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Philippines

One of the key foundations of any mission connection is relationship – and that is certainly how we first became involved with a small AoG Church on the Island of Talim in the Philippines. The Calzado family are members of a growing Philippine community here in One Church Gloucester – Rose Cazaldo originates from Talim and still has family living on this small island, and it’s because of Rose’s passion to reach out to the Talim people that decided to send a small mission team from Gloucester to the Philippines in summer of 2011. You can read all about their experiences here.

We are sending our second team in August 2013, to continue to build with our friends in Talim. The team will also be spending some time in Manila with Jane Walker from Philippine Community Fund (PCF).

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Early in 2013 Ally asked to see me (always a bit scary when that happens!) – God had been stirring her heart about taking a team of mums and daughters on a mission trip to the Philippines – an opportunity for mums and their daughters to serve and grow together.

I’ll let Ally pick the story up …

On the 14 August a team of 12 of us boarded a plane to Manilla to embark on the Mums and Daughters 12 day Philippines mission. The team consisted of Ally & Abi Jarvis, Mandy & Hannah Cresswell, Julie & Amy Jorden, Sharon and Kate Shepherd and Merryl & Deyonne Gallagher. Also accompanying us and taking care of safety and logistics were the dream team, Hugh and Julie Dowling.

The idea for this trip came after a missions night in 2012 when Jane Walker came to speak about her work with PCF with families who live and work on the rubbish dumps of Manila. I watched my 11 year old daughter kneel at the front of church obeying the call to go wherever God wanted her to go.  Abigail has always felt strongly about helping those in poverty and so why not give her the chance to? 4 other mums felt the same way and so in July 2013 we got together to make something happen. We had the following 3 aims:

  1. To bravely go and make a difference in one of the worlds worst areas of poverty.
  2. To be a blessing to PCF mums and daughters who live and work on the dump sites; spend quality time with them, get to know them, understand how they live, learn from them and give them quality experiences with their children.
  3. To allow this adventure to enrich our own mother daughter relationships and better equip our daughters for the call of God on their lives.

We met with Jane who was totally excited about our ides and agreed to help us make this happen in summer 2014. We had a year to save and prep!  September to December 2013 was spent fundraising and after a string of really successful events such as auctions, charity car parks, carol singing, calendars, coffee mornings, quizzes …the list is endless…we raised a whopping £3,500. January to July 2014 was spent preparing practically and spiritually for the trip. Due to the dangerous nature of the area, in May of 2014 a wise decision was made to add Hugh and Julie Dowling as team guides. We would like to honour this couple who used the only two weeks holiday they had from work, at short notice, to facilitate and protect us on the trip. They are true heroes.

Ok so what did we do? There are so many things I’d over to tell you but here is a summary…

Our first few days were spent visiting the two of the dump sites PCF work with. This was the worst place we’d ever had to walk. It sickened us both physically and emotionally that people lived here, and worse, would never know anything different for the whole of their lives. Children ran to meet us, adults waved and smiled, constantly, through the stench and mess we were met with happy faces. During both visits we had the privilege of visiting the dump site church that PCF have planted. Being in a dark, dirty room with over hundred children singing to God does something to you. We had the opportunity to sing One Church style to them too, they loved it!!

The next three days we spent at the PCF school. In the mornings we helped reorganise their stock rooms to better facilitate the aid that they are sent. Then after a basic school lunch, the daughters delivered vibrant one church style gospel sessions to the younger and older students while us mums got the room and hospitality ready for our mums and daughters sessions. 5 families of mums and daughters, (plus two sons!) had been selected for us to spend time with. When they walked in they were immaculately dressed and all smiles. The next three afternoons, we had so much fun, sharing our stories, family photos, eating, playing games, dancing, singing and laughing together. A highlight for us was the privilege of a home visit to our families. I have never felt more honoured to be a guest anywhere in my life. To sit and talk as friends about life, Jesus and matters of the heart. These women are just like us.

Each evening during our trip we got together as a team to pray and feedback on our day which was invaluable and also, each mum and daughter were given a daily task to complete together to improve and deepen their relationship.

After a few days off and a quick visit by Mandy, Hannah and Hugh to Talim Island catch up and bring some gifts to Pastor Ceri and his family, we were ready for the final part our mission. We were going to give our new friends a weekend to remember!

Saturday was spent at Manila Ocean Park. A place for the affluent, but not today!! We have never seen so many excited faces to see tropical fish and sea creatures for the first time, tickle a stingray, eat ice cream, an eat all you can buffet lunch, ride the bumper cars, even visit snowy ‘Area Antarctica’ and the screams from everyone at the fish spa…all finished off with a souvenir from the gift shop. not bad!!

Sunday was a shopping trip. Each person had 500Pesos to spend. You need to know that this was something that had never done….and was life changing for them. Watching the mums hold back the tears as their child chose what they wanted, from shoes to their first ever toy. The mums asked that their money could be for groceries so we let them loose in the local supermarket. After our Jolly Bs lunch, one daughter proudly and deliberately collected the lunch leftovers. ‘This is for my brothers’ she said excitedly.

Saying goodbye was very difficult and emotional. We were leaving a group of friends in a place we didn’t want them to be. It had been life changing for all of us. We prayed, hugged, exchanged addresses and some Facebook details and tearfully watched as the PCF bus took them home.

I need to end with a massive thank you to Jane Walker and the staff of PCF who worked hard to facilitate our crazy scheme. We were so humbled that despite a small staff base and a huge workload, they dedicated time, money  and effort into make our hopes a reality. Moving classes, rooms, transport, staff, assigning the only two social workers that had to accompany us and so much more. To see more about PCF visit www.p-c-f.org

Well, hope you’ve enjoyed this small snapshot. To hear the full story, come to missions night on 23 November. Maybe the next story will be yours…

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