NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2017
My Dear Friends,
I hope you are all doing well. We have been blessed by many friends visiting us in the Philippines. A big thank you to all those who made the long trip to the other side of the world to strengthen and encourage us in our ministry. I am also very thankful for those who are with us in spirit by praying or giving donations. Without prayer nothing moves forward. Evangelism is not a solo effort but as the scripture says, we all together work for bringing the Word of God to those who do not yet know Him.
We have also been privileged to observe the energetic group of young people who came over from Finland to do mission work on the island, or should I say the Norwegian-Finnish group. Hosea organized a youth meeting which was a real success, the end result of which was a baptism service by the seaside. And that was not all: these young visitors also went to preach the gospel on the streets, in slum areas and visiting house to house. People openly wanted to be prayed for. These young people can tell their stories in an upcoming newsletter about the mission work, but now we share what Ulla and Jaana have told about their visit to Mamburao and surrounding areas.
|Jaana is preaching to the natives
Jaana’s news from the Philippines:
In November 2016 I had the opportunity to visit the Philippines for the second time with Anne. The trip was a really blessed one. It was great to see how the mission work on Mindoro Island is moving forward. The teachers and church leaders are really devoted to what they are doing, giving of their very best. Hosea is like a big family and we felt so much at home.
We had the opportunity to visit the schools and their annual celebrations where the students and their mums gave a performance by worshiping and dancing to give praise to God. This was the tenth anniversary celebration of our schools and it was held in Mamburao with the local city leaders and officials attending too. They gave their own speeches and thanked Hosea for the valuable contribution to the area, and with wishes that it would continue in the future. At the end of the event we were invited to pray for them at the office of the city governor and vice governor. When we went to their office, there were also some photographers who took photos as we prayed for the city officials.
God has done great work through Hosea in Mamburao and also elsewhere on Mindoro Island. Let us all pray for the teachers that they would be strengthened to continue their work on their quite limited wages for their demanding jobs. It would be wonderful if you would want to start supporting Hosea monthly by giving towards the salaries of these precious teachers. There are so many children who want to attend the school, and Hosea wishes to start more schools, but for this we would need more funds.
|A group is praying in a house
We also had the opportunity to visit two Mangyan tribe villages during this trip. I was very moved by the fact that these people, both children and adults, know so little about the outside world. They have lived in their villages quite separated from outsiders, as other people have rejected them. Hosea keeps bringing them much needed food, clothing and medicines and also teaches the tribespeople to read.
It was again so encouraging to see how lively the churches are and how deeply and sincerely the leaders love Jesus. That is why the Holy Spirit can freely work there. The Filipino people are open and friendly. That said, there is a lot of hardship and brokenness in the country that people are often reluctant to talk about openly. There are many divorced single mums that take care of the children by themselves, or perhaps their husbands might work far away or even overseas, trying to earn a living for their family. People are in need of inner healing and to have their burdens eased. It was such a joy to see how the Holy Spirit healed and made people free during the church services and the prayer ministry times.
I also have on my heart the Mamburao hotel that is being built next to the main school. When it is completed, it will be a big help for the continuity of the Hosea schools as the aim is to get these schools to become self sufficient. Next to the hotel there is the recently reopened airport which will bring customers to the Hosea hotel.
We would like to encourage you to participate in this very important ministry which is so dear to God, even though it is the other side of the world.
|Ulla and the Sablayan teacher Jane
Ulla’s travel story:
It was such a great joy to once again meet our Hosean Filipino friends.-- family members who are so dear to me. Many things had moved forward a lot over the last two years and it was very encouraging to see how God really works and answers our prayers.
The hotel is such a great answer to prayer. It has been prayed for and preparations for the building done over many years, as plans were made and then remade, often involving many setbacks and difficulties. But now I was able to see with my own eyes the hotel building rising up next to the school in Mamburao. Such a big step in getting Hosea schools to be self sufficient. Hosea still needs more funds to see the project finished but we trust in God that He will finish what He has started. The reopening of the airport, of which Anne has already told in previous newsletters, has also been a real miracle. Years ago when the pieces of land were purchased for the school and later for the hotel, there were no specific plans to open the airport. And yet now that has come true.
At the school celebration events the lovely little pupils had once again practiced carefully for their performances, with both teachers and parents going to great lengths to plan the choreography and create the props. The children were so excited that some of them forgot what they were supposed to do, with such a huge crowd of people sitting in front of them -- especially with us three odd-looking pale people in the front row!
New church buildings have been built since my previous visit, showing how diligent and productive the Filipino people are. One particular church (humbly named ‘San Francisco’) gathers for prayer and worship in a building that has only just had the wall tiles put in. The roof is a temporary solution and the floor is dirt. We Western people have lot to learn from their attitude. This unfinished church building had electricity, so the sound of the worship team and the preaching were spread widely around as the loudspeakers had been put on high volume. What an effective and natural way of spreading the Good News to the neighbours.
All of the visitors were expected to speak at every church meeting. We had to give quite some thought about how to speak so that the listeners would understand the message, as some of them were only familiar with their local surroundings. We did not want to give wrong examples in our speeches or talk about our own lifestyles. So we just used some universal examples when giving our talks, speaking about the longing for our Heavenly Father, family and other relationships, nature and health issues. Deep inside we all have the same kind of problems even though our lives may be looking very different from those in other parts of the world. Hearts did connect even though we did not speak the same language.
We felt that it was also important to show the local Hosea team how much we value their amazing input to the mission work. We wanted to encourage and refresh them in the midst of their busy work. They seem to have a really good team culture and any problems they face they seem to resolve creatively through their own network of people. Pastor Sonio is a good example of a man who seems to be able to do almost everything. In addition to his work as a pastor he has built his own house and helped to build the school too. He has carved beautiful decorations on the furniture he constructed and he can play various instruments, interpret and work as a car driver if needed. He also trains other pastors and he fathers those who are lacking a father figure in their lives etc etc. Everyone seems to bring their many talents and serve for the good of other people, thus being a great blessing to each other.
I am thankful that I was able to be part of the team! In the Hosea mission work donations really do go to the purpose to which they have been given. They are not used to run any kind of western organisation. What feels like a small amount of money to us, can achieve a lot in the Philippines, thus producing a plentiful crop. Please let us remember these dear people also in our prayers as that is the most important support.
With my blessings, Ulla
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,