“One step forward, two steps back.”
In our last prayer letter, we informed you that the Philippines had reopened after one of the longest lockdowns in the world. As a result, we were very excited to start our visa application process with the plan to get into the country this fall. However, on March 20th, we learned that due to a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, the Philippines had reimplemented a travel ban and lockdown. Our hearts sank at the news. There were a lot of uncertainties going through our minds: How long will this lockdown last? Will we be able to leave for the field this year? Will we be able to get our visas? We felt like we had taken a step forward but then two steps back. Honestly, it was a struggle for me not to worry about the situation. I had to learn to be patient and trust God to work out the details. He already knew this was going to happen. He knows the what, when, where, and how. He was teaching me to be patient and wait on Him. God reminded me of Psalms 27:14, which says: Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
When I let go of the worry, doubt, and uncertainties of the situation and gave them to God, I finally felt peace – a peace that God would work everything out. He is in total control of the problem, so there is no need for me to worry or stress over the unknown. I like the famous words of Corrie Ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” So even though we didn’t have the answers to our questions, we learned to stand still and let God move – and God did just that.
As of May 1st, the Philippines lifted the travel ban and opened up its borders. So we now can go in! At this time, we are finishing the last of our meetings, starting our visa application process, and getting things ready to leave for the field. It’s such an exciting time! Going to Mindanao always seemed so far away, but now it’s just a few months away! It’s almost hard to believe. But we can’t wait to get there!
With being almost done with deputation, we have some new prayer requests. The first prayer request would be for our visa application. Because we will initially be coming in under a tourist visa, we have to apply for a Travel Ban Exemption. Once that is approved, we can start on the tourist visa application. When we get into the Philippines, we will then apply for our permanent residence visa. So our prayer request is that our application is approved and have no delays or disruptions. Secondly would be that God would give us wisdom and grace as we prepare to leave for Mindanao. We will make many decisions in the next few months, and we need God’s help to make those decisions. Thirdly would be for Whitney as she has started language school via video call. She has classes every weekday for about an hour, and she is doing a tremendous job. Please pray that God would give her grace and understanding as she learns the language. We greatly appreciate your prayers!
n March and April, we were able to present in 10 different churches, with four of those being missions conferences. We had a wonderful time meeting people from varying churches from Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, California, and Arizona. God has blessed our travels, and we are excited to announce that we are at 96% of our needed support!
We have five more meetings, with four of those being in May. We are excited to be almost done with deputation and have thoroughly enjoyed traveling for the past year and eight months. We never thought we would be on deputation during a global pandemic, but God has shown Himself mighty and able to get us where He wants us to be regardless of what’s going on in our world. Please pray for safety as we travel to our remaining meetings in Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma.
We are thankful for every church and individual who supports our ministry prayerfully and financially. Without your help, we wouldn’t be where we are now. God bless you as you continue to serve Him faithfully where He has called you to minister. God bless!
For His Glory,
Stephen, Whitney, Landon, Grayson, & Carson