Reflection from Michele:
On my third journey to Siargao and second to Hope for the Island, I rode with my big traveling back pack and balikbayan box on a motorbike, stopping on the side of the road filling up with gasoline measured out per liter via a glass Coca-cola bottle. It was nice to breathe the fresh air and see palm tree forests on my way to the Hope Organic farm, the beginning of a month-long stay with the Hope for the Island family. I was looking forward to a change from working in San Diego, California, in the medical field as a physician assistant and was excited to learn more about the area medical needs, surf some warm water waves with the locals and share the stoke of knowing Jesus Christ.
Earlier this year, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Derek, Jenn, Ate Let and all those at Hope for the Island as a return trip to Siargao to check out the Cloud 9 surf break. As part of the Christian Surfers family, our desire to serve comes along with our search for good surf.
Prior to flying out to Siargao, I had connected with the Van Ryckeghem family and they welcomed my mother, brother and me for a 3-day stay. We brought them some medicine and medical supplies. It was great seeing a glimpse of what Hope for the Island was doing for Burgos and the other areas in Siargao. After my short time there, I knew I would return and God definitely opened doors for me to do so and for one month!
Medically, I had the opportunity to help with the Hope for the Island’s Mercy Ministry and work alongside one of the local doctors at the town’s Rural Health Unit (RHU). I went out with Ate Let and a few of the other girls to visit some of the malnourished kids in Burgos and Del Carmen, We brought much needed food and hygiene supplies as well as some fun items. We also checked in with the local social workers to follow up on the progress of the children from when the Mercy Ministry began supplementing the child’s diet to the present. With the RHU, I worked with Doctora Rose, seeing the patients in town, treating common ailments and chronic medical conditions. I learned the country protocol for tuberculosis screening, work up and treatment and how to care for infections endemic to the area.
Surfing was a big plus to serving at Hope for the Island. Since there are no islands east of Siargao, it receives swell from the grand Pacific Ocean. Surfboards were available to use at Hope, allowing me to experience the local warm water swells. Just like any other surf spot, there were some big days and other not so big days. Derek was fond of the larger 4-5 foot swells, which I dared to venture out in, and on the smaller days I surfed with a few girls that work at Hope and from town. I would say that I absorbed a bit of the Burgos surf vibe, mellow and non-crowded, especially at Harpic, which I liked to call the “Hope surf spot”.
In the midst of the different ways that Hope for the Island is impacting Siargao is the desire to spread God’s love and teaching others how to do as Jesus did. Living with the girls at the newly built mission house provided me a unique experience of spending time with them between the many activities they did throughout the day. I enjoyed joining in on the daily group devotionals they had, worshiping and sharing where and how God was leading us. One of the recurrent themes expressed by different individuals was paninkamute (which means to pursue in Siaragaonon), pursuing God and His will for you.
Through all that Derek, Jenn and the staff were doing at Hope for the Island, God was in the center of it all, and in order to keep Him central it is important to always seek and grow in your relationship with the Lord. I was so blessed to have this time with the Hope for the Island family and look forward to my next adventure with the crew.