This year’s Mission Trip was an exceptional experience for the Team who went. It offered some great opportunities for us to provide support and care to the people we connected with in the Philippines and also provided special learning and faith growing experiences for the members of the Team.
When we landed in the Philippines we stayed two nights in Manila which allowed us to visit a number of sponsor children in the slums of Balubad and Orlandes. In Balubad we had signs written on the walls welcoming us as visitors to the area. Our hosts were Sherwin and Pearly who are members of the Vineyard team along with a number of mothers of sponsor children who as volunteers ensured our visit was a success. In Orlandes one of our team, Jess, had an emotional meeting with her sponsor child of nine years. Jess described this as the best thing that had ever happened in her life experiences.
We then travelled to Ligao where Ps Choi and Alma live. They welcomed us and ensured that we were well looked after for our stay with them. The Ligao market was one of the first places we visited. This proved to be an interesting visit as one of our team was almost knocked over by a man carrying a just slaughtered pig over his shoulders to a bench where he then proceeded to cut it into pieces that could be sold. Other fresh produce was also available for sale in this market place.
It was great to visit Nasisi and see all the children eating a healthy meal which included a mug of fresh fruit salad (bought at the market). The health of the children has improved significantly as a result of the meals. On another occasion the Team had the opportunity to meet with the sponsor children at Nasisi and pass on gifts and food hampers that had been put together for the families. It was very moving to hear the mothers of the children thanking those who sponsor their child and then give a gift for the Team to take back to the sponsor in Australia as an expression of their gratitude for what was being given. Special visits were made by Team members to children they sponsor in their homes giving the opportunity to meet their child and family and see their living conditions.
The Team joined with members of the ACCC Church to conduct a Medical mission at San Ramon This is a new outreach of the ACCC and it was great to see the people of this village attending the Medical Mission and receiving a free consultation with a Doctor and being given medicines as prescribed. There were over 150 people who received help on this occasion. It was noted that at least 6 people who came had been affected by a stroke. Immediately following this we visited the Ligao jail. Three of our team gave a short talk at the Jail and the inmates greatly appreciated our visit. It is to be noted that when Ps Choi shared with the Jail Warden that we were travelling to Tacloban and there was a major problem with getting a safe ferry passage with bad weather and overcrowding at the port… the Warden replied that all the inmates told him that they would pray for a safe passage for the Team.
Other highlights of our visit to Ligao was the presentation of a special Youth Seminar on the Friday evening with 135 young people attending, the Team participating in Church Services at ACCC, Tambo, Nasisi and Tuburan.
Our visit to Tacloban confronted us with the extreme conditions in which the people are living, buildings and houses destroyed, infastructure wiped out so there was no electricity and many sharing stories of family, neighbors and friends dying in the typhoon or now missing. However, the people are showing amazing courage doing all they can to rebuild and make a new start. Seeing a large boat that was 100meters from the water coming to rest alongside a street in the city area and the work being done to get it back into the water highlighted the determination to not let the destruction and chaos beat them. The Team met with twelve Pastors who told their stories of how they survived the typhoon and the current struggles to bring the people of their Churches together and offer encouragement and support. The Team with a group of people from Ligao helped with a Medical Mission and the distribution of food and items that had been brought in a van from Ligao.
On returning from Tacloban we encountered the real possibility of not getting a ferry ride back to the main island Luzon. Due to a low level typhoon the ferries had stopped operating and so other means of returning to Ligao were explored. It was a real relief when we called into the port and found with the weather improving that the ferries were again operating. After a 4 hour wait at the port we boarded and ferry with our vans and travelled back to Ligao.
The mission trip to the Philippines was exceptional with God making his presence real in so many ways and especially when we were travelling to our planned destinations, making ferries sail when we needed them and providing a priority passage. There was also the great opportunity to learn heaps about the poverty and hardship faced by those we met and for us to provide encouragement and support. A special thanks to you for your prayers and the One Church Community for making this trip a possibility in partnership with our friends in the Philippines.
A special evening is planned for Monday 3 March at 7.30pm in the Chapel. This evening will give the opportunity for you to hear the personal stories of the Mission Team and their experiences while on mission in the Philippines.