PHILIPPINES - MAY 2017
San Isidro, Delores, Eastern Samar, PHILIPPINES
Ai Seok & Hui King Lau
Thank you all for your prayers and support for the recent Philippines trip. We would like to take this opportunity to report back the awesome things that God has done through this trip.
The seed for the Philippines mission was planted back in July 2016. I was enroute to my second mission trip to Nepal via KL when I had a last minute divine appointment with my uncle David, senior pastor of Church on Higher Ground (CHG), Perth. Pastor David shared about the lack of dental and medical access in many remote villages around San Isidro, Philippines, and that it would be a blessing if we could send a medical team to serve the orphaned children, prisoners and villagers. There was also a need to start another orphanage home at Delores to take in the many abandoned children. My mind was in Nepal at that point where I had a great burden to help the people who were struggling after the major earthquake. My first thought was that it would be very difficult to convince a medic or dentist to go with me to the Philippines. I really wanted to do something for these children, especially setting up the new home to take in more homeless children, but getting a medical team together would be difficult. So I put out a fleece that God would touch the heart of a medic or dentist when I ask them.
God is faithful and indeed He spoke to Jason, a dentist who was also on the Nepal trip with us, and he committed faithfully to the mission. Then things just fell into place: people began to sign up and a team of 2 dentists and 2 doctors and lots of volunteers were formed. This trip happened because of prayer and obedience to God's call. And prayer and obedience also became the theme of the trip. As a result, we have been abundantly blessed and have also become an instrument of blessing.
The plan was, as with most trips, to go into an impoverished area, bless the people with physical help, self-sustaining projects, clean water systems, and run medical and dental clinics, as well as spiritually supporting and encouraging the churches and to love the people. We planned a tight schedule so that we could achieve the most in the short time we were there. But from the start, we sensed that God was going to do something different. It started with an unplanned but powerful prayer and worship on the first morning at the prayer mountain, which majestically overlooked the surrounding areas. The children and workers at God's Children's Home (GCH) go there together at least once a week to pray and seek God.
God’s Children’s Home
We stayed at GCH, who was our host. The first thing that struck us was their love and hunger for God. Although the children and the helpers didn't have much, they shared everything and were very content. The children gave up their rooms for us to make us feel welcomed. They treat each other as family so that when one member needed help, the rest gathered to support. Most of all, they had energy and peace; they were always smiling, always singing, praising and praying. Another example of their community spirit is that of the lobster. One of the pastors, wanting to show love and hospitality, went lobster hunting for us and caught the freshest and largest lobster that I have seen and shared that with us. Love and hospitality that words cannot express.
We ministered with medical and dental clinics alongside worship and preaching at 3 prisons. Many of the prisoners and some of the guards had become Christians and this changed the whole atmosphere of the prisons. From a place of violence and fear to a place of worship and peace. The prisoners had very dark pasts reflecting a life of crime. But through the grace of Christ, they repented and live in His ways. One prisoner gave His life to Christ and God woke him up each night about 2am to worship with new songs. He started writing them down and now have over 20 worship songs that he has composed and taught other prisoners. They worship with a guitar and a handmade drum, made with a broom and recycled materials, with great joy. It was so encouraging to hear them sharing their testimonies with tears rolling down their faces. They have also been praying for medical and dental help for a long time and were so grateful for our dentists and doctors that came from across the world to help them. We also gave out parcels with hygiene essentials and food. No words can describe the joy we felt when we see their smiles after they were freed from the pain of their decayed teeth. The prisoners were also encouraged and built up because a team of people would travel across the world just to tell them that God loves them and have not forgotten about them. This is how wonderful and loving a God that we serve. To quote Rick, one of our dentists, "it doesn't feel like a prison, more like a church you cannot escape from".
Every day the team had time together to encourage each other. Despite the heavy schedule, the morning devotions at 6am is a critical time together with the team and the children and workers in GCH. Each morning, we would worship and refresh ourselves in the presence of God before we set out. The children, who had a very difficult past and cared for in this place of worship, had so much love and hunger for God that the presence of God just fell when they started singing at the wake of each morning.
All the children's teeth were treated by the dentists. As they do not have access to any dental, almost all of them (except for the babies!) were suffering from decay. We were so amazed how they never complained but instead were so joyful, helpful, sang and did everything wholeheartedly.
One thing that struck me was the hunger for God, the unity and the servanthood spirit in this team too. The team worked so hard but our hearts were filled with such joy. Due to the long ueue f patients, the doctors, dentists and whole team worked tirelessly. In order not to turn down any patients, the clinics would overrun and by the time we got to another village, a large group would have already been waiting for hours. In the midst of this, the Holy Spirit was moving in our hearts and theirs. Going home on the boat to the GCH each night, although tired physically, our spirits were so free and rested in Hi as we watch the sunset, then the stars and the fireflies in the quietness of the river.
Living off the Land
Another thing that amazed us is that GCH really does live off the land. The rice, vegetables and chicken that we ate every day were all home grown. They were simple and simply delicious. We are humbled because these foods were toiled physically by our brothers and sisters. We had a short opportunity to “help” in the fields, and yes, our team are just not built for hard physical labour! We also had a greater appreciation on the dependence on nature and environment and their vulnerability to floods or lack of rain. This is where purchasing seeds for River of Life Ministry (ROLM) actually does go a long way, especially as their recent crops were damaged by flooding.
Drinkable water is precious here too. The children need to collect water from a distance but often the children wouldn’t bother and would drink it straight from the well, which of course is unsafe and causes sickness and health issues. Worse still, some of the adults seemed to think that water from the river is drinkable as long as you don’t take the water on the surface of the river because that is filled with gunk. Thus, the donation from Russ Michaud of the water filters is so precious. They filter and kill the bacteria. We set up the filter systems and taught them how to maintain them. They were very grateful for them.
Upper Room Experience
The upper room experience where the Holy Spirit came and refreshed the church leadership. The team ran a few teaching sessions for the leaders and members at GCH alongside the medical and dental clinics. The seminar was held upstairs whilst the clinics were downstairs. And from this initial outpouring, we witnessed continued sustained outpouring and healing - both spiritually and physically - throughout the trip. We received last minute interventions through prayer and visions and consequently, through obedience, we made changes in the program so that God could have His way to use us as His vessels to reach out to His precious people scattered in these isolated islands and villages.
Santa Monica – The Break take God Provided
Santa Monica, a remote but beautiful island into the Pacific Ocean, some 2 hours away. It was not on our itinerary, but Pastor Robin desperately needed the doctors and dentist. So he went on his knees and prayed, and later, through visions from another sister in the upper room, we changed our planned itinerary to go over to Santa Monica. The people of Santa Monica were blessed but, as a reward from God, we had an unplanned break in the blue waters of Santa Monica. If you see the photos, you might have thought we were on a beach holiday. See, we were also blessed with rest.
Sharing and Encouragement
Every night we would share that we xperienced “the most amazing day in my life", only to be topped by the following day. I recall Henna sharing that we should continue to ask for a 5 or 10 fold of blessin every day and indeed we saw this come to pass. Starting from the beautiful tranquil setting of the little fishing and farming riverside village of San Isidro to the joyful children at the orphanage - how little they had but they still gave up their homes and beds to accommodate us; the sense of community sharing and amily of churches scattered near and far across the ocea to the prison ministries; the love for God and intent of fulfilling the great commission in the youths to the blessing and importance of the medical dental clinics and the clean water systems; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the healing, and the much needed rest at Santa Monica at the end of the trip. Every day was a new encounter with the goodness of God. Every moment was allowing God to stretch us in our faith and our willingness to be used by God.
Our prayer is that we can bring this back with us, even in a seed form; that most of us, in our secular vocation, can use our talents for His Kingdom, and experience Him as we step up in ways unimaginable.
Let me end off with the scripture Naomi quoted in our first devotion from Luke 4, which is also BLi’s mission verse, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free". This was Jesus' mandate and also ours - yes yours and mine - not just the pastors, the leaders, or the worship leaders, but yours and mine. We have truly seen this happen on our trip and continue to bring this back to where we live.
Once again we would like to thank you for your tremendous support and prayer.