A short account of 10 years in the Philippines from Beth
Ten years and 6 months ago we packed up our house, gave away most things and moved the rest to my parents' garage, taking only 8 suitcases and 2 boxes (to be shipped later). We repainted our home and listed it for sale. All of this, with a 3 year old, 2 year old and newborn. As I reflect on the preparation I am eternally grateful to our church, friends and family who eagerly helped us in many practical ways.
Then we got on a plane, leaving a comfortable life, friends and family, for a country I didn't even know existed a year earlier (Geography is not a strong suit!). And God provided again. Friends were instantly made; strangers picked us up at the airport and housed us (also missionaries who we managed to 'meet' online before coming) until we moved into the house next to them a week later.
We left for a 3 year adventure for Tom get his M.Div, and for us both to understand immigrant populations better. The plan being to return to Canada and work in ministry with immigrants. At the time, 3 years looked like a very long time, but manageable. It's a good thing God never showed us the longer plan - I'm not sure I'd have gone.
During that time God revealed a different plan, the dream for Project: Pag-asa, and then the reality of it. A desire to care for orphans, abused and trafficked children through education designed specifically for them.
We left secure jobs, for a life dependent on people's donations to our salary. The first couple of years we lived off the profit from selling our home and my maternity benefits. Of course, that soon ran out and we became wholly dependent on people's donations. This is probably one of the biggest areas of growth and awe for me. We've had months where finances have been crazy tight, and somehow we've not gone without food. We've had an unreliable car replaced with a brand new one. When my children started turning into giants that could no longer squeeze into the back seats, yet another new car (van this time) that seats all of us in luxury was provided.
We still have months where I worry and stress about finances and if we'll have enough. Even after 10 years of God's faithfulness, I seem to struggle with this. I certainly understand how the Israelites in the desert struggled.
God has been so good. Whilst on home visits to Canada and the UK (which are exceptionally expensive for us, and on paper a financial impossibility) we have seen His continued provision. For example, one trip to to the UK we unexpectedly had only 300 pounds / 500 CAD to last a month, a month of petrol/gas, food & groceries, and some hotels. Throughout that month strangers & occasionally friends, would just hand us envelopes of money saying, "This is for you," or "God said you need this." It became a standard way to get through the next week. Every time we started to run low on petrol (gas), another envelope would appear. Even as I write this I see how ludicrous this sounds, and all my financial savviness cringes.
Somehow God has not only provided for our every need, but also for fun along the way. Sometimes I wrestle with this. I have to remind myself that God gives good things to us because He wants to - just as I give good and fun gifts to my kids.
I wrestle also with the poverty we encounter everyday. For the first couple years this, and the health care system here, were the hardest parts of living here.
Not only has God been faithful to our family finances, but I've been so privileged to watch as He unfolds Project: Pag-asa. Never would I have dreamed I would start and run a school, reliant wholly on donations, grants and some volunteers. And God has done this in His own way. Currently we're half way to 30 million pesos needed for the new school building - that's after being donated a piece of land worth several million pesos!
And all of this, God has orchestrated to show abused, abandoned and orphaned children His love for them. All of this is so He can redeem them.