NEWSLETTER MARCH 2017
Our Australian missionary Trevor Majoinen has recently returned from the Philippines where he was hosting a discipleship school for the local people. Mauno Lappalainen from Finland’s Hosea team gathered English bible teaching material into a package which Trevor used in the course. He was just the right person to deliver this training because he himself had participated in a discipleship school in Hawaii lasting three months. Of course, this teaching material had to be tailored to suit the country and the people there but it was worth all the efforts. The seminar in Mamburao city was a big success The original plan was to teach only Hosea church members but then outsiders too came along, keen on joining us. So the venue was quickly filled.
The programme included also material about Christian education. Our Hosea teachers and pastors took part in the training but in addition to them there were many teachers from other schools and a representative from the Department of Education. I am so happy that our local schoolteachers attended the training too. Also, some pastors from other churches joined the course which was great. I wish Finland would see such a spirit of cooperation in the Christian community: that we would not see each other as competitors but would instead understand the power of cooperation! After all, we are not at war with each other but instead against the spiritual dark forces of this world.
The workload of our teachers working with the Mangyan tribes must be double that of our other teachers. They start their work early in the morning, long before school starts: their first job is to go and find their students from the bushes and shacks and try and persuade their parents to let them come to school again. Often the parents keep wondering why their children should go to school today, as they were there last week already! The concept of attending school daily on weekdays and at certain times is foreign to the remote tribes people as for them education is not an obligation. Parents often have no understanding of the value and importance of education for the future of their children as they themselves have never attended a school in their lives. We do however have some adult tribes people as students in our schools, who really want to learn, succeed in study, and improve their living conditions.
We are still a long way away from having a high literacy rate. Sometimes the native people feel that they will not benefit at all from being able to read since they do not have any books. Most of them have never seen a book or even a picture. Their life just revolves around their own tiny hut in their small village. This of course gives rise to many problems: tribes become inbred and people have many illnesses and a general lack of essential items. In these circumstances our teachers have to remind people over and over again about the importance of education.
During the monsoon times our teachers need to live with the tribes since the natives live in mountainous areas far away from the rest of society. The heavy rains make travelling there very difficult or even impossible as the roads and paths become waterlogged. This type of mission work really demands high levels of commitment and God-given passion. I am very thankful for and really do honour these pioneer teachers who have given so much to these dear tribes people. They have made a lot of sacrifices, giving up modern luxuries as their calling has brought them to very primitive places to share God’s love.
|Hosea Mangya school
I am grateful too for the Hosea Pastors who give so much of their time to teach the basics of Christianity in the Mangyan community churches. Often they have to travel and walk for hours to get up to the mountains to these remote tiny villages to reach these people for Christ. Life is full of choices and they have chosen this role, which many others would not choose. I also honour our other Hosea Pastors who work so hard to share the Gospel with people around them. There are now sixteen of them altogether and they also travel around from community to community preaching the Gospel, as the modern-day apostles.
The school year is nearing an end. This month our schools will have their end of year celebrations but before that our teachers arranged a quiz. I was so happy to hear about our students’ performance - even very small children were able to answer difficult questions. It also amazes me that many of the students can read in two languages, Tagalog and English.
|Building workers contructing the motel
|Building close up photo
Our Motel building construction is continuing as the funds come in. I am surprised how far we have come in just one year. There was again a training event for the public officers from the whole Mindoro Island, held in Mamburao. All possible motels were booked full and many of these officers were left without a place to sleep. They came to our school and asked if they could use the classrooms as their accommodation for that week as there was no other place for them. I just wished that our motel would have been ready!
Now to the news of the good progress of our Tonga school. The new school year started there at the beginning of February and our teacher Dorothy tells me that a large number of this year’s students are from Mormon background. Dorothy’s two new teachers come from the Fiji Island just like Dorothy herself. Dorothy’s husband told me that one morning he found his wife crying, so he asked her what had happened. Dorothy replied: “Nothing, I am just so happy that I need to cry”!
|The buckets protect from the rain
This past year has not been easy for her because her son had to undergo heart surgery and because we almost lost our school building. The school was in need of urgent renovations because it had a leaky roof after damage from the recent hurricane. During the rainy season the pupils had to sit surrounded by and holding buckets in order to stay dry. I can now look back and see the funny side but of course at the time it was far from funny - the school was falling apart and a newer building was nowhere to be found. Many such issues happened in a short space of time and we felt quite desperate at times. But thanks to all the donors, we managed to get the building renovations done. As a lovely surprise, several men from other churches came to help in the renovation work too. We also obtained a lease agreement for the building for ten more years and we have been allowed to use the land next to the school.
An Australian heart specialist “happened to visit” Tonga just at the time when Dorothy’s son fell ill and was in need of urgent help. Of course we Christians know that there is no such thing as coincidences. All is in God’s hands. Dorothy was so deeply touched by the care of our Heavenly Father. When God gives a mission task, He brings it forward so that it bears good fruit.
I thank you for all your prayers. Without them the mission work would not go forward and we would not be able to manage. A big thank you for your donations also. The school children pray for you too as they know that they would not get education without you. Remember also our teachers! Their work is also mission work for them. Some of them could have gone and taught in public schools with better pay but instead of financial gain they have chosen to step into the unknown and to teach at a small school for Christ’s sake.
A Medical Mission will be arranged again in April. Our dear friend Nea Reis from Finland will be there helping with it all. Thank you in advance Nea for being willing to come again! I am so happy that there are young people who have heard the call to the mission work. As someone whose own younger years are long gone (!), I am delighted to see younger people being raised up to take the baton.
With my blessings,