This month (March) marks 5-years since our family officially joined CBM’s Global Field Staff team. Although we were appointed in August 2015, we needed to raise enough financial support for our ongoing family and ministry needs before officially joining CBM’s staff. The process of raising enough financial support is difficult and can take a very long time, but thanks to God’s provision through the generosity of His people, we were able to raise enough support in just 6 months. We are so humbled and thankful to everyone, and every church, who has given financially to support our family over the past 5 years. Through your generosity you are participating in God’s mission to embrace a broken world through Word and Deed.
This month also marks the 12th month since we returned to Canada at the request of the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines, and the support of CBM’s leadership, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. When we left our home in Roxas City we never expected to be in Canada this long. What’s worse is we are still uncertain about when we will be able to return due to ongoing challenges related to travel restrictions globally and in the Philippines, and vaccine distribution challenges.
Despite this difficult reality, that we are unable to be in the Philippines at this time, we remain committed to the work that God has given us with our partners, KPM. Although our work looks very different from what it would if we were in Roxas City, we give thanks to the Lord for technology and reliable internet connections that are enabling us to connect and support our partners throughout these many months.
We’re also thankful to all of you, for continuing to pray for us and financially supporting us during this uncertain and challenging season of global work. Your commitment to our family, to CBM, and to our work in the Philippines is humbling and fills us with gratitude. We thank God for each of you and pray God’s blessing upon you.
Below is a bit of an overview of the activities we’ve been involved with over the past number of months. We hope that you will find these updates both informing and encouraging.
As a family, we have really been trying to embrace winter and have been getting outdoors to experience winter activities such as skating, sledding, and hikes. These are activities that we were not able to enjoy while living in the Philippines.
We were pleasantly surprised to learn, that like most other provinces in Canada, New Brunswick now has a ‘Family Day’ holiday in February. We took advantage of this new holiday set aside for families to hike to the Midland Ice Caves and then went skating on the Belleisle Bay.
We hope that you are having opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy God’s creation this Winter. It really is good for the mind, soul and body.
CCTEP – Year 3
Capiz Continued Theological Education Program (CCTEP) began the third and final year of courses in early February. Due to a relaxing of some of the covid-19 restrictions in Roxas City, Capiz, participants were mostly able to gather together in one place. The space was set up in a way to provide proper physical distancing with hand sanitizing stations, and participants were required to wear face masks through the duration of the course.
The latest course focused on the topic of ‘Worship and Liturgy’ in the Philippine context. The participants were eager to share and learn together about incorporating indigenous and contextualized forms of worship and liturgy, rather than adopting or continuing with western forms. The next course, which will focus on pastoral ethics, will take place later this month.
The ability to gather the participants together in a central space in Roxas City also allowed for our BUGANA team to make a presentation to the pastors about BUGANA Livelihood Center, and display products that are being produced and available for sale. The feedback and support from the CCTEP participants was very encouraging to the Bugana team.
BAM Global Congress
Last April 2020, Michael was scheduled to attend the (Business as Mission) BAM Global Congress in Thailand, along with our colleague Brenda Halk. As you might expect, due to the pandemic, the congress was postponed in hopes that it could be held this April 2021. With the pandemic still raging, however, the congress organizers quickly realized it was not going to be possible to host an in-person gathering in Thailand (or anywhere for that matter). So, they made the decision to make the BAM Global Congress a virtual gathering and added monthly webinar series’ each month leading up to the main virtual event in April.
Although it’s disappointing to not have the opportunity to visit Thailand for the congress, and to not have the same opportunities that a live in-person event provides, it has been wonderful to engage with others from around the world through this virtual event. In addition, since the entire event is now a virtual event, participation in the event is much easier, and the cost is significantly more manageable.
At CBM, we have organized a CBM BAM Team consisting of 17 people with representatives from every region where CBM works (Africa, Asia, India, Latin America, MENA, and Canada). We also have a few special guests, from outside CBM, journeying with us through each of the monthly webinar series and the upcoming main event.
Our CBM team is meeting each month to discuss and collaborate together on things that we are hearing and learning throughout he series of webinars. We’ve been discussing things like poverty alleviation through business development, discipleship through business, social impact and change through business creation, and much more. As we discuss these important topics we are asking the question, ‘how does this impact our work (CBM’s) with partners around the world, as we seek to integrate Christian faith with work in the world’.
The Church and the Marketplace
Alongside our colleague, Brenda Halk, we have been working at increasing opportunities for conversations and learning about faith and work, within the broader CBM family. One of the ways we are doing this is through a unique partnership with the Institute for Marketplace Transformation (IMT) and Dr. Paul Stevens, which provides us with excellent content to offer courses on a wide range of topics related to a proper biblical understanding of work (theology of work).
Since Mid-January, Brenda and Michael have been joining with CBM’s Africa team each week, to journey alongside of them in completing a course on ‘The Church and the Marketplace’. The intention of the Africa team is to learn more about theology of work, while at the same time, thinking through how the content of the course can be effectively introduced and taught within the African context.
The discussions of the Africa team have helped us as we consider the course material for the Philippine context. It is our hope and plan to begin facilitating this course with our partner in the Philippines within the next several months.
‘Essentials’ Small Business Training
Michael has begun a weekly training on the essentials of small business management with KPM’s business development team who are overseeing both FOOD for LIFE and BUGANA Livelihood Center. This course has six modules on the ‘essentials’ of running a small business. For now, the team is working on module 2, which focuses on things like sales & marketing, advertising & promotion, and customer service & quality control.
As the team goes through this training material we will be applying what we are learning to the business operations of BUGANA and FOOD for Life. Both of these initiatives have been doing fairly well given the circumstances, but with more training and more frequent discussions about current business activities we hope that they will experience further growth and greater sustainability.
Despite the continued uncertainty for our family, we are all healthy and doing well. Kyla is just months away from high school graduation and has her sights set on her post-secondary education. She has been working hard to fill out university applications along with scholarship and bursary applications. She recently turned 18 (Feb 2nd) and decided that it was time for her to get a part-time job. She began working part-time at Shoppers Drugmart in Sussex, NB a few weeks ago.
Sean is just days away from turning 16, so as you might guess, he is focused on obtaining his driving learners permit. We think he is far more ready for this next step in his life than we are as his parents. Sean is doing extremely well in school and recently won the student-of-the-week award for his grades and attitude towards learning and towards his teachers and classmates.
Carter is also doing really well in school and especially enjoyed a recent project he had to complete in his shop class, which was making a ring out of an old stainless steel nut. Carter has also rediscovered his love for ice hockey. He isn’t playing on an organized hockey team, but he has been enjoying lots of opportunities to play pick-up hockey on the bay or community rink.
Allie continues to thrive in her homeschooling and, if she keeps up her current pace, will complete grade 7 by the end of April or early May. Allie doesn’t have a lot of opportunity for activities outside the home, but she has been enjoying horseback riding lessons at a horse ranch near our house. Her teacher says she is a natural and in just the past couple of weeks she has begun jumping.
Melanie is also keeping busy providing private counselling therapy to people in our region and overseas through her work in the Philippines. She is working towards fulfilling the required hours to obtain her full New Brunswick Counselling Therapist licence. On top of that, Melanie recently had the opportunity to lead a learning session with our CBM colleagues on anxiety and depression providing several copping strategies.
Prayer & Praise
- Please be praying for Indigenous people groups (Tumandok) in Capiz and Iloilo province whose livelihoods and homes are being threatened by large infrastructure projects of the government.
- Please pray for our partner, Kabuganaan Philippines Ministries (KPM) and Rev. Job & Phoebe Santiago as they continue to provide leadership and support for people in need throughout Capiz province.
- Please pray for BUGANA Livelihood Center and FOOD for LIFE (Faith+Work initiatives in the Philippines) as they continue to make adjustments to their business activities due to the covid-19 pandemic.
- Please pray for our family as we continue to navigate living and working in two places.