December in NorthEastern Bohol brought Typhoon Odette. She was the worst any here have seen in nearly 40 years. We are now one month later and getting to an alternate normal. I have to say the Filipino people are very good at working with what they have available.
God blessed us with a week to dry out again and so many were able to get tarps up to replace missing roofs and in some places school classrooms and health centers have become "home". Then one week after Odette the rains came in force to re-soak many. Despite a week of heavy rains, relief goods started to arrive about 10 days post storm. Since then most families have been receiving rations of rice and canned goods to support them.
Due to extra year end support we were able to supply my approximately 80 students with a hygiene pack each at our rescheduled closings. We might try to determine another distribution in February, but it's hard to know what families really need the help versus just willing to take free stuff. Due to this most of our "relief efforts" are going into support funding of projects already underway by those who have a way to determine who really needs the help.
This Thursday marked five weeks and I just finally got the last of my books out in the sun yesterday (Jan 21). That means I will make my goal of having the Mission House ready for the kids to come back to read and play games in February! We are still without regular phone/internet service and no electricity at all.
Jun and I had hoped to move into our house my our second anniversary (Feb14), but God provided Odette to redirect that plan. Our house was flattened so we were able to let those neighbors use our newer materials to rebuild shelter for them as we have the Mission House available to us still. So our one house is now two houses and sheltering almost a dozen people.
I will likely begin regular class again in March, but we are taking this time to pray over what that might look like. Perhaps God is using this break as a way to open the door for the next step he has planned.
Many are asking what we need in response to the recovery. Our two greatest needs remain the same as before the Typhoon... #1. Prayer #2. Financial Partners. I am thinking of starting an official prayer link/chain but am at a loss of how to do that. It would be nice if I could have a central place to add and update specific prayer requests and allow people to respond. I know many of you pray for us, but it's hard for me to know who and how best to connect. We have a dream of mentoring and financially supporting youth through at least high school, but that would require a lot more financial partners than we currently have in place. We were going to try starting at least more intentionally mentor when we moved to our new location, but who knows how long off that will be now. We have put off deciding which to build next (mentoring dorm OR new house)
until at least June/July as we need to reassess the budget and start anew with savings for it. If anyone is interested in sponsoring youth in the future, you can let us know now. If you are ready you can become financial partners now to help us get started building up the capital funds, otherwise we will be sure to contact you directly when the time comes to determine how many students we can sponsor.
If I can get my regular newsletter out in time look for ways to get linked the ministry in these more specific ways.
In the mean time, thanks for your prayers and concern! Be blessed so you can bless others!
~Jun and Christine Apatan