The Latest News in the Philippines

First of all, we at the Oikos Mission would like to give our most sincere and overjoyed THANKS to the whole Poor Household of God community and all who donated in the Fall Matching Campaign…

Not only did we MEET our goal of            $10,000.00….WE EXCEEDED IT!!!!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!  Now the Community Center in the Charity Village can go from a draft on paper to a real-life building that we can use for our ministries and programs for the poor, for safety and even to rent out for income for the Charity Village.  May God bless all who gave and prayed for this endeavor!!  We will be sure to keep you updated on the progress of the Community Center as soon as we begin the construction!

 

Next, the Philippines has been hit by another devastating typhoon, Typhoon Phanfone, or locally known as Typhoon Ursula, made landfall last Tuesday, December 24th in Salcedo, Eastern Samar at around 4pm.  That is about 2 hours south of our home in Borongan.  We spent our Christmas Eve safely in the home of our Bishop, His Most Reverend Bishop Crispin Varquez, as there was a threat of flooding in our village.  The winds and the rain were extraordinarily strong, but it was even worse at the storms center, south of Borongan.  Many of our scholars come from that area, and most of them have either homes that sustained much damage, or were completely taken away by the storm.  Some areas in Eastern Samar are still without power, including our village called Sohutan, although most places around Borongan have had their power restored.  In the strongly effected areas, though, they are projecting 2 to 3 months with no power for those poor people!  As you can see, the lush green banana and coconut trees that grow so abundantly in our area have been devastated once again.

We at the Oikos Mission will be centering our work on those effected areas in the days and months to come.  Already we are planning an immersion for just after the first of the year for one of the most destroyed villages here.  Please pray for our people, for the complete restoration of the lives of the people effected and for the Oikos Mission as we reach out to those most in need.  If you would like to donate to help our mission help those in need, please go to our DONATE page, or click here, for instructions on giving… please be sure to signify your donation for the help of the victims of Typhoon Ursula.

Many, many thanks once again!!  Please know that you are all in our prayers, and that we especially pray now for a blessed and prosperous New Year for all of you!!

Read All About It!! Big News in the Oikos Charity Village!!!

It’s growing!  It’s Growing!!  IT’S GROWING!!!  The Oikos Charity Village continues to grow and the dream of the Oikos Sisters continues to become a reality with each new day that passes.  Here, we’d like to share with you the new developments, and to express our heartfelt thanks for all the prayers and generous donations from the Poor Household of God Community.

On October 26th, the Oikos Community celebrated our first community mass in the Charity Village in our temporary chapel.  We gathered all of the residents of the village and celebrated our thanks to God, and to all those who have helped to make this village a reality!!  We will celebrate each month on the last Saturday together with mass and lunch…and next month, on the last Saturday, it will be the 61st birthday of our Elder Servant, Sister Mines!!  What a celebration that will be!!!

And soon… da ta ta da….. (drum roll, please…) we will be celebrating in our NEW St. Francis of Assisi CHAPEL!!!  Named after our patron saint in Oikos, this chapel is already being built!!  Thanks to a very generous donation from a family in the Poor Household of God Community, the chapel is now FULLY FUNDED!!  Take a look at the ongoing construction:

 

But while construction is ongoing, we still have our little chapel…                                                           not big enough for all of us to fit in,                                    but definitely a sweet little chapel made with love!!!

In other Charity Village news, the community gardens just keep growing!!!  Every day work is being done in our green house and in the outside gardens, and on Tuesdays the Oikos Sisters have their day in the sun (or rain as it’s the rainy season now!) working in the gardens, along with our postulants!!  What fun it is to get down and dirty in the mud, and so, so exciting to see the fruit of our work!!  Here’s some pictures…

Inside our greenhouse, we have lettuce, basil, squash, cucumbers, spinach and tomatoes!!!

   

And outside, we are growing eggplant, okra, all kinds of native greens, squash, sweet potatoes, and many, many kinds of fruits!!

   

We are so, so excited about all the growth in the Charity Village… the vegetation, the chapel and the sense of neighborly love being built among the residents there.  We are indeed quite blessed!!  Each member of the Poor Household of God Community is a blessing to us as well!!  Please know that with each nail driven into our buildings, with each seed planted in the ground and with each smile each and every day, you and your families are thought of and prayed for!!  Thank you, dear extended family of the Oikos Community!!                                 We love and thank you!!

 

Adlaw Han Mga Kablas 2019 (A Day For The Poor)

 

In 2016, the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis renewed his concern and advocacy for the world’s poor.  One fruit of his mission for the poor was first recognized in November 2017, World Day of the Poor.  It is a day for those of us who have been truly blessed by the Lord to reach out to the world’s poor in prayer and in action, and is now celebrated annually.

In May of 2017, the Oikos Sisters had the great blessing of being able to travel to South Korea, to attend an immersion retreat in a charismatic community called Kkottongnae.  One of the activities we participated in was a day of celebration for the poor.  Over 1,000 of Seoul’s poor and those of the surrounding areas were bussed into the Kkottongnae Campus to have a day wherein they were the VIP’s.  They danced, sang songs, ate lots of food and had an amazing time!!

Upon hearing of Pope Francis’ call to honor the poor for a day, the Oikos Sisters garnered inspiration from the Kkottongnae Community and had our own day of celebration for the poor in October 2017, just before the celebration of our patron Saint, Saint Francis of Assisi.  This year, on October 5, 2019, Oikos celebrated our third annual Adlaw Han Mga Kablas, A Day For The Poor!!  Over 1,050 of Borongan’s poorest of the poor came and were given the royal treatment all day, beginning with breakfast and great, big, welcoming smiles from our volunteers and continuing throughout the day.  Here’s a few pictures of our celebration:

Our VIP’s were greeted by our Elder Servant in Oikos, Sister Mines, and also by our happy volunteers!  They were served bread and coffee…Pandesal is the most favored breakfast bread in Borongan!!

    

 

We were so, so energized and filled with joy ourselves when we saw the happiness of our guests!!       THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH!!   Pass it on!!

     

 

Were the Oikos Sisters worried about having enough food for over 1,000 people???  No indeed!!  Trust in the Lord… Ask and you shall receive… Oh, boy…did we ever receive!!  Overflowing with blessings!!

   

And then the dancing… From the Cha-cha to traditional cultural dances and movin’ and groovin’, we all had a blast!!!

 

We were so blessed by the presence of His Most Reverend Bishop Crispin Varquez, who celebrated Holy Mass for us, and by the priests who co-celebrated with him.

 

How do 5 Sisters, 1 novice and 5 postulants pull this off, you may ask???  Many, many volunteers!!  Special thanks to all our helpers!!

  

 

We cerainly would be remiss if we didn’t thank our Poor Household of God Community, for you are a big part of all we do here!!  You have helped us to realize the dreams that the Holy Spirit plants in our hearts, and for that, you have our undying gratitude and our most sincere prayers each and every day.

What a huge success our Third Annual Adlaw Han Mga Kablas was!!  We were so revved up, we already have begun planning next year’s event!!  Thanks be to God, and thanks be to our generous supporters!

Please continue praying for us!!  God bless!!

 

 

A GREAT, BIG, HUGE THANK YOU!!!

All of the Oikos Sisters of the Oikos Ptochos Tou Theou Mission (The Poor Household of God) and our whole community in the Philippines are sending our most heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois, USA for their open, welcoming hearts and overwhelming generosity to Sister Clarissa during her 2019 Mission Appeal!!!  Sister Clarissa spoke at four parishes this summer:  St. Francis Xavier, Joliet, IL …. St. Peter Damien, Bartlett, IL …..  Immaculate Conception, Morris, IL …. and St.  Isidore Parish, Bloomingdale, IL.

       

Sister Clarissa is pictured above with Fr. Ed from Immaculate Conception Parish, next with Fr. Juan Jose at St. Isidaore Parish and with Fr. Mario at St. Walter’s Parish.

We are so very grateful for all the love and care we received from all of the parishes, from all of the people we met in and around the Diocese of Joliet and from the associates of the Poor Household of God.  THANK YOU for being partners with us in our mission helping the poorest of the poor in Eastern Samar in the Philippines.  We could never be able to do all the work we do without the generosity of all of our benefactors.  THANK YOU  for hearing the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit speaking through Sr. Clarissa.  Please be assured of our everlasting gratitude and our daily prayers for you, your intentions and your families.

             

             Sister Clarissa with the Good Shepherd prayer group

 

 

 

 

Sr. Clarissa is coming to Chicago, IL!!

Sister Clarissa is coming in July to the Diocese of Joliet in Chicago, Illinois to participate in a Mission Appeal for the Oikos Mission in the Philippines!!  Here are the dates and places she will be speaking at:
July 13/14 –  St. Francis Xavier, Joliet, IL
Sat. 4:30pm; Sun. 8:30 & 10am
July 20/21 – St. Peter Damien, Bartlett, IL
Sat. 5:00pm; Sun. 8:00, 9:30 & 11am
July 27/28  – Immaculate Conception, Morris, IL
Sat. 5pm;  Sun. 7:00, 9:00,11:00am & 2pm (Spanish)
Also…
There is a Silent Auction Fundraiser in Glen Ellyn!
When: Friday July 12, 6-10pm
Where: St. Petronille Parish Life Center
420 Glenwood Ave., Glen Ellyn, IL
Come join us as we celebrate Sr. Clarissa being with us!

What better way to celebrate than by having her share with us the Oikos Sisters’ ministry in Eastern Samar, Philippines. So many lives have been touched…learn of their most recent programs, updates and tender stories of those they serve. Plus, what a delight when she sings in her beautiful voice sharing the love she has for us all!

We will again be offering a delicious Asian meal to enjoy along with a silent auction and fun to be had by all!
This event is free, bring your family and friends.                                                           It’s important though that  you RSVP please  so we can set up a cozy friendly room to gather and to ensure we have enough scrumptious Filipino food.

If a silent auction item delights you, please know we accept credit cards (Visa, MC, Discover, AmEx) and of course, cash or checks. Be assured that  ALL  of your donations will go directly to serving those in need! Feel free to contact me with any inquiries.

Please RSVP by July 5:
Mary Jane Trinkus 630-858-3758
PoorHouseholdofGod@yahoo.com
Both the Mission Appeals in the parishes and the Silent Auction will raise funds for the Oikos Mission.  Some of the ministries you will be supporting are:
       EDUCATION                                                                       THE CHARITY VILLAGE
                 
           LIVELIHOOD PROGRAMS
                                                       
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION                                                                IMMERSIONS
                                                   
 AND SO MUCH MORE!!!
If you are not in the Chicago area or are unable to attend the appeals and fundraiser, please feel free to make your donation online or send it to Mary Jane Trinkus…all the information can be found here!
                                             THANK YOU for your support, prayers and love!!                                           We are so very blessed because of YOU!!

A HUGE THANK YOU FROM THE CHARITY VILLAGE!!!

 

The Oikos Sisters would like to extend our greatest thanks to each and every one of our benefactors, in finances and in prayers, for the amazing generosity and thoughtfulness you have shown in giving so bountifully to our mission, particularly in the Charity Village.  We have seen tremendous growth in our village since the land was donated to us, and we know that without your charitable, giving hearts, we would not have been able to build homes for so many families to call their own, we would not have been able to begin to build our road inside the village, and we would not have been able to grow plenty of fruits and vegetables there, which are already producing food for our families’ tables and pocketbooks!!

In truth, you are home-sweet-home-builders for these families, helping to give them dignity and safety in a home all their own; you are dream-come-true-makers, helping the Oikos Sisters to fulfill a dream they had years ago for the poor people here; you are hope-injectors for all the people needing dialysis in Borongan and who are hoping beyond hope that the medical clinic in the Charity Village will house the first dialysis center in the city.  In short, you are angels in disguise and we couldn’t do any of this without you.  Thank you for being partners in God’s work here in the Philippines with us.  May God bless you and your families today and every day.                                         Salamat Po!!  Thank You!!

Barrio Immersion in Camantang

A barrio immersion is when the Oikos Sisters totally and completely immerse themselves in a barrio, usually a new barrio they have never been to that, because of its distance to the city or difficulty in getting there, does not receive a lot of help from NGO’s or the Filipino government.  I have heard it said many times during various immersions I have been on, “We thought the world forgot about us.”  And indeed, many people feel that way.  It’s sad to hear, but also it feels so good to bring the love of God and His many blessings to these people, to help them to feel loved, cared for, wanted and special…for indeed they are!!

Camantang is about a two hour drive north from the city of Borongan where we live, and about a two hour boat ride.  When I say we bring God’s blessings with us, I totally mean it!!  We bring clothes for men, women, teenagers and children, we bring food for the entire weekend for the entire village including food for meals, snacks, drinks, plates*, silverwear*, cups* and cooking pans and utensils, we bring a movie projector and movies to watch at night, we bring the blessings that people send us…rosaries, baby blankets, washable and reusable menstrual pads, reading glasses, sunglasses, water filters, food packs of rice, coffee, sugar, canned meat and noodles for each family, deodorant, school supplies for children and for the teachers, birthing kits, and so many more things.  Imagine loading cars full of all of these things, then unloading at the dock, loading up again on the boat and unloading at the destination!!  It’s not easy!!  We had to take a second boat to Camantang because all of the volunteers we brought and all of the food and things we brought were making the boat sink!!!

*By the way… we do not bring plastic/paper plates and utensils, we bring the real deal…hundreds of them to serve everyone in the village.  The Oikos Sisters are committed to the love and care of the people we serve, but like our patron, St. Francis of Assisi, we also love and care for our earth.  It’s very, very heavy to carry, but it makes our hearts and minds feel AWESOME to recognize the importance of taking care of our environment!!

We also brought our traveling dental clinic with us to Camantang, including dental chairs, tools and eauipment, medicine and our very own dentist, Sr. Michelle.  She’s about the lightest thing we bring!!  Unfortunately, because of time restraints in our schedule, we were only able to stay in Camantang for two days, where usually our barrio immersions are three days and two nights.  But we sure did accomplish a whole lot in those jam-packed two days!!  Our dental clinic saw 75 patients in two days!!! It was the first time for us to give the reusable menstrual pads, and I can’t even tell you how excited those girls and women were to receive them.  They were given by Days for Girls, http://www.daysforgirls.org.  We gave about 50 of them, and we hope to receive more to give in other places.  What an amazing invention!!

The tireless leader of The Poor Household of God, Mary Jane Trinkus, joined us for this immersion.  She helped to give out our many blessings, serve food, and teach catechesis to the kids!!  We were so blessed to have her with us…she makes it all more fun!

Unfortunately, we were unable to see all of the dental patients who wanted to be seen in Camantag, so we will be returning there after the elections in May.  When the Oikos Sisters make a promise, they keep it!  We are greatly looking forward to our return to Camantang, and then, onto other barrios in need.  This is one part of the Oikos Mission that is truly a great joy for everyone involved…the people we meet are so overjoyed to have the help and care we give, and the Oikos Sisters and all our hard-working volunteers find so much fun and joy in going on immersion.  It is a win-win all around.  We continually praise and thank God for being so providential to us, for supplying us with all the blessings we are so happy to share with others, and for giving us the energy, talent and generous spirit to do His work!!  Thank you, Lord!!!    

 

See Our Progress in the Charity Village!!!

We are so, so excited about all of the progress in the Charity Village, and so completely thankful to God for His Divine Providence and to all of our faithful donors!!!!   We can hardly contain our joy!!!

Here’s what’s new…

*** GROUNDBREAKING!!!  We held a groundbreaking for the Chapel and for the Community Center in the Charity Village in February!!  Bishop Crispin, the Bishop of Borongan along with the Oikos Sisters’ spiritual director, Msgr. Lope Robredillo, and missioners from all over the world joined the Oikos Sisters in breaking ground on the two structures!   The day was so joyful and meaningful to all who attended.  We buried a time capsule at each location that included the names of all present and a rosary and then each of us helped to shovel in dirt to fill the holes.  Bishop Crispin also blessed the land as we prayed for continued success in the construction of the village.  We gave thanks to all who have donated for the construction of these buildings, and asked our Loving Father to continue to touch the hearts of generous people to continue to support our project!

*** NEW HOMES ARE BEING BUILT!!  Even as you read this, homes are being built in the Charity Village!!  We are making improvements on the homes as we build them, realizing that even if the land we are building the village on is safe from flooding, nowhere is safe from typhoons here!  So, we are building stronger homes made entirely of concrete.  Also, we are making duplexes!
The duplexes actually take up less room than 2 houses and are just as roomy and comfortable as the single homes.  Thanks to the Construction Team from the Joliet Mission in Chicago, IL who were an amazing help to our local workers in building and painting the homes!!***EACH HOUSE THAT IS FINISHED HAS A FAMILY LIVING IN IT!!  The purpose of the Charity Village is to have sturdy, safe, comfortable homes for the poorest of the poor who have no home of their own.  Already 10 homes are totally finished and they are already Home Sweet Home to 10 families!!  One home and two duplexes are almost done, meaning 5 more families will be able to call Charity Village their home soon.  The village is not yet complete, and construction will soon begin on the Community Center and the Chapel, but why have empty houses, right?  An added benefit to having residents already is that they are super helpful to us in helping with the gardening and landscaping, in cooking food for the workers and in many other ways.  We are continuously getting showered by the blessings of the Lord!!

And here’s your sneak peek…

This is what we hope the Charity Village will look like upon its completion!!  In the center is the chapel, the small blue boxes are all the homes and the white rectangle is the basketball court (every village in the Philippines seems to have a basketball court!)  To the right of the court is the dialysis center and across from that will be the medical center.  Next to the medical center will be the community center.  There are spaces for vegetable gardens, a rosary garden and a playground!  To the right of the village will be the Oikos Sister’s convent with a hermitage and 2 small guest houses.

Can you see why we are so excited???  We cannot express the magnitude of our thanks for everyone who has supported us through donations and prayers…  Please continue your support!  Together we can do amazing things!!!

To donate now, click here.  Thank you!!  God bless you always!!!

The Oikos Livlihood Programs are Alive & Kickin’!!

One of the many ministries that the Oikos Sisters facilitate in Eastern Samar is the Livelihood Program.  There are two that have been introduced to communities all throughout our region:  FAITH (Food Always In The Home), and Piglet Recycling and Fattening.  Just a few weeks ago, we had the closing ceremony for FAITH and the launching of the piggy project in a barrio called Surok.

Surok is a barrio, or small village, located near Borongan in Eastern Samar.  To get there, you have to take a long, narrow boat across a river.  At one time there was a bridge connecting the land, but Typhoon Ruby washed the bridge away in 2014.  The boats are usually guided by young boys who transport people to and fro all day long for mere pesos a trip.  It is hard work as up to 10 people can fit in a boat and all the boys have to “drive” the boat is a long stick.  There is no market in Surok, only little mini-shops in people’s homes called Sari-sari stores.  There is an elementary school but no high school.  The people there grow rice and root crops for their livelihood.  But with the changing weather here in Eastern Samar bringing more rain in the dry season, it is a great challenge to produce crops worthy of sale and consumption.

Last year the Oikos Sisters launched the FAITH program in Surok.  They taught the people how to grow fruits and vegetables on risers in biodegradable plastic bags, taught them how to grow their food organically, even how to make compost.  The people were given seeds and were monitored by the Oikos Livelihood team throughout the program.  It is a great way to provide food for their table and some to sell in their community or even in the market in Borongan.  This past April, Oikos held the closing ceremony of the FAITH program in Surok.  The beneficiaries are rewarded quarterly for their hard work and in the last ceremony, each participant is given grocery items and rice, and those who produce the most vegetables are given sacks of rice.  It was a great celebration!!

On May 16, 2018, the Oikos Sisters launched the Piglet Recycling and Fattening program in Surok.  We had a seminar given by Tomas Palada, graduate of animal husbandry and agriculture and Oikos co-worker who runs the Oikos Pig Farm.  Tomas taught the beneficiaries how to raise piglets for breeding or fattening and the participants got to choose which program they wanted to partake in.  The fattening program provides a quick return as it takes just about three months to fatten a pig for butchering, and the piglet recycling offers more of a long-term sustainability as participants can continue to grow and raise piglets as long as they keep breeding them.  Of course, the recycling is more work, but a good investment of time!  Once again, the beneficiaries will be monitored throughout this program and Tomas will visit Surok regularly to see to sick pigs, help in birthing the piglets or any other issues that may develop.  We also delivered some of the piggies to their beneficiaries that same day.  What a joy it was for the people and for us…as for the piggies…well, they were screeching pretty loudly!  I know they will be well cared for in their new homes!!

There are plans to open the FAITH program in two more communities this year, and pending the success of FAITH, the piggy project will soon follow.  These programs not only provide livelihoods for the people, they also fill them with hope…hope that they will be able to provide for their families and send their children to school, hope that they will someday be able to build a home that is safe and secure and will be able to eat three times a day, hope that they will be able to create a business they can pass on to their children and end the cycle of poverty in their community.  There is excitement and joy in the faces of our beneficiaries that comes from the knowledge that they have not been forgotten by the world and that someone cares for them.

If you would like to be a part of bringing hope and joy to the poor people of Eastern Samar through the work of the Oikos Sisters, we would love to partner with you!!  You can make a donation here and know that 100% of your donation will go right to the people you want to help!!  Thank you for your generosity!!  Please keep our mission, our Sisters and the poor we help in your prayers!!  Thank you so much!!  God bless you!!

Wow! Wow!! Wow!!! Big Changes in the Charity Village!!!

The Oikos Sisters are so happy and excited about the new happenings in the Charity Village!!  This has been a dream of the Oikos Sisters for many, many yeaIMG_4899rs now.  In the year 2015, land was donated to the Sisters from a Filipino family living in Florida, 1.5 hectors of land in a non-flood prone area.  Since that time, construction and building has been going on.  It has been a slow process because of the need for funding and the weather…in the rainy season, it is extremely difficult to be building.  But now, things are in a major upswing!!

Not only do we have all 25 of the planned homes fully funded, and 6 of them already built with plans and materials to build 4 more this summer, but now THE ROAD GOING INTO THE CHARITY VILLAGE IS BEING BUILT!!!  This is a major development as it will make things move much more quickly and easily.  Here are some of the pictures we took:

IMG_4889IMG_4891

IMG_4895       IMG_4897

IMG_4894These pictures show the back hoe being used to clear the path of grass and shrubs.  (and the kids along for the ride are too cute!)  The next step will be compression and topping the road with gravel.

Other projects we are hoping to get done before the year is out include the road inside the village, the community/evacuation center, the chapel and of course more homes.  People are already living there and, although the construction is a bit noisy, they are all happy with the progress as well.  For years, the Oikos Sisters have had this dream, they have planned and persevered.  We have no doubt that the Sisters can accomplish all that they set out to do with God’s guidance and protection, in His time.

Thank you to all of the benefactors and donors to the Charity Village!  You are always in our prayers and will always be a part of our mission.  God bless you!!

If you want to be a part of this amazing project of the Oikos Sisters, you can donate here!!  Salamat Po!!!  Thank you!!!