Reflections of our NTE mission at Chester Hill

From 7-11 December 2016, a team of seven from EFCA Lindfield (Alex So, Betty Chan, Charis Chan, David Chen, Joseph Chen, Stephen Yu, Sylvia Wei) joined up with an NTE Mission team from ECU (Evangelical Christian Union) to serve the church at Chester Hill.

It’s fair to say that even in five brief days, we saw God at work in many different ways for His kingdom.  For the first few days, the team split in two, with some of us going to local train stations in Chester Hill and Sefton to hand out leaflets while others stayed at the church to chat to parents dropping off/picking up their kids from the school across the road.  Praise God that we saw incredible fruit from the efforts of both teams.  For example, although leafletting at the train station was energy-intensive (and required 7am starts!), God brought many people willing to stop in their tracks and engage in conversation with us.  Indeed, we found that by leafletting at the same spot, twice a day, we earned the trust of some local commuters, so that by Friday morning/afternoon, we received a few “You’re still here! Okay, I’ll take a flyer”-type responses.  It was a good reminder that things only happen by God’s timing, not ours, and that there is great value in persistence and engaging the community at a ground level.

 

Another excellent opportunity we had was to go door-knocking around the community.  For some, this was a scary prospect, but we were encouraged hearing from Pastors Nate and Paul share about the many positive responses they had received door-knocking around the area in the past.  And of course, God generously answered prayers and this is exactly what happened with us. In one instance, Sylvia and Danny Mullins were invited into a house where they had an hour-long conversation with a Muslim lady on ISIS, the sinful nature of humanity and the gospel of Jesus. Both parties were respectful of each other’s views and we were able to learn about what Muslim people thought about Christianity. Although we did not see the family turn up to the Sunday church service, we were thankful for the hospitality and generosity the family gave in welcoming a stranger into the house. God taught us to trust in Him and to be prayerfully dependent on His strength.

 

In addition to trying to present the gospel to everyone we came across, another goal was to invite the community to church on Sunday so that they could hear an evangelistic talk, partake in Sunday service, and join us for a Sunday fun-day lunch afterwards.  As we stood by the welcoming table on Sunday morning, we were initially anxious – would anyone new actually turn up?  They certainly did, and it was one of the highlights of the mission to watch new people streaming down the long church driveway towards church, many for the first time.  As Pastor Nate emphasised when he welcomed everyone at the start of service, there were truly many, many nations all gathered together to worship, with people from places such as Syria, Lebanon, Vietnam, China, and so forth.  The multiculturalism of the area was something we had heard about, and occasionally seen (and tasted!) during the week, but to see all these people gathered together was something special indeed.  What a wonderful picture of God’s faithfulness to His Word (Isaiah 2:2) and reminder of what awaits in heaven!

Throughout the flurry of activity and conversation across the five days, something that struck us all was the centrality of prayer in all of our efforts.  Virtually before and after every event, and in some cases, immediately after a good conversation, team members would gather together to pray and commit all things to God.  We were also blessed with daily team time in which Pastors Nate and Paul opened the Scriptures with us and reminded us of how it is really God at work, and the privilege that comes from being used by Him.  Team time was also a great opportunity to debrief, and as we went around the circle every-day sharing a highlight and prayer point, we were constantly struck by how the gospel continues to spread and also challenged as to where God might have us serve in the future.

Our team would like to thank everyone who made this mission possible, including Pastor Dave for his planning and leadership, Pastors Nate and Paul for their leadership as well hospitality from their families in billeting us, and the many people back home praying for and encouraging the team.  We thank God for you all, but most of all, we thank God for His endless grace given to us through Jesus, and for the lessons learned and challenges given to us at Chester Hill.

Although the mission has ended, there is much of God’s work to be done. Please continue to pray for Chester Hill Anglican:

  • That God will bring and unite more people from different ethnicities to the church
  • That God will raise committed and faithful bible study leaders to teach the Word
  • That the people in Chester Hill will come to know Christ and call Him as their Lord and Saviour

 

 

Day 14

image1Having concluded our clinical work at Marilao, this morning allowed the team and Bukang Liwayway (BL) workers to reflect upon God’s amazing work over the past 2 weeks. After breakfast, everyone had a chance to share and evaluate the work done, as well as plan for the future to help the poor. 

Minor issues were addressed, but overall everyone was encouraged by the fact that more patients were seen more efficiently. The team was especially blessed with the help from Christine, a nurse from Chicago who joined the team. She was very efficient in assisting with patient triage (the process of sorting out patients’ health issues and assessing the urgency), and this allowed for easier and more efficient consults.
The addition of an enclosed roof, fencing and benches around the basketball court in Trece Martires helped with the working conditions. Perhaps the biggest improvement came with the installation of 2 air conditioning units in the main working area in Marilao. The funding of these units were raised from the donations from our dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as through the recent fund raising events at EFCA. A big thank you to God and to all who donated for improving the working conditions at Marilao! The team noticeably worked more efficiently, and were able to work continuously without fatigue from the heat.
image3In a previous blog, it was mentioned that a 4 year old boy with seizures had ongoing problems due to his parents being unable to afford his twice daily medications. By the grace of God, the team unanimously agreed to support the child through the Chronic Diseases Group program. Upon hearing the news, his mother almost broke down with joy, which is testament to the amazing power of love demonstrated by God. They will start attending weekly bible study starting on Friday.
Prayer points and challenges facing the BL workers include the need for more nurses to follow up patients with chronic medical conditions, and the need for more youth workers. The BL team is also welcoming sponsorship for more nurses and workers to help within the poor communities. Now that the foundations have been laid, and the patients have been exposed to the gospel, the biggest challenge would be to follow up with the patients to consolidate the good news and allow more to come to Jesus!
After an extensive photo session and emotional farewells, the team headed back to Manila in the afternoon to rest before our trip back to Sydney on Friday. We sampled another amazing Halo-Halo in the evening!
image2We concluded the day studying the last chapter from the book of James, which taught us the importance and power of prayer. As we reflected upon the many miracles God performed throughout the last 2 weeks, not only has He answered our prayers, God has also provided support and things that we had not prayed for. Praise the Lord!
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”
James 5:16
Leo

Day 13

image3This is our last day of clinic in Marilao. We have had our fair share of nervous patients today- criers, screamers and the close to fainters! There were patients with TB, patients with Hep B and the wanna B’s (that is, being a dentist- Cheryl extracted 19 teeth today!)

From the flood last night one of the  BL staff’s brother had a bad injury, and Dr Betty had to stitch him up. Another BL volunteer told us that he managed to save the family’s prized possession- 3 pigs from being drowned (their means of living). We were all so happy for him.

Here are some interesting statistics to share: The doctors saw a total of 508 patients and the dentists saw 346 patients resulting in 882 extractions and 106 fillings!

image1For the past week in Marilao, we have been separated from the BL staff and volunteers during meal time due to lack of floor space. We had used their dining area as the medical clinic and they set up a dining area for our team upstairs. Tonight, being our last dinner here, and as we have packed all our equipment, they managed to put 3 tables side by side and it was very special for all us to share a meal together again. Afterwards, we celebrated with ice cream and this included a flavour we have not tried before- avocado macchiato. The highlight was everyone around the table giving their most memorable moments of the week. The youth enjoyed being treated by us and despite having to miss school, they really enjoyed each other’s fellowship. The staff said they learnt a lot being around us, watching how we treat patients and therefore learning how to take care of themselves better. We thanked them for working so hard to make us comfortable and their eagerness to share the gospel with others. It was a privilege to work together for God’s glory no matter what role we played.

Leander

Day 12

image1Today consisted of the usual continuous workload of seeing patients in Marilao. On the dental side, there were a lot more children seen, and hence treatment involved many more restorations(mostly done by Leander) than previous days, with the hope of preserving their teeth for as long as possible. There were some curly extractions today as well (literally). One was so appreciative, a patient came back with a cake in gratitude…(after Kim removed 15 teeth for her!)

Dr Betty had a female patient who had a huge swelling in her right thigh and her entire leg is clearly swollen. She was quite distressed as she has not passed urine in the last 5 days. Betty suspects she has renal failure as her condition has been untreated for so long, so we paid for ultrasound and she will be sent to a hospital in Manila for further investigations. This patient had previously visited the hospital back in August but they just sent her away untreated as they wanted her condition diagnosed outside first!

image2Dr Leo encountered a 4 year old boy who regularly suffers from chronic siezures. This is because the family cannot afford to give him medication daily as they can only provide enough to give it to him every 2nd or 3rd day. Our team has agreed to support them financially to cover his medical needs.

Today we experienced a bout of heavy rain which lasted about an hour. We discovered that this was enough to cause flooding nearby, and many people had to evacuate from their homes. The front of the BL headquarters was swiftly turned into a refuge, as it was soon filled with families that were affected. The cook ended up cooking an extra dinner for those people tonight. Please pray that in face of tragedy that these people seek comfort from God , and God answers prayers to help them get through this.

Van

Day 11

Day 10

image2We  had a fairly relaxing day playing tourists yesterday. After breakfast, we all decided  to go back to the International Baptist Church Makati for Sunday worship this morning . We were  keen to listen to the continuation of the ” Great Commission Realities ” (GCR ,Part 2) sermon, and what God has further installed for us.

As the service began we were reminded not to ignore God’s voice speaking to us when worshipping. If we don’t respond to God then our worship is incomplete.

The bible reading was from Act 15:36-16:40. The message this week was also quite appropriate and applicable to us as we prepare to start the second week of our mission in Marilao.

The story of Lydia teaches us the principle of Spiritual Conviction GCR#3. I find the story of Lydia encouraging, where God could use one ordinary person to grow his ministry in Philippi.  We should not ignore or shut out the Holy Spirit talking to us. Faith is given to us by the Holy Spirit. We are not saved by our work but by Grace through Faith. It is so comforting to know that the Holy Spirit is always with us, at work before, during and after our ministry. We cannot accomplish  the work here in the Philippines without the Holy Spirit, we need the power of the Holy Spirit.

image1The story of the fortune teller from today’s bible reading teaches us about the principle of Cultural Disturbances and Suffering , GCR #4 and #5. It reminds  us of the need to respect different cultures. Not all cultures are evil and no one culture is more important than other culture. We need to communicate the Gospel in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way and it can sometimes  confront cultural evils and wickedness. We should never compromise or change the Gospel message in order to win favour in the culture. Fidelity of the gospel message through  respect and love is important.

Our obedience to Jesus Christ sometimes puts us in harms way, and we should not be surprised.  Jesus Christ promised His disciples will endure suffering and in that suffering, Christ will be present with us. Comforting to know we are not alone as we go through trials and tribulations in our mission here.

Pastor David finished his sermon by posing a few questions:
1. Are we serving in our own intelligence, skills and power or are we asking for daily filling of the Holy Spirit? We are fooling ourselves if we think that we can do it alone on our own.
2. Are we sensitive to the cultures around us, but still courageous to present the Gospel in spite of cultural objections?
3. Are we willing to endure suffering for the sake of the Gospel?

All the questions posed were relevant and a good reminder to all of us before we embark on our 2nd week of our mission.

image3We arrived in Marilao towards the end of their church service and we were privileged to meet Betty Lea, the baby that was born to the lady who came in last year with pre eclampsia.

Please continue to pray for us as we begin the second week of our mission in Marilao.

“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭12:24‬ ‭

Kim

Day 9 – Highlights of Trece Martires and Best ever Halo Halo

As we enjoy a delicious hotel breakfast, we reflected on what each person would consider as the highlight of the mission trip at Trece Martires. 

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Carrie

Carrie was working with her translator Chardaina at the pharmacy table and managed all 477 patients beautifully.  More importantly, Kim and Carrie have been sponsoring Chardaina since the medical mission last year and it was heart-warming to see how she has grown and turned into a mature, reliable and responsible youth at the age of 16.  She wrote a very touching letter thanking and sharing with Carrie what she was doing in the last year.  It is really inspiring for Carrie to receive such great appreciation and that Chardaina’s faith in Christ has been growing.  It is a privilege for Kim and Carrie to be able to help Chardaina to fulfil her dream of having a good education and overcoming poverty.

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Cheryl

Cheryl was assisting Kim with a 12-year-old girl who has two teeth that grew in very awkward places and made her look like a vampire.  She has been teased at school and she desperately wish for them to be removed.  Kim helped to achieve her wish and the patient and her mother were extremely grateful.

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Van

Van has tried to preserve a number of teeth by doing filling.  However, patients have to understand that there is an element of risk involved as the tooth can become infected and then it will have to be extracted.  Van explained this to each patient for whom he does filling.  As predicted, one such patient developed infection and was fortunate to be able to return for extraction.  However, it would be a different story if his tooth becomes infected after we leave….

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Leander  

 

Leander treated a young man with good oral hygiene but still managed to have a number of decay teeth that would eventually destroy these teeth.  Leander decided to fill all the decay and there were 6 of them, which she took an hour to do but the effect was well worth the effort. Patient and his mother were absolutely appreciative of Leander’s effort.

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Leo

Leo saw a number of patients with hearing loss.   He found the underlying cause was having blocked ears from too much wax.  He was able to remove the wax and the relief was instantaneous as the patients could hear again.

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Kim

Kim has a patient from the chronic disease group and she has an infected molar tooth that was very difficult to remove.  It took him sometime to remove it but the result was instant release from severe pain.

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Betty

For me, it was a 3-year-old girl who presented with daily ‘fainting’ episodes.  She was involved in a tricycle versus taxi accident at 6 months of age during which time she was thrown out of the tricycle.  She has a depressed skull fracture and it was likely that she has developed seizures.  A CT brain confirmed that she has structural abnormality and we were able to start her on medication in an attempt to control these attacks.  The family would not be able to afford the investigation nor the medication and it was great to be able to help out this young girl and her family.

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Though each team member has different memories regarding the mission, we have fulfilled our task as an united team and complimented one another with our gifts. 

We spent the day visiting San Agustin Church and Fort Santiago, learnt about Augustine and the history of the Philippines.  It was really great to see how Augustine preached the gospel to the European and North African continents and helped to form over 500 community of priests and provided biblical teachings. 

In our devotion, we learnt about the importance of controlling our tongue from the book of James and how it can cause significant damage to our relationship with family and friends and work colleagues. 

At the end of the evening, we enjoy a meal with the best ever Halo Halo.

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  (James 3:10)

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Betty

 

Day 8

We woke this morning to a day of rest and reflected on what had been achieved  at Trece Martires. After completing our 6 clinics the medical team had treated  291 patients and the dental team 186 patients with 430 extractions and 54 fillings in total. Once again god has provided us with his love and wisdom to treat these people who repeatedly expressed their gratitude to all the members of our team.
Our day of rest,well it depends on your definition of the word “rest” saw us exploring one of Manila’s largest shopping malls,Greenbelt which had 5 connecting complexes with a huge selection of shops and eateries. Lunch was the first stop, we chose a restaurant serving local filipino dishes.
It was lovely to walk outside amongst the tropical gardens where we found an outside chapel,organic garden and playground. I think we all really appreciated a day that didn’t  revolve around a time schedule. The day finished with us studying James 2:14-26 about Faith and Deeds.  As a  believer,God has prepared good deeds for us to do  and it is up to us to respond to His call.

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Cheryl Dixon

Day 7

Today was our last clinical day at Trece Martires. The medical and dental team would spend the morning seeing patients before returning back to Manila for the weekend. 

image2After breakfast we returned back to the basketball court, and the team were involved in an evangelistic song for the locals, completely with dance moves and choreography!
Leo have a health talk to the locals on ear care and ear infections. Almost every Filipino we saw had a habit of using cotton tips to clean their ears. Unfortunately this usually pushes the wax deeper into their ear canals and would often cause hearing loss. There was a notable number of children who had significant hearing loss from wax impaction, and most of them were incredibly brave and tolerated removal with a suction device.
We saw a 2 year old boy with an umbilical hernia after he suffered from an infection around his umbilicus at burn. Even though he didn’t have any symptoms, unfortunately the only treatment is to undergo surgery. They were told about this previously by a local surgeon, but unfortunately the parents were so poor that they had not even bothered asking about the medical costs. All we could offer was antibiotics and prayers that God may provide a way for him to have surgery at some stage.
image1The dentists had the their usual challenging tooth cases. At the conclusion of the clinic the team had the privilege of meeting the patients who had been in the Chronic Diseases Support group. These were approximately 15 patients who had chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, and were too poor to afford medications. Praise to God that these patients have been able to meet weekly for
Bible study every Friday, and that their health has also significantly improved! We aim to continue adding more patients to this support group as we continue to see more patients.
After emotional farewells and an extended photo session, the team departed Trece Martires back to Manila, where they will spend a few days resting before travelling to Marilao on Sunday.
“Faith expressing itself through love” Gal 5:6
Leo

Day 6