Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I have put off writing this entry, because every time I talk about it, it just makes it more real, and that's still pretty difficult. You may have seen in past blogs some pictures of Justin with an adorable Filipino boy named EJ. EJ's mom, Janet, watches Justin twice a week, and soon after she started, I encouraged her to bring her 5 year old son. EJ is Justin's best friend... I've never seen two children so separated in age and development have so much genuine fun together and love for each other.

About 3 weeks ago, EJ was feeling sick when he was at our house, so the next day his parents took him to the doctor. They were told he had mumps. But a couple days later, his condition was getting worse, so they took him to another doctor, and he was diagnosed with diphtheria. I must admit I've only heard of diphtheria in relation to vaccinations and had no idea what it meant to have it, so I quickly researched and found that yes, he would need to be treated in a hospital, but if caught early, it was easily treatable and he would just need a lot of rest. There are still a lot of unknowns about all the details, but the toxins from the diphtheria reached EJ's heart, and he died less than one week after his diagnosis.

When I received the text about his death, I just kept hoping it was a mistake or a bad dream. For two or three days, every time Justin picked up a toy to play with, I would burst into tears because it reminded me of EJ. While our minds are still filled with tons of questions and unknowns, I'm trying to focus my energies now on supporting EJ's parents and older sister and remembering our incredible friend. Here are some of my favorite memories:

~Justin's face whenever he saw EJ... he would instantly light up no matter where we were or what was going on. He would shake his arms with excitment! :)
~EJ's incredible ability to play with Justin... other children come over to play and just kind of play with the toys and ignore Justin... he is still a baby, after all. ;) But EJ would intentionally play with Justin for hours - it was really amazing.
~Whenever Justin was taking a nap, EJ would sometimes come find me in the library. He would just stand and watch what I was doing, and then I would give him my cell phone so he could play games.
~EJ didn't speak very much English, so if I saw him on campus, I would ask him if Justin was sleeping, by motioning with my hands and leaning my head to the side. EJ quickly learned the words I was saying, but every time he saw me, he would say, "Ate Julie, Justin sleeping" and do the motions with his hands and head.
~EJ loved to watch Brian work on his computer. He would point at different icons on the screen, and when Brian would open it, he loved the action and movement.
~EJ wore a pair of bright yellow galoshes. When he was running around campus, you could see him from far away because of his yellow galoshes.
~EJ made everyone on campus smile. He always had a smile for anyone he saw.

While the funeral service and preceeding visits to his family's house were extremely painful, they were also filled with blessings. EJ's family lives in what we call a squatter area.... many small houses made of wood and scrap materials, very crowded living conditions, etc. One night while they were having a service outside, I was able to sit inside with Janet and we just talked about everything. It was so incredible. We cried together, and then we started telling stories, and that quickly brought laughter. When I first visited after EJ's death, I had developed some pictures of Justin and EJ and gave them to Janet. She was so appreciative and then directed my attention to a shelf behind me... the shelves were already filled with pictures of EJ, Joana (his 8 year old sister) and Justin... I can't describe the emotion I felt... I had never seen these pictures before... Janet had taken them with her cell phone at different times at our house...in each one the love EJ had for Justin was so evident.

So while we're still grieving, and our little apartment here will never seem the same without EJ's brilliant laugh, we're assured of where he is now and that we will see him again someday. Please keep EJ's family in your prayers. Of course, they are having a difficult time. And give an extra hug to the children in your life today... they really are blessings God has entrusted us with... make sure they know how much you love them. :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Christmas in Baguio

So, I'm doing some catching up today with our blog. :) We were so blessed this last Christmas to spend a few days with some dear friends in Baguio, a town in the northern part of the Philippines. Baguio is famous for strawberries, fresh vegetables, beautiful flowers, weaving, cool mountain air .... we just really love Baguio and try to go any chance we get. We went with our friends, the Tsutada family, and Junichi and Mari Nakade. They have been incredible friends while at seminary and we can't imagine life without them after we all graduate. Here are some of our favorite pictures from our last Christmas in the Philippines.

First we visited some friends and former APNTS students in a town on the way to Baguio. They are teaching at a Wesleyan Bible College. Justin and Kinomi will be great friends some day, I'm sure... right now they kind of just look at each other. :)

Beautiful Baguio

Justin quickly fell in love with Baguio strawberries.
visiting the Easter Weaving Room... you can buy tons of stuff upstairs, but the best part is going downstairs and seeing all the ladies work on the looms - truly amazing!
Baguio has some really great restaurants... we kind of planned our whole trip around eating. :)
Justin's first firework show on Christmas Day
is Brian thinking about a new hairstyle? :)
eating 1 day old chick... yes, we have some interesting food items in the Philippines. :)

we love Baguio! :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Justin is in a food-loving stage right now... He wants to eat any and everything we eat, and he wants to eat a lot. :) It is a Philippine tradition to eat pasta on your first birthday, and we've been to a couple of 1st birthday celebrations recently. It's also tradition to send food home with everyone, so basically, Justin has been in heaven. He really loves spaghetti... here are a few of my favorite pictures from the last couple days.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Japan Culture Day

This last Tuesday was Japan Culture Day at APNTS chapel, so Justin wore his yukakata (traditional Japanese outfit for boys) that our wonderful Japanese friends gave him for Christmas. Doesn't he make a handsome Japanese boy? ;)

He even got to help with leading the worship songs during chapel. :)

He looked great until it was lunch time, and they were serving spaghetti (his favorite meal) in the dining hall, and mommy had forgotten to bring a bib... but his messy spaghetti face and spaghetti-covered yukata make for really cute pictures. :)

It was also a very special chapel for us. Brian has been asked to participate in every Japan Culture Day since we've been at APNTS, but he wasn't able to this year because he is in the states for NYI meetings. So our friends made a short video of Brian telling about his ministry with Japanese through the wedding chapels in Guam. It's so encouraging to have friends that care and show appreciation for things we did years ago, when they didn't even know us! I pray that we can be that same kind of friend - to always exhibit an encouraging and loving spirit.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

a new approach in 2009

I (Julie) have never been successful at keeping a journal, even though I’ve tried numerous times throughout my life. I love the idea of journaling, and I always have lots of thoughts and feelings I want to remember and look back on, but my thoughts never make it on paper, no matter how many cool journals I purchase. ☺ But as we enter 2009, I’m inspired with a new idea of a way to remember things.

My friend Jana recently blogged about how she kept a ‘gratitude journal’ during 2008. She used a daily planner and recorded something she was thankful for every day. I receive an email reading every day from my favorite author, Henri Nouwen, and the passage for January 1, 2009 was this:

Expecting a Surprise

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.

So, thanks to inspiration from Henri Nouwen and Jana, I’m going to list something in my planner every day – something I’m thankful for, something new where I saw God working, or just something I want to remember. I’m a calendar/planner freak – I can’t live unless I look at my calendar at least 10 times a day, so maybe I’ll have better luck with this approach than with my beautiful journals that always sit in a dusty corner with blank pages. Hope your new year is filled with fun and relaxing moments with loved ones, new and special friendships, and new memories of God’s amazing grace and guidance!

2008 Christmas letter

To our dear friends and family,

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! As we begin 2009 we’re overwhelmed with God’s grace and guidance in our lives this last year. Through every new friendship, challenge, and fun memory, God has continued to make real in our lives his peace ‘which surpasses all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7), and we’re excited and humbled as we continue to learn how to show his love to the people around us.

If it’s been a while since we talked, 2008 was a really big year for us – our family grew! Justin Dwayne Woolery FINALLY was born on January 22 (he was 2 ½ weeks late!). And life has never been the same or quite so much fun! It was an incredible blessing to have both sets of grandparents with us when he was born, and we have cherished watching him grow and develop over the last year. Justin was the only baby born on our campus this last year, so he’s extremely popular. It’s amazing to live in a community where Justin is surrounded by so much love. He also attracts quite a lot of attention, being a chubby, bald, white baby in Manila, so we’ve actually made some new friends through his amazing smile!

We’re still living in the Philippines, studying at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary. It’s hard to believe we left Guam 2 ½ years ago and are nearing the end of our studies for our Masters degrees. While our time at APNTS has been challenging in many ways, we’re so thankful to be receiving our education in such a diverse cross-cultural setting, and it’s hard to think about saying goodbye to the APNTS community when we graduate. Julie is in the middle of her thesis right now and will hopefully graduate this April, while Brian will finish classes in October.

Julie has continued to teach English classes to students from Korea, Myanmar, Japan, and the Philippines. We’re still amazed at how God brought this opportunity at APNTS and how much it has blessed our lives. Brian continues to serve as the Asia-Pacific Regional Youth Coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene. This year he was able to travel to Australia and Thailand to meet with youth leaders and encourage them in their work. He’s also busy now with the challenge of planning the NYI convention for the Asia-Pacific Region to be held in Manila in June 2009. Through both of these job opportunities, we continue to be humbled as we learn from youth leaders around Asia and the Pacific. God is doing amazing things among youth, and we’re excited to be a part in a small way!

So, the big question is, what comes next? And we have no idea! ☺ But we trust in an incredible God who has led us through adventures we never dreamed we would get to participate in, and we know he will continue to lead us to whatever is next. We would really love to stay somewhere in Asia-Pacific, so we’ll let you know as soon we find out! So, it’s no surprise that we really need your prayers in 2009! ☺ Thesis writing, NYI convention, parenting, visa fees, rent money, maintaining family relationships across the globe, and an unknown future can occasionally lead to worry, but again, we have complete confidence that God is in control and will provide for us everything that we need. Please pray for us this year, and thank you, thank you, thank you for your friendship and support. We’re so blessed to be on this journey with you!

One last thing…. I wanted to include pictures in this letter, but my email won’t let me today, so please visit our blog and you can catch up on all the details of our crazy adventures. We’re trying to post stories more frequently, but if you would rather receive them by email, just go to our blog once, and you can sign up to receive stories by email. The address is: www.woolerywanderings.blogspot.com.

We LOVE to hear from you! May God bless you and your family in this new year!

Love always,
Brian, Julie, and Justin Woolery