Ministry Update for Bryce Homes International
December 18, 2013
Bryce Homes Update
This update is coming to you from Manila where I am presently located. I arrived here late on the 15th of December and will be heading back to the USA on the 21st in time to be at home with my family for Christmas.
While the Philippines has been in the world news lately because of the terrible typhoon that caused destruction and death in a wide area, all of our Bryce Homes were spared from this disaster in the Manila area. Before this disaster struck I had made plans to visit the Philippines while Mike and Becky Miller were here to visit their family for the Christmas season and to update myself on the progress of the Bryce Homes Program here as well as to look at the possibility of expanding the number of homes.
Yesterday I met with, Rey and Gleceria Laoagan (Bryce Home One) and their five children. As well, the Laoagan family looks after Abner, an 18 year old boy from a remote tribe in the Philippines, who is receiving his High School education in Manila while living with the Laoagan family. Abner will be graduating from High School in March and has plans to continue his education at a Bible Seminary where he will be trained to become a Bible teacher and take the gospel in his native language to his home community.
Two years ago when we started the Bryce Home Program in the Philippines we assisted the Laoagan family to build an addition to their house in order to accommodate the addition of Abner and one other boy. The second boy returned to his village as his mother was very ill and will not be returning.
While visiting Rey and his family I was informed that there are several children orphaned from the recent typhoon who are now attending the same school Abner is attending in Manila. I have asked that research be done and if there is a way we can add one or more of these orphans to our Bryce Homes program, we will offer to do so.
On another note, funds for the Understand The Times/Lighthouse Trails Special Winter Building Program are coming in on a daily basis. Winter Offering Special Building Fund We are about half way to our goal and are trusting the Lord to provide through year end giving that often comes in the last week of the year.
Over the next few days I will be sending more reports from Manila that will be posted at our Understand The Times website.
Bryce Homes Update
Yesterday was another great day here in Manila. Pastor Richard along with Mike Miller picked me up at my hotel in the afternoon and we headed for Malanday, a region where six Bryce Homes are located. We were greeted by an afternoon heavy downpour on the way as well as the traffic that clogs the Pasig City streets almost twenty-four hours every day.
Finally after a full hour we arrived at our destination. The Malanday area is where Pastor Richard and his wife Bernadette have established a church among some of the poorest people in the Manila area. Most of the people that live in this region have been moved there by the government from shanty areas and given some assistance to construct shelters. Some of the shelters are acceptable by western standards but most are not. It is in this area that we have reached out to some of the poorest families attending Richardís church for the purpose of establishing six more Bryce Homes.
As darkness was approaching quickly we only had time to visit four of the six homes. Later today when we return to the area for the Understand The Times Christmas Program which will be for all the poor children in the area we will visit the remaining two homes.
While the Philippine government provides free education for all children, the families in this area are so poor they are not able to send their children to school as they are not able to provide food and clothing. In some cases they will be able to send one child to school but the remaining children in the family must remain at home and work. The Bryce Homes Philippine Program comes along side families in situations like this and assists them financially on a monthly basis so the children can attend school.
While all children in Bryce Homes Program have benefited spiritually and physically over the three full years the program has been in place, there is one handicapped boy who touched my heart from the beginning that I want to mention. Initially when I met Russel and his mother he was very withdrawn and frightened. He did not want to communicate in any way with me. It was obvious that he needed special education and care because of his condition. Now after three years you would hardly know he is the same boy. While clearly stating a number of English words he hugged me expressing his appreciation. In fact, he did not want to leave my side and followed me everywhere I went. His mother told me he is improving every day and loves to attend his special education classes. She also hugged me with appreciation and with tears in her eyes.
The children I visited in the remaining three homes we visited yesterday were also very grateful. One of the purposes of my trip here, this time, was to give the parents of each home a special Christmas gift from Understand The Times to assist their families at this special time of the year and to encourage them. These gifts were made possible by the generous donations we have received from donors through Understand The Times.
Several of our Bryce Homes are in dire need of physical reconstruction. While we do not have the funds to assist now we will look at this possibility in the future. As well, there are at least three other families who attend Richardís church who are in great need of sending their children to school and would fit well into our program here. As our donors express their support we will pass these funds on to Pastor Richard who oversees our program here in the Philippines.
Later today we will be returning to Malanday for our Christmas Party. I brought, with me, several packages of Christmas candy which most of the children will have never experienced before. We will also provide bags of rice for their families so that many lives will be blessed.
Just before we left, Mike Miller felt upon his heart to provide a special cash donation to the lady who volunteers her time to help cook every week for the feeding program. This has become a community that has become united together because of the goodness they have seen distributed from others around the world who have expressed their love and concern. It is because of Mike Miller and his love for the Lord that God led me to this area.
For me, the progress that I have seen as the gospel of Jesus Christ is being spread in the Philippines, is very gratifying. I know that my son Bryce would be excited and grateful to see what has been accomplished here in the Philippines in his memory.
Tomorrow I will be reporting on the Christmas party for all the poor children in the Malanday region.
Bryce Homes Update
We arrived in the Malanday area of Manila early Saturday morning in plenty of time to visit the remaining two Bryce Homes that we had not visited. Already there were children gathering for the Christmas Party Understand The Times had planned for the children in the area who attended the feeding program during the year at Pastor Richardís church.
The mothers of several of the Bryce Homes, Pastor Richardís wife Bernadette, and several volunteers were at the church preparing the food that would later be given out as part of the special Christmas celebration. For the vast majority of the children, this feast would be a dinner they had never before experienced Ė spaghetti with meat sauce along with plenty of chicken.
The Christmas program began at about ten in the morning with Pastor Richard welcoming the seventy or more children from ages 5 to 17 who had assembled. Three age groups participated in the program reciting Bible verses and singing a number of Christmas hymns and songs. Pastor Richard asked me to share a short message based on scripture with regard to the meaning of Christmas explaining the importance of Jesus, the most important gift that has ever been given.
Following this message the children played a series of relay games according to age groups. Without question this was a delightful time as everyone was cheering for their own team and shouting loud enough to raise the tin roof of the church. Then came time for the handing out of gifts to every child that was in attendance. Each received a bag of candy, bag of rice for their families and an article of clothing. All of the volunteer helpers received gifts as well.
Finally it was time to eat. Individual plates full of food were handed out to everyone. I only wish our Understand The Times supporters could have been there to experience the joy that I experienced and the wonderful blessing I received to see firsthand what God is doing in the Philippines through the ministry that has been raised up.
The children who are part of this feeding program are all regular attendees of Sunday School and other Bible classes held at Pastor Richardís church. They have all heard the gospel and know what it means to be ďsaved by grace.Ē I am grateful to Pastor Richard and his team for the great work they are doing in this poor community as they reach out to the hungry but more importantly to those who are spiritually lost. When I asked Richard about his assessment of the Understand The Times feeding program he told me that about fifty percent of the adult congregation were attending his church as the result of children in the program bringing their parents to church to hear the gospel.
What God is doing through the ministry of Understand The Times under the guidance of Pastor Richard in the Philippines is truly exciting.Sincerely,
Understand The Times
Understand The Times is an independent non-profit organization in
Canada and the United States.