Isn’t it funny when life comes around full circle? When you are back to a familiar place you once thought was behind you? Here’s our recent second time around story:
First Time Around
We originally came to Maasin City in May 2010 to pioneer ministry to unschooled deaf children in the region. If a deaf child has no language, how can they know the love of Jesus, or even know their name? Education is the cornerstone for transforming the lives of precious deaf kids. Until they are sought out and literally given a “voice,” they have little to no opportunity for fulfilled, abundant lives.
As the only two workers sent by International Deaf Education Association (located in Bohol) to Leyte, our hands were extremely full. We wore many hats and became jack-of-all trades for quite a while. (Read more on our starting place here.) Our primary goals were to set up new deaf classes in existing schools, support newly trained teachers, and find and convince families with deaf kids to enroll their children. (Read Peljune’s story here.) Then we were tasked to setup a new NGO called LIAD (Leyte Island Association of the Deaf) to officially and legally run the program in Leyte. LIAD encompasses all Leyte towns feeding to schools in Maasin, Ormoc, Sogod and Macrohon.
God was ever present and moved mountains before us. We had the joy and blessing of searching for deaf kids hidden in their small villages, and seeing them arrive on the first day of school. We experienced the agony of knowing some deaf kids could not come because they lived too far over dangerous mountainous roads to commute daily. Trials and heartaches were endured as growing pains alongside the teachers throughout the reorganization process.
We ate, drank, slept, prayed, and played for and with the deaf kids, their families, their teachers, and the various DepEd and government officials who all had a say in the deaf children’s well-being. And God moved. In record time God opened doors, providing a building on a school property in Maasin City and transforming it into a safe residential dormitory for the deaf kids. (More on the dorm project here.) Now kids from far-flung areas could finally come to school!
Then in December of 2012, our voluntary employment with IDEA running LIAD ended. IDEA’s needs had changed as the organization in Leyte grew. We were no longer needed despite our love and concern for the deaf children. So with the Lord’s leading and blessing, we immediately transitioned to full-time church based ministry, with Francis as the Associate and Youth Pastor of Maasin City Alliance Church.
And that’s where we are continuing to serve the Lord and His church for the last 4 years.
In January just after classes resumed from the winter break, we brought our kids to visit the deaf dorm. Wow! What an amazing sight to see. It’s been well over a year since the last time I (Laura), have been to the dorm. And it’s the first time I’ve seen the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the classroom building adjacent to the dormitory. So amazing to see what God has continued to do through the outreach to the Deaf. About 30 deaf kids live in the dormitory and there’s even high school classes open now! Way to go God!
Then, two weeks ago we were surprised by contact by the Program Manager of IDEA in Bohol. Surprised is an understatement. Blown away is more like it. She wanted to know if we could meet and hear her concerns for the deaf kids in the dorm. Of course we were willing! So we met.
And here’s where we need prayers, dear friends! IDEA requested that we would join them to take on the spiritual development aspect of their ministry for the kids living in the dorm. IDEA has realized that promoting rules for personal behavior and self-management doesn’t work when the students don’t have a biblical foundation to reference. When they don’t know who Jesus is, or that God loves them dearly and has rules (Commandments) for them to follow, how could or why should they? This is the ongoing problem since the former deaf Values teacher/artist/Pastor relocated with his family last year.
While we are not available on Sundays, we are available mid-week to run a weekly, evening devotional time with the deaf kids in the Maasin dorm. Now we’re going to be volunteers serving the deaf again! IDEA will provide the materials and we will teach. Since the school year is about to end, we are looking forward to beginning in June when classes resume.
Because of God
Eek! Even if equipped with my former sign language skills, I lack confidence to teach 30+ deaf kids Bible stories and biblical values. But God is more than able! I earnestly ask for your prayers for God to restore our sign language skills, and for our effectiveness! That their precious hearts would yield to Jesus! Without a doubt I know that IDEA’s request to serve once more is God’s response to my prayer to take us (me) deeper in ministry. Just as before, when we committed to be “hands and feet” to share God’s love with those who cannot hear, here we are – about to do it again. Pray for us, dear friend. Such an exciting time!
Links for additional stories and background:
Connect with IDEA, for information about deaf child sponsorship, holistic ministry and current events.
Read a story Laura wrote on Peljune, a deaf boy living in the mountains of Maasin.
Read about Francis & Laura’s early days serving with IDEA in Leyte.
Learn about the dorm renovation project and transformation from a worm farm to dormitory.
Watch a 2 minute documentary shot during the early phases of the dorm’s clean up and construction by Faith Chapel, Billings, MT team.