Care for Creation – Tanauan, Leyte

“A Moment to Remember”

“The land produced vegetation: seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” – Genesis 1:12 (NIV)

Can you still recall the poem entitled “All things bright and beautiful”? When I was in grade three, I used to recite that poem. The best line for me is, “All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.” What I’m trying to emphasize here is that, all the things that our eyes can see were created through Him (Colossians 1:16). Yet, they are just temporary.

TANAUAN 1

contributor – Enriano Agnila Jr

Waking up one morning, I recalled the tragic event last November 8, 2013 when typhoon Yolanda wreaked havoc in the provinces of Leyte, Samar and some areas in the Philippines. It was as if I could hear again the loud thunder, accompanied by lightning, fierce winds and heavy rains. For many of us, it was the worst nightmare of our lives. Although, it lasted only for more than just five hours, it changed everything in our town. All the buildings were destroyed, plants and trees were uprooted and loved ones were lost. After Yolanda, many survivors may have thought: “What’s the point of living after they have lost everything in life?” However, we must move on. We must leave behind all the painful memories and the pains of the past.

At that moment, I realized that earthly and material things are only temporary. I was back to myself again, when I received a message from a friend who said that we will do something significant that day. I quickly got ready to go to Eastern Visayas University (ESVU) Tanauan Campus, Leyte.

The sky was pouring rain that morning, when I entered the campus. I felt strange as I walked through the ruined wall of the school and sighed as I looked at it, I met my classmate who told me that our activity for that day was moved to one o’clock in the afternoon. I headed to our room with myriads of thoughts bugging my mind.

Time passed by quickly. I met my classmates, Jenelyn and Erika and we proceeded to Tanauan School of Craftsmanship and Home Industries (TSCHI). Our purpose in going there was related to the message that I received that morning. We are members of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of the Philippines at Eastern Visayas State University and our adviser reminded us to join a very important activity that day.

TANAUAN 2

IVCF Volunteers cleaning the school ground

That was October 11, 2014. Our activity was tree planting and clean-up drive at TSCHI, a secondary institution within walking distance from our campus. Immediately, I felt so excited to join that one-of- a kind activity. Earlier, I mentioned that many trees were uprooted by typhoon Yolanda. After that, we experienced extreme heat. Because there were not enough trees to absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, by joining the tree planting activity, I know that in one way or another, I can contribute or even just give a little help to balance our ecosystem.

There were 22 students who participated in the activity, together with Engineer Erwin Royo, our IVCF adviser. Our goal was to plant 20 pieces of jackfruit trees inside TSCHI premises. We also planned to clean the school surroundings.

I felt joy in my heart after planting a tree. For me, it was a big opportunity to be part of the activity. While looking at my fellow students, I saw the smiles on their faces, heard their laughter and it made tree planting all worth it, despite our being hot, tired and our hands dirty from digging the ground. This activity would not have been possible without our sponsor. I would like to thank MEANS and their donors for sponsoring: plant a tree activity, send students to Discipleship Leadership Training Camp 2014 from Tanauan, Leyte and to serve one community. Thank you, too, of course to Sir Erwin Royo for his leadership in these events.

IVCF Volunteers

After planting 20 trees, we started cleaning the school surroundings by pulling out weeds. I felt so happy when we had our small talks and funny conversations. It was such a strange feeling after we were done with our tasks. Then, we had some snacks to satisfy our hunger and to quench our thirst. Thank you God for giving us people like them. Thank you MEANS and the MEANS donors for helping us.

Before we left TSCHI, I once again looked at the trees we had planted and the place we cleaned. I found myself smiling. The only thing I had in my mind was that, I hope that the trees will grow as strong as the faith we have in Jesus. The trees will serve as a symbol of love and peace in our community. And as long as they live, our dreams and aspirations will also remain strong.

I know, after a month, the trees will grow and I will be proud to say that I was one of those who planted them. I just wish that TSCHI students will take good care of the trees.

I recalled in Genesis how God the Creator was so pleased after seeing his work and said “it was good” That was the same feeling I had as I looked at the trees we planted. I said to myself: “it was good”

Right - Enriano;  Left is Erwin Rojo the Project coordinator.

Right – Enriano; Left is Erwin Rojo the Project coordinator.

Although, typhoon Yolanda destroyed our little shelters and took away our loved ones, I hope we will always remember that God has a reason why He allows sad things to happen. He will always be there. He waits for you and me to come to Him. . We may be roofless now but still we are not hopeless. As long as the sun still shines and as long as there is God, there will always be hope.

The love of God will never fail us. Despite the strongest earthquake, terrible tsunami and deadly typhoon – in God’s arm, I know we are safe and sheltered. God bless us, everyone!

Contributor: Enriano Agnila Jr. BSED, IVCF EVSU, Eastern Visayas State University. Tanauan, Leyte

Care of Creation – Plant with Purpose

COCMEANS is embarking on a new Disaster Project Initiative – Plant with Purpose. Is there a need to plant trees? How is this relevant to Disaster Fund projects? How are we going to get involved? What does Scripture say about replenishing the earth? What are our objectives?
1. Teach the basic philosophies of what MEANS believe about care for creation
2. Teach through bible studies, video presentations, discussion groups, reading books about caring for creation, and other bible materials and resources about caring for creation
3. Who will do it? In partnership with organizations in the Philippines doing a holistic ministry by challenging the school leadership to encourage students and the community to be involved in the project where the schools are located.

lolaRight after typhoon Haiyan, MEANS initiated tree planting as one of our disaster project initiatives. About 3,000 trees seedlings / fruit trees indigenous to the area were planted in areas devastated by the super typhoon. The project has been going on ever since. One of the highlights of this project is the one we had at Balabag, San Carlos, Negros Occidental. This is a defining moment of the project because government military officials, people from 5 community districts, school teachers, and college students got involved in tree planting in the school compound.
One of the college students who participated got so encouraged about the response of the people to the project.
balabag logoHere is Jeffy P. Alcansare’s story. Be inspired.
What will the world be like if each one of us cared about God’s creation; if we demonstrated some random acts of kindnesses and give a little love to our neighbors? I believe that is the kind of world God wants us to live in.
This summer, I’ve done something meaningful. When I was checking my Facebook account, I’ve seen a posted invitation for a “Plant a Tree – Care for Creation Program” at Balabag Elementary School, Brgy. Quezon, San Carlos City. I immediately asked ate Nerry Quijano, another IVCF’er at Philippine Normal University in San Carlos, if I could join them. She said yes. I excitedly waited for the date of the program – May 19, 2014. Though our house is quite far from the tree planting site, I was very eager to go to volunteer. I believe even with a little help on my part, I would be able contribute to the program. Before the event, I posted posters on Facebook to somehow ignite the feeling of whoever saw them to be interested in caring for creation. Even before, I really wanted to campaign for environmental care as a student leader in our school.

Nerry Quijano - MEANS Intern, Care for Creation coordinator in Balabag.

Nerry Quijano – MEANS Intern, Care for Creation coordinator in Balabag.

A day before the event, we visited the site. We wanted to start early morning on the day of tree planting. I really enjoyed the trip to the site – zigzag roads viewed from the mountain top and rough roads that were slippery and muddy. As I looked around, I saw stunning views of the mountains, mists and green vegetation. I was amazed and I appreciated God’s creation. I then thought that if more trees will be planted, the more beautiful and healthy the world will be.
On the day of the program, I woke up with a very thankful heart as I saw the thick fog outside the room where we were staying. I walked outside to see the rising sun peeking out from the horizon, reflecting its radiant light on the surface of the sea. The site of the school gave an excellent view of the mountain and the sea. It was indeed a great day to do something for the environment. A little while later, the parents and community volunteers came one by one. Pretty soon, their numbers increased.
Balabag Baranggay community involvement

Balabag Baranggay community involvement

An opening program was held in the session hall of the school. It included a welcoming of the participants, the turning over of the books for the “Read to Grow Program” and the garden tools. Everyone was recognized. After the session, everyone walked to join the parade bringing their banners showing which area they came from. Likewise, the barangay officials and teachers participated. Everyone carried a seedling in their hands ready for planting.
Finally, the people in the parade came to the place where trees will be planted. Everyone took their post parallel to the holes on the ground and started planting the seedlings. As every seedling was put into the ground, we hope and pray for it to grow. I really like the system of who is in charge of taking care of the newly planted seedlings. Every seedling has a number and the name of the one who planted it. It will be adopted by a pupil who will take good care of it until it has grown strong. The pupil will be the one to water it to ensure its healthy growth.
balabag2After planting, each one proceeded in making the school beautiful. I saw the smile in every volunteer and parent who were there enjoying working together in making fences, removing weeds so that the school will look attractive. I really admire the teachers in Balabag Elementary School who worked hand-in-hand with the parents of the community. They worked manually. It was encouraging to see everyone cooperating considering that they also have other responsibilities at home or was working. I was really amazed how the Lord touched everyone’s heart. It was overwhelming.
I’ve seen the situation of the teachers assigned in distant areas like Balabag. It’s very far from the city. It really takes courage and faith in God to work there. Though the salary isn’t enough for a living as a teacher, they are noble and have great dignity. They touch the lives of the pupils and even the community. They sacrifice and work hard for the school and the pupils. Teachers: I really appreciate them.
As I would be an English teacher someday, I have visualized the challenge ahead of me – a challenge not only to educate students but likewise to let them grow as strong children of God and do my best to let them grow in knowledge and to recognize that there is a Creator of the universe. I really affirm MEANS’ Read to Grow Program in helping students take the right track in life.
He who plants a tree, plants a hope

He who plants a tree, plants a hope

At the end of the day I thanked God for letting me experience a meaningful and productive event. I found myself much more willing to do things for the glory of God. I really thank MEANS and IVCF for this kind of program which will touch others significantly and make this world a better place to live in.

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contributor - Jeff

contributor – Jeff

Contributor: Jeffy P. Alcansare
Philippine Normal University, Cadiz, Negros Occidental, Philippines, Bachelors of Science in Education, English Major, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship Philippines Student Leader

Care for Creation – Plant with Purpose

COC 3MEANS is embarking on a new Disaster Project Initiative – Plant with Purpose. Is there a need to plant trees? How is this relevant to Disaster Fund projects? How are we going to get involved? What does Scripture say about replenishing the earth?

 

Deforestation, a growing problem in the Philippines. The Philippine forest is very rich in biodiversity. Many of our plants and animals could be found in the rainforests. It is due to the constant high temperature and humidity in the tropics. Unfortunately, many forests are threatened due to deforestation. The primary reason are commercial logging and cutting of trees to provide for their agricultural needs.

There are so many effects of deforestation in our country. Not only will the giant trees be lost, but also the species living HAIYANin the forests will disappear. Some of it are the tarsiers and the Philippine eagle. Other insects native to the area will also disappear. Some negative consequences of deforestation also include the disruption of water cycle and climate change.

“In the past 40 years, Philippines has been swept by fatal and destructive floods, among them the great Central Luzon inundation of 1972, Ormoc (1991), Bicol (“Reming’’ 2006), Metro Manila (“Ondoy’’ 2009), Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities (“Sendong”2011), Davao (“Pablo”, 2012) and Leyte, Cebu and West Visayas (“Yolanda”, 2013) . These typhoons affected about 1.6 million people each year, destroying lives, animals, trees, crops and infrastructure worth tens of millions pesos a year. According to Philippine Daily Inquirer, “the major factor of flooding and landslides was deforestation. Bald mountains, depleted forests and barren watersheds caused rainwater to flow down and flood the plains.

COCWhy plant trees? A Biblical Mandate: God is the Creator and Owner of the Earth (Genesis 1, Psalm 24:1-2). ). Christians have been directed by many Scriptures to care for the natural creation as God’s stewards (Gen. 1:26-28; Exod. 20:8-11; Lev. 25 and 26; and Luke 4:16-22, among others).
Psalm 24 states that “the Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” We are tenants here, called to care for the creation on behalf of future generations and all species. The Bible calls us to “till and keep the garden” and names human beings as the trustees of creation. Because God created all the Earth and all of us, creation is beautiful and good and sacred. We are called by our devotion to God and our love for God’s works to protect it.

COC 2What is MEANS response to this Biblical Mandate?Project Mission: Care for Creation – Plant with a Cause – As people of God, Christians are called to lovingly care for the world we’ve been entrusted. There is now an urgency as never before to heed God’s call to earth-keeping, to justice, and to community. Our purpose is to help and encourage ministry partners to plant trees and fruit trees in their communities
Trees are an important part of our quality of life – environmentally, culturally and economically. Your help and the communities that will be involved will leave a legacy of trees, an appreciation of the value of green-cover, and strong community partnerships for future generations. More than just tree planting, the project seeks to help in planting trees that will support the livelihood of the local community, and to replace the trees that were destroyed by typhoons that visited the Philippines.

What steps MEANS will take?
COC 11. Plant One Tree at a time: Clean the air. Protect the environment. Change lives. Feed the Poor

2. Protect the Environment – Empowerment – help and empower schools within a community with the help of our ministry partner, in this case IVCF West Visayas Regional Unit, to plant trees in areas affected by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). To help maintain environmental ecosystem, trees will be planted , with volunteer help from IVCF/ISCF students, in vacant land areas (can be within the school grounds). The trees to be planted will be indigenous trees that are native to the area and are heat resistant and hardy.

3. Change Lives through Education – MEANS ministry partner will be the one to contact the community by using the help of the school personnel in the community to teach those who will be involved about the important of planting trees and disastrous effect of deforestation. The ministry partner will be responsible for disseminating information and follow up. They will write progress reports to MEANS about the tree planting project. This is NOT a one time deal but will be an ongoing project.
4. Feed The Poor – Fruit trees to be planted will be a source of food and livelihood to the school or the community. If managed properly by the ministry partner, this project would serve as a good role model to other poor communities in the area. We are looking towards a ripple effect where others will be encouraged and influenced to plant trees not only to help the environment but also to become a source of food and livelihood to the poor. It takes a global village to be able to do these. MEANS is counting on the help of several sectors in the community under the leadership of the ministry partner to accomplish this.