Friends,
My brother (Steve), his oldest son (Kael), another teenage boy, and two young men (not the same two who went in 2015) took a trip to the Philippines last month to visit the Agta –the people with whom I and my siblings grew up and for whom my parents translated the New Testament.

It appears that the Agta are doing much better than they were several years ago. There is a thriving church there and most of the Agta throughout the penisula seem to love Jesus. The children are eager to go to school and to learn and the adults want this for them –very different than when we lived there, for it was so hard to get anyone interested in learning to read then. However, there is a need for a school to be built in another Agta village so that those children don’t have to board away from home. There is a need for funds for this project, as Steve is trying to arrange plans for the building. Here is something I posted after their trip in 2015 and it includes the information on how to donate:

“New houses, a church, and a school have been made in one Agta village from money being donated from various people wanting to help the Agta. The Agtas’ needs have received more attention since APECO’s efforts to take their land have become known internationally. (The Rom. 8:28 promise at work, I’d say.) May the Lord bless all who are helping them! If you would like to be one of those helpers, there is an opportunity to become a sponsor for the many six-graders wanting to go on to high school (there is no middle school), which costs, including room and board, approximately $340 a year. Here is the link you can click on to donate and receive a tax deduction:http://partnersacrosscultures.org/donate Please specify that you are donating to “the Casiguran Agta” in the blank space that says, “Person or trip”. If you are wanting to sponsor a student, their names will be available after you fill out the application. Thank you so much for prayerfully considering this.”

Please also support the Agta through prayer. Pray for their health, for their provision regarding food, medicine, surgeries, and education, for them to grow in spiritual knowledge, maturity, and holiness, for them and their land to be safe from land-grabbers, for their safety from disease and accidents and hurricanes, and for their total well-being.

I thank the Lord for all He has so wonderfully done for the Agta since my parents went there to live out their lives with them two years before I was born. God loves the Agta so very much. He cares for them and wants to use others to extend His care and love through. Thank you for your consideration, dear Reader, in helping.

Below are some photos, with captions underneath each, of this year’s trip.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

My brother with “uncle” Saysay (pronounced Sysy) who, as a child, became blind from having measles.

My brother and a Filipino man who is a pastor in the area.

Kael and the other teenage boy enjoying one of the peninsula’s exquisite beaches.

This man’s life was saved by my mom about 25 years ago when he was dying. My mom hiked to his home one night to pray over him and he miraculously recovered by the next morning. This is his wife and kids this year.

This photo is of two of our elderly “aunties” trying out the reading glasses my parents sent.

Two of our friends have this small ferry business because the river, near its mouth, rises at high tide.

Two children amazed at a young hornbill bird.

Agta grandma ready to play ball too!

American group involving themselves in village life.

Kael with new friends.

Friends,
Three members of my sister’s family (see photos 2, 4, and 7 at link below), along with several others from their church, went to Tanzania, Africa to watch a water well installed for the Hadza people. My sister’s children were instigators in raising the money, often through bake sales, for this project, and they raised over $22,000. My sister and her family, having a loving concern for the Hadza after having lived with them for a few years in the 90s, have periodically gone back to visit them, help them, and promote Jesus. Click this link to view photos of this latest trip a few weeks ago:

http://kylepaliotto.zenfolio.com/p403102053

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

The Unborn Are Persons

February 2, 2015

Friends,
If you, or your wife, or your sister, or your friend, said she was five months pregnant, would you consider that baby in the womb to be a person? I should think so. Does not everyone who joyfully anticipates the birth of any baby know that that baby is a human being from the time he or she is conceived? Why then do so many people uphold laws that allow for the murder of these helpless human beings? It is unconscionable. Yet in their selfishness, such adults deliberately deny what is true while pretending that abortion is merely the removal of tissue.

On January 22, the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade, a bill to ban abortions at and after 20 weeks gestation was ready for a vote in the House. Unfortunately though, it has been stalled. Please read here and sign the petition on behalf of unborn persons:

http://aclj.org/pro-life/womb-should-be-a-place-of-protection-not-murder?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=newsletter

Thank you.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
How deeply, how earnestly, how diligently and faithfully, do we crave God’s presence? We should evaluate ourselves on this point because God’s Word tells us that we are to love God above everything and everyone else. (Dt. 5:7 & 6:13-15) We are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) We are to give up all –all things, all people, and our own life– in order to belong to Him. (Luke 9:23-25 & 14:25-27,33) And we are to show this love consistently / faithfully / till the end. (Mt. 24:12,13 // Heb. 3:12-14 // 1 Peter 4:2 // Rev. 2:4,5) How well are we doing this?

Most people, I believe, have to admit that they are not doing very well concerning this. Instead of loving the Lord’s presence, they love the world’s presence. They love movies, Facebook friends, their career, their hobbies, their idols, and most of all themselves. Oh, some hate themselves, true; but how they cater to their own desires, how they refuse to control their tongues, their thoughts, their attitudes, and their actions, reveals very clearly that they worship themselves, even if it be a love/hate reality.

Ps. 84:10 says, “For a day in Your courts [O LORD] is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Do we feel the same as the psalmist? Can we express the same thing to God? Do we think, “O Lord, even one day near You is better than a thousand days anywhere else, even a thousand days doing those other things that I love to do [–like eat, sleep, ski, golf, shop, fish, etc.].”

And what about our importance, our prestige? I’ve heard that the word here for “doorkeeper” is found nowhere else in Scripture but that we know it refers to a person of the lowest rank. Does this verse ring true in our own hearts? Are we one who has given up all pursuit of worldly recognition that might interfere with our ability to dwell in God’s presence? Have we rejected all our love of anything wicked so that we can love God whole-heartedly? Have we traded in the hangouts of sin and rebels for the company of God?

We are to love God and desire His presence just because He is who He is. He is the compassionate, mighty, Most High King and Creator, our Ransomer and our Shepherd, the One who is always and forever good. We are to desire God because He is God, the one and only God.

Even so, because God is so good, He bestows great favor on those who long to be in His presence and who live in Him. They are ever rejoicing in Him, trusting in Him, and thus receiving protection, honor, strength, refreshment, joy, and all good things from Him. (See whole of Ps. 84) Truly, being with God brings immense reward, both here in this life and in the one to come.

So, how deeply do we really desire God’s presence? Let’s be honest and alter our lives according to the claims we make.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
My brother was telling me the other day how he and some others from their church went knocking on apartment doors asking people what they want for Christmas. He said that most people wouldn’t really say, but a few did. And the ones that did were in for a very pleasant surprise. For what my brother and his friends were up to was this: My brother and a couple of others would knock on doors, give a small gift, invite the residents to their church, ask them what they want for Christmas, and then write down each one’s answer. As soon as they had said goodbye, my brother would call another church member who was waiting at Walmart, that person would buy the item, and another church member waiting in the Walmart parking lot with a van would pick it up and deliver it to my brother still at the apartments. So, about an hour after the request, my brother and his friends with him would deliver it to the resident who had told them what they were wishing for this Christmas.

One lady they visited had said she was longing for a vacuum cleaner. Pointing out her dirty carpet, as well as her mouth full of missing teeth, she had said she just couldn’t afford a vacuum cleaner but was sure wishing for one for Christmas. When my brother and the others delivered to her an hour later a brand new vacuum cleaner with a huge Christmas bow on it, saying, “Here’s what you wished for”, the woman burst into tears and screams of joy. She kept screaming with joy and crying so that even when my brother and his little group left and were way out in the parking lot getting ready to leave, they could still hear the woman screaming and shouting for joy. My brother was laughing as he told me, “The woman was so hysterical that we were afraid people were going to think we’d murdered her husband or something!” I couldn’t help laughing too. And I thought what they’d done sounded so fun! For isn’t it great to bless people, especially when they aren’t expecting it?

I hope we all can find someone needy to bless this holiday season. I already found such a family this last Saturday who I knew really needed some money and encouragement, so in giving to them, I was blessed as well. And I hope to find at least one more family to give to.

What would Jesus do? What did Jesus already do? And what has He done for us day after day? He has given us abundant blessings of all kinds that we so often take for granted. Like a towel rack in our bathroom. Or salt for seasoning food. Or a safety pin. Or a warm jacket. Or a spouse who loves and cares for us. Even when many things aren’t right, or society’s selfishness sometimes makes us want to get far away from everyone, or one problem after another pops up, we nevertheless have multitudes of blessings. We just need to notice them. Or if we can’t, then going without them for a week should open our eyes. When my husband and I went out after four days of being without some “necessities” in our new home –like a bathroom towel rack– and he installed them, I couldn’t believe how thankful I was to just have a towel rack available!

But some people have NEVER had a towel rack. They’ve never even had a towel. To dry off, they have to resort to using, at best, an old piece of cloth. My dad was telling me last month how the Agta, after he would periodically ask them what their upcoming meal would be consisting of, would usually say, “Rice and salt.” They felt it a luxury just to have salt with their rice. This is how most of the world lives, even while others gorge themselves on all sorts of luxuries –year after year, day after day, hour after hour.

If only people would let the change begin with their own family. If only they would agree that this Christmas, instead of piling gifts up under their own tree, the money would be spent to bring gifts to those who need necessities. For as Paul reminds us of Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), we are also reminded to work hard to help the weak. (same verse) Not the lazy, or those who take advantage of kindnesses, but those who are truly in need.

Let’s remember that whatever we do for (and to) the least of them –the most impoverished, neglected, diseased, or insignificant of people– we have done it for (and to) Christ. (Mt. 25:35-40) –Whether it is love and help we’ve extended, or neglect. (v. 41-46)

This Christmas let’s take these things to heart, and act accordingly.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
This evening my mom told me that they’d received a nice letter from a fellow missionary woman (who had been my 4th grade teacher) informing us that Jamie M. and his family had spent three months early this year with the Umiray Dumagets, the village people his parents had translated the New Testament for. The wonderful thing about it, she said, was that he was able to get many copies reprinted, making them available for the villagers who needed more. What a blessing! Furthermore, Jamie and his family (who normally live in Canada) were able to teach and minister to those whom he had grown up with. Another huge blessing!

The reason this information is special to our family is because Jamie’s parents and my parents were very close friends and both worked with Agta groups, though the two groups have very different languages. I remember one time when our family visited their village. I was grade school age, but it was quite memorable to me as I can still picture my mom high up in an ocean wave, yelling for help to our Agta maid who had come with us. But she just stood there! (We realized later it was because she didn’t know how to swim in big ocean waves either since our village was on the shores of a quiet bay.) I remember that I felt like I was about to see my mom swept out to sea. Thank the Lord, that didn’t happen, as an Umiray Dumaget came to my mom’s rescue.

Well, my mom was very blessed to hear what Jamie and his family did for the Umiray Dumagets. And I am very blessed to hear of it too.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Mandela’s Noble Legacy

December 9, 2013

Friends,
People talk a lot about love, how wonderful, necessary, and nobel it is, but they usually are referring to that kind of love that speaks gushy words yet puts forth little else. Such love soon proves shallow, even hollow and false.

Those people who I admire are not those who talk about love, but those who show it. And who show it through great sacrifice. Those who sacrifice their entire lives for the cause of Truth, justice, and equality.

One of these admirable men is Nelson Mandela. Though he passed last week from this earth, Madela’s sacrificial life made the world a better place, especially in South Africa. What a legacy he leaves. I spent some time last night reading several articles about him, and could not help but weep. If only there were many more men (and women) in history like him. –A man who cared about others, particularly the oppressed, dispossessed, poor, and persecuted, more than he cared about himself.

Here are two of the several articles I read:

http://www.npr.org/2013/12/05/136590582/nelson-mandela-inspiration-to-world-dies-at-95?utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=20131208&utm_source=mostemailed

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/06/249210908/listen-two-mandela-speeches-that-made-history

All the photos I saw of Mandela made me start to wonder if he was a Christian. For looking into his face, I doubt that anyone could deny that Mandela’s face is almost angelic-like as he displays either a happy, loving smile, or an expression of calm confidence mixed with humility. I was glad, in further researching his beliefs, to find that Mandela’s contribution to our world was most certainly fueled by an admiration of Christ, and likely even a relationship with Him.

Here is a really good article, and one which also made me weep:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/nelson.mandela.and.his.faith/34956.htm

We can all strive to be like Mandela. We can all work to better the lives of those less fortunate. We can all live sacrificial lives for the cause of Truth, justice, and equality. We can all do anything God calls us to do. The call begins with the command to be like Christ.

What if we were given Mandela’s spirit? Would we expect to do great things as he did? Sure we would. Well, God has given us HIS own Spirit. Therefore we have no reason to not be doing powerful things through Him for the furtherance of Good throughout the world.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel