December News Letter
Lesley Gomez left England at 22 to serve as a missionary in the Philippines. Today she and her husband Peter run LAMA, a charity and safe house for the abandoned boys of the streets.
Happy New Year! Thank you for your continued support! This is our fabulous team, except Pete who was unavailable – with a growing number of boys who have gone on to independent living Pete is now Director of Follow up. L – R back row: Jeli (Finance Manager and Michael’s wife), Michael (Management Assistant), Rico (House father), Gener (House father), Johndel (Carer), Jose (Housefather) Simon (Carer), Sam (Programs Supervisor), Ana (Carer for Girls). Front row L – R Gina (Social Worker), Lesley (Director), Charis (House mother), Joy (House mother). Michael, Ana and Simon are my children. Thank you JESUS, LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS!
2018 began with us accepting 2 Muslim children for Protective Custody. Though nervous at first, they soon became part of our LAMA family and were such a joy, we all gave up eating pork! In JUNE we had a Farewell Party for them when they left for Manila with Grandpa, back to a devout Muslim community. They taught us a deeper level of respect and expectation from our LIMITLESS GOD.
A highlight for me was visiting Binondo and Tondo, Manila with Michael, Ana and Simon and our Social Worker, Gina. Our family went to inquire at Metropolitan Medical Centre with Ana, who will apply in January 2019 for Medicine. The trip to Binondo, Old China Town was specially led by the LORD. We also visited a Catholic Homeless Shelter for street children and families, next to the budget Hotel we stayed in. The streets were literally filled with street children – the desperate need is overwhelming, but we felt right at home in the middle of it all. We went to Tondo to accompany a little boy to find his father after he was rescued from a syndicate who kidnapped him and used him to steal. A terrible story! Dad lives in Tondo, the worst slum district in Manila, and could not take care of him – so he remains with us. On another visit Lesley and Michael met with International Justice Mission (IJM) regarding child trafficking and prostitution in our area, not knowing that God was about to take us deeper into this area of our work at the close of the year.
Another exciting development in 2018 is CHURCH – At the start of the year we attended Banju Church (Korean Missionary Pastors) here in Pugo, where the smaller children enjoy Children’s Church. In July we joined ALIVE Church, where Michael and Simon partner with Andrew and Ruth Newlove – it is great to see these ‘children of missionaries’ anointed for worship and leadership in God’s Kingdom! We meet in an old, worn out Cinema in the city. Recently, friends helped us buy a Sound System through Facebook Donate. We are excited how this will ADVANCE God’s Kingdom in San Fernando City, praying for 100’s of students to find their way to the old Cinema to find JESUS!
WEDDINGS – 2018 was a year of weddings, couples from youth group and former boys at LAMA House – Jong; January, Caleb; February, Joecris; March, Joenar; July and Grace; December. We wish them a lifetime of love! A generous sponsor who knew me when I was at Brunswick Baptist Church Youth Fellowship provided funds for the weddings of former LAMA boys.
I was in England for FEBRUARY, MARCH with Ana and Simon, and again in SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER with Michael, to be with Dad and Mum, after Dad had a severe stroke in January.
There were staff changes – Jeli promoted to FINANCE MANAGER, and Michael to MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT, assisting me mostly. They have both grown into dedicated, compassionate leaders in LAMA House. It was a relief for everyone in August, when JOY joined Jeanette, Charis and Ana – the team of Carers at the Girls Home. Simon now cares for Wowie and our youngest boy with behaviour problems, who need constant attention and help with physical needs.
CHRISTMAS – Michael and Jeli organized Christmas gifts and parties for our children and teens, and did all the Christmas shopping. There were Christmas parties in each school and everyone had new clothes and shoes to wear. Judith sent an LBC box packed full of T-shirts and shorts, jigsaw puzzles and games, biscuits and goodies, lots of gifts for our staff and children. Ask her about LBC boxes!
BIRTHDAYS – Notable was Kevin’s, the first time his birthday was celebrated (age 12) everyone in the restaurant sang Happy Birthday to him! Wowie’s 22nd birthday in September, we are unable to find a place for young adults with learning disability that provides livelihood training. Pray for this.
DIFFICULTIES – In JUNE a very troubled boy left us and was stealing and vulnerable to exploitation on the street. Thankfully, one of the police officers eventually took him on as a ‘father figure’ and he is doing better. 6 years ago we rescued a gang of brothers and cousins, in conflict with the law their lives were in danger. We had known them for years from street outreach so it was an answer to prayer when police brought them to LAMA House. They were filthy, arms and legs covered with henna tattoos, with hair all different colours in the style of Rod Stewart! One of them looked terrified, we found out (years later) that while asleep on the street he had been beaten up badly (age 8) and left for dead – we still don’t know what other terror he witnessed or experienced. In LAMA House they were safe, nourished with good food, handsome in new clothes and had successfully passed the accelerated exam to get into High School, having missed early schooling. They did our Discipleship Course twice and Michael and Simon baptised them – they loved Jesus and His Word and loved worship almost as soon as their feet stepped inside LAMA. I have a favourite picture; one kneeling face down at church, another lost in worship. Worship, prayer and God’s Word heals the broken – it is WHY JESUS CAME. We were devastated, though, at the close of 2018, influenced by an older boy, 2 of them left LAMA and went back to the dark world of child prostitution, for “easy money,” persuading another boy to join them. When the police brought the youngest boy back to us, the awful realization hit me that sexual exploitation of children is out-of-control in San Fernando. This is something we intend to do something about in 2019, with God’s help; strategic street outreach to rescue some and do justice for others. Stand with us in prayer.
Thank you for helping us! Pray for our team, our boys and girls and those in follow-up.