Posted by: In: Van Family 07 Sep 2017 0 comments

Life in Canada has officially started now with our kids off to school. They have been eagerly anticipating this day well before we even told them we were headed for Canada.  It blessed us to see them warmly welcomed and already connect well with the small community at Heritage Christian School in Kelowna.

Our family is overdue for a little routine and calm! The last few months for our family have been a little out of the ordinary insane.  As challenging as the months were leading up to our departure from Philippines, it was incredible to witness God lead and protect us.  Our family was in close proximity to the ongoing war in Marawi and escalating terrorism.  The last few weeks before leaving my kids were starting to feel a little anxious. Arriving in Manila one of them said, “Papa it feels so good to be safe and know there is no chance of being kidnapped.”

In under a month we managed to juggle making two big moves from both Cagayan de Oro city and from the ministry base at Hope for the Island in Siargao. Over the last 2 years we have been back and forth each month residing in both these places. I am amazed at the favour we met in the face of what could have been obstacles too great to overcome. Preparing Hope for the Island and our family for this big of a transition in less than a month and under the circumstances, was nothing short of a miracle.  Along the way we would stop in the moment as a family to pray and thank God for each situation we saw God working in.  It was a great way to recognize God’s provision and help restore perspective in the midst of the chaos.  We found ourselves rejoicing in the trials and came out on the other side stronger and with a renewed confidence in the power and realness of God!

The first few weeks on Canadian soil have kept us on the steady pace of craziness (seems to be the only way our family rolls!) After a warm welcome at the airport and a couple of nights rest at a friend’s place, an opportunity to attend a 5 day Christian family camp came our way. Can’t say I would recommend this under similar circumstances, but not a bad choice when you don’t have a place to stay until the end of the month! After the jet lag and wide eyed culture shock wore off a little, we settled in well to the flow of camp activities.  In many ways it was great for us to have fun as a family and to quiet our minds and hearts.  It was a blessing to have a week to not think about what we left behind nor all the unknowns ahead of us.  We were also ministered to through some solid Biblical teaching. Those who have walked closely with us through the years know that each return visit in the past comes with a deep longing to be fed.  One of the things I look most forward to as we establish ourselves here is to develop relationships we can be sharpened in.  We are excited to get out and find a community of believers to grow in Christ and share life with.

The day finally arrived to move into the place we will potentially rent over the next 4 months. It felt so good to empty out our bags we have been living out of for months and to settle in.  The excitement however came to an abrupt halt when we saw a cloud of smoke rising through the trees just beyond the property.  We discovered a forest fire that started just off the road. It quickly spread upland with the strong winds. With years of typhoon and other calamity experience under our belt, our family went into game mode. Together with the owners, we were able to do what we could to protect the property and move the animals before the forced evacuation.  In the process Jenn broke her toe loading horses to the trailer but as usual she carried on smiling and positive.  We got away with our important documents and a few clothing items we were able to throw into our borrowed car.  Thankfully some great friends welcomed us into their home while water bombers and firefighters worked around the clock to save homes and lives.  After praying and casting our burden before the Lord, we all had a good laugh as we contemplated how interesting our lives are. No such thing as normal in our vocabulary. We went from escaping war and turmoil in Philippines to escaping fires!

 Video Kelowna Fire                            Video 2 Kelowna Fire 

With the fires contained at least in the critical spots, we were able to return to our rental the other day.  It was a relief to settle into this incredibly beautiful place near to the city but surrounded with dense forest and a creek. This short term rental came as an answer to the prayer request I shared in our last update.  Being around nature was what my mind and body desperately longed for. Although we have been in a polluted big city for the last 2 years, the majority of our 20 years in Philippines has been on a small undeveloped tropical island.  Living for so many years surrounded by jungle and the wild unpredictable weather off the Pacific, it’s no wonder I feel most connected and at home in nature.

Two months before we left the Philippines the President declared martial law and the city of Marawi was laid siege to by ISIS affiliated terrorist groups. By the hand and grace of God  we were out of the country and able to watch developments from afar.  We were on a planned 1 month mission trip through Malaysia as a family. This was a low budget trip with hostel only accommodations and a backpacker travel itinerary.  We were eager to serve and learn about history, culture and religion.  It was great exposure for Makana and Brison that led to some great conversations and growth.  The highlight of the trip came at the end. It was an experience like no other.  Even our teenage kids who were raised on a remote rustic island found the experience challenging to say the least.  Our family spent 10 incredible days deep in the heart of the Borneo rain forest with the Penan people.  I first discovered these special people when I was searching for communities where we could serve.  I was fascinated to read about a nomadic people who solely survived and flourished on the forest until being forced into settled communities and now suffer poverty and disease as a result.  It was shocking to read articles describing some of the atrocities the Penan have gone through.  They have been mocked for being uncivilized and given no rights while they watch their home in the forest being wiped out at an alarming rate. Large scale commercial logging and plantation companies together with an ambivalent government are responsible for decimating the Penan.  I was amazed when I discovered one lone tour group that organizes trips into this area.  They warn that it is only for the adventurous who are willing to rough it and can handle the physical demands.  Of course i signed our family up!!! The purpose of these organized trips is to help the Penan people generate income as they attempt to survive out of their element.  Money was not a concern before but they now find themselves lost and hopelessly dependent on a foreign oppressive system.  Little did we know that God was the one who ordained for us to step foot in a world that would forever impact us.  Over the course of the next couple weeks I will attempt to put into words what we feel God is leading us to walk out in faith with and how it beautifully connects with both Hope for the Island Philippines and us now being in Canada!! Your prayer support is greatly appreciated as we pray for God’s wisdom and guidance and formulate our ministry plan! Please also pray as we continue to work out the logistics of becoming a resident in a new place.

Thanks to each and everyone of you who have been on this journey with us.  Some of you have been along for the ride well before missions ever penetrated our hearts and others of you have partnered with us through the years.  We have all tasted and seen that God is indeed good and faithful! God truly does amazing things when we make ourselves available to Him and obeys His word. With great joy I look forward to what He has in store as we continue our missions journey.  We live a life not by what we can see or work out on our own, but with confident and secure faith in a living true God!

Please feel free to ask questions and we will answer those in a video in our next detailed update 🙂

Our family finds our self in need of a few things as we settle in. Those in the BC area may have some of these things not in use for sale or give away.   Click her to see list

Feel free to email us at byfaith65@hotmail.com or text (204) 915-7209

 

Blessing

Derek Van Ryckeghem

 

Posted by: In: Van Family 02 Jan 2016 0 comments

Our trips back and forth to the island are always an adventure. Our recent trip was a grueling 17-hour journey to get back to Cagayan de Oro. Although my body was wrecked from the trip, I felt alive with joy remembering all that God did over our thirteen days on the island. It was a blessed trip connecting heart to heart with our staff, teaching His word and being home where our heart is called.

Jenn and I take turns traveling back to Hope for the Island to spend around ten days there per month. When there are school breaks we can travel as a family. A one-week semester break freed up Makana and Brison to be with us. It was great to see them have fun and get back to their island ways! In this challenging new season as a family, we have confidence in God and His plan. Despite adjustments, we see this test of faith as an answer to prayer.
Here is some of what has happened during the 5 months we have lived in the city…

God provided a small clean home for us to rent in a safe neighborhood!

We were blessed with a reliable used truck. Driving in the city is a little nuts but fun!

Makana and Brison attend a great Montessori School with other classmates. They are adapting well and with resolve. They now have friends and have good grades. This is a great testimony to the hard work and perseverance of Jenn’s homeschooling years!

Our kids have new and varied opportunities to develop through youth groups, voice lessons, rock climbing, field trips, camping, team sports and volunteering as they did at HOPE.

After 16 years of marriage Jenn and I finally get to go out on dates!!! We are plugged into a good mission minded church and we have joined weekly growth groups. This was an answer to prayer because we lacked the blessing of being in relationships that challenged and sharpened us.

We are establishing great relationships that can lead to future ministry/networking /mission teams coming to Hope for the Island.

Fast and reliable Internet connection free us to work on Admin / office work requiring good connection and proximity to agencies. Most of these tasks are tedious and require a lot of patience and discernment especially with corruption being a real issue here.
Jenn and I are developing ourselves with great parenting / ministry / leadership training online. This is something we never had the luxury of before.

We have taken opportunities to visit farms and attend seminars that educate us as to how to further develop sustainability at our Hope for the Island organic farm.

We have fun as a family when we escape the city and get out in nature on Saturdays. Mountain ranges are beautiful and the temperature is actually cool! Pine trees and strawberries bring back Canadian memories. Our kids wish there was snow. I tell them it is overrated! ?

Beyond prayer for our family as well as ministry needs, please pray for protection. Nearby provinces are known for rebel activity and radical religious groups. The threat and opposition Christians are facing in the world is at each of our doorsteps.

A year ago it wasn’t a threat to stand in your faith in North America. That has changed and will only worsen. It may look different from one place to the next but the response to the new spiritual climate should be the same. We are called to be set apart in the way we obediently live for Jesus and carry His life-giving message of hope and love. As we seek to reflect Jesus and extend grace by the leading of Holy Spirit, circumstances and people we encounter will be impacted.

I pray for an urgency to stir in the hearts of all God’s children as we prepare ourselves for the groom to come. As Jesus so perfectly put it in Matthew 5:16:

 “Let your light so shine before men that they may

see your good works and glorify your father in heaven”    

We should not be surprised that the world is going in the destructive direction it is and acting like the world because it is “the world”. The response we are to take is to do what God calls us to do rather than react in the flesh and act like the world. We are to remember God’s grace in our lives and extend that unmerited grace to others according to the fruit of the Spirit. We are called to be His salt and light as we live by faith in the trying days ahead. There are many things God desires to do in and through His body before Christ returns. Let us endure and bring in a great harvest for His glory!
Derek

 

Posted by: In: Van Family 07 Nov 2014 0 comments

From Elaine:

As I sit in my office here in Canada after celebrating Thanksgiving, I want to declare the goodness of our God. Here are just a few examples of why I am so grateful.
Psalms 36:5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Praise items from this past month or so:

Close to 50 people from all over the world have visited Hope for the Island to minister alongside our Hope team.

39 young people gave their life to Jesus during Youth Ministry.

3 new monthly sponsors came forward for our Malnourished Children.

October starts our annual Bags of Hope goal of 500. To date we have reached 140 bags.

A timely one-time donation of $10,000 was received.

A local family has started a new tradition of filling Bags of Hope for Thanksgiving.

Faithful helpers continue to help me pack and ship off blessings to Hope for the Island.

SC Johnson Company is now donating all the Ziploc bags we use for Bags of Hope.

7 staff at Hope for the Island stood strong and declared their hope is in Jesus with water baptism.

Thank you my friends for your prayers and continued support. I am moved as I remember how faithful my God is!

Posted by: In: Van Family 25 Aug 2014 0 comments

Once again I am dealing with an infection following a scrape on my leg. I was admitted to a hospital in Cebu. My leg is swollen and the redness has moved from the wound down to my ankle.

I was put on two different IV antibiotics that seemed to have no effect and am waiting on culture results. I am concerned that I may have built up a resistance to these drugs when I had the last infection and surgeries. They are now changing my meds, doing a culture and checking for diabetes. I have a new doctor now who specializes in infections and is taking on my case.

Jenn is back at Hope for the Island with our kids, where we have a team of 17 visiting from Canada. Being alone in a hospital on this side of the world brings with it just a few challenges. I will leave most of those things to your imagination. Some wild thoughts you may have are probably close to reality. I am thankful that a close friend in the city has taken time to help just at the right times. Normally patients have a “watcher” or companion with them at all times because absolutely everything from supplies, meds to something as simple as ice or water has to be purchased outside the hospital. You even have to walk what seems half a block to call a nurse. Not the easiest thing in my condition.

 

All trials remain to be an opportunity to respond in faith and expectancy. God is good! Thanks for your prayers.

From Elaine Van Ryckeghem

So many of you faithfully prayed, called, donated funds and encouraged us as a family and ministry during this time. Thank you!!
On Sunday our church family anointed and prayed over Brian & I on behalf of Derek, Jenn, Makana & Brison. If we looked at the circumstances as is human to do, it can be very discouraging. Against the backdrop of the finished work of Jesus Christ, we have strength to face what comes at us.
We believe that before the enemy could finish his plan prayer warriors were in action.
From Jenn:
Our family is so blessed to have had such great love and prayer support from you. God has shown Himself faithful through these trying times!
I have internalized my stress over the last month. The torrential rains of monsoon season are generally hard on me emotionally, but the devastation from recent storms took it to another level for me.
After years of hard work at the Hope for the Island farm, we were finally making some great progress only to be set back. Seeing the destruction and effect on our farmers, as well as the local rice farmers, really affected me.
I knew I was stressed and not in a good place mentally, but I was unaware that it was affecting my health. Daily frustrations with no electricity and the resulting lack of communication, limited food, non-stop rain and wind, plus all the destruction piled up on me.
Homeschooling my kids through this roller coaster time brought my emotional state even further down. Keeping up with projects and research have been challenging with constant Internet interruptions. I developed a pattern of negative thinking that I could not snap out of. I felt I was letting my kids down. Close friends were praying for me, but for the most part I struggled on my own.
The following devotion couldn’t have been timelier.
“Satan really takes advantage of homeschoolers. When you jump into something different, such as teaching your own children, you become susceptible to his attacks of doubt and fear. Unsure of your abilities, you second-guess your decisions and desperately look for affirmation and direction. Added to those doubts are questioning remarks and comments from those who don’t homeschool, and soon you begin to think, “I could really mess up my children’s lives if I do this wrong!” The multiple battlefronts of spiritual, emotional, and physical attacks call for reinforcement from the Lord. Only His divine strength, wisdom, and power can counteract.” Read more…

From Elaine

We are so grateful for your phone calls and emails. As parents we felt helpless as we watched the “worst storm of the year” unfold. Other storms had bypassed Hope for the Island, but this would be different. Less than 24 hours before the typhoon hit Derek was still trying to decide if he should evacuate or ride out the storm. We prayed for wisdom for our son.

Read more…

Posted by: In: Photo, Van Family 30 Aug 2013 0 comments

Our journey back to our home and ministry has not gone as planned. We arrived in Manila for what was to be a short stop over on our way to Siargao Island. We were met with heavy monsoon rains that hit Manila. The rain and wind did not let up and soon Manila was flooded. We are thankful we made it to our hotel before the flood waters rose.

Jenn and I remembered that many years before when we were newlyweds and had no children, we were also stranded in similar conditions. We had to wade through chest high disease filled waters to find safe ground and a route to transportation. We were fortunate to make it out safely, while many died from being sucked down open sewers.

Read more…

Posted by: In: Photo, Van Family 15 Aug 2013 0 comments

Our 5 months of travel within North America and living out of suitcases is coming to an end.  It has been an action packed trip filled with many emotions and experiences, all of which we thank God for.  Each step was met with God’s direction and provision.  As the days windup here, our family has been highly anticipating seeing our staff and getting back to life and ministry on Siargao Island. We did our final presentation of the trip recently in Langley, BC and we will fly home to the Philippines on August 16.

First things first … A BIG thank you to all of you who made our North American trip possible and fruitful.  We appreciate everyone who hosted us and generously supported the need for rebuilding a new mission house.  Our goal was $55,000 USD and God faithfully provided!!  Any excess funds that may come in will go towards building a storm bunker.  We don’t want to be vulnerable in the face of another super typhoon.  The plan is for demolition of the old mission house and new construction to start in the late fall.   Upon arriving home, we will be busy catching up, hosting new interns and mission teams, as well as training six new junior staff from within the surrounding community.

Read more…

Posted by: In: Van Family 26 Apr 2013 0 comments

Every time we step out of the Philippines, we face that season with the same heart as we do in ministry.  That is, trusting God and living each day by faith!  At every turn we are faced with a situation to rejoice and enjoy blessing through His goodness, or press on in trial all the while knowing God is there to sustain and grow us.   We are thankful for the challenges we face that stretch us and turn our eyes to Christ.  Our kids are also learning this.

Read more…

Posted by: In: Van Family 22 Mar 2013 0 comments

Derek, Jenn, Brison and Makana will be in Winnipeg this summer. They are here for a short time. We want to maximize their time as well give the opportunity for friends and family to see them. Please keep your calendar open for an opportunity to see and hear from them at our Fundraiser Evening.  We will be contacting you to give you additional information.

Read more…