Waddell Family Update: A Difficult Decision
When COVID-19 began spreading around the world at alarming rates, we, along with all other Global Field Staff, were contacted by our CBM leadership team. They informed us that, if we wanted, we were welcome to return to Canada until the pandemic was under control. When we received that message, it was an easy decision for us to make. Staying here in the Philippines until our Home Assignment, which was already scheduled to begin in early June, to continue our work and support our partners, seemed like the best and right decision. However, since that time things have changed at an extremely rapid rate, here in the Philippines, in Canada, and around the world.
The situation in the Philippines, like in many other countries, is evolving on a daily basis and while the government and medical professionals are doing their best to make wise and informed decisions for the health and safety of all Filipinos, this will be a very long and challenging road. Without getting into the specifics of how this pandemic is affecting the Filipino people, especially the poor and those on the margins, it is clear that COVID-19 is not the only threat to the health and safety of the Filipino people. Other threats, such as, lack of food due to loss of daily work, economic and financial struggles in meeting other essential needs such as maintenance prescriptions, mental health challenges caused by extended periods of isolation, anxiety and stress, and more are having a significant impact on the lives of the most vulnerable. Currently, the Philippines has been in ‘lockdown’ since March 13th (not allowed to leave our houses) and yesterday the President of the Philippines made the decision to extend the lockdown until April 30th with the possibility of further extensions if the virus is not contained. To date, there are approximately 4,000 confirmed cases with only about 25,000 tests conducted. The government is hoping to begin mass testing this week, which we’re certain will lead to a rapid increase in confirmed cases.
All of this to say, a few days ago we were contacted by the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines, strongly advising us to return to Canada. Of course, air travel has been suspended here since the lockdown began, but the Canadian government has made special arrangements with the Philippine Government and Philippine Airlines to provide a dedicated flight from Manila to Toronto for Canadian citizens and permanent residents still in the Philippines. They have also made special arrangements for sweeper flights to pick Canadians up from various regions around the Philippines. They have listed Iloilo airport as one of the pick-up locations, which is about a 3 hr drive from our home. This special flight departs Manila on April 14th.
We are not being forced to go. The decision is still ours to make and we have been really torn about what we should do, as a family. We certainly don’t want to make the decision to stay here, in hopes that our previously scheduled flight in June (for our Home Assignment) will go ahead, and then later regret it. While at the same time, we don’t want to neglect the work that God has called us to here with our partners, especially in a time of need. However, at the end of the day we know we need to make a decision that is best for the long-term health and safety of our family.
All of this to say, after much thought and prayers, and conversations with our leadership in Canada, we have made the decision to take the Embassy of Canada’s advice, with the full support of CBM’s leadership and return to Canada next week, provided we can secure our seats on this dedicated flight.
We spoke with our partners, Kabuganaan Philippines Ministries, to discuss our earlier than planned return to Canada. They are completely supportive of our decision and have assured us of their blessing. Essentially, since the beginning of the lockdown in Mid-March, our work with our partners has all been restricted to video conferencing, text messaging, and e-mail, so we don’t anticipate anything changing in that regard whether we are in the Philippines or in Canada. We will continue to support them throughout this difficult time and we’ll be ready for the day when we are able to return to Roxas, Capiz.
This is one of the hardest decision we’ve ever had make, as Global Field Staff. Trying to weigh the risks with so much unknown, wanting to keep our kids safe and secure (physically and emotionally), not wanting our partner to feel like we’re abandoning them in the midst of crisis, our own feelings of ‘are we being bad missionaries for making this decision’, etc… have really weighed heavily on us, BUT we take great comfort in knowing that you, along with so many others, are praying for us.
Michael & Melanie (Kyla, Sean, Carter, & Allie)
Our partners in the Philippines, Kabuganaan Philippines Ministries (KPM), in collaboration with other institutional partners (Capiznon (Kasapulanan) Baptist Churches Inc., Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches Inc, Convention Baptist Ministers Association-Capiz Chapter, Capiz Emmanuel Hospital), are responding to the needs of individuals and families in Capiz province who are serving on the frontline, or who have been badly affected by COVID-19. Canadian Baptist Ministries is receiving donations to provide aid for marginalized families who have been affected by COVID-19.
For more information on CBM’s work around the world, including the Philippines, or to donate please visit www.cbmin.org or call 1-905-821-3533.
If you are interested in becoming a Partner-in-Mission with our family, 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