NEWSLETTER LATE MARCH AND APRIL 2016
Greetings from the islands! This month has again passed by very swiftly. Hosea mission work has also been moving forward quickly in the Philippines and the other Pacific islands. God has poured His blessings upon us as we have kept preaching the Gospel.
|Construction work lifting a beam
||Construction work is a time consuming process
The work in the Philippines
In April the Australian Hosea team will travel to the Philippines for a month. The purpose of this trip is once again to reach out to those parts of Mindoro Island where visitors normally never go, and also to visit and preach the Gospel on some nearby islands. The local people are already eagerly anticipating the meetings, as our previous visits have brought such good fruit. We have been told that it is particularly the young people who are looking forward to our visit as many of them had experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit for the first time during our previous trip.
The Hosea church in Cabacunga has continued reaching out to the native tribes. They began their ministry by giving out food, clothing and various other supplies until they had won the trust of the tribespeople, who finally understood that we are genuinely trying to help them. In the past many people have mistreated them, which has caused them to be suspicious of outsiders. They have been excluded from modern society and its social care, but the way has now been opened for evangelising these people.
In addition to food and clothes we have given much needed mosquito nets to the native tribespeople. The mountainous areas where they live, mostly outdoors, are very prone to malaria-spreading mosquitoes, so the nettings have been eagerly awaited. Cabacuga church members have also taught the natives basic skills such as personal and general hygiene. I am so happy to know that we have been able to supply these dear people with good quality clothing too. When I first visited some of them in their home village, their usual clothing was just a piece of old fabric hanging around their waists – hardly any protection from the cold or monsoon rain.
This has been again a new mission field opening for us. I believe that God’s favour has been upon us because we help the poorest of the poor that others ignore. This is work where no medals nor governmental aid is given but as Paul says in his letter to the Philippians (1:11): “…being filled with the fruits of righteousness that are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
News from Tonga and Fiji
Hurricane Winston caused considerable damage in the islands of Pacific Ocean. It first struck Vava’u island of Tonga, where one of our Hosea schools is located. In actual fact Winston struck twice — felling trees, pulling down buildings and blowing roofs off houses. As the storm was raging God’s protective hand hovered over our old building, which we had just renovated. Fortunately the repairs to the roof had just been completed before the storm came, and it withstood the winds. The school building had an old sail covering the roof, as it had started to leak due to its age. We were the only school that could open its doors almost immediately after the storm, and some pupils returned to school straight afterwards, firmly believing that the school building would still be standing. And it was!
Dorothy and the children have planted a vegetable plot next to the school on a piece of land that had been given to us to use for a time. Our intention is to grow some vegetables to sell and to support our school.
Hurricane Winston treated the Fiji islands even more violently, swooping down on them with wind speeds over 200mph. Fiji has two main islands, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu which has all the governmental buildings. In answer to prayer the storm changed course and the strongest winds moved off between the two main islands. Unfortunately the storm did cause severe damage on the smaller islands and the northern parts of Viti Levu, and it turned out to be the strongest storm ever to strike the islands of Fiji. It blew away whole villages and raised a small tsunami which caused significant destruction.
|Cyclone Winston strong winds felled a big tree
||Cyclone Winston another fallen tree
The women of Naveivei Wali village in Tailevu acted so heroically during the storm that I want to tell their story to encourage you and as an example for us. The perseverance and gallantry of these women saved dozens of villagers from the storm that destroyed their homes and also their church and newly built meeting hall.
There were five mums amongst these heroes. One of them carried a disabled 90 year old to safety and four other women who were nursing their newborn babies, also carried elderly people who were too weak to walk. There were only two men in the village, as all the young ones were working on the main island, and only women, children and the elderly were left in the village.
Mrs Vika Sabasaba didn’t let the hurricane slow her down as she carried an 86 year old to safety. Unfortunately the roof of the hall that was supposed to be their shelter was also lost in the fierce storm, so their only hope was the church building. However, even the church’s roof was damaged by the horrendous winds and the villagers trying to shelter there suffered under a massive downpour that must have felt like Niagara Falls. Wisely the ladies decided to crawl under the church floor, where there was just enough room to crouch.
The women pushed the elderly and weakest ones first under the cover of the floor Then, just when they all had managed to crawl in, they heard a loud crash and rumble as the walls of the church fell down and even part of the floor collapsed under the heavy weight. That left them hardly any room in their hiding place but happily they were still all alive. Mrs Sabasaba recounted that her back was so close to the edge of the building that the heavy winds and rain kept beating against her mercilessly. There just wasn’t enough room for all of them.
Another young mother, Sera Navolulai said that mothers wrapped their infants and small children in rugs and then lay on top of the children to protect them from the debris blown around by the cyclone.
The villagers had to stay there throughout the afternoon and evening until midnight, when the winds started to ease off and the worst of the storm was over. Afterwards the islands resembled a warzone with many houses, crops and possessions lost. The sum total of the damage has not yet been evaluated.
Our time on earth is unpredictable and short, just like Job 8:9 says: “...our days on earth are but a shadow”.
But our mission on earth is to glorify God by serving other people and by talking about him to others. God did not give us our talents to be selfish. Our purpose is to tell others about Jesus and about what the purpose of their lives can be.
2 Corinthians 4:15 says: “For all things that happen are for your sakes, so the grace, being multiplied through the many, would cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.”
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,