Hello all,

I hope this finds you well and experiencing much grace in this season. We continue to be affected by restrictions due to COVID-19, but things are slowly starting to open up here. It has been sobering to hear the news of so much racial tension and many riots and protests in cities throughout the U.S., (and all of that on the heels of the coronavirus!). I am praying for those of you who are in the U.S. and for the nation as a whole during this difficult time.

We are well here and are doing our best to adhere to the rules, which at this point seem to be ever-changing…. 🙂 The Philippines is very fond of acronyms, so we have had the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine), the GCQ (General Community Quarantine), and the MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine). (There may have been others – I’m not even sure!) 🙂 Also, regarding some of the restrictions, the local government has had some authority to adjust the requirements, so for instance, even though we have been on an MGCQ on Samal during a certain period of time, the mayor of Samal made a couple of adjustments to the MGCQ, so we have to be aware of those rules as well. SO, as you might imagine, it’s been a little confusing to keep up with all of the current rules and regulations. Furthermore, at the beginning of all of the restrictions for the virus, the rules were actually quite clear and well communicated, but at some point, it seems that there was somewhat of a communication breakdown, and now, it’s fairly difficult to know exactly what the rules are at any given time, (or whether those rules will actually be enforced!). As you may recall, I had shared that the ferry that runs between our island (Samal) and Davao City has been closed. Originally, they had announced that it would be closed from April 8 to 13, but the closure has been extended multiple times, and the most recent announcement was that the ferry would start running again on June 15. However, prior to June 15, one of our teammates was able to travel on the ferry by showing his “worker’s pass”. So, the rules are a little unclear at this point…. 🙂

We do continue to have the “no mask, no entry” policy at all of our stores and markets here, and technically, anyone who leaves their house is supposed to be wearing a mask. We also have to have a pass with a QR code (a square scannable code) in order to be able to travel around the island. There are multiple checkpoints on the roads where they will stop cars and motorcycles to check for passes and valid IDs. As of recently, however, it seems that a lot of people on Samal are getting weary of all of the restrictions and requirements. The last time I went out for groceries, I noticed that many of the checkpoints were deserted. I have seen some people out without masks on (or, they are technically wearing masks, but they are pulling them down below their chins, which, of course, is the same as not wearing masks!). 🙂

The girls at the Hope House are doing great! I continue to see them when I can, usually when I am out for groceries and water, and I have also done some tutoring via video. 🙂 In addition, I have been starting the girls’ school days with them by video on Mondays, which is one of the days that I usually teach their homeschool, by sharing a devotion with them. (I have often done that when I’m at the Hope House as well). They are ready for the COVID-19 drama to be finished, (as we all are), but they are doing well and are continuing to grow in many ways. 🙂

The kids on the Hope For All Children property are doing well too! They are always eager to show me something they have found or something they can do. One day, they wanted to show me some coconuts they had from the yard. 🙂 They’re VERY cute and always full of energy!

I’m also very happy to share that our Hope House dog, Macy, made it back home to the Hope House! One of our house moms was able to secure a special one-day pass for the ferry several weeks ago, and one of our teammates was able to drive the Hope House van to Davao to do some banking for us and to pick up Macy from the vet! She is doing great and obviously feels MUCH better than she did before! We are all thrilled to have her back, as is her puppy, Maya, who was VERY excited to see Macy again! 🙂 Speaking of Maya, she just celebrated her first birthday in the middle of May. I can’t believe it’s already been a full year since Macy had her puppies! This past year has just flown by!!

I wanted to share an update on something that I had mentioned in last month’s newsletter. So, just a warning that this paragraph will be rated PG again, for those of you who might be reading this to your kiddos or letting them read it…. Last month, I had shared about the trafficking situation in the Philippines with Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC). Ironically, shortly after I sent that newsletter, a study came out specifically regarding OSEC in the Philippines. The results are, honestly, heartbreaking. The Philippines has now been identified as the largest known source country of OSEC cases, with more than 8 times as many referrals as any other country that was researched. The study also investigated 90 OSEC cases in the Philippines, involving 381 victims, over a 7-year period. They found that the median age of the victims was 11 years old, and the youngest was under 1 year old. Additionally, 41% of the traffickers in these cases were the biological parents, and 42% were other relatives. The reality is that OSEC in the Philippines is largely a family-based crime. Although the statistics are grim, we know that the Lord deeply loves these children and families, and we believe that He wants to bring about great change in this nation. Please continue to pray with us for children to be rescued, for traffickers to experience true heart conviction and repentance, for the children and their families to encounter the Lord and to be restored in their relationships with Him and with one another, and for God to be glorified in all of it! I believe the Philippines is ready for a great move of God! I am so thankful for the privilege of being here at this time in history, and I’m believing that we are going to see awesome things in the upcoming days! Thank you so much for your prayers!!

For this month’s cultural note, I decided to share about an interesting shopping trip I had a few weeks ago. I mentioned in last month’s newsletter that there is one regular grocery store on Samal that has a refrigerated section with meat. There is generally chicken and pork available there…and a LOT of hot dogs! 🙂 Recently, I went to the store and was hoping to buy some chicken, but as I approached that section of the store, I realized that it looked somewhat bare. As I got closer, I saw that they were basically out of meat, except for some ground meat (which I think was ground pork and ground chicken), and two other sections of chicken – one was chicken heads and the other was chicken intestines! 😀 These were not exactly the cuts of chicken I had been hoping for, so I decided to forgo the meat on that trip! It did cross my mind that day that I could get some of the ground meat, but especially after seeing the other options, I had somehow lost my desire to buy anything in that section of the store that day…. 🙂 Anyway, after talking to some of our teammates several days later, I was actually very glad I had not bought the ground chicken when they reported to me that they had, in fact, bought some, and it was full of bones and skin! 🙁 I’m very happy to report that there was a much larger selection of meat (with much better cuts of chicken) the next time I went to the store!
I hope this finds you well and enjoying all of your shopping trips!! 🙂
Many blessings,
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.