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,
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,