Don and Char Epp’s home assignment has officially drawn to a close. However, their date to return to the Philippines is uncertain. They are now on ‘Special home assignment’
At this point, there is no easy way for them to return to the Philippines. They let their missionary visas expire for their home assignment, and the re-entry process is complicated. Covid restrictions are still intense. Even those with missionary visas are finding entry difficult. For those who have successfully re-entered the Philippines, it has been a far from normal experience. There are no pilots on their island at this time as they are on home assignment and have not yet returned. In light of the uncertainty, Don and Char have tried to not only make the most of their time in Canada, but also make some short-term plans….
They hope that before returning to the Philippines they will be able meet up with more friends and supporters… but for now they are thankful for technology that allows them to have Zoom meetings, share through videos and Face Time calls.
Don will continue to work towards his Masters in Intercultural Studies. Thanks to Covid, he has been a full time student and is half way through the programme of study! It has been a great time of growth and learning, which will all be very helpful as he continues to guide the maturing Agta church.
They will continue to be available to the Ethnos training centre to help share in any classes. In May, they had the opportunity to share virtually about ‘spiritual grit’ on the mission field, to the graduating class. They really enjoyed not only sharing all the Lord has taught them as He’s walked them through some pretty incredible situations, but also encouraging new missionaries of the Lord’s faithfulness and character as He guides and leads.
As it looks like it could be months yet before the Philippines opens fully, they have decided they will stay in Canada until at least September/October, allowing the Philippines travel situation to open. This allows their boys, Koi and Zane, to make plans and have a bit of stability; they both have summer jobs. In a few months, they will again reassess the situation. Looking at both travel restrictions, their kid’s needs, and trusting the Lord is working all this out.
Don and Char are thankful for all the prayers and encouragements expressed over the last year. They look back and are very thankful for time set aside to rest, reflect and process the last years on the field, for Char to continue to heal from her concussion, the boys to be in school and for them to be in Canada for Thea’s first year after high school with all the adjustments and decisions.
Yet, they feel a tremendous responsibility to be faithful to their job, and the support that is given to minister overseas on this incredible journey of bringing the Gospel message to the Agta.
In this time of ‘waiting’ of ‘not knowing’, they are praying not to grow complacent, or anxious but to wait patiently for the One who transforms. That the Lord would use this time to make them more like Himself. To teach them to give up their own plans, dreams, and comfort – daily, that the waiting and darkness of the unknown would not be wasted time but time for Him to do something new in them as He prepares them for the next steps.