Home at Last, for the Last Time

sunrise_porch3We’re home. We’re back in our cottage at Rainbow Village. This is where we lived for several of the fifteen years we lived in Dumaguete City. It’s still been home over the past several years, though we reside in Florida now.

But this is the last time we will come to this cottage.

A special place

It’s special to us in many ways. Many friends helped build what Susan and I designed. We found a floor plan in a magazine and modified it, rather, we made it fit our Filipino environment.

A-girls_porchBut it’s not just the cottage, as much as we love it. It’s the memories attached to it. These memories, built out of relationships and events, are what make it special.

Memories built out of relationships and events are what make it special

It still feels like home with all of its eccentric elements, including the heat and humidity of the tropics. When it’s hot, we pray for rain. When it rains and rains for days on end, we hope for dry weather.

The elements are intense

storm_rvmUV rays penetrate everything that is exposed to them. And the insects! It is a never-ending battle against mosquitos that bring disease, flies that multiply faster than imagination, and the onslaught of wood-boring insects too numerous to mention. They even eat through drywall (gypsum) board!

It’s a tropical paradise with coco palms and unusual fruit trees, ultra-salty and warm seas that ripple onto varying colors of sand. The seas are full of fish and coral and other creatures found only in tropical aquariums in other parts of the world.

A bittersweet time

But this is a bittersweet time. This will be the last time we are able to watch the sun rise and set from our bamboo and thatched-roof porch.

devo_porch2Many a morning has begun with reading devotions, greeting the staff as they come and go, while planning for the day ahead.

This cottage has hosted board meetings—times when we’ve reflected on God’s faithfulness to this ministry for more than two decades, and made important decisions. Those on the board are our kind and gracious friends. They’ve helped us and encouraged us many, many times.

It’s been home to our two daughters, as well as us, and also to other guests over the years. Though it’s called the Kimball Cottage, it’s not ours. Never was. And it, as with all the buildings and property, will be used by others after us.

Our privilege

sunset_porchBut we had the privilege to design, layout, and build these buildings. Even after a tragic fire in 1997, where we lost five children, God enabled us to rebuild and build more than we imagined at first.

Abandoned babies and children have been restored, grown up, and placed into their own families around the world. Girls, and young women, abused and without hope, have found love, restoration, and eternal hope. Each of them came to the cottage to visit, or when they needed special attention.

This was our privilege, this was our work, and it’s been fulfilling beyond expectation.

We did not do the work alone.

We partnered with Filipino staff who became family to us. We watched their children grow up and have their own children. We also saw most, if not all, become members of God’s family.

A reunion and celebration

wedding_porchSoon, we will welcome some of the families who adopted children from Rainbow. Many are grown up now. These families, and some of our former missionary staff, will join us and the present staff to celebrate. We will rejoice in God’s goodness, together.

Fittingly, our reunion weekend will follow a wedding, one of many held on Rainbow’s property. This wedding features one of the young women who went through our program for abused girls. This is a treat for us, and it is part of the enduring fruit we’ve seen over the years.

Last December, God made it clear to us that the time had come for Rainbow’s ministry to close. He gave us Eccl 3:1–

cottage_sunriseTo everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

But, as sad as that may seem, we rejoice—not for the ending, but the completion of a mission given to us almost a quarter century ago. Our mission was one small part of a much greater mission given to all the church (Matt 28:19-20).

In a few short weeks, we’ll gather together in a reunion of our extended Rainbow family to celebrate.

What can I say, God is good, and we rejoice in Him.

S-bday-serenadePS— In the early darkness of the morning, we were greeted by several of our staff and Rainbow family with a serenade.

This is a precious Filipino tradition of greeting the birthday celebrant at the beginning of their day. It includes songs and testimonies, and of course, food!

Since this is probably the last time Susan will be serenaded here, it was a very special time.