Hosea Newsletter July 2020
Greetings dear friends
Warm greetings, in the middle of the coronavirus quarantine! Life is continuing, albeit in rather different circumstances than before, which we have to learn to accept as the 'new normal'.
On our Tonga mission field, schools opened at the beginning of the year as usual, and there have been no coronavirus cases on Vava'u Island. Even so, there is still a travel ban on the Tongan islands. Please pray for our headteacher Dorothy who fell ill with cancer and has not been able to go for treatment on the main island. On Tonga, as on many of the Pacific islands, people don't like going to hospital and in fact they have a saying that you only go to hospital to die. I do understand this because most of the hospitals lack vital life saving equipment. Visiting doctors from Australia or New Zealand carry out the more important operations and their visits are rare. As a result the islanders have to put their trust in traditional treatments with various herbs as medicines. Such treatments can in several cases be effective.
Tonga class lesson
Students keen to learn
Class for the younger children
In the Philippines quarantine conditions continue and that has caused many problems in trying to start our schools. It is the month of June when new pupils are accepted and when the school year normally starts.
Because of the quarantine, schools can currently only offer distance learning which may work well in western countries but not in the Philippine islands. How do you offer distance teaching for children from the slums when they don't have any IT equipment and are even short of food? Imaginative solutions are needed to overcome these challenges.
Many private schools that are used to to get their income from fee-paying pupils have been forced to close through lack of funding, and as a result Hosea schools have been overwhelmed with applications. By God's grace we have managed to keep going even though our schools are free for everyone.
But new challenges are just around the corner when pupils return to their classrooms in September and all the facilities are required to be covid-19 secure. Class sizes which previously were limited to 30 must now be reduced to a maximum of 15. We really don't know how this will happen since we already struggle with lack of space and we have already had to phase classes right through the day in order to cope with pupil numbers. It is very difficult to find more slots in the daytime that we can use and of course this affects both existing pupils as well as the new ones.
Food distribution for those not so well off
Our teachers have been busy delivering food throughout the pandemic in order to help the many people that have lost their jobs because of the virus. The government provides food supplies to families that are meant to last them a month, but in reality the amount given only lasts a few days. Hosea has delivered ample food packages in a variety of localities and when children see our delivery coming they run to us calling out that they are so hungry. So our teams quickly get the huge soup pans out of their vehicles and start serving the many hungry children.
At the same time we are preaching the gospel. Our food deliveries have been met with deep gratitude from the recipients and many have been brought to faith. For example at our Aroma slum school five families that have come to faith through receiving food packages and listening to the gospel, have subsequently joined the bible study run by our teacher Daisy. Around 50 people regularly attend the weekly prayer meeting there. People have come to Christ as they have seen the love that we have expressed through Him to our neighbours.
Preparations for distance education at the main school
Hosea's pastor Billy found a new tribe in the Sablayan area and our staff have brought both the gospel and food to this tribe. We are accompanied in such trips by police and military personnel because terrorists still rule in these outlying areas. Pastor Billy also holds weekly Bible studies for police officers.
The pandemic has brought considerable economic difficulties to our ministry because of increased costs but it has also restricted the preaching of the gospel because of the limitations on travel. But we have continued to be fruitful in our ministry there, and even in Papua New Guinea. The main thing is that people have come to faith and that our staff and pupils have stayed healthy, with not one of them catching the virus. Our work during the pandemic has been recognised and greatly appreciated by the island's government.
A huge thank you to all our supporters! Because of your help we will come through this. And another big thank you to Nathan from Norway who has worked so diligently to collect funds for these vital feeding programs.
With my blessings