I am sure that you, like us, can look back on what seemed to be “chance” encounters that subsequently developed into something that showed it was a moment that the Lord had planned. Such was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that we have with a group of people who came to Canada from the Philippines.
I (Grace) was in the ladies’ washroom at our church, shortly after the end of the Sunday morning service during the summer of 2009. Amidst the hustle and bustle around the wash basins and mirror I noticed two young ladies speaking to each other in a language other than English. Looking at them and smiling she jokingly said, “Hey, are you two speaking in tongues?” “No,” one of them replied, “but I would like to!” Her name was Reyna. She and her friend were speaking Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines. They and others have become close friends of ours and we have a fellowship time on Sunday afternoons at our home.
Many young Filipino women come to Canada to work in child care, or “nannies” as they are more commonly known. However, many of them are highly trained and qualified in various fields of expertise. They find it impossible to move to Canada and find work in their fields of professional competence as Canada does not accept initially their qualifications. So they apply for advertised jobs as nannies, in which capacity they work for two years with a work permit, after which they may apply for permanent residency status. At this point they can seek other employment and embark on the process of doing what is necessary to be qualified in Canada to do work for which they have trained. Reyna, whose background is in IT, is working as a nanny with a local family here and is now in her second year in Canada.
Later, Reyna introduced us to Nela, another of her friends, who has qualifications and experience in the food processing industry. Nela is an exception to the “nanny route.” She came to work at a local poultry processing plant in 2007 and is still working there. She is also an example of the great sacrifice that Filipino families are willing to make so that they can live in a country of the world where there are better opportunities available than in their own. When Nela came to Canada she left behind in the Philippines her husband Alex and their 14 year old daughter Alexandria. Although she remained in regular contact with them by email and Skype, she was able to make a short visit to them only about once a year. In 2009 she completed her two years, applied for and received her permanent residency and was then able to get visas for Alex and Alexandria to join her here. They arrived on 9 December 2009 and we were very pleased to take Nela to Vancouver International Airport to welcome them. They are now nicely settled in a comfortable home as a reunited family. It has also been an exciting experience to see the Lord provide everything they needed for their home Alexandria, now 17, is enrolled as a student at a local High School in Grade 11. Her school is one of a number of “traditional” schools in our town where uniforms are mandatory, very much like the schools we attended in the UK. It is also similar to the private school that she attended in the Philippines. She has settled in very well and the staff is very pleased with her progress and work ethic. After her graduation in 2011 she plans to train as a nurse.
Other young ladies in our group include physiotherapists, a dentist and school teachers. They are all working here as nannies until they can qualify for permanent residency.
We knew that Reyna had spent some time in Thailand before coming to Canada and that she had a Filipino boyfriend who was doing missionary work in that country. When she spoke about Joey, it was very evident that he was a very fine committed Christian. About two weeks ago, we were delighted to learn that they are planning to get married in August in the Philippines. After three weeks, Reyna will return here to complete the necessary time in order to be eligible to receive permanent residency, like Nela, and then she too will be able to bring her husband to Canada to join her. We look forward with great anticipation to Joey’s arrival and it will be exciting to help them find their own home and settle in our town.
We are greatly blessed by our friendship and fellowship with these quality people. We have been doing the Alpha course and have just started teaching them the Books of the Bible and Scripture choruses. Is this a Grange Fellowship déjà vu? They are very happy, joyful, intelligent people with a determination to succeed in the goals they have set for themselves. They are also affectionate and I have been given the title, “Mama Grace.” They are very polite, appreciative and respectful people and when Reyna learned that Martin was a retired pastor, she immediately started calling him ”Pastor”. Canada is and will be a better and stronger nation as a result of their being here. We are grateful to the Lord for bringing them into our lives.
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- Canada in Winter
- Rev. James Morris – June 20, 1946 -January 2, 2017
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- On Reaching 80
- Margaret Wallace, member of the Grange Fellowship – at Home with the Lord on December 23rd 2014
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