Wednesday, 24 February 2021

And Here We Are!!


Hello all! long tome no wright!  Nine months ago I said "here we go!" and off we went.  so much so that I have not gotten around to posting a blog post since. To think... 9 months....that's a whole pregnancy! aaand....that's my midwife brain working, I have sent out Newsletters for the ministry  I am trying to keep the blog going as my more personal perspective.  

Just as a note I have to be extra careful with pictures names and detailed concerning out residents at the shelter since this is a much less private platform than our Newsletters.

 Obviously I cannot go into every event in the last 9 months as that would then become a full length narrative.  so I will strive to just hit the highlights. 

We opened June first.  I remembered the night before feeling disbelief that it was really happening, I could only think of everything that could go wrong.  The day came and our first two lambs arrived, the day went smoothly, we did everything according to our protocols and in the evening we left our house parents in charge, emphasizing they could call for anything!  coming home that night I wondered if we had done everything right 

Soon a rhythm started to develop and two months later our next two arrived, then not long after than three more.  mostly children, this seems to be who God wants us to serve at this point.  Since I have always loved children this is fine by me :)  some of our little ones came with intense emotions that came out through fighting with one another, For awhile a day rarely went by without the young ones fighting and arguing with their siblings.  There were days we wondered if it was ever going to get easier.  but then all the sudden we realized we weren't breaking up fights as much, the children were apologizing to each other with more ease and saying less hateful things to each other.  Any parent will agree what an amazing feeling it is when you see your children actually put the lessons you teach into action and improve because of it.   THANK YOU JESUS! The main part of our minsitry is really just creating a normal family environment, teaching Godly principles and parenting.  

Bible studies and stories are a normal weekly event.  Some of them did not even know the true meaning of Christmas and about the Birth of Jesus 

November brought another young woman to us, and December brought our 9th. Days are busier, especially with  school.  Here in the Philippines all school have remained closed during the Pandemic which means everything has either gone online or in module form, which is printed off lessons and worksheets that we pick up from the school each week and then drop off the completed work.  I have always wanted to homeschool and here we are....Although due to the language barrier there is only so much I can help with, but we have a great staff team and everyone pitches in, the girls even help one another sometimes even the younger grades helping the older. 

We try to keep them busy when they are not doing school so they don't get bored. we got lots of craft supplies from Canada, they are all very creative and love to make cards, crafts and colouring. 

Just like when I was at Safe we try and make Birthdays a special event, for many of our girls its their first time to have such an experience

I am learning lots about treasury work, have made mistakes but then learned from them.  When one feels called to the mission field they typically don't think "I just feel like God is calling me to do paperwork and money managing on the mission field" but it does come with the territory

There have certainly been some hard times in this new ministry but here sure has been a lot of joy as well, there is never a dull moment in this kind of ministry. 

Here are a few more photos of fun times

BBQ newYears Eve                                          Smores Christmas day             

Christmas cookies decorating with ate Cheryl's daughters 

Crossing a hanging a bridge for an                        PJ is still by my side! he loves his new home
out reach with the church

                                   an outreach to bring food to communities effected by the typhoon
                                                  getting out of doors
                                                          this is how we do our laundry 

Midwifery is also still been happening, I volunteer for one shift per week, it helps to maintain my skill and gives me another life outside of Refuge of Hope.  I also got to deliver a baby who was the younger sibling of one of our residents.  there is nothing quite like being there for a pregnant mom or delivering a brand new baby, That kind of work just never gets old.  the picture below is of a baby I delivered in October. 

A big prayer request I want to mentions is that as of this writing, ate Chery's husband Pastor Rod, has been sick, we are still waiting for results from his liver biopsy, but the initial diagnoses was abdominal TB. We are praying fervently for his healing, and that the biopsy doesn't show anything even more serious.  I will try and update more about this once we know more. 

 I want to take a moment and share with you the other reason that I have not written in awhile.  I have been debating whether or not to share this in too much details as it may not paint me in the best missionary glow.  But I also think its good for Missionaries to be honest about the struggles.  So here we go.  Not long after we started  I began to experience attacks on my faith, and with that came a horrid dark despair.  I know that sounds extreme but it was honestly the lowest I have ever felt.   Thankfully I knew enough to know to not try and go through that alone, so I contacted my prayer team and they started praying,

I talked to my mom a lot on the phone, I reached out to other strong Christians I knew and asked the hard questions, I listened to some podcasts and started listening through " Evidence that Demands a Verdict".  I would have parts of days I would feel stronger then I would feel But during the intense anxiety hopelessness again.  But slowly I felt light come into my soul, my all the different questions I was studying began to form a picture, a picture of truth, I realized that the questions I was asking were not new, and that there were actually really good logical and reasonable answers to them.  This I had always known but I had never delved into it.   I found that I needed stop (for a time) watching a lot of secular shows and movies , almost like I needed to heal my soul, as if  I had been going to battle day in and day out, it honestly felt like a battle for my soul.  As more light was shed on my questions more joy came, more peace and a desperate feeling to never be far from God ever again, its too dark away from the Son.  My mantra became "I only want you Jesus...I only want you".   It didn't get all better over night but the darkness became a little less thick each time I fell back into it, and it became a little easier to find my way out Because my studying had equipped me with tools to help navigate the darkness.  Some other things that helped me during this time was the recent Online T.V. show  "The Chosen"  and even watching the Christian cartoon "The Storykeepers"  they had a massive comforting effect and re-affirmed a lot of things that I was learning.   My Faith is building in strength now and I cling to it not so much out of desperation but in Love.  

I wanted to share this because I know I am not the only one who has gone through this or is going to go through this.  I think I was hit out of the blue because of being in the Mission field and we are taking territory back from the enemy and so he has been attacking me hard, and honestly I was mentally un-prepared.  I think the enemy had a bit of foot hold as well because I was feeling weak, In January 2021 after the Taal Eruption I had not been spending as much time with God due to the change of routine.  My energy was zapped and I arrived in Tabuk Exhausted, other things hit me and even though I had resumed my daily devotions I was malnourished Spiritually and mentally.  

The Lesson is, Never sacrifice daily devotions, the older I get the more I realize how vital they are, you cannot grow in your faith without it and without Spiritual growth  what's the point?  I guarantee you will miss out on the abundant life.    But the other lesson, is if you have questions about your Faith...the Bible ect.  ok ask them, but don't just ask. and then give up .Seek...Seek...Seek, Read, learn, talk to people oh my goodness so much resources out there, good resources.   In the end, my Faith is more grounded and it has made me hungry to know Jesus more.  

So I just want to thank you all for your prayers even if you didn't know I was struggling because God heard you and answered.  Now I know it won't be the last struggle, my goodness there are struggles occurring before I can even finish this post...that is just life.  But I would sure rather struggle in the Valley of the Shadow of Death Knowing God is my Shepherd rather than Struggle without him in an endless dark void 

God Bless you all

-Vienna Moilliet a.k.a. thesheepishmidwife 

Monday, 25 May 2020

And on we go....

 I caved, For years I said "I can handle it....I'm fine,  I'm not a sissy,  I am a tough missionary, how many missionaries before have survived to tell the tale, they were fine they didn't die so I wasn't going to die I can hold out....I can hold out...." and then one hot afternoon, I caved.....I bought an a/c unit.
Actually half way through my first stint in the Philippines I said to Ellora (before I knew or really felt called to come back)  "If I ever come back to the Philippines I am buying an aircon [a/c]"
But when I moved back buying an a/c seemed like a silly luxury and the weather in Tagaytay wasn't as hot as Tabuk.  When I did move back to Tabuk I was determined I could survive without one, even though I would wake up in the morning, stare at the blue sky and go "oh no....another hot day" or how when I stepped out in the sun I was saying things like "I hate the sun, I hate the sun, why does it want to kill me?  I never did anything to it!" one hot afternoon, ate Red called me and said "Vienna I have seen the for-cast in your area and I am concerned, I think you should get an aircon," I dismissed it,  but over the next few days I really thought about it, but the options available to me were too expensive for my savings, but two of my relatives came to me rescue! enough funds come through to buy it.  The ironic thing is..... we have finally got rain, which is so wonderful and it is cooling the afternoons and evenings off.  Of course this weather start the day we get my a/c put it....of course....
But I will say on those hot and humid evenings when I use the a/c....oh man....its unbelievable how wonderful it is,  its like I can think clearly, I get all calm inside and peaceful....ok enough of that, moving on to less 'cool thing'.

We are opening in one week!!! oh my goodness, so many things to do in that time frame.  We already have people ready to come when we start, we are going to try and start off with only 4 people, especially with the quarantine.  I remember in the early stages of planning I was wondered that maybe we would start and no one would come but by the looks of things we are not going to have that problem.  we haven't even started yet and people are telling us about individuals they want to send us. My job as treasurer has been exciting, budgeting is always fun and a massive learning curve, because we haven't started yet we are trying to guess as to how much this will cost or that will cost, and it seems every time we calculate the budget the numbers get bigger.  I had a good chat with the treasurer of the church today about using excel, and how to organize the receipts and reporting ect. ect. That was super helpful!  But I cannot tell you how many times I have silently cried out to God saying "Me?  you made me Treasurer?" a few years ago I asked God that if i ever get married maybe I could marry someone who is good at accounting and all the financial stuff so I wouldn't have to worry about it.  Instead God is just making me good an financial stuff and accounting and all that stuff.  So I guess I officially don't need a man now.  Fortunately I have a lot of people I can glean from and having been doing just that, and I am very thankful for me brief training in some of the money handling when at Safe, at the very least it taught me how to document and the lingo.   When I was at Safe and needed to step in to help handle the day to day expenses it all happened so fast, I was handed the cash box and a record book and told "Go".  and I tell ya,  I learned a lot in a short time and am so thankful for that background.

The last few months 
so what has happened in the last few months? the renovations!! they have been going on since October, we now have new tiles, fresh paint, dividing walls, beds, lights, a new bathroom a renovated second bathroom and a new septic tank!!! wahoo!! we have hired our staff, we are visiting offices, we have bought the foamies dressers, a stove, a dish organizer, electric fans, pots pans, pillow, spoon, plates bowls...well you get the picture.  Curtains are on their way, we will be looking for a fridge and we are praying for an a/c unit in the office (there is no air flow in the office, so its like a little hot box) Oh and we received our registration which means the government says "go for it!"

 I caught some babies!!!

It has been wonderful to be able to help those mamas bring their babies into the world!  I love being by the mam's sides, coaching husbands on how to help, being the first hands to touch the baby's skin and hearing their first cry and being apart of it all!  Unfortunately I did have to take a temporary step back from clinic life in light of the COVID virus.  My living environment causes me to be a little more exposed to the public compared to the other midwives, so it was decided that until things calm down a little more I should give up my two shift a week for now, in order to be sure we are doing everything we can to keep mamas and babies safe.  But like I said it is just temporary.

Other stuff
We are praying that Ellora's flight will not be too affected by the worldwide lock-down.  She is schedule to arrive in July but international flight still have not resumed, we are expecting that she will need to undergo a 14 day quarantine either way,

MSC Canada who is acting as my missionary organization sent money for helping people affected by COVID,  so we did a feeding program!  one of the groups that are being affected by the lock-down are the pastors, because churches aren't meeting and everyone is struggling financially the giving in churches has gone down resulting in pastors not getting their income.  so we packed begs of rice and items for food and handed them out to a whack of pastors, enough for them and two portions for them to hand out to needy families in their congregation.  They were all so thankful to receive the blessing.

COVID-19 stuff
COVID cases continue to rise in the Philippines but slower than some countries, our own province is still covid free as far as we know so we are very thankful for that and are continuing to pray it remains so.  Boarders are carefully monitored by the army not allowing anyone to travel between provinces unless there is an important reason, proper papers and only a day trip,  for people who want to come home from other provinces there is a required 14 day quarantine.

Closing remarks 
So things go forward.  I have learned a lot about Trust these last few months,  there have been lots of spiritual attacks and honestly some very low points.  But God has seen me through each time, and each low point had brought me closer to God each time.  I am learning the importance of spending more and more time in prayer and devotion, the more in depth I go into this kind of ministry the closer I find I need to be with Jesus or else worries and anxious thoughts start moving in.  He is the ultimate comforter and  the solid rock on which we stand.  It is Him that moves this ministry forward. After all it is His ministry.   We commit this work to the Lord every day, that doesn't mean I find myself panicking about finances or how we will keep the residents occupied during these days of lock-down but then I remind myself that God is powerful, he did after all divide the red seas, heals people from sickness and all sorts of extravagant thing. He is extremely dependable and ALWAYS faithful, so we don't need to worry, in fact there a few a verses about not worrying.   Every time I think I am inadequate for this work, or thing of all the things that could go wrong I think of Moses and Gideon,  Moses in how he kept giving excuses to the Lord and finally God getting angry with Him that Moses wouldn't trust Him.  and Gideon who was not a typical leader, but God made him one.
"God is good, all the time!
He keeps on blessing and I don't know why
God is good, all the time"

And on that note, I will leave you, but I am really going to try and get you some more updates as we open.  as always thank you so much for your support and prayers!
God Bless you all


Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Amid the Ashes

This post is dedicated to the story of the Taal eruption... I know I have updated here and there but I thought I would give a post about the experience, many people have expereinced much worse than this with much more traumatic, but I now understand what its like to be evacuated suddenly or have a fear about what could happen or whether or not you are safe. 

It was Sunday January 12, 2020, the morning brought blue skies and sun.  I hadn’t slept well the night before, restless.  Perhaps the full moon, PJ was restless too.  I had been feeling tired since Christmas and New Years.  Immediately after our church service all I wanted was a nap.  Later in the afternoon when I came back over to Safe all the safe girls started emerging from their own siestas, during this time  one of the staff’s daughters was looking on her phone and exclaimed “Taal just erupted!” and showed us the picture online.

I have talked about Taal in previous posts, its one of the things that makes Tagaytay famous. It's supposedly the world's smallest active volcano, but I learned later its size is less visible since its a flat volcano and goes deep.  I have climbed the mountain twice, once with Safe Refuge and once in November with Isaac and ate Rosanna.  The last time the volcano erupted was 1991
                                                                me at the  crater of Taal in November

Now I guess the news of the eruption should have alarmed me, I mean sure the very thing that makes it famous is that its small, but I mean its still a volcano.  However my i initial reaction was excitement that I would get to be around when Taal exploded, something I could tell my grandkids.  When someone would mention the 2020 eruption I could say "I was there,".  I also figured if it was going to get dangerous there would be people knocking on our door telling us to evacuate, like they do when forest fires take over provinces in Canada.   So rather relaxed I continued my day. About an hour later, we heard something on the roof, it sounded like Hail, but the Philippines doesn’t get hail, at least not as far south as we are.  Upon investigation we realized it was little volcanic rock, giving off a strong sulfur smell.

 Then we were able to see the grey plume rising above the city. A growling sound started.   We figured it was thunder but it was actually the mountain itself making its presence known; as if sending off a warning to all those nearby. In addition to the volcanic pebbles, sludgy ash like rain was falling and getting thicker. The plume turned an orange color, which was probably just the evening sun but it looked intimidating in real life. 
 you'd would thing we would start getting worried about this point but at least I was pretty relaxed still,  again figuring someone would let us know if we should evacuate.  I also think I thought that for some reason it would all be over in the morning, as if it was a typhoon or storm. 

We needed masks so two of the girls went out into the ash falling night with umbrellas to find some, but everywhere was out of stock.  Aaahhh!!! So that was a bust.  I cut up one of the kids old shirts so I could make the children a cloth mask and some of the girls used clothes or scarves to cover their faces. 

Lighting started appearing in the plume from the volcano, something I have only ever seen in books.    The power went off at about 7:30 not surprising considering and we soon lost our water. The lighting was getting intense by then, streaking the night sky with an unnatural looking hue, of course it is exactly that; Nature.  It flashed large bright orange angry looking streaks among the pillar of ash; it sent shivers down my spine.

We looked everywhere for our candles we bought at Christmas but couldn’t find them anywhere, we found one flash light and I brought mine.  The ash was falling to the point we had to use umbrellas to go out and a covering of ash was forming on the ground.   I decided to sleep at Safe that night, ate Red called and told everyone to prepare a beg in case we had to leave.  The staff, ate H, and I shone flashlights and helped get people packing; telling them to not worry and just bring what they needed for three days.

I brought PJ over to sleep in the study room with me, I was starting to feel a little concerned at this point and didn’t feel like leaving PJ on his own, silly I know, but anyway that’s what I did.  ate Red called again to say she was making plans to find a way to evacuate us because the air was going to get bad really fast.  Although I was feeling edgy I didn't feel in actual danger so I expressed that we didn't need to worry saying "There is nothing we can do tonight anyway".  The only thing I wanted to do was get everyone sleeping.

 Finally Everyone settled in for the night and I made a bed for myself in the study room, while PJ gleefully hunted for cockroaches.
Not long after I laid down I felt the table next to me shake, I thought it was PJ causing trouble but realized he was on the other side of the room.  I had felt tremors before but not like this.  I could hear all the furniture shaking and could feel it in my bones, it would increase and then fade away,  It wasn’t so strong that anything fell, but it was enough to make me feel concerned.  It disturbed the ground because I could hear water bubbling into the old CR (bathroom) next to me. 
I lay down again, and then I felt it a second time and third,  I moved into the main room to sleep and after hearing PJ whine I brought him out and put him on my chest, I knew he must have been scared because he stayed there for probably about an hour.  I kept thinking  of some movie I watched when I was kid about a Volcano erupting, I think it was about Mt, St Helen.  All the sudden the experience was no longer exciting like it had been several hours before, I wondered if the tremors would get worse, would cracks begin to form in the ground? would things start falling? I was praying but kept thinking about how many people who pray die in natural disasters.... anyway you can see how ones thought spiral out of control.  But sometime during all of this I felt this peace surround me and sensed that God was going to hold up the roof of the house.  By the time PJ got restless I felt better to move back to the study room.  The earth quakes continued all night.  At 4:30 the earth seemed to shake extra hard and I gave up on sleep. soon all the kids were awake too and were all getting scared.  Ate Red called again telling us we should try to get to Amadeo (a part of the city further down the road,) as the road to Tagaytay was closed, no cars could get in.  I started feeling a little panicked then, we were stuck.   We started making calls and ate H. went out to find a jeep.   The sun had come up by then and the ash was less.  There is something about the dawn of a new morning that gives hope to most situations.

ash fall seen the morning of January 13th

A lot of random things happened then, we found a jeep who said they could take us to Amadeo, ate Rosanna arrived with her daughter, and brought power banks so we could charge our phones, one of the girls and I went to ate L's place (our former resident) to tell her and her kids to come with us, she was eager to join our group.  The next few hours involved ate Rosanna and I sitting outside safe surrounded by ash as we couldn’t get signal inside.  Our phones were constantly typing and chiming as we worked out a plan with our staff in Manila, ate Naomi in the USA and us in Tagaytay as to how to get us out.  By this time the sun was shining and there was blue sky.  Ate Rosanna and I started questioning the idea of needing to evacuate, we tried to get more info about what the volcano was doing but everything was vague.  The sun had seemed to take all my fear away. However both ate Naomi and ate Red insisted we leave despite ate Rosanna and I being hesitate to vacate.  I was thinking of just letting everyone else go and I would stay behind, but ate Naomi said I really should go.   Around this time we got news that another ministry in Manila Samaritana  Transformational Ministries wanted to take all of us in, for free!!!   
I was still struggling with the idea of leaving and to be honest it came down to me not wanting to leave my cat, I know I know he is just a cat and our lives are more important I know it truly.  But when I realized that I couldn't being him with us, and that I had no viable options for him to stay with anyone it hit me hard, and along with the combination of being so tired I had a good 30 second breakdown.  Despite the fact he is only a cat, PJ has been one of the few constants in my life since being at Safe, Something kind of solid I can hold when things feel uncertain and days have been hard.  But after my mini breakdown I felt clearheaded and knew he would be ok on his own for a few days 

By this time, two ministries volunteered to each bring a van to get us.  Before this we had had a hard time finding people to come get us because the roads were muddy and slippery with ash and few people willing to drive them.  But the people that came were more than willing and didn't even charge us gas.  we didn't even really know them, they heard about our problem and came to our rescue.
When we got word the vans were near I went over to my house to make sure I had everything.  It’s a strange thing packing for an evacuation, I kept thinking of those mind games where people ask "if your house was burning and you have to take one thing what do you bring?" the idea behind this is to acknowledge what is really important in your life.  I have less respect for those games now because in that moment you can't remember whats important or what you might need.  I spent several minutes just standing in the middle of my house at a total blank not sure what to grab.  Thanks to my mother's instructions over the years in regards to packing, all I could really think of was underwear.  The two other things of importance I thought to grab was my laptop because its one of the few things I own that’s worth a lot and  one piece of jewelry with an important meaning.  of course PJ was the only thing I wanted to take.  Instead I made sure he had three sources of water and left out several plates of food.  Before I left the house I stroked his face and told him I’d be back and prayed that God would keep him safe. 

Ate Red arrived with the second van, she looked at us from the doorway with incredible relief she hadn’t slept the night before because she was calling people trying to get us out.  This wasn’t ate Red’s first rodeo, she had experienced an eruption before and all she wanted to do was get her girls to safety.  We loaded the vans with women and children  along with a beg of rice, fish that we had cooked and meat, due to the fridge not having power.  ate Rosanna brought a whole bunch of pork ribs she was saving for next week’s birthday parties, she refused to lose it so we brought it along. 
As we left Tagaytay we looking at the once green trees now covered in brown ash and the roads with thick mud all pushed to the side, we expected to be gone no more than a few days....what we didn't know was that we would not be returning to that building to live...

                                                     in the van during our evacuation

The vans took us right to Samaratana. I guess I had been expecting a sort of crude make up, a hostel sort of thing, but instead we entered a haven.  Samaritana helps women learn new skills, gives them jobs and reaches out to them for physical and spiritual needs and their building also works as a retreat center.  They gave us four beautiful rooms, all with a working Bathroom and hot water and  A/C I think we all thought we were entering a palace!   The staff converged and figured out our next plan, early supper and early bed, we learned about the schedule of our new place so we wouldn’t be in the way, ate Rosanna and I went over rules with the girls and  two other ates went to the market to get us some food and we ate soon after they got back. The girls were so hungry by then. 

The next few days were a whirlwind of trying to control children and keeping them from wrecking havoc, I constantly felt I was "No," "What are you doing?"   "You can't do that." and "Say Sorry"

We took them to some nearby parks so everyone could run and relax,  ate Charisa and ate Grace debriefed the girls about their emotions involving everything and some of us staff got debriefed by one of the head of Samaritana, which was very helpful.

a few days turned into a week as the volcano was still unstable, ate L went back to Tagaytay to check on her own cats and feed mine.  days continued, lots of meetings and trying to make plans despite not knowing what tomorrow would bring.  One day we made arrangements for some of us to go back to Tagaytay to get all the important documents talk to the school and get some more clothes for the girls.  We had had some donated items to keep us going up to that point.  I decided I was going to being PJ back with me that day, Samaritana said I could as long as he stayed in a cage.  We arrived back late and I put PJ in a cage that had been purchased just for the occasion, he hated it and did everything he could to get out.  I went to bed thinking I had made a mistake bringing him.  But the next morning after handing it over to God I woke up with a possible solution.  I called my missionary friends from Quazon city who I knew had cats and asked if they could take PJ for a little bit. She said Yes.  I took PJ over a few hours later since they didn't live too far away and ended up staying the whole day.  They fed me, let me sleep I watched a movie with them and for the first time since evacuating felt completely calm and peaceful.

That experience reminded me that God provides for even the tiny creatures, how much more does he provide for his children.

The house of Safe Refuge was deemed unsafe, IJM sent an engineer with ate Red to check it out and they found cracks all throughout the floor and even on the walls, so we decided we needed to find a new house right away. Meanwhile we were working to find a school for the kids to go to temporally,  which was proving challenging.   after a week and half the alert level for the volcano went from 4 to 3, we decided to send the college and senor high students back with ate Rosanna to stay with her since transferring schools for them would be tricky.  This had the sad effect of separating three families, two sets of sister and one of our staff from one of her daughters.   We finally made arrangements for the other kids to attend a nearby school.  we continued searching for houses, the weeks went by.  I had decided to delay my trip to Kalinga, but as time continued and no house was found, and as we realized we wanted the kids to finish out the school year in Manila (so they wouldn't have to switch schools again) I realized I had to decide how long I would delay my move.  I spent time in prayer and so did my prayer partners and the conclusion was that I should not delay very long and certainly not wait until the end of the school year (which is March here) so the new moving day was set for February 25th.

I went to Tagaytay to help ate Rosanna out when she had to leave for a few days, its a small house she has but everyone managed to fit by sleeping cross ways on the beds.  I packed up my house with ate Rosanna and one of the other girls and we worked at the Safe building to get rid of old junk and donated quite a few items. 

I went back to Manila to say my goodbyes there and meanwhile ate Red and ate Rosanna finally found a house! smaller than our current one but better quality.  when I came back to Tagaytay I brought PJ with me and could not thank my friends enough for taking care of him.  They had not just taken care of my pet but had provided a place of respite when i needed it.  Its amazing how God brings people into your life to feel like angels sent to minister to you.  I am beyond grateful to that family.  I said my final goodbyes to everyone and the morning of the 25th I said goodbye to Safe Refuge International and began my new journey towards Tabuk Refuge of Hope International.

It felt strange to leave Safe when they are still unsetteled but I knew God was saying it was time for me to take the next step and that he would take care of Safe Refuge.  They still need lots of prayer, ate Red is very unwell so please pray for her, the moving process is not an easy one and the staff are overworked and tired.

God taught me a lot through the Taal experience and caused all the staff to learn to trust him even when we felt frustrated.  I love the song "Waymaker," and the part that goes "even when I don't see it you're working, even when I don't feel it you're working."  I really felt this throughout this journey, sometimes I wanted to yell during those times when we couldn't find a new house and weren't sure what the best decision was, "God where are you?" but as I look back I can see how God was working all along,  sometimes we just can't see it at the time.  those are the times that our trust in him is tested, will we trust Him even if he is not working as fast or in the way we would like? will we trust him when we don't understand his ways?  will we trust him in the eruptions of our lives, literal and figurative?  Its easy to trust when things are going our way or when things make sense, real trust is when we can't see the big picture or understand it, but knowing that God sees and understands the whole thing.

Thank you all for your prayers during this time,  please keep Safe Refuge and the staff in them, even though I am not with them right now I will keep you updated.  The next time I post I will tell you more about the new ministry ate Cheryl, Ellora and I will be starting this year.

May God Bless you

Saturday, 11 January 2020

the Christmas and New Year Post

Hello people, and happy New Year
as promised this is my post devoted to all the Christmas and New Years things that happened.  It seemed like so much that it needed its own page.

So December.... It was hard to believe that it was December already, that meant that my time at Safe was on the clock and also that it was time to tell them.  Finally one evening when ate Red was there, it was about the second week of December, we gathered everyone after supper and I announced the news.  buffering it with reminding them I would not be leaving the country and could still come and visit and call and text.   Recently I have marked the moving day is February 11

Homesickness started setting in as the snowy facebook photos from Vavenby started appearing.  I have always loved snow, always felt a thrill with that first snowfall and so when I feel another winter passing my by without snowflakes my heart always hurts a bit. 

We had our Christmas party December 16th, we wanted to have it early before ate Charisa went back to the USA for two weeks.  The day dawned.  I had decided to make egg pie for the event.  Egg pie is one of two pies that are eaten in the Philippines the other one being Buco pie.  Egg pie is essentially a thick custard pie really tasty.  I was eager to make pie as my mom brought me a whole bunch of my favorite baking ingredient ever.  Tenderflake Lard!  The best Lard in the world, at least as far as i have seen.  I guess several people heard about my plea for tenderflake and people kept giving my mom lard before she left, the result was that I ended up with more pounds of lard than I could have hoped for!  Thank you my Tenderflake angels!!!  So I cracked one pound out for the occasion and made up 5 pies.  I made a few mistakes along the way, but in the end they turned out really nice and all got eaten up pretty quick.  I also helped out with the pesto pasta (also made a few mistakes) we were also having BBQ chicken, grilled over a foil casserole dish on a grate, the heat supplied by charcoal.  There was talk about making a sauce, I volunteered.  My mom's BBQ recipe slowly coming back to me, I rushed out to buy tomatoes, and oyster sauce,  combined with onions, mayo and fresh lemon juice and of course garlic, thanks to our new blender given to us by a visitor it blended into a perfect sauce that everyone liked.  The party started out with prayer and worship, we then ate, and then we had a new event called "Safe's got talent" it was a lot of fun and all of the girls participated, I decided to enter as well for fun.  I did an interpretive dance.  The girls did really well, some of them really surprised me with showing their creative side.  we have some amazing talent here!
Games were played and squeals  of happiness sounded.  It was a successful party.

Christmas Shopping
I decided I wanted to get something for the girls, and I saw some daily breads for sale in the book store, in Tagalog and English, I remembered that a supporter had given money to buy some a long time ago but I hadn't been able to find Tagalog versions at the time.  So I bought what I could and then later I planned a trip to another city to go to a mall that I knew had more book stores.   I took two sisters from Safe with me.  I also had some prize money for Safe's got talent, I honestly felt guilty about me getting it and not one of the girls and so decided I would use the prize money to  buy a group gift.  The three of us traveled the hour and half bus to Dasamarinas and found the SM mall.  its a huge mall and was a lot of fun to roam around.  in the department store I found the perfect group gift, a small charcol BBQ on sale. I knew this was a need for safe so they wouldn't have to use a foil dish.  after buying that and roaming around the department store we headed to the book store and I found a bunch of Tagalog daily Breads.  I bought a stack and after visiting the grocery store and eating at the food court we headed back.  It took us awhile to get back but we got there.

shopping with the girls

The gift list kept getting bigger, it started out just getting some daily breads for the older girls, but then I thought I should get the kids something, and then I realized that some of the staff kids would be there, so I had to get them a little something (I bought each a little packet of chalk.  then I wanted to get something for ate Red and then it was like I might as well get something for the other staff and then I realized other girls from Manila would be there and I wanted to get them a daily bread....In the end I got something for everyone....that snowballed fast...

December 23rd was allotted as the baking day.   I ended up deciding to do three cookies Ginger bread, sugar cookies and short bread.  I had already purchased all the ingredients and decided to be more organized this year, the girls are doing well in their baking skills so I divided them into three groups,  on three tables.  and the event began, I went to each table checking and guiding, ate Red was there and went to the store when I realized I had forgotten to buy a certain ingredient.  we had to convince the kids to wait their turn, I promised them they could roll and cut the sugar cookies and ginger bread.

There were a few technical difficulties but we pushed through, the short bread went into the oven and the other cookies dough went into the freezer to get chilled.  The ginger bread's consistency seemed a but off to me but we shrugged and went with it.  In the afternoon the kids came out and we started rolling the dough and cutting the shapes.  My job mostly consisted of taking cookies out of the oven, keeping the kids from arguing and making sure everyone got a turn on the rolling pin which was the coveted job.  at one point I bribed the kids to stop arguing for an hour and  I would give them 5 pesos for an hour and one peso for half an hour.  Only one made it. but it did help for 40 minutes.  But the kids did have a lot of fun as you can see in the photos.  Decorating came next after the icing making, and coloring, the older girls came to help.  We only had two pipping begs so  I had to work on keeping kids from pouting because they had to wait their turn.  At one point I turned my back for a minute and one of the girls started pouring food coloring into an icing. my expression of surprise was met with a sheepish grin.   There were a lot of cookies!!!! most of them turned out too thick but imperfect cookies is part of the joy


Enter Christmas eve! ate Red and I went out that morning as I had some last minute Christmas shopping, (a few more daily bread and some other indregiants for things.)  Traffic was insane of course and the mall insane but we managed, after we arrived home our ate on shift  did a Christmas teaching and then I had this idea to do a Christmas craft activity and had bought some paper items for it while I was out.  after the teaching they were separated into four teams and told to create something that had to do with what they were taught, they came up with the most beautiful displays, I had been expecting a one dimensional thing but they created elaborate 3D illustrations complete with intricate Spiritual meanings behind their displays. I was very thankful I was nor a judge.

Everyone got a participate prize but the team that did this display won the grand prize (which I cannot remember what it was :)

 While they worked on their creations I worked on the apple cider and egg nog.  ate Rosanna and ate Linda made Mahi Mahi (probably spelling that wrong) by the time the activity had finished everyone from Manila had arrived.   I put a Christmas movie on and our merienda (snack) of Christmas cookies, cake that was brought from the Manila girls, Mahi Mahi , egg nog (sadly I forgot to buy the rum flavor) and apple cider was served!

                                Mahi Mahi is in the middle for those of you who have never had the pleasure of eating it before. Its a type of really firm custard, do delicious.

Safe is always an abundance of energy but with the arrival of the the Safe sisters from Manila, sugar and the feeling of Christmas in the air, the energy was insane! games started soon, and it became a bundle of activity and happy screams and shouting.  The living room was a swarm of happy girls and children.

Oh and I forgot to mention the lamb! ok before I go further  I have to tell

"A Moilliet's journey to her Leg O Lamb"

 But we first we have to back track a little.  I'm a Moilliet, eating lamb and mutton is written into me DNA and I was starting to despertly miss the familuar food (remember that I grew up eating Muttin almost every day) Several months ago I made an exciting discovery, a huge store similar style to Cosco called S&R sells all sorts of North American style foods, when visiting the store with ate Nikkie and her son John (whom picked up and dropped off my mom and brother at the airport) I found that the store sold lamb roasts which were imported from New Zealand.  I took a mental note and vowed I would attempt to return ....
Flash forward two months
About a week before Christmas I contacted ate Nikki and we made plans to meet at S&R,  on the decided day I headed to Nuvali (remember Nuvali....? the place I mentioned in my last blog where I traveled back from in the dark after mom and Isaac got dropped at the airport) Its actually really easy to get there, going from Tagaytay. Anyway I made it to S&R and waited for my companions.  S&R is like a Cosco where you need a membership to shop, ate Nikki and her son were so kind they made the trip to Nuvali just so I could shop at S&R.

They arrived and I was overjoyed to discover that sure enough the Leg of Lamb was still there.  I chose the one with the bone so I could make soup, it was the biggest leg of lamb I had ever seen! I purchased it.  I also bought myself some of my favorite foods ever! dill Pickles and blue cheese! aw man....I could live off that stuff! anyway I got the lamb! oh and sugar and butter for baking.  As we left the the giant store we discussed how I should get back to Tagaytay
"There has to be a direct ride." I said, I told them last time I wasn't able to go direct.
They agreed with me that surely there was a jeep that would go direct especially since it was the day now.
So they drove me to the jeep terminal that I had gone to last time and I was pretty sure that since it was during the day there would be direct ride.  There wasn't.  My friends had driven off by then so I just shrugged and figured, "well at least I've done it before and at least its daylight".   Everyone was very helpful and made sure I got off on the right place, I then stood on the side of the road with several people at a much more populated place then last time.   I even met some nice people while waiting, and noticed they could speak Ilocano meaning they were from the North (I know some Ilocano as that's what they speak in Kalinga).  We talked for awhile until the jeep came and off we went.  The jeep went to the end of its line in Tagaytay but I still had a ways to go, and keep in mind I am maneuvering this 4 kilo lamb roast on my shoulder with a glass jar of pickles in there.  From that terminal I started waiting for another jeep, but then a lady overheard me saying I needed to get to Oliveras,
"Do you want to get a tricy with us?" it would be cheaper if we all went together., verses 80 pesos for just me.
"Sure"I responded, in my mind I wanted to jump for joy! I was so thankful as a tricy is so much faster than a jeep. I didn't realize how many of us were going into the tricy however, it was incredibly full and I had to sit by the driver on a about foots worth of space, I barely fit but my concern was more for the Lamb and glass jar of pickles, which was slung over my shoulder in the eco beg, needless to say I was hanging onto that beg fiercely

After arriving at Oliveras I took one more jeep and then spent the extra few cents for a tricy.  I finally got the lamb home and managed to just fit it into the small freezer at Safe, I did notice a little problem however, the lamb was too big for the oven!

Christmas Eve day I prepared the lamb delicately after it thawed out all night, the girls watched with intrigue as I inserted pieces of garlic into it and rubbed rosemary, salt and pepper over it.  Of course this was after I solved the oven problem,  I had finally managed to track down a saw for the meat.  Ate Rosanna asked her neighbor who had a nice little one I could use.  I had to sand the rust off the saw first ( everything rusts here so fast due to the humidity) I then sawed the shank off and was as much surprised as everyone that it worked so well, I felt like a real Moilliet at that point, like someone who really knew her legs of lamb and saw them in half!  (I take pride in the small things). I stored the lamb in my little fridge as there was no room in Safe's at that point and brought it back in time to put it in the oven anyway at 7.  Following is the picture story of the said lamb.  Some of you may want to turn away

About 8 PM we had our candlelight service, where we all lit our candle as we said what we were thankful for the last year and the girls said what Christmas means to them.

Then we sent everyone to bed for a few hours, and those in charge of cooking cooked, that included me this year, ate Linda was also cooking,  I made roasted potatoes, gravy, the sauce for the pudding, which I had to redo since I messed the first one up, i also steamed the pudding, ate Rosanna had brought some beautiful baby green beans from Bagio, they prepared them and I sauted them with garlic and onions and butter.  The Manila girls went together to buy a Lechon Baboy. what is that you ask, well the picture says it all.

at Midnight we ate!

after the food and dishes we sent everyone to bed for good this time with strict order not to come out.  several of the designated persons worked on arranging gifts under the tree

 and I decided to start on my pandasal bread, because it seemed like such a great a idea to have warm bread baking in the oven and all the that...I mean never mind sleep right? anyway I was determined so I was kneading dough at 2:30 in the morning.  I let it rise while I slept.  at 3:30 it was done, and I was in bed by 4 AM.

 I woke up at 7AM Christmas morning, I went over to Safe where the most excited were awake, ate Rosanna was already baking the bread (she made cinnamon rolles out of the failed pudding sauce) I started on the homemade hot chocolate  and then the gift unwrapping began.  I love how they do it here, there is no diving under the tree like vultures. everyone gets their turn, sits in a chair, they are handed their gifts and open them while everyone oos and awws.  It takes about 2 hours to get through everyone but everyone is patient and really enjoys watching everyone open gifts,
 I was given a gift this year! it was very heartwarming to open a gift with everyone else and that the supporters in the US care to send the staff and missionaries a gift as well.  I loved every item.  half way through the gift opening I brought out the hot chocolate and bread.
After everything was cleaned up I started on the cakes.  one of our girls, Emma celibates her birthday on Christmas day. she doesn't know her actual birthday or how old she is but she chose to celibate on Christmas so she can share her day with Jesus.  I promised her icecream cake.  she is also one of the few girls white request white cake over chocolate.  I was excited to make something different.  all the kids wanted to help but I sternly said not this time, I knew I was tired and had to make the cakes carefully or I knew I would mess up.  They got baked without a hitch, by then it was lunch time, and as soon as I finished eating I went back to my house and collapsed for three hours.  Upon return I started on the ice cream part of the cake.

Ok so I know this isn't a baking blog and I realize I have talked a lot about baking but the next part of this story only makes sense with a bit of baking terminology.   I had been thinking for days on how to do the ice cream cake, when my mom was here we made an ice cream cake out of necessity when one of the cakes was raw in the middle and we had to scoop out the middle and fill it with ice cream.  It acted as a kind of well of ice cream.  I wondered if I should do it that way but in the end after looking at how my cakes turned out and contemplating for ages I decided to go with a different plan.  I had two two layers of my own recipe of vanilla cake.  I took the bottom layer and cut out the middle then put the ice cream  inside then I lightly iced around it and finally placed the second layer on top thus sealing the ice cream inside, the idea is that it looks like an ordinary white cake but then when you cut into it you are supposed to get this lovely bit of ice cream surprise, Brilliant right?! that's what I thought.

 My next challenge was how to freeze it.  Sure we have a freezer, but it was a full of meat, I had just managed to make a section for it, but failed to tell anyone what I had done, so it got filled while my back was turned, so I went to put my cake in the freezer there was no room, I started panicking, as I was holding an ice cream cake with no freezer access.  For some reason when I tried to make room again I couldn't do it.  Ice had to be our solution, I would buy ice to put the meat in it so I could use the freezer space. I ran out into the rain, oh yah, so we were having a bit of a typhoon at the time, nothing dangerous but full on down pouring and cold wet wind. I marched to the store up the road, which always had big begs of  sometimes three big freezers full of ice. But this was December 25th;  they were all out, so I go  back to Safe and wail "No Ice" that half hour was not my proudest moment, I wasn't mean but lets just say I wasn't feeling the Christmas spirit It was in that half hour I figured that would be the last ice cream I would be making for awhile.  But with calm support from the others we managed to actually make room in the freezer and the cake went safely into the cold.  I calmed down, and helped out with cooking for the party.

We celebrated our birthday girl and she was beaming.  like truly her whole body was filled with joy
after people were finishing I brought out the cake, It was beautiful.  I sliced into it and instead of a nice cold ice cream center, ice cream soup ran out. my heart dropped.  At that moment I knew my mistake and scolded myself for not thinking of it.  If we had had a colder freezer, had been able to get it into the freezer right away (maybe) or if I had made it the night before, it would have been fine, but because the the cake had sealed in the ice cream (which had prevented any messiness) it was too insulated to freeze all the way through.  People didn't complain though and I just started calling it a lava cake.  But I was su upset , Emma had been talking about this ice cream cake for ages and I wanted it to be perfect, But hey, we learn by mistakes, and it will certainly be a cake I will never forget.  two days later we finished the cake it had frozen all the way through and actually tasted like an ice cream cake then.   After our supper we watched another Christmas movie, a peacefulness seemed to come over everyone by then and we all just sat and enjoyed, one of the little girls lay on my lap as I played with her hair.  I had this warm cozy feeling all over, and felt completely at peace and content.

The next day was my day off and I did nothing, it was wonderful!!

The 27th was full.  we did an outreach to a nearby community and the girls gave away clothes that they were no longer using, and we handed out rice and noodles to some of the families.

 In the afternoon I took some of the girls shopping.  I had a doner from Canada who give money for shoe needs for girls who needed it.  I took 6 girls out for this occasion and one of our little girls.   It was an adventure and took awhile since the traffic was intense that day, it resulted in us having to walk a ways to get a ride to the department store.  Three girls found their shoes at the department store.  we went to an out door market and found the other shoes successfully, then after purchasing some drinks since e the day was crazy hot day! I often find that after a typhoon (which we had Christmas day.) the following days are often intensely hot!
Sunday  night I had the three girls from 5-10 at house for a sleepover.  I had promised them they could have a sleep over during the holidays months ago so it had been a much anticipated event.  a few hours before, Amar, the older one, was having a stomach ache, I told her I wasn't sure if she could come if she was feeling sick, she started crying and I knew how she felt, she rested for a bit I prayed for her and she said she started feeling better, I figured there was no harm in her coming over, she could rest at my house just as easily as at Safe.  So I took the three over. They love that my shower actually has a shower head, Never has it be so easy to get them to take their showers.  I heated some water for Amar could have a warm bath for her tummy ache, after she said she felt all better.  we watched Fival, such a great classic, did story time, and they all cuddled up and slept.

Little Song had to get up super early in the morning to go with her mom to Manila, so I woke her up in the wee hours and took her over to her mom's at safe.  The two other girls woke a few hours later, I gave them hot chocolate then we went to safe for breakfast.

New years eve we celebrated Irene's 8th borthday! I made a cupcake cake and one of the girls did the decorating.  I learned to make a new icing, Italian butter cream! it proved to be a good hit

earlier that afternoon we had said goodbye to ate Edna who is retiring after many years of service at Safe it was emotional but we sent her off with love.  That evening everyone felt tired from the long say so I put movies on to watch, Amor and Song fell asleep while waiting for midnight.
We cooked and then as midnight drew near fireworks started going off around us, (pretty close actually and I thought rather dangerously close to the power lines, but we all lived) music was playing across the streets, we counted down, and entered 2020!! the girls danced on the streets to welcome in the New Year, as the fireworks died down we went back into the house guessed it....ate!

The next day was cold and drizzly, but I was determined to have a fire and hot dog roast so I kept praying the rain would stop, after supper, it had ceased enough to get a fire going, it was windy and our scrap wood was wet so it took three of us carefully nursing the flames lighting and relighting  almost an hour before it was burning with no aid.  I had managed to find sticks I could carve (thank you my big brother for giving me that knife when I was back in Canada) into hot dog sticks.  All of the hot dogs got eaten up. One of the little girls got a little ill actually after eating so many.  It rained a little and at one point the umbrellas came out, the fire kept going and I enjoyed some nice deep conversations around the dimming flames.


We celebrated Liz's first birthday in Safe yesterday.  I made a Kalamansi Cake, she is a big fan of butter, so I made sure to make the Italian butter cream again.  again some of the girls helped me with the decorating.  I also got to make the Filipino style spaghetti, I assured everyone in would not taste like the American style, I think I passed the test as several people said it was good.  I have the ladies at the clinic in Tabuk to thank for that as they showed me how to make it several years ago.

Now that January is upon us, my mind is now shifting to all the prep for my move to Tabuk.  The date is set for February 11.  There is so much to get done before then, we want to do another outreach and evangelize to the community where we handed out clothes and food. I have a bunch of admin things to get done for myself and safe.   We do have some good news though, our landlady has agreed to pool together with us to build a new septic tank!!! Praying that that goes smoothly and well, she is also wanting to help us get a business license so we can get registered with DSWD, a total answer to prayer, also praying for a smooth road for that, as we have hit road block after roadblock when it comes to getting registered. 

I has been wanting to so a session with the girls on morals and teaching Biblical principles on that, and having a safe space to talk about things like and that and our feelings about it.  It went super well, God was truly leading.

There is now only a month left before my move to Tabuk, I am excited to be in Tabuk again, no doubt, but the part where I have to say goodbye to makes me almost ill.  It seems all I have been doing for the last 5 years is say good bye, say hello then say goodbye again.  I thought it would get easier, but it actually gets harder.   I was having a talk with someone when I was in Kalinga last  time about how hard it is to invest in relationships when you know you have to say goodbye.  I was saying,  "It will hurt to say goodbye,  but it just means that you have loved and have been loved."
I have learned so much since being here, and I have loved a lot and have been loved, so the hurt that I will feel is just proof of that, I comfort myself and the girls with the fact that I will still be in the country with the ability to stay in touch pretty easily. 

Despite the overwhelming feelings I have been doing pretty good lately considering, I had this amazing time with God on one of my offs.  I have been struggling with getting on top of my emotions the last few months, I felt like I was drowning and couldn't get above the water, and it seemed like God wasn't doing much to lift me up.  But then the other week I got this word while praying
"I am in the water too, and I will surely carry you" something clicked when I heard that.  I didn't have to fight the current because God was in all of it, the struggle, frustrations, homesickness, he might not cause them, but He is in them.  I realized I had to let go and stop trying to get out of the water. I needed to sort of embrace the struggle ad know that God is in it and will see me through. 
I know this is turning into a super long blog post but I just really wanted to share that because I know many of us struggle with these overwhelming feelings, and I cannot tell you the relief when I felt reminded that I don't have to control the waves or struggle to get out of the water.  I just need to let God carry me, and just keep coming back to Him every time.

My next post will be coming from Kalinga, so until then have a great New Year and God Bless you all.  As always thank you so much for your prayers and support and I am not just writing that out of habit, there are really no words to describe my thankfulness to me supporters. I end with some more photos
Until next time,
- the sheepish midwife

Cora and I sharing a moment
Netflix has a fireplace!!!!

Have a cozy New Year