New Beginnings: Our Return to the Philippines
Well, it has been quite some time since we shared an update here so, we have lots to share with you! We had an amazing Home Assignment where we spent 3 1/2 months visiting churches, supporters, friends, and of course family. Everywhere we went we felt loved and encouraged (and well fed). It was a very busy season for our family but we enjoyed every minute of it, even when we had to drive for many hours to reach our destination. Thank you, thank you, thank you to each church that welcomed us, encouraged us, supported us, and fed us during our home assignment!
We left Moncton, New Brunswick on September 1st to return to the Philippines to begin our 2nd term with Canadian Baptist Ministries, arriving on September 2nd, which happened to be our 18th wedding anniversary. It wasn’t the most romantic way to spend our anniversary but we were thankful to be together on this journey. We spent a few days in Manila to begin the application process for our visas (so we can stay here for 2 years), before heading to our new home in Roxas City, Capiz in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. We will be living in Roxas City for the next season of our life as we focus our ministry/work on strengthen our partnership with Kabuganaan Philippines Ministries (KPM) as we seek to support one another in doing Integral Mission in communities throughout Capiz province, which will include sustainable community development through business training and development.
We love Roxas City for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a beautiful little city (about 100,000 population) that sits on the edge of the Philippines Sea and is known as the ‘Seafood Capital of the Philippines’. Secondly, Roxas City has a provincial or rural feeling to it, which for us coming from rural New Brunswick feels much more comfortable than the mega-city of Manila. The main reason why we love Roxas City though is because of the people. We have felt so welcomed and accepted here as we settle into our new surroundings and we’re very thankful for that. We get to serve alongside the best group of people, led by Rev. Job & Phoebe Santiago, who serve God and His people through the ministry of KPM.
We had a few days to get over ‘jet leg’ and get settled in our home before welcoming a SENT Team from Mississauga City Baptist Church (MCBC) to Capiz province for 2 weeks. They were an amazing group of 9 people who clearly loved the Lord and want to serve Him. Although it was tough welcoming a team so soon after our arrival, we were deeply blessed by this team and are thankful for the ministry they shared here in Capiz.
SENT Team: MISSISSAUGA CITY BAPTIST CHURCH
Pastor Sheldon Dyck sharing a greeting with the children and parents from Maludlud. Maludlud is an indigenous mountain community that took us almost 2 hours to hike to, but worth every minute and all the effort.
The SENT Team was accompanied by some of the youth in the community who insisted on helping to carry the teams bags and helping them climb the rough terrain.
The team had a free day due to some changes to their schedule as a result of an incoming typhoon (which never did come). So, they asked if they could visit some of the patients at the Capiz Emmanuel Hospital, a mission hospital operated by the Baptist Churches in Capiz province. It was an amazing experience to see the team share words of encouragement with the patients and to pray for them. This may have been a spontaneous activity, but God was definitely in it.
On that same day, the team went to Baybay (beach) and shared the gospel through song with children who live in informal settlements along the shores of the beach. It was a moving experience to see these children singing along and bowing their heads for prayer.
One of the many blessings in the Philippines is the availability of many different fresh fruits. In the above picture Pastor Job climbed a small guava tree to pick some dress guava for the team to try.
If you or your church are interested in exploring opportunities to join a SENT Team in the Philippines (or another country where CBM is working) please check out BESENT.ca and/or contact Adrian Gardner at the CBM office.
Our move to Roxas City has meant several changes for our family. One of the most significant changes is with our children’s schooling. We made the decision to homeschool our kids using Tree of Life homeschool from Weston, New Brunswick. Although there have been several bumps along the way, our kids are really enjoying their studies. As parents, we are students too, having to learn how best to support our kids and their educational needs. We ask for your prayers as we continue to develop routines, learn the curriculums, and establish ‘best practices’ that will enhance their homeschooling experience.
Being away from family is always the most difficult during holidays. As you know, Thanksgiving occurred just several weeks after we arrived back in the Philippines. We knew that this would be a difficult time for us as we reflected on the things that we were thankful for while missing our family. We decided to have our own Thanksgiving meal and invite Job & Phoebe and their family to join us for a ‘Canadian’ experience of Thanksgiving. They were thrilled to receive the invitation and we all enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship and food.
We were beyond excited when we discovered that we could buy a Butterball Turkey from a store in a neighbouring city. We served a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal with all the fixings.
There were to many of us to fit around one table so the kids had to sit by them selves with their new friend Joash (Job & Phoebe’s grandson).
TAKING TIME TO RECHARGE
Around the end of September, we were becoming increasing aware of the fact that we needed a break to recharge after an extended season with a very full schedule. So, we did some research, found a very nice beach about 1 1/2 hours from our home with nice ‘tent like’ accommodations. We enjoyed 4-nights and 5-days of family-bonding, rest and relaxation, and lots of swimming at one of the nicest places we’ve visited in the Philippines.
The beach was beautiful
As is the case in almost all coastal communities in the Philippines, fishing was one of the main sources of employment and income. This is a small boat used for fishing called a ‘banka’.
Dried fish is a very popular food in the Philippines. This was the first time we had seen the process used to dry their fish. They are laid out on woven bamboo racks and left in the sun to dry for approximately 1 1/2 days. They flip them over every so often to ensure that they are drying evenly on both sides.
We are so thankful for the faithful prayers of so many churches and individuals back in Canada. Without your prayers we would surely not be able to sustain our life and ministry here in the Philippines. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Here are a few specific items that you can be praying for:
- Please pray for our family as we adjust to life in a new city and region of the Philippines. There are several differences in language, culture, and practices here in Capiz province that we are growing accustom to.
- Please pray for our children as they continue to adjust to homeschooling. Please pray that we will know how best to support and encourage our children in their schooling.
- Please pray for us as we seek a language tutor that can assist us with learning the Ilonggo language.
- Please pray for Kabuganaan Philippines Ministries and the growing partnership with Canadian Baptist Ministries.
- Please pray for Michael as he travels to Mindanao this weekend to conduct a business training with a small group of leaders.
Thank-you for your continued support and interest in our ministry. We have been humbled by the support and encouragement we have received and are so thankful for generous and faithful people like YOU who make it possible for our family to do what God has asked us to do!
If you are interested in becoming a Partner-in-Mission please contact Barb Keys (firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-905-821-3533) at Canadian Baptist Ministries. You can also visit their website at www.cbmin.org to give online or for more information. We are only able to follow God’s leading in our lives thanks to the monthly support of generous individuals and churches.
All donations of $10.00 or more will receive a charitable tax receipt at year end.
Michael & Melanie
Kyla, Sean, Carter & Allie