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Through circumstances beyond our control, our family found ourselves in the Philippines in 1985. As a part of that circumstance we were going to have to share a house with another family, whom we did not know. The family was the Balitons, Mel and Ruth and at that time Willy was still living at home. How would this work? Two families, two different cultural backgrounds, and one house? Even people of the same cultural background have trouble living in the same place, but here we were, so—we were prepared to make the best of it until our visas could be straightened out for South Korea. Frankly, I don’t remember one time when there was a conflict. We had some trouble keeping our children out of “Aunt Ruth” and “Uncle Mel’s” (which our children now in their ’40s still call them) apartment area. But they knew they were always welcome. On numerous occasions we had the privilege of Filipino parties spilling out all over the house as Ruth’s good food was distributed and friends and family poured in. Because of the close proximity we were always treated as a part of the family, whatever the occasion. When moving day came, about a year later, and we went our separate ways as families, it was a day of sadness, a few tears were shed. During those days Mel was the Wesleyan Church’s National Treasurer, and I had the privilege of traveling all over Luzon with him on public transport. These were journeys of fellowship, sharing and learning from each other. It was a time blessed by the Lord as changes were coming into the Filipino Wesleyan Church. It was my privilege to have a very small part of that at the side of my friend and brother Mel Baliton. As I am sure you will see as his story unfolds, there is a kind firmness in all that Mel does. Once he knows what God wants, “that’s it then.” I have heard him say that often when he was sure of something. There will be good humor and kindness for the human weakness of others, but once the path is known, the path is not strayed from, and Ruth will be right beside him all the way. If you don’t know my friend Mel, you will be blessed by his life. If you do know him, you already have been. Dr. John H. Connor Pacific Area Director Global Partners

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