Hosea Newsletter November 2020
News Update from the Philippines
We have been hit by three typhoons in a row on Mindoro island -- as if one would not be enough! Typhoons are quite common in Asia, about twenty happening each year. But this time it was expected that the typhoons would be of the same strength as Typhoon Yolanda which came to the Philippines in the year 2013. At that time the winds blew at around 320 km per hour but this time they were a little lower at 280 km per hour. Even so roofs of houses were ripped off and buildings destroyed, with floods following the typhoons.
Let me try and illustrate the power of these typhoons with a couple of examples: a large lorry was completely turned over and the Supercat ferry sank, the same ferry that I've often used to travel from Mindoro back to the mainland. Banana plantations were destroyed and so was the rice crop which had just ripened. So the people's livelihood is no more.
School of Aroma is not damaged
Typhoon bring floods
The Covid19 pandemic has been exhausting enough as it has resulted in severe quarantine measures for most of the past year. But even the fishing boats which had been brought to supposed safety in Aroma harbour were destroyed by the typhoon. Aroma is close to Mamburao City which is renowned as one of the major tuna fishing centres in the world. Our main school in Mamburao was again designated as one of the official evacuation centres during the disaster. To the great surprise of our teachers they found ambulances bringing patients to the school too. "Why are they coming to us?" they wondered in amazement.
Our fervent prayer was that our school in Aroma village would stay safe. It is right next to the sea and the whole area was flooded. Thankfully the third and final typhoon lost some of its strength before hitting Mindoro island. The island of Bihol, which was the site of the typhoon's first landfall, suffered greater damage than Mindoro and there were several fatalities there. It's almost impossible for people that haven't lived through typhoons to understand the immense power of the winds and how horrendous it feels to be caught in them. Now the storms are over, people are trying to collect whatever materials they can find to rebuild their dwellings in order to try and survive day by day.
We are grateful to God that He answered our prayers for Aroma school -- it was spared from damage from the winds and the floodwaters only rose to the level of the stairs. Trees were falling all around the school but not on the building itself, even though other premises in the neighborhood were totally destroyed. Some of the local families have had to move into the school after their homes were flattened. We welcomed all the evacuees and engaged them in Bible studies - Pastor Sonio took very effective advantage of the evacuation in practical ways and nobody complained: he had a group of very avid listeners as disaster rolled around the region!
Food for the hungry
As Hosea is a recognised aid organisation, we have had permission to move around the island freely and thus have been able to deliver food to those in need. Thank you to all of you who have made this possible. Ours is the only school on the island that has been permitted to stay open. Of course we are subject to the normal covid-19 restrictions on the number of pupils, so some have had to follow distance learning, as we cannot fit the full number of pupils in the classrooms. State schools will not reopen until the end of January but we understand that our school has special allowance because of the number of our slum children who have no facilities for distance learning. In spite of the limitations, our pupils continue to succeed because of the excellent work of our teachers, for whom we are very grateful. Not only do they excel in teaching but they are also involved in food distribution and evangelism amongst remote tribespeople. Our tribes outreach on Hope Mountain is growing: the tribespeople there had never heard about Jesus before and nowadays more and more of them are coming to our area.
Our main church has grown in numbers very quickly and now the congregation is too large to fit into the main hall. Our children's work has also expanded rapidly with more and more children from families outside our school coming along and bringing their friends too. They listen keenly to the Bible teaching and participate enthusiastically in other activities arranged during the week. We're also delighted to see how keen the pre-school children are in learning and reciting verses from the Bible. And of course as they do that so their parents benefit from hearing scripture too.
Overall our ministry continues to expand in spite of covid-19 and not just in the Philippines but also in Tonga and Papua New Guinea as well. A big thank you to all our intercessors and donors -- it is through your efforts that our ministry continues to bear fruit and we reap the crop of new believers coming into the Kingdom!
With blessings from all our Hosea members