26th March 2020
Dear Church Family,
The Eldership of Church@paravista has continued to consider the needs of our church at this time of
concern over the COVID-19 effects within the wider community. This has involved the prayerful
presentation of our church community before God’s wonderful and all sufficient throne of grace.
The spread of the COVID-19 virus in our community, and increasing concerns about community health, have prompted even more restrictive Government requirements about people movement and
assembly. As a community and a country, we are all part of the solution to curb the spread of the
COVID-19 virus. So, what do these new restrictions mean for Church ministry functions and
gatherings at 308 Nelson Road?
As advised on Monday of this week any church ministries/activities that have been scheduled to be
held within the church building can no longer go ahead. This restriction is in place until notified
otherwise by the Elders.
As always, we trust in God’s plan and presence, and we encourage you to trust in Him and not be
afraid. We are taking these measures out of an abundance of caution, as we desire to proceed with
wisdom. We will evaluate the situation on a weekly basis and provide updates to the church
community via email and our social media platforms. For those who do not have access to these
platforms we will call, text, or drop a letter in the mail.
Remember that the church is a body of people, not a place. While programs are limited, there are
still ways that we can all stay engaged in church life. To assist this, the following will be available:-
1. A live stream church service at 10 am each Sunday will be provided. To access this live stream, a
link will be sent to people on the church mailing list on Sunday morning, via email. This link will
also be available on the website, (churchatpv.org.au) and through the church Facebook page.
2. All those involved in Life- groups are encouraged to meet on a weekly basis via a web-based
platform. Life-group leaders will be in touch to provide the details of how this can take place.
3. The Pastors will regularly update and encourage the church community through online videos and
messages. These will be available through our Church YouTube channel, Facebook, and website.
Another practical issue for the church community to be mindful of is the continuing and unchanged financial obligations of the church. If you have not done so, please set up your giving electronically.
Bank Name: Lutheran Laypeople’s League
Bank Account Name: CATPV Business Acct
BSB: 704-942; Acct No: 100972942
Just as the church must face the financial impact of the current situation, so also there will be significant economic effects within the wider community. Jesus reminds us, through the Parable of the Good Samaritan, that the Christian ethic of hospitality should not be lost. Wherever possible, care for one another in the church and wider community needs to continue. Be prepared to share the resources you have, in the name of Christ.
Psalm 94 reminds us of the following truths:
18 When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
As this time of uncertainty abounds, remember, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and He
provides consolation and comfort for our souls. His mercies are new every morning, and His
faithfulness never, never ceases.
If you have any questions about the above, please contact either myself, Danny, or one of the Elders.
Blessings to you all,
Briefly to let you know our current situation. I know the following things are not unique to our situation and there are great needs around the world.
Guiuan went into isolation and quarantine (a limited lock-down) last Monday so we had our last gathering together for Sulangan on March 22. The men had planned to meet for the day for team building last Monday and the ladies for personal prayer and refection but our time had to be cut short.
So far there is no case of the virus being detected locally but we have been having a few complications with people testing positive for Dengue. Last Sunday, the daughter of a member from Sulangan was stricken. Yesterday we heard that Gerrah’s niece who is here in Guiuan has contracted the mosquito borne disease and has been hospitalized. She has a new born baby about six weeks old.
The terms for this quarantine here are:
• The need for quarantine pass issued from the local barangay administration. There are two available – 1) allows one person per household to shop for essential goods 2) a person to travel back and forth between work place. There are checkpoints at each main road entry to enforce this.
• No gatherings permitted.
• Mandatory wearing of face masks if you go out.
• Barriers set up in the market to prevent you getting close to the vendors or to food
• Limited admittance into shops
• Curfew between 8pm and 5am
• No movement in and out of Guiuan except of essential food items
• Social distancing
The impact of this:
With the restrictions following plans have been affected –
• Kids club awarding to have been today Marc 27.
• Final grading for school and awarding has been cancelled (April 2)- the teachers used book work for their final assessments.
• Easter weekend youth camp will be put off until further notice.
• Kids holiday club Guiuan cancelled
• Summer classes unsure
• Enrolments suspended
• All church gatherings including prayer meetings.
• At this stage the workers can still catch up at the church
Some fears and concerns that I have:
• Financial stress is already rearing it’s head – possible increase in crime rate from desperation
• No work, no pay for most people
• Fishermen in Sulangan are only catching fish for their own needs as there are limited markets locally.
• Many who rely on driving are without any income
• Only govt employees have a sure source of income.
• The school will continue to pay our teaching staff though no income for possibly the next 2 months
• Exchange rate has been hit very badly from 33 pesos to dollar down to 29.
In response the three guys decided to use relief money that was in surplus from Dec 24th typhoon to assist members with cash assistance. About $2000 was distributed to 57 families (including youth). For those who gave toward the first disaster we hope you understand the seriousness of this measure. Beyond this we are not sure for next week’s needs but God is ultimately in control.
Internet is proving to be stretched to its capacity so everything has slowed down even more – down loads are near impossible, you tube (our news and window into the world) breaks up or can’t load. See how I go with this update.
We are in God’s hands – more aware of this now than in the normal run of the mill situations.
Our love and prayers are with you
Paul and Gerrah
I thought that I would send this brief update on our situation after the government told all Australians who wanted to return to return now. The call was to all Australians at higher risk or considering returning in the next couple of months to do that now. We aren’t in a high risk category (though not without risk…) and in many ways this kind of thing is what we have come here for! One of the hospital administrators saw me in the offices yesterday and said ‘Leigh! when you are around there is always a disaster!’ as bit of a joke. But it is true….
The national government here has said no gatherings over 25 people. All schools (including our kids school) will be closed by the end of the week and Tamara will be home schooling. An expat community ceilidh a week ago was cancelled. Our nation here acted faster and more strongly with social distancing than Australia. We started avoiding the buses and restaurants a couple weeks ago. We have about a month’s worth of food on hand and extra cooking gas. Last weekend was our last local church service for a while and we’re now we will be meeting in home groups. The English service we are also involved in was conducted via a Messenging app last weekend.
Our older team mates or ones with risk factors are leaving/have left. Other families are scrambling to pack and leave. They had planned to leave in a couple of months but this has brought their plans forward. In some ways I envy them… there is a part of me deep down screaming to get out and get home to our family! I would be lying if I said we didn’t have some anxiety, but we are also confident that the Lord has led us here for times such as this. Tamara is part of a facebook group where in response to “I’m getting pressure from family to return home. What are you all doing?” this reply was one that really resonated with her: “… our families love us and are concerned for us, but our first priority must be obeying the Lord. You do what He’s telling you to do, whether that’s to go back or to stay. But do it with deep conviction that He is sovereign, do it without guilt, and do it with joy and trust in His perfect will. ”
I think that is good advice for all of us – maybe your uncertainty isn’t about going or staying, but we are all making decisions that could impact our families, neighbors, and communities. Obey the Lord with deep conviction that He is sovereign, do it without guilt, and do it with joy and trust in His perfect will.
With Love from us in our Asian home,
Leigh, Tamara, Mikayla, Jasmine, and Cole
Regular activities for families, children, youth and adults can be found on the church calendar.