Thursday, September 03, 2009

Rainy Season

Yes, we're still in the middle of rainy season in Manila, but Justin is loving the great outdoor space at our last home in the Philippines. We were so blessed to rent a house not far from campus and friends for our last few months in Manila - and Justin is having so much fun playing outside, no matter if it's raining or the sun is shining. It's so hard to realize that our time in the Philippines is almost over. We came here for graduate school, so as soon as Brian finishes his last classes in October, we will be leaving. We are still praying about where in Asia we will be next, but we will be in the states for the holidays, so we are looking forward to spending lots of time with friends and family! Please pray with us as we seek God's guidance for our next adventure. :) And, we're still here for 2 more months, so feel free to come visit and play with Justin in the rain! :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 NYI Convention

"I have come to find that God leads, moves, and works everywhere so why can't I?" said one of the delegates to the 2009 NYI Convention in Manila. "I am ready to go and make disciples in my community, and whether its at youth group, at work or school, I know God is with me and I'm ready for anything. The convention helped me to be better equipped in every way and understand what is needed for understanding and as I continue to live for God and learn more things along the way, may I be

used in a better and greater way with purpose that makes a difference in peoples lives."

After months of planning, after months of

preparations the Global NYI Convention finally came! In Manila we had seventy participants come from fifteen countries! They came from Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan, Korea, Chuuk, Guam, Thailand, Myanmar, and two creative access countries. This is more than twice the number of delegates who were able to come to the 2005 NYI convention in Indianapolis. This was the largest representation of youth leaders that has ever come together in the Asia-Pacific region where we serve. So many for the first time saw their brothers

and sisters in Christ from across the region,

and then through the videoconference, across the world... for the first time! It was so exciting!

Before the official NYI convention started we spent a few days with our regional

delegates and participants in Manila to spend time discussing what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to talk about Jesus' call for us to also make disciples. We talked about how God was calling us to new encounters with him as young people through prayer, through spending time in scripture together, and through worship. We discussed the tremendous possibilities for youth to impact

their communities through loving and investing in children. We also felt God leading us to make a difference in our communities through getting involved with the social issues that are affecting the community; thingslike domestic abuse, child trafficking, lack of clean drinking water, lack of educational opportunities, drug and alcohol abuse and the many reasons that cause it, and more. And we feel God leading us to, as young people, to begin planting churches. All of this points to our

central goal and desire to "Make Christlike Disciples Among Youth." So for three days we prayed together, we worshipped together, we ate together, we played together, and we had

workshops together. And God met and challenged us in powerful ways to return to our homes with His heart for the people who live around us.

Halfway through the event, we transitioned to the Global business meetings and worship. This meant that we also transitioned to staying up all night long, since the meetings were held exactly 12 hours away in Orlando. To have fun with this the theme for the event was 'Up All Night' and we bought hundreds of packs of instant coffee to prepare us for this and designed tshirts with coffee and a moon on the front! I was a little worried how well we would do staying up all night for

three nights, especially during some of the less-than-exciting business meetings, but everyone was energetic and engaged. They were excited to be able to participate in this and everyone from the official delegates to the visitors were ready to fight sleepiness! In our meetings we elected new leadership and made changes to our ministry plan to help us be more reflective of the global church that we are, and not just a church that centers in North America. It was such an honor to be a part of these decisions. And at the end we shared in communion together. Hundreds of youth and

youth workers literally across the world, remembered

the broken body and shed blood of our Lord, together.

One delegate shared why this event was so significant for him. "This convention is important to me for this is a dream come true for Nazarenes to experience what it really means to be a global church. Imagine for the first time

we're able to share our lives together through videoconferencing though we are apart

geographically!This i the reason why it is important to me. It changes our view of our church towards being a true global community. We are one family."

I am more and more convinced that an event by itself is nothing, unless it is a

chance for participants to encounter God and to return to their homes changed and with a different perspective. The most rewarding part of the entire event was to read some of the comments of how God touched their lives during this very long week. Let me share a few comments:

"For me personally this convention has been a mind and

eye opener. I always thought that I was the only one struggling... but hearing the testimonies from the other brothers and sisters in Christ around the world I understand now that we are the same and it is only Christ that can carry us through. I am going home a different person."

"I know that I will be a different person

altogether and I'm so proud. God has renewed my mindset, placing a more loving and caring mind in me."

"I will bring home this passionate heart, more passionate than ever. This won't be easy but if I will not start it, then who will?

"I am learning to listen and let God speak to

me in various ways and I am excited to share this excitement that I have right now."

"I have been really touched and challenged through the workshops, speakers, prayers, and worship. God has challenged

me to be intentional in my conversations and to be more involved

in my community."

This is what it was all about, God touching the lives of people and their desire to share this with others!

Please check out our event highlights video and other videos of our services and worship at

Thank you all for your prayers and support for this life-changing event!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 NYI Convention is here!!!!

Yes, we have been at the Manila site for the 2009 Global NYI Convention since last Saturday, and all we can say is.... God is good all the time! The Church of the Nazarene holds a General Assembly every four years; members come to one place from all around the world to worship together and conduct business. But this year, for the first time, NYI (Nazarene Youth International) is holding its convention in 8 different sites all around the world, connecting by video-conference through the internet!

And we have the amazing privilege to be part of this historic event! Brian is the site coordinator for the Asia-Pacific convention site, which is being held here in Manila, Philippines. Many times delegates elected to the General Assembly cannot attend because of finances and the difficulty of obtaining visas. Since it's very difficult for NYI in Asia-Pacific to ever get together, we decided to take advantage of this opportunity and spend extra time together before the General NYI Convention started. So, our 30 delegates and 40 visitors from 14 different countries gathered on Sunday, and we have been enjoying worship services, workshops, and fellowship with each other. Then last night, we held our first meetings with the other Asia-Pacific delegates at the General Assembly site in Orlando.... and everything worked!!! The internet worked, we could see each other, hear each other, and understand enough to elect a new Asia-Pacific Regional NYI council for the next 4 years - God is so good!

We've also enjoyed some of the General Assembly services which can be viewed anytime at the Church of the Nazarene website. You can also view many of our regional activities from the past few days at the Asia-Pacific NYI website. The theme of our regional site has become "Up all night" since daytime meetings in Orlando are in the middle of the night in Manila... but our delegates are so thrilled to be part of this event and have a voice (many countries for the first time!) that no one has missed a meeting yet! :)

So, to our friends and family who are in Orlando now, we miss you, but we wouldn't trade this experience for anything. God is moving in mighty ways among the youth leaders of Asia-Pacific, and we're so blessed to be a part. We'll write more soon, but I need to get some sleep before tonight's meetings... hope to see you on screen at some point! They will be showing a glimpse of our site at the NYI service Friday morning at 10:30 (Orlando time) and Friday afternoon at the 4:00 service, a drama group from a local church in Manila will be performing. Keep praying for our internet and our eyes to stay open! How great is our God!

Thursday, June 04, 2009


When Julie's parents and sister were visiting, we took a two day trip to Tagaytay and stayed at Sonya's Garden. Sonya's Garden is an incredibly beautiful Bed and Breakfast that we have been wanting to go to ever since we moved to the Philippines. We had so much fun walking around the beautiful flower gardens, eating huge meals with food fresh from the garden, and enjoying the peace and quiet... If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Philippines, Sonya's Garden is a must!

Justin loved the unique shower... he could have stayed in there all day to play with the pebbles. :)

This is a picture taken at Taal Volcano in Tagaytay. I really won't do justice describing this amazing landmark, but I'll try... it's a lake inside a volcano inside a lake inside a volcano... just click on the link to get the amazing story. :)

We moved!

We moved... down the street. :) Before we came to APNTS, we felt it was really important to live on campus so we could develop relationships with our fellow students. Although living on campus was the ironic reason Julie just finished her Master's degree, we really enjoyed our time and the opportunity to live in such a multi-cultural environment. But since Julie is finished and didn't want to take any more classes, we decided to look for a place to live off campus for our last few months in the Philippines. God worked out some incredible living situations for us as soon as we started praying about it, and we're currently house-sitting for some missionary friends that live less than a 10 minute walk from the APNTS campus. When they return in July we'll rent a small house in the same neighborhood. We're having so much fun living in a new place, but I think Justin is enjoying it even more....

He loved helping pack (and un-pack) boxes before we moved.

Having access to a washer and dryer where we're house-sitting makes Julie so happy she could almost cry, but it was also a great place for Justin and Grandpa Dwayne to chat. :)
Aunt Terri has lots of cool things in her house that Justin loves... he was very proud of himself when he learned to get in this rocking chair by himself.

He LOVES having a small yard to play in and a place to use his new swimming pool. :)

He also has space to play on his new tricycle from Grandpa Dwayne.

We're so thankful to see how God continues to provide for all the small details of our lives - please continue to pray the we will have the support for our daily needs. :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Catching Up :)

Well, the last few months have been quite exciting, and the next few months will be just as exciting, so it's about time for some blog posts to catch up! In March, I (Julie) successfully defended my thesis and graduated from APNTS with a Master's degree in Religious Education. It's so ironic that I finished before Brian, since I never really wanted to go to seminary in the first place. :) But God has provided some amazing opportunities, and we trust that our experience here will be used to enhance our future, so we continue trusting in God's incredible grace and guidance. We're also not looking forward to saying goodbye to our incredible friends at APNTS and in the Philippines, so we're treasuring our last few months here as Brian finishes his degree. It was a huge blessing to have my parents and sister visit for graduation and spend a few weeks with Justin.... and us. ;) Here are a few pics from the graduation festivities.

Rathburn/Woolery family at the Graduation Banquet

with incredible friends from Japan

friends from Myanmar

friends from the Philippines

all the graduates

Yay for family coming to visit!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

We're still here....

Just a quick post to say we're still here and will be posting soon about our many adventures in the last few months! :) It's been busy but wonderful - thesis defense, graduation, family visit, Justin walking/running everywhere, youth camp, and more... We're enjoying our summer, but we still haven't slowed down enough to update our blog.... hopefully soon. Thanks for staying in touch! :)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Justin's 1st Birthday!

We celebrated Justin's first birthday on January 31 on the APNTS campus. In many countries in Asia, the first birthday is very special, and it is tradition to have a big party. Since this will probably be Justin's only birthday in the Philippines, we gave in to tradition, invited everyone, served spaghetti (Filipino birthday tradition - eat pasta), and had a wonderful time! Justin did pretty well, but he was a little overwhelmed by so many people at a few points.... Here are just a few pictures from his special day.

"Fish" was the theme for the party... why? because it's fun and easy! :)

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Terri, who helped me bake almost 100 'ocean' cupcakes and Justin's 'fish' cake!
Justin's happy birthday message contained pictures from various occasions over the last year... yes, every circle in his name is a different picture. :)

tropical fish tattoos! This is where Brian chose to wear his.
showing off their tattoos....

Our amazing friend, Melissa, painted this for a fun photo op! Everyone had such a blast getting their picture taken. :)

Since our theme had to do with water, we played fun games with water balloons - perfect for a hot afternoon in Manila!

The merienda (snack): crab sushi rolls, 'octopus' hotdogs, shanghai lumpia, spaghetti, and goldfish crackers Brian brought back from the states! Needless to say, all the missionaries from the states went crazy over the goldfish. :)

writing messages to Justin....

We needed some help blowing out the candle. ;)

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to....

Happy Birthday, Justin!