A Mission Team Update (September 2019)
The new school year is now underway all over Michigan. It’s also underway in the Philippines where it began back in June. And the First Pres Philippines Mission Team is happy to report that we currently are providing 50% tuition scholarships to College and University students, and that we are providing scholarships that cover the cost of school uniforms and school supplies to 24 high school and 53 junior high school students. Our iHomes Dumaguete (the local successor nonprofit to Habitat for Humanity) partner in the Philippines assures us these 119 students would not be able to attend school this year without our assistance. We no longer support elementary school students with scholarships because a Japanese nonprofit has stepped into that role, thus allowing us to focus all our efforts on the others. In the second semester we will be providing scholarships to ten additional college students.
To qualify for a scholarship, all these students must be from one of the poverty level families in an iHomes (Habitat) house in Dumaguete (some of which were built by PMT members), and they must be and remain in good academic standing with a C or better grade average. The PMT has also completed our three-year Bread of Hope Bakery project of providing funds for construction of a bakery (yes, with a commercial oven and more) at the Dumaguete city jail. This project benefits all the female inmates at the facility by training and giving them jobs skills for their lives following release.
"MAGBAYANIHAN TAYO” - Let Us Build Together
We thought we were going to the Philippines to build homes. What we really did was build faith, trust, and friendships that have lasted almost 20 years. Join the Philippines Mission Team and see what more we can build together!
The Philippines Mission Team (PMT) began in 1999 working with Habitat for Humanity, President Jimmy Carter Build in Dumaguette City, with local and international partners. In five days, 30 homes were built with 22 First Pres representatives working side-by-side with local Filipino families – making life long friends.
We thought our mission was to help poor, needy, Filipino families. We went to “give” but we came back having “received” far more than we gave. We were blessed with a striking demonstration of Christian faith in the midst of suffering and poverty and a genuine outpouring of love from individuals we had just met and with whom we worked and built. We gained a new appreciation for different cultures and languages and a burning desire to return.
God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform ... and we witnessed it!
The Work of the Philippines Mission Team
Responding to the expressed needs of the Filipino families, the PMT has worked on many projects. We are the Lord’s hands. There have been and are many ways we are being directed to work. Past and continuing projects include:
- Collected and shared $475,000 worth of books and school supplies.
- Supported 70+ student scholarships annually, allowing needy bright students the opportunity to continue in high school or go on to local colleges.
- Built eight homes and two community centers for a variety of uses by all members of the Habitat community; one funded by First Pres’ Jeane Seeley Legacy Funds.
- Supported Habitat women with annual stipends to make and serve daily nutritious meals and clean water to 90 patients at the Talay Psychiatric Hospital.
- Collected, cleaned and shipped over 1,000 pairs of sneakers to be sold by Habitat mothers with the proceeds supporting scholarship recipients.
- Shipped donated sewing machines and over 1,000 yards of fabric to support women who are learning to sew and create livelihood income for their families.
- Built a dental clinic and annually provided medical and dental supplies to support physicians and dentists.
Provincial Jail in Dumaguete
Our newest project is a ministry to help inmates at the Provincial Jail in Dumaguete.
- Some inmates stay in jail up to 11 years without a hearing.
- Personal space is extremely limited. Beds are less than a foot apart.
Sanitation and living conditions are primitive. When prisoners asked for help, we provided power washers and paint to clean cell blocks. We supplied Bibles, dental and hygiene supplies, eyeglasses, books, magazines, sanitation and cleaning supplies.
Livelihood training is non-existent. With funds approved by the mission team, a prison bakery will be run by inmates. The bread will be sold by family members, offering them a means of support.
Regardless of whether you donate items, pound nails, mix cement, give money, come to fund raisers, pack boxes, teach sewing, pray for the team, or become an active member of the team, your reward is more than can be imagined. The love, warmth, faith, and gratitude of the Filipino people is overwhelming.
Join our team! Learn more at our next meeting, held the second Sunday of the month at 12:15 p.m. in the French Room/Library.
Check out the Philippines Mission Team's blog from their 2013 trip: PTF2013.blogspot.com. View photos, read reflections and hear about all the amazing projects we did, from building a recreation center to helping out with a woman's coop and mental hospital.