Newsletter December 2014
I wanted to send you one more newsletter to this year as my friend's
Ulla Kilpiö and Birgit Majoinen travelled with me to their first Mission trip to
the Philippines. They were so exited to see what the God is doing there
amongst the Philippine people. Please read below their reports of Mission trip
written by Ulla and Birgit.
God bless you all mightily
Visit Report by Ulla Kilpiö
On Sunday 16th November I returned from the Philippines, where I visited Hosea Ministry's schools and churches. From the very beginning it was clear that this trip was prepared through prayer – a big thank you to all intercessors! Nothing was lost, broken or stolen and we were healthy, didnʻ´t catch even the smallest stomach bug etc. The weather was also very good as typhoons stayed away while we were there. Typhoons and other natural disasters tend to have longer term effects, not just some momentary discomfort as the roads quickly turn muddy and travelling can stop completely for a while on land, sea and air. What a Grace of God we had!
Hoseaʻ´s main school in the Philippines is on Mindoro Island, in its capital city called Mamburao. That is where we stayed most of the time. The school building also provides a home for the head teacher Nheng and a few other teachers as well. In addition to that Nhengʻ´s parents Pastors Edwin and Nena Sonio have their house in the schoolyard.
When we arrived at Mamburao, there was a big poster with Anneʻ´s picture and warm welcoming words at the school's front gate. We could clearly see how greatly the local people appreciate Anne's work in the Philippines. I was prepared to go with meagre food in this poor country but the locals served us delicious meals several times a day. Hospitality and eating together is a very important part of Filipino culture.
We also felt a little bit like filmstars. After every meeting, there was a photo session and more and more people came to have their pictures taken with us, so much so that it was a bit difficult to leave to continue our tour! Mindoro Island does not attract many tourists, so we three blondes caught everyoneʻ´s attention, and it was easy for us also to find each other in the crowds. I was the tallest in the group and thus easiest to see but I have got used to that on my trips in Asia. The attention in the Philippines was friendly and warm, so it did not bother me.
Birgit and Ulla with several of the teachers
We were privileged to enjoy travelling in the newly purchased car. All these years the family Sonio has travelled by a three-wheeler. It is fine and handy for short local trips, but on longer trips it is pretty bone-jarring, slow and bumpy ride. During the last few years a van has been rented for Anne's team to carry all the people and loads of donated goods as well. Now this money can be used to help the poor.
We had beautiful weather almost all the time but the weather can change suddenly in the Philippines. The rain can be very heavy and soak everything in seconds. I can just imagine how Pastor Sonio's weekly faithful aid trips have been hampered by soaking rain and muggy heat. Roads have been renovated but the tarmac can suddenly end and after that you again suffer a potholed bumpy ride amidst large stones. On mountain roads the three-wheeler was about to fall apart under the heavy load of food aid and clothing, so Pastora Nena had to walk the last few kilometres to the destination. The car is an absolute necessity and blessing and I greatly rejoiced seeing the help it is giving to the work.
We visited Hosea's five churches and five schools and participated in church meetings and school celebrations. It soon dawned on me that all visitors were expected to give a speech which Pastor Sonio interpreted into the Takalog language. Naturally Anne was the main speaker, so Birgitta and I were first called to come in front to share our thoughts before it was Anne's turn to speak. I am not accustomed to speak with microphones but it worked out well. At the end of each church meetings we went to pray for people, as they lined up before each of us. In Finland everyone would like Anne to pray for them but here we exotic visitors were accepted as well. For me personally it was a step to trust in the Lord, that He does all the work, so it was not my business to look to myself. We had also many spontaneous opportunities to pray for needy people and it was our privilege to minister to these dear people.
We met many wonderful people, lovely children and saw great presentations at schools. It was great to see the beautiful nature, mountains, ocean and lush greenery around us in Mindoro Island. In the midst of apparent lack and poverty it was astounding to see people who were so joyful and enterprising, and I wondered how on earth it was possible that people living in the slums without proper amenities could keep themselves and their children so clean? It was also deeply moving to see how the local Hosea team do their important ministry work among the native Mangyan tribe people who are commonly despised and neglected and for whom nobody seems to care. We joined the local team and travelled to a mountain village, where we had the opportunity to distribute food and clothing to the Mangyans. During this year Hosea has also founded a church and school for these tribespeople. The school also has a class for adults, so that they too can learn to read, write and count.
I believe that this trip will have long lasting effects on my life. Certain things stand out as precious pearls, and the Filipino people and Hosea's ministry in the Philippines has been powerfully embedded in my heart. I am very thankful for being able to join Anne on this trip.
With Blessings, Ulla
My First Trip to the Philippines – Birgitta Majoinen
With great interest and anticipation I departed from Brisbane with Anne towards Manila to see the Hosea Mission schools and churches. My husband Trevor had already made two trips there and had recounted many stories about the ministry, but of course I had to experience it for myself too.
At first we made a four hour long drive in the chaotic traffic to the outskirts of Manila to the new congregation. Our driver was fantastic and handled the traffic jams expertly. When we arrived at this new church we found out that there was an eager crowd waiting for us and expecting God's presence to come, and they weren't disappointed. This is a very promising new church.
Birgit with the Hosea pupils
|Ulla with the Hosea children
Then we travelled to Mindoro Island and to its capital city, Mamburao. Hosea's main school is located there. The Foundation Day parade was a great success, with huge crowds present and all the dignitaries in the town square, with speeches from us and from Anne, who was the main speaker. In the evening we had a meeting for students' parents and relatives, and we had the opportunity to pray with all of them. Many people were open to the gospel and seeking God for their life.
Hosea's Church in Bulalacao was the most impressive one, as it has grown very fast and is spiritually powerful. The native Mangyans are almost illiterate, but they are sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Their life is the poorest of the poor and their needs are almost unbearable to perceive. I really broke down when I saw 12 and 13 year old mothers with small babies, themselves being yet hardly teenagers. Their needs are so huge both materially and spiritually; it's hard to imagine that such conditions still exist in some parts of this world. I really want to thank all the supporters for this precious work Hosea is doing.
Back to Mamburao school - I was woken up at around 4.30am by a loud noise from downstairs. I went to investigate -- what was going on? A group of women had gathered together for early morning prayer, so I joined them. They told me that every day they get together just to pray for themselves, for the church, the school and for revival. It was very surprising to find such commitment and dedication here. It greatly encouraged me to believe that the blessing of the Lord is upon this ministry.
The Filipino Christians are hard working, faithful believers who do their best for the Lord. That really touched my heart. I thank Anne and Ulla for this wonderful trip and for their friendship. I want to encourage all the supporters of this ministry: this work is fruitful and precious in God's eyes. I have many good and happy memories from this trip and I will keep on praying for this work of God more than ever before.
With blessings from Birgitta.
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,