It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the last third of the year! With all of the COVID restrictions and disruptions, in some ways, it seems like time has stood still…. So when I see a calendar or write the date on something, I continue to be amazed at how far along in the year we are!
We are doing well here and getting through all of the restrictions and requirements due to the virus. Last month, my teammate Crystal and I went to the city (Davao) for the first time since March! We generally would go there about once a week before COVID, so it was really strange to have not gone there for four months!!
Some of you might remember that the first three girls we had in the Hope House had been reunited with their mom in April of last year. Then, at the end of the year, we ended up having two of those three girls return to the Hope House. One of the girls had decided that she wanted to stay with her mom. However, after several more months, that girl and her mom were both really struggling and the possibility came up for the girl to return to the Hope House. When I went to pray about whether we should let her return to the Hope House or not, I felt like the Lord said, “Of course!” 🙂 It was definitely in my heart for her to return, and Crystal was in agreement, so the girl returned to the Hope House in the middle of July. She has been doing GREAT since she returned! She had started to make some poor decisions in the last few months, so it’s been wonderful to see her doing so well at the Hope House. Please pray with us that she continues to thrive and grow, especially in her relationship with the Lord.
You may also remember that Richelle, one of the girls who lives in Tagbaobo, (a community on the back side of the island), had attended FIRE School of Ministry here in Davao. She is doing her internship now, and she is actually interning with us at Hope For All Children!! She is working with Hope Care, our orphanage, and she is doing really well. I’m so proud of her and excited to see what the Lord has in store for her for the future. I recently had her and one of the other girls from Tagbaobo come over for a visit, just to spend some time together. We had a great time! I have not been able to go to Tagbaobo since February (!), so it was great to get to spend time with these girls.
We celebrated another birthday at the Hope House in July – this birthday girl turned 15. (We currently have 6 teenagers at the Hope House! 🙂 ) This girl has been with us for about a year and a half, and it has been awesome to see the transformation in her! It was great to get to celebrate her on her birthday, and as we ate a meal together, we all went around and gave her some encouraging words. She was very blessed. She also really enjoyed her gifts, (she got a pair of sneakers too!), and then the girls had fun watching a movie after that.
The day after the birthday celebration, Crystal and her mom had to leave to head back to the US. Crystal’s mom had come to the Philippines for a visit and only had planned to stay for about three and a half months. Because of COVID, her visit turned into seven and a half months, and she was ready to go home!! Crystal accompanied her, and they traveled back toward the end of July. Their trip turned out to be somewhat dramatic shortly before they left, though! A few days before their flight, one of the airports where they had a layover (South Korea), decided to make a new rule that anyone flying into their airport from the Philippines, even if just for a layover, had to have a COVID swab test with a negative result that was within 48 hours of the flight! Furthermore, they would only accept the test from a certain list of hospitals or testing centers in Manila, (which is on the opposite side of the country from us), but thankfully, Crystal and her mom also had a layover there! They were also required to get paperwork from a couple of different offices here on Samal Island before they were allowed to travel, because of COVID restrictions. But thankfully, Crystal and her mom made it to the States safely and COVID-free!
Just a few days before they left, the oldest son (Nathan) of our team leaders also left to go to the US to attend college! We had a special gathering for him on the Sunday before he left. He shared a message that morning, and then we spent some time honoring him, speaking words of encouragement over him, and praying for him. The Hope House girls also sang a song that Nathan had written! He had written the words but didn’t have music for it, so one of the house moms came up with the music, and the girls sang the song! It was really special. Our youngest girl at the Hope House also wanted to give Nathan a picture she had painted. It was really sweet! She did a great job on the painting too. 🙂
Actually, the girls REALLY love doing crafts! They like to paint and draw, and their artwork is really amazing! A couple of the girls had the idea to make up some booklets, (like miniature journals), and they drew pictures and wrote on the front and back covers. A friend in the States asked for a bunch of them for kids she works with who are actually also in a facility…. But the kids that she works with are in a juvenile center for kids who have committed crimes, not unlike some of the things that have been done toward our girls! We asked the girls to pray over these booklets that the other youth would receive, and it was such an awesome moment of redemption to see these girls who have been exploited by others praying for those who have been perpetrators themselves. It is wonderful to see how God transforms and heals hearts! He is the Redeemer!
For this month’s cultural note, I thought I would tell you about something that has really surprised me during this season of COVID disruptions, and that is the mail service in the Philippines! Although my understanding is that in the States, the US Postal Service continued delivering mail while stores and businesses closed, (as the mail service was considered “essential”), in the Philippines, that was not the case! I’m not sure how long the post office here was actually closed because of the virus, (mostly because I didn’t go to Davao for four months! 🙂 ), but even after it opened again, there were a lot of restrictions on the mail between nations. And believe it or not, those rules are actually still in effect! I had written some letters and cards over the last few months, and I had planned to mail them from here, but there is still no mail service from the Philippines to the States, OR from the States to the Philippines! My parents had actually tried to mail a birthday card to me that would have arrived in June, but it was returned to them! So, I ended up sending my letters and cards with Crystal when she went back to the States, and she mailed them from there. 🙂 The Philippines post office has actually published a list of the countries that it IS sending mail to, and there are currently around 30 nations on the list. Many of them are Asian or European, but there are also a couple of South American countries! Neither the US nor Canada are on the list…. But hopefully the mail service will resume here eventually!
I hope that you are all well and that you are getting all of your mail!! 🙂
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.