Tuesday 10 September 2019

Another Year!

Downtime in Moalboal
Dear Friends, Family, Having left the U.K. in August 2014 we are into our 6th year away!!!  In many ways it feels that it has gone in a blink and yet our boys are evidence of the passage of time.  Samuel (15) towers above me (Jo), is shaving and has the beginnings of chest hair!  Reuben, now a teenager, will be the same height as me in the next 6 months.  What a journey they have had so far with many ups and downs and challenges. Apparently they are called third culture kids, living in a country which neither they nor their parents are from, thus merging things to make their own third culture! They are also in a strange cultural mix as we work with the very poor and yet most of their school mates are very rich.  One thing we know for sure is that the challenges have knitted us closer together and we are so grateful for that.  Maybe one day Samuel and Reuben will look back and see the benefits …

Two years in Cebu, Philippines.......   CULTURE AND PEOPLE
Flamboyant Festivals
The majority of Filipinos that we meet are very friendly and open, willing to share, hug, laugh, cry, and everything else in between.  Music, singing and dancing are very popular, it seems as though it’s in their blood! Being white in the Philippines gets you a lot of attention!  We are often stared at, waved at and spoken to and they LOVE it when they find out you can speak their language (Cebuano). Given that Filipino history is riddled with foreign takeovers (Spanish, Japanese and American), some Filipinos are a bit scared of ‘foreigners’ and often think themselves as lower. Unfortunately, many white people, men particularly, still come to the Philippines today and use that, plus the huge problem of poverty, to their own advantage. It is revolting to see.
Sunrise Worship in Lorega

In the poorer areas people live in close community.  Many live hand to mouth and some of the kids we know are definitely malnourished. Unlike the west people are very happy to invite you into their homes without a prior engagement and also join in with things at the drop of a hat.  As someone who likes to plan ahead I’m not quite there yet with ‘last minute.’… I’m trying! (Jo)


This spring we were so excited to have both our mums visit. We are so grateful for their love and support and for all the ‘treats’ we received including special meals out, a boat trip and a day at a resort! We tried to show them all the sights of Cebu – the good, the bad and the ugly 😆

This year the team who originally came from Hong Kong celebrated their 20th anniversary of being here. Visitors from near and far came back and shared stories over a week of celebration. God is good! 20 years later He is still showing his love and faithfulness to the people in our community and further afield as they continue to serve others.

And then…..
On the last day of the week long events and celebrations, just as everyone was anticipating a rest, one of our leaders came off his motorbike and suffered a serious head injury.  This threw everyone back into a flurry of activity, providing round the clock care whilst he was in hospital and then later after he was discharged. Medical care is very different to the U.K. There is no NHS, no hospital food, no cafes and no free treatment.  It took days to get the results of a scan (during which time he could have died!) and then the doctor read the results wrong saying that there was no bleeding on the brain when actually there was.  Scary!  He was even discharged before he had the results of his second scan.  Thankfully he is recovering well.

At the same time a young woman in the church who had not been well for some time and had had many tests found that she had an aggressive form of leukemia and once again several of the team were by her side, with her family, helping them through a very difficult and horrible time.  She sadly passed away about a week after the celebrations even before she could start treatment. We really saw the realities of life here for many and the unfairness of it all.  Had she been in another country …

In July we had an unexpected guest! A lovely little 18 month old boy. For confidentiality reasons we cannot post his picture but he is one cute and cheeky baby.  It was an emergency placement which was supposed to last 2 weeks which turned into 2 months!  Suddenly we were back to sleepless nights whilst tag-teaming as we still had our other responsibilities.  Samuel and Reuben were amazing big brothers to him and had to make lots of sacrifices over the summer. As we’ve known the baby since birth we were hoping that he would be placed with us officially as we have been in the process of applying for a foster licence but sadly he was placed with another family. It was heart breaking to hand him over to strangers but we trust that God has the best for him. It was lovely, if exhausting, having him around.

We hope to be licensed as a foster family soon.  We’ve had to jump though a lot of hoops so far but IF we get approved we will be the first white couple in Cebu to have a foster licence.  In many ways we are pleased that the social services are being so strict particularly as we have asked specifically for kids rescued from OSEC (Online Sexual Exploitation of Children) which is prevalent in the Philippines.  Many children with the help of International Justice Mission, social services and the police are rescuing children, but most of those kids will end up in an institution, especially if no other family members will take them.  We’re hoping and praying to be part of the solution!

Lorega Listening Bible
Kids Club Art
Kids Club Worship
Meanwhile, Alec and I continue to help in the community houses. Sometimes we look at the Bible, sometimes we do art and games, exercise or baking. It is never dull!  As well as that we do a kids club once a month for the local kids. Our age bracket is 2-5 years. A lot of them really love Alec as he runs around with them, throws them around and has lots of fun.  In fact last month when Alec was the first person ‘out’ in a game, they also wanted to be ‘out’ so that they could sit with him! So cute! The mum's are also supposed to come but often just send the little ones with an older sibling.  We would love to make stronger connections with the families and engage them as well but it will take time.

We are so proud of both our boys (I’m sure we say that every time!)  Obviously we have our moments and they often drive us crazy with moaning, grumpiness and other adolescent behaviour but we are trying to be their biggest cheerleaders. Samuel is off to Manila this Friday to take part in the global round of World Scholars Cup. Apparently 1,500 students from 30 different countries will be there. They debate, write etc.  Samuel’s worked really hard for it. 
Hopefully his computer-like brain will swing into action for the event.  He’ll be doing i-GCSE’s this academic year.

Reuben is also doing really well. School is not his favourite thing but he’s doing well and is turning out to be pretty good at maths, a natural in fact.  He’s decided he wants to be an architect. His two favourite things at the moment are watching bush-craft videos and fitness. He is very musical and loves playing his ukulele at bedtime….when he’s supposed to be sleeping.  Super cheeky but hilarious. 

  • Amazing team of people here - Please pray for good relationships
  • School fees for our boys which came at the perfect time.
  • Our foster licence application is moving forward. Hallelujah! Please pray it comes through soon and for our next steps. Please also pray for good standing and relationships with Social Services (DSWD) and other agencies.
  • We really felt that Mark (the leader of the guys house) was saved out of the jaws of death. Please pray that his recovery is complete
  • It has been amazing to see how God has provided the right people at the right time for the guys and girls houses. Please pray with us for more long term helpers.

Thank you so much for our interest in what we are doing. Please stay in touch (sorry we have not been great recently at sending out updates)!

Loads of Love,

Alec, Jo, Samuel and Reuben