Unexpected news

Sometimes when my heart is overwhelmed I like to sit out on our porch and look across the ocean. I listen to the sounds of the waves and let the calmness wash over me. I like the order of things. The way the tide comes in and recedes just as it should. The way the water never fails to do what it should..to reach the sand. I find peace in the orderly, the expected, the typical. Somehow seeing how everything comes together to form this perfect picture calms me. 

It seems so often we are living life with the unexpected, the uncertain. We wait for what we hope will happen, all the while knowing that it might not. We make our plans and wait for the Lord to direct our paths. Its a good place to be because it puts us in a position of dependence. A place where trusting Him is all we can do. I know this to be true from so many past experiences. Then why does my heart struggle with the uncertain? 

This year is a big year for our family. Phil reaching efficiency in the Agutaynen language. Valerie-Anne’s SAT exam and high school graduation and hopefully the completion of the landing strip and the teaching lessons. So many milestones, but none guaranteed. The control freak in me wants certainty. To mark the completed boxes and know exactly what will happen next. My heart is always inclined to worry. What if she doesn’t pass? What if we don’t have the funds for college, what if no one gets saved? But, the only one who knows our future is Him who holds all our days. His plan is perfect. His timing: without error. His motive: His glory and my good. Even in the uncertain and the storms of life this remains truth. 


When my heart is overwhelmed I need to focus on what IS certain. That He cares about the little details. That nothing will escape His attention. That He has put a plan in motion long before me. A plan that will reach perfect completion. He knows my anxieties and will answer my prayers even before I utter a word. Not always with a yes, but sometimes with a perfect no. It is in these things that I find peace amidst the uncertainty.

Visa situation:

As I mentioned in a previous post, this year marks the 10th year our family has served the Lord in the Philippines. Immigration law says that after the 10th year, you are required to leave the country and return on a tourist visa. You then begin the whole process for a new missionary visa from the start again. 

We were aware of this and planned to go to a cheap destination in Asia and return after a few days. But, we were made aware last week that we need to be gone for a month and must arrive from “the point of origin”. Meaning from South Africa. This has been shocking, to say the least. None of this was part of the plan and many things will have to fall in place for this to be possible. But it is immigration law and so we have no choice. 

Next year is also the year Valerie-Anne will leave for college and that means that we will have the added expense of a trip to South Africa and her travels to college and all that that entails. It seems impossible. There is no way we can do this on our own. Only He can make this all work. 

Will you please pray for us as we try work through the various possibilities and make plans accordingly? Please pray for wisdom from the Lord and His provision for all of these needs. 

SAT results:

Much to our delight, Valerie-Anne did really well in her SAT test! Her results will be sufficient to apply at the various colleges and universities we have in mind. She has a few more weeks of school and then she will graduate! Thank you to all of you who prayed for her. It has long been her hope to first do a solid Bible College course, which she hopes to start next year and then move on to further her studies. She is not sure exactly what field, but is leaning strongly towards education. 

Please pray for us as we apply to various colleges /universities next month. Pray that God will guide us according to His will.

Teaching lessons:

What do you do when there is no word in the language for Trinity? Do you use the national language word, or rather explain the concept only and not give it a name? What about explaining , “in the beginning God created the earth”, to a culture that has no word for “beginning”? There is no word for Creation either, so every mention of “Creation” needs to detail every part of His creation (earth, stars, animals etc. ).

These are some of the challenges Phil is facing while translating the Creation to Christ lessons. Things that seem simple to us who have been speaking “Christianese” are completely foreign here and need detailed explanation. Most of the Scripture he use in the NT is foreign in the language and does not have any direct words to use. Therefore he ends up with more of an explanation that a translations. Here is a small example:

John 16:8
“And He when He comes will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”

Agutaynen no word for convict as it is not part of their culture. The word concerning as a link is not in their language either. No direct word for righteousness or judgment. So when the translation is done it ends up being more of an explanation and is much longer than the english vesre. Here it is in agutaynen:

John 16:8
“Mga komabot Tanandia, ipaita Naong ga taw ang kalibotan ang na nga mali tang aggisipen nira natetenged ong onopay enged tang kasalanan ig mga sinopay mato-lid ig mag monopay tang pagorosgaren tang Dios.

Please continue to pray for Phil and those involved in helping him to have godly wisdom as they seek to remain true to Gods Word. Please also continue to pray for hearts that will be receptive to truth. Thank you!

Good neighbours:


We have mentioned several times how God has blessed us with wonderful neighbours. This was even more evident when we shared a meal with all of them earlier this month. Their delight in a simple gathering challenges my heart about thankfulness. Their willingness to get up early and slaughter the animals and prepare the meal encourages me to serve. I am learning so much through them, and all of this is before they know our Lord. I long for the day that they will know Him! Its closer than ever now!

Prayers:

Please continue to keep us in prayer. We are closer than ever to bringing the gospel to Agutaya. Pray that the evil one will not hinder us but that we will stand strong in Him. 

With love and appreciation for you, our partners in the Gospel,

The le Rouxs

We need a building….

Size of the classroom we will build
All the teachers and the principle
The classroom they are currently using we want to replace with more stable structure

As most of you know by now, we are currently in the process with a building project at one of the elementary schools on our island. Once we start teaching in that area we will need a place to do the creation to Christ teachings. The elementary school in that are approached us and asked for help in a building. The have to many children for the amount of classrooms they have.

We initially thought of a two room but it will be to expensive. Expenses are always higher on the island as it cost a lot of money to get the materials to the island. Therefore we started with a budget of around R500 000 or $40 000 but quickly reduced it to a one classroom with a budget or approximately R300 000 or $24 000.

We will start making the blocks in August and once that is complete building will start. We will keep you updated. We already received one generous amount of R60 000 towards the project and that will get it going. We will continue the project as we receive funds.

We will start a second project Lord willing next year with the other elementary school in another area on our island where we will also need a teaching room and therefore use the school room at the other school. This school however already have a half built building which we just have to complete for them. We have not yet discussed this more in detail but will soon after starting the first project.

Should you want to get involved in this project by either funding or even come and help to build (we can discuss this if any are interested), please get in touch with Peter Thomas kpbc@global.co.za or peter.thomas.bbc@gmail.com.

Thank you again for each and every one of you that are in which ever way part of this ministry in seeing the Agutaynens receive the true gospel.

Philip

Inside of the school room
The classroom they are currently using we want to replace with more stable structure

Simple things


I love how seeing our beautiful island in the distance never fails to bring a lump in my throat and a feeling of “coming home” in my heart. What an answer to pray! God has put a love in my heart for the Agutaynen’s and this little corner of the earth where we reside. A love that could only come from Him. I am deeply grateful.

This month Val and I went on our first solo trip to Manila for her to write her SAT test. For those who are not familiar with this, it is a Standard Assessment test to test college readiness used in the US to gain entry into American Colleges/Universities. Basically like a South African Matric qualification for lack of a better explanation. 

I was quite nervous to travel without Phil especially since the recent safety threat we have had in our region. The Lord put a calmness in my heart during the several days of travelling and no doubt went ahead of us preparing the way. Everything worked our perfectly. He is so good to me! Thank you to all who lifted us in prayer over this time. It was great to see some of our precious friends in Manila, albeit briefly, and catch up with them. God has really blessed us with beautiful friendships there!


We got to meet our beautiful God child, Amihan (daughter to Hector and Mayen). What a little doll! I am so thankful she will grow up knowing Jesus because her parents will raise her in His ways ❤.

While we were away Phil, Boeta and Angie stayed on the island. Angelique took over all my duties, cooking and doing laundry the whole time. I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming! Phil continues faithfully with the lessons despite the many distractions that life on the island brings. I am so thankful to the Lord for how He sustains Phil and enables him daily. We know we are not alone. He is our constant companion. 


Sometimes I am in awe of the life we live. While travelling on one of the boats back home I looked at the simplicity of the boat design. To start the boat the captain and crew pull a big rope through the window infront of the boat, loop it on a big bamboo pole that acts as a back rest for passengers, count to three and tug (almost like a tug-o-war) until the engine starts. This is a chaotic process as passengers must move away in the already cramped cabin to get out of the way of elbows and rope, legs and fumes. The captain drives the boat sitting on an old plastic container and uses basic steering equipment and years of experience to steer us safely home. 


This might seem like a crude design to some, but to the Agutaynens it’s their best boat. Everyone wants to travel on this boat because its slightly faster and more “comfortable”. This boat is the sea ambulance when they are deadly ill, the hearse bringing their dead back to island if they die somewhere else. Its the work horse that brings fuel, rice, supplies to the island. It brings their loved ones home for visits and takes them safely back again. Some may see it as unsafe, a danger on the waters but not here. Here it’s the gem of Agutaya with a name to fit: Princess Myka. 

I count myself blessed to see through their eyes. To see how the seemingly simple can be precious. I hope my eyes never adjust to where simple is not enough for me. Pray with us that the Agutaynens will accept Gods truth when it presented to them. The simplicity of the Gospel will change their lives in unfathomable ways. I can’t wait!

We love you all ❤

What I never knew..


This year marks the 10 year anniversary of our arrival in the Philippines. Time surely has flown bye. The days are long but the years are indeed short. Looking back nostalgically on our time here there are some things I wish I had known as a young missionary embarking on our adventure here. And some I’m glad I didn’t know 😊. As a new missionary there were many things I feared and expected but what I didn’t know was..

That the strange smells, sounds and tastes would one day feel like home.

That the things I feared most then are not even things I think of now.

That I would not be home to bury my father but would be at peace because the Lord, in His grace, saved him 2 months before his death.

That taking my children away from all they knew would be the best thing I could ever do for them.

That I would long for my home country with an ache that physically hurts my heart, and that I would feel the same way about the Philippines when I am home on furlough.

That we would survive a super typhoon, our vehicle being stoned and shot at and were almost shipwrecked, and some of it would be while on furlough.

That I would experience first hand how God can turn a calamity into a beautiful blessing.

That struggling financially would be gift because it allows us to see God perform miracles.

That home-schooling my children would be a privilege that I would love.

That I would come to love a people group who have nothing in common with me but who have become my life’s purpose.

That being on the mission field would expose the sinfulness of my heart in ways I never knew existed, and God’s love for me would be even more real because of it. 

That what I once counted sacrifice has been the best decision of my life (well, second best after salvation ❤).

There were so many things I didn’t know then, but I knew enough to know I could GO. 

Today I know enough to know that I can STAY. 

He is faithful beyond what we could ever imagine. 

It is fitting that our ten year anniversary coincides with a new chapter in our ministry and family life. This year we prepare to teach the Agutaynens for the first time and next year our eldest child, Valerie-Anne, leaves for college abroad. Although I know these things come with big challenges and sacrifice for sure, I am at peace knowing that something beautiful will come from this. He has already begun to paint a beautiful picture with the fragments of our lives, and I cannot wait to see the finished masterwork!

Rejoicing because of all that He is,

The le Rouxs

A new chapter!


“Summer” has arrived in the Philippines but not even the relentless heat can dampen our spirits! What a joy it to finally be able to prepare lessons for the teaching of phase one. Phil has been hard at work putting together our first lessons this month. There are more than 70 lessons which Phil will teach through in phase one. Lessons work chronologically from Creation to Christ using key passages in scripture that depict the characteristics of God and point to Christ. 

Much thought goes into the preparation of these lessons taking the culture of the Agutaynens into consideration. Each sentence is thought through carefully with the listeners world view in mind and how they will understand the context. Bridges and barriers are determined so that we know what areas need extra attention in the lesson. Phil works closely with several language helpers and checks and re-checks the lessons for error and clarity. This is where understanding of the culture is so important. Please join us in praying for wisdom during this process.

Several milestones:

This year is a big year for our family because not only is it the year we start teaching, but its also the year that Valerie-Anne graduates from high school. Please be praying for her as she studies for and writes her SATs. She will then apply to several colleges in the US where she hopes to do a Bible course for her first year. We are praying for the Lords guidance and provision for Valerie-Anne’s next step.

Everyday life:
With the legislation in the Philippines changing with regards to getting medicine over the counter we have been limited as to how much we can help people medically on the island. Although this has been difficult the Lord has given us several opportunities even this month to help in one way or the other. This past month we helped a lady with a very bad burn get to the hospital for the treatment she needed and help towards her hospital bill. Just today a tora tora (a tricycle with an open side-car commonly used for cargo) crashed into the rocks near our house with a young family in it. Phil was able to clean up the drivers wounds and bandage them for him. Several others have been helped with transport money (boat fare) to Cuyo to get medical treatment at the hospital there. We are thankful for this opportunity to show people our love and care and hopefully give them a glimpse of the Lords love through us. 


Angelique and Boeta are in their last few weeks of grade 9 and working hard to completion of their work. I can hardly believe that they will almost be done with grade 12 when we are on furlough again. It certainly makes me treasure these precious times with the five of us all being together!

Missing you

It has already been a year since we left South Africa after our furlough. We miss you all very much (also our precious friends in other parts of the world), but are thankful to each one who lifts us up in prayer and is a part of the work here on Agutaya. We pray for you often and our hearts are full of thankfulness at the thought of you. Its a privilege to serve alongside you!

Cleared to teach!

Last week we had a long awaited visit from our NTM consultants. Some of you might remember that we had a visit scheduled in September last year but unfortunately our consultant landed in hospital with both dengue and typhoid fever 2 days before he was due to fly in. The earliest date we could get scheduled was last week. So Im sure you can imagine it was a very big deal to finally have the visit happen.

For those who are not familiar with how NTM works, church planters are required to be assessed by language consultants and achieve a level of proficiency in language and culture before they are cleared to teach in the tribal language. This takes years of work as the missionary must use the national language to aquire the tribal language and live amongst the people to study their culture. 

As I’m sure you derived from this newletters title, we are delighted to tell you that Philip has reached proficiency and is cleared to teach!! (Im doing a happy dance right now..). This is a pretty big deal as its a big step closer to finally bringing the gospel to the people we have grown to love on Agutaya!

So what happens next?

Now we begin the process of putting together the more than 70 lessons that will be taught in our phase 1 teaching. lessons will be put together and designed around the audience, so much thought has to be put into the examples and explanations and skids (dramas) that we will use. 

We have so much to consider and decide on and we covet your prayers as we enter this next phase in our ministry. 

 Thank you!

Thank you to all of you who have lifted us in prayer and supported us in the Lords work on Agutaya! We are so excited to take the next step forward with you all. We are blessed to partner with you!

A plastic bag of rice

 There are times when we go through “dry” seasons. Seasons when we feel like all is quiet and we wonder if anything is happening at all. When it feels as though life revolves around the everyday slog to learn language and persevere through this chapter in ministry. Its the looooong stretch to the final goal that sometimes feels like it will never come. 

Until the day the simple plastic bag with 3kgs of rice arrives at your door. 

And you realise that God has been at work all this time in the hearts of those you seek to minister to. And suddenly its not just a bag of rice. Its a personal encouragement from the Lord. A push to keep at it. A reminder that He works alongside us. A very tangible sign of the work that is already accomplished.

How can a simple bag of rice mean so much, you wonder? Because it shows were we stand in the hearts and minds of our Agutaynen neighbours! Recently the “barangay” (little subdivision we stay in) had an initiative where each household would receive free rice. This is an intiative for the indigent people of our area and instead of them overlooking us they included us in the share. It may not seem like much, but to people who struggle to get every meal for their families it is an extremely generous gesture. I cannot help but be extremely humbled and delighted that they thought to share the little they have with us. My heart is filled with joy at the relationships that the Lord has helped us form because those are the very relationships that will bring them to listen when start to teach them through His Word. 

He is at work, and we are so privileged to be part of it!

A devine appointment:

During our run Val and I run a route on the island that takes us passed some quiet uninhabited areas. One particular run on a quiet uphill we noticed a young man lying in the “road” next to his bicycle. He had just fallen off the bicycle and hit his head on the volcanic rock on the side of the “road”. He was clearly dazed and struggled to get to his feet. We quickly helped him to his feet and Val carried his bag of fruit while I pushed his bicycle (that he insisted on taking with him) back down the hill so we could get him some help. He had been drinking (not uncommon here and of course the reason for his fall), and it took some persuading to even let me look at his wound. One minute he was saying he is fine and the next he was crying. After about 30 minutes of trying, and a crowd gathering to see the commotion we finally got him to agree to go to the local “clinic” to check him out. Im pleased to say he has recovered completely and greets (albeit rather sheepishly) everytime we see him. I’m thankful we were in that area at that exact moment to get him help. Sometimes you just know you had a devine appointment!

Opportunities:

With Pastor Ryan having joined us in ministry here we have had the opportunity to get involved with a group of people who have broken away from the Catholic church and are in need of sound biblical teaching. Please pray that God will use this for His glory and tyat they will be open to His Truth.

Challenges:

This is going to be a year of “big” things for us. It’s the year we start teaching on the island and also the year Val graduates from high school. Please keep praying for us as we work towards these really important goals.


With thanks

Thank you for lifting us up in prayer and supporting the Lords work here on Agutaya Island. We value each one of you who has taken hands with us in reaching the lost.

With love,

The le Rouxs

This is the year..

Bare with me a minute, and…
Imagine if you will, that you hold the limp body of your baby boy in your arms, fear coursing through your veins as you hear him struggling to breathe, terrified that the next breath will be his last. You know you need to do something, you know his life is slipping away, but what can you do? There is no doctor to take him to, and the nearest help is a three hour boat ride away. But it’s nighttime now and everyone knows you cannot travel in the dark. Tomorrow you will go with the money the missionaries gave you, and see the doctor on the other island. But for now you wait. Thoughts fill your mind of what the “albulario” (witch doctor) said to you today. Can it be a ghost in your home causing your little one to suffer like this? What have you done to deserve this punishment?

As morning dawns you watch your baby boy fall into an eternal sleep. Dread fills you, knowing he is gone forever. He never made it to his second month of life, just like so many on the island. So you lay his lifeless body on a bamboo bed and wrap his clothes in a plastic bag in front of his tiny feet. You long to hold on to them, sweet memories of your tiny boy. But you can never use them again, for fear of bringing bad luck to your home. 

Many will come to see your babies body today and for several days following, and offer you words of condolence. The neighbors all quietly rally around doing what has been done for centuries. The men gather pieces of left over wood and scraps to make a coffin. Women sit around chatting, in whispering tones not knowing what to say. Soon they will cut your baby open removing the organs in preparation of embalming him. People bring rice and food for the meal that will take place after the burial. It seems like just the other day you sat across the dead body of your brother. Just 21 years old and gone too soon. You named your baby after him, and now a year after your brother he is gone too. Grief overwhelms you and you wonder how much more you will suffer in this life. 

Tonight you know you will not sleep as many people surround you gambling and drinking. It’s the way of your people, and it’s better than being alone with your thoughts and your grief. Sleep eludes you anyway. Your husband will join them. To forget. And so the grief will be yours to carry alone tonight.
When the time comes to bury your little one you will put him in a grave along with generations of your family who have all lived and died on this island. You should feel relief at not having to look at his lifeless body, but now he truly feels gone. Every year you will paint his grave for All Saints Day and leave food to appease the spirits in memory of your little one who never made it passed his second month of life. And in your heart you wonder, is there more to life than this?

What if there was more to life? What if even death held hope? What if there was joy to found in every circumstance? But you never knew it, because no one ever told you.

I know I should be writing a New Years post, but somehow after the loss of another life on the island today, a New Years post seems forced. Please forgive the lack of photos, but what does one put in a post like this? Not the photo of a tiny lifeless body now forever imprinted on my mind. So much of life on this island is filled with sadness and loss. So much is about struggle and suffering. So many times I am filled with a deep sadness for these people I have come to love, who live a life without hope. Their hope is in their harvest, in their next generation, and sometimes, even in us. 

It is for this that we have come! To bring hope to the hopeless. To share with them the love of a Savior who gave His life for them. To be His feet here on this little patch of earth. Oh Let this be the year, that many come to know of that hope! Let this be the year that they are finally set free! We are standing on the brink of it, and I can hardly wait!

Lord willing, soon they will echo the words of 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, oh death, is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?

Please keep us and the people of Agutaya in your prayers. May the Lord bless you abundantly in 2017.

With love,

The le Rouxs

A heartfelt message

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It seems sometimes as if the days fly bye in an instant. In the monotony of the mundane days blend into each other seemingly becoming an endless string of routine. These are the hardest times. No highlights or lows, just the daily work of getting done what needs to be done. The everyday push towards what will bring us to the moment we have been working towards for years – finally bringing the gospel the lost on Agutaya.

The life of a missionary often gets thought of as exciting, full of adventure and change (and bugs! Dont forget the bugs). Although this is a part of most missionaries lives, the truth is that much of our time is spend behind a desk studying complicated sentence structures or puzzling our way through the cultural norms that are part of life here. Many a day seems to just dissappear in the myriad of other days that look the same. Sometimes for me the desire to reach the lost is overwhelmed by the temporary desire to just chat with a friend, to have something exciting happen, to see fruit for your labour! In the mundane I find myself struggling with how “normal” my life is.

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These are the times you don’t fill your facebook updates with, the times that garner no applause. No one ever receives applause for the training they put in for the race, and rightfully so. And yet these are the times that count so much towards the goal of reaching the lost. As we run this race the road seems long and the uphills many, and as of yet we cannot see the finish line. This stretch of road seems quiet and lonely and the race seems longer than I ever imagined. But we know great things lie ahead! So we push forward knowing that nothing matters more. This is God’s heartbeat! He died so the lost could live. May we live in the light of that, every step of the way.

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Will you pray with us? Pray that God will use this time in our lives and the Agutaynens lives to bring Him Glory. Pray that much will be learned over this time that God will use later in drawing others close to Him. Pray that many will come to know the joy of His truth.

Typhoid, dengue and 16 hours

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The last month has been somewhat stressful for us. For reasons I cannot explain on our newsletter (feel free to contact us directly if you wish to know details), we have not been sleeping well and have had to take some measures to secure our area around us. Never-the-less, it is a good opportunity to put our trust in the Lord and look to Him for all our needs. We do still covet your prayers for safety, especially for our children. But, it hasn’t all been stressful :-). There has been some good news along the way too.

16 Hours:

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Much to our surprise, a few weeks ago the town generator came on at 8am and ran until midnight. We were delighted to hear that they have started this new 16 hour a day electricity for the forseeable future. What an unexpected bit of news! This means we can now run an electric fan at the hottest times of the day! Initially our sleepy island became party central with everyone playing their music really loudly ALL day. We really began regretting the 16 hours of power. But, thankfully, things have settled down and life is almost back to normal. Except cooler!

Typhoid and dengue fever:

In my last newsletter mentioned that Phil would have a language evaluation with our NTM consultants. Four days before they were due to fly in, one of them was taken to hospital with dengue and typhoid fever. He is recovering well, but needless to say, the evaluation was cancelled. We were quite dissapointed with this as it seems we cannot get a new one scheduled until next year. This means Phil will have to wait until then to have his progress evaluated. This was when we were hoping to start teaching. Please pray for Phil as he continues to study the language and wait upon the Lord for His perfect timing.

Visas:

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Our visas expire this month and were in need of being renewed for another two years. This year with Val turning 18 she is no longer allowed to act as a dependent under Phils visa. Previously other missionaries needed to leave the country for 3 days and return to apply for a tourist visa for their child. This is very costly added to the already very high cost of the visas. But the Lord has done amazing things! For the first time they have allowed a child of her age to continue under her fathers visa! So Val has a two year visa along with the rest of us, and no need to leave the country! Its exciting to think that it is perhaps within these next two years that we may have our first Agutaynen brothers and sisters in Christ!

Landing strip:

Not much progress has been made this last month. We have no fuel available for the heavy equipment which is causing delays. This past week they did remove 50 coconut trees that were in the flight path at the end of the runway. Its a work in progress, albeit slow progress.

Prayers:

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Thank you so much for all your prayers. This month has been a stark reminder of how much we are in need of your prayers and how dependent we are on the Lord for everything. It’s a great place to be. After all, His perfect, plan, His perfect timing, His perfect will is all we seek. Thank you for partnering with us to reach the lost.

The le Rouxs