Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Christmas in Thailand is definitely different. As I am sure you know this is a Buddhist nation and Christmas aside from consumerism is non existent. I mean to say that only were money can be made is there Christmas, in the malls, santa hats on the street, and "Christmas" specials. There is no recognition what so ever of the meaning of Christmas, aside from within the Christian church. Most of our Christmas was celebrated in service to our Lord making Him known amongst the lost here in Thailand. We as a team have been working tirelessly since the end of October to prepare for a live nativity presentation followed by the gospel. Patong International Fellowship partnered with Freedom Church (the Thai church that allows us to rent their sanctuary for service) to do an outreach to the Thai people. It was so much work meeting at least every Saturday, all day, teaching and training how to perform. Thai culture does not really  support this sort of thing although it is catching on. Its effectiveness however is amazing as most people have not had the opportunity to attend such an event. Praise the Lord it is over!! and even better than that, it was a huge success. Many people were able to not only see the play that covered from the initial pregnancy to the visit of the wise men, and the rage of Herod but also heard the Gospel, some for the first time. Joey was the messenger angel, visiting both Joseph in a dream and also the shepherds by night, while Sam, Jacob, Tyler, and Marissa were part of the multitude of Heavenly hosts proclaiming "Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men" Sarah, Joe, Lisa, and Pastor Doo were the directing Staff, and Kayberlynn took care of stage management. Everybody really enjoyed the presentation and have all had really positive feedback. Praise the Lord!

On Monday December 23 we all traveled up to Nam Khem for a Christmas outreach to the Burmese. Joe was invited for the Gospel presentation end of the outreach. Again all went very well with portions of the Passion movie used to enforce the message. Praise the Lord as Pastor Ehkhaw and Kolin already had these clips prepared and Joe had no idea. They worked great hand in hand. About half of the 200+ people in attendance were none believers, atleast 25 had only heard the Gospel one other time a few days prior at another Christmas program.

Christmas Eve was mostly spent getting vehicles road worthy, as our truck had a few serious issues Joe stumbled on as he checked the oil. The providence of the Lord. Also getting the truck that we were hit in a few months back taken care of. Around Midnight we were joined with one of our church members Earl John for some added fellowship, pizza and encouragement before getting 5 hours sleep.

Oh beautiful Christmas morn, five hours sleep and off to our Christmas service! We at Patong International have recently began a new service as an outreach to the tourist of the area, we held a special Christmas service at this new location. The entire morning was centered around the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunatly no tourist showed but there were about 15 church members there to here the message, have communion and some real intimate fellowship. Never hurts to preach the gospel within the confines of the "church".

In a few days we will hold our church Christmas party, December 27/28 beginning at 11:59 December 27th until 4 am  we will party on the beach, exchange gifts and have a truly wonderful time of worship and fellowship. Crazy hours for a party I know but when everybody works nights you make due with the time you have.

Yeah we had a very unconventional Christmas, even struggled with some of the things we had coming our way as we all struggled with how different and how exhausted we all were, but in the end we are just super excited and thankful that the Lord would count us as faithful enough to proclaim His name during this time.

I am sure you have heard it already but I want to reiterate, Jesus Christ is the reason for Christmas, His birth, His life, even his Death, and resurrection. The birth of Christ in only the beginning of the story. The first chapter of God's great love story towards mankind. The entire story is so beautiful, so amazing I just sit in awe. That the creator of all things would take the time to conjure up such an elaborate plan for us, for me. That through this plan He would pour out His wrath on Jesus so that I/we would never have to experience that wrath. I pray that each of you, our readers would ponder the amazing lengths God went just to spend time with you, with each and every one of you. God loves you and has put in place an awesome love story to save us from our sins, thus restoring fellowship with Him, adopting us as sons of God. God bless you this Christmas season

Yup that's them all dressed up and ready to go

All actors last dress rehearsal

AAAHHH, how sweat our four little Angels

Christmas service message
Zarni, a Burmese church member drama presentation Burmese outreach

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Short term trip

 Hey everyone, well as most of you know November marked the arrival of the biggest storm to ever make landfall. Haiyan, or Yolanda as the Philippines named it had winds of up to about 230 mph. Sustained winds of 195 and gusts reaching much higher. Believe it or not the winds were not the problem, or the main one at least. Due to the high winds and the severity of the storm there was a "tsunami" type wave that caused most of the destruction. This wall of water was up at times 35-40 ft in some areas. With a initial "storm surge" of 20-30ft and then storm waves of an additional 10-15 ft. What many may not realize is the area of the Philippines that this storm greatly effected is the same area we lived and ministered during our time in there several years back. Tacloban, the city that received the most attention and was probably most effected due to the population and development of the city, is the same city that we would travel to every 59 or so days to renew our visas. Some of the less publicized areas Guiuan and Hernani we had also traveled. Guiuan really suffered the brunt of the storm, as that is where the eye made landfall. And Hernani is an area that U-Turn planted a church during our stay. All our friends and family from Borongan were also effected by this massive storm. Upon hearing about the storm, Thursday before it hit, we as a family and a church began to pray for the area knowing the size and path made it very personal. As Friday rolled around and the storm made landfall, pictures also began to trickle in and reports of the destruction were shared. Seeing the areas that we so often walked and ate in total ruin was a real shock, but worse than that was the realization that the smaller areas were most likely just as devastated. With no word or reports from Eastern Samar we began to pray "Lord if there is a way, if we are needed please make a way" I wanted to go see and help our friends. Monday morning He did just that. I received word that a initial response team from California would be in Cebu at 10am Tuesday morning, I needed to be there. Mind you it was already 9am Monday. In most parts of the world that may not be a problem but flights only leave for the Philippines from our area once every four days, I was in Thailand alone with the kids as Sarah was in Cambodia, and and and the list goes on. You know Monday the 11th happened to be a fourth day? and with a little shifting of children they were taken care of for two days while Sarah traveled home. The Lord is so good and knows what He is doing, His plans are perfect even when they seem crazy. Needless to say I made the necessary flights and met with Gerry Brown, and several other pastors from all over the Western United States as part of the initial response team. Words cannot express the things we saw, the utter destruction of so many homes, businesses, even towns. I cannot express how thankful I am that all our friends and family there were alive and mostly well, we were allowed to have great fellowship instead of retrieving bodies and funerals.There are many areas this would have been the case but the Lord showed His grace on Borongan and His people throughout Eastern Samar. Yes many many died, hundreds even, even within the church, even within the U-Turn, Calvary Chapel family, but as a whole the death toll was minimal. During the almost three week trip many things took place from the restoration of the Lalawigan church and Bible school to house future teams to the cleaning of the one remaining school in Hernani so that classes could resume, to clothes and dry food goods being handed out, even daily hot meals being prepared and passed out. Through Mercy Chefs we were even able to take part in providing a water purification system to several of the effected areas providing them with safe drinking water. Most of our relief efforts were focused on Hernani a small area totaling about 10,000, the "town proper" is 80-90% demolished with over 200 dead and over 200 missing. I have prepared a small video that provides a glimpse of the destruction and the relief work going on through U-Turn and Calvary Chapel, I have also provided a video shot on scene by Calvary Chapel. There is much work to be done and there will continue to be for months maybe years, if you feel like donating to the restoration of the Philippines I would really encourage you to do a little research and find an organization that personally has people on the ground distributing the resources not sending them to another organization or directly to the government. This is a crucial step in ensuring the assistance actually is used by those in need. U-Turn for Christ is such an organization but there are many others. I am praying about and trying to put together a team of Thai pastor/leaders to return in January for about 10 days to begin rebuilding some of the houses that were destroyed. The goal is 5 houses in two weeks, with a team of 5-10. The trip is roughly $700 per person, and each house is approx. $500, if you are interested in assisting in any way with this please make all donations to Joe Nelson and send to Calvary Chapel Valle Vista 44203 Palm Ave Hemet Ca, 92544. Thanks for reading and God bless

Calvary Chapel video footage
Click here to view video

Prayer Requests

Patong International Fellowship- This is the church plant we are working on, we have been invited to begin a second service and location, growth, guidance, maturity
Philippines- restoration physical/spiritual, guidance and funds
Family- The kids are back in home school. Joey just started High school and Jacob started middle school, understanding, growth and wisdom for students/teachers
Finances- as we are here by donation support is always a prayer, vehicle, and povision
Co-workers- As the time of our two interns draws to an end and the ministry grows help would be a great thing.