Update! Update! Update!

journeySome say that repeating words or phrases gives our brain time to process information better. Hence my triple ‘update’ in the title. The ‘!’ was to emphasise the urgency of the project. Apologies to most of you who ‘got it’ with the first word and exclamation mark but hopefully your attention is now drawn to the latest news and timeline of our journey to establish and sustain Shekinah, a support centre for children and young people with Cerebral Palsy in Bohol, Philippines.

This journey has been slow, steady and incredibly enlightening in a number of ways …

  • a long term work cannot be built overnight
  • rash decisions rarely get you anywhere
  • I’m more impatient than I ever realised
  • God’s wisdom and ways are light years away from ours

I really could go on a lot longer!

SO, the highlights of the journey so far are:

The people.

  • Arms of love orphanage, Tagbilaran, Bohol.
  • Chosen Children Village, a home for abandoned disabled children in Cavite, Luzon.
  • London Centre for Cerebral Palsy.
  • Philippines Cerebral Palsy Inc, Manila Philippines.
  • John & Allison Todd of Mercy in Action, a UK based charity working with street children in Cebu, Philippines.
  • Bobath Wales.
  • Philippines Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy family awareness support group, formed by Jessa Marmol.

The research.

  • Hundreds of hours of research has been done to help write the governing document needed for us to be registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). In addition it has served to help write a detailed proposal including costings and plans for building and running the support centre.

The changes of plan!

Since 2014, we have changed our overall plan TWICE!

  • We started with the original idea of becoming a CIO and began to ‘get the wheels in motion.’ After seeing just how much time and effort is involved with this, we turned to the possibility of coming ‘under the umbrella’ of a charity already working in the Visayas, Philippines.
  • This idea proved a very reasonable option and the possibility began to take on early exploration. Working with an established and experienced charity could be a huge help, particularly on an administrative level and with regard to an understanding of ‘how things work’ in the Philippines.
  • However, after exploring this possibility, the importance of having our own unique identity was considered paramount when raising both supporters and funding. SO, we’re back to becoming a CIO but now with a lot more understanding of all it entails and what will be needed moving forwards.

NEXT STEP

To start the application process to register as a CIO, we will need to have our Trustees in place. We have people in mind but maybe this is something you might consider.

Could you be part of our team of five Trustees who will join us on the next exciting part of our adventure? It will be for a minimum of four years during which we will be continuing to plan the way ahead, to gain a support base (friend raising), developing our partnership with Philippines Cerebral Palsy & Epilepsy awareness and fundraising for the building and future sustainability of the project.

 

Go West!

west-directional-sign

When I was offered voluntary redundancy back in March it was a bit of a ‘no brainer’. I had already been looking for teaching jobs in South Wales and even as far back as two years ago, had been tentatively looking. I had sensed the Lord’s leading and this felt more like God’s timing. Of course, back in March, I had already had it all planned out in my head:

  1. Get a new job by the middle/end of May.
  2. Have plenty of time to find a place to rent, maybe even put a deposit down on a dream new home.

NAH!

I’ve been through Application form after Application Form, ‘Person Specification’ after ‘Person Specification’. Along the way I’ve improved how to do these darn things … A LOT! Despite being at the top of the pay scale and supposedly unfamiliar with how to teach in a different country I’ve even managed a few interviews. I’m deliberately ‘bigging’ myself up here because the truth is I don’t have a job (yet) and I can’t lie, the last couple of months have been blooming hard. When a man has a family to take care of and no job that man pride kicks in and begins to hurt.

So here we are in South Wales (the original one), my favourite place in the world after Alona Beach, Philippines and Doctor’s Cave, Montego Bay. We have a three bedroom rental property with a nice size garden full of apple trees. Jifelane has just bagged herself a job (yay!) and I’m still waiting. However, after hearing a very timely sermon by John Piper I’m now in a much better place. Do we really trust God or the outcome of our circumstances? Are we trusting our own ability to generate money somehow or are we truly willing to let God take the lead? Believe me, I’m wrestling with these questions or maybe like Jacob of old, with God himself.

Here’s the link to that sermon

I would like to think that I really AM trusting in the Almighty not in my own abilities. The bottom line is GOD LOVES US. The Bible can say it much better than me …

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. (John 17:3)

And my God will fully supply your every need according to his glorious riches in the Messiah Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

And we know that God works together all things for good to those loving God, to those being called according to His purpose … (Romans 8:28)

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Look, I’m just scratching the surface here and already faith is stirring. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. And what is faith? … The evidence of things hoped for.

And is it a job I’m hoping for? Well it was and I had got so wrapped up in trying to find a job I had taken my eyes off the one who provides the job AND EVERYTHING ELSE.

The bigger picture is so much more than finding a job and now I’m fixing my eyes firmly on the God who provides. In fact it’s more than provision, it’s a PLAN and a PURPOSE. We have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. He is our hope, our ‘all in all’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How formidable is this roller coaster?

This time last year I was blogging about the title for our land in Bohol finally being made available. Thankfully, it arrived safely in the UK via one of my wife’s relatives … cheers Uncle Willy! It’s now stored with all the other official documents about our land. (Sorry, God’s land entrusted to us!) There are a few more hurdles to overcome concerning the land, including vital access issues, but that blog can wait.

I should have known that when we started on this journey, there would be other twists and turns, hills and valleys.

Sometimes you assume that you know the right way to go about something. Well I assumed starting a British based charity to work with cerebral palsy kids in the Philippines was the right way and got stuck into some of the ‘nitty gritties’ straight away – reading and trying to get my head round charity requirements, putting together various documents, etcetera. I plodded through rigorously  and gained the kind advice of a trustee from another like-minded charity. Then I arrived at the part where you need to recruit trustees into various roles. Fairly quickly, two faithful and reliable friends committed themselves to our cause. Great! This charity lark was a doddle … BANG!!

Re-arrange these words to make a sentence:

hit  wall  I  massive  a  brick …

I knew you’d get it straight away 🙂 I could not find a treasurer for love nor money … pun intended. All the people I asked would be perfect, or so I thought. But for whatever reason God had decided it wasn’t going to be them.

Cue potential colossal turn in the journey…

For several months I had an incredibly strong sense/feeling that a well respected Christian writer I had come across over her knowledge of cerebral palsy would have a big influence over the vision that God had given. After contacting her, here is a short extract from her reply…

Setting up a charity is certainly not for the faint-hearted! I assume you’ve explored the possibility of coming under the umbrella of a charity already undertaking similar work in that part of the world – allowing you to concentrate on ‘getting on with what needs to be done’? … 

Now bear in mind that this little gem was hidden in the middle of a much longer e-mail and muggins here (that’s me!) already thought he knew the right way to go. After the brick wall, I re-read the e-mail and realised God’s answer to the trustee problem – come ‘under the umbrella’ of an already established charity working in the Philippines. It wasn’t like I hadn’t considered this it was just that I thought I knew the way ahead and I’m the sort that needs to be slapped across the face with a wet fish to get my attention.

Some meaningful and encouraging progress has already been made and my heart is cheered and hopeful but it’s still early days. The journey continues!

Caught in the right web

The appearance of your website can make a MASSIVE difference to keeping an audience … or not.

  1. Your audience needs to be hooked from the first ‘alighting’ to your site. 3 to 5 seconds is all it will take to draw them in or send them away. What have you done to draw them in?
  2. You then need to keep your audience. Your content is key but the APPEARANCE of the content is just as important.

Try finding some random websites, maybe along the theme of say, holiday cottages. Which ones do you want to examine further? Which ones do you shy away from? How much difference does the appearance make over the content?

Keeping the idea of life as a journey on a roller coaster, I can say that the layout and design of our shekinahschool website has had its ups and downs. The original website was awkward, dated and rather unfriendly in appearance. On the other hand, although still ‘a work in progress’, the new website fills me with confidence that we can use and develop it for years to come.

What do you think of the appearance?

www.shekinahschool.org

A real life rollercoaster story … Shekinah so far!

When my wife and I had the opportunity to buy a parcel of land on the beautiful island of Panglao, just off the coast of Bohol Philippines, we had little idea of the roller coaster journey that we were embarking on.

Taking out a five year loan from a well known building society was the easy part. What has followed has set us on a road that only a few might dare to travel.

With the excitement of a pup with an unused roll of toilet paper I bounded around for a while, telling all and sundry about our land and its proximity to some of the most idyllic white sand beaches in the Philippines. I delighted in describing how we were going to build our own home and retire to paradise. In truth, I knew that the God who set the stars in place and puts dreams into the hearts of men might have a slightly different idea. I waited for the bombshell but nothing came … for a while.

When it came, the bombshell was more like a paper aeroplane landing but nevertheless, it landed! A colleague at work suggested that we build a school. I replied with something polite and quickly changed the topic of conversation but the seed had already been sown. For the next part of the story, I’m going to link you to our website. I know it’s a lazy thing to do but I hope you take an extra couple of minutes to read it.

So we got the vision and had it clarified. We are going to build and run a school and support centre for children with cerebral palsy. Awesome. Now bear in mind we paid for the land in September 2011.

‘You should have the title in a year or so’.

That didn’t bother me as I was expecting a bit of a delay. We were buying a parcel of land that was part of a larger piece of land that had been divided up plus the Philippines is a developing country and renowned for red tape. Well, 2012 passed and we heard nothing. Just after Christmas 2012 I decided to phone our solicitor in the Philippines. He was very reassuring and told us it would be another six to eight months.

You guessed it, 2013 came and went and not a whisper was heard about our title. Slightly worrying. Thoughts of being scammed did entered my head but I quickly put them to bed after another phone call to our solicitor, who explained the process and said the title may be ready when we were to visit Bohol in April 2014. I promptly set up a meeting with him.

As you might imagine our visit to the Philippines was exciting, especially getting the opportunity to see our land for the first time.

Our land, Jifelane & Isaac plus the relatives who've been looking after it.
Our land, Jifelane & Isaac plus the relatives who’ve been looking after it.

The meeting with our solicitor was successful. He was a nice fella with a clear handle on the situation. He talked about his connections and brought us a professional drawing of our land but no title. Again, he was very reassuring. Inwardly I was a bit fed up of the emerging pattern but seeing our land sort of made up for it. He confidently said our title would be released in three to six months time. We ate, chatted, shook hands and went our separate ways.

Back in the UK I counted the months down. Surely we would hear by October at the very latest? Sadly and frustratingly this was not the case. I decided to let it all go and that the title would be released at some time in the future when ready.

Well, ‘some time’ has FINALLY arrived. We had a text from the Land Office in Tagbilaran, Bohol, to say that the title was available for collection. I felt like we had reached the top of the long haul start of a roller coaster. The rest of the heart stopping journey is before us … starting a charity, fund raising, building, recruiting staff, finding children to come to the school, seeing lives change … the best is yet to come!

What makes a good children’s book trailer?

Having never done one of these before, I’ve had to have a look at what’s been done already. Obviously some authors have money and technical know-how on their side, which MOST authors or budding authors don’t have … so maybe I should re-name the title What makes a good low tech children’s book trailer?

So I’ve done a bit of a search and found what can be regarded as ‘common denominators’ (breaks out into a cold sweat as memories of struggling with fractions come flooding back!) So in no particular order:

  • Short is good. Most people will lose interest in a trailer after about 30 seconds.
  • Just like a good story, grab the audience from the outset – initial image/scene MUST be good
  • Your audience must know why they should bother reading your book … tempt them with a glimpse at the plot.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t clutter your clip (it will only confuse)
  • Introduce at least the main character and make them as likeable as possible.
  • Choose your music carefully. It should complement the visuals NOT detract.
  • Just like any good story, take your audience on a quick journey and make them want to finish it!

Here are links to my three favourites (bit of free publicity too!)…

1. Hoot Owl master of disguise

2. I don’t want to be a frog

3. Grandpa Green

It’s hard (and unfair!) to compare my book trailer for Moondust, as I suspect my budget and resources available were even less than those above. But in all honesty, how many marks out of ten would you give this attempt?