Sunday 13 March 2022

Arrived in Cebu after such a long time!

Greetings from Cebu, Philippines. Getting here was nothing short of a miracle! 

After having had covid a few weeks ago, I was sure that not only did I have the antibodies from the vaccine, but also the antibodies from the actual virus. Having consistently tested negative, I confidently went for my PCR test the day before I was due to fly, only to receive a positive result! I contacted the airline and they told me that I could not fly, but they would put my ticket on hold until I tested negative. On leaving the airport with this disappointing news, I felt sure that I was Covid negative and the test must be showing falsely, as I had fully recovered some time ago from the disease. I felt the prompting (which I think was the Holy Spirit) to go back and get another PCR test. I went, was seen straight away (even though I didn't have a prior appointment) and got a 3-hour express PCR test. We prayed ... and this came back negative! I then contacted the airline again, but they had sold my seat to someone else and told me that only higher priced economy tickets were available (meaning an extra £279). I still felt strongly that I was supposed to fly the following day, but didn't have peace about forking out all that money! Becky and I prayed about it again. We contacted the airline, and the price had gone up to over £340! After praying about it, and still sensing God's peace that I would fly the following day, we decided to sleep on it and return to the airport the next day (March 8th) to see if I could get the flight. In the morning, we contacted the travel insurance company to explain. Miraculously, they said that, in principle, as long as the difference is less than the cost of the flight, I would be covered! So, we went to the airport in faith, the desk told me the £279 ticket was available again and I booked it and flew out to Cebu on the overnight flight. 

Here I am on board the Qatar flight, still a bit shell-shocked by the fact that I was there!


Now that I'm here I can see how devastated the city was from the typhoon. So many buildings have been damaged and the whole infrastructure torn apart by the strong winds. One colleague described it as the worst storm he'd ever seen. Grace and Ann-Ann who have been taking care of the house described cowering on the upstairs landing, which is in the middle of the house, petrified as the wind started ripping off gutters, parts of the roof and screen doors. Water was pouring in from all angles. The Philippine economy is still suffering the effects of the Covid pandemic, and with limited resources and manpower, there is still so much devastation to so many buildings that may take years to rectify. 

You may remember we talked about the home of a poor family (the mother works as a cook at the YWAM base) whose roof was destroyed. I was able to visit today. Here it is now, under reconstruction, this time with concrete blocks instead of wood:

I was also able to visit our staff member, Ian's house and see its progress:

The ground floor building work is almost complete now. They have also been able to get water and electrical connections established. Their roof had been damaged by the typhoon too. Ian has been such a faithful and wonderful help on thje ground whilst we've been in the UK. I'm so grateful to him for what he's been doing. Once the building is completed, he will live there with his two sisters and his parents. 

I've hit the road running. I've only been here 48 hours and already attended a YWAM Ph national meeting, attended the opening of a new ministry house for street kids, run by Cebu House of Prayer, seen work get under way to fix our roof and guttering, I've also got the Internet re-established- this was done in a 'bush mechanic-style'. All the telecoms engineers are busy fixing tens of thousands of broken connections across the islands. Getting an appointment for reconnection has been really difficult. However, I went outside to inspect and found that the wire had been severed in two places. So I went to the hardware store and bought a new cable and spliced it into the old connections. Amazingly, this worked. I'm not sure how long the repair will last, but at least we have a connection, hopefully until an engineer can come and connect it professionally! There's quite a few issues with the house, both from the typhoon and from 18 months of neglect. My scooter (which I use to do errands and ministry whilst Becky has the car) desperately needs a service. I came to it to find the back brake broken, no working headlights and it was backfiring when I started it! Hopefully with a bit of TLC it will be back to its former glory! The car on the other hand is in a very bad state of repair. There is probably about £500 needed spending on it to bring it into a drivable condition. Even then, there's no guarantee that something else might go wrong! It's a 22-year-old car and has served us well over the past 6 years. Please pray for us to make some wise choices on whether to scrap it and look to replace it with something slightly newer, or whether to repair it and hope for the best! Cars are really expensive in the Philippines and this is such a valuable tool for our ministry work here. 

Saturday 12 March 2022

The final countdown

I'm back from my 3 week trip to the Philippines. It was a success and the way is now paved for the whole family to go to Cebu in 3 weeks. 

We are grateful to be able to find cost effective flights (£400 each, one way) which will give us an overnight stop in Singapore, leaving the UK on Monday 2nd May.

While in Cebu I was able to visit some of the IJM ladies we have been working with for these years while there. They are struggling with home.

Today was the children's last day at their school, Covenant Christian School, which they (and we) are all very sad about leaving. Becky's mum Jenny also shed a few tears, as she has been teaching most of Becky's allocation of classes and we have all fallen in love with the families there! They will be missed. To help the kids keep in touch with friends, we are planning to let them make short videos - so if you have a question for them, please send it to us!

Friday photo on 8-4-2022 WhatsApp Image 2022-04-08 at 13.26.22.jpeg

This was our last day with the school. They threw a little goodbye party for us, with gifts, which was so moving! 

One of the things I was looking at when I visited in March was the ability to continue to do our work. That included the state of our home after the typhoon, the status of the schools (whether they are opening), transport links and ability to reach those we minister to. I'm pleased to say that the trip was an overwhelming success and all is ready for us to return. One of the areas that I highlighted as a need was to replace our car. Twice it was in the garage whilst I was there and they struggled to fix the ongoing problems with the steering and oil leaks. The bodywork of the car has deteriorated since we left significantly. Therefore we are getting ready to sell it. At 22 years old and being used every day for the last 6 years, it has served us well. 

If you know of anyone interested in supporting us to buy another car, we're running a fundraiser on GoFundMe. A replacement of a car about 8-10 years old will cost in the region of £5,000 to £6,000 (cars are expensive in the Philippines!), but the more we raise the better the car we can purchase and the longer we can use it for. Our last car was already 16 years old when we bought it and the previous owner felt it was 'on its last legs' when we bought it! Praise God that it lasted this long! Hugs thanks to those who helped us bluy 'The White Warrior' (as it is known).

Here's the gofundme link: GoFundMe

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More info can be found on our blog fundraising page.