Arrival on Bantayan Island

Marissa and I arrived on Bantayan Island on Monday, December 2, 2013, to begin our relief efforts for the people of the island. We are meeting with the local residents today of Pantalan to determine the homes that we will begin repairs for. We sincerely thank our family of Christian brothers and sisters at Calvary, as well as other who gave funds in providing us with a generous offering to allow us to bless so many here on the Island.

100% of every dollar or peso that was given for the people of Bantayan Island, will be used for their benefit. We will not keep any administrative fee or expenses for ourselves. In this way we can maximize the amount of people that we can help.

As generator power and internet allow, we will post pictures and updates on our progress in meeting the needs of the dear people of this island who were profoundly effected by Typhoon Haiyan on November 8th, 2013.

It has been a long journey to get back to the island and people we love so dearly and we look forward to being able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those whom we are helping. Thank you again to all of you who are praying for us and gave to make this possible.

Pastor Rob and Marissa

Current photos of our ministry on Bantayan Island

Our first day back on Bantayan Island Marissa and I walked amongst the people of our local village and took pictures of those who have requested repairs to their humble native homes.

Most of us from the United States would not call one of these structures a home, yet these beautiful people live their entire lives in these tiny structures, raise their families and do so with smiles on their faces. 

They have asked only for the roof of many homes to be repaired so that the scorching sun and frequent rain will not cover come down upon them while they sleep and eat. 

Many homes were completely destroyed and require complete rebuilding.

Many are sleeping out in the open, exposed to the elements of a tropical island.

We hired 5 workers who are proficient in the building trade and also make use of the labor of those whose homes we are repairing or rebuilding. 

Our list today contained 31 families, there are another 120 families just in our village who need their homes repaired.

We estimate that we have enough money to rebuild between 40-50 homes.

I will post updates here so that you can follow our progress.

I had to walk away a few times to compose myself, the sight of their living conditions has broken my heart every time I walk into their village…

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You Make a Huge Difference in People’s Lives

For those of you who have given to help the people of Bantayan Island, you have now become co-laborers with us in this effort to relieve the suffering of people who have no voice to the outside world.

Every grain of rice, new roof, piece of clothing, and bottle of fresh water, has your fingerprints upon it. As the Lord looks down upon us all, He views those who make it possible for the poor to receive the things they need to live, a part of the total work that is done. 

We do not go to the Philippines alone. Each one of you who have given anything to help the dear people who are suffering are just as much a part of the work as those who hand the resources to the people who need them.

The Bible is very specific in that those who give, share in the success and reward from the Lord for the good work that is done to help people. 

I personally thank you with all my heart and a tear in my eye, that you took time to care about a group of people you have never met, and have chosen to love them from such a great distance.

1 Corinthians 3:7-9 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building (NLT)

Matthew 9:37-38 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (NKJV)

You are all laborers with us, no less than we who actually set foot on the island. You are just as much a part of the joy and thankfulness of the people who will receive your gifts, as those who place them in their hands.

Pastor Rob

CLICK HERE to Become a co-laborer with us and help the people of Bantayan Island

Bantayan Island Typhoon Yolanda Damage Pictures and Updates

Bantayan Island has been utterly devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan, also known as “Yolanda.” Reports from government authorities tell us that up to 90% of the existing structures on the island no longer have a roof. Homes and buildings constructed of native materials are completely obliterated. These structures make up the majority of the homes for the poor fishermen who live along the shore of Bantayan Island.

Our friend Joan Pasasadaba Nepangue, owner of Beach Placid Resort, updated us at about 11 pm that 12 of the cottages in her resort have been destroyed. We have seen pictures from the beach at Santa Fe, near the Pantalan which show substantial damage to the port offices and facilities.

Pictures from the town of Bantayan show massive damage to structures which have existed there for over 500 years, including the beloved Bantayan Church. 

Relief efforts by the Philippine Red Cross are underway, while roads from Cebu city to Hagnaya remain blocked by fallen trees and debris.

Banelco has informed residents that electric service will not be restored for up to four months. Residents and resorts which have generators are producing their own electricity to charge cell phones, computers, and internet service to upload pictures of the massive destruction on Bantayan Island.

We are here in the United States meeting with church leaders to seek their help in bringing back to Bantayan Island the much needed food, water, and medical supplies that are currently needed. We will arrive on Bantayan Island soon and begin helping our friends on the island to clean up and rebuild their lives.

This web site for Bantayan Island will now begin posting pictures and updates of the conditions on the island as well as updates on families in the Barangays where your loved ones live. 

MAKE YOUR DONATIONS HERE

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NEW PHOTOS OF SANTA FE Typhoon Yolanda Damage

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From the appearance of these photos from Santa Fe, the damage is mainly structural to the roofs of homes which were constructed of coco lumber with native covering. The walls and main structures of all concrete homes are intact. Perhaps this will encourage the building of steel roofs to replace the damage wooden roofs. Had these structures had steel framing and steel shingles, they would not have sustained the kind of damage we see here.

The reports of people “starving” seem to be an exaggeration. First, people do not starve to death in a few days. The average human being can endure several weeks without food. Water, however, is an absolute necessity every day. We have seen pictures of many chickens loose and running around, as well as chickens hanging from the carts of persons who are traveling. I would not, at this point, worry about any of your friends or relatives “starving.” The island still has a lot of food on it. What is greatly needed is rice and bottled water, which is being transported to the island at this moment.

The damage on Bantayan Island appears to be worse in Bantayan and Madridejos than in Santa Fe. It is the poor who live in native structures who have suffered the greatest harm and need help to rebuild some kind of shelter ASAP.

NEW PHOTOS OF BANTAYAN TOWN Typhoon Yolanda Damage

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Philippine officials now report that they expect the number of dead from Super Typhoon Yolanda to exceed 10,000. It is certain that the majority of those who have lost their lives will come from Tacloban where tidal surge is estimated at over 50 feet in some areas.

The dead on Bantayan Island should be less than 1,000, and those who perish on the island of Cebu at about 2,000.

If one of the dead is your loved one, then this is one too many. We all certainly grieve and are heartbroken over your personal loss. We love the people of Bantayan Island and sincerely pray that the Lord has preserved many lives through this tragedy.

The good news is that we already see rebuilding and clean up taking place on Bantayan Island, as the Filipino people are a strong and resilient nation who are never defeated by any adversity. In two weeks or less, Bantayan Island will be cleaned up and look much different than it does today.

PICTURES OF TACLOBAN, PHILIPPINES, UTTERLY DEVASTATED

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Super Typhoon Yolanda to Make Landfall on Bantayan Island

As of Friday, November 8, 2013, 11:30 pm, weather authorities tell us that it is certain that Bantayan Island will suffer a direct strike by this massive Class 5, signal 4, Typhoon.

Winds are expected to be close to 180 miles per hour, or approximately 230 kilometers per hour. Storm surge from the sea is expected at 7 meters or 21 feet.

If this forecast holds true, no structures on the East facing side of the island will survive.

All those who live on the East side of the island where the storm will be most severe should evacuate to higher groud, in a concrete structure which can endure the winds and waves. Those who live in structures along Santa Fe are especially vulnerable. 

We have many friends who live in this area, and many of the poor who live in structures that cannot endure this type of storm, are in great danger. Please tell everyone who lives on the coast to evacuate to higher ground before the Typhoon arrives in the next 12 hours as signal 4.

We are praying for the safety and preservation of all the people of Bantayan island and know that the Lord will be with all of you in this great time of distress.

Please pray for the poor of the island who cannot evacuate the island and must endure the full force of this massive storm.

We are planning to arrive on the island later this month to bring fresh water, rice and medical supplies as we are able to obtain them. There will be great need of outside help from those around the world who can help. Please give whatever you can afford to help us supply the needs of the people of Bantayan Island. Make a donation to help HERE

We will update this article as information becomes available.

UPDATE: 8:45 AM

U.S. Naval Weather reports that the eye of Super Typhoon is now over Bantayan Island. There will be a period of calm for up to an hour, followed by a repeat and increase of winds and rains that will last for several more hours. If you have safety now, please do not leave your shelter as the eye of the Typoon will pass and the storm will continue once again.

Winds from this Signal #4 Typhoon are reported at close to 200 Miles per hour, or 300 kph. The devastation to life and structures is certain. We pray the Lord’s protection for all of the residents and visitors to Bantayan Island.

UPDATE: 12:45 PM

We have received word that nearly all of the roofs from buildings in the Daan Bantayan have been destroyed and cars are being blown around from the winds when Typhoon Yolanda made landfall in this location at 9:40 am.

As of this time, it is unknown what the extent of damage is  to Bantayan Island, as no reports have come from anyone on the island.

If you have a report or pictures of the damage on Bantayan Island, please email them to: pastorobrobinson@gmail.com and we will post them here on this wen site so that others may receive updates and information.

Pastor Rob and Marissa Robinson

The Blessedness of Simplicity

After nearly six grueling months in the States, we have finally returned to Bantayan Island where life has taken a soft slumber reminiscent of village life in the Philippines one hundred years ago.

The sale of our home completed, we packed up our few belongings and made the 20-hour journey to our tiny seven by ten mile island atol that is to be our new permanent home. I am writing to you today from our small rental home along the shores of Santa Fe Beach, on Bantayan Island.

From the moment that we stepped back upon the white sands of this beloved island, we felt a surge of peace and tranquility that we have not felt since our last stay here this past January. This morning as I prepared myself to open my Macbook and write the first article since settling in, my wife walked the short distance to the open air market to purchase our daily groceries.

Every morning at about six, the local fishermen and farmers gather in the town square to offer the public their proud display of fresh fish, meats and vegetables.

The wonderful bright colors of the vegetables, mixed with the smell of fresh fruit and meat leave you with a sensation in shopping that we have never experienced in the U.S.

colorful fresh vegetables on Bantayan Island

The people of Bantayan Island do not store a week’s worth of vegetables in their refrigerator or “Ref” as they refer to it here, they simply walk to the market every morning and buy what they need for that day. In this way they save on electricity in running a refrigerator and the unending waste that Americans experience in having unused food spoil in their refrigerators.

This past Friday we took a short 30 minute flight from the island of Bantayan, back to the larger island of Cebu. There we took a taxi to one of the very large and well supplied and modern malls.

When we arrived on Bantayan Island we brought with us a small television and DVD player from the states. These electronic appliances are manufactured to use 110 electric current. The Philippine islands supply 220 volt current. If you plug your American appliances into Philippine electrical outlets, you will immediately see a puff of smoke and hear the sound of crackling as your electronic appliance is “fried” from the inside-out.

Most Americans who bring these appliances to the islands, purchase a “step-down” transformer that lowers the 220 current of the Philippines to the American standard of 110. One of our purchases in Cebu was for one of these step down converters. Other purchases included a small German made hot water heater for our bathroom shower and sink.

In the Philippines, the majority of the 93 million people who live here, do not use any hot water in their homes whatsoever. They have grown accustomed to the shock of a cold shower and even enjoy the refreshment that the cold water gives them after a day in the hot and humid climate of their homeland.

The aircraft that we journeyed from Bantayan Island to Cebu in is a small 10-passenger plane that skims across the land and water at about 3-5,000 feet.

10 passenger aircraft from Bantayan Island to Cebu

This allows for a wonderful view of the clear emerald green waters of the islands and the lush tropical vegetation. It was a delight to be able to land in Cebu after just a 30-minute flight. The normal route to Cebu from Bantayan Island is by a 3-hour bus ride and 1 1/2-hour ferry.

Emerald green waters of Bantayan Island

After our first week back on Bantayan Island we have become aware that possessing less materially and in living a quiet and simple life everyday, is where the blessedness of life dwells.

It seems that the Lord did not create any of us to undergo the daily stress that an abundant material life provides us. It is in getting back to a simple and carefree lifestyle that we understand now just how wonderful life can be.

We look forward to future posts here in sharing with you the life and culture of Bantayan Island, as well as edifying and encouraging Bible studies and articles. Thank you to all of our readers who have patiently waited for us to complete our move, without the benefit of a flow of articles the past two months.

We look forward to sharing with you this incredible island and people from the perspective of an outsider who is daily becoming more “Filipino” in his inner man.

Rob Robinson

Phase One of Bantayan Island Ministry Completed

Marissa and I returned to the United States on Wednesday January 26, 2011. It was incredibly difficult to leave the people who need us so very much.

Knowing that we needed to return to the States to raise the funds necessary to help the people of the Island, we made the 10,000 mile journey back to our home to prepare to move to the island full time.

Please pray for us as we will be listing our home for sale so that we can provide our own financial needs while on the island and not be a burden to the ministry itself.

As the Lord leads, we will sell our home and most of our personal possessions so that we can raise the funds that we will live on while providing ministry to the people over the upcoming years.

If the Lord is in our being on the Island full time then we are confident that we will sell our home, despite the decreasing housing market across the U.S. When I began my ministry many years ago, a similar situation presented itself. I needed to sell my home and possessions in order to fund our ministry. Despite a slow market at that time, the Lord sold our home for the asking price just 30 days after we listed it when no one else in the entire neighborhood could sell their home even at a reduced price.

When the Lord is in it, then it is always easier than when we try to force our will.

We return with heavy hearts because we have seen how great the need is on Bantayan Island and how much we were able to do there in just two visits of 10 days total.

We hope and pray that many hundreds will find our web site as being led by the Lord and contribute the finances necessary to help thousands of people on the Island.

Please pray for us that we will be able to return to Bantayan Island later this year and stay for months instead of days.

We will keep you updated on the progress we are making and any needs that arise over the course of the next few months.

Thank you to all of you who are already supporting our efforts to the people of Bantayan Island. When we went out to the villages on our second trip the week before our departure, we told the people that you had given of your finances to help them. All of them cried and said to thank you for thinking of them and their families from across all across the world.

We ministered to over 40 families during our 4 day stay January 19-22, 2011. Each time we go into the fishing villages and speak the people and tell them that we have been sent there by the Lord to help them they always weep with tears of joy and they realize they are loved by God even in such a remote place on the earth.

You make this love for these people possible, we thank you from the recesses of our heart.

Pastor Rob and Marissa

Prayer of Gratitude for Your Help

From the beginning of our work on Bantayan Island we have received a tremendous outpouring of love and support. Many people recognize that they have the power to help make the lives of people on the Island by their support of Bantayan Island.org.

To all of our friends who have given of their finances, their prayers and letters full of love and encouragement, Thank You!.

Without the committed help of partners around the world, we would not be able to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by meeting the practical needs of the people of Bantayan Island.

The best way to demonstrate the Love of God to someone is to help them with their needs. When James wrote his epistle detailing the need to show our faith in Jesus by good works, he said this:

James 2:14-16 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

By putting feet to your faith, those of you who make it possible to do the work, show that you truly know Jesus and have been affected by knowing Him. There is no greater work that anyone can do than to make it possible for someone to go to a distant land and bring to them Jesus love. When we stand with the people of Bantayan Island and bring them your gifts, they are amazed and even sometimes hesitant to accept our help because they have never see such love from others before.

On the great day when we all stand together with Jesus in the clouds and realize that our redemption is complete, gathered around us will be all the people who’s lives we have impacted and touched to make it possible for them to know Jesus and be there with us. What joy abounding it will be to us to know that when we gave to make it possible  for others to go over 12,000 miles from the U.S. to Bantayan Island, our efforts have born much fruit.

Thank You again for your Love, Prayers and Financial support of Teach The Word Ministries to make it possible to bring Jesus to Bantayan Island.

Rob

A New Ministry Opportunity on Bantayan Island

Bantayan is a small atoll just off the coast of Cebu, about 7 by 10 miles in size with approximately 120,000 people. The island is largely unspoiled by the rest of the world. When you step foot off the ferry that brings you from Hagnaya Cebu to the port at Santa Fe on Bantayan, you feel as if you have stepped back in time at least 50-60 years.

As a boy my parents took me to Hawaii in 1965 and I remember the island looking somewhat similar to parts of Bantayan Island. Coconut woven nipa huts line the fishing villages along powdery white sand beaches, glistening with crystal clear aquamarine waters.

The clear water is so shallow around the area beaches of Santa Fe that you can walk out onto the soft sand bottomed coast at least 100 yards and not have water come up past your waste.

Walking along the pristine beaches, talking to the native fishermen who still make their living by the sea, you have a sense that you are among a very unique people. Although they are extremely poor and lack even the most basic necessities of western culture, they have a wonderful joy and a smile that never departs their beautiful tanned faces.

the_children_of_bantayan_island

Narrow concrete roads traverse the island near the coast displaying a deep green canopy of coconut palms as tall as I have ever seen. Three wheel “Trisikad’s” meander slowly under human power up and down the curving roads of the island carrying natives to the wet market in Bantayan Town, the port of Santa Fe, or to the other side of the island town of Madridejos.

coconut_lined_streets trisicad_at_the_wet_market

Every once in a while the striking contrast of a white face breaks the pattern of hundreds of beautiful brown ones as an Amerikano or European foreigner zooms past on their scooter or bicycle. There are only a few foreigners who live permanently on Bantayan Island, but when you see one it strikes you as odd amongst so many who seem to belong here perfectly.

On one particular morning last week, my wife and I walked amongst the nipa huts of a seaside fishing village and began to talk to the humble people who live there. My wife is a native Cebuana from the nearby island of Cebu. She speaks the local language of Bantayan and easily converses with the willing souls who step out of their shanties to welcome us as friends.

As I stood there listening to a language that I know very little of, I gazed into the home of the precious lady who stood with a bright smile speaking to my wife as if she were a long lost friend. What I saw stunned me. Barely a standing structure at all. A home small and thrown together from miscellaneous native island materials. A dirt floor, no running water, hand made palm frawn beds. Cooking utensils laid outside upon open wood fires, heating the days meal. The nutty smell of the smoldering coconut shells used for fuel carried me back a hundred years in my mind to an imagination of what it was like here before any white man had walked these shores. Yet I was standing there today. It was 2010, not 1910, yet nothing has changed much from the way that the people of Bantayan live their daily lives. Except today it is much more difficult to live life on Bantayan Island than it was in 1910.

fishermans_village dried_fish_on_bantayan_island

The fish are not as plentiful, there is little money to buy rice, none for a medical need. Yet the incredibly beautiful children frolic in the blue waters, jump for joy in the green jungle, without a care and always with the biggest smile I think I have ever seen on a child.

I stood in my flip flops trembling and weeping uncontrollably. How is it that such beautiful people exist in this place and no one comes to their aid? I handed three ladies standing now in front of us, all not more than 5 feet tall, 100 pesos each, or about 2 dollars. They lit up with joy as if they had in their hands the winning lottery ticket for a million dollars. 100 pesos would buy their family enough rice for days, they felt instant relief. No worries for their small children for at least awhile. There would be rice and perhaps a few scraps of fish, and that was enough to be thankful for. This is the miracle of Bantayan Island, the people are so very thankful for even the smallest measure of human help or kindness.

As we walked slowly away from our new friends, I continued to cry for several minutes until it hit me that we had the power to change their lives with very little effort. We had been praying about where the Lord would next have us minister after being the pastor of a two small churches in Arizona for the past 14 years.

My wife has always had a heart for her own people, though she came alone to America many years ago and made a hard earned life for herself and the money she sent home to her family. Now just as much an American as I, we both felt a burden to go somewhere that help was needed, but often fleeting.

marissa_robinson_with_fishermen_Bantayan_island

This is our island now. We decided during those seven days of revelation that it would be our turn to come to this tiny island and give as much as we could to make Jesus known and show His love to a people who are in need of so much.

I am writing to you now about 15 hours ahead of your day. It is 5:15 pm on Monday afternoon in Cebu, about 12:15 am Monday morning in Arizona. While you sleep 120,000 precious people dream of a better life. Not the kind that an American dreams of where they hope to own a nice four bedroom house and at least two paid for cars. These dear ones dream of a home that has a door, windows and a floor. Not made from wood or concrete, but the raw materials of the local coconut tree, woven together into walls complete with a palm woven roof. They dream of a little meat with their rice, and that they would not have to travel to the local well for water to wash their dishes. Perhaps someday someone will help them, their hope springs eternal and joy never departs their face.

This is the first edition of an ongoing story that I hope to be able to tell you right up until Jesus comes for us all.

I will continue to publish articles on Bible Prophecy Update and my other Bible Teaching web sites, but from this moment on, my words will originate from an island in the Philippine sea.

Bantayan Island is a place out of time where ministry really means meeting the basic needs of people’s lives. I suspect that reaching these precious people with the message of Jesus will be relatively easy. I foresee that just spending time here making new friends and telling them of the Saviors sacrifice will cause hundreds or thousands to turn to the Lord with willing hearts.

a_new_friend_on_bantayan_island

Just as importantly, when we love these people in Jesus name, we will truly be loving Jesus. When we feed them and cloth them, build new homes and provide medical supplies for their families, we will be doing it to the least of these to whom Jesus loves so very much.

If reading about these wonderful people stirs your heart to action, you may also know the joy of participating in a work that has such far reaching and eternal consequences. Paul wrote that although one might do the planting, as we will be doing on Bantayan Island, others will come along such as you, to help water that seed, insuring it’s growth. Both those who plant and those who water the seed will participate in the same reward when Jesus comes for us and gives out to each laborer His reward.

You may live in New York City, Miami Beach, or Winslow Arizona, but if you help us water the seed planted here and it growns into a crop of human souls, you will share in the reward of seeing Jesus delight when He comes and finds us serving the least of these…

For information on helping us with this new ministry to the people of Bantayan Island you can follow the link at the end of this article to see a short seven minute video on youtube showing what the island and the people of Bantayan are like and how you can co-labor with us in this important ministry.

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Watch for future updates here on BPU as we share with you what the Lord is doing on Bantayan Island and the amazing stories that will come from ministering to these wonderful people.

Rob Robinson

For information and a short video on this mission assist opportunity follow this link:

http://www.teachtheword.com/ministry_at_bantayan_island.html

For our online readers, here is the embeded YouTube video of the People of Bantayan Island:

If your heart is moved to help us provide the need for food, shelter, clothing and medical supplies for the precious poor of Bantayan Island, 100% of your gift goes towards helping the people of the Island. My wife Marissa and I are already fully self supported. We need only your help to bring the Love of Jesus Christ in practical ways to the people of Bantayan Island. Thank you for your generosity. As we give your gifts to these dear ones, we will tell them your name and that you cared enough about them to send this gift for them personally.

Rob and Marissa Robinson, Teach The Word Ministries Inc.