NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2021
Dear friends of Hosea
Thank you once again for your support, dear friends: in spite of covid-19 we continue to receive big blessings in the Philippines. As a charitable mission we have been able to travel around from place to place with help from the military and the police there, sharing the gospel while distributing food into areas that we have not previously reached. Although our trust is in God's protection, it has been encouraging to have the additional security of the armed forces’ presence with us.
When we opened a new church in the vicinity of Cabacungan, our Hosea staff were anxious whether local people would be able to find it. The original building was in bad shape but it is now undergoing renovations. Our first contacts there were with the local children, to whom we distributed food. Many came and news spread by word of mouth so that whole families soon arrived. At our first meeting the church building was full of adults. Nathan kindly donated chairs for the church hall but now we need more because the building is at capacity.
Hope Mountain Hosea students
Many people from the surrounding tribes came out of curiosity to see what was going on at the church. At the third meeting a number of tribesmen came and asked shyly whether they could be saved and join the church. It is really encouraging to see unbelievers seeking salvation voluntarily, unlike in older times when people would be frightened into it by the preaching of hellfire and damnation. The Lord's presence among his people acts like a magnet to the unsaved. Church meetings for the local children continue to be extremely popular Sunday after Sunday.
We also delivered food packages to elderly folk in the area. No state aid is available for the elderly and the situation is made worse by covid-19 quarantine restrictions and lack of employment opportunities.
One of our teachers who works in Sablayan took into her own home two street boys. She gave them clothing and started giving them home-schooling lessons. Other people in the town heard about her generosity and donated clothes and other necessities for the boys. There are many other children who live on the streets but we don't have the wherewithal to take them in. The real need is for an orphanage for them there but how could this be arranged?
New Hosea Teacher for tribe
Mindoro Island is under quarantine which makes the work of our teachers very difficult because only some of the 300 pupils can come to the Hosea main school at one time. So the teachers try and provide distance learning but of course many of the pupils’ families don't even have electricity, let alone computer facilities. As a result the teaching materials have to be made available on paper for every school. Our copying machines struggle under such demands and one has already broken down.
Our Hosea school on Hope mountain is functioning normally. Being such an isolated area with inhospitable terrain has meant that the virus has not penetrated into the region. Our previous teacher got so tired of climbing up the mountain that he resigned, but God was gracious and we were able to appoint a new young and energetic teacher as a replacement. As you'll understand there is little interest in applying for such work because of the difficult journey, mainly on foot. And in the rainy season teachers have to cut their way through the jungle in order to get up the mountain. But they are rewarded by having very enthusiastic pupils of all ages awaiting their arrival at the mountain school. We also provide breakfast for pupils at the school, cooked by the ladies from the tribe that we have coached, and using pans and provisions from Hosea.
Hosea feeding program
Our main church in Mamburao is full of new members and even the upstairs balcony is in good use. Several new converts come from the police and armed forces with whom Pastor Sonio has been conducting Bible studies. Sonio was invited by the state to teach these officials as a result of an order from President Duterte, referring to the word of God cleansing human hearts as I've previously mentioned. We continue to be really encouraged by the support and collaboration of the police and military. And of course it is good for their reputation to be seen to be working for people's welfare as well as catching criminals and terrorists. A huge thank you to these officials!
Homeless street boy hosea is caring Second homeless boy we are caring
I want to express my gratitude to intercessors and donors, to Nathan, and to our teachers and pastors : your efforts are not in vain. This ministry is not mine but we have a common aim to bring in the harvest. As Theodore Roosevelt said: "Do what you can with what you've got, where you are".
Mangyans had bravely formed a choir and even composed a song. We have now more than 40 adult students in the school, their ages varying from young to old. They told us that they were now able to vote for the first time in the elections. Earlier they had had to give their voting slip to others to fill in, without knowing what they wrote in them, because they could not read or write.
When the Mangyan students were singing their song, I was standing in the back of the church. Suddenly I noticed four small children hiding between benches. Our teacher said that they were our students, and she then went and asked why they were not among the other children. One of them explained with tears, that they were so hungry that they could not go to sing. I was so surprised to learn that they were already 6 year olds, even though they looked more like 2 year olds, skinny and bony small children. Nheng commented that this is due to malnutrition, which is the reason why all these tribespeople are so small: their continuous lack of food stunts their growth. We brought a 40 kg bag rice with us and also other foodstuff and fed them all after the meeting, thanks again to the donors! We made so much food that there was enough for evening meal as well.
Last spring Hosea organized a medical mission for the Mangyan tribe. We also left some medicines with the local Pastor, so the tribespeople could be given help later as well. The Pastor said that some Mangyans come even at night begging for help in their desperation. Also some people from other tribes turned up for medicine and were given some, for it is hard to turn desperate people away without help. Now we are in the process again of collecting funds for another medical mission, which should happen sometime next year.
While we were in the Mangyan village, I recognised that most of them were walking bare foot again. I wondered what had happened to all those sandals which had been donated for them a year earlier. The Pastor laughed and explained that the Mangyans have a peculiar walking style, they step heavily on their heels and that wears out the heels of the shoes very quickly. That means that they will need a new pair of sandals every year. One man had a good pair of sandals slung over his shoulders, so I went and asked him why he didn't use them. The man replied: “I don't want to use them as they would wear out. When they hang on my shoulders everyone can see that I have shoes.” So this man had still good shoes, while others had worn theirs out”¦ Now, who is the wise and where is the wisdom here?
We also distributed a bag full of clothes. Birgit and Ulla went to buy some more and as always the Mangyans put the new clothes on top of their old rags. They can't see any reason why the old clothes should be taken off, so they carry their whole wardrobe with them all the time. The same clothes are worn day and night and the extra clothing keeps them warm at night on the mountains. The price tags are also left on, so everyone can see they are new clothes.
Hosea's second fishing boat is now operating on the eastern side of Mindoro Island (Oriental Mindoro) where it is manned by our Mangyan pastor, thus serving the Mangyans also. There are more fish now on the Oriental side of the island because big Indonesian fishing trawlers have appeared close to the Occidental Mindoro shores (the western side of the island). Occidental Mindoro is facing the open ocean, so Indonesian factory ships come close to the shore and take in all fish, big and small, diminishing the fish population. Locals usually fish with spears, sparing spawning fish for reproduction. They understand the laws of the nature and know that spawn fish are needed to keep fish stocks -- you cannot empty the ocean of fish. Local small fishing boats can't drive away large foreign fishing vessels, so locals are deprived of their fishing livelihood.
The Hosea Filipino team want to send their heartfelt thanks to all the supporters and prayer warriors. They and also our students keep praying for you. They understand that it is because of you, your prayers and your donations, that they have this wonderful opportunity to get an education and thus a good start to their lives. It was really great to meet some of our very first students, the ones with whom we started this ministry in the Philippines. It was so wonderful to see the fruit of this work. Many parents are also saved as they attend our weekly Bible studies.
Great blessings from the islands,