2012 IN REVIEW

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. I’m pretty happy with it. I am inspired to finish my book in 2013—once I awake from zombie mode because of the recent birth of my baby girl! Yes, there’s a lot of sleep deprivation going on around the Joannes household right now, but there are glimpses of deep inspiration as well. I hope to draw on that inspiration to create a book that satisfies your craving for unique missionary stories.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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NINE YEARS AND COUNTING

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I have been chasing Lorna for 15 years. The moment I laid eyes on her in the old Hong Kong airport in 1997, I was love struck.

There are a million details between the time when I met her in 1997 until we got married in 2003, but this blog will just relive our wedding and anniversaries.

Here’s a yearly look at our lives.

2003: Joannes Wedding
After 7 years of pursuing her, Lorna and I were married in Puerto Real, Intramuros in Manila, Philippines. December was dry from the 1st to the 12th, and the 14th till the 31st. But our outdoor wedding was drowned in a heavy downpour until all the decorations were soaked. It was terrible at the time, but such a fun story as we look back. We had our honeymoon in Boracay Island.

2004: 1st Year Anniversary
We went to the ancient city of Lijiang, where I proposed to Lorna in January 2003. We enjoyed getting lost in the labyrinth of cobblestone paths that spiderweb through the old city. We hiked up Lion Mountain for a view of the ancient city and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance. We had a Korean dinner at Sakura along the riverbank.

2005: 2nd Year Anniversary
We went back to Manila for our first Christmas season since we were married. Makati is the perfect date place. We walked around the malls and gardens in Greenbelt 3, and ended that warm Manila evening at Bubba Gump.

2006: 3rd Year Anniversary
The Christian community at our church in Kunming, China had a Christmas party that doubled as our anniversary. We hung out with close missionary friends, danced, and had a wonderful evening at Harbor Plaza Hotel near Green Lake Park.

2007: 4th Year Anniversary
It was a simple and relaxing morning in our new apartment in Kunming, China. I made breakfast for Lorna, and she gave me the comics of our marriage that she had made the week before. We walked across Beijing Road to Silver Spoon, and had a great lunch together in the cool China weather.

2008: 5th Year Anniversary
After a week of heavy Christian training and underground meetings in China, I surprised Lorna with a trip to Xi’an to see the Terra Cotta soldiers. We flew up to the historic city with our local missionary and partner pastor from the Philippines, then checked in to our own hotel so we could finally be alone. We dressed up like Terra Cotta soldiers, visited the Drum Tower, and ate some incredible food. All around great date!

2009: 6th Year Anniversary
Our one and only anniversary in America was in Prescott, AZ, my hometown. We couldn’t pass up a cozy breakfast at St. Michael’s Cafe on a cold winter day. It was a nostalgic moment looking across the park where I had penned many letters to Lorna while we were dating. And now there she was, looking across the table at me, my beautiful wife.

2010: 7th Year Anniversary
After sharing the gospel at a Within Reach Global English Camp with over 80 Chinese college students, we drove 3 hours west to a natural spring that was recommended to us. When we arrived, we were surprised to find a dirty, dilapidated hotel overrun with a million Chinese tourists. We were so tired after 3 days of ministry, and decided to head back to Kunming. We got stuck in traffic, and ended up at Grand Park Hotel late at night. But we were comforted by the beautiful hotel and each others’ presence. The next day we fed the thousands of seagulls that flock to Southwest China to escape the freezing winters of Siberia.

2011: 8th Year Anniversary
It was our first anniversary after moving from China to Manila. We needed medical help after years of stomach problems, and stage four endometriosis (the cause of our infertility) that Lorna had developed over the years. We had a fun time writing letters to each other, having afternoon dessert, drinking coconut juice, and watching a movie together.

2012: 9th Year Anniversary
After 9 years of a marriage filled with adventure, we looked at each on the 27th floor of Diamond Hotel—where we spent our first night of marriage—and giggled with delight. Our baby girl was finally here, kicking inside Lorna’s belly. Our miracle baby brought us new joy, and we felt like this was a new season of blessing for us. We were thrilled to have spent so many memorable years together before our child arrived, but the thought of our family growing brought us greater joy.

Happy anniversary, Lorna! We have many more years of making memories ahead, and each year will only get better. I love you with all my heart. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

JOURNAL ENTRY 12.06.1999

wa woman black teeth
A Wa woman with teeth stained from chewing betal nut

Excerpt from David Joannes’s journal while traveling among unreached people groups and villages in Southwest China.
Journal entry 12.06.1999

At 6:15pm last night our 3:pm bus decided to leave. Right now we still haven’t arrived into K*****g. We’re taking a bathroom break, and everyone is peeing on the side of the street, squatting in ditches. We’ll soon be home… 8:16am

At 10:am we finally arrived into K*****g. It was a long haul, but I actually slept ok on the bus for the first time. Zhong and I were both wanting to beat up the bus driver for being so lazy. The bus station that goes to all the L*****g county stops is called Jinwan Bus Station 金湾客运站。It takes about 16 hours from L*****g to K*****g.

7:55pm:
Back here in K*****g. I’m beat. Henrik called me a while ago. He got back around 4:30pm. He said two guys from the village did come! That’s great. Elder Li was one of them. They are both around 50 years old. Anyway, I pray they catch the fire of God at this training seminar.

D*****g village, outside C******n, is supposedly a Christian village. It seems to be fairly lax there as far as persecution because they say that 70% of the surrounding villages are Christian Wa. The police are mainly looking for drugs and things of that nature. The problem with most of these villages (I’m thinking) is that they are very nominal. For 80 to 90 years they have existed, and are presently living off the thin stream of life coming from the vein of tradition. Most of the young people could care less about Jesus, and most of the villages still smoke, drink, etc. I would only consider them (only from my few days experience in the area) nominal Christians. They still have hymnals and Bibles in Wa script, but a lot of youth can’t read wa script, and sometimes can’t even speak the Wa language. Everything is becoming “Han-ized”. If they are to be passionate, and re-enter the life of the vine, they must surrender. There are still so many unreached Wa. Where now do I direct my energy? But I am praying that Elder Li and this other man become impassioned with the living Christ. I feel that young men are more adequate, but Joel 2:28 says, “your old men shall dream dreams…” This is the beginning of the Wa revival! And don’t forget Tian Guangzhong under the stars of M****o village, for he is God’s chosen…

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David’s actual journal entry

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A Wa woman cradles her child in front of their grass hut

our team in a wa village
Traveling with missionary heroes from Denmark, Ireland, America and Holland.

wa smoking old folks
The Wa mafia? Maybe not. Just enjoying a quick smoke on their silver pipes.

wa village bawei
A Wa village where we saw great breakthrough

JOURNAL ENTRY 12.05.1999

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Excerpt from David Joannes’s journal while trekking traveling among unreached people groups and villages in Southwest China.
Journal entry 12.05.1999

Woke up this morning at 6:15 to catch the 7:am bus to L*****g, but after arriving at the bus station we found out that it leaves at 8:am. It’s 7:15am right now and we’re waiting in the bus station waiting room. I think I’ll continue reading my Chinese Bible…

Thinking about Tian Guangzhong 田光忠 right now. I’m sure he’s very depressed and upset at his parents for not letting him take such a great opportunity to go to K*****g and study the Bible…

1:41pm:
We arrived here into L*****g at around 1:pm. It took almost five hours to get here from G*****a, and 20 Yuan on a zhong ba che. From C******n to G****a there are only two buses: 7:30am and 2:pm. They are both 20 Yuan.

We have already bought tickets to K*****g at 3:pm. It should take about 16 hours to get there, and 90 Yuan.

We have traveled many hours on buses, and no one is able to come to K******g, as far as I know. The others went to a village outside of C******n this morning at 10:am to see if anyone could come. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow what happened. The reason Elder Li wanted them to come back is because he wanted to pick the best men to come out and study. We’ll see. The thing about Wa areas is they’re so hard to get to. The buses take so long and the roads are terrible. This is where sacrifice and commitment come in…

Here in China they don’t always leave on the right times. The tickets we bought for 3:pm seem to be useless all the sudden… We got out here to the bus station and they say that the bus leaves at 4:30pm. So here Zhong and I are, both of us not understanding exactly what’s going on, but having to wait until they decide to leave, whenever that will be.

It’s funny here in China the things that intrigue them… As I write in English they all gather around gazing at the strange shapes coming from this pen. “I don’t understand anything!” one girls says. “Don’t you know anything?” an officer replies, “he went to college.” “You don’t need to go to college to learn how to write in your mother tongue,” I tell them. The world outside just grew a bit larger since they met me. “Is there life beyond China?” Yesterday I asked some Wa kids, “Han nationality is the largest nationality in the world, isn’t it?” They didn’t even think of any countries beside China. Sometimes it’s fun to be a foreigner here in China. Other times it really wears on your soul.
See how the ministry of Within Reach Global has evolved over the years by Liking us on Facebook.
http://withinreachglobal.org/

069Journal04.21.1999-05.01.2000_IMG_3529
David’s actual journal entry

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Passing out stickers to poor Wa children on the China/Myanmar border

dj & wa baby
Playing with the locals

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Half naked boy with the sniffles

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A Wa tribal home 24 hours from Kunming

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Wa village set high in the mountains

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It is normal to see Wa minority women smoking long silver pipes

OVERCOMING MY MYOPIA

I can almost hear the guttural crackle of passion in Jesus’s voice as he says, “Open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you!” His eyes are aflame with a joyous secret that we had not realized before. “These fields are ripe! It’s harvest time!”

A thin layer of sunlight sits atop the crisp tips of cumulous clouds above the Galilean. Beads of perspiration gather on his forehead, as the canvas of the sky bursts and shifts in slow motion. There is a high contrast, heavy color saturation, and Instagram-esque focal blur on everything but the face of the Savior, pushing the scenery into the distance, pulling his expression closer toward the viewer.

Suddenly, I respond with the disciples. My earth-drawn brow lifts, and I raise my gaze to the level of the horizon opposite Jesus.

“Oh my God! How could I have overlooked this once again?”

———

I have an astigmatism in my left eye, and the onset of Keratoconus. The farther the object, the greater the likeliness of double vision.

I am nearsighted. I have myopia.

But the physical condition of myopia is not my only problem. Sometimes I get lost in the canvas.

I cannot see the beauty of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I become enamored in the swirly globs of oil paint. I cannot see the overall details of shadows and motion in Rembrandt’s colossal The Night Watch. I am fixated on lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch’s beige hat. I struggle to comprehend God’s rendition of the universe and all it’s nuances. I squint to see beyond the Milky Way, the earth, my own geometric coordinates.

I ludicrously become the focal point of the universe and all its macro realities.

———

I live in Asia, and am daily in contact with the juxtapositions of wealth and poverty, the sharp contrasts of hope and desperation.

I have shared meals of grub worms and rice wine in the huts of the poorest of the poor tribal people groups on the borders of China and Myanmar. I have smiled at the sad faces of child beggars outside my taxi in Manila. I have kissed wide-eyed Liberian orphans in the outskirts of Monrovia.

These experiences should have brought me to a place beyond myself—a new global coordinate of empathy and compassion. And they have, to a degree. But when I return to the comfort of my 450 square foot apartment of Cubao, I am again riveted on my own concerns, both great and infinitesimal.

“Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. ‘What a huge harvest!’ he said to his disciples. ‘How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!'”

C.S. Lewis realized that a little bit of myopia occurs in all of us. “There exists in every church something that sooner or later works against the very purpose for which it came into existence. So we must strive very hard, by the grace of God, to keep the church focused on the mission that Christ originally gave it.”

I reach for my glasses. I have been trying to read these situations with strained eyes, and should have been viewing life through the lenses Dr. Bundy prescribed for me. I see much clearer through the convex intended for my eyes.

Alan Hirsch reminds me that “what [is] lacking is an overarching perspective that takes into account a more global and regional view of strategic issues relating to mission.”

Finally, I am able to say something like, “I am amazed at how all the infinitesimal aspects of life come together to make such an incredible symphony. Mind you, I am not always this introspective and cognitive. The present details of my life have just brought this epiphany.”

And I recall Brennan Manning’s contemplation: “[Christ] ends our indecision and liberates us from the oppression of false deadlines and myopic vision.”

Jesus is still gazing at the fields behind me. I turn to take in the landscape. The harvest is indeed ripe with white tips of wind-blown wheat. I pause for a moment, hear the Savior’s steady breathing behind me, reach for my plough, and take another step toward the field.