Where It All Began

I remember very clearly where I was and what was said in that initial conversation with my husband in August of 1995. It was not pretty or nice and my darling husband kept it to himself and prayed for God’s Will in my life.

So this is what happened that led up to this conversation.

Ashley had been asked many times by our then Pastor to go on a number of mission trips, however Ashley had always said “NO” and said “why would you ever want to go to a Third World Country”. Then one day in early July of 1995, I came home to inform Ashley that our Pastor was going on another mission trip and this time he was going to the Philippines. When our Pastor asked Ashley this time, he just knew the Holy Spirit was leading him to go and in a little over two weeks they were gone to the Philippines for a couple of weeks.


On the 29th July 1995, a few days into Ashley being in the Philippines on this mission trip, I received a call from my father that would rock my world and cause tremendous grief. At around 2.30am in the morning my father called me to say that my beautiful sister and my best friend Alison had been killed in a head on car crash the day before. I was grief stricken and was struggling to keep it all together and look after our 4 children on my own, while Ashley was on this mission trip. I remember despising this stupid mission trip. I managed to eventually get a hold of Ashley and I had no concept on why it was so hard for him to get to a phone or even why he could just not get on a plane and come straight home. It was not until years later, that the realization came of how difficult the communication and transportation can be in the Philippines. My sister’s death is another whole story, and an awesome testimony to God that I will share on another occasion.
On a bright and sunny day in early August, my husband, our eldest son and my self had all arrived at the Brisbane Airport. However we had all come from very different scenarios. My husband Ashley was returning from his mission trip to the Philippines and he was on cloud 9. He was excited, inspired and God had spoken to him, used him and he was on fire. Our eldest son Paul and myself were arriving at the airport from my sisters funeral in Northern Queensland and we were everything that Ashley was not.
He tried on several occasions over the next weeks to fill me in on his trip, but I told him I was not interested and shut him down. So he proceeded to tell others about the trip…while I was around. This was how I heard about what had happened in this amazing time he spent in the Philippines. I was happy for him, but my sorrow and grief over my sisters passing was just too much and I did not want to hear any of his amazing stories. 

THE CONVERSATION
I remember very clearly one day Ashley worked up the courage to say to me that he would like us both to go to the Philippines together on a mission trip. My response was straight to the point and very clearly articulated, so therefore there was no room for misinterpretation on his part…lol…This was my respones “NO WAY, there are many places in this world I want to go and Philippines is not one of them. Why would I want to go to a third world country. If I am going to go anywhere in the world outside Australia, it will be Germany and Switzerland”. Ashley tells me he just prayed and asked God to change my heart.
WOW did this happen or what! 

Fourteen months after this mission trip that changed his life, our family moved churches to the awesome church where we have been planted for almost 17 years. Back in those days Centro Church had a very large Filipino membership and we even had a Filipino pastor that our church had brought here from the Philippines to Pastor the Filipino’s in our church. Over a period of time I had noticed I was being drawn to these people and I could not explain it. My heart was being changed from a heart of stone to being soft. I found myself falling in love with the people and the nation of thePhilippines. There was a time when I knew I was done for when I could not have a Filipino walk past me in church without me being a blubbering mess, I would uncontrollably sob. At times it was embarrasing, but there came a time when I knew what God was doing and I yeilded to God’s heart for me.

One day after realising what God had done in my heart and both of us knowing we were called to the Philippines, I was at a prayer meeting when a women who I hardly knew, gave me a book and said she felt God had laid it on her heart to give me the book to read, but I could not keep it. The book was called Arise & Reap by Isabel Chapman. It is the true story of business women Isabel Chapman, who after only being a Christian for 6 weeks was on a plane to the Philippines as a missionary. We read the book and were touched deeply and inspired by her faith & obedience to her God, despite the resistance and criticism from those around her.
31wQ2B2P3eL__We tried to buy the book, only to find out it was no longer being printed. I contacted Christian Book Stores, suppliers, and the publisher, all to no avail. I spent a small fortune phoning around Australia, trying to purchase our own copy of “Arise & Reap”.
After finishing the book, we very grudgingly gave it back to the lady who lent it to us, and we prayed that one day we would be able to get our own copy. 

Years later, at a time that we had given up on ever being able to go to the Philippines as full time missionaries, as there seemed to be too much against it ever happening, we were at our Childrens School Annual “Spring Fair”. We decided to go and have a browse through the second hand book stall. 

There were just rows and row and rows of books, all stacked on top of one another on tables. I chose a table and began to look nonchalantly through the books that were stacked on top of one another, moving them from the stack and putting them on top of another stack. Not really expecting to find anything I would be interested in, but nevertheless trying to fill in some time. About half way through the stack, I could not believe my eyes. I looked away and looked back several times as I really could not believe what was before me. There was the book “Arise and Reap” I picked up the book to make sure I was not seeing things and then I shouted out to Ashley so loudly that he wondered what was wrong. Ashley and I have read the book several times since then and it is very precious to us.

It was 1999 before God made the way for Ashley & I to go to the Philippines together for the first time. On our second day in the Philippines I ended up in hospital for 5 days, this was a very scary and fearful experience for me. Even so, this did not deter us for long, we have been back several times since then and taken others with us. 

I remember one day in the late 90’s, I was speaking to my brother on the phone and telling him that one day we were going to move to the Philippines as missionaries and he told me that when I was a little girl, I told him I was going to be a missionary…I cannot even remember saying that. But I do remember seeing the missionaries that visited our church when I was growing up and I was so drawn to them and mesmerized by their appearance. God was obviously drawing me then and preparing me.

In around 1997, God had revealed to Ashley and I that He had called us to thePhilippines as missionaries. Now here we are 16 years later and we are now actually preparing to go and next August is our leaving date. The journey to now is probably several blogs…lol…

Blessings
Ashley & Paula

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