Hosea Newsletter November 2020
News Update from the Philippines
We have been hit by three typhoons in a row on Mindoro island -- as if one would not be enough! Typhoons are quite common in Asia, about twenty happening each year. But this time it was expected that the typhoons would be of the same strength as Typhoon Yolanda which came to the Philippines in the year 2013. At that time the winds blew at around 320 km per hour but this time they were a little lower at 280 km per hour. Even so roofs of houses were ripped off and buildings destroyed, with floods following the typhoons.
Let me try and illustrate the power of these typhoons with a couple of examples: a large lorry was completely turned over and the Supercat ferry sank, the same ferry that I've often used to travel from Mindoro back to the mainland. Banana plantations were destroyed and so was the rice crop which had just ripened. So the people's livelihood is no more.
School of Aroma is not damaged
Typhoon bring floods
The Covid19 pandemic has been exhausting enough as it has resulted in severe quarantine measures for most of the past year. But even the fishing boats which had been brought to supposed safety in Aroma harbour were destroyed by the typhoon. Aroma is close to Mamburao City which is renowned as one of the major tuna fishing centres in the world. Our main school in Mamburao was again designated as one of the official evacuation centres during the disaster. To the great surprise of our teachers they found ambulances bringing patients to the school too. "Why are they coming to us?" they wondered in amazement.
Our fervent prayer was that our school in Aroma village would stay safe. It is right next to the sea and the whole area was flooded. Thankfully the third and final typhoon lost some of its strength before hitting Mindoro island. The island of Bihol, which was the site of the typhoon's first landfall, suffered greater damage than Mindoro and there were several fatalities there. It's almost impossible for people that haven't lived through typhoons to understand the immense power of the winds and how horrendous it feels to be caught in them. Now the storms are over, people are trying to collect whatever materials they can find to rebuild their dwellings in order to try and survive day by day.
We are grateful to God that He answered our prayers for Aroma school -- it was spared from damage from the winds and the floodwaters only rose to the level of the stairs. Trees were falling all around the school but not on the building itself, even though other premises in the neighborhood were totally destroyed. Some of the local families have had to move into the school after their homes were flattened. We welcomed all the evacuees and engaged them in Bible studies - Pastor Sonio took very effective advantage of the evacuation in practical ways and nobody complained: he had a group of very avid listeners as disaster rolled around the region!
Food for the hungry
As Hosea is a recognised aid organisation, we have had permission to move around the island freely and thus have been able to deliver food to those in need. Thank you to all of you who have made this possible. Ours is the only school on the island that has been permitted to stay open. Of course we are subject to the normal covid-19 restrictions on the number of pupils, so some have had to follow distance learning, as we cannot fit the full number of pupils in the classrooms. State schools will not reopen until the end of January but we understand that our school has special allowance because of the number of our slum children who have no facilities for distance learning. In spite of the limitations, our pupils continue to succeed because of the excellent work of our teachers, for whom we are very grateful. Not only do they excel in teaching but they are also involved in food distribution and evangelism amongst remote tribespeople. Our tribes outreach on Hope Mountain is growing: the tribespeople there had never heard about Jesus before and nowadays more and more of them are coming to our area.
Our main church has grown in numbers very quickly and now the congregation is too large to fit into the main hall. Our children's work has also expanded rapidly with more and more children from families outside our school coming along and bringing their friends too. They listen keenly to the Bible teaching and participate enthusiastically in other activities arranged during the week. We're also delighted to see how keen the pre-school children are in learning and reciting verses from the Bible. And of course as they do that so their parents benefit from hearing scripture too.
Overall our ministry continues to expand in spite of covid-19 and not just in the Philippines but also in Tonga and Papua New Guinea as well. A big thank you to all our intercessors and donors -- it is through your efforts that our ministry continues to bear fruit and we reap the crop of new believers coming into the Kingdom!
With blessings from all our Hosea members
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,