Wow, what an amazing season we are living in! A few months ago, the vast majority of us had probably never even heard the word “coronavirus”, and we were certainly not expecting that almost the entire world would be affected by this virus in such a short period of time. I’ve really been praying for healing for people who have tested positive for the virus, and I’m praying for protection for those who don’t have it (and for the virus to stop spreading)! I’m also praying and believing for the Lord to really work in MANY hearts through this and to draw them to Him, (or back to Him)!
More on the coronavirus in a bit, but I wanted to tell you about something exciting that happened with the Hope House girls last month! After a very powerful prayer time at the Hope House when God was really moving on the girls’ hearts, one of them talked to Crystal and me about her desire to be baptized. After talking to her about it, Crystal and I told her that she could be baptized, and then we talked to the other girls in the Hope House about baptism and reminded them that if there were any of them who wanted to be baptized, they could talk to us. Well, FOUR of the other girls told us that they wanted to be baptized too!! They each met with us and explained why, and it was so awesome to hear them share from their hearts and see how the Lord had been working in each of their lives. So, we baptized five girls that day! At this point, all of the girls who live in the Hope House have given their hearts to Jesus and been baptized!! Praise God!!
The end of March marked the four-year anniversary of us having girls in the Hope House!! We are SO blessed and thankful for all that the Lord has done over the last four years. It has been incredible to see how the Lord has worked in the girls AND in the staff, (including myself!) over these years. He truly is a God of restoration, and it is beautiful to witness and to experience His restoration. He is faithful!!
As some of you know, Crystal’s mom traveled back to the Philippines with us at the beginning of December. She was supposed to travel back to the US in the middle of March, but of course, her plans were adjusted due to the virus. So, she is still with us in the Philippines. She was hospitalized in the States for double pneumonia less than a year ago, so since she is a senior and had that respiratory situation last year, considering the nature of the virus, we are trying to be VERY careful not to expose her to any germs!
I’m very thankful to report that we actually have not had anyone on Samal test positive for the virus at this point! Praise God! There have been cases of the virus in Davao (the city on the other side of the ferry from our island), and we have several house moms who have been traveling back and forth to Samal from Davao. So, for the sake of Crystal’s mom, and with some recent stricter restrictions regarding leaving our homes, Crystal and I are not going to the Hope House very regularly right now. We have been in contact with the girls quite a bit through video calling and communication with our house moms and teachers, and we did see the girls on the birthday of our youngest girl. We practiced social distancing and gave each other hugs through the air! It was great to see them, and they showed us a bunch of gymnastic moves that they have been working on as we observed from the other end of the walkway! We miss seeing the girls in person as much as we usually do, but we are very thankful that we have a wonderful staff of teachers and house moms who are taking care of the girls. We are blessed to have a great staff who loves the Lord!
Speaking of our staff, we recently were able to hire a new social worker who is working with the Hope Care (our orphanage) children. Her name is Marj, and she is actually living on the Hope For All Children property, which has been a great way for her to connect with the kids and be a part of the HFAC community. We hired her shortly before COVID-19 hit, and so she rather suddenly has been spending ALL of her time at the property! She is doing really well though, and we are very blessed to have her here! Because of the total number of children in our care now, we are in need of a second social worker who will work with the Hope House girls. The social worker we have had for the last several years recently resigned so that she could be closer to her son. Please pray with us that we find just the right social worker!
Before we were under restrictions with the virus, we had been having our usual team meetings. The Hope For All Children community usually meets every other Saturday, and we have a meal, a time of worship, a teaching or message, and fellowship. Our team days are great and are a wonderful opportunity to seek the Lord together and grow in our relationships with one another. We’re looking forward to meeting again when the restrictions are lifted!
I wanted to ask for your prayers for Macy, the Hope House therapy dog who had the puppies last year. We took her to the vet because she didn’t seem to be feeling well, and the vet said that she had a urinary tract infection, some type of inflammatory issue, and that she was having a problem with her liver and was on the road to liver failure! He said she has a 50/50 chance of recovery. Would you pray for complete recovery for her? She is dearly loved by all of us at the Hope House!
For this month’s cultural note, I thought I would share about a new cultural situation that we are probably all experiencing – adjusting to the COVID-19 restrictions! I actually feel like dealing with all of the restrictions might be somewhat comparable to culture shock! The rules here on Samal Island have gradually gotten stricter over the last several weeks. Our current situation is that we are not permitted to leave our houses unless we have either a quarantine pass which allows us to get food or medicine, or a worker’s pass (which is only available for certain jobs). Also, if we leave our home, we must be wearing a mask. I recently went to get some groceries, and when I went to the outdoor market, it was fenced off, and there was an entrance that had been set up so that people could only enter the market area in that one location. As I went in, I had to stop while someone sprayed my hands with some kind of antibacterial spray, (I assume!). Once I had entered the market, I was able to shop fairly normally, (except that I was wearing a mask!). That same day, I also went to a store to get some groceries, and they were only letting in a certain number of people into the store at one time. I sat in a line outside the store on a bench and waited for my turn. I have to say that social distancing (although being promoted) is not actually being practiced very well on Samal Island. Personal space is quite different in the Philippines than it is in America, and Filipinos are simply not used to keeping a large distance between themselves and other people. But thankfully, I survived my shopping experience just fine and came home virus-free!
I hope this finds you healthy and full of much grace for this season!
About Beth Wier
Beth has served in the Philippines since 2011. She is a member of the Hope For All Children team which operates an orphanage specifically focused on abandoned children, manages feeding programs for malnourished children, and ministers to children who have been rescued from human trafficking. Beth serves as a house parent to girls in the Hope For All Children restoration home, and she also works with administration for HFAC, including compliance with government agencies and offices.