Don and Char Epp with Thea, Koi and Zane are thankful for prayer and support as they began their home assignment in Canada.
They have loved seeing the changing of the seasons, something they do not really experience in the Philippines, but they are a little nervous of a season they have not experienced in full for seven years, WINTER!
They were so thankful that they were able to leave the Philippines in the spring, get home, quarantine and then settle into the new normal of COVID in Canada. After self-isolating, and many happy reunions with family, they moved into their new home! With Thea graduating and the boys just years behind they decided to find a home to set up for at least the next five years. Ministry and life in the Philippines will look a bit different as they spread themselves between the Agta people and settling their kids. So as Don and Char go back and forth, and as they leave kids in Canada they wanted a place that was secure and there for them all. The Lord amazed them by answering so many prayers in this regard! They are now living on the street where they always dreamed of living, surrounded by friends as neighbours that can be there if their kids ever need them.
Thea has been working hard since April. She has held several jobs but is now working at a home for the elderly. She is really enjoying her position, as she gets to know staff and residents. She even works with some Filipino ladies. She passed her driving test and bought a car. She is still saving up and planning/hoping to attend a Torchbearer school in April 2021.
Koi and Zane had a job at a potato farm working three full days a week and loved it! It was such a great experience for them. Giving them some independence, work experience, and spending money. They have now started their classes in high school. It is a big leap from when they were last in school in Canada. Outside of school, they have continued to connect with neighbours and friends and attend a youth group. They are so thankful to the community around them that continues to give support!
Char suffered concussion in the summer. Initially they did not realise how bad as it was as she pushed through the first few months until it required some attention. It has been hard not being able to enjoy the summer in the way she intended. Needing to be inside, in dark rooms. No running or biking. However, they are seeing the old Char starting to slowly return as healing is taking place and they are so thankful.
Don has taken his first course of the Master’s programme of Intercultural Studies! It is a big help to stay current and develop professionally, as they strive to be as effective as possible in supporting the Dupaninan Agta church. The jungle busyness does not allow for extra studies, he is very thankful for the opportunity.
This winter they are looking forward to start sharing in person what the Lord is doing in the lives of the Agta in churches. God continues to build His church as the Agta believers continue to grow and mature.
Adjusting is a big topic in the Epps home and lays heavy on their hearts. One of the big reasons they needed to be home for their full year of home assignment this year, is to begin to help their kids adjust to life in North America. They look like Canadians, for the most part talk like Canadians, but in their hearts, worldview and experiences, they are so not Canadian. They love the Philippines and talk of it all the time. Don and Char are so thankful for the life God has given them, for all the adventures, the struggles where they had to lean on Him and have the opportunity to see Him answer prayers. Thankful beyond words for the opportunity to bring His Word and Gospel message to the Agta! Now they are again asking the Lord to help their kids to adjust to a North American life, to know God in a different and new way, as they trust in Him in all the uncertainty. Pray for Thea as she will not be returning, and for the boys as they go back and forth over the next years until they graduate and stay in Canada.
Don and Char also need prayer that they would adjust and be flexible to where the Lord has them, purposeful to where the Lord is working and what He is asking of them. Whether that be in the jungle with the Agta, Manila waiting for visa work, or sitting out typhoons in town or in Canada with restrictions because of COVID.
With no co-workers currently living in the village, the Agta seem as remote as when they first went to reach them. The only difference NOW is that the Agta believers have access to God. With no news on the Agta, they continue to pray for the growing Agta church. Pray with them that they would grow strong in the Lord. Pray that the believers would meet together, read God’s Word, pray, and remember what Jesus has done for them on the cross.