Sunday, August 17, 2014

What If I Didn't Say Yes?

By Travis (My Husband, the Missionary)

Since becoming a missionary, I’ve had a lot of doubts and sometimes don’t know what I’m doing here in the Philippines.  It’s a lot harder than I ever imagined, and I don’t know why God chose me to be His missionary.  Even as I sat down to begin this update that I was basically forced to write, I had thoughts of giving up and going home.   Missions is the hardest thing I've ever done.  But God always has a way of reminding me of why I'm here.  

During our In-take training last November in Mexico, we were told of a super typhoon named Yolanda that had hit the Philippines destroying many small islands and killing many people.  We all knelt down and prayed for the victims and prayed for our fellow missionaries, the Leano family, and Father Joe, a Filipino priest, who were trying to get to the affected area to bring relief. 

As more information came to us in the following days, I felt extremely sad for the people and wished that I could help.  Being from South Louisiana, I’m no stranger to devastating storms and wanted to help the people in the Philippines because that’s what we Cajuns do after the storm---help each other recover.  Little did I know that God was going to grant my wish.  A few days later, we were told that we were being sent to Malaybalay in the Philippines for our first mission post. 

One of the first things that came to mind, after the shock of being sent to the other side of the world, was that I might be able to help with the typhoon relief.  The Leanos and Father Joe had been bringing food and water to some of the islands.  (Read about it here, and here, and here.)  I hoped to be able to join them once we got to the Philippines, so we kept in contact with the Leanos as we began to prepare to leave the states and learned that the main thing the people one island, Hilantagaan, desperately wanted was for their chapel to be rebuilt.  They had no electricity, no food, no water, but asked for their church to be rebuilt because they knew the real necessity during this time was Jesus. 

Before we left in January, we had a bake sale at our home parish in Jennings to raise money for the chapel and began planning a trip to the island with the Leanos.  In March, after taking a month to get settled in Malaybalay, I made my first trip to Hilantagaan to begin the rebuilding of the chapel.  We were blessed to have extra missionary men come with us to the Philippines and were even more blessed when they agreed to join the trip to the island.   

Although it had been four months since the storm, I was shocked to see that there was still so much devastation and still no electricity on the island.  Yet, the people were happy.  We set up tents and hammocks inside of the shell of a home and spent a week there with no amenities like electricity, running water, or a bathroom.  It was a tough, but no one complained because we knew these people had been living like this for months.

During the week, we helped haul cement blocks and mixed a lot of cement by hand in order to get the foundation of the chapel laid before we left.  The people were so gracious and thankful not only to have the funds to build their new chapel, but to have the missionaries from the U.S. there working side by side with them.  I wanted to stay and help finish the chapel, but knew that I needed to get back to my family and mission post in Malaybalay.  I hoped that I would at least be able to come back to see the finished chapel one day.  (Read about this first trip here.)

Thank you OLHC for helping to get our new chapel started!

By the end of July, the chapel was complete except for some finishing work.  Ramon Leano and I were able to plan a trip back to the island to help celebrate their first Mass in their new chapel.  This time I decided to take our two boys, Joshua the Filipino boy that we are trying to adopt, and my friend Ricky.  We arrived at the island to find that after nine months they still had no electricity and still lacked so much, but the people were even happier than before because they now had a place to celebrate Mass once again.    

March: The BEFORE
July: The AFTER

The morning of the blessing and Mass was filled with excitement.  All the ladies were sweeping, cleaning, and decorating God’s new house.  I kept thinking about how long those eight months must have been for the people to wait to have a place where they could receive Jesus again.  Once the ladies were done, I took a moment to look at the beauty of this simple chapel and felt so blessed to have been part of making this happen and to have been able to return to be part of this day.

The people began gathering for the blessing very early.  And even before the priest had arrived from the main island, the chapel was packed.  The kids even left school to attend this very special celebration.  Afterwards, everyone came to thank us for the new chapel and to tell us how much it meant to them to have a place of worship again.  I will never forget the true joy on their faces.

Now as I look back and remember their joy, I wonder, “How long would it have been before these people were able to rebuild their church if I had not said “YES” to His call?  How long would they have had to wait to receive Jesus again if I had not said “YES” when God asked me to be a missionary?  I still don’t know why He chose me to be His missionary, but I know that His plan is always better than my plan.

Thank you to all who helped in the building of the Hilantagaan chapel and all those who prayed for the typhoon victims.  And thank you for your “Yes” to God’s call to support our call missions and our mission work.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sponsor a Student

Sponsor a Student Program

We have seen the great need in our community for education. As a teacher, it breaks my heart to see so many young children on the streets instead of in school each day.  (See my other blog about this.) Children whose families can not afford the school fees and school supplies have to drop out of school. Many never go back, and they grow up to be adults who can not read or write.

The goal of our sponsorship program is to provide financial support for students to continue attending school and to provide each student with a pray partner to support them spiritually throughout their studies as they try to break the cycle of poverty in their families.

What grades are we looking to get sponsors for?
Elementary Students (K – 6)
High School (7 – 10)
       ***Beginning next year, grades 11 and 12 will be added to high school.  This will make it even
             harder for many of the poor to finish school.
College Students
ALS (Alternative Learning School) for teens and young adults who may have never been to school or dropped out before finishing elementary or high school.

How much does it cost to sponsor one student?
The cost to send a student to school in the Philippines is MUCH lower than in the United States. Each students need is different.  Some need as little as $10 a month.  We can match you with an individual student or you can donate to the general fund by donating online here and typing Student Scholarship Fund in the comment box.

What can sponsorship help to cover?
Sponsoring a student would help cover their school fees and/or tuition, school supplies, uniform, daily lunch, and transportation to and from school for some.  For adult students in the ALS program, it may also include a scholarship for their families living expenses.  

Who needs sponsorship?
We have several students currently needing sponsorship.  We have already helped these students get enrolled for the new school year which began in June and have paid all the entrance fees.  You can find their picture and story below.

How do I sponsor a student?
Read about each student below.  Pray about which student God is calling you to sponsor.  Then send us an e-mail at In the e-mail please include your:

  • Name
  • mailing address
  • phone #
  • e-mail
  • Name of student you would like more information about
Remember that sending a student to school can be LIFE CHANGING.  Perhaps you belong to an altar society, Knights of Columbus, Youth Group, College Ministry Group, Mom's Group, Book Club, etc. and you could sponsor a student as a group.  If you are unable to sponsor a student at this time, PLEASE pray for the students and for God's help in finding a sponsor for each of them.

Meet the Students:

Joshua is a 14 year old student at the Alternative School.  He is hasn't attended school since about 3rd grade.  When we found him, he could not read or write.  He now goes to school three days a week and has a tutor two days a week in order to catch up to where he should be. He is thriving in school and is already reading and writing in both Filipino and English!

His short-term goal is to finish the ALS elementary program this fall and be able to enroll in the high school program at the beginning of next year.  His long-term goal is to go to the USA and graduate from LSU. (Go, Tigers!)  All of these goals lead up to his ultimate goal:   to get good job in the US and send money back to his family here so that they do not go hungry anymore.

Joshua needs a sponsor to help pay for the tutoring fees and his travel back and forth to the school which is across town.


Jenny Rose is a 16 year old college student.  She is a freshman majoring in Public Administration.

 Jenny Rose knew that she would not be able to attend college without a scholarship, so she tried out for the university's dance team.  I watched her practice in the street every night for weeks in order to perfect her tryout dance. We prayed for her to make the dance troupe and receive a full scholarship.  She did!  The scholarship paid all of her tuition, but not all the miscellaneous fees, books, uniform, and travel expenses to and from school and practice each day.

Jenny Rose needs a sponsor to help pay for her daily travel to and from school.  As well as, her miscellaneous fees and extra money for all of her weekly assignments and projects.


Oneil is a 22 year old young man that never attended school because of his family's extreme poverty. He ran away from home at a very young age in order to escape.  He entered the workforce at about 13 years old in order to help provide for the needs of his siblings.  He traveled with the carnival for years sending money back home to his mother to help provide food for his 7 younger brothers. He had not seen his mother or siblings in over 4 years due to the travels of the carnival, but he had continued to send them money.  When we met Oneil, he could not read or write at all.  He wanted to be able to find a better job and live near his family, so that he could help his mother more.  But being unable to read or write, he felt that he would not be able to do anything, but travel with the carnival.

Oneil, like Joshua, is now enrolled at ALS in the elementary program and has a private tutor to help him move faster through the program so that he can get back to work quicker.   He needs a sponsor to help with the travel expenses to get to and from school each day and to help pay the tutor that he needs. We would also like to find a sponsor for Oneil's siblings since he is no longer able to work a full-time job and send them money for their basic needs.


Jonld is 22 years old and is a third year college student who is behind in his studies because he keeps
having to leave school due to lack of funds.  Jonld is studying Electronic Technology.

Jonld hopes to graduate and work abroad in order to make enough money to take care of his parents.  He wants to be able to provide for their daily needs and build them a decent home to live in.  Jonld needs a sponsor to help pay his tuition fees each semester.


Ara is one of our July brides.  She is a mother of a precious little boy that we met at our gate a few months ago with a very serious staph infection that we helped get treatment for at the local hospital.

Ara is a second year college student.  She wants to finish college and get a good job so that she will be able to tend to her family's needs without having to depend on others.  Ara needs a sponsor to help with her tuition which is a one time per semester need, about four times a year.  College tuition here in the Philippines is much less expensive than tuition in the the U.S.


Ian Justine is a first year high school student.  Much like the others, his goal is to finish high school and college, so that he can get a good job and help to provide for the needs of his family so that his mother and father do not have to travel far from home to find work.  Ian travels across town to a school with a soccer team in hopes that he can gets a soccer scholarship to be able to attend college.  He practices just as hard as he studies.  He's a great player and student.  When he's not at school or soccer practice, Ian loves to join us for our ministry work and Mass.  He has even become an altar server at our parish.

Ian needs a sponsor to help with the cost of traveling back and forth to school each day and for the miscellaneous school fees that that come up during the week.  And maybe the occasional pair of new soccer shoes! :)


We also have NUMEROUS elementary students in need of a school uniform and school shoes.  School has been in session here for over two months now and many still do not have uniforms.  The total cost of a uniform including a pair of school shoes is about $25.  If you can't be a monthly sponsor or a college tuition sponsor, maybe you can sponsor an elementary uniform.  To do this, please donate online at and type "School Uniforms" in the comment box.

Again, thank you all so much for your past prayers and support.  Please continue to pray for us, for these students, and for the poor around the world that long to go to school.