Missions Update
JET Christian Fellowship
Missions Team
November 2014
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MISSIONS REPORT
PHILIPPINES 2014
 

OUR missions trip to the Philippines last March was a huge success and the Lord truly ordered our steps.

From the charity concerts we held in Osaka and Kyoto, to the short visit in Malaban, Binan, Laguna where JCF had served on a short-term mission last year, to the super typhoon-ravaged town of Tolosa in Leyte up to the ends of Biliran Island, God had revealed His glory in various ways. His plans were flawless and his providence didn't fail to work though people and circumstances.

The team consisted of a handful of ALTs from across Japan, a military man, a former goverment official and a housewife. Most were first-timers in the Philippines but are active in variety of ministries and have served in various mission fields in the past.

We would like to thank you for your prayers and support. We hope that in this missions report, you will discover more about the long-lasting impact of our short-term missions.

HELP THE CAUSE

WE are planning to send another group of volunteers to our international mission fields in the Philippines during Spring Break (March 21-30, 2015, *tentative dates). Our mission is to present the Gospel and share the love of Christ through supplies distribution, teaching, and the unique gifts we're blessed with from our team members.
 

 
Item Drives/Charity Events

In preparation for our trip, we are seeking individuals and groups to help us organize drives for items (that we will be sending to the Philippines) and charity events (fund-raisers). Previously, we've sent school supplies and new clothing. We will provide support and further information on how to conduct a drive.
 
VOLUNTEER

MISSION FIELDS

  • Malaban, Binan, Laguna
  • San Vicente, Tolosa, Leyte
  • Inusayan, Biliran Island

FUND-RAISER EVENTS

  • Share Love Charity Concert, Fukushima, Japan (Special Participation)
  • After the Storm (Charity Concert), Osaka, Japan
  • Show for a Cause (Charity Concert) Kyoto, Japan
Total Amount Collected: ¥180,000

DONATIONS

  • ¥ 80,000 donated to the Philippine National Red Cross
  • ¥ 100,000 used for feeding, supplies, supplies distribution (shipping cost)
  • 209 bags with schools supplies for San Vicente Elementary School (and Kindergarten) in Leyte
  • 26 bags with school supplies for the children in Inusayan, Biliran Island.

TESTIMONIES
 

First Stop: Malaban

Matthew Turner, Nagano

AS one of the few who had the privilege of arriving in the Philippines a couple of days before the rest of the group, I have been tasked with the grave responsibility of what we all did in Malaban. It's a tough job but someone has to do it, right?

As the only returning member from the group that went to the Philippines last year besides Pearl, this leg of the trip was a wonderful mixture of nostalgic sights and familiar faces. The cultural nuances and crowded streets of Binan brought back warm memories of my first visit from the year before. Once again, Pearl's home church opened its doors whole-heartedly to us, and we were openly welcomed to stay in the homes of various members of the church. In an immensely gracious show of humility, our respective host-families also prepared every meal for us and in general went out-of-their way to see that Abi and I were taken care of. Since we only had a couple of days before we would be flying out to Tacloban, we spent a fair bit of time preparing for the trip by picking up official JCF t-shirts for everyone, as well as shopping for the supplies we would eventually bring to the school. There is one particularly memorable thing from those couple days though that will stay a very, very long time: albeit the story is somewhat personal.

Last time I was in Binan, the group and I had the opportunity to take advantage of our collective experiences as English teachers and do lessons for local kids who had missed a lot of school due to recent flooding. Specifically, members of our group paired off and took local transportation to isolated areas and did  English lessons over the course of a couple hours. These lessons always included some kind of Bible story / message and took place literally on the side of the road for some groups (mine included). Last year, Adrianna and I went to a particularly isolated area about 10 minutes away by trike to teach whoever wanted to come by for the day. We had an excellent group of kids and I still think about them regularly. This time in Binan however, we didn't really have anything like that on the schedule since our purpose of being there was different. Surprisingly though, Pearl opted to make time for Abi and I to do the same thing again, but this time it would simply be on the church grounds. There was an additional surprise about this though. Unbeknownst to me, some of the church members prepared for the lesson by going to the area I worked in last year and spreading the word that I was back to do another guest lesson. Of the 25 kids that showed up to our lesson in total, no less than 20 were kids I recognized from last year that had come together, piled on a couple of motorized tricycles, and made the trip across town just to see me again. I can't even begin to describe how much it meant seeing those tricycles pull up with so many of my former students on-board. For me, THAT is what we did in Malabanreconnected with the kids whose lives were touched by our presence last year and cared enough to make the trip across town to see me again. Yeah, God does pretty cool things from time-to-time... ;)

God's Precious Jewels

Emma Strode, Kyoto

IT was a huge honour to be a part of the JCF team that went to serve the people who had been left devastated by typhoon Yolanda. We wanted to bless and serve as much as possible, but in many ways we were blessed and taught so much more in return by the wonderful people we met in the Philippines.

A highlight of the trip were the days spent in San Vincente Elementary School. Armed with school supplies and English game ideas, we arrived at the school ready to love and share God's joy with the children who had been affected by the typhoon. However, these children already had so much joy for life and the school contained so much hope in what could have easily been a hopeless situation. Despite the severely damaged school building and lack of resources the students were so bright and fun and it was clear that they hadn't given up on their school life. This was shown in a class with the 5th graders, who were so eager and excited to learn that some even pulled out their notebooks to scribble down words during a game of pictionary with huge smiles on their faces.

While in the Philippines I began to feel apprehensive about returning to work in a Japanese school. After experiencing how motivated and animated the children were in Tacloban, I worried about how I would react when faced with a sleepy class of unmotivated and privileged Japanese students. However, God has surprised me by really filling me with love for my Japanese students and excitement for the start of the new school year. The children were so precious in the Philippines, but I have also been reminded of how precious the students are in Japan and how much they are also loved by their Heavenly Father. I feel compelled to continuously pray that my students would feel fullness of joy whatever their circumstances.


I'm thankful for God's guidance and protection throughout the whole trip, for our wonderful team, and for the Filipinos who welcomed us into their communities, humbled us, and reminded us that God's love for us will not be shaken, no matter what difficulties we may face.

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you."
Isaiah 54:10

 

Memories of Tacloban
(Four Months After Typhoon Yolanda)

Joyanne Baab, Nagano

“We Need Food.”
Streaked white paint
With drops
That drip down the face
Of the Hull.
 
A ship
High above the water.
Shape sharp
Over tents and shacks
Scattered and jumbled
Around the base of this jagged gravestone—

Teeming with life.

 
Laughter and chatter rise and fall
With the swell of the surf.

Sound of birds and children,
Stench of sewage,
Smell of fish—

"Hello! Hello!" They call.

Eyes bright at the strange sight
Of tall light-eyed foreigners
Come to see: this symbol of destruction.

Smiling they flock forward to slap
Hands held high.
Colorful backpacks etched with Korean letters
Bobbing on their backs.

I remember a woman,
Eyes distant,
"We were five days without food,"
She said.
Past piles of pieces of lives,
Churned carelessly,
Shaken, and tossed back out—

A church.

Stained sides and twisted tumbling walls;
The lawn decorated with brightly colored
Signs, banners, balloons, and flowers

One says,

"Happy 10th Birthday Ricardo."
A smiling boy with glasses gazes warmly out.
"November 2nd."
"We miss you."

It flutters in a faint breeze.
Dancing, fitfully,
Over the white cross.

Throat tight,
Eyes thick with tears,
I turn back toward the bright green jeep.

Across the street
Jumps a boy,
Smile stretched from ear to ear,
Leaping and waving.

"Hello! Hello!" he calls.

His wave returned, he shrieks with laughter.
Twisting his cap in his hands;
Hugging his knees.
I remember a man,
Face lined with laughter,
Framed by the jeep window—
Grinning at his truckload of children.

"What was it like?" I ask.

"The sound, it was like… an airplane
And you open the windows."

"The glass in our house,"
His hands fly,
Fingers opening up and out,
"exploded!"

As I listen, I can hear it:

Roaring, twisting, howling wind—
Raking the ground with claws of rain.
Dragging, crushing, hurling, keening.
Wall of water,
Rushing,
Screaming.
"The next morning, bodies, lined the streets,"
He said

"I'll never forget one."
"A man with a child,"
"Two, maybe, three years old."
 
He gestures,
Arm out, supporting a child's head,
Pressing the hand to his chest.

"I was…" his voice falters.

He gestures,
Fingers
Touch his eyes—
Stroke down to
His chin.
….

 

Never Forgotten

Johnny Langdon, Kyoto

WE knew we would have to say goodbye to them, but that doesn't make it any easier. All afternoon we played and danced and laughed with these precious children, cherishing every moment. As the sun began to set, a small group of my favorite boys began to cling to me even tighter. It was time to go. As I staggered toward the jeepney, trying not to fall on top of the kids hanging from every limb, Jonedson fought for my attention. His departing request was simple but profound. "Johnny! Pictures!" He pointed toward the pocket concealing my phone. "Show in Japan! I was a little confused. "You want me to show your pictures in Japan?" I asked. "Yes! Yes!" As he jumped with joy his brilliant smile blurred in my vision. "Haha! ok, Jonedson, I will!" We gave our last goodbye hugs and last secret handshakes before the jeepney engine sputtered to life. As we rode into the sunset, a parade of running children raced after us with big smiles until their little legs couldn't keep up and their waving hands faded in the waning light.

I thought about what Jonedson said the whole jeepney ride back. I get it now. What these kids wanted, possibly more than anythings else, was to know that they are not forgotten. Typhoon Yolanda had taken almost everything from them, even friends and family. Though we can't give them these things back, we brought something that can't be taken againlove and hope. A bunch of foreign English teachers living in Japan coming all the way out to their rural village in Tolosa just to play with them, just to laugh with them, just to love themthat was the best gift we could have given. We may eventually forget their beautiful faces, and they may forget ours, but our time with them brought hope that they are loved and that they are remembered.

 

So it is my great pleasure to share with you the delightful smile of my friend Jonedson. Let it be known that he is one awesome dude. Let it be known that our God will never forget him.
 

Guitars

David Berg, Hyogo

IT'S amazing what God will do when you give Him room to work.

It sounds presumptuously unfaithful and spiritually ignorant, but that is, out of all the lessons learned in the Philippines, the single greatest kernel of wisdom I received. Many of us marveled at the resilience of the Filipino people, or delighted in the energy of the students we taught, or were heart-broken by the stories of fathers or children or friends swept away by the storm. But for me, it all came back to the idea of God's supplication and His redemptive work—not just within us, but also in the world around us. And for me, there was no greater evidence of God's providence than in the guitars we saw that week.

One of the first things I asked our trip leader when we arrived at MNL for our first flight was "What are the chances of us finding a guitar down in Tacloban?" She squinted and pursed her lips before shaking her head silently. At that moment, I shrugged it off, thinking perhaps I should have brought that guitar from home after all. After our first day, however, I decided to pray about it. Not just a "Hey, God, it'd be nice if we had one of these, but since we're in a typhoon-devastated city, I totally get it if You can't hook us up." I decided to pray as Jesus taught us—with faith and anticipation that God is the game-changer. He makes all things possible. So I lifted it up:

God, You don't want a weak prayer asked in doubt. You want to prove that You can provide whatever we ask for. So I'm asking for You to give us a guitar. Show us guitars. Surround us with guitars. I want to laugh about how many guitars I see this week.

Sure enough, when we went to lunch that day, we saw someone singing songs and finger-picking a guitar. When we went to our school in Tolosa, they had a guitar. When we drove out sightseeing around Tacloban, people were carrying guitars with them on motorcycles. Even when we drove up to Biliran to our next location, the church where we stayed had a guitar. Their next-door neighbor also showed up that evening, guitar in hand. And when it came time to go back home, I saw guitars in the airport.

It seems rather inwardly focused to be thinking about what God gave me during a mission trip, but it was a two-way transaction. God wasn't giving me a guitar so that I could have something to mess around with at night. God was giving us a guitar for the purpose of bringing others to Him through worship. In the end, it wasn't pointing at me, or at the people of the Philippines, or at JET Christian Fellowship, it was pointing to Him and to His glory.
 

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
 - Matthew 7:8
This is my prayer in the harvest
Where favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow

- Desert Song, Hillsong United
 

Wanted: Helpers

Royal Langer, Aomori


"HOW could a good God let all of this tragedy happen?"
 
Have you ever thought this? I know I have, along with the rest of the world when the news of the disaster in the Philippines reached our ears. I can attest that there are areas that are still littered with wreckage from the water surge, and the temporary housing tents stood out against the landscape as I flew in. I was only to be there for two days, joining the rest of the team for the last 2 days.
 
Over the course of two days, we traveled, swam, ate coconuts, took simple showers in a river, sang praise songs, got to do a program for the children in a community, and I even got a haircut. Through all of this, I don't remember ever seeing a person that was sad, or who didn't smile when you said hello to them. You start to ask yourself if a tsunami really happened here or not, because if you looked at the people, you would not be able to tell.


 
"How could God allow such tragedy?" A good question to ask. Let's seek God's true form and ask Him these questions. But if we are to ask this, we also have to ask, "How could God allow such joy to come out of such dire circumstances?"
 
I don't want to pull any punches here, the situation in the Philippines, especially places like Tacloban, is severe. They still need our help, and Christ wants to use the Church to fulfill this need. But realize that if you do go to serve them, you will end up receiving so much more than you are able to give to them, which is exactly what happened to us!

 

What in the world is God doing?
 

Copyright © 2014 Missions Team JET Christian Fellowship, All rights reserved.

www.jetchristianfellowship.com

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