Sunday, 23 September 2018

1 year in the Philippines! And a 50th Birthday!

At last a new blog from the Cobbs.

Natural Disasters
Super typhoon Mangkhut bypassed us in Cebu, though we know people in the north of the Philippines areas that were affected. There was a landslide just a few days ago in Naga an area close to us. The landslide was perhaps a result of the heavier than normal rainfall because of the typhoon. Please pray for the people of the Philippines. There is real poverty here and these natural disasters just add to the struggles of many people. 

We have been living in Cebu Philippines for over a year now.  It’s gone by very quickly…we must be getting old!  Talking of old, Alec celebrated his 50th birthday in August (you can tell Jo wrote that!!!) He still works like an ox though, and has recently had to cover the boys discipleship (new man) house whilst the house leader was away, meaning some days with 12-16 hour stints!  We didn’t have a huge birthday celebration – he was at the boys’ house in the morning, was treated to a KFC for lunch (wow) and in the evening we all went to the girls’ house for food and games.

What we're up to:

Discipleship House Baptisms
The guys’ discipleship house is going well.  Most of them are under 20 and some have recently started the home school system which also operates in the girls’ house.  It’s amazing to have a relatively cheap and Philippines accredited system so that those graduating can go on to further education. Please pray for the volunteers who go in and that what is lacking in the material will not hinder the teachers or the learners. The amazing thing is that the girls and guys are really motivated to continue in their studies. They really do see the good that can come from having education which some were in danger of missing out on completely. I said the course was ‘cheap’ and it is, but this year for the first time we had to pay for the work books. This was a shock as there wasn’t the money reserved or available, but God is so good at knowing our needs before we do and the money came just at the right time (Matt 6:8). Amazing!

The first batch of chicks
The boys discipleship house is also rearing chickens. They have over 30 at the moment which is another way of giving an opportunity to learn new skills … and to eat more.  The plan is not to make this a business, but working out the expenditure v. savings (on the meat we would have had to buy) is a practical skill that can be used as a model for a business. This is just starting out but there are plenty of small business opportunities like this here.

The girls’ house was recently accredited by the DSWD (social services). It was a lot of hard work trying to get all the policies and procedures in place but it passed.  Hoorah. Now the staff just have to make sure it’s operational! Jo did a lot of the work on the operations manual, along with many others who had to retrieve paperwork, get permits etc! There were a few sticking points that the DSWD just couldn't get their heads around the fact that the house runs more as a family than an institution and that the majority of the staff are volunteers. It just didn't fit with their framework!!!!  

Listening Bible in Lorega Continues.
The community we are a part of here (Cebu City Vineyard which is closely connected to St Stephens in Hong Kong) continue to be committed to reaching others.  Teams regularly go to other parts of the Philippines as well as locally.  Hundreds of children have been supported through school and university (people who may very well have dropped out otherwise because of cost or family pressure) and over 50 people are living in community houses! A lot is being done, but as ever, there never seems to be enough people to help or lead.  Please pray for more workers (Luke 10:2).

Family & Friends

We have just had a season of visitors which was a real treat. The first were 2 guys from HK, one of whom had been a ‘new boy’ in our block when we lived there. He was doing something called ‘The Journey’ where people go and serve the teams in other Asian countries. It was so exciting to see how this young man had matured, was trusting God and was able to be a positive influence.

Our other guests were Alec’s sister and her family who stopped in Cebu for a week as part of their adventure holiday.  We took a week off with them and enjoyed lots of treats including a case full of English fare – tea bags, Oxo cubes, Dairy Milk etc.  It was lovely to see them and Samuel and Reuben had a great time with their cousins. 

Last but not least we were visited by some old friends – Rich and Lou Fox and their 2 daughters. Their daughters did very well despite sometimes seeing and experiencing horrible living conditions on outreaches into the community. It was such a treat to have them and even more amazing that their eldest daughter who has suffered from CVS (cyclical vomiting syndrome) for 12 years was not sick at all for the the whole time they were with us. We were so thankful to God for a chance for them to relax a little.

This week I saw this Christmas tree up with a sign saying 99 days to Christmas! This eagerness for the coming season is both sweet and a little sickly. It did, though, make me think of our plans for the future. We’ve been here for a year so we are allowed to apply for missionary visas – please pray as the system here is very long and tedious. After that we can apply to be licensed as foster parents!!!!! ....part of our bigger dreams! Step by step......

The boys:
Samuel and Reuben have been enjoying a new family from the UK who moved here a couple of months ago.  Amazing that Samuel only had one other boy in his class when he started….who he didn’t 'click' with.  Since praying there are another 3 boys in his class!  So good to see quick answers to prayer!!!!  We are so proud of our boys and how they have adjusted to life here. Obviously there are challenges and every so often they say they are missing friends and family, our garden in England or sausages, but they are doing well. Having 4 kittens has also helped! We hope that all of these experiences will widen and deepen their trust in God.

So, we really want to thank God for:
  • Health in our family
  • The committed team, some of whom have been here for almost 20 years
  • Our children’s school – friends and the miracle of money to pay for the fees!
  • New and old friends!

We would really like you to pray for:
  • Our visas
  • Provision for the many works being done already by CCV
  • Our future dreams – which are big!!!!!

This comes with so much love from Cebu!

Alec and Jo