Let's Build Ate Gina a home || Manila, Philippines

Today I was talking with my “Ate Gina”- the lovely lady who helps me at our house during the week.

We are her employer - Kasambahay, or househelp, is part of Filipino culture here. Everything takes longer to do here - everything is not easy-peasy like at home in Canada.

Simple things like sweeping the house, which is done every day because of the dust in the air, can make you sweat buckets.

Also you never want your home to be left without anyone in it, and when we are away, she stays here, with our animals too - which she loves them all!

Ate has worked for missionaries for over a decade. We have been blessed to have her be a part of our family for 2 years now.

Before Christmas she was given permission to build a house on a lot. She has since had water hooked up and next week the electricity gets hooked up. 

Side note: her electricity has taken over a month to get hooked up. Can you imagine? For her birthday I bought her a kerosene lamp so she would have light after the sun goes down - she was tickled!

While we were talking today, I asked her if she had any photos of her place, out in the province, in Theresa, Rizal, where she commutes every day for over an hour to get to our place, like most Filipinos do for work.

The surroundings are absolutely breathtaking - tucked in between mountains and set in a valley with fields. Truly its a sight to see. 

Around her are nice homes and even some resorts.

And then there is her place - a simple bamboo shack with tarpaulins for walls.

Many Filipinos have much less, I know. But as I reflect Ate and her life - her drunk husband left her when she got born-again - and she has had to make a go, supporting not only herself but also her aging mother and her nephew.

She loves her place. And she is saving up to build cinderblock concrete walls and a proper roof…I gave her a savings account for her last birthday, and she squirrels all she can to one day have enough.

Ate has planted a garden - she has tomatoes, squash, beans and many other fruits and vegetable plants growing - she wants to live off the land, she says. And I know she will!

She loves our family…she serves our family…Not only do we “employ” her, but we are able to speak into her life and she is able to love on us, in amidst our sometimes frazzled schedules. 

She is TRULY a blessing to us every single day.

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So…Where am I going with this?

We have helped her financially when we can, with giving a little extra to get her established. But we simply do not have the means to even give her a loan, which I know if we had the means, we would give her the loan in a heartbeat!

How COOL would it be if a few people from Canada gave to this project, to build Ate’s home? 

A simple roof and walls for her humble place is less than $1000. 

Let’s do some math - if 10 people gave $100, it’d be paid for. And she would not have to worry about the elements, she would have her belongings secure, and she would have a future there. She is in her late 40s and will not be able to work forever for us, or for anyone, and to have the security of a home and land that you can live off of…what a relief I am sure.

The first week of March I am going out there to take photos of the area, and of her home. I would love to be able to tell her that some beautiful friends of ours in North America want to see her house built! 

Anything you give will be tax-receipted. It’s a win-win all around.

Contact me to be a part. 


OUR C̶h̶r̶i̶s̶t̶m̶a̶s̶ HAPPY NEW YEAR UPDATE - Manila, Philippines



We had Tracey’s mom and dad, Sandy & Wayne, with us for 3 weeks during December. Not only did they stay with us and “live our life”, we also were able to go to the beach for a couple days in there too! It was so great to have them with us, especially over the holidays.




They even got over to Gentle Hands and were QUITE smitten with the sweet littles over there… :)

Hopefully we will see them again sooner than later!




Jonathan’s dad, Dennis, left yesterday  for India for a week…and the most exciting part is to get the renovations finally started on the current building! He and mom asked Tracey to be more involved in the administration of Gentle Hands of India, as this year will be lots of activity. She couldn’t be more thrilled! 

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She is sending a camera with Dad Heppner this trip, so hopefully some updated photos and such will come back with him. A trip back to Chennai this year is in the works as well.

Please visit Gentle Hands of India online for more info on the project and the ministry there that we are very excited to be a part of or our blog


Since we launched in November, we have done a few gigs and it’s been awesome! Check them out at our blog, which you can access at our website:

Its so fulfilling knowing that when you are doing something you love (photographing) that you are blessing people with the results (the NGOs). We hope to continue to build our photographer base this next year, and get our name out there to the NGO world in Manila. Pray with us! 

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If you are a photographer who reads our updates and has thought about coming over for a work/volunteer trip to the Philippines, consider it! Not only can we hook you up to GIVE BACK to one of the MANY NGOs in the metropolis, but Tracey has a Philippines Trek scheduled for this April to the mountain tribes and paradise islands. Contact us for more info!


The Christmas season is always exciting at the church. Filipinos truly love to celebrate! With Christmas parties, Christmas Eve Candlelight service and then a workers celebration party this last weekend, COGM has been abuzz with activity!

Jonathan continues to work alongside his dad, sharing leadership training, preaching and a plethora of other activities. :) He is about to launch a training school for young adults who have full-time jobs. How? Twice a month meeting a Friday night and all-day Saturday and night. This is really needed as there are many young adults who want to be more equipped in leadership and cannot quit their jobs to do something like this. The response to the invitation we have given to them is overwhelming and exciting! THE TRIBE will begin in February and we will give you an update on our next newsletter!


We love, love, LOVE when people come visit…either to chill, to volunteer, or both! Short-term missions are great for anyone, or any family.

This month we have one of our longest friends, Colin Clements, here for a week.  Colin and his wife, Arlene, have believed in us and what we are doing in the Philippines & Asia since 1996 - when we first came over. They have supported our ministry in Asia both then and when we moved back. How cool it was to take him to Gentle Hands, around the city, to the kids school. Being able to share with him a little part of us and what he “invests” in has been awesome.



In February/March looks as though our cousins Blayne & Tara will return! We love when people come and take time to spend it with us here and get a glimpse of our life here.

Let us know if you want to come visit….we have a spare room and the kids’ rooms are big too so they can rearrange if need be! :) 

 Until next update!

xoThe Heppners

Growing pains of the Heart || Hope for Haiyan - Gentle Hands, Manila, Philippines


we have 5 orphans from tacloban coming this afternoon.”

The text i received from my hipag (sisterinlaw in Tagalog) came two days ago. I asked her if she knew any of their story. 

They were 5. And they were siblings.

That evening I received another text…this time it was photos taken from her phone’s camera.

There they were. All 5 of them. And the tears began…


Nothing can prepare your heart when you hear that not 1 but 5 siblings lost their 3 youngest siblings along with their mom and dad in the horrific typhoon Haiyan. Nothing. 

And nothing can stop the tears when you realize they saw their decomposing family members floating as they left Tacloban.

Think about that for a second. Or two. At least til it wrecks you for a moment. Cuz it should.

As I looked at the 5 photos on my phone, the tears silently streamed down my face. I CANNOT even imagine. Any of this. At all. I looked closely into their eyes, their souls…broken, so very broken. The horror of the last weeks just at the edge but strength and courage surpasses it, only ever so slightly though.

But, oh, how beautiful they were. So absolutely gorgeous.

How DOES one even begin to pick up the pieces, when in fact, you have no pieces to pick up? When you literally have nothing? Suddenly my humble abode seemed like a palace to what so many others do not have. 

A moment of thanksgiving, grieving, humbling and more tears went on for a few more moments.


These 5 came to Gentle Hands with, literally, only the clothes on their back. They came to Gentle Hands with no family but themselves. They came to Gentle Hands with only the hope that love would take them in. 

Another wow moment for me: that I was but a tiny part of this great thing called Gentle Hands. Wow. No words.


I had the honor to meet these 5 yesterday. I won’t lie: I didn’t know what to say when i saw the first 2 in the bakery helping Nuncio make cinnamon buns. You wouldn’t dare say the normal, “Hey! How are you?”. Of course you do not. Because really, how could you ask such a thing? After the life they have lived in the last 2 weeks, a simple “how are you” seems really, really inappropriate. At least I thought so.

So i scanned my mind and instead i went up to each of them and put my arm around their shoulder and gently said, “Hello hun..I’m the hipag of Ate Cher. Welcome”, and when their eyes met mine I did all I could to pour all the love I knew how to pour into them through an intentional, loving look, so they would know; that they would know that here, for such a time as this, that is home, their refuge, their family.


At Gentle Hands, I guess you could say that I am the resident photographer. For the most part. :)  I usually take candids of the kids for their files, take their formal head shot and body shot of them all dressed and presentable for their case studies for adoption. I have taken some of the babies first baby photos, treasures that their forever families will cherish forever. (that still humbles me every single time I do it.) And sometimes if I am around at the right time, I also get to take photos of their “intakes”, the day we first get them. These go in their files as well.

Today I was to take theses beautiful 5’s intakes. 

I’m normally really good at this sort of thing. I can get them to smile, I am chipper and giggly. Don’t miss a beat. And I make it virtually painless. ;)

Today, however, I was so very nervous. I didn’t know why. Maybe it was that I was going to be taking their group photo which is like a family photo and their family was not complete. I couldn’t bare to think of what would be going through their minds.

But as I sat and listened to them chat with my hipag and a couple others about enrolling in school the next day nearby before we took the photos, I watched. And I listened. And I knew. That, in amidst this dark and painful time, that these fives, they were going to be ok on the other end.

The love that came over me for them was physically overwhelming. I did everything I could to not leak out of my eyeballs. I mean, really, this is NOT about me. So as I asked Jesus to help me be strong for THEM, I could literally feel my heart grow. No really. I did.

You see, I remember long ago when we had our intern house here in 2000/2001, I wondered how on earth i would be able to love and let in a NEW batch of interns..and God, in His graciousness, showed me that I dont ever have to replace any of them to make room for them in my heart. Ever. instead He would just make my heart a little bigger, to fit more in.

What an incredible revelation that was for me. From that day on, my heart has done just that. And today i felt it grow bigger..for 5 more to fit.



I texted my hipag after when I was home later, that it was in times like these that I wished we still had our bigger house on the other street in our current village. We would have just enough room for the 5. 

Had I just said that?? Yes I did. And the thought comes to me now and again and I often wonder why.

But we don’t. And our house we have now would definitely be too small for 5 more, really. I wrestled with that for a few moments. If we should get a bigger place, what could we do for the interim.

If i’m honest, sometimes I think or feel like I should be doing more, tangibly, for these ones and many others like them. Other than “just taking photographs” i mean. There are over 80 kids at Gentle Hands! That’s so many right? And while I may not remember all their names, they remember mine. Every time. When I enter their domain, the “Hi Ate Trace, Tita Trace!” that I get as I am mobbed by a group of littles is enough to melt your heart in a second. And it does mine. Every. Single. Time.

They all know I come and work at Gentle Hands, that I come in a few days a week, that I like to hang out with them and their caregivers, play with them, laugh with them, talk with them, and sometimes take photos of them, some for their files, some goofy. They know that they have my attention when I am down with them.

It was when I realized this that I had another revelation: i think, for such a time as this, that THAT is enough.

And that is who I am and what God has called me to do and be. Be the constant Tita Trace.. who loves them and believes they will a great person one day and that God has so much love for them and a great, great life ahead of them. Just how I believe that today, for these 5.

Today, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.



Not only do these 5 need love and care, they need clothes, shoes, school uniforms, toiletries. everything. They truly have nothing.

As like all of our children at Gentle Hands, these 5 have not only lost their belongings, but they have lost their family. 

The circumstances differ from child to child but the one truth is still there: they are orphans. And they need our love. In not only emotional and spiritual ways, but tangible ways.

We are developing Christmas Giving Child Packs that you can purchase this Christmas season in honor of someone you love or a friend, to give to these 5 children, and any of our children at Gentle Hands.

Please visit our website for it’s launch before December 1.

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Gentle Hands of India - The next step begins!

At the beginning of the year, Tracey went with Jonathan’s dad and 4 others to India. (You can read about that trip HERE)

Since then many months have gone by and lots of legal work and designing has gone on. (You can read about that on the GH of INDIA blog HERE)

We were so excited when Dad came back at the end of October with this report:

I’ve just returned from India again. 

Most of our documentation has been updated. We have brought our FCRA account up to date. 

This account is a must to bring currency from outside India. All documents have been secured. Some were lost and we now have certified true copies. 

The board met last Saturday and we are moving forward. 

Should have the renovation plans back this week.


I have finally received our updated drawings and pricing to renovate our current building. 

Total price $55,000USD. This includes adding some washrooms and upgrading the entire building. 

Onward we go!

Here is more about what’s happening in INDIA. Please contact us if you are interested in being involved in this awesome work!



trangkaso = flu

NOTE: i just reread this post..some of it doesn’t make sense  really.. i’ll blame the flu. :)

that’s what i got. the flu. trangkaso.

i recently came back from leading a biblical tour through turkey. we journeyed the steps of st paul and 7 churches of revelation. i would have only DREAMED of going on a tour like this. but you know, being a missionary and all…the extra funds for these sorts of extracurricular activities are very slim.

so instead, i contacted my friend in turkey, he got me in touch with a tour agency there that does biblical tours, i signed people up and voila, i was able to go to Turkey. :) (if you want more details of how that works, or if you want to go on a tour, please email me!)

i came home after 10 days and thought i’d gotten off scotch free - you know, from “catching” soemthing on the plane.

ya…4 days later, i’m laid up in bed with the flu. and bad. achy body. headaches. fevers. razor sore throats. coughing. it ain’t pretty, friends. not one bit.

and to top it off, it’s the kids october break. NICE. mom’s sick and it’s october break. oh, and we have a team at Gentle Hands from Airdrie as well. talk about baaaaad timing. well at least they are gone for a few days with mom and dad heppner on the boat so all is not lost.

the first 2 days of this disgusting flu were pretty much sleeping and laying in a very still position. my beloved J has been AMAZING, serving me tea, and water and making sure i take my meds. he’s WAAAAAY better at taking care of me than i am of him. ;)

and today i am alone at home. j is at the office. the kids are still at sea. and i sit here on my bed. feeling better than i have felt in 3 days. that’s progress i suspose. :)

it’s in these quiet, made-to-rest moments, that i often wonder what it is that god wants to tell me. 

if you dont know me, i’m a go-go-go type person. i am always doing something. it’s not that i’m bored. i just have so many things i want to be a part of and do and….sigh. ya. ok, so i go-go-go a little too hard sometimes. maybe my body needs a rest. maybe my SOUL needs to reflect.

and so i am reflecting…

in conversation with a dear friend the other day, i had mentioned that sometimes i dont quite feel like i’m DOING what i should be. or maybe i should be DOING more, or DOING something different. or… a sense of wondering what it is i’m to be DOING plagues my heart often. she later texted me something that i have been chewing on:

it is not always in the doing, that our work is done, sometimes it is the being of who God’s created us to be in each moment.

i have been chewing on this for days. and lo and behold, being in the state that i am in physically - weak - my mind is feeling very vulnerable to the lies of “you dont accomplish anything”…”look at you…you arent anything but a high school graduate”…”you think doing all this stuff you are involved in is gonna make you a better person? ha”…and the list goes on.

fortunately i’m aware enough that it’s an attack from the enemy who really would like me to be paralyzed in these lies. and to believe them would indeed paralyze me.

and so i sit and chew some more….

who am i? who has God made me to be?

first of all, i’m his daughter. i am a child of God. i have been set free from so many crappy things. i have been filled with peace and joy that i can’t describe. i have freedom to be all God has created me to be.

then i began to think about who i am…

i am a daughter.

i am a mom.

i am a wife.

i am a sister.

i am an aunt.

i am a cousin.

i am a friend.

wow. just those alone…those right there…without DOING anything, that’s a heck of a lot of things i am.

so what is it that god has created in me to be? 

i think i’m a good friend. an encourager. a helper. 

and i stop right there. what if, WHAT IF, those right there is what i’m supposed to be DOING?

none of the other stuff that goes on my to-do list (dont get me wrong, the stuff on the to-do list will get done) cannot drive me and i cannot find my identity in the to-do’s but in the who am i and what God has made me to be.


and so that is where i am at today at 6pm…alone in my house. recovering from trangkaso. 

but it is good. and He is great.

flashback: 1996 - our first year in the philippines and to the tribe

my dear motherinlaw just sent me an update she had typed after our first time up to the mountain tribes in the northern philippines.

what awesome memories it brought back. and i *THINK* another mountain tribe trip is in order. ;)

(i also found all my photos i took with my little instant camera and scanned them quickly with my iphone so i included them below as well!) 

In 1996, a team of 8 people from Gentle Hands made a trek up into the mountains of Kalinga Apayao 

province. We planned this outreach for months ahead of time. We anticipated eagerly the chance to actually 

meet tribal Filipinos who lived in primitive conditions. We weren’t disappointed!


The first day we drove 11 hours of hard highway driving. By “highway”, we mean a two-lane road, very 

bumpy at times, filled with buses, jeepneys, trucks, motorcycle cabs, bicycles, and people. Our average 

speed was about 40 km. per hour. We stayed overnight in the town of Taguegarao. Early the next morning 

we drove 2 hours to Tabuk, where we spent the day resting and preparing for the next day’s “ascent to the 

tribes”. We had a time of prayer in the evening with the team and some local Christians. 


Next morning we loaded into a jeepney, filled with sacks of rice, vegetables, all our luggage, a guitar, 

Coleman lanterns, a live chicken and about 16 people. Five hours of driving over a narrow one-lane road, 

the main traffic being wild pigs and piglets, climbing higher and higher. At one point, we were stopped 

by a small landslide. We all had to get out. Several other jeepneys were there ahead of us. They took turns 

emptying out their vehicles and the drivers jumped in and gunned the jeepneys over the small mountain 

of earth- just over 2 meters wide and nothing on the other side except a thousand-foot drop. Our jeepney 

roared over it, rocking and swaying, while we stood watching holding our breath. Even Cathee turned 

white! The live pig strapped down on top of the jeepney squalled in terror. I think our driver was showing 

off a little since he had a load of “foreigners”- but contrary to our expectations the jeepney did not flip over 

down the mountain…




Finally we reached a stopping-place, a huge landslide where a mountain had literally collapsed during the 

super typhoon” last October. We piled out, grabbed armfuls of luggage, and began the climb straight up 

the mountainside, over the top, and down the other side, clinging to roots, vines, and anything our hands 

could clutch.


There was a jeepney waiting there, but about 40 people scrambled onto it ahead of us so we decided to wait 

for the next one. Two hours later, in the rain, along came another jeepney. By this time we had been joined 

by a ragtaggle band of Cordillera soldiers, heading for the very village we were going to, to celebrate a kind 

of Independence Day in memory of something that one of Cathee’s ancestors had done many years ago in a 

resistance movement against the government. Lucky she was with us! They were heavily armed but left us 

alone once they found out who she was. Her ancestor is the most famous man in that tribe!

The road by this time had deteriorated and was so narrow in places that it seemed as if the wheels must 

surely be hanging over the edge, and it was straight down thousand of feet to the rushing river in the gorge 

below. The beautiful scenery, cloud-draped mountains, bright green rice terraces, was gorgeous. Crammed 

into the jeep, we craned our necks, while the 10 people riding on the “top load” had a wide-angle view of it 


(The driver of this jeepney seemed to be slightly inebriated. He wore his cap down over his eyes, plus 

sunglasses, even though it was almost dark outside. He placed two of the prettiest girls in the jeepney up in 

the front seat beside him and spent the entire trip looking at them-NOT AT THE ROAD- and flirting with 

them. There was about a foot of play in the steering wheel, but that didn’t bother him. His arm just swung 

back and forth automatically as he nonchalantly cruised along at about 5 km per hour. I wanted to shake 

him till his teeth rattled…Denie)




Then, right on the edge of the narrow trail, a stopping place. Out we climbed. Oh, so stiff! But we still had 

a trek. 486 cement steps down (yes, we counted) the mountain, across the hanging bridge swaying over the 

river, and up another 120 steps, into the village. Walking across the hanging bridge was interesting- the 

boards were old, rotten and widely spaced. My shoes were the size of the holes between the boards.  I had 

to be very careful where my feet went. Our legs felt like rubber. We staggered into the little hut that had 

been prepared for us and collapsed. We were here! 

That evening, after a supper of canned corned beef and rice prepared in the “kitchen” (a smoky room 

on the side of the house with a wood fire on the floor, that’s all) we ministered to the children through 

puppets, singing, and Bible stories, all interpreted by Cathee in their dialect. To see their little faces looking 

up to our window at the puppets, and to hear their laughter, was so rewarding! They especially enjoyed 

Jonathan’s imitation of the serious “spitting” they all do- when he would make the spitting sound, Tracey 

would toss water over his shoulder so it looked like the puppets were actually spitting. We all howled with 





All eight of us bunked into the house, which was actually Cathee’s aunt’s home. Her name is Awwa. We 

strung up sheets for walls, constructed a simple indoor toilet (remember the old chamber pots of many 

years ago???) and settled in for the night. The house has a nipa roof and is up on stilts. The next morning 

after a rather fitful sleep (rats chewing on the nipa roof) we began our medical-dental outreach. The people 

were grateful, but so different from what we’re used to. They chew betel nut constantly, spitting streams of 

red juice everywhere, and both men and women smoke pure tobacco leaves.  We were spattered with red 

spittle by the end of the day. Even the kids spit! Long distances!

Many of the women are tattooed. The children are ragged and filthy with chronic cold symptoms and lots 

of scabies. Cathee is fluent in their dialect since her father was born in that village. She taught them many 

things about caring for their babies and children. Many of the families only have one blanket, so it never 

gets washed- hence the scabies!






Another desperate need in the tribal villages is ecological teaching about their environment. There are 

almost no trees left because they use them for firewood, and none are being replanted. The rain doesn’t 

come as frequently now, and when it does, it washes down the empty hills to the river, filling it with silt. 

The Botbot people cannot make any more rice terraces because of lack of water. Their last rice crop was 

destroyed by grasshoppers. For a cash crop, they grow marijuana, an enterprise financed illegally by 

Europeans who fly in and out secretively by helicopter. 

So many needs- our trip was probably mostly to get a first-hand look at the situation. Help us to pray about 

the most efficient ways to help them be evangelized, and to live a healthier life. There is a little church in 

the village started years ago by Y-WAMers, but they need a full-time worker who can help them to grow as 

a people.


UPDATE: In 1998 Cathee resigned from Gentle Hands and went to live up north so that she could work 

full-time in the tribe. She has been a tremendous blessing in the little church there and does lots of ministry 

with the youth. She is coordinating with her mom’s church in Tabuk, bringing kids from the tribe out for 

youth camps and so on. Pray for Cathee. She is really a warrior! 

Since this update in 1998, Cathee is now married and lives in the tribe with her husband and 2 kids. She delivers babies, teaches the community about God and how to balance nature with godliness.


there is hope in love

nothing could have prepared me for what my heart saw today.

we’re getting a referral patient today, by the way”, smiled my sisterinlaw. great timing too; our new nurse from australia had just arrived the night prior and what a fantastic way to “throw her in” to the lovely craziness.

she (the patient) was referred to us by our doctor who works with us at our foundation… the TB, or tubercliosis, had taken over beyond fixing. and that we, as a foundation, could help her…that we would accept her….that we would love her.

she arrived, skinny, so very skinny. i am not a medical person, although i was a lay midwife, and can recognize people with TB. and indeed she did.

she had been sick for a long time. and they had put some sort of shunt in her side…’to help her breathe”… and had some lessions that my sisterinlaw and the nurse agreed were most probably TB lessions.

her family came with her - her husband and 3 young children. a daughter about 5, a son about 3 and a littler son under 2.

our social worker came and went, as our nurse and i stayed outside with the family. the family would leave her with us, and go back to the province where the husband has a job. she would be all alone here in the metro, sick…so very sick. i was thankful she was with us though, here.

as we were conversing and i tried to get the kids to warm up to me by asking them questions about how old they were and such, i looked at the mom and tears were streaming down her face.

it was right then that i was suddenly aware: i will bet she is wondering if she will ever see her kids again. i wonder if she knows how “far gone” she is? did she wonder if she would recover? suddenly i felt this knot in my heart…wondering how i would feel if i were in her situation. i COULDN’T even imagine what she was thinking and feeling. i swallowed back my tears.

at that moment i went to her i put my arm around her. i was started to feel how skinny she really was, as all i could feel was bones through her clothes. oh sweet mama…

the children were watching their mama…looking quite concerned. i decided i would take some funny photos of the kids, as to try and get them distracted from their silent, weeping mother, who our nurse had traded off with me and come alongside her and was loving her. it worked - the kids were enthralled with getting their photos taken.

then i had an idea - call it a god moment. i suggested we get a family photo so that mommy could have all her kids near to her in her room so she wouldn’t miss them so much. mom bravely smiled, and i could tell tears were just under the surface again.

together, the 5 of them sat before me and i took 3 photos of them. and i did all i could to not cry, as i wondered - was this their last family photo together? it was in this moment that i was reminded that THIS is part of why i am here at this foundation - to document THESE moments.

thinking back to this family and i began to wonder, will this be their last moments together as family? perhaps. yes…maybe it will be. sigh. but we are believing that god can do a miracle and heal this young mothers body.

the tears flowed down mama’s face as the daddy and children said their goodbyes and walked to find a jeep to take them away. the weeping..the deep within yet quiet crying this mother was experiencing almost pushed me over the edge.

as my sisterinlaw gently brought her inside and walked her carefully and slowly up to the isolation room that she would be staying in, i held back a bit and took this photo below with my phone. my sisterinlaw taking this sweet, frail, sick mama’s hand in hers, leading the way. their silhouettes and light at the end of the hallway. it spoke to every part of my being.

here she found herself at our foundation. here she will find and know love and hope in Him. and here, i pray, she will find much peace in this seemingly vast chaos and dispair.

that’s what god does….brings us those who need to be led to love and hope.



an update about the children's home in INDIA

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jonathan’s dad, the project manager for the children’s home in india recently wrote this:

I traveled to Chennai India on March 24 with the main purpose to meet the contractor and builder that I have used before in India. I like his work and he seems very reasonable in his charges. Plus he seems to know what he is doing.

We rented a taxi and drove to Minju - our site. It took a little less than1 hour. One of the first comments he had was the level of the property. The property is the same height a the street and there is no drainage on the street. 
He asked the care taker if the property floods. “Yes”, we were told. If the rain is heavy or long the whole property is flooded. So the first consideration was to realise the whole property needs to be raised 18”.
They took many measurements and have prepared two drawings which I just received yesterday.

Depending on which way we choose to go he will prepare a price on the construction and remodelling of the old building.
Most of our legal work is completed to bring Gentle Hands of India up to date. We have no outstanding obligations from our previous administration and we getting ready to move forward.
The normal practice is to give about 30-50% down payment with some additional payments throughout the project. We will know the full costs as soon as we send the plans back to him selecting the plan we wish to use. 
However we are in the process of studying them and may make other modifications as well.
This coming Monday, I will be back in India. More to come.


exciting times ahead!

the silence has been broken || missionaries to the philippines & asia

its been a year since this blog was updated.

CRAZY right?

but there has been very good reason.


our family photo after the summer from hell (2012) in vancouver ( i know my hair is FANTASTIC!)

long story short - Jonathan has been very sick starting last March 2012 then got some immunization booster in May 2012 that wigged his immune system out and when we landed back in Canada beginning of June, it landed him in the hospital for the longest 8 days of his life.

This is it in Jonathan’s words:

In March I ended up getting really sick in the Philippines. I somehow caught Dengue Fever and Typhoid fever at the same time. rare. just like me. chuckle. needless to say, I was extremely sick and they had difficulty diagnosing as many of the symptoms contradicted each other. 104 fever. heavy sweating. terrible joint pain. high concern for internal bleeding, etc.
3 weeks in bed.

About 2 weeks ago, as we were preparing to come back to Canada to raise support for us, I started feeling off. Low grade fever, slight rash. Didnt think much of it, (ignored it, rather, cuz i had LOTS to do) and kept working.

BUT I did start to notice that some things were off. Sitting in our truck, my legs would go to sleep, I had off and on neck pain, etc. Just little things i attritubuted to the work we were doing.

On the plane ride over, my knees and ankles swelled up terribly…which was very odd, as i travel ALOT and have NEVER had that happen.

When we got to vancouver, i noticed that in voiding my bladder, it burned a bit…my thoughts? geez, i need to drink more water.

On Monday night, june the 4th, we decided i had better go the er as voiding the bladder had become impossible. After some quick invasive tests, ahem, they diagnosed me with prostatitis, game me a catheter and some drugs and said come back in 48 hours…you will be fine.

Thursday, i started feeling funny in my legs. tingling and weak. After some googling, thought i might be a reaction to the latex in the catheter…went back to the er that night. Here is where it gets wierd. in the time we were sitting in the er, i went from tingling to hardly being able to walk. By the time i saw the dr. for the second time i was numb and ‘dead-limbed’ from my sternum down. needless to say they were freaking out.

SO, long story short…i was placed in an isolation room, mri’s (2 in less than 24 hours, both 45mins long - talk about miracles…i got them faster than the vancouver canucks get them), 24 vials of blood taken, two lumbar punctures, catheteters, diapers, immobile, 7 doctors, and thousands of people praying…here is where we are at:

diagnosis? most probably an inflammation of the Myalitis, or A.D.E.M. 1 in 50,000 can get this. it is a rare thing here—somehow viral infection got into my spinal fluid when my immune system was weakened. full recover is expected…BUT it will take some time.

current status? am out of the hospital but cannot really walk yet, i can move slowly and carefully with a walker, just graduated to a cane. i cannot void my own bladder yet. in and out catheters are my best friend. The rehab is looking like it will be long. i am seeing doctors all this week and they are working to get my muscles firing properly in my legs.

so i cancelled all my june appt’s and am planning to preach from a chair in july.”

that is why the silence..the last year has been probably the hardest year of our lives. BUT…we have seen God’s grace in seemingly countless ways. Thinking of them all, always brings tears to our eyes…

SO…here we are..back to the blog. :) i will be posting things that have/are important to us and what we do from past journal entries just so that you can go back and read them.

taking over the world,

The Heppners xoxo

health update!

I’m so excited to post this health report about Jonathan!

Since being sick for over a year, whenever he speaks more than 2 times on a Sunday he would usually be sick/out of commission for several days after.

Although there are still many physical things not yet working properly with organs and nerves I’m so happy that after 3 services today, heIs strength and energy levels are NOT affected!!!

It’s been a rough fee months of plateau. But this is a HUGE thing. We are so grateful!

Thank you all for your continued prayers for his healing and health! :)

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jonathan ripping it up on sunday during his 2nd sermon