Sunday, December 27, 2015

Typhoon News

We have now experienced our 3rd typhoon.  Each one had a personality all its own.

The first one in July of 2014 we didn't have any warning about.  When we were watching the storm, we could see waves occasionally coming up on the sand outside of our front door.  We were quite concerned until we saw that the waves had taken away enough sand to reveal a break wall two doors towards the beach from our door. There were the typical high winds, big waves, and lots of rain.   But we fared very well.  When the storm was over, it had taken about 6 feet of sand off of the beach, leaving 5 feet of the break wall  exposed.  A huge tree in the front of the pool, on the beach had fallen over because of no remaining root support from the missing sand.  There was debris everywhere.

In December of 2014 we were warned of a Super Typhoon heading across the Philippines.  We prepared rooms in the ministry center in case people needed to leave their homes and come there for shelter.  As the storm approached, it again made landfall several times and by the time it reached Aninuan it wasn't even labeled a typhoon it had lost so much power.  It was a Tropical Storm when it hit us.  

We went up to the ministry center and waited for people to come.  No one came.  We went back to our apartment by the beach to watch it roll in.  That storm left the beach very dirty.  The rain had started the river running that empties into the sea.  So the water was carrying everything that had been sitting on the dry river bed for months.  

The morning after the storm

The day after, the sea had scooped up what it had deposited and cleaned the beach up again.

The 2nd morning after the storm.

On December 15th of this year, 2015, we knew that another typhoon was coming. This time we stayed in our apartment and went about our business...UNTIL...we noticed that water was coming in the window in our office...ON THE 2ND FLOOR.  We got out some towels and laid them on the floor..then we put some in the window track...then in the metal frame...then we used wash cloths to catch the water before it went into the lower gap.  We squeezed water out of towels for 3 or 4 hours non-stop until we could hardly squeeze anymore.

Well into the process we stuffed the washcloth into the lower gap and left it there with the corner of the cloth hanging down.  It wasn't long before water started running out of the corner, so I lifted the corner away from the wall so it would drip into the bucket below.  Then we propped paper clips under the wash cloth and against the wall to position the dripping corner over the bucket without human contact.  We had finally built a better mouse trap.  We still had towels to squeeze out, but that gave us a break.  We dumped out 6+ gallons of water that had come in through the window frame.

As part of my normal routine after a storm, I went to capture pictures of what the sea spit out.  

        Many big trees were dragged in this time all the way down the beach.                      

But here is my all time favorite storm far.  A puffer fish.

The mate to this boot was 50 yards down the beach.

This is the way they take care of the debris from the storms.

We were left with no power in the village for 5 days.  We have generators at Tamaraw and at the ministry center, but most people do not.  So, at the ministry center on Saturday, when we paid the bracelet makers, we created a charging station with as many available sockets as possible.  Everyone brought there dead cell phone to be charged.  Most of these phones are much nicer than my phone.   


A New Face for the Website, New Logo and New Fundraising Application

Unseen Ministries, a ministry that helps other ministries have a better online presence has been working with us for many months to re-brand and give us a new fresh look to our website.  They have designed a new logo that is fresh and clean too.  

They will also help us behind the scenes in the future to handle our business functions more efficiently.  They have designed a new form that will be used by fundraisers who are requesting the permission to sell Threads of Hope products for their Fundraisers or Love Projects.  

They are folks much younger than most of us who are more knowledgeable about websites than we are.  They know the current trends of how people use websites and will help us to catch up to the times.  For example, they know that people don’t like to read anymore so they are helping us to present things with more pictures and fewer words.  

I am waiting on pics to add.  I will post them when I get them.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Building the Birthing Center and Beyond

We started out in September of this year trying to design a two-story building that would have two distinct functions.  The first floor would be to house the existing thread store and storage room. The front rooms of the high school are the current home of the Threads Store. 

The second floor would be living quarters for the Coltrane family.  The roof of that building would be a spot where we can build a shading roof and rails so that area can be used as part of daily living space for homeschooling, hanging laundry, devotion time.  The views will be amazing.  Outdoor living is the norm here based on the always toasty temperatures. 

An initial sketch of the quarters we will be building

Then, along came the donation, out of the blue, of the birthing center contents. So as you can image, the direction got changed quickly.  The birthing center became the priority to be completed.

Birthing Home specs

Because we have guests that come for a month at a time several times a year, the World Racers.

World Racers monkeying around!

 We have 14 Racers here now. And because the space they use when they are here happens to be rooms of the high school, we are now focused on building that two-story building mentioned above, but using the ground floor for guests and the 2nd floor for Coltranes.  We have a spot on the hill picked out for the building already.  

Quarters to go to the right of the mango tree with tent cover.

After those quarters are built, we will begin a separate house for the Coltranes further up the hill.  Then the guest quarters would move to the second floor and the store would move out of the high school and into the lower level of the two-story building.

Of course, all of this can change at a moment's notice.  It has already changed several times.  But, the buildings will be build in 2016.  At least the first two will be.  We will notify you of the progress as we go along.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Aninuan Christian Training School (ACTS)

A few years ago Threads of Hope had been praying about building a school in the community.  Our initial thought was to build an elementary school.  But after visiting the schools in the area it became clear that we were to build a high school instead.  There were elementary schools in the area, but the real need was a high school.  The nearest high school is 8 kilometers from Aninuan.  Many families can't afford the cost of transportation to the existing high school so the children drop out of school, which destroys the chance of ever going to college.  

With our focus now clear, we went to work designing the building to be attached to the end of the already existing ministry center.  

The specs were approved and construction of a 10 room school, complete with a stage overlooking the preexisting basketball court, was completed in June of 2013.

Of course, the next thing to pray about was for someone to run the school.  We are good at getting buildings constructed, but operating a school is an entirely different challenge.  What we didn’t know is that God already had the man chosen who would take on the task.  He and his wife had come here on a mission trip in 2013.  The man had even climbed up the old mango tree up on the hill to admire the beauty of the area.  After returning home, they felt God tugging on their heart strings to go back to Aninuan to serve the community there. 

He was, if you can imagine, a teacher and a school administrator.  He has taught at junior high level and at a tech college.  He was an elementary principal for 3 years and most recently was director of the program at the tech college. 

As this letter is being written, Ben Coltrane, his wife Sara, and their four children, Clara (10), Noah (8), Elliott (4) and Samantha (1) are already in Manila waiting for the weather to clear to come over to Mindoro and get settled in.  It looks like we will see them right after the Christmas.

God really had and even better plan than we thought.  Not only did we get one teacher and administrator, but we got a music teacher as well.  Sarah is certified to teach  K-12.  She has been very involved in the kids Sunday school worship time, as well as vacation bible school.  She has also coordinated a music and drama camp for years.  She plays flute, piano and is learning guitar.  She has only been in the Philippines for a couple of weeks and has already taken the time to teach a class of children some songs in English.

We welcome them to the Philippines and to Aninuan where they will help us launch the opening of the high school.  They will continue to home school their children as well.  We think the plan will be to launch one grade the first year, then add on a grade every year until all grades are covered.  As you can imagine, there is MUCH planning and organizing to do to get the school open.  When the Coltranes actually get to Aninuan, we will find out the targeted school year for beginning classes and let you know later.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Lola Florencia Birthing Home


What would you do if you had been praying about starting a clinic for years and suddenly you receive an email from an old missionary friend and she asks you if you would accept her donation of all of the necessary contents for a birthing clinic because she remembered a conversation she had with you about that very topic years earlier?  All we needed to supply was the building.  

Recognizing that God was in the middle of this, we accepted the offer in faith.  Moving quickly was mandatory.   Within a few days we had a plan to drive to Olongapo (about 10 hours away).  

We picked up beds, tables, oxygen tank, a birthing table, chairs for the waiting room,

 boxes of vitamins, birthing supplies, a stainless sink with a foot pump, pictures for the walls,  

information on how to apply for permits, Board of Health approved building specs, and a circular sign to put on the front of the building that we will construct. There was even a generator and an ambulance.  

And there is more!  God even provided us with a midwife and an assistant who will be supported by the donating ministry.  We will be able to offer free births to women in the area.

On the very day that we picked up our donation and gathered all of the necessary information to get certified and approved, a woman who was a midwife in the village for MANY years went to be with the Lord at the age of 101.  God, it appears, had even provided us with the name of the birthing center.  We will name if after Lola Florencia in honor of her years of service to the Aninuan community. 

The midwife's assistant, Meddie, is the sister of the original bracelet maker that the Kuhlows met on the beach in 1997 and the grand daughter of Lola Florencia. The birthing center donation was designed to allow Meddie to return to her family after being away for 5 years.  Her husband was killed several years ago in a motorcycle accident.  After that, Meddie intended to work aboard to be able to support her four children.  (A common thing to do.)  In an effort to keep her safer than working abroad, she was employed by the woman who ran the birthing center in Olongapo, Vicki Penwell.  She wouldn't be home, but at least she would be safe.

Meddie's four children have been living near family in Aninuan during her employment in Olongapo.  Three days before she was to return home, during a typhoon, her eldest son who was 21 was electrocuted after touching a wire on a generator owned by his employer.  He went there to charge his cell phone during the storm. He was the bread winner of the family for years already.  Such a sad beginning for what was to be a long awaited family reunion.  Still her faith is strong and she feels blessed to be home with her children again. 

She will start working with us soon to apply for permits and certifications that we need in order to open the birthing home.  Our next step is to finalize a design for the building.