Dear friends and family,

Well, our very unusual season continues here with lots of adjustments due to COVID-19. (I’m sure the same is true for many, if not most, of you!) But we are doing fine here and are thankful for the grace that the Lord is giving us for this amazing time in history. I snapped this picture of an aisle full of toilet paper at a grocery store here several weeks ago, as I was hearing many stories from the States about the toilet paper issues. I was proud of Filipinos for not hoarding toilet paper! However, a couple of aisles later, I saw that the hand sanitizer was completely gone…. Oh well, at least the toilet paper was in good supply! 

As I mentioned last month, our restrictions on Samal have become quite strict, so we can only leave our house if we have a pass, and then only to get food or medicine, to go to the hospital, or to go to work for certain jobs. And actually, each household has only been provided with one pass. So, I am the home quarantine pass holder in my household, which consists of me and my teammate Crystal, and for now, her mom who is visiting us.  There may be a change in the restrictions after May 15, but it’s unclear at this point about how much it will change. There is a ferry that runs between Samal Island and Davao (the city where we usually go about once a week to buy groceries and run errands). However, the ferry has not been running since April 8. I believe this is the first time in the nine years that I have lived in the Philippines that they have stopped the ferry, except for weather-related issues. They were planning to close it from April 8 to 13, but have extended the closure a few times so that it is still not operating normally. We are hoping that it starts running after May 15, but again, it’s unclear exactly what will happen. Thankfully, there is one regular grocery store on Samal that has refrigerated items and sells meat, so I have been able to shop there, rather than having to try to buy meat at the outdoor market….  I’m very thankful for that!

Because of the restrictions, I have been spending a lot more time at the Hope For All Children property, (which is where our house is). I still have been able to see the Hope House girls on several occasions, and they are doing very well. I am looking forward to the restrictions lifting so that I can be with them regularly again.  Since I’m on the Hope For All Children property more now, I get to see the children in Hope Care (our orphanage) much more frequently. They are SO cute, always asking questions and showing so much wonder at the simplest things. One day, they insisted on showing me a “REALLY big” rock that they had found. I was expecting a VERY large rock, but then they showed me a rock that was a little larger than my foot….  Another day, they were enthralled with my umbrella and kept asking me to push the button so they could watch it go up.  Recently, our team leader, Mike, and another one of our teammates, Tony, worked hard to get a garden going on the property. The Hope Care kids helped out with some planting. They were VERY cute working in the garden with small towels on their heads to protect them from the sun!

The construction continues on the property as well. Our children’s home and school building are well under way. We’re blessed to be able to have these new buildings on the property and are looking forward to when they are completed and fully functional!

I am SO thankful to report that I have been able to get the annual administrative paperwork completed for Hope For All Children! Now we just have to work on getting all of it submitted (and hopefully, approved!) when we can get to the government offices again. These weeks of restrictions have enabled me to be able to get a LOT of projects done, so I’m very thankful for that!

We recently were able to celebrate Crystal’s mom’s birthday here! She had originally planned to be back in the States in mid-March, so she was not expecting to celebrate her birthday in the Philippines (or with Crystal)! Although we couldn’t take her out to eat or go anywhere to celebrate, we still tried to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible! And we made her a doughnut cake! 

Our Hope House dog, Macy, has fully recovered!! In fact, the vet has given her a totally clean bill of health!  The urinary tract infection is gone, she no longer has an inflammatory issue, and the possible liver failure has been reversed! We are SO thankful!! Thank you so much to all of you who prayed for her! We can’t wait to see her again and have her back at the Hope House! (She is actually stuck in Davao now, since the ferry isn’t running!! Prayers appreciated for us to be able to get her back to Samal SOON!) She is with the vet now (actually at his house, because of all of the virus restrictions and his clinic not being open for regular hours!).

This is a heavy topic, so for those of you who let your kids read these newsletters, or if you read them aloud to your kids, please be warned that this paragraph is probably rated PG…. As some of you know, a lot of the trafficking cases in the Philippines are OSEC cases, which stands for Online Sexual Exploitation of Children. This is a terrible form of trafficking where children are abused in front of a camera, and the video is live-streamed online to another location, often on the other side of the world. Those who assist with the rescues of these children have informed us that this type of trafficking involves some of the worst things that they have seen. It is very dark and tragic for these children. Unfortunately, at this point in time, the Philippines is one of the worst nations in the world for OSEC. Traffickers do what they do for money, and poverty is a huge issue in the Philippines. Also, communication companies in the Philippines have managed to be able to provide internet access all over the country, even in some very remote locations, which unfortunately means that the abuse of the internet is more prevalent. The situation is compounded by the culture here, which emphasizes respect for elders, (which is obviously usually a good thing!). But in cases of exploitation, children may be less likely to seek help if they think it might harm their elder. The other facet of OSEC is that it is VERY common for the trafficker to be a relative of the children. In this season of COVID-19 restrictions, there is much concern that even more children will be victims of OSEC since people are forced to be at home and many people have lost their jobs. Please join with us in praying for the protection of children in the Philippines, for traffickers to be convicted of their sin, and for the authorities to be able to rescue many more children. Thank you for your prayers!!

On the lighter side, for this month’s cultural note, I’ll share about a Filipino dish that Crystal and I made recently. Because of not being able to travel to Davao, we are more limited in what we can get in terms of groceries on Samal. So, we have been eating a lot more rice than normal!  We also recently tried making a dish that both of us have enjoyed and that the house moms at the Hope House frequently make. It is called “tortang talong” which means “eggplant omelet”! In order to make it, you first need to peel the outer skin of the eggplant. To do that, we put the eggplant on the gas burner of the stove and let it blacken. (Crystal had studied how the house moms did it!) Then we peeled the skin and flattened the eggplant with a fork. Next, we dipped it in egg seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked it for a few minutes on each side in a skillet. It turned out great! 

Hope you are experiencing much grace in these days! Many blessings on you!
In Him,
Beth

Beth Wier

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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.