays seem to help me every year to reflect on events and blessings that are noteworthy.  So, here I go straining my brain to recap the year.

The year 2014 held some life changing events.

JANUARY
*January was spent focusing on my dad's health issues. We were trying to work with doctors to see if we couldn't keep him from another amputation.  He had already had a toe removed on one foot and a cadaver vein used for a bypass to feed what was left of the foot.  That was 2013.  Now he had another sliver(?) which created a wound which again would not heal.  They removed another toe on the other foot only to go back and remove the leg below the knee because he would not stay off of the foot.  He also had dementia so was not able to grasp all of the doctor's orders.

*We had been waiting for God to release us to set a date to move to the Philippines.  The day they announced they would remove the lower leg and foot was the day we felt it was time to set a date for departure and move forward.

FEBRUARY
*February was spent packing, organizing 15 month's worth of supplies, purchasing tickets, raising support, and visiting my parents and family.  February was also the month that they amputated my dad's left leg below the knee and he moved to a nursing home.  We were to depart in early March.

MARCH
*On March 8th we left our son, and my son's friend who had already been living with us for 3.5 years, in our home in Neenah and headed for the airport to finally make this journey we had been working towards for a few years now. We arrived in Manila on March 9th.  We stayed with Chris and Alex Kuhlow while we started the process of acquiring our retirement visas. We spent some time shopping and then headed for Mindoro to begin our work.  We had one month to get acquainted and acclimated before the Kuhlows left to go back to the States.

*Our eldest son Ben turned 22.

*We moved into an efficiency apartment at Tamaraw Beach Resort on the island of Mindoro in Aninuan (ah-nee-new-on).

APRIL
*In April the right leg that had already had a toe amputation and a bypass started to fail because Dad was  sitting in a wheel chair 20 hours a day.  Lower leg number two was amputated.

*We worked on systems to handle the creation of orders for the bracelet makers.

*Our personal property arrived via ship and we retrieved it paying a huge customs fee because our retirement visas were not yet done.

MAY
*Early May we moved to a 2 bedroom apartment and had the guys from the church help us paint.  We started acquiring furniture and appliances we needed from missionaries who were returning to the States.  We made trips to Manila with the church van to retrieve our acquisitions.

*On May 19th my Dad passed away.  The second amputation wouldn't heal.  That very same day there was a stunning wedding here on the beach and they sent lanterns up to heaven like they were going to my dad.  Jim was in Manila picking up a videographer that came from the States to make a new Threads of Hope video for us, so I was here by myself.

*We spent a few days helping the videographer take his footage.

*At the end of May our youngest son, Will, turned 20.

JUNE
*June was business as usual with the bracelet makers and we worked on making furniture for our apartment.  We went native and had the guys make a bamboo bed and cover cabinets and other furniture with sawali (woven panels).  We learned quickly that we had a problem with humidity in our back bedroom.  Everything was molding, so the search began for a dehumidifier.  One would think they were fairly common in a warm humid climate, but most people didn't know what we were talking about.  We found one on the internet.

*We spent part of the month trying to get a wire transfer completed properly for our retirement visas because our last name was misspelled.

JULY
*July was when we survived our first typhoon.  Glenda came in unannounced and took away our entire beach.  The level of the sand at the break wall dropped approximately 6 ft.  But the sea returns most of what it took so in a month or so the level was up again but not quite as high as it had been.

* We received our dehumidifier and were done with treating the bamboo for bugs and mold.

*I turned another year older at the end of the month but we won't talk about how old I am.

*We still weren't done with our retirement visas but the wire transfer debacle came to an end.

AUGUST
*Early August we renewed our tourist visas for the last possible time.  The same day, we submitted our retirement visa package.  We were told it would take 10-15 days to process.  We checked on our visas after the allotted time and were told it would take 21 days.  After 21 days...you guessed it..we had no notice that the process was complete and we could not get in contact with the person we were supposed to be calling for the information.

*At the end of the month, Jim turned another year older.

SEPTEMBER
*Early September our tourist visa expired and we were notified that there was a problem with the addresses on our tourist visa and our application.  So more money needed to be spent adjusting the address BEFORE the package was submitted to the Department of Immigration.  But now we have an expired visa AND we have been in the country for more than six months.  Based on the difficulty we had every step of the way, we expected to be required to leave the country for 24 hours so we could start the clock on our tourist visas again.  But they have had our passports for over a month at that point.  But FINALLY on the 17th of September, while we were in Manila, we were notified that we could get our visas.  We picked them up and reviewed them only to find that they had a wrong address as our primary address and they misspelled Jim's name on our wire transfer.  But we said thank you and got out of there with our visas as fast as we could.  We can correct that stuff online later...we think.  Drama over for the moment.

OCTOBER
*October was pretty quiet, with business as usual.  We are tweaking our business systems again to refine the ordering and payment process, automating more and more of the process as we go.

*We finally seemed to be able to get a work out in on a regular basis and have move time for devotions.  It think we are finding our new normal.

NOVEMBER
*November brought 7 World Racers to the ministry center.  Their month serving with us was month 3 on their 11 month tour.

*Chris and Alex returned to Mindoro for the first time since April.

*We had an American Thanksgiving dinner with Pastor Al and wife Marina, daughter Jojo, the 7 World Racers and the folks that work so hard to keep the ministry center cleaned and cared for.

*We had been going to Manila once a month but are finding that things can be picked up in Manila for us and delivered to us without ever leaving the island now that Chris and Alex are here on a semi-regular basis again.

*We have been doing more music than normal with the church because Christmas is approaching.

DECEMBER
*This month, December, started out with the World Racers leaving us and going back to Manila to meet the rest of their team and move on to Thailand for the month.

*While everyone was in Manila the threat of being hit by Super Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby started so Pastor Al and family stayed there until the storm passed.  It was moving so slowly that there was much time for prayer and evacuation. God performed His miracle and by the time it reached us it wasn't even rated as a typhoon, it was just a tropical storm.  It turned out to be less of a storm than Glenda was in July and we didn't have any notice about that storm at all just because we don't have a TV.

*This month, we have also completed more automation of our systems just in time to start changing the way that we pay people in the next couple of months.

*We still have been playing more music due to the Holidays.  The past couple of days have been filled with Christmas parties.  Tomorrow everyone leaves, and Jim and I will hold down the fort over the holidays again.  There are Americans that work in Manila at Faith Academy coming this way for their Christmas break, so we are excited for the company during the week.  It is always good to hear an American accent.

Thanks for reading our blog.  We also have posted 3 other blurbs.  There is "A Christmas Greeting for 2014", "A View from the "Thoughtful Spot"-Beauty and Poverty", and "God Reveals His Purpose-The Lives We Are to Touch".





The View from the "Thoughtful Spot"-Beauty and Poverty

Hello,
Thanks for dropping into this blog post.  I hope you enjoy my observations.


I would like you to come and join us on a journey of contrast and comparison.  Grab your cup of coffee and have a seat while I draw you a picture.  I'll use photos to help as well.  I am currently sitting in the place that I call the “Thoughtful Spot” here at the Ministry Center.  I am perched up on a hill with a very old mango tree where I have a 360 degree view of the beauty of the Philippines and specifically Aninuan on the island of Mindoro where we live and serve Aninuan Christian Church with Threads of Hope.

To my right I can see the sea in the distance peeking out through the palm trees. All other angles of my view display mountain peaks standing majestically over the tree tops and hovering above the bright red roof of the ministry center.  The houses scattered below me range from bamboo huts with palm leaf roofs, to plywood houses with tarped or corrugated metal roofs to nicer homes constructed of cinder blocks with metal roofs and cement railings.  Some have painted exteriors and some show the blocks with no finishing coat. The bamboo and plywood houses typically have shutters that cover the window opening, while the cement homes typically have glass slats that keep out the weather.

The view from this spot is a perfect example of the diverse range of affluence in all of the Philippines.  Most are extremely poor with a diet primarily of rice and very rustic creature comforts, while others have cars and plenty of food, electricity and running water.  Almost everyone regardless of income level has access to television and a cell phone however.

Motorcycles and tricycles (a motorcycle with a covered side cab built on it) are the very typical modes of transportation here in the province.  But Manila is like  many other big cities we have seen, but more chaotic  There are people everywhere, endless traffic, many homeless, squatters shacks stacked on top of each other; right, left, above and below.  Vendors can be found everywhere selling anything from a single cigarette to a broom as they walk between lanes of traffic all day long to sell whatever motorists will buy, while they breathe in the exhaust from unregulated emissions from Jeepneys (old Army style trucks with long benches in the back), motorcycles, cars and trucks.



There are vendors here on the beach everyday who sell everything from pearl necklaces they string themselves, to model flag ships with lights inside, to guitars and fairly authentic looking US Silver dollars that are stamped from 1802; which would be worth a fortune if they were real.  Our bracelet makers stay on the beach as well and offer massages, braiding, and bracelets to tourists.  They make bracelets for us during the times when there are no tourists to sell to or serve.  They all appear on the beach shortly after the sun comes up, hoping to catch any available tourist who is willing to buy a souvenir. They remain until dusk, which is somewhere around 6 pm all year long, give or take 30 minutes. Seven days a week the routine remains pretty much the same.  Many days during the slow season they sell nothing. 

Sometime this country seems very backwards and odd but it also is a place of great beauty. The beauty is revealed in both nature and its inhabitants.  Life is hard here for most, but at the same time it is paradise.

If you would like to read more about the other purposes God has revealed to us for being here go to our blog post entitled "God Reveals His Purpose--The Lives we are to Touch".  We are honored to be helping the people showcased in that post.

Thanks for coming on the journey with me.  I hope you enjoyed the view from the "Thoughtful Spot".
Blessings,
Julie

Friday, June 13, 2014

What You Can Learn in Just 3 Months in Puerto Galera!


Magandang Araw (Good Day) Friends and Family,

June 9th marked three months already since we arrived in Manila.  An update is long overdue; our apologies for our tardiness.  We started writing this newsletter almost a month ago on the way back to Puerto Galera from a trip to Manila.  Now, I am back in Manila for the third time since then and much has happened between then and now, of course.  But we wanted you to know that Jim and I are still alive and living in Puerto Galera.  We are getting settled in slowly but surely.  Slowly is the operative word I think.  I will try to summarize the major events and paint you a picture in the process. 

Life is never short of adventures because everything is new to us.  We are learning our way around Puerto Galera (the region we live in), Calapan (the nearest city of any size to shop or do official related tasks) and Manila (the place to find anything as long as you know where to look).  We have retrieved our shipment of personal belonging from the States with much additional stress, time and penalty fees ($1500...ouch).  Things that once seemed strange or unique or out of the ordinary are beginning to seem normal.  That is what some of the included pictures portray.  I can’t say we agree with the way things are done in this country, but we are getting used to it.  Simple things are done very differently here.  The words “Out of Stock” seem to be the motto we hear often.  And sometimes things they do are brilliant!

Filling the gas tank of the trike with Coke!? Just stop at the road side sari sari store, give them some pesos  and they hand you a bottle of gas. Interesting!  You can buy your fruit and gas and a single cigarette on a back road all at the same time.  It is better service than going to the drive up window at McDonalds.
We are living at Tamaraw Beach Resort, which is the place that the founders of Threads of Hope stayed when they met the original two girls who were selling bracelets on the beach.  After living in an efficiency apartment for two months, we have finally moved into our two bedroom apartment and are in the middle of making it our own.  It just happens to be the exact apartment that we stayed in in early 2012 when we came to the Philippines on our family vision trip.  It is totally trashed at the moment because we are repainting because of dark colors and badly chipped walls, repairing damaged things, buying furniture that isn’t rock hard and building shelving to organize our stuff that we shipped here.  We have everything that we need at Tamaraw to meet our basic needs and beyond (including gorgeous sunsets that we catch once in a while).  It is our sanctuary away from the village.  Also, with as many power outages as they have here, it is our connection to productivity on the computer because they have a generator that is started within minutes of the power failures or scheduled outages.  They are also giving us a phenomenal rate for rent and allow long-term renting.  The owners have been very welcoming, gracious and tolerant and we greatly appreciate them allowing us to make it our home.

This beautiful sunset is a pretty daily occurrence.  However, this one was spectacular!  We see one every once in a while, but we know there will be another to watch in 24 hours if we miss the current one!  They are stunning from the ministry center as well.
Cars are amazingly expensive here.  After testing several very old vehicles (1970’s) and nearly having a wreck, we just finally bought a new model.  A 1995 Pajero (19 years old), which is basically a mini jeep-type vehicle, with an automatic transmission, for $5341 (another ouch).  The road to the ministry center is rough (some major rocks and obstacles) and narrow (with 2 way traffic) and hilly (at the base of a mountain) and curvy (with lots of blind spots), so we needed a vehicle that will be able to take some beating without us feeling bad when it gets dinged.  The vehicle needs to be registered, but even that is no simple task and requires a trip that will take 5 hours at least.  It requires a drive to the largest city in the area, Calapan.  That is about 48 kilometers or 30 miles along the coastal road which is mountainous with many, many curves (that people cut all of the time).  The road occasionally gets washed out from landslides during wet season (which is just starting) as well.  The drive takes about 1.5 hours one-way. 


Here is our store (one of our offices) and the high school that was added on to the ministry center this past year and our little Pajero named Pepe'.  Hard to believe that thing is 19 years old.   It has a "crackled" hood from the sun, very stylish!
We are step by step creating spreadsheets and systems for tracking monthly orders, buying thread and paying the bracelet makers.  We are getting to know the 35 leaders of the bracelet makers a little as well as the guys who help at the church on a regular basis.  The language barrier is a small problem, but we can usually find someone present who speaks English better than we speak Tagalog to help us to convey the necessary information regarding the present situation.  Jim, as suspected, is doing quite well at picking up the language because he remembers it when he hears it.  I, on the other hand, don’t learn the same way and am much less accomplished in language learning than Jim.  I quite simply don’t have the time I personally require to study it because I need to hear it and see it.


Just a fan plugged into a wall outlet?
  Look closely at the picture below!
OSHA would love this way of
 plugging in a fan in a public building!
We are one step away from completing our retirement visas requirements.  So next week we will probably be returning to Manila to submit our application.  Then two weeks after that we will have to return again to get our completed visas.  We stay in Alex and Chris Kuhlow’s condo in Manila when we come, so it is very convenient for us.  They are back in the States until November, so we check up on things here for them as well.  Another one of God’s MANY provisions for us.
When we come to Manila, quite often Pastor Al and Marina, his wife, come here to take care of their house and then have Marvin (our local mechanic) drive the van here to haul things back to Mindoro that we have purchased from other missionaries who are moving back to the States or pick up our shipment, etc., etc.  This trip it will be to get a washer and drier we are purchasing.  Laundry is actually one of our biggest monthly expenses.  We will have those machines paid for in no time.  A TV is on the list as well.  The only time we watch TV is when we are at the condo in Manila.  We don’t have time to watch TV anyway in Aninuan, but if we had one we may take a little more time off.  So overall, we are being well taken care of.  Without Al, Marina and Marvin and the Isuzu ministry van I don’t know how we would acquire anything without paying extensively for it and having it shipped from Manila.

As I review the original part of this newsletter, I see that our typical day has changed quite a bit.  We used to get up and exercise, do devotions, shower, drink our protein shake and take our vitamins.  Then we would get on a trike and head to the thread store which is inland about a mile.  We would stay at the thread store from about 10am to 5-ish pm.  We would take a trike (motorcycle with a covered side car) back to Tamaraw, eat dinner, and settle in for the night on the computer to do Threads of Hope accounting, inventory management, purchasing, monthly order creation, thread purchase orders, etc., etc.  Maybe even a little time for Skyping with family and friends.  We would typically quit at around 11pm. 

Now our schedule no longer includes exercise, and devotions in the mornings.  We go to the Ministry Center for around 9am and stay until 6pm and drive ourselves back to the apartment.  We then go to work on the apartment and grab dinner and bring it back from the restaurant to work and eat at the same time.  I am trying to get apartment things completed and Jim is trying to keep up on the business stuff.  Please pray for us to find some balance again as quickly as possible.  On Sunday morning and Wednesday evening we are still typically at the ministry center for service or prayer meetings (unless we are in Manila).  Unfortunately we don’t understand 99.9% of what is being said so we still need to find a way to be fed in our own language after a 3 hour service. We read the Bible during the service and if we catch a scripture verse that is mentioned we go there and read so we have some clue what Pastor Al is teaching.


Elwyn is in the tree harvesting mangoes for us.
No safety nets, no ropes, no shoes!
Marina, the pastor’s wife, makes sure we eat by providing us with lunch on the days she is there.  We also, quite often, get paid in fruit.  We love that!  We have been gifted with pineapples, mangoes, papaya, guyabano, banana turon and sometimes some biko (coconut milk, sticky rice and brown sugar), my favorite.  The mangoes are amazing.  Lately there is a steady flow.  We eat four, they give us eight.  


Notice something missing below? They don’t even use ladders!
He is climbing down the bamboo he was using for netting the mangoes.
Soon it will be pineapple season!  Looking forward to that as well.  They planted tens of thousands of them a year or two ago. 

This is the way pineapples grow!
I never knew what the plant looked like.
Back on the home front, since we have been here there have been some happy and sad events at home as well. Our son Ben got a job that he loves, requires much travel and allows him to continue his on-line studies when he has down time wherever he has internet as well.  He is moving to Indiana in July to live with a buddy of his seeing that he is always on the road anyway.  Our son, Will, temporarily quit his full-time Jimmy John’s job so he can do some touring with his band and some fishing with Jim’s brothers in Canada.  He is an excellent drummer.  He is dealing with a strange immune health issue that occurs after he gets a cold.  It is not life threatening, but has the potential to affect his kidneys in the future.  It is something most people outgrow, but his just started when he was here in the Philippines 2 years ago.  We officially have no teenagers anymore.  Ben turned 22 in March, right after we left the States, and Will just turned 20 on May 30th.  We are very proud to be the parents of both of them.  Another one of God’s provisions.


My papa, gone to be with the Lord at 80.
  What a blessing!
Also, my father, Donn Roeder, had to have his second lower leg amputated just two months after the first amputation and ultimately passed away a few weeks ago on May 19th.  If you are a family member or on Facebook, you already knew that.  We are thankful he is no longer in pain.  The Holy Spirit reminded me of a promise made to me months ago when I was praying for Dad’s salvation.  I choose to trust and obey that my earthly father is with my heavenly Father, pain free and whole.  The hardest part for me is not Dad’s passing, but the celebration I missed afterwards.  The family time.  They have already had many bonfires in his honor.  But, on the day they announced they were going to amputate the first foot, we received a peace and were released to set a date to move here.  We knew we were saying our final goodbyes this side of eternity when we left.  Please pray for my mother, Doris.  She will miss him terribly.

We thought that the music part of our ministry wouldn’t start for a long while, but while we were still in Manila upon our initial arrival to the country, Jim was already informed that he had 5 guitar students lined up.  We did some special music for the anniversary celebration service.  Jim has been able to help Pastor Al rewrite or alter one of many of his songs.  Pastor was so excited to fix the song so people could follow it.  It just needed a few tweaks which Jim worked through very quickly.  Jim also spent some time teaching some teenagers how to harmonize.  Now there is a lull in the music area again, but that will ebb and flow anyway.  Jim fills in with guitar when Jojo, the pastor’s daughter is away, but has very little time to play in general.  He finds out he is the one playing guitar for the service right before the service starts.  It is a good thing he is a good, accomplished musician.  He handles the surprises well.


Our kaybigan (friend) Gabby.
We will try to profile one person who is dear to us in each newsletter so you can be praying for them as well.  This newsletter includes a man who is a Muslim who is a pearl/jewelry vendor on our beach.  His name is Gabby, pronounced “Gah-bee”.  Chris and Alex have known him for years and have been praying for his salvation.  He was teaching us Tagalog when we first got here (and will again when things settle down).   Very recently, he acquired some land that he built a house on.  That land just happens to be about a two minute walk from the Ministry Center, so he now shows up there on a regular basis, sometimes with his baby daughter.  He helped us count and bundle bracelets for a few hours last week.  He is leaving for Mindanao (southern Philippines, mostly Muslim population) for three months at the end of June now that the summer is over here and most of the tourists are gone and the kids are back in school.  His wife is working on a degree in Information Technologies.  We have not met her yet.  So please pray that Gabby would come to meet the One True God.  We look forward to seeing where God is going to take this relationship in the years to come.  We will need nationals to keep this thing afloat here that are computer savvy.  Perhaps he and his wife will be a part of that?  We wait and we watch and we pray!

I have two new stories to add that Jim has conveyed to me since I have been here in Manila while he holds down the fort there in Aninuan (pronounced ah-nee-new-on).  

On the way to the ministry center the other day Jim was a bit frustrated because he feels overwhelmed.  As he drove along the road he could see a man ahead of him bent over.  As he approached he could see that the man was Alan, the father of Baby Angel.  Angel is the little girl that Threads of Hope helped with medical assistance a couple of years ago because she needed a shunt put in her head for her Hydrocephalus.  Last year she had another operation that Threads of Hope helped fund for her Spina Bifida so that she had a chance to walk someday.  As I understand, someone even came here from the States to help her with her therapy.

Back to the encounter on the road.  Jim could eventually see that Alan was bent over because he was helping to stabilize Baby Angel who was wearing her little braces with her twisted up legs and was WALKING in front of him!  Gone was the “woe is me” feeling, to be replaced by a sense of awe that God has put us here to be a part of an amazing ministry that we happen to love.   How wonderful is that?

Last night as Jim faced the onslaught of requests that come directly after a church service from the leaders, he was talking with a young woman named Beth.  Beth is one of those gals that we are watching for possible help in the future because she seems quite sharp.  On our very first pay day, she made a “nice spreadsheet” comment about Jim’s spreadsheet system that he created for tracking orders and paying people.  Well, last night, she asked where I was.  Jim explained that I was in Manila because I had an opportunity to learn more about new areas of Manila from a seasoned veteran missionary.  She then proceeded to tell him that she can’t stop watching us because when she sees us she sees the love that we have for one another and she is very encouraged by it.  That comment is a direct answer to a prayer I have had for over two years now.  Because I am not a spoken words person (writing is easier for me), and don’t feel like much of an evangelist, I have prayed that our relationship, our marriage, would make a difference in the lives of the people here.  

As I think about it, this is the second time we have heard the evidence of that from the leaders.  That reminds me of the concept to “teach them about Jesus, and if you have to….use words”!  People are watching everything we as Christians do and it makes a difference no matter where we live.  I praise God for yet another answer to prayer and His awesome provision.

We feel very blessed to be used by God in His ministry, Threads of Hope.  We are thankful for His constant provision for ourselves and those we love.  So life is a bit out of order, but the day will come when and we are settled in and have day to day things under control and the big projects behind us that will allow us to remain in this country and continue serving.  Life will get back into balance.

As you read this book, you have seen MANY things to pray for us about.  I am sorry for this being so verbose.  It is hard to summarize three months of life in a new country and still give you a vivid picture of life here for us.  Even amongst the chaos WE ARE BLESSED.

Our contact information is as follows if you want to email, Skype or Facebook.  Skype is our best and favorite method of contact if you want a quicker response and/or some face time.  Next is email.  Jim gets on Facebook much more than I do (that matches our personalities), so look for his name if you are not already friends.

jijumarsh@gmail.com (email address)        
jim.julie.marsh (Skype address)     
920-744-7444 (Magic Jack)

Tamaraw Beach Resort (mailing address)
Apartment 110
Aninuan, Puerto Galera
Oriental Mindoro,
Philippines 5203

Blessings to all of you.  We greatly appreciate your prayer and financial support.  That is what allows us to be here to serve.  You are just as much a part of this ministry as we are.  We love you all. 

I am back in Puerto Galera again and have more adventures to add.  However, I will save them for future posts.  Please check out the blog as we will post more often now that things are starting to settle down and we know how to use it better.

May God richly bless you,  In Christ!

Julie and Jim Marsh