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!


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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted by: In: Van Family 02 Mar 2013 0 comments

Derek recently turned 38. His birthday celebration was delayed a week when he was stranded in Surigao City because of bad weather and big waves. When he returned, the weather cleared on Sunday for our staff to have a special bonding time with the Surfer Youth Group around the northern tip of our island. A fun day was planned with lots of eating, which is always a blessing during rainy season when food is scarce. The guys all enjoyed time in and out of the surf.

Read more…