Working together, using all means available, through all circumstances to glorify our God


Connie shines when she gets to serve...especially food!  She misses not having a work team here this week!
Connie shines when she gets to serve…especially food! She misses not having a work team here this week!

Manila, Philippines:  (Connie writing – Todd adding photos – team effort 🙂 ) This week we have had many new experiences.  From the monsoon rains the first part of the week, dropping an inch of rain per hour over a 24 hour time period, to helping pack items to bring food and clean water to many families hit hard by the severe flooding and to top it off, a Jesus Film showing to keep the focus on Jesus and what He suffered for each one of us.

When it rains an inch of rain an hour, most everything stops.  This is similar to a severe snow storm that many in the US and other areas of the world face from time to time.  The government gave the mandate that everyone should stay home unless you were an emergency responder or disaster relief worker.  In words that most Northern American kids would understand – a “snow day.”  For those not affected so severely, it is a day to stay home and get things done, but if you happen to live along a river or creek, or in a low lying area, you hope and pray that you have a home left at the end of the day.

The monsoon type rains persisted for 3 days and nights, I was beginning to have thoughts about Noah and his family with the constant pounding rain on the roof!  I don’t know if I could have handled 40 days and nights of it!  The quiet when the rains let up some on Wednesday was like a breath of fresh air. Todd and I worked in the office and at the apartment, wherever we could find a good internet connection as most of our work is done online.  Some days saw us going between the two several times.  Cables and flooding don’t make for great internet connections, and with 60% of the city flooded there are multiple areas where the cables pass that were affected.

Packing relief supplies with field office staff and work and witness team members.
Packing relief supplies with field office staff and work and witness team members.

We have helped this week with putting together bags of food in conjunction with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and Nazarene Disaster Response.  The first packing session was completed and a team including Todd took all of the supplies to the area to distribute them along with a group that helped the community not only with food and water but emotional and spiritual needs as well.  Treating the whole person, not just the immediate need for food and water – but the bigger need of Jesus!   When Todd got home he talked about the counseling and support that was provided to the little children.  They were given papers and guided in expressing their emotions through coloring and telling their story.

Children were encouraged to share their story through coloring
Children were encouraged to share their story through coloring
Washing the mud off the feet of the children whose homes were flooded was a tender moment.
Washing the mud off the feet of the children whose homes were flooded was a tender moment.

The next packing session had more volunteer packers and they called in the district leaders to help transport the supplies.  This was an education for me!  I didn’t know you could fit that many bags of rice and food on a motorcycle or what we call a tri-cycle, which is basically a motorcycle with a side car.

Tri-cycle delivers rice to be packed into smaller bags for families.
Tri-cycle delivers rice to be packed into smaller bags for families.

They loaded them up with smiles on their faces, knowing what a difference the supplies were going to make for the people of their districts and communities. What a joy to be a part of something like this.

I was able to get to know one of the volunteer boys as we visited throughout the hours we were packing.  He lives in the Barangay (smallest administrative district of a town, similar to a suburb or inner city neighborhood)  next to the Seminary.  I recognized him as being in the worship team at the dedication of the community center expansion and health clinic / pharmacy that we attended a few weeks before.  He was telling me that they had installed railings along the paths by the creek to keep from falling into the rushing water.  I was very happy to hear that.

Child along pathway in Rowenas Barangay.
Child along pathway in Rowenas Barangay.

He told me that the water had come up to about a foot from the path, but that they were all safe and it was going down by then. I really enjoyed the interaction with him and hearing his dream to be a pastor and that he is in his second year of college in Theological Studies.  He is 17 years old!

Rural area on southern edge of Main Island, Luzon, in Philippines.
Rural area on southern edge of Main Island, Luzon, in Philippines.
Once again - another food distribution to families who had been hard hit and were struggling.
Once again – another food distribution to families who had been hard hit and were struggling.

Last Friday night Todd was privileged to go with a team to an area several hours south of Manila, to assist a couple from Michigan who had come to the Philippine on a work and witness team from the Eastern Michigan District (Church of the Nazarene) and stayed a couple extra weeks.   The wife is a Filapina (born in the Philippines).  They had a vision to stay to help the people of her home community with food,  the Jesus Film and discipleship follow-up.  While visiting with them, and hearing their story about how the trip came together and how they felt impressed upon to show the Jesus Film when they came, even though they had heard that it had been shown in that area before with very little response, I could sense that God had a plan.

Over 150 came forward to make a decision for Christ.
Over 150 came forward to make a decision for Christ.

Prior to the showing of the Jesus Film, food was prepared for approximately 200 people, and when they had finished serving the meal, they realized they had fed well over 400!

More than 400 were fed a simple dinner of bread and traditional soup.
More than 400 were fed a simple dinner of bread and traditional soup.

I love how the Lord multiplied the bread and the soup!  Families in the area had been pre-identified and more than 200 relief bags were prepared for those specific families.  200 Bibles were also distributed.  More than 150 people came forward at the end of the night to express a desire to make a decision to follow Christ.  The couple, John and Lilia, are staying in the area for another week to help with followup.  Local pastors have developed a plan for additional followup with the hope of planting a church in this area.

Over 200 Bibles were distributed along with the food.
Over 200 Bibles were distributed along with the food.

We continue to update, review, modify and publish new communications in various forms.  From E-Newsletters that go out, to Website development, Blogs, Facebook and Twitter.  We do our best to keep everyone informed in a timely manner.  This does take hours and hours as we are learning new media and dealing with an unreliable internet connection.  Your feedback is always welcome, as are personal emails filling us in on your lives and ministries.

The Asia-Pacific “Around the Region News” a weekly electronic newsletter is a ministry of the Asia-Pacific World Mission Communications office, of which Todd serves as the coordinator.   You can see this news at: http://www.asiapacificnazarene.org

Thank you so much for your continued prayers, partnership, and encouragement!

Yours and His,

Connie and Todd

Heaviest rains in recorded history hit Manila! Over 1 inch per hour falls on Sunday alone.


Over 600,000 affected by the monsoonal rains that have fallen now for 3 straight days.
Over 600,000 affected by the monsoonal rains that have fallen now for 3 straight days.

This has been an absolutely crazy week of events.  Typhoon Labuyo in the Northern Philippines, the Ferry Disaster in the Central Philippines, and now the heaviest recorded rain in history is falling in Manila.

Heavy Monsoon rains have continued to pound the Philippines for the third straight day as officials report that more than 60% of the capitol, Manila, is submerged.   Enhanced by Tropical Storm Maring (Trami), which is hovering just to the north of the Philippines, rainfall has exceeded any previous storm in recorded history.  Prior to this week, the heaviest recorded rainfall was in 2009 when Typhoon Ketsana dropped 455 mm of rain in 24 hours.  By comparison, rainfall reached 600 mm (23.62 inches) in and around Manila Bay on Sunday alone.  This is more than a month’s worth of rain in one day.

More than 200 evacuation centers were opened in Manila and surrounding provinces, filled with tens of thousands of People. Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said that more than 600,000 people have been affected by the floods.   At least seven people have died, including four who drowned north of Manila on Monday.  So far today there have been no new reports of fatalities.

The government has suspended all work except for rescue and disaster response for a second day.   Many domestic and international flights at the International Airport in Manila were cancelled.

Please pray for the people of the Philippines and for the Nazarene families impacted.   At this early stage, we do not yet have information on the extent of flooding and losses for our churches and church families.   Tropical Storm Maring (Trami) is forecast to move out of the area towards Taiwan by Wednesday and the rain is expected to taper over the next 24 hours.

This flooding comes on the heels of Typhoon Labuyo that made landfall in the Northern Philippines last Monday.  Nazarene Disaster Response in partnership with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries provided relief supplies to Nazarene Families impacted by that storm.

Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary is situated on higher ground to the east of Manila and has been spared significant flooding, although staff, students, and faculty, are in their second day of no classes as a result of the weather.

 Photos from Associated Press

Please continue to pray for our Nazarene families and churches as they deal with yet another major weather event in only 8 days.

Work and Witness, Discipleship, Wind, Rain (no fire), but Typhoons! A week in the Philippines!


It has been quite a week here in the Philippines!  We have had the opportunity of  helping  host a Work and Witness team this past week, where Connie has been cooking many of the meals.   This has been a good distraction from our empty apartment now that Courtney is back in the states.  We thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to share with the team and to make new friends.  They were a great bunch of folks!

Work and Witness team from Michigan.
Work and Witness team from Michigan.

Speaking of Courtney, she has arrived safely and has already been blessed with a job at the Boys and Girls Club in Lewiston.  She received word of the job while she was here in the Philippines, completed her application, sent it in, and told them that she would be back to interview as soon as she returned to the states.  She starts work this next week.  God is so very good!

Preparing bags of rice for disaster response.
Preparing bags of rice for disaster response.

After Typhoon Labuyo (Utor) rolled through, we were able to help out the Philippine Field Office as they prepared over 120 sacks of rice to go to Nazarene families who were displaced by the storm, which hit hardest in the Northern Province of Isabella. Nazarene Disaster Response is delivering the supplies this week.

Today we received news that our house may be ready for us to move in next week.  Connie is really looking forward to having a place to start settling into and calling home.  The house is located approximately 3/4 mile away as the bird flies, but anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours depending on traffic and the routing that must be taken.

Speaking of traffic…we went to the edge of the Manila Bay yesterday to the convention center at the Mall of Asia.  One of the World Missions Communications team members (Ervz) was teaching a workshop and we wanted to support him.  The distance from the seminary to the convention center is 13.6 miles.  It took just over 2 hours to get there and 2 hours 55 minutes to get home.  There were no accidents, no flooded streets, just normal Manila traffic.  Let’s see…that is about 5.44 miles per hour.  Anyone up for a race?  I am not sure how many times I clutched for jeepneys, trucks, busses, motorcycles, cars, pedestrians, but it was definitely a workout!

Oh…and a couple more final photos of the WMC-AP team.  They truly love to have fun together!

Some of the WMC-AP Team
Some of the WMC-AP Team
Celebrating Sean's Birthday.
Celebrating Sean’s Birthday.

On a very sad note…new reports are coming in today of a very serious ferry accident that occurred last night.  A ferry and cargo ship collided in the area of Cebu, Southern Philippines.   Many confirmed fatalities and around 200 missing.  The ferry sank within minutes of the impact.  As it was at night, many of the passengers were asleep inside.

Volunteer search water near where accident occurred.  Damage to front of cargo ship can be seen.
Volunteers search water near where accident occurred. Damage to the front of the cargo ship can be seen.

Official news coverage of the accident

Check out the Asia-Pacific Regional website for more news and photos of the week.

Nazarene Disaster Response heads to Northern Provinces hit hardest by Typhoon Labuyo


Please see the linked news article regarding the relief supplies going to our church families in the Northern Philippines.  While loss of life was minimal, which was a miracle given the power of the storm, home and crop damage was extensive.  Over 120 Nazarene families are displaced due to damaged homes.   See the story.

Posted from Todd while traveling.

Typhoon Labuyo Impacts Many Nazarene Families


Manila receives heavy rain from Typhoon Labuyo (Utor)
Manila receives heavy rain from Typhoon Labuyo (Utor)

We have been providing updates on our Asia-Pacific Nazarene website.  Over 120 Nazarene families have been impacted.  Typhoon Labuyo made landfall in the Philippines on Monday morning, August 12th with winds in excess of 125 mph.  Please see the website for updates.  Your prayers are appreciated.

You can sign up for prayer updates and other Asia-Pacific Regional News here.

Joy and sorrow, new friends and family, a week in our lives here in Asia


Why do we leave home houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields...because there is a world that needs to hear the story.
Why do we leave homes, houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields…because there is a world that needs to hear the story.

(Saturday, Aug 9th, 2013, Manila) This has been an exciting week here in Manila.  I will attempt to recap it in photos so that you can feel the story!

A week ago today, we had an exciting seminar with more than 50 Nazarene youth from around the Philippines, promoting radio in ministry and helping them to identify ways that they could get involved.  There were break out sessions and the youth truly got excited about promoting one of our World Mission Broadcast programs “Perfect Rhythm” that has been produced in the Philippines for more than 19 years.  See news story  I (Todd) gave a presentation, Courtney and Connie were there to help with media.

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Sunday, we drove about 1 hour south of Manila to the home church of our field strategy coordinator.  It was a special time to meet new friends and to share food together.  Connie and Courtney are enjoying a favorite dish of fried bananas.

Having lunch with our pastor and family at one of our local churches
Having lunch with our pastor and family at one of our local churches
Finding new friends in our churches across the Philippines.
The Pastor's young son, who believes that he is a pastor as well!
The Pastor’s young son, who believes that he is a pastor as well!

The week started out very rainy.  Courtney loves the warm Asian rain as it reminds her of her early years in Africa.  She is always wanting to go out and walk in the rain.

Courtney in the warm Asian rain.
Courtney in the warm Asian rain.

We then rolled into our week of covering news stories from around the region, including Work and Witness Teams to Tonga and the installation of a new professor at Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary, Dr. John Bondy.

Covering the story on Dr. Bondy at APNTS
Covering the story on Dr. Bondy at APNTS

As the week continued, we welcomed a Work and Witness team from Michigan.  They arrived late Tuesday night and spent their day Wednesday, orienting to the APNTS campus, meeting staff, and attempting to recover from jet-lag!

Work and Witness Team arrives from Michigan
Work and Witness Team arrives from Michigan

The week has been very busy as we have been developing a new Asia-Pacific regional communications piece.  Graphics needed designing, databases developed, and protocol established.  The newsletter will come out each Friday (Lord willing) and will highlight stories and activities cross the Asia-Pacific Region with the Church of the Nazarene.  We would welcome you to sign up to receive this communication.

APREGION_Newsletter Banner2

As Thursday came, we were reluctantly facing the fact that our time with Courtney here in the Philippines was coming to a close.  While I would have preferred to cancel her passport and keep her with us, we knew that this new chapter of her life was needing to start.  There is a young man, Landen Ray Kelly, waiting at home for his fiance to return, a new apartment and term at Lewis Clark, a job interview, and many family members.

To help lessen the blow of Courtney’s pending departure, we decided to go out and find a French pastry shop to enjoy a last breakfast together.  This was a tradition back in French West Africa, so we found just the place.  Connie and I have decided that we may have to go back and visit in honor of Courtney…several times!

Courtney and Dad...really love French Pastry Shops...mom struggles with the gluten, but loves to come along and be part of the event!  And they have some pretty good food here that is non-gluten as well!
Courtney and Dad…really love French pastry shops…mom struggles with the gluten, but loves to come along and be part of the event! And they have some pretty good food here that is non-gluten as well!

One of the greatest blessings about being a missionary and a MK, is that you find and make new friends and family in every new “Home” country.  On Thursday afternoon, the media team/family had a farewell party for CJ along with an early birthday celebration.  Thanks to Facebook, Courtney now has new friends for life!

Farewell party for CJ with the media team now "family."
Farewell party for CJ with the media team now “family.”
An MK has friends and family in many "Home" countries.
An MK has friends and family in many “Home” countries.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens….a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”  Friday was our time to shed a few tears.  We would be misrepresenting our lives and ministry if we said that these times of sorrow never came.  But…while our Lord didn’t promise that we would never have times of saddness, He did promise that through them all…He would be with us.   As we said goodbye to Courtney at the airport, our tears joined the warm Asian rain flowing down our cheeks.

Mom and CJ saying goodbye at the airport.
Mom and CJ saying goodbye at the airport.
We came as three and left the airport...feeling alone.
We came as three and left the airport…feeling alone.

We returned home and found our apartment very quiet.  But, God is good, as we have the Work and Witness team here from Michigan and we are helping with preparing the meals for them, so we were able to jump in and get busy, keeping our minds focused on serving and not on sorrow.

Saturday morning, Connie cooking breakfast for the W&W Team.
Saturday morning, Connie cooking breakfast for the W&W Team.
Having fellowship with the team.
Having fellowship with the team.
Great breakfast honey.  Way to go!
Great breakfast honey. Way to go!

This has been our week.  We are so thankful for technology.  As I finish writing this story, we are watching Courtney land at Seattle (via flight aware).  After transiting through Taipei, she is just one flight away from yet another temporary home.

Courtney, getting the love from her "family" in Africa...another home.
Courtney, getting the love from her “family” in Africa…another home.

I will close with what Courtney posted on one of her social media sites this week, it sums up the Missionary life:  “I have decided that home is where you are loved. If that means multiple continents, different houses, or even different states that’s okay. If you ask me where my home is I will respond by telling you it’s everywhere I’m loved.” (Courtney Aebischer – Aug 2013)

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  We are so blessed to have you as part of our team!

Yours and His,

Todd and Connie Lou