Starting the New Year with a Blast

What a way to start 2018!  If it wasn’t enough to witness the chorus of firecrackers and fireworks on New Year’s Eve, our local volcano, Mount Mayon, couldn’t stay out of the act.  On January 13 it began emitting abnormally large amounts of smoke and ash blanketing several towns east of the mountain. Since then Mayon has remained irritable, blasting up pyroclastic materials and new plumes of ash sometimes 3 – 4 times a day and up to 5 km in altitude. The ash at times was so thick that it brought visibility to zero in the middle of the day. Last week plane flights were canceled, schools were suspended and over 90,000 residents evacuated from a 9 km radius surrounding the grumbling mountain.

But aside from Mayon’s eruptions, there have been other explosive blessings that God has released in Tiwala Kids and Communities this first month of 2018.  Here are the highlights for this month:

Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers Outreach

On January 13, the day of Mayon’s first eruption, the staff of Tiwala Kids & Communities were all busy with the outreach sponsored by a group of mechanical engineers who wanted to share their blessings to 50 children in Victory Village. It was an inspiring afternoon for the kids as they listened to the engineers’ stories of how they worked hard in order to finish their studies. The guests also facilitated the games and gift-giving, and encouraged  the kids to study hard and give back too to their communities someday. Everyone was having such a great time during the party that no one even noticed that Mayon was spewing ash plumes as high as 2,500 meters in the background.  It was only on the way home that the staff and kids realized what was happening.

The Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers Bicol Cluster shared their blessings to 50 children in Victory Village on January 13.
Scholars and Parents Meeting

The eruption led to around 90,000 people being evacuated to public schools. As a result, classes were suspended for more than a week. But Tiwala Kids & Communities made sure that our beneficiaries, especially our scholars, were still up-to-date with their academics. Tutorials and mentoring sessions continued. We also met with the parents of the scholars on January 26 to encourage them as well as learn more from their perspective how their children were doing in school.  We were thrilled to learn that many of them had made it to the the honor roll in their classes.

The parents of our scholars reported that their kids are doing very well, with many of them making it to the honor roll in their classes.
Disaster Preparedness

In light of the eruption of the volcano, Tiwala took the opportunity to teach the kids disaster preparedness skills. In our Saturday classes, we discussed about what volcanoes are, how they erupt, and what to do before, during, and after eruptions and ashfall. We also reminded them that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:10).

Aside from content instruction about the topic, we also downloaded an application about volcanoes on our educational tablets and let the students play and learn through it.
Relief Distribution

With the help of United Evangelical Church of Malabon as well as several individuals, we were able to provide relief items (beddings and hot meals) to thirty-five family beneficiaries of Tiwala who were evacuated by the local government because of the danger of pyroclastic flows and lahar.

Tiwala’s family beneficiaries in Barangay Buyuan were evacuated to Legazpi City Proper because they live within the 8km danger zone.
Please continue to pray for all those affected by the eruptions. The evacuees need food and other basic neccessities. The evacuation centers are overcrowded and classes have been disrupted for weeks. Up to the present time the volcano is still at Alert Level 4 (hazardous eruption imminent), just a notch lower than the highest alert level. Although Tiwala’s office is considered outside the danger zone (we’re 13 km away from the crater of Mayon while the extended danger zone is presently set at 9km), we can still easily hear the rumbling of the volcano and see the eruptions from our office window. Please pray for safety, provisions, and wisdom for the government and NGOs involved in the disaster risk reduction/relief efforts. Please pray also that there won’t be any hazardous or violent eruption. Above all, pray that people will find peace and salvation in God alone.

Lava fountaining event of Mayon Volcano on January 16 as seen from our office window.

Thank you for your partnership with us in this ministry. Your prayers, interest, and support help us make an impact in the lives of many children and families here in Bicol. We are looking forward to another fruitful (hopefully less explosive!) year of serving the Lord.