Thursday 21 December 2017

Taking the next steps ...

Taking the next steps ...
HAPPY  CHRISTMAS from Cebu, Philippines!

We are so sorry for being so slow in producing our first blog since our move. However, we hope that you’ll be able to get a flavour of what life is like here in both what we say and from the photos.

First some memories from our trip to the UK this summer:

It was so wonderful to see so many of our family and friends when we were home in July.
Thank you so much for all your love and support!

What went before...

Block2 Our home for three years.
We learnt so much and love you
guys! Hope to see some of you soon!
When we moved to HK in August 2014 we always knew that it was not the end game ... but weren't sure how long we'd be there or where would be next. Having thought that we'd move a lot sooner, 3 years in Hong Kong gave us the time to learn and prepare. Although extremely challenging at times, we learnt so much with the wonderful people at St. Stephens and in Shing Mun Springs. One of the key things for me (Alec) was learning that many different things hold people captive (drugs is just the tip of the iceberg and probably only the 'presenting problem'). But God's heart is to free those held captive, that's why Jesus came 2000 years! And the miracle is He does it now just as He did it then! 

When we showed photos and told the stories of some of the men in HK to friends and church groups in the UK, Jo cried every time and we realised just how special our time had been. There was the story of a couple, who were both addicts, whose child had been taken away.  Both accepted Jesus' help, and had a massive turn around, it really was incredible. 
A year and half later they were married and their child returned to them. (They are currently living in their own apartment at Shing Mun where they can remain in a safe environment for the next period of time.) It was a beautiful picture of God's ability to restore and redeem and was very moving.  Then there was a man who hadn't seen his mum and dad for 16 years because of his addictions.  He didn't even know if they were still alive. He persistently prayed and patiently waited to find out any information.  Alec was at their first meeting and their reconciliation. Wonderful! This is what our faith is all about.


Lapu-Lapu - look up the history
of this man and find out more
about the culture we're in.
So why now move to the Philippines? The story started for us about 6 years ago, when we visited Cebu for just 4 days. We found ourselves drawn to these wonderful warm people. Most of our time was spent visiting families in in the slum areas, particularly a place called Lorega which at that time was a grave yard slum.The people lived in shacks erected over large tomb stones. It was full of addicts, prostitution and filth......there were no toilets or running water. Some of those who lived there didn't even have a shack to live in ... so they lived in the small spaces between the shacks and the graves. This was a place of extreme poverty. About 5 years ago the slum burnt down. No one died in the blaze, praise God, but as a result the government stepped in. They cleared the graves and gave each family a plot of land (some VERY small) and began to provide materials so people could build proper houses. This seemed wonderful, though the planners didn't consider the basic infrastructure (water, electricity or drains) BEFORE the house building commenced, even though St. Stephens offered to pay for the drainage for the whole area. So fast forwarding to the present, when we go into Lorega we see that conditions/houses seem better, and for those who live there it IS much better - but many still live in the same way, in the same poverty, living hand to mouth with the same lack of self-esteem and self-respect and the obvious question is why?.... and what is the best way to help them long term?

Running repairs on car that
seems to be held together with string
God has already done so much through the team that we are with here at Cebu City Vineyard and we are pleased to get involved with what is currently going on. We have been welcomed so warmly, and immediately felt part of a bigger family. Jo helps at a house for trafficked and abused girls as well as going into the local area, Lorega, to do a listening Bible group. Alec is helping a guy learn how to drive, leading worship, doing handyman jobs in the girls house and is currently helping to plan the opening of a men’s 'discipleship house'.  

Our biggest desire though is to help in the fight to end OSEC (Online Sexual Exploitation of Children) which is a huge issue in the Philippines. Words can’t describe how awful this modern day slavery is. Please pray for this and our role. The group here work with IJM and we are trying to see what else we can do!

Our Family...

Samuel and Alec swimming with
whale Sharks. Beautiful Cebu!
The boys are amazing. They have adjusted so well, even though it's their second move in 4 years!!!! Samuel, now 14 and Reuben, 11, are at Singapore School Cebu. It's a small international school that's growing and will prepare the boys to do International GCSE's. They are settling well but both miss family and friends from the UK and HK a lot! 

There's lots of adjustments to be made. Since we got here Alec is 'around' a lot more and is involved in the everyday stuff.....collecting the boys, making packed lunches, cooking dinners etc. It's an adjustment that's been 'interesting.' Hahahaha!  After 17 years of marriage and having very specific roles, we are adjusting to new things! Please pray for us!

So, we will sign off.  Sending you all love and best wishes for Christmas and the new year.
Happy Christmas!