Gratefulness

In less than 3 days we begin our journey to the Philippines. To say things are “flying around here” would be an understatement. Honestly, during the past couple weeks it has been hard to even catch our breath. We have been packing, shipping boxes, notarizing documents, and coordinating what feels like a thousand other details. In the midst of this flurry of activity, I have been trying to take some time to think back upon the last 20 months to see how God has encouraged, protected, and guided us along the way. As I look back on these many months, my only response is gratefulness. One thing I am amazed at is how God gave us different “seasons” within this time span, and how everything perfectly fit together. Now, this is not to say that everything was perfect. We faced our fair share of struggle and hardship, yet even those fit perfectly in God’s plan.

So, I thought it would be fun to give some stats about our travels, and what we did over the past 20 months. Our period of raising support ranged from September 2017 through January 2019 (15 months). Here are a couple of stats from that period:

Miles Traveled: 22,500
Accidents: 0
Tickets: 0 (I’m chalking that one up as a miracle 🙂

We raised support primarily in North Central PA from September – November 2017. When then relocated to my parents house for about a month, spending December with them in 2017 before settling in to the Missions House (the Haven of Rest) of our sending church, Lighthouse Baptist Church. We spent the first half of 2018 raising support within a couple hour radius of our sending church. Our little bundle of joy, Noemi Grace, arrived on my birthday (and Mother’s day), and we took a number of weeks off from traveling. About a month after Emi’s birth, we began presenting our ministry once again before making preparations to head out West. In the middle of August we left for the West, first stopping in Michigan, then Wisconsin, Missouri and then Colorado. After spending a short time with Sarah’s family, we left for the far West, first visiting Utah, Nevada, then Oregon. We made it back to Colorado in the middle of October 2018 where we spent the rest of the year presenting our ministry in churches in the surrounding area. This was a wonderful time with Sarah’s family, and we were grateful for the months we could spend with them. This also provided me the chance to spend time working on course material for our first semester.

Soon after the start of 2019, we made our way back East (first making stops at the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter) before arriving back at the Haven of Rest. From the end of January I continued working on course material, as well as making preparations for our move (i.e. applying for visas, figuring out how to get our 2 cats to the Philippines, purchasing luggage, shipping boxes etc.). Since we reached our support goal by the end of January, we only had a very few meetings scheduled, so this allowed us to get involved in the ministries at our home church.

Looking back, at this adventure, I am extremely grateful for the grace God has given to our family, and for the opportunity we have had to serve Him. We look forward to the adventure continuing as we leave for the Philippines on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. And of course, a special thank you to all those who have prayed for us, supported up, and encouraged us along the way.

FRONT 2018-11-06

 

 

 

Commissioned for Service

Sunday was a very special and memorable day for our family. Our sending church (Lighthouse Baptist) hosted a Commissioning Service for us. The service included testimonies from family, friends, former teens from our youth ministry (who are now adults and have families of their own), music, preaching, and of course, prayer. I was thankful for the challenge from the Scriptures from Pastor Tobe Witmer (Acts 13), and Mark Kittrell (Philippians 1). Below are some pictures from the day (credit for the photos goes to Mark Kittrell).

Valiante Commissioning Service - 2019-04-28

Lighthouse Building PicTeen Pic - WillieTeen Pic - KellyFamily Pic - JohnFamily Pic - ValiantesGroup Pic 2Group Pic 3Group Pic 4Group Pic

Row of Boxes

Another sign of our approaching departure: A Row of Boxes! Today we shipped out 9 boxes that will travel via sea cargo to Haven of Grace Seminary in Pulupandan, Philippines. The journey for these boxes (if all goes well) should take 6-8 weeks, so we should receive this shipment a month or so after we arrive.

LBC Express is a Philippine-based shipping company, and we were able to drop off our boxes at this small Filipino grocery store in North Philadelphia (just 10 miles from my parents’ house). While there we met family and learned that the husband was originally from Iloilo (a city on the island just to the west of Negros). They were believers, and the wife said, “Thank you for going to minister to our people.” That was an encouragement to hear. We passed along our prayer card to them, and are grateful for more prayer support gained along the way!img_6703

Commissioning Service

It is hard to believe that in less than two months we will be in the Philippines (Lord willing)! Our sending church, Lighthouse Baptist, is having a Commissioning Service for us on Sunday, April 28. If you are not familiar with what a “Commissioning Service” is, here are some details, and why it is important:

  1. Lighthouse, as our home and sending church, is the biblical authority under which we go to the Philippines to start Haven of Grace Seminary. In our ministry, we are responsible and accountable to God through Lighthouse first and foremost.
  2. Lighthouse, based on its biblical authority as a local church, “commissions” us for service (even as Barnabas and Saul [Paul] were commissioned for missionary service by their home church in Antioch – Acts 13:1-3).
  3. The Commissioning Service itself provides to us and to our church family an opportunity to acknowledge our mutual responsibilities, to rejoice together in God’s provisions, to pray for a safe and fruitful ministry, and to say goodbye (for a short time) to our family and friends.

Of course, in many ways, our Commissioning Service will be very different from that of Missionaries from years gone by. One hundred years ago, most Missionaries left for a foreign field with little expectation of ever returning home. They boarded a boat traveling many months by sea to reach a distant land likely to never see their friends and family again. We are grateful for the advances in technology and transportation which will allow us to connect with our families on the other side of the globe in an instant, and even the ability to fly home in less than 24 hours. (Our plan is to return to the States every April and May in  order to visit our supporting churches, and to see our families.)

However, in spite of these differences, much remains the same in our mission. We are being sent out by our local church with the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel and seeing people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, and for churches to be established and strengthened. We would ask that you might pray for us in this endeavor.

Of course, anyone who wishes to attend the Commissioning Service on Sunday, April 28 is welcome to join us. Sunday School begins at 9:15 am with the main service starting at 10:30 am. Lighthouse is located at 1842 Otts Chapel Road, Newark, DE 19702, and further information about the church can be found on their website (www.lbcde.org).

Lighthouse - Church Building PIc

 

Flights Booked!

This past week we booked our flights to the Philippines! We fly out from New York City (JFK) in the early morning hours of May 15. We have a non-stop flight on Philippine Airlines that will get to us Manila on May 16. Our plan is to spend a couple of days with friends in Manila, before flying to Bacolod on Saturday, May 18. Exciting times!IMG_9801.JPG(This picture was taken on our first flight to the Philippines back in August 2017. Jonas was so excited that they gave him a parachute!)

100%

100% is a sweet sound to our ears. It means reaching the monthly support goal we set back in September 2017 to get to the Philippines to launch Haven of Grace Seminary. With a number of churches having taken us on for monthly support over the past couple of weeks, we are excited to announce that we are now at 100%.

We are grateful to First Baptist (Las Animas, CO), Valley Community (Rocky Ford, CO), Westside Baptist (Eugene, OR), and Faith Baptist (Fowler, CO) for welcoming us into their Mission Families.

This has been an amazing journey, and we are truly thankful for the pastors and church families who have partnered with us sharing the same vision to train national pastors for Gospel ministry in the Philippines and all throughout Southeast Asia.

Over the coming weeks, we plan to arrange many of the details for our upcoming travels (we plan to fly out in the middle of May in order to launch the seminary at the very end of June). This includes purchasing airline tickets, applying for Visas, arranging for the purchase of a vehicle once we arrive, coordinating the seminary schedule, registering students, and a host of other details. We are seeking to raise $20,000 for our “Initial Travel and Relocation Expenses” to help cover many of these costs. The exciting news is that we have already raised close to $12,000 of this amount! If you feel led to contribute to this fund, please click on the “DONATE” tab on our website. You will be directed to the Pacific Rim Missions giving webpage. Just be sure to select “Missionary Support Fund-Valiantes” when making your donation.

Thank you for your prayers for us as we make these final preparations.

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