Greetings from Manila...I was at Starbucks the other day getting a coffee and the barista asked me if I was collecting stamps for the 2021 planner book...and I stood there and laughed as I realized 2020 was almost gone and I did not use my 2020 planner and asked if they would take my unopened 2020 planner back.
I remember in January sitting with Norm Denler, The KIM director as we talked about the year and we had so much to look forward to...so much to be thankful for as the calendar looked great into May with teams and support coming in. As the weeks went by and travel restrictions were put in place and cancellations coming in from groups we realized that we were going to have to trust God even more. With an empty guest house and quarantine lockdown orders in place, we struggled with how to do life. God really put a protective net over us as a ministry as we stepped out in faith and trust to provide for the communities that were in lockdown. Before COVID, we were doing 1500 meals a week. We ramped up to 35000 meals a day as God provided the volunteers (youth in the community that were not able to go to school because of lockdown) and relief funds to provide meals to areas around Metro Manila. We had 18 gas burners going 18 hours a day from 8 pm in the evening to 3 pm the following afternoon to cook the rice-based meals for 2 months straight. We received news coverage as we were stepping out to provide for the needy. Our dining room that normally feeds 40 people at a time became a daily chopping board of ginger, garlic, and onions for the meals. God provided in timely ways and even provided 2 deep freezers minutes after Norm commented to some people that all the chopping of ingredients would be better served if we could do it at once and freeze it..."but we really need 2 deep freezers to accommodate all this chopping" Minutes after Norm said this, he received a phone call from a restaurant supply house asking if we could use 2 freezers. I get chills even as I typed this as it is amazing how God provides just in time and exactly what we needed. The call could have been for a truck or a car or more food donations but for 2 deep freezers is just beautiful.
Ministry has taken on a new spin here at Kids International as with the meal distribution being the focus...we are now doing 20,000 meals a week...we are having a ministry with the youth here in the community as it is like Young Life in the US. We may not have the overnight guests but we have the youth coming into help cook the food and prep for the next shifts and then stay for spiritual services and seminars that make this place very busy with joy and excitement. This new program is called Youth Lab and it is exciting and revolutionizing the community as youth are being changed. There is a discipleship program that they follow each week and gets them engaged positively in the communities where they live. We have tried to do this before but this time COVID made it possible with extended time with each other while in quarantine. Jamie is involved with the Youth Lab Girls and that program has been taking off as the girls in the community look forward to the mentoring from ladies who are older. Jamie is also on the board for Cuatro Christian School so she is helping with the direction of and leadership of the school. The meal distribution program is called Meals and Values and they partner with pastors to feed the communities and give them a Christian Values program for them to connect with their communities. We are currently tracking over 300 pastors throughout Manila that are receiving food on a regular basis. We just expanded our Meals and Values program into Laguna which is 2 hours away and are partnering with my father-in-law as he is connected to over 50 community pastors. We are excited about this as we just met with the pastors last week and they are looking forward to the program. We are asking for prayer also as Kids International is doing a pastors conference for the local pastors on December 28th and hope to have some speakers that can inspire and motivate them. As I am typing up this email....there are over 100 pastors here at the YMC center for a 2-day Rest and Relaxing retreat as we are building connections and networking with pastors to see what their needs are.
This year has been life-changing for us as we welcomed Natalia into our lives and we have been blessed with a girl who has incredible joy and laughter. Natalia has changed our focus in life in so many ways and for that we are thankful. We are thankful for the advice we have received from friends on sleep management because when we first heard about it we had no idea what they were talking about but after the first month Jamie sat down and mapped out the program and figured out what to do and Natalia has been sleeping thru the night. On December 29th we are doing a 1 year birthday for Natalia and we are looking forward to the celebration and baby dedication service. We thank God every morning when Natalia wakes up with a laugh and smile.
Jamie and I made a trip back to California in October. It was a chance for us to bring Natalia and visit family and friends. It was also for Jamie to keep her green card updated. It was a quick trip but it was needed and it was refreshing in so many ways. It was our first time traveling with Natalia and she is a trooper and travels well as she slept over 9 hours on the plane flights. Our previous trip to Grand Canyon was short...only 3 hours and Jamie wanted to spend more time there and so we did an overnight there and also saw Horseshoe Bend which was spectacular...so that with a sunset and sunrise at the Grand Canyon made the trip special for us. Jamie admires the connections I have made from college and how we still keep in touch and though out the trip it was almost like a theme. We got to experience in person church twice at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara and Mariners Church as the church here in Manila is still shut down and is doing online services. We are thankful for the time we had with friends and family. It was special and a great memory for us.
My role here at Kids International is still the same...building connections and groups and while there have not been any groups there has been a lot of connecting and for that, we are thankful and blessed. We have built a stronger local Filipino based support this year we are looking for more people to help as we go forward. The school project continues and it always provides inspiration every time I go up there to see how God provides and this school project is a testimony to that...to build a state of art for the community tells the community that they are worth it and they are important in the eyes of God. This school when it is finished will be the focal point for the Cuatro community and we are excited about the possibilities. God has taught us to trust in him and we have seen amazing progress in the connections that have been made this past year. In January there will be some spaces at the school that will be usable meeting spaces and we intend to use it well with the Pastors Day Conference on December 28th and Youth Lab events. If I could use a few hashtags to summarize our feelings about this it would be #Imaginethepossibilities #thrugodallthingsarepossible
I retired in 2014 to come to Manila to help make a difference here in the Philippines and God has shown me so much here. I am thankful and grateful for a beautiful wife and daughter. We are blessed to be here and we can make a difference here because of the prayers and support you have given us in timely ways. We ask that you can take this opportunity to renew your support for us and also know that we are self-supported and that we are funded because of your care and love for us. Thank you for standing alongside us as prayer and financial partners. You have allowed us to be here to help in making Kids International Ministries a lighthouse for the communities that it serves.
Thank you again for your friendship, prayers, and support, and hope you have a Merry Christmas.
Dave, Jamie and Natalia Yuen